You don’t need to have a massive smoke shop in your store, but it’s useful to consider the ways in which your inventory hits multiple demographics.
Coming from a sexual violence prevention background, I was adamantly opposed to combining substances and sex—that is, until I tried a THC-infused coconut oil sex spray that allowed me to have sex without pain for the first time in years. That allowed me to consider the implications of combining sex and cannabis in a more nuanced way.
If your business is in California, you’ve probably heard that California approved Prop 64, legalizing recreational cannabis starting January 1, 2018. While this was a highly divisive issue for many, the voters made the decision, and it’s happening. That means greater access and likely, greater interest, in cannabis products.
Regardless of your location you won’t be able to carry THC-infused products on your shelves (unless you happen to own a dispensary), but there are still plenty of ways you can get involved in what many are calling “The Green Rush.” There’s a lot to think about, which is why I offer consulting to retailers and manufacturers who are thinking about incorporating more cannabis-related items into their repertoire.
First, a few tips:
Say “cannabis,” not “marijuana.” The term marijuana is a loaded one, and has a history that’s deeply stigmatized. It was first used as part of a nationally crafted smear campaign after 890,000 Mexicans legally immigrated to the United States between 1910 and 1920. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created in the following decade, and director Harry Anslinger created stereotypes around the “types of people” who consumed cannabis, and it was deeply problematic.
The echoes of those stereotypes still persist to this day. Language matters, and to be taken seriously, it’s useful to use the actual scientific term for the plant. (Language also matters depending on where you live, so if you’re in a prohibition state, find out if you have to use terms like “water pipe” instead of “bong” to keep yourself out of legal crosshairs.)
If you decide to incorporate smoke shop items into your retail space, make sure you have a diverse array of price points. There is a growing movement in the cannabis industry to move away from the “stoner stereotype” and toward the image of a more sophisticated, savvy consumer. However, there are still plenty of folks who prefer buying a dozen cheap pipes rather than one expensive one, so it’s good to offer options.
Remember that there is no singular cannabis consumer. Some are millennials. Some are folks who are retired. Some are parents. Some are new age/spirituality enthusiasts. You don’t need to have a massive smoke shop in your store, but it’s useful to consider the ways in which your inventory hits multiple demographics.
We know Valentine’s Day (and by extension, the entire month of February) is the biggest holiday season for the adult novelty industry. For the cannabis industry, that peak sales holiday is 4/20 (and by extension the entire month of April). There’s also a smaller movement of folks who celebrate 7/10 (which if you flip upside down, spells OIL) as it’s become the day of celebrating concentrates. Even if you don’t want to carry smoke shop items year round, it would behoove you to at least consider carrying them for the month of April.
For the buyers and distributors, here are some cannabis accessories you could carry that you may not have considered:
Hemp wick: This combusts the plant material at a lower temperature than a lighter, making it taste better. You could sell them alongside more common items like rolling papers, one-hitters and cleaning tools.
Discrete pipes and tools: For the especially savvy consumer, industry leader Jane West recently launched a line of items that looks like typical purse items, a mascara wand or compact containing tools, for example.
Crystal pipes: These are great for the spiritual/woo crowd (which is huge right now, if you haven’t noticed). These pipes come in common crystals like Labradorite, Rose Quartz, Obsidian, etc.
Nectar collector: This is a handheld rig for dabbing concentrates. It’s easier to carry and wield than a dab rig and requires less equipment.
Mini blow torch/butane: These are just good to have available, especially in states with medical/recreational cannabis, because of the growing popularity of concentrate consumption.
Although people have been combining sex and cannabis for longer than I’ve been alive, there is a growing trend toward marketing to consumers who want information and education. Hire educators who specialize in cannabis to offer workshops in your space, in April at least if at no other time during the year.
There are plenty of educators and influencers in the adult space who are cannabis friendly and offer educational services, and there are plenty of cannabis educators who would love to branch out into the adult novelty market. April Flores just started Fat Flower Media with Milcah Halili. Amory Jane offers sex and cannabis workshops in Portland at SheBop. Mistress Matisse just came out with a water-based cannabis infused lube that has so far launched in Washington and California, while Buck Angel co-founded Pride Cannabis, which donates $1 from every product sold to LGBT seniors. In November, Zoe Ligon of Spectrum Boutique profiled me in an article on consent and sexual healing in Merry Jane’s inaugural Sex Week series. Chad Braverman also opened the doors of Doc Johnson’s factory to Merry Jane for a tour and interview, chronicling the many parallels between the two industries.
There is much more to be said about combining sex and cannabis, and I plan to spend my career sparking these conversations.
Ashley Manta has become a sought-after authority on mindfully combining sex and cannabis as part of her CannaSexual brand. As a professional sex educator, writer, coach, and facilitator, Ashley helps people navigate these topics to make sure they are interacting, loving, and feeling their best in and out of the bedroom. In March, she moderated a panel at SXSW titled, “The Surprising Health and Sex Benefits of Cannabis.” She was a contributing writer to Leafly.com from 2015-2017, and currently writes for Dope Magazine and Culture Magazine. Learn more by visiting her website cannasexual.com.