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Think of the new cannabis dispensary in Manhattan as the anti head shop.
There’s no paraphernalia in the windows and an engraving of the store’s name, “MedMen,” is the only clue as to what’s inside. Its showroom is bright and airy, with sleek, wood tables containing built-in iPads that let customers toggle through cannabis products, strains, and prices. And there’s nary a bong, pipe, or rolling paper in sight.
“This is cannabis in the digital age,” says B.J. Carretta, MedMen’s CMO. “This isn’t about stoner culture.”
MedMen’s New York location opened its doors today, April 20 (wink), the newest in a chain of 13 dispensaries with locations also throughout California and Nevada. The company’s retail outfit has been dubbed “The Apple Store of Cannabis” and paid $26 million to acquire one of two dispensary licenses in Manhattan, Bloomberg reports.
As of now, the only people who can actually buy anything in the Midtown Manhattan location are medical patients who have been prescribed marijuana to treat certain conditions, like chronic pain. To comply with state regulations, MedMen only sells cannabis in the form of tinctures, vape pens, and gel caps. No cookies, no cakes, no gummy bears — and no actual buds.
But that could soon change. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that 61% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just allocated funds in his 2019 budget to research the possibility of full legalization for the state.
In the meantime, MedMen wants to establish its 2,000 square foot New York facility as the place to buy pot in the Big Apple. And it wants to distance itself from the bike peddling, back alley dealer.
Earlier this month, Carretta and his team partnered with Paper magazine on “Ember,” a highbrow lifestyle magazine for cannabis users. They also just launched the “Forget Stoner” ad campaign, which profiles 17 real, decidedly non-burnout types — a grandma, an athlete, and a police officer, among others–who use pot.
“Normalization is the entire goal for us,” he says. “If we can provide an atmosphere where people get more comfortable, than it becomes part of the regular conversation.”