Valentine’s Day shoppers flocked to Natural Green Medicine in Seattle in recent days not for roses or jewelry, but for large, heart-shaped chocolates with a high-inducing kick. “I’ve sold, like, 30 of them in the last five days,” said Serj Kocharain, one of the owners of the medical marijuana dispensary. The pot shop offered a similar cannabis-infused product last year that became a hit with its clientele, who were mostly over 35 years of age. “People come and buy them to share for Valentine’s Day,” Kocharain said.
With voters across the nation increasingly approving legal marijuana laws, pot shops in Colorado and Washington are offering Valentine’s Day deals and discounts this year on some of their most popular products to entice consumers looking for something more exotic than teddy bears and red balloons. Dispensaries have been selling everything from bite-sized, cannabis-infused confections like chocolate-covered strawberries and white chocolate candy bars, to THC-imbued lubricants and oils and gift baskets with an industry twist. The promotions are a sign that as marijuana retailers have gone more mainstream, so, too, have their sales tricks.
Like discounts on Victoria’s Secret lingerie or reduced prices on dinners for two, marijuana deals have become standard practice for an industry trying to attract new customers to a product that’s only recently been legalized. “I don’t think it’s that unusual that a company would try to take advantage of a holiday to market something and increase sales,” said Dan Skye, editor-in-chief of New York City-based magazine High Times. Such specials have helped boost foot traffic in marijuana stores at a time when state laws have prohibited marijuana businesses from advertising in most media outlets, on street corners or even in their store windows. Having a special to promote on social media has been a way for pot shops to reach consumers with a message they understand: savings.
Attracting new clients has always been difficult for some pot dispensaries, in part because the weed purchased legally has been much more expensive than what consumers could get on the street. Last year, the average price of an eighth of an ounce of marijuana in Colorado’s legal industry was $70.90, compared to $30 for the same amount on the black market. Industry experts expect that price difference to shrink over the next year as dispensaries continue to expand their marijuana production operations. Colorado and Washington both passed legislation in November 2012 legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Colorado opened its first retail dispensaries in January 2014. Washington followed suit six months later in July.
Marijuana as a holiday gift first made national headlines last November as dispensaries pushed Green Friday deals, a play on the popular Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving. Many pot shops offered similar specials during the Christmas season.
For Valentine’s Day this year, some pot shops have assembled his-and-her Valentine’s Day gift sets. Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop in Seattle put together a $50 package that includes two grams of marijuana and a pink glass smoking pipe. Buyers could choose between two strains of marijuana -- “dirty girl” or “nasty boy,” said Jennifer Lanzador, sales manager at Uncle Ike’s. “We have a deluxe pack for $115 that comes with four grams of Alice in Wonderland, it’s known as a kind of aphrodisiac strain, and a custom blown-glass pipe,” she said.
Denver-based Timberline Herbal Clinic offers a package deal that consists of some hash, marijuana-infused edibles and a pipe. The store also had a special on vaporizer pens, which are used to smoke a THC-oil rather than a plant and have become popular with marijuana consumers for being more discreet and less odorous than a joint. THC is the ingredient in the cannabis plant that gets people high.
Sweet Leaf, also in Denver, has pre-rolled joints packaged in Valentine’s-themed paper -- a pack of five runs between $15 and $20.
But the big-ticket item this year has been a new line of intimate, THC-infused lubricants and body oils, which first hit the market last summer. “A lot of times the guys are coming in and getting the lotions or the erotic oils,” said Justin Staley, owner of Tru Cannabis in Denver. “Those became really popular just recently, so we’re doing an oil special – 25 percent off EvoLab,” which makes a THC-infused lubricant. Marijuana sellers have said the oils don’t necessarily make a person high, rather they help increase blood flow where they’re applied and can offer a new level of stimulation.
The alternative gifts of marijuana bud are popular among customers who want more than the traditional roses or basic chocolates. "Everybody likes flowers for Valentine’s Day,” joked Mike Archuleta, a budtender at Medicine Man Denver.