It’s not surprising Whole foods Market Inc., the leading retailer of organic foods free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners, is looking at selling marijuana and marijuana-based products soon.
Whole Foods founder Steve Mackey went on record back in 2013 saying he’s in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana use in the United States.
Asked during a recent interview if Whole Foods might consider selling “alternative proteins” such as insects, Mackey said yes. And, without being asked, brought up the subject of marijuana.
“If cannabis is ever passed in Texas, chances are good that grocery stores will be selling that too,” he said. “You just never know what happens over time with markets. They change and evolve.”
Mackey said weed has to be legal in the state before Whole Foods decides to go all in on cannabis. That might take some doing since Washington D.C. isn’t as open-minded as the Canadian Parliament, which made the recreational use of weed legal throughout Canada starting Oct. 17, 2018.
In the U.S. right now, recreational marijuana is legal in only 10 states and Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana fares somewhat better and is legal in 33 states. Needless to say, Republican Red States are the most ardent opponents of legalizing weed.
Based on Mackey’s condition that Whole Foods will only dare sell weed, cannabidiol (CBD), CBD products or CBD-infused products only when weed becomes legal in most states, would-be buyers of weed have a long wait coming.
But there is a glimmer of good news for weed users. In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold a public meeting to discuss the best way to regulate CBD and hemp in food and dietary supplements, said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb during a House hearing last week.
Then, there’s the business logic for retailing weed. The progressive news magazine Mother Jones listed hemp as one of the top 10 trends of 2019 on its website.
“A new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants has many brands looking to explore the booming cannabis biz,” said Mother Jones.
Mackey’s caution stands in stark contrast to the boldness of Daniella Vitale, CEO and President of high-end retailer Barneys New York Inc.
Barneys this month will open its very own legal cannabis shop-in-shop (also called a “head shop”) at its Beverly Hills, California flagship. Other locations in California will follow. A head shop in NYC is a distinct possibility.
Barneys has named its luxe head shop, The High End. By opening this store, Barneys gained the distinction of becoming the first major U.S. retailer to retail cannabis and cannabis products.
The High End is being promoted as a “luxury cannabis and wellness concept shop.” And why is a brand famous for all things luxurious dipping its feet in cannabis waters?
“Barneys has always been at the forefront of shifts in culture and lifestyle, and cannabis is no exception,” said Vitale.