Netflix Enters the Legal Weed Market

Netflix is a titan of entertainment.

Over the last decade, Netflix has gone from unknown streaming service to an international powerhouse. The entire cable industry had to shift their business models to account for the streaming service or die. Discontent with only disrupting cable, Netflix has expanded to encompass the entire film industry.

Today, Netflix hosts network content, provides instant access to popular film and even produces their own originals. They account for about 37% of all internet traffic and show no signs of giving up their market share. A major contributor to their recent success has been their exceptional lineup of original shows.

Orange is the New Black has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes while the Santa Clarita Diet has a 72% rating. These shows boast more viewers than Tom Brokaw in the 1990s and secure Netflix as a entertainment titan. And the company’s most recent move is to appeal to a certain segment of their viewers: cannabis users.

Netflix uses a ‘Disjointed’ Approach.

The newest show on the block is called ‘Disjointed‘. It is a comedic show about a cannabis dispensary. Complete with liberal use of laugh tracks and one-liners, it is a true sitcom. And Netflix thinks Disjointed deserves a proper introduction to the cannabis community.

What better way for a show about selling cannabis to connect with the audience than to actually sell weed? Netflix can’t find one. So they decided to team up with a dispensary in Hollywood to produce a dozen strains specifically designed to heighten their respective shows.

Last weekend, Netflix sold the special strains for only three days. Inspired by their shows, the strains provide a variety of effects. High-grade indicas represented the lighter side of life while the more complex shows paired with sativas.

Cannabis is too big to miss.

Companies like Netflix aren’t stupid. They know their audience and this recent adventure into canna-culture is likely just the tip of the iceberg. While the company doesn’t intend to continue producing the cannabis, $150,000 of sales in 3 days is hard to beat.

The streaming service partnered up with  Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHS), a dispensary based out of Los Angeles’ West Hollywood district. The dispensary handled the cannabis end of things while Netflix handled the marketing and production. According to AdWeek, the crew moved over 430 ounces in Netflix’s cannabis line.

That equates to around $150,000 in sales which is no laughing matter. It took six months of planning to pull off too. Netflix, AHHS and the marketing firm Carrot worked together to make the promotion a success. Carrot’s executive creative director Jonathan Santoro explained that all partners, including AHHS, cleared everything with lawyers first.

Netflix took strain pairings seriously.

The sale took place at a pop-up event hosted by AHHS and ended on Sunday. Each of the twelve strains was uniquely paired with a popular original show created and streamed on Netflix. The strains were tailored to the specific show they represented as well.

Indica-dominant strains represented the lighter side of things and “sillier” shows. While dramedies (drama/comedy) got the sativa treatment instead. Disjointed had three special varieties to represent it at the event (The Omega, Eves Bush and Rutherford B. Haze) Each of the others shows received one strain to represent it.

Here is the full list of shows and the strains that represented them:

  • Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (Camp Firewood)
  • Bojack Horseman (Prickly Muffin)
  • Arrested Development (Banana Stand Kush)
  • Chelsea (Vodkush)
  • Grace And Frankie (Peyotea 73)
  • Lady Dynamite (Sassafrass OG)
  • Santa Clarita Diet (Baka Bile)
  • Orange Is The New Black (Poussey Riot)
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (Moon 13)
  • Disjointed (The Omega, Eves Bush and Rutherford B Haze)

Netflix kept their hands clean.

Netflix didn’t actually produce or sell any of the marijuana themselves. Carrot’s executive creative director Jonathan Santoro explained that all partners, including AHHS, worked to ensure that all sales were handled according to the strict legislation of California. So while they actively profited from cannabis, they didn’t violate any federal statutes.

“Netflix or Carrot never physically touched the flower,” Santoro stated. Netflix made the show, Carrot handled the marketing and AHHS dealt with growing and packaging the flower. Santoro deftly avoided getting into hot water when questioned about how they determined the correct strains to pair. Santoro claimed “I don’t know if I can legally answer that question, but it is fair to say that Carrot did the research necessary.”

All in all, this is a major win for the cannabis community. International powerhouses with billions of dollars available are finding ways to engage with and profit off cannabis. There is still a long way to go before brands can openly associate with cannabis but this is a step in the right direction.

What happens next?

Netflix claims this was a one-time event. None of the specific strains are available for sale any monger. So anyone who missed the Hollywood promotion is out of luck. But the success of the event makes it easy for Netflix to think about repeating.

There is real risk for companies looking to engage in this kind of marketing. In addition to the intricacies of U.S. law, entertainment companies risk alienating their core demographics. Companies like Time Warner, Harpo Productions, and others risk far more than Netflix (whose viewers tend to be more open).

That doesn’t mean copycat or season two events are impossible though. Companies like HBO and Hulu have powerhouse franchises that appeal to stoners. And there is nothing to say they wouldn’t try a similar event in the future given the success of this attempt.

So far, none of the three companies involved (Netflix, Carrot and AHHS) have sworn off future events. Other companies have yet to release plans for similar events but several may try now that the concept is proven. We will have to wait and see if the amazingly positive reception by the cannabis community spurs anyone else to dabble in dabs.

 

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About Adam Rhodes

Adam is a glass collector, entrepreneur, artist, and fine cannabis connoisseur who loves to be engaged in creative projects and scientific research. He specializes in producing cannabis related content on a variety of platforms. Adam loves connecting with the cannabis community and collaborating with creators and businesses.

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