On February 22, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) will host a “California Dairy Dispensary” in Venice, CA. The “dispensary” is modeled after shops that sell cannabis products—which, after a treacherous battle, became legal in California in 2018. The experience promises to highlight the “natural, mood-enhancing properties of California dairy foods as represented by varieties of cheese, micro-dosed butters, flavor-infused yogurts, and rolled ice cream (presumably included to resemble joints)—all the TLC with zero THC or cannabis.” On site “dairy docents” will educate guests about the dairy, which CMAB describes as a “mood-enhancer—wholesome, natural, and legal in all 50 states.” In addition to the pop-up, the CMAB launched a commercial that uses primarily Black actors who are shown eating dairy products while being whisked around various California landscapes. “California based dairy foods, or CBD for short, not only taste delicious but are a natural way to enter a golden state of feeling everything from bliss to excitement,” CMAB CEO John Talbot said in a press release. “A dispensary-inspired setting offers consumers an unexpected and unforgettable way to experience their favorite foods made with real milk produced on family dairy farms using the nation’s most sustainable farming practices.”
Dairy milk consumption as a whole has been in rapid decline for at least 20 years, losing $1.1 billion in sales in 2018 alone according to statistics reported last year by the Dairy Farmers of America. Dairy lobby groups have used various tactics to lure back customers, with a recent focus on millennials—who market researchers have found are driving demand for vegan products, particularly ice cream. Cannabis-centric publication Ganjaprenuer responded to CMAB’s latest attempt to appeal to millennials, stating that the dairy lobby has gone too far by co-opting cannabis culture while disregarding the widespread struggles of activists and early entrepreneurs in the marijuana movement. “Currently, over 40,000 Americans are sitting in jail cells for non-violent cannabis crimes while ‘Chads’ [typical corporate types] who more often than not voted against medical and adult-use laws are running public cannabis companies without having to worry about federal action faced by heirloom growers, patient providers, and activists,” Ganjapreneur writer Cara Wietstock said. “This is just one layer of the industry trauma that Big Milk has completely disregarded in their ploy to convince more people to imbibe cow juice.”
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