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Cannabis Comes to Life at the Nug Nation

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Nug Nation
CEO Mikey Peterson peaks from behind the Nugs. PHOTOS | The Nug Nation
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In the culturally diverse RiNo Arts District of Denver, Colorado, amongst the murals, sculptors and street art exists The Nug Nation, a remarkably creative production company that has dedicated itself to bringing cannabis to life — literally. 

The Nug Nation is utilizing high-quality stop-motion animation to transform cannabis into walking, talking characters, or “Nugs” as they refer to them. Each character is named after a popular strain of cannabis like Sour Diesel, aka “Diesel,” Grand Daddy Purple, aka “Daddy” and Girl Scout Cookie, aka “Cookie.”  

What started as a humorous and creative way to allow cannabis businesses to showcase brands and sponsor content without violating strict marketing bans in the industry, the good folks at The Nug Nation have carved out a unique niche in an ever-expanding and growing market.

Behind the scenes during the Billy Ray Cyrus music video.

Mikey Peterson, a seasoned filmmaker and Denver native, came up with the idea shortly after cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2014. And although Peterson is the CEO and founder, he is quick to give credit to his entire team for their dedication and work ethic.

“I recognized the opportunity to bring comedy and cannabis together while creating something completely distinctive that didn’t focus on stoner humor,” said Peterson. “Because the landscape of consumers has changed significantly, we sought a way to reach a broader audience while providing a marketing tool to cannabis brands.” 

The initial episodes of The Nug Nation show were created as short-format programs easily consumed on social media platforms and which often reflected current events. In The Nug Nation Episode 2: The Debate, which aired in August of 2016, the team expertly parodied the presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with hilarious results. This got the attention of BurnTV CEO Jason Santos, who quickly worked to bring The Nug Nation brand to their line up of programming.

 Nug Nation

American rapper Jared Benton shows off his weapon on “Potty Talk with Bong Burgandy.”

“At BurnTV, we specialize in bringing a broad scope of cannabis and lifestyle entertainment to the masses and The Nug Nation show is the perfect fit for our brand,” said Santos. “Their uniqueness, quality and ability to bring the funny, without the obvious stoner humor, was a welcome addition to our line up. We look forward to partnering with them on future shows and building our brands together.” 

As the show began to gain some traction, The Nug Nation expanded its offerings by creating “Potty Talk With Bong Burgundy,” a spin-off, interview-style show. One of the only non-cannabis strain inspired characters, Bong Burgundy became a fan favorite and since the team had access to some musical artists, the show was created. The first guest was the director, producer and MC legend Redman

The interviews take place in a public restroom and can be, as the title suggests, somewhat offensive or incredibly funny, depending on your perspective. Since launching the initial episode in 2016, Bong Burgundy (voiced by Aaron Howell, a musician and vocalist in his own right as the frontman of MF Ruckus) has interviewed musical artists Nappy Roots, Scotty ATL, Jarren Benton and legendary Afroman for the series. Rittz was recently interviewed and his candid and amusing episode is scheduled to be released in 2020 on YouTube, social media and the company’s flagship site, thenugnation.com.  

After enduring some funding obstacles in 2017, the team started pursuing sponsors and outside work with more enthusiasm, landing contracts with cannabis companies like General Cannabis, Dixie Brands, Chiefton and Salt Creek Hemp

Billy Ray Cyrus smokes a joint on the set of his music video.

Startups are never easy, as the good folks at The Nug Nation certainly understand. But their luck would change in early 2019 when commissioned to create a music video for chart-topping artist Billy Ray Cyrus’ new song “Angel in my Pocket,” fittingly about smoking weed. With the assistance of mainstream producer Potsy Poncinelli, they were able to complete the project in spite of an almost impossible 10-day deadline. A job that should have taken two months was accomplished in just ten days by working around the clock shifts and securing additional staff. 

In the first of its kind music video, BRC is literally turned into a character made of weed in the stop-motion animated video. In it, Billy Ray gets fired from his dead-end job at the local gas/convenience store before going on a Dukes of Hazzard inspired car jump into a hemp farm. Along with his trusty sidekick, a giant joint, the two battle in an old-west style brawl before they blast into space in a rocket before finding a peaceful place to land and smoke a joint. 

With the momentum of the “Angel in my Pocket” music video, The Nug Nation has worked with several new brands to launch some new and exciting shows. Including Hempire, a smokers’ lifestyle brand who was one of the sponsors of the music video and eventually partnered with The Nug Nation to create the upcoming series Hemp 101.

 Nug Nation

Influencer Izzy Blazee schools her students in Hemp 101.

“Hemp 101” is a stop-motion animated short-form social media series focusing on basic hemp education, with a comical twist. Topics range from the differences between hemp and cannabis to more traditional hemp applications. The host of the show will be an anamorphic “joint teacher” giving educational lessons in a classroom setting. Social media influencer and cannabis aficionado Izzy Blazee lends her voice as the teacher. The concept for the joint teacher was inspired by the Billy Ray music video in which his sidekick was a life-sized joint branded with the Hempire logo.

