Potheads across America will enjoy a very merry holiday season as newly legal cannabis shops enthusiastically join the retail madness that sweeps the country this time of year.
The coming days could prove particularly festive, especially in areas where recreational marijuana sellers are luring customers through the door with the promise of $1 joints, gift certificates, and even cannabis-infused pumpkin spice pies. Black Friday sales traditionally rein in a pretty penny in the US (more than $57 billion last year), and dispensaries are looking to get a cut of the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
A "Black Friday Doorbusters" sale at The Grass Station, a dispensary in Denver that sells edibles, concentrates, and Vape pens alongside jars of the sticky icky, is advertising $1 joint cones for the first 60 customers. If that's not enough to compel weed connoisseurs out of bed to line up for an 8 AM opening, maybe the $50-an-ounce price tag for the first 16 shoppers might.
"This is the first year that legal marijuana in Colorado is available to adult consumers, and [the sales] are a sign of how the industry has matured," Grass Station spokesman Bruce Kennedy told VICE News. "The cannabis industry should be treated like any other retail industry, and taking part in Black Friday is an important part of that."
Kennedy said that the stringent state advertising restrictions that apply to cannabis outlets regarding promotion on billboards and broadcast media haven't hampered enthusiasm for sales. Everyone wants a bargain, and entering the holiday market is the next step in the normalization of the pot business.
"We are expecting people to line up out the doors," he said. "The Colorado consuming public is savvy enough to look when they want to find the info. We're not hiding under a bushel."
Around 300 pot dispensaries have sprouted up around Colorado since the state began allowing recreational marijuana sales this January, and many are pushing for a post-Thanksgiving "Green Friday" sale. Some bakeries, including Sweet Grass Kitchen in Denver, are preparing a range of holiday-themed baked goods (such as mini pumpkin "pot" pies) in addition to traditional products laced with THC — the active ingredient in cannabis — like cookies and brownies.
Dispensary websites have also begun offering advice on seasonal weed selection, a sort of survival guide for pot lovers that promises to arm users with a psychoactive stockpile strong enough to get them through family get-togethers. The range of strains includes mood elevators to help battle the holiday blues and varieties that will stimulate pre-feast appetites.
For those stuck shopping for the stoner who has everything (except more weed), some stores are offering cannabis gift cards alongside shelves of other marijuana-themed presents. A clothing company called the Hemp House has also released a $65 "Hemp Pack" ahead of the holidays, which includes two hemp T-shirts, a tote bag, and a gift card for an eighth of pot that is redeemable at either the Colorado Harvest Company outlet or the Evergreen Apothecary dispensary.
"We started offering the pack recently and had 60 orders from people all over the US," Hemp House owner Alex Person told VICE News. "People are definitely buying it for their loved ones as gifts. Women are ordering for their husbands and boyfriends, and vice versa."
For those with extra cash who are looking to spend big on unique cannabis-related gifts, high-end pot "experiences" are also on offer, including marijuana retreats and gourmet "tasting" classes. Cultivating Spirits, a Colorado cannabis education and tour company, is offering an "All Things Cannabis Thanksgiving" workshop, where attendees can "enjoy a cannabis cooking class, educational cannabis grow tour, and a Thanksgiving inspired, fresh gourmet dinner" over the course of three hours for $199.
In Seattle, Washington, a dispensary called Cannabis City is introducing a "CannaSanta" in time for Christmas. James Lathrop, the self-styled "mayor" of Cannabis City, told VICE News that children who are 21 and over can come and be photographed sitting on "giant green Santa's lap" on December 14.
Meanwhile, dispensaries in states where only medical marijuana is legal are also getting in on the holiday cheer. The Holistic Center in Phoenix, Arizona, is advertising a "happy danksgiving" sale over Thanksgiving week, with "smokin deals" like 20 percent off edibles, while Elemental Wellness in San Jose, California, is selling a discounted Kyptonite "holiday special" strain.
So far, 23 states and DC have passed laws legalizing cannabis use in some way, shape or form, whether for medical purposes or for personal use.
Oregon and Alaska will eventually join in the holiday madness after citizens in both states voted recently to legalize the cultivation, sale, and taxation of recreational pot, which at the moment is generating some $2.3 billion in annual revenue. The laws are expected to come into effect next year.
Follow Liz Fields on Twitter:@lianzifields