Are Women Who Smoke “Too Much” Unattractive?

While listening to an episode of the podcast Marijuanera, host Mala Munoz asked her listeners: “You ever been on a date with a guy who says they’re gonna smoke you out but then you find out they’re only one-hit wonders?” After I finished laughing, something clicked. Although her words were indeed hilarious, she does touch […]

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Lil’ Kim Announces First Cannabis Venture With Partner superbad inc.

There’s no other way to put this: This is a big deal.

Global hip hop superstar Lil’ Kim announced today that she’s entered into a partnership with superbad inc., a California-based cannabis brand that bills itself at the highest levels of quality and integrity in the industry. The Grammy winner says she’s diving into the cannabis marketplace with the singular goal of advocating for and empowering women in the overwhelmingly rich, white, male-dominated business.

“Cannabis is something that I’ve been interested in for about two years now,” the rapper said Friday at MJBizCon in Las Vegas. “I’m just blessed to be able to enter this space with Carlos [Dew, founder] and superbad inc.—I mean, it’s just a perfect fit because the goal here is to empower every woman to be a bad bitch.”

Lil’ Kim, whose birth name is Kimberly Denise Jones, has had a long career filled with myriad successes (selling 15 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide for starters), but also some headline-grabbing lows (she spent a year in prison for perjury in 2005 and her experience was documented in the BET docu-series “Lil’ Kim: Countdown to Lockdown”).

But the Brooklyn native’s influence is undeniable as she’s consistently ranked near the top of any number of influential “best of” hip hop lists including VH1’s “100 Greatest Women In Music” all-time coming in at No.45, making her the second highest ranking solo female rapper.

Courtesy superbad inc.

Not only widely regarded as a legitimate fashion icon, Lil’ Kim has been a pioneer for decades in her relentless advocacy for women to feel comfortable with their femininity and sexuality, long before female empowerment became the norm in the music industry (Formation, anyone?). Her partnership with superbad inc. is entirely consistent with her life’s passion of inclusivity and impacting change for women and girls.

“Everyone would look at making a lot of money as being successful,” Lil’ Kim said. “But, for me, that doesn’t necessarily determine success. Someone can rob a bank and have a lot of money, right? My thing is the steps you take to become successful. Look, if by next year everyone is screaming my brand, and we’re the hottest commodity on the street—and we’re also making money, obviously—even if we don’t get to our goal, but we’re on our way, well, that’s success for me.”

Her cannabis partner couldn’t agree more. “Lil’ Kim is an icon,” said Carlos Dew, superbad inc. CEO. “She’s one of the first women of rap to be hardcore. I’m excited she has joined superbad inc. This partnership signifies the union of two great minds coming together to join forces to empower women. Our goal is to integrate cannabis, advocacy, music and fashion. Stay tuned, Lil’ Kim’s cannabis products are coming soon. The best is yet to come.”

The six-time Grammy-nominated artist known for her chart-topping collabs with the likes of Missy Elliott, Christina Aguilera, Pink and Mya (“Lady Marmalade”), The Notorious B.I.G. (“Crush on You”), 50 Cent (“Magic Stick”), Mary J. Blige (“I Can Love You”) and many more is also excited about her collab in an upcoming Christmas film, “Miracle Across 125th Street,” she’s co-starring in with Nick Cannon, whom the rapper says is not only her best friend but also her current manager. “Nick’s taking me to the next level in my career,” she said.

Though superbad inc. nor Lil’ Kim would commit to a date for the launch of a branded cannabis line, the superstar is more than a little hopeful about her future. “In five years, I’m going to be super blessed to be able to keep getting younger and younger,” the recording artist joked, laughing. “Oh, and I’m going to be a billionaire times one hundred.”

Is the cannabis industry ready for Lil’ Kim’s patented brand of brash hyperbole? It’s going to be fun finding out.

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The Top Five CannaMoms For You To Follow

Cannabis legalization is quickly spreading across the globe, most recently in the United States. And while the cannabis industry creates new opportunities like holistic care and jobs, it’s also creating impact for one of the largest communities in the world — mothers. Women today who’ve given birth or have become primary caregivers have been trading […]

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Why The Future of Cannabis Is Female

Working, or striving for success, has always been predominately masculine. But throughout American history, things started to shift. During the Great Depression in the 1920s, women joined the workforce in big numbers. By helping men who’ve gone to war, women got a taste of what it meant to roll up their sleeves and get to […]

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How Revelry Is Using Cannabis To Treat Menopause

