The burgeoning marijuana industry in Colorado is scrambling to get a piece of the holiday shopping dollar.
Attracting holiday shoppers
Dispensaries in many states have been offering holiday specials for medical customers for years – but this first season of open-to-all-adults marijuana sales in some states means pot shops are using more of the tricks used by traditional retailers to attract holiday shoppers.
Just as traditional retailers sell some items below cost to drive traffic and attract sales, recreational marijuana retailers are doing the same.
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The Grass Station in Denver is selling an 1 ounce (28 gram) of marijuana for $50 – about a fifth of the cost of the next-cheapest strain at the Colorado dispensary – to the first 16 customers in line on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
That works out to less than $1 per marijuana cigarette for the ambitious, early-rising pot shopper. Owner Ryan Fox says his Black Friday pot is decent quality, and says he's selling below cost to attract attention and pick up some new customers.
As Colorado dispensaries approach a year of being able to sell to all adults over 21, not just card-carrying medical patients, Fox says retailers have to do more than just sell pot to get public attention.
Many dispensaries this time of year resemble a Starbucks at the mall, with holiday spices and festive music in the air. One of the state's largest edible-pot makers, Sweet Grass Kitchen, debuted a new miniature pumpkin pie that delivers about as much punch as a medium-sized marijuana cigarette.
The pie joins holiday-spiced teas, minty pot confections and cannabis-infused honey oil for those who want to bake their own pot goodies at home.
Even some edibles makers that specialise in savoury foods, not sweets, are putting out some sugary items for the holidays.
"It just tastes too good, we had to do it," Better Baked owner Deloise Vaden said of her company's holiday line of cannabis-infused sweet-potato and pumpkin pies.
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The Growing Kitchen is making $49.99 gift sets for both the medical and recreational pot user.
The sets include the edible-pot maker's new Mighty Mint cookie, a pot-infused confection new for the holiday shopping season, along with marijuana-infused salves for muscles sore from the ski slopes. Other dispensaries are offering free gift totes and stockings with purchases.
And for the shopper who wants to give pot but doesn't know how the recipient likes to get high, Colorado's 300 or so recreational dispensaries so far have been able to issue only handwritten gift certificates. That's because banking regulations prohibit major credit cards companies from being able to back marijuana-related gift cards the way they do for other retailers.
(Associated Press Writer Kristen Wyatt contributed to this report.)
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