The Cannabis industry and culture has come a long way in my lifetime. From not existing legally to becoming a top selling cash crop in The US, marijuana has become a widely discussed and debated topic in the present. Despite the changes in the economic and medical portrayal of cannabis, the perception of those who live within the culture has been stagnant for some time. People still picture “potheads” even though anyone 21 and older could legally purchase products in particular places. Three companies within the industry are making strides in changing this perception in three distinct ways. Those companies are Viola, Monogram and Houseplant.
Even though cannabis use has grown since entering the medical and recreational field, weed enthusiasts still fit on a scale between Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen and Tommy Chong. These archetypes are prevalent, but they do not represent the “normal” users such as mothers, grandparents, teachers and professionals of all types. People who use and enjoy weed, but do not relate to the depicted stereotypes of the weed culture. This also does not represent athletes using cannabis products to heal their muscles and help with recovery. This is exactly the route being taken by Al Harrington and his brand, Viola.
Albert Harrington is a former NBA star that never used marijuana before and during his athletic career, but began researching the medical benefits of the plant to help his grandmother deal her multiple health issues. After visiting a dispensary in Colorado, purchasing some Vietnam Kush and convincing his elder to use it for medicinal purposes, the Harringtons found out that cannabis could cure glaucoma better than years worth of prescriptions. This led Harrington to start Viola(named after his grandmother) in 2011, and it has grown to become the first black owned multinational cannabis brand. Viola is not only ahead of the curve when considering that they have a decade of experience, but also by leading the charge in creating healthy recovery items for athletes. With the current controversy surrounding Sha’Carri Richardson, and the NBA’s change of heart when testing players for cannabis, the issue of weed and sports is only just beginning.
Jay-Z is not one of the first names you think of when it comes to weed rap. He fits more with luxury items, wise investments and intelligent braggadocio. Items like D'ussé or Ace of Spades. With this in mind, Monogram still works, and works especially well as a company looking to change the image of cannabis. They choose to package their numerically named strains(No96, No88, etc) inside of black monochromatic metal cases, instead of the usual colorful bag or jar accompanied by imaginative names. This classes up their cannabis in a way one would expect from Shawn Carter and his team.
Monogram is not only focusing on changing the culture aesthetically, but also changing the culture federally. Instead of advertising the strength or flavor of their products, they have focused their marketing on the ridiculousness that is federal marijuana laws and the unfair treatment of people of color in America. They may not be the first cannabis brand to do this, but matching Jay-Z’s celebrity power with this message is a sure fire way to garner new eyes to any cause. Monogram’s Hightales series on YouTube is culturally relevant as well. Their interviews with famous smokers telling smoker stories involving other famous individuals that occasionally smoke weed breaks through the "lazy stoner" stereotype by showcasing successful, hardworking people who also enjoy marijuana. Hearing that Martha Stewart does not smoke, but does know how to roll a joint, because, "That is what a good host does," changes the perception of weed in a unique way.
Seth Rogen may well be the underground king of the cannabis world. While he is infamous to other enthusiasts, he is not an obvious stoner to the rest of the world. Therefore it was a surprise no brainer that Rogen would eventually start his own cannabis company, and the name of this company would be Houseplant. But what sets this brand apart from others is not the incredible strains, unique “stackable” packaging, or the focus on correcting the criminal justice system's stance on weed. What sets Rogen’s Houseplant apart from others is their selection of luxury smoking items, such as ashtrays, lighters, match strikes and even a luxurious gravity glass.
Houseplant creates items with function, but also with incredible form that is rarely found in cannabis related items. Items that would look perfect in a modern country club, rather than next to a Rick and Morty bong. While I’m not trying to diss the well made glass bongs or talented glass artists, I am stating that it is refreshing to have items that may appeal to smokers that do not relate to the wild vibes usually associated with enjoying weed. This helps cannabis culture become a more accepted culture by expanding what the culture represents. Cannabis culture must also represent the people that can enjoy weed without looking like they enjoy weed. Therefore, these artful and classy pieces from Houseplant are a breath of fresh air in the smoky world of weed.
With all this in mind, cannabis is becoming more mainstream and widely accepted in the world, and these three companies are helping to lead this acceptance by offering a different take on the plant that so many people love. Whether it is an athlete or senior citizen looking to recover their body, or someone who enjoys weed without all the vibrancy and stonerisms, everyone can find their place in the modern culture of cannabis.
And the world will be better for it.
Thank you for reading.