By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
California has always been a state that leads the way in innovation for social causes. In 1967, environmentally conscious folks there started the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to clean up pollutants and standardize emission controls. CARB has been one of the foundations that helped to build the automotive emission controls we have in place today.
However, back in those days of Flower Power and Free Love, there was another movement taking shape with the Hippies and their counterculture sacrament, marijuana. The same desire for cleaner healthier air and a safe place to smoke pot and enjoy it may have spurred those bell-bottomed-long-hairs to imagine a world they made for themselves where both were codified by law.
When California passed Prop 64 in November, those dreams came full circle. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act also known as Proposition 64, makes pot legal for recreational use in that state. People in California generally, and the families of those Haight-Ashbury citizens that started the counter culture in the 1960s can wave their freak flags high as they have scored another impressive victory over The Man.
Or have they?
Now that the bill has passed into law and there are a new set of (legal) levers being pulled, there are some concerns wafting up and grabbing the attention of those in the industry like the smoke from your favorite blunt. For example, this initial version of Prop 64 puts a halt on large scale cultivation for the first five years the new law is in place.
The reasoning is enough to scare yesterday’s “Make Love Not War” crowd into a tambourine-banging, placard waving march. Legislators are worried the whole legal marijuana industry might otherwise be highjacked by big corporates and you’d wind up only able to buy your favourite blend of pot in the same aisle as your baked goods or frozen foods in the local Wal-Mart. Even the very idea of having some of the products in spin off industries follow suit and fall prey to a standardized monopoly sold in big box stores grabs the attention of some younger shop owners in California now.
Anthony Vuong is the CEO of CloudCulture Glass Boutique in Atwood , California. For him and
a host of other small enterprises that might need to pivot so they can remain true to their original intent, the post Prop 64 world is all about staying true to his loyal base.
“There’s a big misconception that people who smoke weed don’t really contribute,” he said. “ But my experience tells me there are a lot of very smart people that are doing things and allowing cannabis to complement their lives.” To that end, he’s tried to plug his company into the “vibe of the people behind the industry,” by offering unique facets to his glass pipe business like an online journal.
“You can’t sell glass to everyone every single day, but you can offer something they might like to read,” he says.
It’s a move that highlights the mature outlook needed for the pot industry that will come as Prop 64 ferments and settles into the legal world. For example, the cost of getting some of the licenses needed to become a microgrower have been estimated up wards to $100,000 dollars. With that kind of capital needed to get started, Vuong shows off his keen business sense again by understanding his target market.
Boon to businessmen?
You might have expected the swing to recreational marijuana could be seen immediately as a boon to businessmen like Vuong, but it’s worth considering the fact medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, and that mutes the business community’s response there.
He even draws a possible line to the fate of many vaping companies after their industry was regulated.
“The age for smoking tobacco and vapes, which is now considered tobacco is 21, and a lot of vape companies are closing because of the new regulations.”
Still, he sees the social advantages as people will be more comfortable with marijuana even though they need to be twenty-one to possess, buy and transport the drug that is still classified as Schedule 1 and illegal federally. Make no mistake, cyberspace has opened up, or tapped into, existing markets for people who might not otherwise have access. Case in point— Minimalist watches could otherwise be off your radar in the brick and mortar world depending on where you live.
Innovative and Creative
Entrepreneurs all understand they need to be innovative and creative. Vuong is a good example of what needs to be done to be successful in the post Prop 64 online space. He’s mastered that all-important aspect of any successful online enterprise and knows the Achilles’ Heel of the competition.
“When and if those big companies come into play, they’re probably going to be selling imported glass,” he says. “ The collective gathering of the products I’ve brought together caters to a certain individual in the hopes of building a relationship when and if those big companies come into the market.”
To that end, Vuong has tapped into the new Millennial generation intent on doing their own thing who will more than likely react against proposals like a 15% excise tax on the retail sale and a cultivation tax for growers under Prop 64. His product line is specific and focused to that target market with brands like Incredibowl from Colorado.