Marijuana Business Magazine - January 2017

Q&A Five Questions with George Blankenship, Former Tesla, Apple and Gap Executive by Kristen Nichols S teve Jobs was so impressed by George Blanken- ship that he hired him to develop a line of retail stores for Apple. Tesla's Elon Musk did the same. A pioneer in innovative retail strategy, Blankenship is heralded for creating the immensely successful Apple Store concept and for helping make Tesla a household name by developing innovative showrooms and flaw- less customer service – versus the heavy advertising and sponsorship spending used by most automobile manu- facturers. Blankenship was a keynote speaker at the annual MJBizCon in Las Vegas in November. In an interview with Marijuana Business Magazine, Blankenship discussed the future of the marijuana indus- try. He touched on the sector’s current “image issue” and spelled out steps marijuana retailers and other busi- nesses can take to succeed in the long term. What are your initial impressions of the marijuana indus- try – what do you think it’s doing well from a business standpoint, where do you think it’s falling short? The marijuana industry has a bit of an image issue, given the various ways the business could be pursued. A lot of people have long-standing perceptions of the indus- try, going back to the “Summer of Love” 50 years ago. The marijuana industry has this perception issue and an education shortfall as to what marijuana could actually be used for. You don’t have to do a whole lot of research to understand the potential benefits. But which direction is it going to go – as a way to get high, or a way to treat things like glaucoma, all these other conditions? As the population ages, there’s a lot of different ways the industry could go. Building Credibility to Succeed in the Long Term In which direction do you see the most business potential? I think there could be a lot of business done in just selling marijuana to people who want to take marijuana home and use it to get high. That could be a very suc- cessful business venture. But I do think that somewhere down the way someone is going to nail how to communicate in a professional way the truly medical benefits that can be derived from cannabis. And we’ll get over this stigma. And that’s when we’ll see this industry take off. Somebody is going to figure out how to do that. 16 • Marijuana Business Magazine • January 2018