The Broccoli Report
Monday, March 8, 2021
Time to read: 8 minutes, 15 seconds. 1653 words.
I’ve had a busy, but fun, week writing about Bitch’s 25th anniversary. The beloved pop-culture mag with a feminist lens stands out for its community-supported revenue model (and the best film critiques online, IMO). I also got to bite into Astral, a new edible brand embracing the weird of cannabis culture with extremely delicious, crunchy candy-coated gummies.
Before I get to celebrating one of my favorite parts of weed culture, a reminder to sign up as a paid subscriber to access this Friday’s newsletter, unboxing the market for cannabis product subscription boxes, including the opportune realm of CBD meal kits. Mainstream delivery services like HelloFresh and Sun Basket have seen higher demand over the past year, and so have smoke-free solutions for consumption at home. The potential is mouthwatering.
Weed & Nails: The phenomenon of pot-fueled manis.
One of my absolute favorite things to do when I get high is to paint my nails. I talk about it a lot. But it’s so many things at once! It’s a creative outlet; it transports me somewhere more interesting; it allows me to play a little pretend. It was a bonding moment with my first fellow cannabis-loving girlfriends, and, in these quarantined times, spending a high making art on my nails is a soothing self-care ritual I look forward to once a week.
Instagram’s algorithm caught on to my interests fast, dropping Floss Gloss, an indie nail polish brand with a fun, irreverent vibe into my Explore page back in 2014 (or whatever the search page looked like in 2014). The brand didn’t describe itself as a “cannabis brand,” but the old-school rap references, mid-2000s nostalgia, and reposts of customers’ nail selfies holding blunts and joints created the sense of a safe space for stoner gals. As I put it in my eventual podcast interview with FG’s co-founder, Janine Lee, “It felt like walking into the girls’ bathroom, and getting to smoke and gossip with the nice, cool girls in the back stall.” Lee’s relationship with cannabis and nails was similar to mine, and she talks in that episode about how, at first, they were scared to associate the brand with cannabis. They didn’t want to give anyone any excuse to take two young liberal arts grads less seriously. Then a stockist posted an image to IG of their Floss Gloss display, with each color paired to a corresponding Swisher Sweets blunt wrap. Lee recalled thinking to herself, “OK, people are getting it. They’re picking up what we’re putting down.”
Nowadays, in legal states, the nail and weed phenomenon is very much a reality. Nail artists like Nomsternailz in Portland, Oregon, cater to cannabis-consuming customers with a consumption-friendly nail salon service—at her studio or in the comfort of your own home (when COVID-safe). Cannabis has become something expressed through manicures, too. Take a look at #weednails on Instagram—thousands of cannabis-centric manicures. Dope Nailz leaned all the way in with stoner-girl branding, from the box decor, to shades of polish named after classic weed strains and actual CBD extract in every bottle. They sell very cool curved reusable nail charms, too—you can affix one to your topcoat with glue, gel, or acrylic, then remove it to save for later. Just like a peek of weed-leaf printed socks or a cannabis-branded hoodie can be a liberating form of self-expression, having a weed-inspired manicure can be a playful way to reveal a little something about one’s lifestyle.
Does nail polish feel too niche and unserious for a business newsletter? In a post-2020 world, everything has more meaning. Consider this: the U.S. nail care market is worth an estimated $2.7 billion, and it's projected to grow. Better attend to those nails!
Any assumption of “seriousness” or lack thereof has everything to do with nails traditionally being a woman’s cute pastime. Had investors taken Janine Lee and Floss Gloss seriously, they could’ve had a stake in a brand that’s been growing for ten years. Good, ol’ fashioned sexism in business spaces (and venture capitalism) is a huge, ongoing issue that prevents a lot of savvy businesses and founders from taking off. The silver lining is that sometimes, a product resonates so deeply with a community that they're able to find success despite the barriers. And these so-called frivolous businesses can have a serious impact. When Broccoli-fave Lady Fancy Nails collaborated with chic, custom-sized nail sticker brand Mani Me last summer, 100% of the “Ebb + Flow” collection went to The Movement For Black Lives and the Professional Beauty Association’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
This varnished take is just one indulgent dive into a singular facet of the relationship between cannabis and the people who enjoy it. There are so many, many more. Let it be a reminder of the emotion associated with even the most unassuming of cannabis rituals, and that any product or brand has the ability to be a very meaningful part of that relationship.
