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Big Brands Roll with Cannabis ‘Holiday’ as Legalization Grows

420 Party

By Alexa Veiga, Associated Press

(AP) — Marijuana advocates have for decades celebrated their love of marijuana on April 20, but the once counter-culture celebration that was all about getting stoned now is so mainstream Corporate America is starting to embrace it.

No, Hallmark doesn’t yet have a card to mark “4/20.” But many other businesses inside and outside the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry are using April 20, or 4/20, to roll out marketing and social media messaging aimed at connecting with consumers driving the booming market.

On Saturday, Lyft is offering a $4.20 credit on a single ride in Colorado and in select cities in the U.S. and Canada. Carl’s Jr. is using a Denver restaurant to market a hamburger with CBD-infused sauce.

On 420 last year, Totino’s, a maker of frozen pizza snacks, tweeted an image of a microwave and an oven with the message: “To be blunt, pizza rolls are better when baked.”

“I think brands that associate themselves with cannabis kind of get that contact high. In other words, they’re just considered to be cooler by association,” said Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University. “As pot becomes more legal, more discussed, more interesting to people, more widely used, then 420 becomes more mainstream as well.”

Marijuana normalization has snowballed since 2012, when Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational use. Eight more followed, including California, Oregon and Michigan. Medical marijuana is legal in two-thirds of the states, with conservative-leaning Utah and Oklahoma among recent additions.

Roger Volodarsky, whose Los Angeles-based Puffco makes portable vaporizers, has celebrated 420 since he was a teenager. He likes that some big brands are getting into the industry and the holiday.

“420 was the day that you splurged on yourself and got high in interesting ways,” Volodarsky said. “It was the day that you made a gravity bong and coughed your brains out… What’s important to me about these ad campaigns is they’re speaking to people who aren’t users and they’re normalizing the space to people who aren’t users.”

View dispensaries’ 4/20 deals here

AP Photo Richard Vogel

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