Monday, January 30, 2023

Hearst Newspapers Attempt to Undo the Damage They Did to Marijuana?

"Hashish Goads Users to Bloodlust!" was a typical headline seen in Hearst newspapers in the 1930s when the "yellow journalism" outlet pushed to make marijuana illegal, possibly because Pancho Villa, whose army favored the weed, seized Hearst's property in Mexico. Next thing you knew, the Marijuana Tax Act had passed, effectively making cannabis hemp—newly known by the scary word "marijuana"—illegal in the US. 

Now Hearst has teamed with the cannabis industry and other groups under the umbrella of the Cannabis Media Council to publish ads that seek to mainstream the use of cannabis in the media. 

According to Adweek, the work—under the trademarked tagline “I’m High Right Now”— aims to be the “Got Milk” of the cannabis industry, targeting boomers and Gen X as the demo “most affected by previous propaganda” about cannabis, according to Allison Disney, a CMC board member who spearheaded the creative via Chicago-based agency Receptor Brands with an assist from Sister Merci.

"Given the restrictions on cannabis marketing—brands can’t buy ads from tech giants like Meta, Instagram or TikTok and are shut out of most traditional outlets—the sales-free pitch for weed wants to build awareness and rebrand the space," Adweek continues. The campaign is launching first in the Connecticut Post as a print piece, given that the state recently kicked off its adult-use cannabis sales. “I’m High Right Now” will appear in more "legacy media" via a relationship between the CMC and Hearst Newspapers and its in-house ad marketing agency 46 Mile.

Hearst now publishes Greenstate, a channel dedicated to the topic to “provide accurate information about the plant, dispel myths and to help readers understand its health benefits and lifestyle options,” according to Rose Fulton, principal of 46 Mile, part of the San Francisco Chronicle. Programmatic ads are coming shortly via the data-driven company Surfside, mostly in California markets. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

David Crosby (The Croz) Flies Away at 81

David Crosby, the impish hippie with the golden voice that caressed many of us into activism and awareness in the '60s all the way to today, has apparently flown to rock 'n' roll heaven to keep Janis Joplin company on her 80th birthday. 

Said to be the inspiration for Dennis Hopper's character in Easy Rider—the film that taught Jack Nicholson and the world how to smoke pot—Crosby (aka "The Croz") was emblematic of the generation he helped inspire. 

I got to meet David in November 2018 before a concert he did with The Lighthouse Band in Monterey, CA and interview him for CannabisNow magazine about joining the NORML board of directors and (attempting to) launch a cannabis brand. 

Sitting in his bus (but not smoking, since it was before his show), I got to ask him about the scene in Almost Famous where a roadie pulls out a joint to share. “I know this is good,” he says. “It’s from Crosby.” We also chatted about how it came to be that Tokin' Woman Melissa Etheridge chose him as her sperm donor: turns out, his wife Jan suggested it when Melissa admired their children. Crosby sang "Guinnevere" at the concert with a sweet nod to his wife of 35 years, for whom he said he washed dishes every night (doubtlessly the key to a happy marriage). 

In Stand and Be Counted (Harper San Francisco, 2000), Crosby's book documenting his participation in many of the landmark events of the 1960s and beyond, he writes, "At the risk of calling into question my own current choice of staying straight, I still believe we were right about acid and we were right about pot. They did blow us loose from the past and they did give us a new perspective, a way of setting ourselves apart from the rest of straight society.…Unfortunately, marijuana was illegal and you had to go to illegal people to get it. Those people would then hand you a gram of cocaine and say, ‘If you think that's fun, try this.’" 

After going to prison on drugs charges, Crosby was 14 ½ years sober, until he felt he could go back to smoking pot. "I don’t smoke it in the daytime; I vape buds at night," he told me. "In particular I don’t it before I play. I do it after. I have a lot more fun if I do it before I play, but I think I do better if I work straight and get loaded afterwards.”