A cannabis brand that addresses women’s health issues Lilach Mazor Power and her partner Stef Swiergol want to use the power of cannabis to treat menopause. The pair launched Revelry this summer, a cannabis brand designed to ease common menopausal symptoms. It all started with a chat between the two after a long week about […]

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How a Holistic Company is Changing the Course of CBD in Women’s Health

Wellness shouldn’t have to be a full-time job. But if you’re a woman living in today’s modern world, it automatically becomes one. Although women make up over half the population globally, the reality is there’s limited research or progress when it comes to women’s health. For many women, it comes as no surprise. Since the […]

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The ‘Trick’ and ‘Treat’ of Marketing Cannabis During a Pandemic

The year 2020 was supposed to be a big one for Bhang Corp. The leading adult-use edibles company had spent upwards of $100k and months of planning every detail of their rebrand, scheduled to roll out in March. With the company’s 10th anniversary approaching in August, it would give the team enough time to introduce Bhang’s new look and communicate the brand messaging to licensees in California, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Canada.

When COVID-19 made its way to the U.S. and executive stay-at-home orders were issued in March, Bhang found themselves in a similar position to many businesses: They had to pivot quickly and make big decisions without much information.

We’ll pause here to say that this isn’t Bhang’s glamorous rebrand story (it’s 2020, people). But while the updated brand launch wasn’t exactly what they planned and hoped for, lessons were learned, silver linings were recognized, and the team remained grateful.

When resources are dwindling and revenue plummets, spending dollars on marketing may not seem like such a smart idea. But Bhang shares their story with the hope that you will learn to pivot and reimagine, rather than halt your marketing.

Not Business as Usual

During the U.S. shut down, licensed cannabis businesses were deemed essential services in most states. But this didn’t mean “business as usual” for Bhang – in fact, far from it. In anticipation of the rebrand, Bhang had stopped production as they waited for products with old packaging to sell out before stocking shelves with the new packaging. Even though dispensaries were open, Bhang was unsure if they would be able to get products on shelves due to production challenges resulting from COVID-19.

“We had to make sure we had supply chains set up, guaranteed and secured so that we could get products in new packaging and on shelves in a time when we had no clue what was going to be happening,” recounted Nicole Hanratty, Bhang’s Global Director of Marketing.

This meant some hard, in-the-moment decisions were in order for Samantha Collins, Bhang’s Chief Marketing Officer. “She was instrumental in making sure we didn’t go without product on shelves,” Hanratty said.

With disruptions initially happening in China, Collins explains that they started exploring domestic producers. “But then the pandemic moved on-shore, and our domestic producers were struggling too,” she said. “Ultimately, we had to revise our timelines for production in the short-term as well as order much higher levels of dry goods to ensure we could meet demand and keep our products on shelves.”

However, decisions weren’t only made from a financial perspective. Although Bhang had heavily invested in the rebrand, they wanted to be sensitive to how the country and the world were feeling during such an unprecedented time.

“So much preparing went into this rollout, yet we needed to be really mindful of the current climate,” Hanratty explained. “While we really wanted to celebrate the introduction of our new brand (we also turned ten in August), we had to be mindful that the country is not in a celebratory mood.”

Beyond the initial production challenges, Bhang’s biggest hurdle has been pressing pause on experiential marketing – the launch parties, tradeshows and trainings.

“I really miss the ability to share and educate people on the brand face-to-face,” Hanratty said.

Despite the change in plans that came with 2020, Hanratty continually mentions how appreciative they are for the essential workers who are helping both businesses and consumers.

“We have been very grateful that our business has been considered essential. We know our industry owes those people a debt of gratitude.”

While spending money on marketing may feel scary to smaller companies, Hanratty reiterates how important it is. She offers tips on how to modify strategy in a smart, cost-effective way so retailers and consumers are supported, and business can keep growing.  

MARKETING DURING A PANDEMIC

Nicole Hanratty, Bhang’s Global Director of Marketing, speaks to what she calls the “trick” and the “treat” of marketing during a global pandemic (and just in time for Halloween!)

The Trick

–    Pivoting without panic.
–    Making deliberate decisions.

The Treat

–    Feeling the love from consumers.
–    Hearing back from consumers about how the product improves and enhances their lives, especially in 2020.

For companies on a limited budget, look to creating content and building engagement with social media channels. There’s no substitute for having a compelling brand story that connects with consumers, and if you take the time to build an authentic brand that serves the consumer’s needs, you will ultimately win in the marketplace.

