With everyone from Jim Belushi to Jay Z getting into pot, we have to wonder, why are so many Hollywood power players are investing in the industry?
Supreme Cannabis recently announced that it would be launching its first-ever recreational-focused line of cannabis oils in Canada, called KKE Oils. The premium product would be a partnership with Wiz Khalifa’s Khalifa Kush Enterprises and would offer a high potency THC oil crafted through a whole plant C02 extraction method. It seems like a perfect pairing: Supreme Cannabis is known for high-quality products and a rapper whose whole brand is smoking weed.
But when we take a look at the Hollywood infiltration of the cannabis market, including everyone from Jim Belushi, Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen, Tommy Chong and most recently, Jay-Z – we have to wonder if and why these Hollywood power players are investing in the industry. Sure, cannabis legalization has reached a peak with many becoming interested in the business and with more mainstream players interested in the momentum that the industry is picking up, but it also poses serious risks.
For starters, how involved are these celebrity ambassadors in the day-to-day business dealings? Most often, they are not involved whatsoever. Many of these companies are using these celebrities’ personal klout to gain notoriety and media hits, as well as distinguishing them from competitors and adding to their perceived value. For many growing cannabis companies, this type of name recognition can typically take years to amass. With a celebrity partnership, you have the ability to quickly convey to consumers the idea of what your cannabis brand stands for.
Cannabis branding is growing quickly. According to a study by BDS Analytics, one Oregon brand saw its sales surge 19,179% between 2016 and 2017. Washington state has 1,083 cannabis brands producing 45,000 unique products according to BDS Analytics. So is it even worth partnering with a celeb? In some cases, yes.
According to one article from Yahoo, the top pot stock has gone down more than 30% from their highs earlier in the year. Meanwhile, cannabis software startup Ample Organics announced via BetaKit that it would be reducing its staff by around 16%. Right now in the Canadian cannabis industry specifically, there is a lot of turmoil taking place. In order for licensed producers to stand front and center ahead of their competitors, they need to inflitrate the mainstream in order to make cannabis culture a palatable offering for it.
Plus, when we look at Jay-Z’s partnership with California-based cannabis company Caliva, where he will serve as Chief Brand Strategist, he is also getting political. Since many of the individuals who are held back by simple, non-violent, cannabis possession charges are IBPOC’s, Jay-Z wanted to focus on the social justice side of legal weed which he felt complemented the work he had previously done in criminal justice reform.
Not all the time, but sometimes, seeing which celebrity or influencer is involved with a company can really influence how or why we want to affiliate ourselves with a brand. Take for example, WeedMD’s recent announcement that they would be partnering with Dan Bilzerian, a self-proclaimed “Instagram King” for his own CBD line, Ignite. Well, let’s just say that the Canadian industry did not react well with many calling out Bilzerian for his misogynistic ways and bro tactics in the industry. In terms of partnerships, this one backfired on WeedMD and left many wondering what they were thinking. To be honest, I am left wondering as well but I do what the answer is: money and greed.
If we want to look at the cannabis leaf in a new way that influences a radical shift in how we perceive cannabis use, then it doesn’t necessarily have to be backed by Hollywood. But if it is, make sure it’s done for the right reasons, and with people who have a genuine interest in the industry. Not just by those trying to cash in on the green economy.