Who will be the Cheech and Chong of franchising?
Who will be the Cheech and Chong of franchising?

Big brands would be smart to embrace marijuana as it becomes more normalized.

The idea of millions of people gathered around television screens to watch an advertisement for alcohol would’ve been unthinkable to Prohibition-era Americans, yet here we are. We may tune in on Super Bowl Sunday for the big game, but that doesn’t stop us from turning our attention to the TV whenever Budweiser decides to debut its new spot.

So keep that in mind next time you scoff at the idea that we might all be doing the same for a marijuana commercial in the near future. What seemed unthinkable only a few short years ago is now the norm for citizens of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and D.C. – legalized marijuana.

The tide is turning, and just like drinkers got their moment in the sun once the 21st amendment was repealed, smokers are gearing up for a new dawn across the country.

Some franchises have already realized which way the wind is blowing. Take Palm Beach Vapors, for example. The e-cig retail franchise has put many of its eggs in the weed basket, working on new vaping technology for cannabis fans as well as spearheading marijuana legalization efforts in Oklahoma through the nonprofit Oklahomans for Health.

However, anyone familiar with the term “munchies” knows food retailers are in prime position to hop aboard the legalized marijuana train. Just ask Washington, D.C.’s appropriately named Amsterdam Falafelshop, which debuted a marijuana pairing menu earlier this month.

“The idea to actually do the pot-pairing menu came about at a dinner party because my husband and all of his friends are wine buffs,” Amsterdam Falafelshop co-founder and CEO Arianne Bennett told QSR. “And someone said … you guys should do a pot pairing because pot is like the new wine. It's now socially acceptable, or at least in D.C. and a couple of other states.”

Of course, the franchise is respectful of the feelings of its franchisees (not to mention the different laws in other parts of the country). Franchises in Maryland and Boston decided not to promote the brand’s pot-pairing menu, QSR reported.

But perhaps no other factor signifies the growing acceptance of weed in the corporate world as that pale spectre of modern business: the stock photo. Supercompressor recently compiled a collection of stock photos showing middle-aged men and women enjoying pipes and joints while discussing politics or watching a friend play the piano. You know – average upper-middle class dinner party activities.

When stock photos start getting in on the action, you know the iron is heating up. Who will be the first major brand to strike?