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Industry Innovator: Jamie Pearson, Bhang Corporation

Since its establishment in 2010, Bhang has grown into one of the industry’s most robust brands. Famous for its line of delicious gourmet chocolates, Bhang also offers pre-rolls, Hempsticks, and high-quality CBD products, among its more than 50 cannabis, hemp-derived and terpene rich offerings. The company has earned plenty of accolades in its decade-long history including the title of “The General Mills of Cannabis” and many awards in multiple states.

Jamie Pearson, Bhang’s President and CEO, joined the company in 2016, after a 25-year-long career in real estate. The move was motivated by her professional and personal experience with cannabis – mainly, her familial ties to the industry. 

With her dad’s long history of growing cannabis in Montana, Pearson explains how she grew up around the plant from a young age.

“He’s been growing marijuana for 55-plus years,” she said. “There was no stigma in my family around it.”

Though Pearson was comfortable around cannabis, she had no desire to be involved in it.

Jamie Pearson Bhang CEO with Father
Jamie Pearson and her father.

“I was a product of my environment and the times we grew up in,” she said. “My small town in Montana is super conservative, where basketball was religion and the stigma around cannabis was powerful. I chose the path of the athlete, and there was never any pressure from my family to do anything different.”

An avid athlete, Pearson played basketball in high school, college and for one of the Team USA feeder teams that traveled to the Soviet Union in 1987. “Marijuana wasn’t my thing,” she said. “It never would have occurred to me as an athlete that it could enhance my training, or any of the things that I know about it now.” 

Years later, while Pearson was in law school, her first cousin, DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill, lit a joint on Saturday Night Live. The legendary moment landed the band on SNL’s “banned for life” list. Muggs played a pivotal role in Pearson’s professional move into the cannabis industry.

Embracing Cannabis Real Estate

Formal schooling wasn’t a prerequisite for Pearson’s success, though she has a BA from Vassar College and a master’s degree in leadership from the University of Oregon. While she had once planned to be a teacher or college professor, she exhibited a natural flair for business from the get-go.

“When I was in elementary school…we lived a few miles from the Tijuana border in Chula Vista. I used to go to TJ with my uncle and buy bags of Mexican candy, then sell it by the piece to kids from my school,” she explained. “Being an entrepreneur has always been part of my DNA.” 

The next step for Pearson was founding a real estate investors’ association and later a celebrity cannabis marketing firm. As a real estate investor, Pearson along with her cousin DJ Muggs.  bought two cannabis cultivation operations: a farm and an indoor grow, both located in Sonoma County.

Pearson has also amassed a portfolio of real estate in three countries. As a landlord, she says she’s always “preferred to rent to stoners.” 

“In my real estate business, I knew a lot of people’s dirt. What I knew was that cannabis enthusiasts were great, and the alcoholics were prone to trouble,” she said. “Alcoholics would punch holes in the walls, get DUIs or they’d disappear off the face of the earth. My experience was that cannabis users didn’t seem to have that crazy up-and-down, chaotic lifestyle.” 

Pearson’s first experiences renting to a “cannaprenuer” occurred over a decade ago. 

“I had a residential tenant who asked me if he could rent one of my commercial spaces for his vertically-integrated cannabis business [Montana Advanced Caregivers],” she said.

“I went to visit his operation and saw people going into his dispensary with walkers and oxygen tanks and who had clearly had brain surgery. I saw for myself that his clients were the very definition of medical patients seeking relief that opiates or other medication weren’t providing,” Pearson said. 

Though excited to help his company, she admits the federal illegality and “the risk of forfeiture” made her nervous.

“I did it anyway because I had that experience watching those people go into [the shop],” recounted Pearson, who says the company is still one of her tenants, operating in the same building this many years later.

A Serendipitous Deal 

For Pearson, real estate is just putting deals together – simply put.

So, when Muggs enlisted her help to find a partnership with a cannabis brand for Cypress Hill, it was a no brainer. 

“The thing that was important to Cypress Hill was that they didn’t want to have their name slapped on someone else’s product,” she said, explaining that the band members sought a partnership that would create products that truly represented the band’s ethos. 

At Bhang, they found just that.

In an interview with Freedom Leaf, DJ Muggs described the moment he met with Bhang founders, Scott Van Rixel and Richard Sellers: “It was organic. They understood the band. Scott’s a big fan. He knew our history and all of our lyrics. Plus, he’s a chocolatier. It was like I was meant to meet these guys.”

Thus, the CHB (Cypress Hill Bhang) collaboration was born. The lineup currently features products that celebrate the band’s music, including the CHB Skull Jar, and a cassette tape stash box complete with six premium pre-rolls. 

