Colorful profile in Vanity Fair of MedMen, a California distributor of legal weed that is opening a dispensary at 39th Street and Fifth Avenue:

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Founded in 2010, MedMen has quickly become a press darling of the quickly growing legal marijuana market. While the company likes to call itself the “Apple Store of cannabis,” there seems to be some confusion as to what its actual best retail analogue is. Fast Company called it the “Starbucks of weed.” Page Six called it the “Barneys of weed.” Chief Marketing Officer B.J. Carretta, an imposingly tall person who came to MedMen from the sports world, pushed back on the last designation. “If I were to actually compare it [to fashion retail], I would probably say from the volume we do, Nordstrom and Target. Target has amazing branding and amazing in-house brands that they sell, and the experience is great. It’s not super down here. It’s not super up here. It’s accessible.”

As happy as I am to see the pointless and self-defeating government war on weed finally winding down, state by state, I confess that reading about the commercialization of the industry starts to harsh my mellow. Sample sentence from the Vanity Fair article: “It’s more bro-y than the sort of androgynous luxury Barneys stores employ.”

But I guess that’s the end game for the normalization of marijuana sales: There will be fawning business-section articles overstuffed with branding and biz-whiz jargon and bubbly ad copy, just like any old American business. Puff, puff, gag.

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Medmen operates 12 stores nationally with three more on the way. This is its first store in New York City. The state of New York legalized medical marijuana in 2014. Madmen has a weed factory in Reno designed to grow 10,000 pounds of weed per year. Vape pens at its stores run from $20 to $200.

If Arkansas can ever get past the obfuscation, red tape, and bureaucratic turf wars, perhaps the Barneys of weed, or whatever, will some day open in the River Market. 

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Full disclosure: Based on the bulging papers in Colorado, the weed business provides a serious advertising boost to alternative weeklies. Here’s a sample of what MedMen’s mad men came up with:


The walls are decorated with life-size photos of MedMen’s latest ad campaign, featuring 16 “non-stereotypical” cannabis consumers from around the country overlaid with the word “stoner” crossed out. Each one was tidily labeled, Chelsea gallery style. A photo of an octogenarian in red art-lady glasses read: “Barbra Rubin – Grandmother, Doctor with a PhD, professional meditation teacher, and avid Hula-Hoop-er, Barbra enjoys swimming, reading, and connecting with close friends over a dish of edibles.”