High Time? Websites Give Cannabis a Classy New Look

High Time? Websites Give Cannabis a Classy New Look

Little Mary Jane is getting all grown up -- online at least.

If you do a Google search for "marijuana" or any of its more colloquial cousins, you' find a smorgasbord of websites so green and cannabis-covered you might feel high after just one look.

But as state medical marijuana laws push pot closer to Main Street, a few websites are starting to give pot an updated, more understated image aimed at mainstream pot lovers outside the prototypical stoner demographic.

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"Pepper" and "Margot," two twenty-something New York women, launched the "high style" site PotCouture.com under their chosen pseudonyms after noticing a dearth of female-friendly weed websites.

"The site is designed for women, but I think what we're really looking for is to convey the normalcy of this," said Margot, noting that a lot of marijuana-friendly sites pair pot-friendly content with a healthy dose of scantily clad females. "Most of the people that we know smoke pot. Everyone is doing this and not everyone wants to look at naked women covered with bud porn."

She said the "man sites" are a great fit for their chosen demographic, but they're missing a big opportunity.

"There are so many more people who are smoking who have, well, without sounding too snarky, taste," she said.

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Surveys indicate about 75 percent of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana, and as more TV shows like Showtime's "Weeds" enter popular culture marijuana is starting to move up in the American zeitgeist, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Though still illegal in most places, St. Pierre said one group willing to stick their heads out and test the waters of public acceptance are entrepreneurs.

"Entrepreneurs are breaking out from that pack," he said. "Entrepreneurs recognize needs and almost always entails risk -- sometimes capital, sometimes stature [sometimes] personal liberty."

Recognizing the opportunity among closeted cannabis lovers, Margot and Pepper said they wanted to give more professional smokers a more professional haven online.

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Visit PotCouture.com and you'll see a site so clean and classy you might mistake it for a style blog at first glance. Each post is weed-related, but, with stories about "lady stoners" alongside pot-inspired art and politics, the site's sensibility is decidedly more cocktail casual than frat party pedestrian.

"We really wanted to bring marijuana out of its ugly subculture that it's currently in," said Pepper. "Mainstream America will never be able to get behind it if they always see it as this nasty gateway drug."

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The pair, who hold down day jobs in publishing and technology, launched the site in July. Through mostly word of mouth, PotCouture.com attracts a couple thousand visitors a month, they said, and already they're pursuing partnerships to create a line of similarly-tasteful pipes or write a book.

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The founders of Leaf.ly.com, an online directory of reviews about various strains of marijuana, hope to attract a mainstream clientele with a similarly clean aesthetic.

Scott, a 29-year-old from Orange County, Calif., (who asked to withhold his last name because of his day job as a Web developer) launched the site with two friends this summer.

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