In a move labeled “brand suicide” by peers in the cannabis community, Ontario-based LP WeedMD (the first to score a distribution agreement with the Shoppers Drug Mart) have announced an exclusive licensing deal with Dan Bilzerian’s Ignite International. Cannabis heavyweights are tripping at the inclusion of a man that activist Caelan “The Cannaisseur” Hart described as “the creepy ‘hur hur, how about you suck my dick for it?’ weed dealer every girl has had to put up with at least once.”
Bilzerian, who studied business at the University of Florida after being honourably discharged from the US Navy, is a pro-gun, Joe-Rogan-Experience, poster-man of toxic masculinity (God I’m so bored).
Dr. Jenna Valleriani, CEO of the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE), helped lead the online outcry with some choice screencaps and anecdotes:
Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor of Sociology at the Centre for the Study of the United States who works out of U of T writing about “gun violence, health disparities, Hip Hop, and true crime,” replied:
“Pioneering cannabis entrepreneur” Steve DeAngelo RT’d, adding “Not consistent w my idea of cannabis values or sense of humor. Scary how many people he seems to resonate with. What does it that say about our society’s understanding of masculinity that these kinds of images are being presented & resonating as an ideal version of being a man?”
Rachel Colic, founder of femme-forward cannabis accessory shop Eves of Eden and an online database of “Boss Ladies” working in weed, told The Reef that “in the era of #MeToo this is an incredibly tone deaf and irresponsible decision on [WeedMD’s] part. To me it sends the message that they either didn’t do their due diligence on [Bilzerian] or they did and they don’t care what kind of reputation he has.”
WeedMD’s stock dropped following the announcement on Thursday and is continuing to fall into the weekend. Many prominent voices in the cannabis industry are declaring and encouraging boycotts of the company while publicly calling out Bilzerian’s misogynistic shenanigans. Cannabis educator Tabitha Fritz, co-founder of the gender-parity driven organization The Green Tent, questioned why the Canadian WeedMD would partner with an unestablished American brand in the first place:
It’s been turbulent times for the Cannabis industry lately, with LP CannTrust canning their CEO and demanding the company chair’s resignation. Health Canada discovered unlicensed cannabis growing in their Ontario facility, revealed in the backdrop of a promo video the ex-CEO had filmed. Meanwhile, Toronto’s Auxley Cannabis Group has just taken a $123 million investment and partnership with mammoth tobacco company Imperial Brands, following in the footsteps of the Cronos Group and their Big Tobacco sponsor Altria (of Marlboro fame).
Fritz took to Twitter Saturday declaring that this “week of terrible decisions” is a direct result of Auxley, CannTrust and WeedMd’s lack of diversity across their “boards and leadership teams.”
Farrell Miller, director of legal affairs at dicentra Cannabis Consulting, used this week as an opportunity to advise the industry that “the race to be first, to scale up, to go where no one has gone before, will not go smoothly if you put the cart before the horse. Get your ducks in a row, prove yourself first.”
“With the fury of calls for boycotts the last few days my hope is that [WeedMD] can see licensing the Ignite brand will only hurt their own brand overall,” says Colic, “and that the industry won’t support WeedMD if they continue with this partnership.”