In Colorado, a Rebranding of Pot Inc. – New York Times

Olivia Mannix, left, and Jennifer DeFalco of Cannabrand.
By JESSICA BENNETT
October 3, 2014

Step into a Colorado pot dispensary at random, and you’ll long for the luxuries of the D.M.V.

Metal bars cover windows. Vinyl signs are tacked to walls. Guys in hoodie sweatshirts greet you from behind the counter. Even the act of ordering the product itself is borderline absurd. What grown adult can respectfully walk into a store and ask for an eighth of Green Krack and a nub of Big Buddha Cheese, please?

But that experience is changing, thanks to a new breed of entrepreneur in Colorado — young, ambitious and often female — that is trying to reach a more sophisticated clientele in everything from language to packaging to social events.

“We’re weeding out the stoners,” said Olivia Mannix, the 25-year-old co-founder of a start-up called Cannabrand, an advertising agency devoted exclusively to marketing marijuana. “We want to show the world that normal, professional, successful people consume cannabis.”

Slide Show | Marijuana Rebranded How can the pot industry shed its stoner stigma?

Colorado became the first of two states to legalize recreational marijuana sales this year, paving the way for millions in tax revenue, and a new kind of consumer. That is why, on a recent weekend, Ms. Mannix and her co-founder, Jennifer DeFalco, were camped out in Aspen for a pot-themed (and pot-induced) brainstorming session.

The gathering was billed as a “writer’s retreat,” but mostly it involved talking. They discussed edible marijuana and flavor pairings over a meal prepared by Melissa Parks, a chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu (THC-infused truffles optional). They contemplated strain hybrids and herbal remedies, with commentary from a self-described “cannabis sommelier,” as well as the “gangapreneurs” who have flocked to Colorado since pot was made legal, not wanting to miss out on the so-called green rush.

And, …read more