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“Weed Speak” (or Should That Be “Cannabis Creep”?) Now a Bigger Part of Our Social Consciousness

So I had to ask myself: What’s all this then?

I was standing in the beer and wine department at my local grocery store in Virginia, a state way behind in any cannabis legalization process, and noticed two beers on the shelf that were seriously using what advertisers are beginning to call “weed speak”.

There was Sweet Water beer, Extra Pale 420, with this on the side of the six pack carton: “Seriously hopped with a fat stash of Cascade hops!”

Right next to that was another Sweet Water beer, Hash. “It’s huge hit of flavor comes from an infusion of Hop hash” read the carton blurb.

Lagunitas Brewing recently announced a new IPA, “Supercritical”, that is infused with terpenes but no THC, brewed in partnership with vape cartridge manufacturer CannaCraft. The company also has a line of “OneHitter” beers.

Two different beers from the same brewery using “weed speak” and counting on cannabis consumer recognition.

What? These are not true cannabis-infused products as their names slyly imply. They are not hemp products. They are beer products that proudly proclaim their connection to the cannabis universe, being sold in places like Virginia where possession of less than a half ounce of cannabis can get you 30 days in jail and cost you a $500 fine – and an arrest record.

With beer products, it’s really sort of a no-brainer connection. Hops and cannabis both have terpenoids in them. In fact, some testing facilities are using hops – which can legally be transported across state and country lines like any other agricultural product – to simulate tests for cannabis.

But hold on – if you in fact try to advertise your cannabis product the way these guys are advertising their non-cannabis products using the exact same language, you run afoul of the law. Every cannabis-legal state prohibits the outright advertisement of any cannabis for sale using any mainstream means.

Then there’s this: A new bill introduced by California Senator Ben Allen of Santa Monica specifically outlaws cannabis-specific weed speak t-shirts: “A licensee shall not advertise medical cannabis or medical cannabis products through the use of branded merchandise, including, but not limited to, clothing, hats, or other merchandise with the name or logo of the product.”

The bill would also limit TV advertising of cannabis-related products to times when the audiences are expected to be 21 or over, because, well, we don’t want kids seeing this stuff.

Say what? Maybe they are not seeing what I am seeing, because that particular genie is out of the bottle. Consider:

  • There is a new mainstream TV show called “Disjointed”, starring academy-award winning actress Kathy Bates, coming on the heels of the recently cancelled “Mary + Jane” (about two girls in a cannabis delivery service) and five years after the popular dark comedy “Weeds” (about a suburban housewife selling marijuana) that ran from 2005-2012, winning a Golden Globe and two Emmys along the way.
  • Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has six different cannabis-inspired flavors of ice cream that almost sound like cannabis strains with names like Jamaican Me Crazy and Totally Baked and Bob Marley’s One Love.
  • General Mills reportedly launched a campaign for its Totinos pizza rolls on 4/20, with a billboard stating “It’s high time for some pizza rolls #better when baked.”
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream has a few interesting brands that could pass as cannabis strains.

And it goes the other way as well:

  • Black Cherry Soda, Bubblegum, Cherry Pie, and Cotton Candy are cannabis strain names taken from regular everyday products.
  • Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue are strain names taken from actual products – and both names are being challenged now by the original copyright owners, another sign that the mainstream has stopped ignoring the industry as a fanciful pursuit by a few wacky stoners and is now ready to play big-business hardball with the cannabis business when and where it sees fit.

So when you see a kid under 21 eating a Tostino’s pizza roll then following it up with a scoop of Totally Baked Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream as he watches a TV show about a cannabis dispensary, maybe it’s time to celebrate.

Because this industry has become part of the new social consciousness of the country, being seen and subtly assimilated by everyday citizens shopping in the grocery store or driving by a billboard or watching a TV show. It’s out of the darkness to stay, and step-by-step, mainstream business, either consciously or subconsciously, is helping put an end to the reefer madness mentality.

And no matter what lawmakers say or do, that can only be good news from here on.

David HodesDavid Hodes

David Hodes

David Hodes is based in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. He is the former editor of seven different business magazines, and has contributed feature articles to several business/lifestyle publications and national cannabis magazines. Hodes is also a former field producer for CBS News, NBC, NFL Network, ESPN and other media outlets; worked as a news promotions producer for two network affiliates; and was the morning news editor for a third network affiliate.

He is member of the National Press Club, and deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

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