Black Friday is a shopping tradition. It's not an official holiday, but people stop and drop what they're doing to participate. For consumers, it means crazy deals. For retailers, it means crazy sales. Marijuana dispensaries want in on the action, taking a page from traditional retailers, cooking up their very own "Green Friday."
Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in January so this Black Friday marks the first time that dispensaries can participate in the biggest shopping day of the year. And like many traditional retailers, they saw brisk sales Friday as locals and tourists trooped to the state's Green Mile to get their hands on discounted pot.
Like traditional retailers, marijuana dispensaries are taking different approaches for Green Friday depending on what they want to achieve. For those interested in attracting new customers, dropping prices is the way to go, with some cannabis strains getting as much as 80 percent off their original prices. Selling at below cost won't make profits, but the potential draw of new customers who could turn into long-term patrons will be well worth it.
For those keen on completing their Christmas shopping early, gift sets are also available from the dispensaries. As a free service, some will also throw in gift wrapping, stockings and gift totes with purchases.
For those who want to give the gift of pot but would rather their recipients choose their own strains, gift certificates are also available, albeit they're only handwritten. This is because banking regulations don't allow major credit card companies to back marijuana gift cards, unlike what they do for traditional retailers.
Not to be left behind are stores offering edibles. For Green Friday and to herald the coming holiday season, marijuana-infused pumpkin pies are on sale, as well as minty pot confections and cannabis honey for those who want to make their own edibles at home.
While dispensaries will make their biggest sales out of marijuana-related items, they are not leaving nonpot purchases out of the equation. Some dispensaries are also offering noncannabis gift items like T-shirts, lotions infused with legal herbs, and rolling papers to complement the various strains they are offering.
"I think what we're seeing now is an industry maturing that's gone from a novelty to behaving like other industries, which is doing promotions, doing advertising, trying to come up with new products, trying to capture market share," explained Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor who's been following the industry.