Now that the sale, possession, and use of recreational cannabis have been legal in California for a full year, what’s happening with weed branding? Well, cannabis ads are still outlawed on San Francisco’s Muni buses, streetcars, and cable cars. On the other hand, I’ve been noticing a lot of outdoor advertising in strategic locations around the Bay Area: big, bold billboards near freeway on-ramps and bridges. Some are for companies that were founded before full legalization took effect on January 1, 2018, like Eaze (a delivery service) and Weedmaps (“a community where businesses and consumers can search and discover cannabis products, become educated on all things cannabis, review cannabis businesses and connect with other like-minded users”).
But one new brand caught my attention when I saw it on a billboard on the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge: Blunts+Moore. Merely descriptive was my first thought. After all, blunt has been a slang term for “marijuana cigarette” for at least 30 years; the Random House Dictionary of Historical Slang connects it to Phillies Blunt*, a trademark in use since 1958 for a brand of inexpensive cigars.
But wait: there’s more. And also Moore.
Location, location, location. And branding, branding, branding.
Blunts+Moore, a 4,000-square-foot pot dispensary located near the Oakland Coliseum and Arena, opened in late November 2018 with balloons, food-truck barbecue, a ribbon-cutting, and “a DJ spinning hip-hop,” according to an East Bay Express article. Happily presiding over the festivities were the co-owners: Brittany Moore and Alphonso T. Blunt Jr.
Yes, Blunt is his real name.
A fourth-generation Oaklander, Blunt, now 38, had sold pot illegally since he was 16. In 2004 he was arrested for marijuana possession, then a felony; he received five years’ probation. That experience made him eligible for Oakland’s innovative equity permit lottery, which offers dispensary permits to longtime city residents who were affected by the war on (some) drugs** or who had received marijuana convictions. Blunt was one of just four people who won the January 2018 lottery. A friend connected him with Brittany Moore, a native of Atlanta.
Shortly after the dispensary opened, Blunt told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor Jr. that his legal business follows the sales philosophy he employed when he was a teenager selling dime bags:
“I always had top (stuff), fair price,” he said. “If the going rate is $75 for an eighth out the door at other clubs, I need to be $20 cheaper.”
We may safely assume that the word he used instead of “stuff” was … well, blunter.
More posts on cannabis branding:
Weed week: a series of posts about cannabis branding from 2014
* In Edward Hopper’s famous 1942 painting Nighthawks, the exterior of the diner displays an ad for Phillies cigars (“Only 5¢”).
** My thanks to Jon Carroll for “the war on (some) drugs.”