PHILADELPHIA -- On April 20, convenience-store retailers may notice some customers moving slowly, experiencing short-term memory loss and displaying a larger-than-normal appetite.
Either they’re teenagers, or they’re “celebrating” the unofficial but nationally recognized cannabis holiday known as 4/20.
The holiday may seem like a waste of time, but for the cannabis industry, it means business. “4/20 is to the marijuana industry what Valentine’s Day is to the flower/rose business,” Greg James, publisher of Marijuana Venture and SunGrower & Greenhouse, business magazines for cannabis entrepreneurs, told Forbes.
Cannabis-focused businesses could see as much as 10 times the amount of normal business during 4/20, Jeremy Jacobs, co-founder of dispensary technology company Eyechronic, recently told Forbes. He expects this year’s holiday to be the busiest yet.
And when the cannabis industry does business, anyone who sells food does business, too. Convenience stores are a logical stop for those afflicted with the “munchies” this 4/20. But rival concepts such as goPuff, the c-store chain without a physical store that delivers snacks and other supplies in 30 minutes or less, is working to attract those hungry customers to their business instead.
Click through for more information on what goPuff is doing to steal hungry customers, what 4/20 means for your business and the legality of cannabis in the United States …
What is goPuff up to?
The posts included videos, photos and memes full of cannabis innuendo. Even for those of us who do not partake, the message is clear: This 4/20, skip the store, stay home and order from goPuff when you get hungry.
GoPuff even posted two videos of an obviously inebriated young man trying to stay out of trouble in a convenience store on 4/20. The first video shows him running into a cop. In the second video (see below), he attempts to correctly count out change for his ice-cream purchase. It doesn’t go well.
GoPuff is playing on the paranoia that those who do not use marijuana will judge those who do on 4/20. The company is using that fear to convince a set of very hungry customers to stay away from c-stores on a day when they are virtually guaranteed to spend money on snacks and candy. These are your stoners, and goPuff is stealing them.
How to prepare for 4/20
How c-stores handle those celebrating 4/20 is up to each individual retailer. Some retailers may want to deny service to those who are obviously under the influence of marijuana, especially if its use is illegal in that state, and that is their right.
But those who want to attract business from pot-smoking customers should look to marketers such as goPuff for inspiration on how to attract some red-eyed revelers.
Additionally, consider placing the following products in an easy-to-find spot near the store entrance or register:
- Rolling papers (particularly those made of hemp)
- Cigarette filter tubes
- Eye drops
- Chewing gum
- Breath mints
- Car air fresheners
- Hydrating beverages
- Packaged snacks
- Energy shots and other quick doses of caffeine
The legal issue
Just because marijuana isn’t legal for recreational use in some states doesn’t mean people won’t observe 4/20 in said states. Retailers who plan on marketing to those celebrating are not responsible for their customers’ actions. However, they should understand their state’s laws on the off-chance that something illegal is happening in or near their store.
Click here for a color-coded map from Vox that can help identify where your state stands on the issue of cannabis legalization.
Nine states currently allow marijuana to be used for recreational purposes, including Washington, D.C. Many states have loosened laws regarding cannabis but have not legalized recreational use. A full 13 states have decriminalized but not legalized marijuana, while marijuana is legal for medical purposes in 29 states.
There are some blanket rules that apply to every state, regardless of marijuana’s legal status:
- Even if cannabis is legal in your state, revelers are required to use the drug in a private residence. Just because it’s 4/20 doesn’t mean they can light up in front of a store.
- Anyone under 21 is prohibited from using marijuana, regardless of its legal status.
- If your state allows medical marijuana, only those with a medical card are allowed to use the product. They are prohibited by law from sharing it with anyone.
- Finally, even if cannabis is fully legal in your state, there is still a limit on how much customers can possess.