The “Martha Stewart of Marijuana” has helped take pot into the mainstream. Once confined to the shadows, long connected to hippies and their counterculture, Americans have become increasingly accepting of weed.
Last year, AdWeek called self-proclaimed California pot queen and creator of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club Cheryl Shuman “the first pot marketer.” Then, CBS “The Insider” recently profiled Shuman, as did The New York Times.
“Pot marketer?” A Stepford Wife-ish “Martha Stewart of Marijuana?” It seems to be time to ask: Has weed become uncool? Or, gasp, even lame?
No, not just yet, but that time very well could be coming soon. As more Americans accept that ingesting marijuana is no more harmful than drinking alcohol, opinions on the substance have changed.
Some stoners will certainly lament these developments. But conversely, acceptance into larger society is likely to make pot even more desirable, though there will be a segment who thinks the well-heeled now make it mainstream and therefore lame, don’t look for them to alter their own lifestyles or quit anytime soon.
By looks, Shuman is not the first person many would associate with pot. In regard to her appearance, Ohio-native Shuman has adopted the stereotypical description of a blonde California woman, not that of a stoner. Part of her genius is that she has been able to reinvent herself to adopt the style and culture of her SoCal surroundings.
The writer of the Times profile piece attended an event held at a villa in the rolling hills above Sunset Boulevard. At the party were several well-to-do cannabis club members, including the married co-founders of KindBanking, a financial services company for marijuana businesses. The couple, David and Jen Dinenberg, plan to offer a debit card named the KindCard, which, according to the company’s website, “will facilitate cashless transactions. We understand that retail stores and similar businesses in the cannabis industry desire a card-based solution to conduct everyday transactions.”
Read more: Three Ways to Become an Elevated Stoner
At the party, terms like the pot-com boom were discussed, and the wine pairings, food choices and locations Shuman holds such events are all deliberate selections made to appeal to the burgeoning and deep-pocketed residents of pricey hamlets like Beverly Hills. Forget the dusty images of back-room jazz clubs, smelly frat houses or greasy-haired hippies, Shuman hosts high-end marijuana tastings at dinners where courses are paired with a favorite strand of pot to compliment the food.
She is a stylish, slick entrepreneur of weed, and if her Martha Stewart nickname doesnt make pot uncool, it seems nothing will. Her marketing extends into fashion and entertainment as well, and Shuman has trademarked “Stiletto Stoners,” her clothing brand for the style-conscious smoker.
After a long, uncomfortable history in this country, marijuana is being commoditized like any other product. It is being marketed, invested in and profited from like no time before, but this is only the latest incarnation of this countrys relationship with weed.
Once only consumed behind closed doors and spoken about in hushed tones by teenagers not wanting to wake their parents who would discover their kids were getting high, marketing and the increasing acceptance of weed as medicine or for recreational use marks a huge change in perception.
Hemp was widely grown in the colonial states and flourished until after the Civil War. In the late 19th century, marijuana became a popular ingredient added to many medicinal products and was openly sold in pharmacies. In wasnt until the early 1900s that weed became associated with a flood of Mexican immigrants entering this country following the revolution of 1910. This began Americans obsession with the marijuana menace, its criminalization and a subsequent general fear of pot.
In the middle 20th century, pot was mostly closely associated with black musicians, jazz-club types and, later, beatniks and hippies of the leftist counterculture.
All that has changed.
When leggy, blonde SoCal women, about the whitest archetype that can be found, begin to accept weed for not only medicinal purposes but also recreation, it is certainly no longer confined to back rooms and basements.
People have been ingesting marijuana to feel better either physically, mentally, spiritually or a combination or all three since ancient times, and history suggests that the most widely consumed substance in the U.S. will not fall out of favor anytime soon. Though it will some day soon no longer be bought and sold on street corners or consumed in secret, the commodification and marketing by slick stylish types like Shuman have actually not made it uncool, lame or unhip.
In fact, it seems that a whole new set of people are tuning in and turning on, high-society Americans with disposable income to spend on fine wine the latest branded strains. At Shuman’s party profiled in the Times, guests consumed various types of pot, including well-know strains like Maui Wowie and Super Lemon Haze as they selected their choices from a Cannador, a walnut-and-cherry wood box that keeps marijuana at the proper moisture levels, similar to a humidor for cigars.
With rich folks accepting marijuana into their lives, it will be no surprise if new strains will be named and marketed to target high-end smokers. I mean, will we soon see a Rolex strain or Bentley bud? With Shuman leading the way into wealthy peoples pockets, acceptance into high society means pot will become even more visible. With rich people getting high, and unabashedly supporting Shuman’s cannabis club, pot is making even more inroads and turning up in places it has never been before.
This much is certain: People like to get stoned. And the marketing and commodification of pot is a sign of things to come as this country continues to evolve its longtime, and previously uncomfortable, relationship with pot.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.