It looks like the kind of late-night commercial meant for people taking bong rips between "Family Guy" reruns. To a Seattle weed entrepreneur, however, the two-minute ad above is the first step toward building a $100 million marijuana empire.
Brian Laoruangroch, 29, is president of Prohibition Brands, a company that wants to mass-produce marijuana cigarettes and cigars and sell them as a standardized product. The company is little more than an idea at the moment, but Laoruangroch is telling potential investors he envisions his brand as “the marijuana version of a Marlboro cigarette.”
In the commercial, Laoruangroch takes on the guise of a stereotypical cowboy to woo financiers. Aided by two skimpily clad female models and a puppet horse, he discusses the “green rush” of investment in marijuana.
“I thought that the two most important things for an ad were to make something comical, number one, and number two, it’s no secret that sex sells,” Laoruangroch told The Huffington Post. “So we found two really comical girls and a really sexy cowboy.”
Laoruangroch said he owns intellectual property that covers the design specifications for a filtered marijuana cigarette. He said he hopes to turn that, along with a polished website and a personal pitch, into at least $5 million worth of investment before the end of the year.
A screenshot from Prohibition Brands' website
“Anyone who has met me or dealt with me in business would tell you that I’m an absolute genius,” Laoruangroch said, comparing himself to late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “I come from a background of having an idea and executing a physical product from an idea and that’s what‘s relevant and needed in the marijuana market.”
In paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing his intent to solicit investors, Laoruangroch noted he has no current means to produce, distribute or sell marijuana cigarettes, and is not “versed in similar markets like alcohol or tobacco.” He also makes clear that investors would be putting their money in a company that intends to violate federal law prohibiting marijuana sale and possession. Those facts notwithstanding, Laoruangroch’s business plan states that, with appropriate funding, products would be fully developed and ready to market by Dec. 1. The business would rely on “first mover advantage” and “brand loyalty” to succeed, according to the securities filing.
“For us, it’s really important to be number one,” Laoruangroch said.
While there is a rush of investment into companies that deal with marijuana indirectly, such as smoking gadget manufacturers and gardening equipment suppliers, Laoruangroch’s company is one of the few soliciting investors that expects to actually touch the plant. A Washington entrepreneur, Jamen Shively, made waves earlier this year when he announced he was raising funds to start a chain of recreational cannabis retailers.
Marijuana was legalized by voters in Washington state and Colorado last year. Regulators in those states will permit retail-level sales of the drug from early next year. The plant remains illegal under federal law.
Prohibition Brands wouldn’t be the first business Laoruangroch has worked on. While still a senior in college, the young entrepreneur founded Green Mobile, to help people recycle used cellphones. At first a website, the business soon turned into a booth at a mall, then a retail location, and then a chain of stores, Laoruangroch said.
Laoruangroch said that besides his experience, he has a penchant for risk-taking and irreverence that he believes will translate into success in the budding marijuana industry. Laoruangroch has been arrested several times over the past decade on charges that include having a fake ID and possessing a small amount of marijuana. He was charged with grand theft auto last year, he said, after failing to return a rental vehicle on time.
“That’s really been my fearlessness, ever since I was a kid, that the police don’t really scare me too much,” Laoruangroch said, “I bring that extraordinary view to the table.”
“And I want to say this to the federal government if they read this, when they read this,” Laoruangroch said, "Mr. Obama, if you want to be a hypocrite and arrest me for selling marijuana, I’ll come to the White House myself with the handcuffs already on. There’s no need for guns."
As for the commercial his company has produced, and a publicity stunt he said he has in the works where he’ll attempt to roll a joint containing 2.2 pounds of marijuana, Laoruangroch said, “I know that a lot of people don’t want to hear that I’m going to be advertising, but I’m going to be doing it.”