This is How You Sell Pot to Rich People

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(Bloomberg) — Barneys New York is opening its doors to cannabis lovers—in Southern California.

Synonymous with wealthy Manhattanites of a certain financial status, the luxury retailer decided to grace the left coast with its first offering of pricey, stylish paraphernalia meant to match the occasionally high lifestyle of some Barneys shoppers.

Now that it’s about to launch, we decided to take a peek inside. On the fifth floor of the Beverly Hills venue, past the men’s shoes department, the department dubbed “The High End” offers an assortment of exclusive products, from $1,100 hand-blown glass bongs to $1,400 weed grinders to (we’re not kidding, here) artisanal French rolling papers. All are handsomely displayed in vitrines and along the walls in a predictably relaxed, minimalist enclave.

It’s the luxury store’s first foray into cannabis culture, one that’s taken off rapidly since California allowed the sale of recreational marijuana last year. Even in such a fairly staid city as Beverly Hills, the nightly smell of pot from neighboring homes and along sidewalks can regularly be detected alongside the jasmine blossom.

Matthew Mazzucca, Barneys’ creative director, said he “started seeing the cultural shift in Los Angeles, and it really seemed like an opportunity.” 

The move by Barneys could begin a new stage in the normalization of marijuana use in America. Across the country, pot businesses have been springing up as state after state legalizes pot for medical and recreational use. Although there remains a conflict of laws, given the federal government’s continued proscriptions against pot, the marijuana economy is nevertheless flourishing. 

Now you can add to that a segment catering to the rich pot user. As New York edges closer to full legalization, stores such as Higher Standards, which opened in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market late last year, are offering must-haves like a $6,000 glass pot pipe in the shape of a skateboard. The High End will operate in this rarified marijuana world.

Pot is now legal for adult use across Canada and in 10 U.S. states, with easing regulations driving an investment boom that’s seen the value of publicly traded marijuana companies surge. Having a storied retail house such as Barneys throw its weight behind the green wave arguably expands the retail dynamic, perhaps making it easier for other department stores to start selling pot products.  

Other items for sale at Barneys include functional jewelry—with a grinder attached, for example—or stationary paper than can double as a filter for your joint. Also to be had are beauty products, candles and vintage ashtrays.

But don’t get too excited. Barneys isn’t selling actual marijuana products, though customers can order an assortment of attractively packaged, pre-rolled joints, vaporizer pens and edibles by Beboe for home delivery. These products are aimed at high-functioning adults and provide mild doses, according to Beboe co-founder Scott Campbell. Representatives of his company will be on-site at Barneys to help you get your pot home.

The idea, Campbell said, was to present in a thoughtful, adult way something that had been part of a fringe culture and officially graduate it into the luxury world.

“We make the best possible product, without regard to how much it costs to make, and present it in a way that’s very thoughtful and considered,” Campbell said. “Cannabis is something that a lot of people are encountering for the first time, especially in this context, and the presentation is very important.”

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