We’re four months into legal recreational marijuana in California and we’ve already seen a large ripple effect through the state, including expunging people’s marijuana convictions, exploring marijuana banks and lounges, and celebrities touting its benefits. But we’ve also seen two-thirds of California cities continue to ban the drug, creating so-called “marijuana deserts,” while previous ghost towns embrace cannabis for their own revival.
But how has Hollywood, one of California’s most venerable institutions, responded to the movement? Well, we’re seeing promotional tie-ins for movies with a possible marijuana link. There was Super Troopers 2, which premiered on 4/20. Green Street Agency, as The Hollywood Reporter revealed, hosted “a crowd of entrepreneurs [as they] watched a demo of a joint-rolling robot named Otto before heading to a screening” of the movie. Participants were also offered $4.20 discounts from Lyft and Fox Searchlight and subject to a mocking PSA advising, “Don’t smoke and drive.”
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But as a collective, Hollywood hasn’t totally embraced marijuana. Stars remain at a distance from promoting any marijuana product and brand, as stigmas still surround cannabis.
Aside from high heavyweights like Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson and Whoopi Goldberg, who have been in the business of bud for a while, Hollywood has largely stayed away. MedMen is still struggling to sign an A-lister to front its growing national chain of dispensaries, while digital platform 420TV — founded by ex-WME agent Alex Nahai with an MTV DJ Quddus-hosted show and a comedy by former Simpsons animator David Silverman — continues searching for advertisers to sponsor it. “We’re a long way from mainstream star power marketing efforts,” says industry analyst Thomas Adams, noting that state-by-state legalization prevents interstate commerce and makes brand building difficult.
Some believe the movements of cannabis as a luxe product and wellness brand will change opinions in Hollywood. Until that normalization takes hold, it looks like the stars and the leaf won’t be uniting anytime soon.