November 12, 2013

Marijuana vote raises marketing questions for Portland

While the effect on the city's 'brand' is not yet known, some businesses see opportunity.

By Randy Billings
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Marijuana vote

Will the vote to legalize marijuana help or hurt Portland's image?



View Results

click image to enlarge

Alysia Zoidis owns East End Cupcakes in Portland.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

In Portland, Mayor Michael Brennan said the city’s vote in support of legal marijuana further solidifies it as a progressive city.

“Portland has a history of progressive politics, of being on the cutting edge of several economic, social and political issues and I think this issue is in keeping with that tradition,” Brennan said.

Portland was the first city in the state to pass an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and was the first in the state to marry a gay couple. Portland voters have also voted in support of single-payer, universal health care.

And two Green Independents currently serve on the City Council.

The Portland Regional Chamber and the Greater Portland Visitors Convention Bureau don’t think the vote will change Portland’s standing among businesses or tourists.

“Portland has a strong brand of what it has to offer that’s more than this vote,” said Lynn Tillotson, president and chief executive officer of the visitors bureau.

Individual businesses, however, could benefit from legal marijuana.

There are more than a half dozen so-called head shops, which sell glass pipes, hookahs and water pipes, that are expected to benefit from the city’s pro-pot stance.

Several shop owners declined to be interviewed, however. By law, the shops can only promote their products to tobacco users.

Alysia Zoidis, the owner of East End Cupcakes on Fore Street, thinks businesses like hers could benefit, as well.

The cupcake bakery even hosted a news conference by several state representatives who endorsed what has been dubbed as Portland’s “reeferendum.”

Zoidis said she supports regulating and taxing marijuana, because it would create a new revenue stream for the government and help eliminate the black market for marijuana.

But her cupcake business – as well as other bakeries – could benefit from legalized marijuana.

“It’s pretty obvious,” Zoidis said of the hungry stoner stereotype. The drug is known as an appetite enhancer, one of the reasons Maine allows doctors to recommend its use by people with terminal illnesses.

Zoidis said she is even considering launching a new cupcake business if, as advocates hope, marijuana is ultimately legalized at the state level. The business would serve marijuana-infused cupcakes.

“It’s definitely a market I’d be interested in getting into,” Zoidis said.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

Twitter: randybillings

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Today's poll: Marijuana vote

Will the vote to legalize marijuana help or hurt Portland's image?



View Results