One-Hitters: Cannabis News at a Glance
In light of rising hate crimes against Asian communities, February’s Sesh-In featured an open conversation about Asian allyship. On Tuesday, March 9, the lens will turn toward Black and Asian solidarity in a Sesh-In led by Kassia Graham and Highly Human; I’ll be chiming in on the digital panel. RVSP here and tune in at 4:20 pm tomorrow!
Northwest-region glassblowers tapped their networks to raise thousands of dollars in aid for fellow cannabis-adjacent companies and hemp farmers who lost their homes and much more to the summer’s wildfires. 🥲🥲🥲.
A cautionary tale from the Chicago Sun-Times: Retail employees of Chicago’s Windy City dispensary are preparing to vote on whether to join the United Food and Commercial Union’s Local 881, an action complicated by the dispensary’s $830 million acquisition by Massachusetts-based Curaleaf. Although the deal is pending, product specialist Melina Gutierrez says employees are already receiving communications from Curaleaf and Grassroots to dissuade them from joining the union. Meanwhile, those HR reps have been silent regarding burst pipes from the recent Arctic blast and a subsequent sewage leak that required a septic pipe to run from the bathroom, through the dispensary, and out the store’s sole entryway. Gross—on so many levels.
Legalization efforts by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont are catching heat from all sides. The Connecticut State Medical Society urged lawmakers to oppose the governor’s bill, concerned that the “rush to legalize ignores the increase in car accidents and deaths; children who might inadvertently overdose on marijuana edibles, including gummy candies; and the worsening of severe mental health issues.” Pro-legalization advocates are criticizing the lack of social equity initiatives present in the bill, noting that there is nothing about criminal record expungements or any accounting for the Black and brown communities disadvantaged by the licensing process. But the governor’s office has been receptive to feedback, making it clear that this is not the final draft.
Angela Dawson, founder of 40 Acre Cooperative and the 60%-female 40 Acre Ranch, and Deanie Elsner, CEO of Charlotte’s Web CBD, unite to launch “Seeding Our Future Together,” an educational mentorship program for Black hemp farmers and leaders.
Virginia is one step closer to becoming the first Southern state to legalize adult-use cannabis. The catch? Sales wouldn’t start till 2024. At the end of February, state lawmakers approved “compromise legislation” legalizing a commercial adult-use marijuana program. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law, which would make Virginia the third state to legalize an adult-use market via the legislature and not at the ballot box, following Illinois in 2019 and Vermont in 2020.
Spice up your life! David Beckham-backed cannabis company Cellular Goods soared on its first day trading on the London Stock Exchange. The company uses biosynthetic cannabinoids to produce skincare and topical creams designed for athletes. It’s reportedly unclear to what degree Beckham will be a part of the company’s marketing and media. Frankly, I don’t care; I only need to know if Victoria Beckham will be releasing a line of CBD-infused dark lipsticks for the brand.
A New Jersey-based virtual networking event highlights issues other states will soon face at the nexus of hospitality, tourism, and legal cannabis. During “Destination Cannabis: Insight for New Jersey Hospitality and Tourism connecting New Jersey,” attendees mused on challenges and potential when it comes to cannabis in casinos, infused hotel brunches, and consumption-friendly yoga classes. Room-service food for thought.
Enormous yikes: the MONOGRAM cannabis brand launched a jarring nationwide billboard campaign. Huge black billboards and murals feature massive white text statements like: “Weed is a federal crime, even in the states where sex with farm animals isn’t.” I get it; comparative language is powerful. However, “cannabis as a lesser evil than the sexual abuse of animals” messaging, or just putting these two notions side-by-side in any context, is not a good look for weed. Going to write this one up as a miss.
NEKKTAR, a Black-owned accessory brand specializing in portable storage for cannabis goodies, released a new colorway for Black History Month and beyond. Additionally, the brand committed to donating a portion of all its first-quarter profits to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Cannábicas, a new documentary examining the relationship between women in Latin America, Spain, Brazil, and Chile and the cannabis plant and how gender influences their experiences, is available to watch now on YouTube.
Seth Rogen’s HOUSEPLANT cannabis brand is coming to America. First launched in Toronto in 2019, the company is celebrating its March launch in the California adult-use market with a launch of home goods and vinyl records featuring playlists for “indica,” “hybrid,” and “sativa”-leaning listening sessions. I’m not wild about perpetuating limited and confusing language when it comes to the nuanced effects of certain strains, but I love the branding so much (those stackable color-block containers!) that I remain utterly charmed.
Off to tend to some plants,