Cannabis 2.0: Artists Hoping to Cash In On High-End Vaping Gear, the Next Big Thing in Legal Weed

Cannabis 2.0: Artists Hoping to Cash In On High-End Vaping Gear, the Next Big Thing in Legal Weed

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Courtesy of Sherbinskis

Guzman at his Mendocino, Calif., grow operation in 2018

“When I first saw the Double Barrel, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to hit it or hit someone with it,” jokes weed entrepreneur Mario “Mr. Sherbinski” Guzman. He’s showing off prototypes for a new dual-chamber cannabis/CBD vaporizer — which resembles a pair of brass knuckles — that allows users to mix different strains and oils to create their own flavors and THC profiles.

“To me, it’s more than a piece of hardware, it’s a branding platform,” says Guzman. In early 2020, Guzman’s Sherbinskis marijuana company will join Post Malone’s Shaboink cannabis startup (along with four other companies) to create limited-edition concentrates for the Double Barrel, a vaping device that’s leading a hardware boom to make high-end vaporizers the next cultural status symbol — and getting musicians onboard to help sell them.

Legalization democratized marijuana sales and took away some of the mystique of THC strains like Guzman’s Gelato, which has been name-checked by dozens of rappers, from Tyler the Creator to Jhene Aiko. Prior to legalization, acquiring an ounce of Gelato took connections, money and patience; now, anyone can buy it at a dispensary or Barneys New York, which now carries Sherbinskis at its Beverly Hills flagship.

What consumers can’t buy — at least not yet — is Select‘s gold- and champagne-colored Lux CBD vaporizer, featured in Mustard’s new video “100 Bands” featuring YG. (A Select product expert was on-set during the shoot to show YG how to properly pull a tug off of the metallic device.)  Select is planning to release the Lux in the fall, while Double Barrel is available now for about $190. Double Barrel chief branding officer Ann Skalski, a former Saks Fifth Avenue vp, envisions consumers lining up for a chance to buy a limited-edition vaporizer much as they would for sneakers or streetwear.

Music is key to Select’s marketing strategy. In January, Select hired former Beats by Dre global chief marketing officer Jason White as chief marketing officer to reach out to the creative community and explain its ethos: that it’s the hardware itself that defines the culture. The mechanical design and hardware is what cannabis companies hope consumers will embrace as a cultural statement.

“The trend is high-end,” says Guzman, citing a recent Double Barrel announcement that the company would be selling a $100,000 diamond-encrusted, gold-plated vaporizer.

A recent study found a sharp rise in vape devices appearing in music videos, with product placements surging from 25% of videos in 2014 to nearly 88% in 2017.

“There’s a ton of money in branding with CBD and cannabis right now, but artists are being careful,” says a music-branding expert who has done a number of seven-figure deals and thinks vapes will be more prominent in videos, films and as fashion accessories that get you high.

This article originally appeared in the July 20 issue of Billboard.


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