With roughly 22 million Americans consuming marijuana on a monthly basis in 2015 and nearly 37 million people admitting to using pot at least once a year, marijuana brands and companies are increasingly looking to reach new consumers with upscale products that go beyond weed’s reputation as an easy high for people who like to wear tie-dye shirts and listen to mellow music. The push is aimed at offering a greater variety of ways for people to consume cannabis, whether they are first-time users or people who may have smoked grass back in the day and are looking to ease back into the drug now that it is legal.

“If you look at what traditionally people think of when they think of a pot shop, they’re thinking of a place with Bob Marley posters in it. There’s nothing mainstream about that. That’s not how you sell anything, but for some reason, that’s how people think you sell pot. That’s got to evolve,” Adam Bierman, CEO and co-creator of MedMen, a California-based marijuana management firm, said during a phone interview.

The marijuana industry is now a $6.7 billion business, according to Forbes. Figures this high aren’t easily achieved, especially not with down-market products sold in cramped stores covered in marijuana symbols, Bierman said.

Bierman and his co-founding partner, Andrew Modlin, were once consultants for business owners looking to break into the marijuana industry, but in 2015 MedMen refocused its mission and launched a management company, along with adding a private equity firm to their resume. Using their consulting experience and know-how, MedMen now helps business owners and agriculturers create, promote, distribute, sell and get funding for new products and marijuana farm, including their own West Hollywood dispensary that keeps cannabis fresh with state-of-the-art bud pods and their Sun Valley Cultivation site that grows plants with the latest agricultural technology like hydroponics and LED lighting.

“We always talk about mainstreaming this industry, and we run everything in that regard,” Bierman said. “We’re pretending it’s tomatoes, and we’re utilizing the best practices in technology and agriculture. If it’s the structure and manufacture, we’re using real science and extraction methodologies from the petroleum industry. And if it’s retail, we look at it like retail. We’re bidding at the highest average, and that starts with the layout of the store, and then it flows into everything from customer service and offerings and everything else that goes into retail. So we don’t look at this like we’re selling pot. We look at it like we’re building a grocery store or we’re building a store with electronics. It doesn’t matter what it is, we’re building it all with the same practices, the same principles.”

 

You can find the other half of this great article on News Week here: http://bit.ly/2ixyU5l