Big pot embraces high design

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One of the ballot measures we Californians can vote on next Tuesday is Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana.

If it passes - and most polls predict it will - it means adults in California could carry up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six pot plants.

Sales of pot would be taxed, and prior marijuana convictions could be overturned.

Prop 64 would also establish packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products.

So for example, they'll say products can't be designed to be appealing to children.

But this is reportedly the fastest growing industry in the country, and there's going to be a lot of design business opportunities.

"The industry is in the midst of a huge charm offensive," said Alex Halperin, editor of the newsletter Weed Week. "So there are brands out there that are geared towards seniors, towards I think the Holy Grail, which is adult professionals."

This is a big deal because marijuana advertising is highly restricted. You might be familiar with the ads in the back of LA Weekly, next to the adult escorts. This makes packaging an important way for companies to sell their products.

When we think of how marijuana is sold, it's usually in those very clinical plastic tubes, but we're seeing some very innovative package design.

The opposition to legalized recreational marijuana has a TV ad that basically says the measure would allow for marketing of things like marijuana-infused gummy bears to children.

You can already see how a once illicit trade is coming out in the open in cleanly packaged cannabis-based product lines like Rapper Snoop Dogg's Leafs by Snoop, designed by global branding firm Pentagram.

Pentagram partner Emily Oberman has incorporated a mix of pastel gold colors and imagery like palm trees, fish, birds and cloudy skies. Oberman has said she wanted a departure from the "rasta, crunchy, hemp, outlaw" look most cannabis products have.

Remember that it's not just the flowers - the green stuff - that are being sold. There are concentrates and edibles that are very popular too, and there are smoking accessories.

We're also seeing the rise of the high-end dispensary, with a clean, bright interior and cannabis products elegantly displayed in glass-topped display cases that might resemble an optometrist's office.

One of those who is betting on a cannabis retail explosion is interior designer Megan Stone, owner and founder of The High Road Design Studio based in Phoenix, Arizona.

She began as a patient, then worked as a budtender in a dispensary, and established her studio in 2013 after completing her design studies.

“I can't do the same thing for my clients in Florida that I can for my clients in California because politically it's different, regulatory-wise, it's different," Stone said. "So for my clients in Florida it's much more of a medical pharmacy-type experience, because politically that's what they were comfortable with allowing... contrast that with the work I've done in California, or here in Arizona or in Colorado, where you don't necessarily have to paint that experience as staunchly medical, because culturally cannabis sits in a different place."

Photo: Leafs by Snoop cannabis-infused chocolate bars. (Pentagram)