Bhang Chocolates Jamie Pearson

Pearson’s role nurturing the partnership impressed the Bhang founders. In another serendipitous series of events, the company offered her an official position with Bhang about a year after they began putting the deal together. They spent her first official day on the job in San Francisco and sealed the deal at a Cypress Hill concert at the Bill Graham Auditorium – in true cannabis fashion – on April 20,,2016.  

Finding the Win-Win

Dubbed a deal-making ninja by High Times, Pearson is known for her ability to look for the win/win in every situation. 

“If it’s not a win-win, it’s not a deal,” she says.

“Deal making requires relationship building. Active listening is the key to that process,” Pearson explained.  

This skill set directly serves her role as CEO of Bhang, where she spearheads the company’s relationships and licensing deals on a global scale. 

Bhang has joined forces with powerhouse companies, including CannaVative, Bedford Grow, Indiva, and Trulieve, Florida’s biggest medical cannabis firm.  

According to Green Fund’s Louis O’Neill, partnering with these vertically-integrated companies has earned Bhang a place on shelves throughout North American. As of July 2020, “There are currently over 1,000 stores selling Bhang’s products, and this number is expected to exceed 2,000 by the end of [2020],” O’Neill reported. 

This year, Bhang launched a brand refresh on their packaging, and Pearson is thrilled with the results.

“Our team is best in class,” she says. “Between our branding and marketing team, CMO Samantha Ford Collins, Global Director of Marketing, Nicole Hanratty – who executed our new packaging from concept to fruition –  and our sales leaders, Anthony Colon and Heather Vigil, we function like an orchestra.”

The credit for Bhang’s current position in the market really rests on the players, Pearson says.

“Everybody excels at their position, works hard and holds themselves accountable for excellence. I am their conductor, but they are making the beautiful music.”

In addition to partnerships, risk-taking is an important part of Bhang’s growth strategy (and an inherent part of being in the cannabis industry).  

“When you think of risks in cannabis, you think of all those things that could get you landed in jail – that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about putting our thinking caps on,” says Pearson. 

For example, the company launched its first CBD product in 2011, and won its first award for CBD goods a year later. The company is also among the first to come out with mainstream terpene products. 

“Cannabis is really a blank landscape, Pearson said. “We know that our job is to know what the customers want before they do. There’s a famous quote by Henry Ford that says, ‘If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would’ve said a faster horse.’”

Walking the Walk

The company plans on continued expansion, which it’s done exponentially under Pearson’s leadership. 

“I learned a lot about leadership on the basketball court,” Pearson says.

As a point guard, Pearson coached, called and directed plays on the court. Similarly, at Bhang, she helps to shape, grow and guide the team. And she leads with a fierce regard for social responsibility.

She says the company has a reputation for putting good products in people’s hands that are delicious.

“We’ve been responsible to the industry, to the earth, to human beings – I love that about our company – we’re walking the walk, and talking the talk,” she said.

Bhang Chocolates Stack

Her philosophy, she says, is similar to the Steve Jobs quote, “Don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do.”

By having good teammates, and people with great mindsets, Pearson says accomplishing goals is “really easy” because the hard work is done during the hiring process.

When hiring, she looks for emotional intelligence. 

“The reality is, If I hire a competent project manager and they don’t have cannabis experience, but they have emotional intelligence, then what I have is a good teammate,” Pearson explained. 

Diversity is also integral to that. 

“We value it genuinely,” Pearson adds. “The truth is we’re looking for awesome people to be on our team or to be partners with us. What we’ve found is…we’re better with diversity – it isn’t just lip service.

My team will tell you, I have been pounding the drum of sharing our access and dollars with the BIPOC community since day one. When Scott asked me to be on the board of Bhang back when we went public, I told him I would only do it if he asked one of the existing board members to leave and added a person of color. Our chairman of the board, Daniel Nauth, agreed to join the board. He is a black man and an absolutely invaluable guiding force for our company.”

Hiring Women is Smart

Bhang’s executive leadership team is 85% female, says Pearson.

“From a common-sense standpoint—hiring women is smart,” she says, adding that mothers offer distinctive skill sets.

“I know when having a mom on the team, I’ve got someone who already wears multiple hats, and multi-tasks well,” Pearson explained.

For Pearson, being on teams of strong women is natural, explaining that it goes back to her days of playing basketball.

Beyond workplace productivity, women also make an astronomically high amount of purchasing decisions, approximately 70-80%, Pearson added.

“When you win the hearts and minds of women, you give your brand a leg up,” she said. “Having strong, smart women on the team is good business.”

Pearson is proud to be a part of the cannabis industry, largely due to its impact on conversations around sustainability, and how business is conducted.

