The cannabis industry is full of ironic plays and on-the-nose references. Whether it’s outrageous names or simple slang for smoking habits, the industry has always held an odd dictionary of related terms and places. For example, take the world famous strain Gorilla Glue #4, now known as GG#4 –due to legal matters– whose name originates from an actual glue company, Gorilla Glue. The obvious nod to the original product plays-in whilst consuming, making it another part of the experience as you giggle about the reference.
The puns don’t stop there though. Sometimes, the references spiral into a full-fledged business, whether it was intentional or not. Lest we foget the merchandise sales that the prevously mentioned adhesive company mased as a result of the cannabis cultivation that they later sued. Despite this one instance, a lot of good can come from the the word association reaulting in cult-like phenomons from the double meaning. Considering the overwhelming amount of success that word-play named shop, MedMen, has garnished, this may have very well been the case. The growing network of 19 shops in 4 states is what some are calling, the Starbucks of Weed. With its high-end shop -one ironically in Manhattan- and classy outcasting of the “Stoner’ mantel, one can’t deny that it got its sense of style from some heavy influences. The shop is clever spin-of-words from the popular 2007 original show, Mad Men and with good reason. Take a trip back on this Throwback Thursday as we look at the “mad men” and MedMen of this growing cannabis empire. But first, let’s look at where the name, and so much more, got it reputation.
When AMC made their first attempt at an original series nearly 11 years ago, no one knew that it would be such a hit. As the award-winning HBO hit, The Sopranos, was ending, AMC enlisted the help of show creator, Matthew Weiner, for something fresh. He introduced the idea of Mad Men, the enigmatic show about advertising on Madison Ave, that went on to run for seven seasons until 2015. The series was a standout that featured pretty bad men, with few good intentions, as leading roles. Regardless of it’s undenibaly love-to-hate charaters, Mad Men is constantly praised however for its choice in those same characters. Through its 8-year run, it explored the complexity of gender roles, New York in the 60s, as well as the basics of advertising. The show has everything the 1960s calls for: suits, preppy housewives, lot of cigarette smoking, pixie cuts and flip-curled hair, and John F. Kennedy…did I mention a lot of smoking.
Mad Men, in its entirety, contains 92 episodes and captivated viewers with Jon Hamm’s leading role as Don Draper; a man with enough class, he’s got a strain named after him. The show is said to have ushered in a Golden Age of television with follow-ups for the network such as Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. During the show’s run, however, fans got an even bigger surprise; one that no one could have seen coming.
In 2010, as Mad Men was hitting his prime, two men saw an opening to redefine0 the cannabis stigma in the newly emerging market. The two founders Adam Bierman and Andrew Modlin opened their first MedMen shop in West Hollywood in 2015. Coming from humble roots, the two had that Draper Determination to make something more of the industry. The shop, keeping up with the theme of television, was very reminiscent of the legal-shop the protagonist opens at the show’s end in, Weeds. Since then, MedMed has begun an ambitious acquisition and mission to become the nation’s most valuable public cannabis company. The company seeks to rebrand cannabis in a way only Don Draper could think up. An open space with sleek wood tables -resembling an Apple store- with devices to peruse through the menu and smell the bud available. As we celebrate MedMen’s newest store one-month anniversary, we have to tip our hats to the normalizing PR moves that have pushed their business model to new highs.
It was actually one of only two legal sops as California took on its recreational market earlier this year!
Through a series of accumulating assets across the nation, MedMen has become the largest financial supporter of cannabis laws and progression. Through an Opportunity Fund to invest into their various projects in different states, the company raised around $99.2 million, the largest for a cannabis company. Their most recent campaign covered 36 billboards throughout Southern California, literally rebranding the term “Stoner”.
Just as the company’s store slogan goes, “Shop. It’s Legal”, the advertising campaign brought the act of consuming cannabis into the forefront. Seeing Police Officers, Teachers, and even a grandmother consuming under the moniker of “Stoner” made a sesh seem less like a juvenile or criminal thing or something more associated with general health. Just as Mad Men ushered in a Golden Age of television, MedMen is ushering in cannabis as a normalized lifestyle. California, despite some recreational hiccups, remains the largest cannabis market in the U.S. MedMen’s approach as a consumer product and urge to be the voice of modern cannabis has indeed helped the industry progress itself in the last year.
For this TBT, let’s all light a joint and honor the normalcy that MedMen strives for and the greatness that it successfully derived from. Cannabis isn’t done yet and, at this rate, MedMed may very well be leading the way to a Golden Age of Cannabis.