It wasn’t so long ago that it was a bad idea for Americans to post a photo of their weed on the internet. Your employer might see it. The cops might come. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, if the juice was just an edgy Instagram.
For most people in America, this is still the case. Even in states with some level of legal weed, using cannabis can cost you your job, and the belief that the drug might be in someone’s house, car, or pocket has been a pretense for an untold number of police searches, the consequences of which have disproportionately affected people of color.
But thanks to an emerging class of high-end cannabis products and services, tweeting or Instagramming your stash is becoming a bit more common. Now, a heavyweight has stepped into the ring: The luxe department store Barneys New York announced this week that it would launch a new Instagram-ready cannabis department called The High End. Given luxury shoppers’ average demographic—wealthy and white—the launch is a stark reminder of how much the risk of smoking a little weed in America can vary from person to person, and whose interests legalization is primed to serve first.
Barneys is the first major American department store to get into the weed game, but it’s natural that both large-scale and luxury retailers would take an interest in the growing market for cannabis-adjacent products as state and local laws about the plant loosen. In inviting customers to order cannabis for delivery and shop for gilded vapes and art-object bongs, however, Barneys has joined businesses like vegan bakeries and glossy lifestyle publications in rushing to sell a suite of products whose legality varies wildly, and whose sale or consumption can still have real consequences for most Americans.