Could America’s Favorite Hippy Capitalists Become Legal Marijuana Kingpins?

Long story short: absolutely.

When Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield endorsed the idea of marijuana ice cream earlier this week, the Internet – and the large community of stoners it entertains – was highly supportive. Unfortunately, Ben and Jerry don’t own the ice cream brand they founded in 1978 any more. Unilever owns it and Unilever confirmed that it has no plans to make green with green if Vermont changes its drug laws, which appears likely. That means that supermarket lines in Denver and Seattle will remain reasonable, but it also leaves open the possibility that Ben and Jerry will bring their peculiar brand of well-intentioned profiteering to the burgeoning field of legal weed.

Anyone who has ever been on the factory tour of the Ben & Jerry’s facility in Waterbury will tell you that the experience was designed for stoners. You look at colorful tubes. You have a snack. You take a nap in a field. Sometimes there is a banner of the Earth on the production facility; sometimes there isn’t. It’s pleasant and indulgent and, well, very relaxing. That’s because marketing ice cream is not unlike marketing pot. You come up with some catchy names for flavors (Cherry Garcia, Magic Brownies, Half Baked, Phish Food) then you give the people what they want. Your product has some drawbacks – addiction, cholesterol – but is generally fine if consumed in moderation. Some of you clients struggle with that. Some don’t.

Long story pithy: Ben and Jerry know exactly how to grow a weed business. If they do precisely what they did for ice cream, they’ll be able legal drug lords in no time. Which means the question isn’t about “could” so much as it is about “would.” Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield don’t need the money and they have other hobbies, like trying to get money out of politics. Whether they would consider a weed business more of distraction or an opportunity remains to be seen, but America – specifically the parts of America where pot is legal – already trusts these guys. And, at the end of the days, being a dealer is all about that trust.