In the 2010s, there was a moment when every celebrity was a DJ. A decade later, the obnoxious trend du jour demands that every weed-adjacent celebrity have their own vanity weed brand. This fact shouldn’t surprise anyone paying attention to the swift corporate appropriation of a once-outlaw industry. After all, few things perpetuate the get-money-at-all-costs, late-capitalist mentality like celebrity culture. In cannabis, entertainers see yet another opportunity to make a branded buck.
It’s not merely anathema due to the thousands of non-famous people — largely of color — who remain in prison for selling weed. It’s also the staggering costs required to bring a legal cannabis product to market, which makes the space inherently exclusionary. In that sense, the regulated weed game ranks among the greatest American pay-to-play scams: if a business has access to unlimited funds, it will (likely) succeed. If not, well, now you can begin to understand why California’s black market for cannabis has eclipsed its legal one.
No one seems to care that famous people are merely glorified influencers. People inhale celebrity weed brands for their novelty and familiarity, ignoring the fact that most of the time, they only exist because the “V.I.P.” wants to cash in on an easy payday. I mean, does it even matter if a famous person releases a line of cannabis, but doesn’t actually smoke? Not really. Does it matter if their weed sucks? Barely! Does it matter if their product tastes like scorched hay-dust and costs $30 for one pre-rolled joint? If it did, this semi-formal complaint to the culture would not need to exist.
To be fair, not every celebrity cannabiz deserves condemnation. For instance, Snoop Dogg and B-Real should certainly be in the weed game — their absence from the industry would trigger a glitch in the matrix. But the brands included on this list don’t get a pass. Their existence is a tacky and tasteless assault on cannabis culture. Celebrity DJs might be embarrassing, but Paris Hilton pressing play on Serato is just cringeworthy, not an affront to the estimated 40,000 people currently incarcerated in America because of marijuana convictions. Hence, the need to indict the most glaring exploiters of this suspect star-studded trend.
Forbidden Flowers by Bella Thorne
I’m sure Bella is cool. She has a nose ring; she directed an adult film; she tries to get people to boycott SeaWorld. But her involvement in weed is cornier than the Disney sitcoms that made her famous. A neophyte in the industry, she continually shows how little she understands the culture. Earlier this year, she announced to her 24.5 million Instagram followers that she’s the “Queen of Weed,” which is annoying considering she JUST GOT INTO THE SPACE. Not to mention that the title has long belonged to Dr. Dina, the L.A.-based cannabis activist and entrepreneur who inspired the character of Nancy Botwin on Weeds.
Bella likely thinks she’s the weed queen because she was on the cover of High Times magazine’s June issue. But if she were really weed royalty, she wouldn’t have posed for the most despicable brand in neo-cannabis, one that has a history of making campaign donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians (Full disclosure: I worked at High Times when that happened). That seems antithetical to a porn career, no?
Forbidden Flowers has also yet to push for any kind of social justice in cannabis. It all feels shameless, considering she’s basically using the plant as an accessory to look hot and edgy on Instagram. She’s lucky Glass House Farms agreed to supply the (admittedly delicious) pot for her brand, otherwise Forbidden Flowers would be completely toxic.
Marley Naturals by Privateer Holdings
Everyone loves Bob Marley. But it’s slimy that his name is being flaunted on the label of a corporate weed brand owned by Privateer Holdings, which is largely funded by Peter Thiel. Yes, the tech billionaire supervillain who backed Trump and the Hulk Hogan privacy lawsuit that led to the demise of the O.G. Gawker. Considering Bob was a vehement anti-capitalist, this venture is repulsive. If you buy Marley Naturals, know that your money is actually making Peter Thiel richer. Instead, celebrate the late reggae legend by growing your own plants, catching a fire in the way that the Rasta godhead intended.
Shaboink by Post Malone
Seriously, of all the possible names in the galaxy, he chose Shaboink? Really, bro? I suppose none of us should be shocked considering his music is the auditory equivalent of being waterboarded by a beer bong. Maybe I shouldn’t be mad, but rather impressed that he figured out how to choose a brand name worse than the lyrics to “Too Young” (“My whip fast/my bitch bad/I skrrr skrrr, that coupe fast/My coupe fast, your bitch know/My bitch slow”).
In classic Post Malone poseur-y, Shaboink doesn’t sell cannabis with THC (the compound in pot responsible for getting us stoned). He sells hemp pre-rolls, hemp flower, and t-shirts. Realistically, the shirts will get you higher than the hemp.
Napalm Cannabis Co. by Xzibit
In a tone-deaf gesture, the rap legend Xzibit created a weed line called Napalm Cannabis Co. Of course, napalm was the chemical weapon used by the United States against the Japanese in World War II, Koreans in the Korean War, and Vietnamese during the Vietnam conflict. Napalm killed and maimed innocent civilians and children … and now it’s … a … celebrity … weed … line.
If that isn’t disrespectful enough, the joints sold under the Napalm Cannabis Co. brand come inside grenades that you smoke from. Xzibit has even named weed strains “Fat Boy” and “Little Man,” references to the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s cruel, tactless, and insulting to the cannabis community of veterans who use pot as medicine to escape and mend from the horrors of battle. Operation EVAC, a veteran organization in the cannabis space, even called for a rebranding of Napalm Cannabis Co., but Xzibit refused, saying it wasn’t a big deal. Regardless of where you fall on the PC-sensitivity spectrum, this is a needlessly callous gesture that tarnishes Xzibit’s legacy.
Monogram by Jay-Z
It’s important to celebrate HOV’s representation in the weed business and his dedication to helping other Black entrepreneurs get started in the cannabis industry. But … does Jay even toke? He’s been in the public eye long enough that if he were actually a stoner — even someone who puffed once in a blue moon — we’d know about it by now. People just assume he smokes because he has a few lyrics that reference weed. But if you’ve been around long enough, you might remember interviews from the late ’90s, where the Brooklyn rapper mentioned only smoking weed once or twice a year at most.
Of course, having a billion dollars might give you the sort of comfort that allows you to stop and smoke the flowers. Maybe times have changed? Ambassadors giving tours at Monogram’s behemoth facility claim that Jay gets high, but he’s also too shrewd of a businessman to allow them to say otherwise. This is a challenge to Jay-Z: show the world that you regularly smoke, or else you’re admitting to us that the hustle can and should be knocked.