For several years now, the trend of celebrities aligning themselves with cannabis brands has continued to include an ever-widening circle of familiar names. At first, the list consisted largely of the usual suspects. Were any among us truly surprised when reputed stoners like Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, or Tommy Chong declared they were getting in the business?
Things got a bit trickier when the next wave of stars began to claim what they saw as their rightful marijuana moment. We now have Jim Belushi growing weed and Whoopi Goldberg hawking CBD. Just last month, actress and activist Jane Fonda announced a partnership with Uncle Bud’s, making Fonda but the latest in a growing sea of famous faces entering the legal weed game.
Seriously, this thing now runs the gamut from comedian Chelsea Handler to boxer Mike Tyson.
When it comes to celebrities signing on the dotted line with a cannabis brand, it’s wise to frequently stop and wonder which form of green is truly driving these motivations. In many cases, the answer is nebulous at best. Talk is cheap. Putting your profits towards change and actually operating by an ethically impressive standard? Not so much.
Occasionally, however, a worthy pairing of pot and personality does arise.
Founding Wu-Tang Clan member GZA (aka The Genius) is an example of a famous figure with every right to make a dime off legal weed. This fact makes his new partnership with the high-end cannabis lifestyle and accessory brand Sackville & Co an intriguing collaboration, to say the least.
Founded by Hayley Dineen and Lana Van Brunt, the company describes itself as “a contemporary cannabis brand designed by women who like to smoke weed.” Their regular line includes items like room sprays and gilded grinders. Now those offerings also include a throwing star grinder courtesy of a new partnership between the brand and one of hip-hops most legendary rappers.
To be more specific, Sackville’s GZA Smoking Kit is intended to commemorate the 25th anniversary of GZA’s seminal second solo album, “Liquid Swords.”
Released in 1995, the East Coast classic was produced by fellow Wu-Tang member RZA and was met with near unanimous acclaim by fans and critics alike. Critic Cheo H. Coker compared GZA to “a hip-hop M.C. Escher” in a review for the Los Angeles Times. Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen gave similarly effusive praise to a 2012 deluxe reissue of the album.
“‘Liquid Swords’ is a consummate MC’s album,” Cohen argued, “and finding a weak line on it is nearly impossible.” Now, a quarter-century after tracks like “4th Chamber” and “Shadowboxin” first cemented their place into a generation of boomboxes and headphones, GZA is marking the occasion of his album’s silver anniversary in style.
True to the nature of the man born Gary Grice, all proceeds from sales of the GZA Stash Kit (retailing for $45.99) will go to benefit the Last Prisoner Project. A non-profit with the stated goal of seeing every person incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses released, the LPP’s work has only grown in urgency with the onset of a pandemic that has hit prison populations especially hard.
As of July 16, more than 6,700 prisoners and 1,300 corrections employees had tested positive for COVID in the California prison system alone. Outbreaks are taking place across the country, from Riker’s Island in New York to San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco.
“Now more than ever,” reads a note on the GZA Stash Kit product page, “correctional facilities remain highly susceptible to a COVID-19 outbreak, anyone in detention is inherently at risk. No one should face a death sentence for a cannabis offense, exercising their right to peacefully assemble, or simply because they can’t afford bail.”
The efforts required to stem the tide of fresh infections will take far more than a cool new cannabis accessory, but if you’re going to align your art with cannabis culture, arriving with a clear message is a phenomenal way to get heard.