How Green Wednesday became the Black Friday of cannabis

Cannabis retailers navigate a thicket of regulations when it comes to discounting.
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The Source

· 4 min read

Thanksgiving tables will feature plenty of baked goods, and thanks to Kiva, which makes cannabis edibles, many of the people sitting around the table will be baked, too. Kiva Turkey Gravy, a just-add-water powder with 10 milligrams of THC per pack, promises on its product page that “your household will be back in harmony in no time—each remembering that it’s all…truly…gravy.”

Pop into a cannabis retailer the day before Thanksgiving, and you’re apt to get a deal on the gravy. Green Wednesday, cannabis’s answer to Black Friday, is by many accounts the second-biggest sales day of the year for the industry, behind only April 20, the date that evokes the common term for cannabis: 420.

“Green Wednesday has been the sole contender for 4/20,” Matthew Janz, director of marketing at The Source, a chain of recreational and medical dispensaries in Nevada, told Retail Brew via email. “There have been years when our Green Wednesday beat 4/20—it seems to be a neck-and-neck race between the two.”

Last year Ceres Collaborative, which owns recreational and medical dispensaries in Vermont, saw a sales lift of more than 160% on Green Wednesday as compared to the two Wednesdays that preceded it and the two Wednesdays that followed it, Russ Todia, COO of Ceres Collaborative, told us in an email.

Like retailers typically do on Black Friday, cannabis stores lure shoppers in with special offers. However, the substance remains illegal under federal law, and state laws that regulate retail cannabis vary widely, so retailers develop strategies to get customers in their stores but not get in hot water with regulators.

Green with NV: Many stores that promote Green Wednesday use it to highlight specials that they run beyond that single day.

Nevada’s The Source, for example, told us that beginning on November 20—the Monday before Green Wednesday—through December 3, it’s giving shoppers who spend $100 or more cannabis-themed scratch-off advent calendars. Everyone will win something, even an ounce of cannabis for just a penny.

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Why a mere penny? Some states prohibit giving away cannabis promotionally, and the thinking goes that charging a penny just makes it a deep discount, not a freebie.

Other states, including New York, don’t permit discounting cannabis. Gotham, a store in New York City’s East Village, is running BOGO specials from November 20–27, which includes Green Wednesday, only on its CBD line, Gotham Goods, since discounting CBD products is permitted under the law.

Edible engagements: The reason Green Wednesday, in contrast to other Black Friday-ish promotions like Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, happens before Thanksgiving traces back to what’s believed to be its origins.

Eaze, a cannabis company whose businesses include a delivery app similar to DoorDash, claims to have coined the term in 2016, after noticing that the day before Thanksgiving was second only to 4/20 sales-wise.

In other words, the sales surge appears to have happened because cannabis users were stocking up before the holiday rather than discounts creating the surge in demand.

Edibles overperform on Green Wednesday:

  • In 2022, sales of cannabis beverages grew 13.2% on Green Wednesday compared with previous Wednesdays in November, while edibles grew 6.1%, according to data from Headset cited in Green Market Report.
  • Sales of cannabis vape cartridges, though, were down 11.4%, while traditional unprocessed cannabis was down 10.8%.

Green Market Report had a theory about why edibles do so well in the lead-up to Thanksgiving.

“The products that people could consume without Aunt Gertrude being any wiser grew,” it explained.

In that case do not, under any circumstances, pass Aunt Gertrude the Kiva gravy.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.