How strange is the emerging world of medical-marijuana entrepreneurship?
Consider Clay Butler, who may soon be marketing a food product that he's never tasted, and that he would never buy. The product is called Canna Cola, and it's a soft drink that contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, aimed at medical marijuana dispensaries.
"I don't do drugs," said the Soquel-based commercial artist. "Never have. I never drank, never smoked. I'm a clean-living guy. I've had two beers in my whole life, and I remember them both too. No marijuana, I've never smoked a cigarette. I take an aspirin when I get a headache. That's it."
Yet, Butler is a partner in a company that is poised to move aggressively in a market that could one day be enormously popular by combining pot with soda pop, two products widely seen as scourges by many Americans -- though those upset by one tend to be approving or indifferent to the other.
"Even though, personally, I'm not interested and I don't think it's right for me," said Butler, "I'm a firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose to do so. It's your life; it's your body."
What really intoxicates Butler is branding, the art of differentiating a product in the marketplace through words and images. And he's designed a line of soda pop that he says will be branded to take advantage of an entirely new market. The line includes the flagship cola drink Canna Cola, the Dr Pepper-like Doc Weed, the lemon-lime Sour Diesel, the grape-flavored Grape Ape and the orange-flavored Orange Kush.
Marijuana sodas do exist in the marketplace. But, said Butler, none of them have the branding savvy of his product.
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