Super Bowl Sunday has long become an American national holiday, a chance for corporate brands to strut their stuff, and this year’s edition – a perfect storm with the Los Angeles Rams playing in their own Inglewood home SoFi Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals – had a real Hollywood feel to it.
The Weedmaps “High in the Hills” party was the place to be for L.A. football stoners on Feb. 13.
Weedmaps, which describes itself as the Amazon of the cannabis marketplace, used the occasion to make a social statement about how arguably the year’s biggest advertising bonanza shut the cannabis business out of the proceedings – except for that pre-show blunt puffed by the inimitable Snoop Dogg just below the stage as the halftime program was about to begin, captured on social media for all to see.
Papa’s Herb handed out thick blunts that smoked so slow you could nurse one through the entire first half.
To protest, Weedmaps created a 30-second digital spot featuring a character named Brock Ollie—using the broccoli emoji commonly used as a visual representation of cannabis – ending in the closing admonition, “Cannabis is here. It’s time we talk about it.” The ad was rejected by the networks. Watch it here.
Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals commented: “There’s an irony in the fact that the biggest night for advertising will feature an array of consumer brands in regulated industries, from beverage alcohol to sports betting, yet legal cannabis retailers, brands and businesses have been boxed out.”
The Super Bowl party was held on a sprawling mansion in the Bel Air Hills, where several hundred revelers gathered in front of a large-screen TV set up in the backyard with a clear view of the surrounding estates. A bevy of suppliers offered their wares, giving out samples as the “Suburb Bowl” was carried through the crowd, The giant glass bong created especially for the occasion by famed designer Jerome Baker left a number of dazed and confused, but satisfied, tokers in its wake.
in the VIP tent, Weedmaps CMO/COO Juanjo Feijoo brought me up to date on how their website was “weeding” out dispensaries operating without licenses, indicating California’s high taxes are what’s keeping the black-market industry in business.The company was criticized in 2018 for hosting pages for unregulated businesses.
Inveterate stoner Tommy Chong marveled at the billowing clouds of smoke rising over the gathering. He told me that Cheech & Chong “put a friendly face on pot smokers” back in the ’70s when they became popular as a comedy team and then movie stars. We each agreed it was great to be alive in this brave new world of legal cannabis. I also saw Jaleel White there.
L.A.-based Papa’s Herb handed out thick blunts that smoked so slow you could nurse one through the entire first half. Other products on display included Mohave Reserve pre-rolls and Koko Nuggz, the chocolate-covered cereal treat that looks like chunky cannabis buds, as well as Beed, White Angel, Flurish, Bear Labs and Hyten California. There were rolling tables, dab rigs and a multi-level offering of food including tacos, cheeseburgers and ice cream, with a full display of munchies, from Snickers and popcorn to gummy bears (uninfused) and nuts.
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Not unexpectedly, people seemed more interested in imbibing than watching the game, though there were a few diehard Rams fans hanging on every play. By far, the biggest reaction from the crowd cazme during the halftime show, which had people singing along to the old-school Dr. Dre-Snoop Dogg classics like “The Next Episode” and “California Love” (with Snoop taking the Tupac parts), as well as Mary J. Blige’s scintillating medley of “Family Affair” and “No More Drama,” Kendrick Lamar’s suitably intense “M.A.A.D. City” and “Alright,” and Eminem’s tight-fisted, climactic kneel on “Lose Yourself.”
As the moon ascended and the Rams drove for what turned out to be the winning touchdown, I took in the scene. While it was an evening for Gen X and Millennial nostalgia, it wasn’t lost on this Baby Boomer that an event like this is what I’ve been waiting for over 50 years to experience. A half-century later, I was getting high in public and watching the Super Bowl on a giant screen with the likes of Tommy Chong and a smorgasbord of cannabis products to choose from.
The final score became secondary, even anticlimactic in what was an excitinmg come-from-behind game. More important was the progress before our eyes on a Sunday that’s usually reserved for alcohol. It’s a promising sign that as a culture, cannabis is closing in on pay dirt.