Instead of taking the parody personally, MedMen’s CEO believes the jokes speak to the brand’s success.
In the past several weeks, “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have used the popular dispensary chain MedMen as a recurring punchline. All the criticism and parodies Parker and Stone might have about the corporatization of cannabis have been laid at MedMen’s feet. Whether it’s poking fun at MedMen’s “The New Normal” campaign, or MedMen officially recommending that home growing is a hazard to Americans, these jokes could also apply to dozen other modern cannabis companies.
That’s the way MedMen CEO Adam Bierman views it at least. In a conversation at Forbes, cannabis journalist and occasional Fresh Toast contributor Javier Hasse asked Bierman about South Park’s parody. After first consulting his VP of communications before commenting on the record, Bierman had this to say.
“I’m humbled by South Park’s parody,” Bierman said. “You know, we’ve always said in order to mainstream marijuana, in order to build the mainstream cannabis brand, in order be open and welcoming enough for new people—the cannabis users of tomorrow… you’ve got to become relevant. That’s what a brand is.”
While it’s open to interpretation, Bierman believes the parody represents how successful the MedMen brand has become. South Park, through its Tegridy Farms plot line, wouldn’t target MedMen if their brand didn’t mean anything.
“The fact that they decided we’re the most culturally relevant cannabis brand on the planet is humbling,” Bierman said. “It means that we’re executing against our mission, it means that we have an even greater responsibility to keep our heads down and do what we’re continuing to do, and it means that every week now I have to tune into South Park to see what Tegridy Farms has been up to.”
However, that doesn’t answer any of the critiques South Park leveled at MedMen and other cannabis corporations. In one clip, we hear Randy Marsh dismiss the corporate banker types who ride into the cannabis industry, hoping to turn a quick buck, while those who paid the price of prohibition receive none of the benefits. When Hasse asked about that idea, Bierman pushed against the label.
“I don’t take it personally, because I don’t take it like South Park is specifically saying that MedMen is corporate weed, and evil, and bad, and the guys behind it are in it for the wrong reasons… I just think they’re creating their parody the way that they want to and I’m not personalizing that,” Bierman said.
“We didn’t start off with investors, with money people that came from money and were coming into this from an investment perspective,” he added. “We’re the only big company that started as operators, that have actually changed laws, ran campaigns and legalized cannabis, the first cannabis company in the United States that donated seven figures to Marijuana Policy Project… So I take a lot of pride in our participation in this mission along the way, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with conscious capitalism. And that’s what we’ve been from the outset.”