I tried big brands like Miller Lite, Wendy’s, Estée Lauder, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. They also use the digital worlds for marketing, but marketers believe that the metaverse can offer some advantages of particular interest to them.
To the degree that the metaverse operates on the principles of Web3, as decentralization replaces corporate control over the Web, cannabis marketers may be able to talk about their products more freely than they can on platforms like Facebook, said Lisa Buffo, founder and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association.
“It’s a wide open space in Web3…the regulators haven’t gotten around it yet,” said Ms. Buffo.
High Life CBD Dispensary LLC in December opened a store in Voxels, a metaverse-like platform that was called Cryptovoxels until rebranding in May. The company partnered with Saucey Farms & Extracts LLC in February to take over the store’s second floor.
Virtual visitors cannot order High Life’s CBD products directly inside the virtual store, but they can click a fake cash register to visit the High Life website and order CBD products there.
Brandon Howard, CEO of Haier Life, said about a thousand people visit the store every day.
Saucey’s floor includes another cash register, which again leads to a website where visitors can shop, in this case for non-cannabis merchandise like grinders.
Alex Todd, co-founder of the company, said Saucey has not sold many items to visitors who click on its cash register. But Susi expects that to change as more people join the metaverse, he said.
Mr. Todd said the metaverse will probably be within five years of actual cannabis selling ability, and he predicted that US federal regulations banning the sale of the product could ease in that time frame.
Meanwhile, Saucey’s NFTs could help spread brand awareness, particularly as more people join the metaverse and search for clothing and accessories for their avatar, he said.
“It would be a great tool for the cannabis space,” he said.
Cannabis-branded Kandy Girl, which is best known for selling a THC-infused mucilage that can be shipped to all 50 states, acquired land in Decentraland in December to promote the company and sell NFTs. She sold and gave away virtual wearables with accompanying NFTs, including wings that resemble marijuana leaves. Kandy Girl said NFT sales in Decentraland have been around $30,000 so far.
Ben Boyce, chief marketing officer of Kandy Girl, which is owned by Boyce Capital LLC, said there aren’t enough users currently to take the effort to the next level.
“When there are a million people logging into the metaverse at any given time, then it will make sense for the employees [a virtual] A dispensary with a real live human being,” said Mr. Boyce.
For now, cannabis brands have the relative freedom of metaverses, where they can use tactics that are often prohibited on dominant digital advertising platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Google Alphabet Inc.
The Meta Community Standards prohibit content, whether paid advertising or unpaid organic content, that “attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate, give gifts, or solicits marijuana.” Its advertising policies state that companies “must not promote the sale or use of illegal or recreational drugs.”
But Decentraland and Voxels said they work with cannabis companies.
“We have supported the various NFT cannabis communities – as long as they meet the terms and conditions,” said Adam de Cata, Head of Partnerships at Decentraland.
Sam Hamilton, creative director of Decentraland, which builds tools for the platform and markets it, said cannabis companies opening their doors in Decentraland need to observe legal regulations, including not serving users in countries where the product is prohibited.
But “as a decentralized platform, it is not the role of the institution to coordinate user-generated content or monitor community philosophies,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Ben Nolan, the company’s founder, said Voxels prohibits the sale of cannabis on its platform, but has no objection if its users open simulated dispensaries on its platform.