 “We are still in prohibition, and we can make this industry look any way we choose. I believe we must choose to disrupt the very notion that business has to be pale, male and stale (a quote from my friend, Jeanne Sullivan),” Pearson says.

“What I love is that our community has been talking about the environment, diversity, and social justice since the very beginning. We can and must do better, but in comparison with my experience in real estate, it’s not an afterthought. These topics are woven into the very fabric of our culture,” she explains. “Cannabis is the gateway to wellness. Our industry will change the world for the better.”

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On Mothers & Marijuana: 7 Celebrities Talk About Smoking While Parenting

Mothers are increasingly leading cannabis reform efforts in the United States. Across the country, mothers have pushed forward laws — even in conservative states — allowing for the use of THC or CBD for children with severe epilepsy and other illnesses.

One such “she-ro” is Heather Shuker of the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society, who began as an advocate for her daughter Hannah after cannabis drastically reduced the number of seizures she suffered. California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who just reversed her longstanding policy of opposing cannabis reform, said her views changed after meetings with constituents, particularly those with young children who have benefited from medical cannabis.

But the movement of mothers advocating for marijuana isn’t only a recent phenomenon about giving children access to medical cannabis. Here are seven mothers, including celebrities, writers and musicians, who have spoken publicly about their own consumption of marijuana and the positive effects they’ve seen from the plant.

Maya Angelou

Poetess Maya Angelou wrote about her experiences with marijuana in “Gather Together in My Name,” the second installment of her autobiography, after the acclaimed “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”Angelou, who had a drastically difficult childhood and became a single mother in her teens, wrote: “Smoking grass eased the strain for me…. From a natural stiffness I melted into a grinning tolerance. Walking on the streets became high adventure, eating my mother’s huge dinners an opulent entertainment, and playing with my son was side-cracking hilarity. For the first time, life amused me.”

Melissa Etheridge

Musician Melissa Etheridge advanced the cannabis cause when she told Dateline NBC in 2005 that she smoked medicinal cannabis to help with the side effects of chemotherapy during her treatment for breast cancer. Etheridge came out in favor of recreational cannabis at a 2010 press conference in Los Angeles. “I don’t want to look like a criminal to my children anymore,” she stated. “I want them to know this is a choice you make as a responsible adult.” At a Grammy Museum-sponsored Concert for Social Justice in 2015, she pronounced that the cannabis revolution “is being won by middle-aged women.”

Ruth Bergner

Longtime cannabis user and grandmother Ruth Bergner outed herself in her 2005 autobiography, “I Smoke Pot with My Family: Speaking Up at 85.” “With just one puff, I am instantly more open, communicative, loving and forgiving,” she wrote. “I believe that, when used wisely, this substance supports us in learning to be more loving and emotionally sound human beings.” These lessons are all ones that many mothers hope to pass on to their children.

Lea Grover

In 2015, Lea Grover, the mother of one-year-old twins, wrote an article for Good Housekeeping magazine titled, “Marijuana Makes Me a Better Mother,” in which she recounted how she benefited from an increased ability to empathize brought on by marijuana, as well dealing with her “parenthood-induced anxiety” more safely and effectively with cannabis than Xanax.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron, who recently told Jimmy Kimmel that she and her mother successfully tried edibles to help them sleep, is currently appearing both in the movie “Gringo,” a boyish romp about a mythical marijuana pill, and in a critically-acclaimed performance for her realistic depiction of the challenges of motherhood in “Tully.” She has two children that she co-parents with her mother.

Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon, who has admitted to using pot as far back as 1992, has increasingly become an advocate for marijuana and criminal justice reform. Sarandon told AARP’s magazine in 2014 that, “I would much rather my kids smoke weed than drink, except that it’s illegal.”

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg, who has recently entered the cannabis industry with her own line of cannabis products geared toward women and mothers, said it was her daughter who suggested that she smoke marijuana to treat the headaches she was struggling with. “When my daughter gave me a vape pen, I realized that I could relegate it to where I needed it to be,” Goldberg told Marie Claire. “And I would talk to my older grandkids in their 20s, and they’d say they use weed to stop cramps.” Goldberg has also spoken up about the need for more women and mothers in the cannabis industry, saying, “If you had women running the weed market, I think there’d be lots of different products.”

TELL US, are you a mother? Have you seen marijuana impact your life?

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Sex Drive and The Endocannabinoid System

He once told me that he knew he was in trouble as soon as I looked at him. I knew the look because I remember the thoughts behind it. We were high school hot for each other and when we finally got a hold of each other, we didn’t let go for hours. Then, one […]

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