As the cannabis industry grows into a booming business that is projected, by some, to hit $30 billion by 2022 many of the musicians who have been at the forefront of legalization campaigns and advocating the benefits of weed are, not surprisingly, at the forefront of investing in and partnering with cannabis brands.
„In the ’90s bands like Cypress and us, we were really risking arrest,” 311’s Nick Hexum says. „We were being conscientious objectors, we were being rebels to carry the torch at that time. So I guess it’s only fair that we would be involved and kind of reap some of the rewards cause I have to think the culture that we kept moving led to legalization.”
I spoke with five artists — Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Blues Traveler’s Brendan Hill, Hexum, Slightly Stoopid’s Miles Doughty and Curt Cameruci, aka Flosstradamus — about their early days as cannabis pioneers and how that has set them up, in their words, to be at the forefront of the music and cannabis partnerships today.
B-Real, Cypress Hill
„Cypress Hill, we’ve always championed legalization throughout our career. And when things started happening in California in terms of brands coming out and getting involved in the cannabis industry that was something we always thought we should do. I got my brand, Dr. Greenthumb in there a little bit sooner in terms of putting out product. But it was always the plan to get Cypress in that lane as well. So once I opened a Dr. Greenthumb dispensary it’s made the road a little bit clearer for Cypress Hill products to come out. That way we had a home base and somewhere to launch from and do a meet and greet and engage with our fans and promote our product.
„The product [launching today] is a couple of different things. It’s our flower that we’re putting under the Cypress Hill brand, CHB, and also some concentrates and just the overall awareness as well that Cypress Hill is now going to be in the cannabis market. Not just in terms of music, but in terms of product.
„We come from the cultivation aspect of it. My team in Greenthumb, we’ve been doing it for about 25 years, started in backyards, into houses and eventually into where we are now. the warehouses. So we have that knowledge, we know what is quality. And that was a big concern of mine because I know a lot of our friends with big brands have taken hits because the cannabis has not been up to par with who and what the brand is. So we made sure to pick out strains that we would in fact smoke, that we would actually get behind, that we would use ourselves because we don’t want to be putting out stuff that we wouldn’t smoke ourselves. We don’t ever want to come from that we’re taking advantage of people. We want to put out a quality product because the impression is forever. It’s like if you put out a whack song, that song lives forever. People talk about it and you might be judged forever by that one song.”
Nick Hexum, 311
„We were a band that said, 'There’s nothing to be ashamed about, this is a safe, okay thing to do. It’s a safer way of partying than binge drinking or whatever.' I would say about four or five years ago, when I started seeing e-cigarettes around, I was like, „When somebody gets it right on the e-cigarette for cannabis that’s gonna be huge.' So that’s when I started getting involved in the Grassroots Uplifter. We’re now on our fourth version of hardware. It’s our own company. We have a distribution called P & S Ventures. Dr. Dina is the person who the show Weeds is based on. So she comes from the underground before it was legal. She has a dispensary in West Hollywood called Ahhs Weho. She’s helping us with distribution. I’ve met a lot of characters and a lot of flakes. There is the problem in cannabis that there needs to be more people on point with their business. There is a certain flakiness about the cannabis industry. We’ve had so many deals that got all the way to the finish line and people disappear for whatever reason.
„For 311 we’ve always had a reputation for making sure we put on great concerts, keeping our ticket prices low, having quality in what we do. So we had to make sure that extends to our cannabis products. So, for example, finding the right source for our CBD only. I finally found a vertically integrated company that grows hemp in Kentucky and does everything, totally tested, organic standards, the purity, the quality. And I was probably in talks with 10 different people until we settled on the eleventh person that we talked so. So we’ve got CBD only products coming out nationwide. Now in Nevada our vape pens are selling really well as well as we have flower there. We also are coming out with edibles cause, for me, that’s my favorite way. To me, edibles are a cleaner high. I like a really low-dose edible. So my vision is to have a 311, three milligrams of THC, 11 milligrams of CBD. So if you want a really light high you take just one of those. For me, between three and nine milligrams of THC is plenty. So I would either take one, two or three of that. I like chocolate. We’re actually coming out with an Amber chocolate, which there are so many different types of chocolate — white chocolate, dark chocolate. Amber chocolate does not exist, so we actually trademarked that name and we’re working on the formula for delicious chocolate that has a nice low dose. You gotta start low and go slow when you’re taking edibles because it takes a long time to kick in. But, for me, it’s a cleaner high. I get more of a brain fog when I vape, so I prefer an edible.”
Brendan Hill, Blues Traveler
„For Blues Traveler we’ve always had a live thing since the very beginning from the New York scene, playing improvisational music, having people sit in, doing side projects, keeping it interesting. Cannabis does have a lot to do, for musicians and any artist, getting into that flow, being creative. Cannabis being part of a hippie scene or the jam band scene it was everywhere. And I think it led to a lot of really cool moments.
„One story that comes to mind is we did the Bridge School Benefit, Metallica was there doing an acoustic set, Marilyn Manson was there, just a cool combination of bands playing. And Nail Young did this amazing performance. So afterwards Neil does this kind of party at his house, just celebrating and thanking everybody for doing it. I remember walking through his house and just seeing so much history. We went into the backyard, he had these teepees set up and I remember being in a teepee with the guys from Marilyn Manson and guys from Metallica and Neil passing around a joint and listening to some of my biggest idols chatting about music and laughing. It created this almost kind of instant bond.
