Pot Industry Tries Shaming Society for Still Calling Users ‘Stoners’

Marijuana store (Robyn Beck / Getty)
Robyn Beck / Getty

MedMen that operates legal Southern California marijuana dispensaries is running billboards to shame the public into not referring to users as “stoners,” according to the LA Times.

MedMen that operates 18 marijuana dispensaries in 3 states, including 8 in Southern California, committed on April 20 to fund a $2 million “Forget Stoner” billboard campaign to shame the public to stop using the divisive terms for users and start accepting that legal marijuana users now include responsible mainstream society members.

The billboards are now placed in highly visible locations including Beverly Hills, Culver City and trendy wallscapes are up in rapidly gentrifying downtown Los Angeles along the Santa Monica Freeway. The serious images feature entrepreneurs, police officers, designers, teachers, nurses, scientists, and even grandmothers, according to AdWeek.

The effort is an update to MedMen’s “Faces” campaign that started in January to convinces the public that marijuana users are responsible citizens by featuring a series of billboards with warm red backgrounds and simple portraits of a former NFL player, a triathlete, a physicist, a nurse, a cop and others.

MedMen’s Chief Marketing Officer B.J. Carretta told AdWeek that California’s legalization of recreational marijuana would lead to a sea change for who could be comfortable using marijuana for health benefits from  cannabis and CBD products:

Carretta said, “Our campaign is all about celebrating that diversity and broad level of interest.” She added, “There is something for everyone, and it is time to move beyond dated labels that don’t reflect the realities of today.”

MedMen senior vice president of communications Daniel Yi at MedMen told the Times that “stoner” unfairly stereotype people negatively: “We want to take that stigma away. We want to make marijuana mainstream.”

The Times reported that some marijuana dispensaries have also asked that the media refrain from using the word “pot”, which has a negative image and start referring to marijuana as cannabis.

San Diego’s Kb Pure Essentials that manufactures marijuana-based CBD oils and creams complained to the Times that its products focus on wellness, rather than getting high. With cannabis legal, co-founder Brooke Brun emphasized that Essentials products are used to treat sleep apnea, stress-related disorders and rheumatoid inflammation.

But MedMen’s Yi acknowledged to the Times that the industry’s effort to rehabilitate the image of marijuana took a huge hit when Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk lit up a joint while drinking liquor in a September 7 YouTube live podcast of “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Tesla’s stock crashed the next day and on September 18, Tesla spokesman confirmed to Wired.com that the company was cooperating and voluntarily turned over documents to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities & Exchange Commission regarding a joint criminal investigation of Musk’s tweets that the company had financing to go private in an above market price buyout.


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