Pubdate: Wed, 07 Oct 2015
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Column: On the Ground in Las Vegas With John M. Glionna
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Times
Author: John Glionna


Cannabis Club TV Aims to Be a Platform for Marijuana Advertisers

Step aside, Comedy Central. Beat it, MTV. Eat your heart out, Food 
Channel. A new media darling is tapping into the wants and needs of 
an emerging social culture: people who smoke pot, both medicinally 
and, in a growing number of states, simply to get high.

It's called Cannabis Club TV, or CCTV, the brainchild of Danny Keith 
and Pete Biggam. The two Santa Cruz partners with tattoos and hipster 
get-ups happen to be pot consumers themselves for, you know, those 
nasty aches and pains.

Their goal is to provide a platform for marijuana advertisers to 
reach potential customers - a burgeoning pot business community that 
is now, unlike the large U.S. pharmaceutical firms, precluded from 
such conventional outlets as TV and newspaper advertising.

The idea is so simple that even a couch stoner reeling from a couple 
of mindblowing bong hits could understand it: CCTV provides 
high-definition big screens for the waiting rooms of marijuana 
dispensaries, where clients will no longer be held hostage by the 
banter of, say, Fox TV talking heads or reruns of "Survivor." 
Instead, they will watch a stream of content that is all things marijuana.

New products. Interviews with experts like self-professed pot doctor 
Michele Ross. Tips on how to beat the munchies on a budget, or how to 
roll the perfect cylindrical joint. They're looking for firsttime 
auteurs to begin working on marijuana-themed projects.

When it comes to what's on air, there'll be no proverbial stems or 
seeds, just perfect buds of useful pot themed programming, Keith and 
Biggam say. Their service is free to dispensaries, which get a 
percentage of the advertising sold.

That way, everybody's happy. Nobody is "bogarting" the joint, as they say.

The partners admit their idea is still in the infancy stage: Hey, 
networks like MTV and ESPN struggled in their infancy, right?

They've lined up a few dozen dispensaries as they continue to seek 
funding. Right now, they're dispensing their programming in 15-minute 
blocs, but eventually expect their network to run 24 hours.

In January, they plan an official launch in either Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

"We're in the era of the gold rush for the cannabis community," said 
Biggam, 35, who has sold digital signage to libraries and sports 
teams. "The business will grow quickly and we'll change with the 
times. I envision virtual reality on our network, when viewers will 
be able to walk through a marijuana farm, smelling the product. Imagine that."

For now, they are constantly searching for those who want a place on 
their new platform. Over the weekend, they manned a booth at the 
second annual Hempfest Carnival and Marijuana Expo, held in an 
open-air parking lot just east of the Strip.

On Saturday night, the place was a pot-smoker's paradise: The strong 
aroma of cannabis wafted into the early-October air at a scene that 
boasted all the sophistication of a county fair midway. Rappers 
belted out pot-themed riffs on two stages.

Young men with cornrows skateboarded past hawkers peddling pot pipes 
made from pretzels. "Smokes like glass. Tastes like pretzel," the 
sign read. There were heat lamps for closet growers, solar-powered 
pipes, marijuana plant trimmers, hemp vodka and ubiquitous Bob 
Marleythemed T-shirts.

Every one of the night's entrepreneurs is a potential CCTV 
advertiser, said Keith, a 46-year-old former surf-and-skateboard shop 
owner. Representatives from the marijuana law reform group NORML 
stopped by the booth, along with an online cannabis talk show host.

"I think we can promote each other," host Johnni Mathews said. "It's 
so important for cannabis businesses not to be in the closet, 
relegated to the Internet. We all need to be visible, as long as 
we're doing things legally."

On the street nearby, lost stoners poked their smoke-wreathed heads 
out of car windows and said, "Hey, man, where's Hempfest?" A man 
walked by in a jumpsuit adorned with a collage of marijuana plants. 
Twentysomething couples held hands and browsed the booths like 
grocery store shoppers.

At the CCTV booth, Keith and Biggam discussed what they consider to 
be their first brilliant marketing strategy: a partnership with 
actor-comedian Tommy Chong, godfather of all stoners. Chong is still 
part of the Cheech & Chong duo that began popularizing the 
laugh-out-loud insanity of being high with your friends back in the 
1970s, with comedy albums and movies like "Up in Smoke."

Chong, 77, remains an advocate of legalized marijuana who believes 
that regular use of the drug helped him beat back prostate cancer in 
2012. This year, he announced that he has been diagnosed with rectal 
cancer and has started a cannabis regimen.

On Saturday, Chong posed with fans right next to the CCTV setup. From 
his booth, he was selling his product line of papers, rollers and bud grinders.

CCTV plans on using Chong as an emcee for its programming schedule. 
Soon, a film crew will follow him to dispensaries near his home in 
Los Angeles for some "on the scene" antics, Keith and Biggam say. 
They'd also like to feature old Cheech & Chong movies and clips from 
the team's recent performances.

Late that night, the CCTV crew gathered in Chong's RV, where he took 
a break and described his exhausting day as he met with fans: 
"Getting stoned, listening to music and trying to understand what 
people are saying to you when you're really high."

His concept of his role with CCTV remains hazy. "What will I do? You 
know, read this, read that; talk about new ways to get high, what to 
do when you're high. You know, let's make a dope deal kind of thing."

Then he went back to his booth to sell pot paraphernalia.

The camera crew followed him, filming scenes that might soon make 
coach-potato bong-burners laugh out loud.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom