By Julie Weed, Forbes Contributor
As marijuana consumption grows with expanding legalization, most users still want to be discreet about their practices. Entrepreneurs are helping these customers keep their cannabis consumption under the radar, and to connect them unobtrusively to retailers and like-minded users.
Brian Huynh started his company, Sploofy, like many entrepreneurs do, in an effort to solve his own problem, which in this case was ridding his home environment of the distinctive odor of cannabis.
“I knew many students created a makeshift filter using a toilet paper roll and dryer sheet, which worked, but was clearly a pain to keep making. I wanted to create something that would not only get rid of the odor, but was also convenient to the user. Just like you would use Febreze to get rid of unwanted smells in the restroom, I wanted to create a sort of ‘household product’ that would help with the smell of marijuana.”
Huynh joined forces with two friends in 2015 to start Sploofy in Los Angeles and create those air filters for consumers like himself. Consumers using a water pipe to smoke cannabis exhale into the device which retains the particles and smell using a HEPA filter.
Huynh didn’t expect his customer base to turn out the way it has. “Our target audience was young adults but a surprisingly high number of customers are parents with kids,” he said.
Some may not want their children to know they use the substance. Others may want to keep the possibility of second-hand smoke away from their children.
Huynh’s experience selling to parents echoes a recent study of the make-up of cannabis users. Miner and Co. Studio, surveyed 800 consumers who had purchased cannabis in a retail setting. 93% of those surveyed said they consume cannabis at least once a week, and they were generally married, working people. 84% were employed full time. 65% reported earning a household income of at least $75,000 per year. 42% were parents of children under the age of 18.
Cannabis users also look to research products and connect with each other in a discreet fashion. Mass Roots, a Denver-based social media platform for cannabis users and retailers was founded in 2013 by Isaac Dietrich, to do just that. Currently about one million people have tried Mass Roots to stay up to date on cannabis news, find retailers near them, or communicate with other consumers.
Entrepreneurs are finding other creative ways to cater to cannabis users who want to experience their high discreetly. Jody Hall, co-founder of Goodship Higher Education in Seattle, books leading experts on artificial intelligence, extra-terrestrial life and other topics for audiences of about 200 people. The lecture program is designed for attendees to arrive high (or “pre-boarded on the Goodship”) so they can gather and share their experience, in a sophisticated setting, without flaunting their usage. Hall is also founder of the Goodship, a gourmet cannabis-infused edibles company in Seattle.
While the spread of cannabis legalization continues, its use retains a stigma for now, so entrepreneurs like these will likely continue to find a growing audience looking for discretion.
Julie Weed (yes, Weed is her real last name) writes about the marijuana industry. In addition to Forbes, she's written about 100 articles for The New York Times, as well as articles and cover stories for Inc. magazine, Entrepreneur, Fast Company and others. Julie wrote the best-selling All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft. Follow her on Twitter @julie_weed and at www.julieweed.net.