Chong Bongs, Willie’s Reserve, Khalifa Kush, SKIBOSS – Are Celebrity Cannabis Brands All That?
You know we’ve succeeded in making it a movement when celebrities run their own weed companies. Celebrity cannabis brands are the latest phenomena in cultural phenomena.
Back in 2003, the Bush administration sentenced iconic weed comedian Tommy Chong to nine months in federal prison. However, the Up in Smoke writer/actor didn’t get busted for selling cannabis. It wasn’t even possession. Chong got busted for selling bongs. Chong Bongs, to be precise. This all happened long before celebrity cannabis became a thing, mind you.
There was nothing out-of-the-ordinary about Chong Bongs. Functionally and aesthetically, they were no different than any other water pipe that you’d find at your local smoke shop. The main feature that distinguished them was a small glass bead fused to the front of each one. Inside the bead was a cartoony caricature of Tommy Chong’s face, reminding you that this wasn’t any ordinary bong. It was a bong blessed by the “Man” himself.
Today, Chong Bongs are a rare collector’s item, and not just because they’re no longer made. Maybe it was the design, maybe it was the type of glass used, or maybe Chong cast some kind of ancient Chinese-Canadian magic on them, but they hit like a dream. Perhaps it was star-power placebo, but it felt like they could milk twice the smoke compared to another brand of bong of comparable size.
This is to be expected. Celebrity-endorsed products, such as the Chong Bong, should exhibit exceptionally high quality. After all, said celebrity is attaching their face, name, and reputation to the brand. And if we adore a celebrity, that means, on some level, we trust them. If they’re willing to bank their career on the brand, then dagnabbit, we oughta give it a try. If the product provides real value, then we’ll gladly become loyal customers, right?
It’s been fifteen long years since Chong went to jail for simply selling some pipes. The Bush administration’s anti-cannabis campaign seemed especially odd given that the DOJ didn’t go after any other big-name bong makers. That, and they were supposed to fighting terrorism, but that’s old news, right? And over the course of those fifteen years, a lot has happened. Correction: a ton has happened.
Today, in the age of rapidly expanding legalization, we’re seeing a deluge of celebrity-branded weed: Willie Nelson’s Willie’s Reserve, the Marley estate’s Marley Natural, Mike Tyson’s Tyson Ranch resort, David Crosby’s Mighty Croz, Tanner Hall’s SKIBOSS papers, Melissa Ethridge’s Know Label wine, Wiz Khalifa’s custom-bred Khalifa Kush,—they’re all in on it. In case you’re wondering if cannabis branding is just another trend that’s all about cash flow and cool factor, some celebrities devote themselves to the far-less-profitable and much-dorkier medical cannabis market, like Jim Belushi’s Private Vault and Whoopi Goldberg’s Whoopi & Maya.
So, get this: Right now, in the United States of America, you can pop a Whoopi pot pill, grind up some Willie and Wiz nugs, load ‘em into a priceless Chong Bong, and torch a Hollywood hit in between sips of Melissa’s weed wine. Booyah!
We’re living in the future, folks. This is happening, and there’s way too much money and star power to shove it back in the Ban Box.
But do these celebrity-brand cannabis products live up to their names? Will they become mainstay faves like Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream ice cream? Or will they fail spectacularly like Steven Spielberg’s submarine-themed restaurant, Dive!?
We could assume celebrity weed brands will ultimately be hit or miss. But I guess they’ll never miss, because this is weed we’re talking about.
Let’s return to Tommy Chong. Despite his run-in with the feds years ago, he’s still in the bud business. Today, Chong’s not just selling glassware. He’s also selling actual weed through his new company, Chong’s Choice.
It took nearly two decades, but it looks like justice has finally been served. Chong’s karma spun full circle. And good for him. Get it while it’s still hot, Tommy, because a legion of actors, musicians, and athletes—has-beens and trending alike—is coming for a slice of that sativa pie you baked long ago in an era far, far away.