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Celebrity Cannabis - By zruskin - October 5, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Celebrity Cannabis

 

Reggae and cannabis have long gone hand-in-hand, and with the release of Stick Figure Sour Batch Four from Humboldt’s Finest, the marriage is now official.

The strain — a Sour Diesel variation earmarked by Humboldt’s Finest specifically for Stick Figure, otherwise known as reggae artist Scott Woodruff — is the latest in a series of celebrity-endorsed cannabis products to hit the market. Other famous folks with branded buds include Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Melissa Etheridge, Wiz Khalifa, and Ghostface Killah.

“Pretty much every store that we sell to has said yes,” says Joseph Schepp, president of Humboldt’s Finest, about the new Stick Figure strain. “Hands down, people have been super excited.”

Launched late last year and billed as “America’s craft cannabis brand,” Humboldt’s Finest makes for an ideal partner for the entrepreneurial Woodruff. Anyone who’s been to Reggae on the River — Humboldt’s annual marquee music event — knows that cannabis is an integral part of the small town’s expansive reggae scene.

“We’ve had top reggae stars come to this little teeny town to celebrate because we have great cannabis,” Schepp confirms. “That’s what’s at the roots of Humboldt’s Finest: just really connecting to music culture in general.”

In fact, it was a farmer aligned with Schepp’s company who first introduced him to Ineffable Music Group, which represents Stick Figure. But it was Woodruff himself who made the proposal that Stick Figure and Humboldt’s Finest team up for the fourth batch of his signature Stick Figure Sour.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole industry,” says Thomas Suliman, who plays bass for Stick Figure. “There’s so much that’s going on with the politics of it, but it seems like where we’re at today, there are still some old-school farmers doing it the right way and sticking with their roots.”

A sun-grown, organic hybrid sativa, the limited-release strain is now selectively available in pre-roll six packs and pre-boxed eighths.

As cannabis companies large and small continue to see branding as a pivotal piece of the legal market, finding famous faces to endorse strains will likely be an ideal way to make products stand out on ever-crowding shelves. By adding a celebrity endorsement to a cannabis strain, companies like Humboldt’s Finest are able to brand it as premium. According to a 2016 survey by Marijuana

Business Daily, a celebrity-branded strain carries an average price markup of 24 percent, “which equates to $5-$10 more per eighth.”

For Schepp, the collaboration with Stick Figure is as much about character as it is the bottom line. He says that finding a musician who could embody the tenets of Humboldt’s Finest — sustainability, integrity, and craft cannabis — was pivotal to the process that yielded the company’s first celebrity-aligned strain.

“We were trying to find the right artist to match the brand,” Schepp says. “We couldn’t be happier with who Stick Figure is as an artist, and what he represents: creativity, integrity, a commitment to true music, and cannabis. I’ve really got to give it to Scott. He’s the entrepreneur that really had the vision for this, and for us, what a great way to get cannabis in people’s hands.”
Schepp says that Humboldt’s Finest now has a few more artist collaborations in the works. He is enthusiastic at the prospect of more people entering dispensaries and seeking out cobranded strains.

“It benefits dispensaries too,” he says. “They get that star value added to their store, and they get people to come in and experience something from a new angle.”

While all cannabis is arguably limited-edition when one considers the variations in growing, curing, and changes that occur between batches, the appeal of applying the same marketing tactics that work so well in other sectors like gaming and personal technology appears to be a smart business move. Those who view cannabis strictly as a medicinal substance may balk at the idea of “limited-edition” medicine, but as recreational use in California marches closer, businesses are expanding their reach.

Meanwhile, Stick Figure’s Suliman is happy to see music align with cannabis, the rare product he is only too happy to see his band’s name stamped on.

“Well — that and dog toys,” he says.