Humans are at the heart of every community’s culture, so for this year’s Culture Issue we’re highlighting some icons throughout the national Cannabis community. We’ve selected folks stoking the fires of canna-culture in the arts and entertainment realms and nominated them for recent work. But there just aren’t enough pages to praise the people of the plant. If you’d like to see us make space for someone in next year’s issue, send us your suggestions!
Music and Mary Jane are a match that needs no introduction. The same goes for our first Cultural Icon on the list – if you’re a fan of R&B, Soul and Hip Hop, that is. If you’re not, let us have the pleasure of introducing you to the musically masterful and fiercely feminine creative force that is Erykah Badu. She’s been making music (and waves) since the late ‘90s. This year, she officially entered the Cannabis scene. Her collaboration with Berner at Cookies birthed a new brand called “That Badu.” It’s a women’s health-focused line with plans to expand.
You can’t mention Cookies or Cannabis culture without mentioning Berner. Love him or loathe him, he’s made moves in music and Cannabis that have impacted and creatively combined both industries – where you can walk down the street in his clothing, listening to his music, on your way to his dispensary, to buy his weed. This V, he’s baking a new batch of ideas to influence Cannabis culture at the brand-new Cookies Compound. It’s a business and multimedia headquarters with state-of-the-art facilities like sales-staging setups, culinary quarters, a podcast room, offices, art installments and more.
Cypress Hill is a staple in the stoner’s smoking soundtrack. As one of the first entertainment groups to publicly and openly embrace Cannabis back in the 90s, the crew became synonymous with the plant during prohibition. Since legalization, frontman B Real has only continued that legacy. His YouTube series “The Smokebox” has welcomed celebrity guests to smoke on camera for over 10 years. Back in 2018, he opened up the first of many Dr. Greenthumb’s dispensaries. Today, he continues to expand his empire and influence Cannabis culture through music, media and merchandise.
Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson’s rise to fame in the Cannabis community has found its footing – but the only punches he’s packing these days are THC-backed. TYSON 2.0 is a Cannabis and infused goods brand that’s relatively new to the scene, but so is the notoriously fiery fighter’s outlook on life. In numerous interviews and throughout the brand’s PR campaign, Tyson has expressed the importance of Cannabis and alternative substances in turning around his attitude, aggression and discipline as a businessman. This transparency regarding his therapeutic transformation and promotion of the plant for athletes earns him a spot on our 2024 list.
Woody and weed go way back. He’s been an advocate for hemp and Cannabis reform since the ’90s when he famously withheld his taxes in protest of Colorado’s failure to pass an industrial hemp bill, was arrested in Kentucky for planting a hemp seed, and slipped President Clinton a letter in support of legalization. For his roles in normalization and advocacy, he has even received a spot on NORML’s advisory board, and was awarded the 2022 Emerald Cup’s “Willie Nelson Award.” Most recently, Harrelson has opened his first dispensary in West Hollywood (The Woods WeHo), with a gorgeous indoor-outdoor consumption lounge.
Jim Belushi is another actor-turned-activist who’s invested his time and money in Cannabis culture. His support started with his brother’s passing in ‘82 from a drug overdose – a tragedy that Jim believes could have been avoided if John consumed Cannabis for his trauma instead. It became Jim’s “mission from God” to share the plant’s healing powers, and he eventually opened a southern Oregon grow operation (over 12 years ago) that has since expanded into multiple states. These days, Belushi has teamed up with Discovery Channel to welcome viewers onto the farm in his three-season series, “Growing Belushi.”
Cannabis cups are an integral part of this culture and we can’t talk about “cups” without mentioning “California’s longest-running, most authentic celebration of Cannabis culture and quality.” The Emerald Cup is entering its 20th year, and behind it is a man with even more years of dedication to the culture. Tim Blake is a lifelong activist. Before founding the Emerald Cup, he helped start the Mendocino Farmers Collective & Healing Harvest Farms, Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (Prop 64), Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council and Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association. His dedication to cultivating a community around Cannabis and organic lifestyles continues to send waves worldwide, far beyond his humble California roots.
Counterculture and Cannabis are close cousins, and no one knows that better than Ted Lidie. As Founder and Creative Director of Alien Labs, Lidie captured the connection between connoisseur Cannabis and subcultures such as skateboarding and comic books. Alien Labs leaned into this with more than just a line of killer Cannabis products and ever-evolving cultivars – thefy birthed a new age of acceptance through apparel. The full line of clothing, bags and more have bridged the gap for everyone from your seasoned smoker to the mall meanderer that happens upon Alien Labs in big brand stores like Zumiez.
Erik Christiansen has built a body of work that’s become a staple in global Cannabis education, entertainment and branding visuals. His magical macro photography, astute use of early social media, and many publications in print gave him prominent public recognition and helped professionalize the visual culture of an entire evolving industry. Recently, Erik was busy chronicling part of that culture, culminating in a book. “Higher, The Lore, Legends, and Legacy of Cannabis,” (written by Dan Michaels and published in April of 2023) is an exquisite and informative homage to the plant exploring a vast range of sources and topics.
Fine art feeds culture, and we can’t discuss fine art in Cannabis without diving into the work of Chris Romaine. He’s been photographing the plant with a perceptive eye and graceful edge around the world in editorial, commercial and artistic endeavors. While his work splendidly spans styles and subjects, much of his focus has fallen on the macro world of Mary. Recently, this work landed him a special spot in The House of Cannabis (New York). THC NYC is the very first museum, gallery and lounge of its kind – and inside of it lies another first: “The Microverse.” It’s an exhibit featuring Chris’ work in an immersive experience that’s sure to shift perspectives.
Cheech and Chong