The cigarette is an American icon, like it or not. And while Big Tobacco and anti-cigarette activists alike can (and will) take advantage of its iconic visage, they’re not the only ones utilizing its familiarity.
A Colorado company debuted its all-marijuana cigarettes a few months ago, and now the Rifle, Colo.-based makers of Cranfords Cannabis Cigarettes are hoping their sharply marketed and smartly designed product takes off in Colorado — and soon other markets.
“A lot of people who smoke (tobacco) cigarettes have tried our products, and they like that it’s the same feeling — the way it fits between your fingers and how you smoke it and flick it,” said Cranfords chief operating officer Chris Connors. “But there’s no tobacco in there. It’s all marijuana, about 100 milligrams (of THC) in each cigarette, so they’ll definitely make you feel differently than a regular cigarette.”
Booming head shop business: It doesn’t matter what they’re smoking — tobacco or marijuana — smokers are smokers. And in the view of Smoker Friendly, they’re all potential customers. The Boulder-based smoking purveyor is preparing to move aggressively into cannabis accessories after 23 years of primarily serving the tobacco market.
We spoke with Connors — whose dad spent 30-plus years on Wall Street and grandfather was an executive at Bristol-Myers — about Cranfords’ first few months, their feelings about the booming vaporizer market and their intentions for the future.
The Cannabist: So a Cranfords cigarette looks exactly like a regular cigarette — until you look into the tip and see all that green poking out.
Connors: Exactly. Our cigarettes are professionally rolled by machines, and we’re branding ourselves as America’s first cannabis cigarette.
The Cannabist: What are your numbers looking like two months into the launch — how many shops are you in, and how many tins have you sold?
Connors: We are in more than 20 stores, and we have sold close to 1,000 tins. We only launched two months ago, and we are about to franchise into California and Connecticut.
The Cannabist: And what’s the response been so far?
Connors: I always call the shops about a week after dropping off the product, and people are telling me that these are flying off the shelves. Some people would rather roll their own joints, and you’ll always have those people, but many of the people buying Cranfords are bringing them into concerts and others simply like the feel of a cigarette — and that’s what Cranfords feels like.
The Cannabist: Is there any concern somebody would smoke a Cranfords thinking it was a regular tobacco cigarette?
Connors: There’s no concern. They’d know instantly because of the smell and the taste.
The Cannabist: Tell me about the rest of the team at Cranfords.
Connors: Jason Cranford owns Rifle Mountain Dispensary, and he’s won a Cannabis Cup and is also the master grower at Cranfords — along with Brandon Webby. We’re also in a joint venture with Rare Dankness, which will be providing seeds for future Cranfords.
The Cannabist: It’s funny that we’re sitting here talking about a legitimate, legal marijuana cigarette in April 2014 — especially because in January there was a viral image of a fake Marlboro product called “Marlboro M,” right?
Connors: Right, that was everywhere, and it was a total hoax. Now we’re cranking out hundreds of cigarettes in a half hour. We have two machines in Boulder.
The Cannabist: So what’s inside these cigarettes?
Connors: Right now it’s a mix of Scott’s OG and Larry’s OG.
The Cannabist: Will you have any strain-specific cigarettes in the future?
Connors: We hope to have strain-specific cigarettes within the next three months.
The Cannabist: And how much do these tins of 10 cannabis cigarettes sell for?
Connors: We (wholesale) for $30 per tin, and we recommend the shops sell them for $50-$60, which is a great price since there’s a quarter ounce of weed in each tin.
The Cannabist: That’s a lot of weed, and I’m guessing not everybody wants that much in one smoke. Do you have plans for a low-THC blend?
Connors: It’s something we’ve talked about, but for now we’re emphasizing that these are the high-THC blend. We’re also thinking about doing a filterless cigarette.
The Cannabist: And how do you guys feel about releasing this smokable marijuana product in an age when users are gravitating toward vaporizers — for reasons of health and discreetness?
Connors: We’re actually coming out with a vaporizer — a Cranfords vape pen with THC oil. It could be on the market in less than a year.
The Cannabist: The Cranfords design is pretty solid — very pro, concise, stylish. And those tins seem like they’ll be as popular — if not more popular — than the cigarettes themselves.
Connors: Thanks, and we hired a marketing company out of Boulder. They’ve been doing a great job with the marketing and the design and the website — and we’ve already heard from a number of customers who just want the tin. We have people calling from out of state asking, “Can I just buy a Cranfords tin?” They want it for joints, business cards — it’s a novelty item.
The Cannabist: So do you guys sell the tin alone?
Connors: We do — for $10.
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