For their part, Hempire is optimistic about the shows’ potential. “Hempire is a sustainable smoke connoisseur lifestyle brand with the ambition of becoming the preferred hemp alternative in the dispensary and smoke shop channels,” said Nicolas Pettersson, Hempire Brand Manager at Swisher International. “The Nug Nation has been identified as a strategic partner to develop unique and engaging online content that speaks to our adult consumers. We are very excited to have The Nug Nation team on our side as we continue to grow our business nationwide.” 

As The Nug Nation looks ahead, the future shines as brightly as terpenes on a nug. With several other shows in various stages of development, you can expect more collaborations with emerging and existing brands in the cannabis space and beyond.

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Kate Hudson Gets High for the Holidaze In Cannabis Cocktail Commercial

Kate Hudson stars in an ad for Cann beverages—the first time an A-lister has been the face of a weed brand in a mainstream commercial.

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Kate Hudson Gets High

Cann, a California-based cannabis-infused beverage firm, has partnered up with actress Kate Hudson and her King St. Vodka brand for the holiday season. To coincide with the debut of their special bundle offering – Cann Unspiked and King St. Vodka, the trio just opened a holiday-themed campaign.

Hudson, an actor, producer, and investor in the THC-laced brand Cann, starring in a film that breaks new ground by including the popular “social tonic” as the main element in a joyful adult beverage. Hudson’s own brand, King St. Vodka, provides the alcohol in this cranberry sage-flavored cocktail. In the video, Hudson is joined by party guests Baron Davis, former NBA All-Star-turned-TNT commentator, and Darren Criss, Emmy-winning actor and singer.

Hudson and Davis play an unusual couple preparing for a sophisticated house party in the ad, which could be the first time a Hollywood A-lister has stepped up as the face of a cannabis brand in a mainstream commercial. In fact, the two have been friends for a long time and are both financial backers of Cann, as is Criss, who met Hudson on the set of Glee.

Hannah Lux Davis, known for her work with Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Kacey Musgraves, and others, directed the star-studded holiday campaign and features music from Criss’ latest Christmas album.

According to Cann’s founder Luke Anderson, the goal of the collaborations and campaign is to show that cannabis has become mainstream enough that a celebrity like Hudson is happy to use and promote it.

“We’re equating cannabis with alcohol because at these 2-milligram levels it’s as mild as a light beer or a glass of wine,” Anderson told Adweek. “We’re saying they deserve to be on equal footing. And people have been DIY-ing this for a long time anyway.”

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VIBES X Kaya Herb House Collab Launches in Jamaica

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VIBES x Kaya Herb House
PHOTO | Chris Lewinson/BUZZ

Vibes, the rolling paper brand co-founded by entrepreneur and rapper Berner in collaboration with Gnln, announces a collaboration with the Kaya Herb House for the holidays. Featuring lifestyle goods and premium rolling papers, VIBES x Kaya Herb House furthers both brands’ missions to create the ultimate experience for connoisseurs.

VIBES x Kaya Herb House marks the first common project between the two brands, which have a shared goal of educating consumers on a premium smoking experience and creating meaningful experiences around the cannabis lifestyle.

The collection’s retro graphic pays homage to the Caribbean’s smuggler planes

The Kaya Herb House franchise was founded in Jamaica by “Bali” Vaswani, who had established Marley’s Estate coffee brand in the United States. VIBES x Kaya will be available at the Herb House in Kingston, Jamaica, which features the first medicinal Ganja herb house in the Caribbean and offers locally grown herbs and straight-from-the-farm extracts line as well as a taste of world-renowned cuisine and juices at the cafe and pizza restaurant.

“This marks another milestone for the VIBES brand. We are thrilled to partner with such an industry legend, together introducing an authentic experience to Jamaica and bringing attention to the history of the industry in the Caribbean,” says Vanessa Vanjari, Brand Manager of Vibes.

The collaboration features rolling papers, apparel, and accessories for the global wellness traveller, including co-branded hemp king size skinny booklets, tee shirts, and a pizza cutter. The slogan “Build a Vibe” is stamped on the VIBES x Kaya rolling papers, a play on both a popular Jamaican catchphrase and VIBES’ signature “Catch a Vibe.”

Each piece in the collection contains a retro graphic style of a plane that pays homage to the history of cannabis in the Caribbean when smugglers flew cannabis for the black market over the coasts of Jamaica and Florida. Smuggler planes would drop packages into the water, gaining the name “Square Grouper.”

VIBES x Kaya is a month-long collaboration that launches on December 17, 2021 at the Kaya Herb House in Kingston, Jamaica.

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The Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative to Provide Support for NorCal Cultivators

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Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative

Our community of heritage, small-batch craft cannabis cultivators in Northern California is facing an existential crisis resulting from a combination of taxation, licensing, and market conditions. Many of the small farms that built and fueled the cannabis industry are currently facing extinction by the current cannabis pricing collapse compounded by overbearing regulations. To support those in crisis, Tim Blake and the Emerald Cup organizers have created a dedicated Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative, offering a rally and much-needed support through upcoming events at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball and the 18th Annual Emerald Cup Awards.

