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Marijuana Product Investing

Branding and Products Enter Spotlight

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Given that states like Colorado, Washington, and now Vermont are moving rapidly to reform existing state legislative frameworks to accommodate the newly-legalized status of medical and recreational marijuana, it’s obvious that marketing, branding, and advertising would not lag far behind.

Thus, Los Angeles-based marketing and PR consultant Cheryl Shuman has embarked on a rebranding campaign. It helps that Shuman is also the founder of a medical marijuana collective.

From the Huffington Post:

starbucks water pipe
Source: Huffington Post

“The High Times generation that came with all their pot leafs and all that, they’re there, but the new weed consumer is a successful, professional and most likely female client,” said Shuman, who represents several companies that manufacture smoking gadgets and consults with television and film studios contemplating how to depict marijuana smokers. “The thought of being associated with the whole druggie loser scene is not appealing to them, which is why the branding is changing.”

California is as good of an incubator as any for such an image-makeover for a drug long associated with free-wheeling hippie culture. Shuman, for example, has put her connections and Hollywood base to work reforming depictions of marijuana usage in high-profile TV shows like NBC’s “Law and Order.”

Product placement matters, and Shuman ought to know. She was responsible for Tom Cruise sporting Ray-Ban Wayfarers in Risky Business (1983). The model promptly went on to sell in the hundreds of thousands over the following few months. Clearly, there’s a lot the embryonic marijuana industry can gain from strategic product placement and a radical makeover.

In perhaps the clearest sign that change is in the air, the ArcView Group of San Francisco—a group that aims to match up investors with businesses in the marijuana sector—held a recent conference right on Wall Street. Interestingly, all the companies featured at the conference were what we may call “peripheral” companies; these are not companies directly associated with growing and producing the marijuana plant. Rather, they service the core industry by providing a wide range of support services—from product tracking software to security systems.

Considering that there are now 18 states (and D.C.) that approve the legal use of medical marijuana—and that six more states have similar bills in process—it’s clear that now is a good time for investors to begin getting involved in the action.

ArcView presently claims 60 investor members, thirty-five of whom were in attendance, reports Private Wealth.

A Wide Range of Options

Some of the companies and products showcased at the conference provide an enlightening glimpse into just how diversified the growing marijuana industry already is.

Take Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, for example. Dixie is a portfolio company of the larger Medical Marijuana Inc (OTC: MJNA). The company specializes in manufacturing and providing a whole range of edible products infused with the key marijuana ingredients, and it also offers marijuana capsules for those patients who cannot smoke.

Between 2011 and 2012, Dixie’s revenues expanded by 158 percent. And this year’s sales are expected to be up threefold from 2012’s figures.

And then there’s Privateer Holdings based in Seattle. Privateer is the marijuana sector’s only existing private equity firm. It’s a holding company that offers investors preferred stock, and thus far the company has already achieved $5 million in capital investment based on a target of $7 million.

As the Huffington Post elaborates, some of the other interesting wares on offer include Royght!’s accessory that fits onto standard Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) cups, turning it into a water pipe; Rodawg’s range of high-end stylish marijuana accessories; and Buckle Puffer’s stainless steel belt buckle/marijuana pipe.

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Rather than being dismissed as gimmicks, it’s worth considering the sheer variety of solutions being developed in response to the varying needs of the marijuana sector.

Right now, the big problem for everyone is the federal legislative framework, which still views marijuana as completely illegal. It’s hard to see how that can persist given that state after state is revising its legislature to approve marijuana for medical—and in some cases even recreational—use.

However, for the present, marijuana entrepreneurs need to wrestle with an unfriendly market when it comes to legal and financial representation. That, paradoxically, creates opportunities for companies like Privateer to develop systems that bypass the conventional infrastructure completely and offer new routes for financial bankrolling.

 

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