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Big Tobacco Takes Aim at CBD Drinks
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The Broccoli Report
Monday, July 12, 2021
Time to read: 5 minutes, 37 seconds. 1124 words.
I know I should be outside enjoying summer (and the clean air between wildfires), but the most fun I had of late was going to see “Zola”in theaters. It was a party of a movie—like a fresher, femme “Hangover” artfully executed—and at the indie Portland theater I went to, I was able to indulge in adult drinks and above-average snacks, too. It was luxurious. However, as excited as I was to be back in those seats, I couldn’t help but fantasize about the sight and smell of intermittent puffs of weed smoke instead of clinking cocktail glasses. That is my threshold for reaching a truly modern state of legal cannabis—regulations (and HVAC innovations) that allow for a consumption-friendly movie theater. (Just putting that out there into the universe for manifestation purposes.)
This Friday, we are getting to work. As in, we’re diving deep into labor issues and the trend of unionizing cannabis employees for our Friday newsletter (paid subscribers only). We hear a lot about entrepreneurial challenges, read a ton on the rhythms of running cannabis businesses, but when it comes to learning about working conditions at processing and cultivation facilities, it’s crickets. Based on some of the more contentious union votes lately, it’s clear it’s not all sunshine and free joints in the industry.
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One-Hitters: Cannabis News at a Glance
A sign that trend predictions about the beverage category are probably right: British American Tobacco—the massive company that includes tobacco brands American Spirit, Camel, Newport, Vuse vapes, and more—recently invested in a biotech company known for its patents on a technology that makes CBD water-soluble. All those visuals of American Spirit-branded joint packs after federal legalization? Looks like Big Tobacco may be showing up in the refrigerated section instead.
On that drinkable note: The second-annual Cannabis Drinks Expo is scheduled for November 11, 2021, in San Francisco and on November 15, 2021, in Chicago. Hosted by the Beverage Trade Network, the event will feature “leading experts'' in the space (names TBD) plus the usual tradeshow floor for networking with growers, manufacturers, packagers, distributors, and branding people. Here’s to the return of parking-lot smoke-break gossip seshes. 🥲
In a disturbing twist, California is considering arming the “peace officers” that regulate licensed cannabis operators. This new segment of law enforcement was established last summer—peace officer duties include investigating unlicensed and criminal cannabis activity, assisting with on-site inspections, and conducting investigations “involving activities necessitating peace officer authority.” Rumor has it that the latest budget includes funding to arm “peace officers” with assault rifles.
On our Nice List: Ten senators, including Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker, submitted an official request for a financial policy change to ensure that the Small Business Authority is authorized to issue loans to legal cannabis companies. 🤞🏼
Borat is not down with weed. A Massachusetts cannabis company designed a billboard featuring Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat with two thumbs up, cannabis, and the words “It’s nice!”—and Baron Cohen is pissed. “By use of the billboard, the defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business,” states the lawsuit filed by Baron Cohen’s lawyers last week. “To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life. He never would participate in an advertising campaign for cannabis, for any amount of money.” The billboard was taken down days after receiving a cease-and-desist letter. Still, Baron Cohen and his California-based company Please You Can Touch LLC are seeking $9 million(!?!) in damages. The lesson: If you’re planning on dabbling with celebrity likenesses, don’t mess with one well-versed in legal protections of artistic expression.
AZ Central profiled TableFourTwenty, a cannabis-infused private dinner service co-founded by Justine Trujillo of Scottsdale’s beloved Jewel's Cafe and Keenan Bosworth. Bosworth shuttered his eatery, Pig & Pickle, in 2019, then found work in the state’s burgeoning weed industry, landing at cultivator Green Gene Genetics. Now, his skills are combining and thriving with pop-up dinners helping to launch GGG’s edible kitchen.
Tonic CBD announced a special IRL Farm Trip to Tricolla Farms in Berkshire, New York, on August 14, and tickets sold out in a week. Grow Your Own: A Planting Workshop will include a tour of the farm with the plants in full bloom, a lesson in sustainable farming and tending to your own “garden,” an infused lunch, and guided meditation. I touched on their farm tours in a past newsletter, and given how fast the tickets sold, it’s clear that people want more experiences like this.
In weed movie news, the French film “Mama Weed” is making the indie theater rounds. The cheeky story follows a translator for the Paris police anti-narcotics unit (Isabelle Huppert) who finds herself helping a friend’s son sell hash, with a retired police dog at her side.
In the TV realm, a new video campaign from The Beehouse Justice Initiative launched on PBS stations earlier this month. Focused on the injustice of cannabis prosecution, the short film series kicked off with “Spotlight On: Last Prisoner Project,” narrated byChris Rockand directed by Ezra Paek. Watch it here.
Gela Nash-Taylor, the co-founder of Juicy Couture, is getting into the weed game with her son by her side. The family operation goes by POTENT GOODS and offers pre-rolls, vaporizers filled with extraction from Gold Drop, and accessories like cross-body bags, loungey tracksuits, and this dreamy robe-pant combo.
Houseplant launches the Gravity Glass, a retro-inspired yet modern take on the classic plastic-jug approach to a gravity-pulled bong rip. (Brita water jugs were a popular option in my college dorm). The creation—with its two tones of amber glass—simultaneously looks like something my great-grandma kept on her coffee table and something out of a sci-fi dispensary. I think the brand hit a hole-in-one here.
Forti Goods’ collection of lockable furniture designed for cannabis lovers seeking to discreetly secure their stash is attracting a broader demographic—from people with curious pets and caretakers for disabled and elderly people, to wine and liquor collectors and people looking for an aesthetically pleasing way to secure jewelry and heirlooms. Goes to show that if you create a truly quality product, it can appeal to more than one niche.
Although we were not big fans of Monogram’s dramatic billboard campaign, their editorial campaign with Hype Williams reimagining the work of renowned mid-century photographer Slim Aarons was fantastic. Prints from “The Good Life, Redefined” are now available for purchase via The Webster, and I can’t imagine better dispensary art for particular brands.
See you poolside,