„For me, cannabis brings people together and opens you up to being interesting and having cool ideas. The fact I have a store here in Bainbridge it was a journey in itself. I think it was 2013 I was looking for something that would be challenging and in Washington state they had an initiative for the legalization of recreational cannabis and for giving out these licenses through a lottery system. I remember being in my bunk on some long tour rumbling along and I signed up for this E-list serve and they listed how many licenses were gonna be given out. And they listed one for Bainbridge Island, the place that I lived. I thought how cool would that be to have a business of something that I love? It would be another dream come true. I met with my partner Steve Kessler and we decided to join forces cause he lived on the island. Lo and behold, after two years and getting the location and a lot of really hard work, council meetings and business plans, we were able to secure the license fort Paper & Leaf.
„KlickTrack is a fully integrated retail software experience that unites a product and sales platform, compliance translator, and point of sale system for the recreational and medical cannabis market. KlickTrack offers a synchronized ecosystem for cannabis management across the entire cannabis retail chain. Its goal is to provide an elevated user experience for cannabis retailers and customers alike. Steve Kessler and I started KlickTrack because as retail owners and operators, we saw firsthand the shortcomings of the current POS systems on the market. What started as an in-store effort to improve our own dispensary system’s compliance, flexibility, and intelligence was ultimately so successful we felt, why keep it to ourselves?
„More and more states are turning green with each legislation cycle, and our goal with KlickTrack is to offer a nationwide POS system for cannabis retailers that keeps them in 100 percent compliance regardless of their state’s individual regulations. Right now, we’re keeping our Washington-based dispensaries on track, and as we grow, we look forward to being a safeguard in every legal state.
„For the dispensary consumer, KlickTrack brings a customer service-centric approach into the cannabis retail experience that was previously lacking. With regulations requiring products to be kept back behind shelves and inside cases, it can create a disconnect between the product, the budtender, and the customer. KlickTrack’s user-friendly interface also serves as an interactive menu for budtenders to help customers shop, learn about individual products and brands, as well as read product reviews. KlickTrack allows the store to access the buying history and preferences of every customer, allowing for targeted campaigns and analytics. Customers who sign-up for in-store loyalty programs can be sent text messages right from the KlickTrack platform, so they’re always in the know on the latest sales and promotions going on in-store.
„We’d love to recreate the atmosphere and service we’ve created within Paper & Leaf in other locations. There are a lot of great opportunities out there, we always have our eyes out for an ideal spot that fits our unique vibe, I would love to see a Paper & Leaf in every state. It’s a very exciting time!”
Miles Doughty, Slightly Stoopid
„Weed has been part of Slightly Stoopid’s culture from the beginning. We’ve always been pioneers as far as pushing the movement and obviously our brothers Cypress Hill take it to a different level of madness. Got nothing but respect for those guys too. But, for us, it was just the name Slightly Stoopid and our affiliation with weed, with the movement that’s happening right now, it’s only right that we get involved with it as well. It’s something that you have to be very careful too cause we don’t like to just put our name on everything. You have to actually enjoy the product or use the product for us to put our name on it. Everyone knows that we partake in herbs and supporting the movement so it’s kind of a no brainer only because we have our foot in the door as well as some of our friends that are doing it.
„We’re working on a couple of different things from our own pen to our own strain that you’re gonna be able to get in dispensaries and what not. We’ve had a couple of different pens that we’ve had come out just as temporary little marketing things that we’ve worked with different sponsors. But, for the most part, we’re working on getting our own seeds out with this company called Humboldt Seeds out of California. There’s something just classic about having Stoopid seeds of your favorite herb. We’re working with Las Vegas Cannabis on a signature Stoopid pen of the kind of flowers that we partake in. So I think there are just little things along the way. There’s another place, Cannabend in Oregon. Good buddies of ours started that place there and they really have some of the best strains so we’re working on having our own Cannabend Stoopid strain. If anything it’s trying to meet up with the best people that you know are growing and know how to put the product out is important. I think our fans would want to be blazing the same stuff that we’re blazing cause maybe in their mind it takes them to that same level that we get when we’re on it.
Curt Cameruci, Flosstradamus
” I’ve always collaborated with people and created things in the marijuana industry to kind of push things forward cause I’ve always had forward thinking with marijuana. So in 2008 maybe I created the first smokable album, so we went to China and we got, this was early vapes, before there was even many marijuana vapes out. So we ended up going to China and found a way we could make a vape pen people could use to consume marijuana, but they could also plug it into the computer to charge it. But while you’re charging it, you can get an exclusive only on this vape pen album done by Floss. So we created that and it was great. So that was my entry level into it. And I’ll take it one step back even. We’ve also been the first people in electronic dance music to really endorse marijuana. We even have a song called 'Roll Up,' which is a song about smoking weed.
„I just did a vape pen, my most recent collaboration was with Las Vegas Cannabis Club in Las Vegas. I have a residency at the Wynn. One of the few DJs with a residency in Vegas with a residency who endorses marijuana in public. And so I always wanted to get in on the early gold rush and take the risk. That’s one thing I did want to mention: a lot of artists are afraid to take the risk and admit that they smoke weed or participate in it because they can get Elon Muks-ed a little bit. I think a lot of this is a risk and I don’t mind taking a risk because I see the future benefits on it, whether it is in the medical industry as well as overall there are a lot of positives that can come from marijuana.”