If one thing has become crystal clear, it’s that Coloradoans love their weed. And marijuana-themed merch – merchandise like t-shirts and travel mugs – has sprung up, like – well – weeds! It’s gone from a cottage industry with homemade or underground production, to fairly mainstream, even in states where recreational marijuana is not legal.
While merch is usually seen as a way to make money, with cannabis-based companies it’s also a vital way to build awareness. Fashions can be worn by cool kids who may be too young to enjoy marijuana, but it is also a legal way for them to support the industry. Cannabis companies benefit from having a piece of their revenue stream that’s less regulated and scrutinized bring in some dollars. Being able to legally sell items in other states and countries where marijuana is illegal, or sell to people under the age of 21, has made a big difference for these young companies.
For many, cannabis is a lifestyle. During 2020 and the pandemic, marijuana profits soared, and consumers developed very solid connections with the brand of their choice. The merchandise can solidify that connection.
Coloradans’ love for weed is well known, and the proof of this can be emblazoned on the vehicles of a lucky few. Colorado has made the love official with marijuana-themed vanity license plates. The mere thought of your car traveling down the highway, windows down and your ganja love visible – can make you feel the wind through your hair!
The vanity plates were part of a fundraising push by the Colorado Disability Funding Committee (which works to develop new innovations to directly benefit those in the disabled community) and the Colorado Department of Transportation. They auctioned off marijuana-themed license plates and raised money for support and resources for people with disabilities across the state of Colorado. The auction ended on 4/20!
There were fourteen state-issued vanity plates, with words and phrases including “HEMP,” “HASH,” and “STASH.” Others included “GOTWAX,” “INDICA,” “GANJA” and “GREEN.” The page for each license plate being auctioned had a disclaimer, reminding participants to use cannabis responsibly and not to drive while impaired.
Whoever thought of this idea deserves a raise! The auction raised just over $45,000. The highest winning bid was $6,630 for “ISIT420.” “TEGRIDY,” (a reference to the fictional marijuana farm on South Park) brought in “$4,930, while “BONG” and “GREEN” did well, bringing in $3,890 and $3,510, respectively. The winners will be able to use the plates for a lifetime.
With the success of the legal marijuana industry in Colorado (sales were over $2 billion last year), it’s understandable that so many people want to make their support more visible. Those in other states were able to bid in the auction, but they were sent a novelty plate that doesn’t contain the security features that come with a normal license plate if they won.
The state plans to return with another 4/20 themed auction next year.
There is some worry that the plates will be noticed unfavorably by police and state troopers in Colorado, but since they are state-sanctioned, it’s hoped that drivers of cars with the plates will not be harassed and pulled over excessively.
Trouble in Other States
It’s hard to imagine traveling outside of Colorado with a plate reading “GANJA,” as it would seem to be an invitation to law enforcement to inconvenience you, or worse. But vehicles with ordinary Colorado plates are being targeted by the state troopers of other states, seemingly with the idea of making arrests for marijuana possession.
For my travels through Kansas, I bought car magnets for various teams and schools from Kansas and affixed them prominently to the back of my car. I figured professing an affinity for the Jayhawks, while disingenuous, kept me from being stopped on my drives from Denver to Kansas City!
A man driving in Idaho stated that he was pulled over three times for no apparent reason. He has filed a lawsuit against the Idaho State Police, alleging a state trooper presumed he had marijuana just because his plates were from Colorado.
And Coloradan Mark Jennings was stopped three times by Illinois State Police as he drove from Colorado to Ohio to care for his sick father. During one stop, three or four other trooper vehicles pulled up to join the first officer. Jennings’ vehicle was searched by the troopers for 45 minutes. Part of one of the vehicle’s door panels was ripped away. Jennings believes the troopers thought he was bringing drugs from Colorado to other states.
Traveling with Care
Colorado is in a unique position. Legalizing marijuana has provided so many benefits to the people of the state, and that status cannot be taken for granted. Those who possess and enjoy marijuana must be aware of the laws, both in Colorado and in other states. As the pandemic is slowly resolved, there will be more opportunities to travel. Visiting loved ones, having new experiences – great things are waiting for all of us!