In Colorado, where recreational marijuana stores became legal last January, the biggest shopping day of the year just took on a whole new meaning. Forget about furniture flash sales or massive clothing markdowns—this Black Friday, the Centennial State will be buzzing about the big discounts and day-only deals on pot. Meet “Green Friday.”
While it’s unclear exactly who first thought of the idea to cash in on commercialization’s own holiday, it’s abundantly clear that the trend has taken off. For an industry with significant advertising restrictions, it’s the chance to finally feel like a part of the sales business.
Still, entering this deals-deals-deals world as a drug company has its limits.
Across Colorado, dispensaries are only permitted to advertise on mediums where they can confirm that at least 70 percent of the audience is above the age of 21. For most, the solution to this is the Web, where users are prompted to enter their birthdate or confirm they are over the age of 21 before seeing the content. This measure is largely to protect children from the advertising of drugs, which many feel would normalize the experience.
In lieu of this, dispensaries are getting aggressively green on their websites. From $1 joints to Christmas tree-shaped edibles, ganjapreneurs have cooked up an impressive list of enticing sales, one for every smoker.
At Medicine Man in Denver—one of the biggest dispensaries in the state, earning it the nickname the “Costco of Weed”—buyers can choose between a recreational pot sale and medical marijuana. Those looking to light up for fun can nab a quarter of “top shelf” marijuana for $39, or an entire ounce for $139. Medicine Man’s markdowns represent a 50 percent discount, a number they hope will bring customers out in big numbers.
The Denver Kush Club (described on its website as “so much more than a club”) plans to offer specific strains of marijuana at lower prices, in limited quantities. For $150, recreational marijuana customers will be able to purchase an ounce of “Midnight Train”—which generally runs for at least twice that. A limited number of medical patients will be able to purchase “Chunky Diesel” or “Alien Dawg” for just $100. “People are going to Best Buy and Wal-Mart at 5 a.m.,” Kush Club worker Ryan Garvey told The Denver Post. “So by the time we open at 8 a.m., they’ll have already spent a lot of money and they’ll be looking for some relief.”
Thus far, the most talked-about Green Friday hotspot is Denver dispensary the Grass Station. Last year, Black Friday was the company’s second-best day for sales (after 4/20). This year, the dispensary is launching its sale on Thanksgiving, carrying over into Black Friday. On a press release about the event, the CEO says he plans to bring in extra staff and resources to handle the “expected high volume of people looking for holiday gifts.”
At the Grass Station, they’ll have plenty to choose from. During the two-day sale, the dispensary will offer a limited number of hugely discounted items including $10 eighths, $5 flowers grams, and $2 single-dose edibles. For the dispensaries CEO, this event is about more than a sale. “The Black Friday event… is a sign of the cannabis industry’s growing maturity, as it marks a year of legal recreational sales in Colorado and joins the retail sector in the holiday shopping season,” he said in a press release sent to The Daily Beast.
According to experts in weed consumerism, he may be right. WikiLeaf, a price comparison website that launched on January 22, says “it’s always green Friday” on their website. Using a “reverse auction” platform, the company allows users to compare prices for medical and recreational marijuana at over 1,200 dispensaries in six states. This week, they launched a review section that will allow users to rate dispensaries on things like “quality” and “ambience.” As the new offers bring more business to certain dispensaries this Friday, they expect the reviews—and price comparisons—to change.
“We’re always most interested in the competition within a marketplace, so the fact that a few dispensaries in Denver and elsewhere are beginning to offer ‘Green Friday’ deals is likely going to prompt the dispensaries that hadn’t previously considered that to get on board with it almost immediately,” founder of WikiLeaf Dan Nelson tells The Daily Beast. In WikiLeaf’s eyes, this will benefit all consumers, by “forcing competition among dispensaries” that will ensure “maximum value for the consumer’s dollar.”
Like Grass Station and others, Nelson sees Green Friday as a turning point in the world of recreational marijuana—a positive one. “I think it’s also a signal that marijuana, in general, is losing its stigma so much,” he says. “Dispensaries feel comfortable getting on board with a mainstream shopping holiday.”