For over 17 years, the Emerald Cup has stood as a celebration of excellence. Founder Tim Blake has come to be recognized as a guardian of the ever-changing cannabis industry. At the upcoming Emerald Cup Harvest Ball on December 11-12 Blake has pledged support to the heart of their community, providing twenty-seven qualified small farm exhibitors with a pro-bono presence at the Harvest Ball.

“Burdensome and complicated regulations, over-taxation, and lack of access to market are destroying the small farmers who have pioneered and led the industry with innovation and quality,“ said Blake. “Small growers face challenges like prohibitively expensive permitting, legal fees, and rising taxes encouraging many of them to remain on the unregulated or “Traditional” market. Perhaps worst of all, most of these small growers are also located in the legendary Emerald Triangle region of Northern California, an area continually devastated by ongoing wildfires.”

Selected applicants will have the ability to present their products to attendees with premium placement on the market floor, a reduced concession arrangement, and heightened promotion to drive attendees to seek and support these small farms during the event and beyond. With the vision of lifting up and amplifying these small farms in the global marketplace, The Emerald Cup envisions this program as the first immediate step to support the community of the Emerald Triangle to prevent its disappearance.  

The Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative will be led by a council of community leaders, including Michael Katz of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance, Genine Coleman of Origins Council, Chris Anderson of Redwood Roots Distribution, Nicholas Smilgys of Mendocino Cannabis Distribution, and Traci Pellar of the Mendocino Producers Guild, will launch at the Harvest Ball Craft Cannabis Marketplace and will continue at the Spring 2022 event in Southern California.

As with any important initiative, the first challenge facing the Emerald Cup organization is determining selection criteria. With literally thousands of small farms and businesses struggling in the California cannabis market, and the organization’s sincere desire to help each and every one, this is an incredibly difficult task. To structure this effort, Emerald Cup evaluated license distribution among Northern California’s heritage cannabis-producing counties with active ordinances. An independent body, the Council has allocated a proportional number of possible participants to each county.

This first event of the Harvest Ball will support four operators each from Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, three each from Nevada and Sonoma Counties, and two each from Lake, Calaveras and Santa Cruz counties. An additional three slots will be made available for approved Social Equity Operators as defined by the requirements of these areas.

Participants that meet the criteria will be selected at random by lottery from all approved applicants from a given county. All applications are due by Saturday, November 13, 2021. Participants will be notified and announced on November 15, 2021. Each selected applicant will be able to offer up to three product SKUs for sale at the specially created Harvest Ball Craft Cannabis Marketplace during the event.

“Proposition 64 promised that no farms larger than one acre would be permitted to open until 2023, allowing smaller farms time to get organized. In 2017, Governor Brown opened up large-scale farming, and smaller farmers didn’t have time to react,” said Blake.

“Our goal is to do what we can to assist these remaining farmers who poured their love — not to mention finances — into their product, only to have the market landscape suddenly change. We support the Origins Council and other community organizations working to advocate for sensible policy change. We recognize that getting rid of cultivation taxes and streamlining the regulatory process at the county, state, and even national level is imperative to the survival of our small growers. We’d also like to see the retail component augmented, growing from 1,500 certified dispensaries to the 10,000 or so that are needed to provide an accessible, legal market.”

An industry rally and press conference will be held on Saturday, December 11, 2021, at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball to raise industry, government, community, and media awareness of the crisis. Smaller sessions on the topic will happen during both the Harvest Ball and the ECAs. The sessions will include an open, solution-focused discussion on the issues affecting the market, with a focus on best practices and regulatory limitations.

 On an individual level, qualified small farms and growers selected for the Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative will be offered premium vending locations at the Harvest Ball. The Initiative will also run for new participants at the Springtime Emerald Cup Awards in Los Angeles. All participants will enjoy a reduced concession rate at both events. 

“With the tremendous support of the Council of the Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative, we are offering small farmers an exclusive vending program and platform so they can make more money at the show,” says Emerald Cup associate producer Taylor Blake.

“We know that we can’t solve all of our community’s problems with one initiative, but we are committed to putting our resources into evolving this program and working to improve access to the market for all small cannabis farmers.” 

Growers must meet several criteria to qualify for the program:

  • Hold a current and valid cannabis cultivation license for the state of California
  • Have a maximum farm size of 10,000 square feet
  • Practice sustainable farming
  • Participate in third-party certification programs such as OCal, Sun + Earth Certification, Clean Green Certification, Regennabis, Envirocann, etc. 

Any parties interested in applying or finding out more about the Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative should visit: www.FORMofURL.com  

For additional information on the Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative and the Harvest Ball Craft Cannabis Marketplace, please email: Michael Katz at michael@mendocannabis.com.

The Emerald Cup Small Farms Initiative application will open Monday, November 8, 2021. The submission process will close for all farms on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at 11:59 PM PDT. All participants of the 2021 Harvest Ball Small Farms Initiative will be selected by lottery and alerted by Monday, November 15, 2021.

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