4/20 goes virtual: Brands use weed holiday to fundraise with music livestreams
This year, 4/20 just isn’t the same. The holiday for marijuana fanatics has received a facelift in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dispensaries in states where they are legal have been deemed essential businesses, and cannabis sales are up—bringing in $17 billion, a 30 percent jump from last year, according to BDS Analytics. But with states mandating stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place, weed brands cannot promote the usual pot pub crawls, parties at dispensaries or Mary Jane-themed experiential events associated with the holiday.
Instead, once real-world events are going virtual, with added musical flair and donations to COVID-19 relief funds or nonprofits that support the decriminalization of weed. Several cannabis brands, like Willie’s Reserve and Weedmaps, are streaming concerts and entertainment to raise money, while brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Caliva also take cause-driven approaches this year.
Famous stoner Willie Nelson is hosting a musical 4/20 variety show called “Come and Toke It” beginning at 4:20 pm ET (what other time) and lasting for an appropriate four hours and 20 minutes. The livestream is brought to viewers by Nelson’s own premium cannabis brand Willie’s Reserve and his annual music “anti-festival” Luck Reunion, originally set for March 19, but canceled due to the coronavirus.
Nelson will bring famous faces like Kacey Musgraves, Matthew McConaughey, Jeff Bridges, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ziggy Marley and more to the livestream on Twitch and Facebook in support of the last Prisoner Project, which advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana.
And, because everyone wishes they could smoke with Willie, Willie’s Reserve is encouraging viewers to take part in a virtual weed circle that will air during the livestream. Anyone can film themselves toking, taking their material from the right and passing it through the frame to the left to the next person in a horizontal video tagged with #passleft and #comeandtokeit.
Weedmaps, a listing platform of dispensaries and weed delivery services, is throwing a virtual party with musicians, comedians and smoke sessions. The livestream, called “Higher Together: Sessions From Home,” began at 12 noon PT and lasts until 5 p.m.
Headliner Wiz Khalifa will debut the release of his new EP “The Saga of Wiz Khalifa,” Billy Ray Cyrus, will premiere a new music video and acoustic set, rapper Berner who will guide a smoke session and do a $5,000 giveaway sponsored by weed brand Cookies and more. Mike Tyson will also make an appearance. Donations go to Last Prisoner Project, a coalition aiming to bring justice to the cannabis industry.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s has long-been an advocate of 4/20. Usually the ice cream maker partners with a cannabis brand on a fun campaign to promote its “Half-Baked” pint. This year, the brand is getting serious and political. Ben & Jerry’s is advocating for the Black community, saying that the criminal justice system has not kept up with the legalization of pot. Citing a ACLU report, the brand points to the disturbing stat that Black people are 264 percent more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than white people.
Ben & Jerry’s is calling upon its fans to call upon Congress to support the MORE Act, which legalizes the plant and expunges prior convictions.
“Legalization without justice is half baked,” reads a blog post on the brand’s website, where anyone can quickly send Congress a pre-written letter. “Want to feel really really good this 4/20? Then let’s make sure that legalization benefits all of us. That’ll turn 4/20 into a day that we all can celebrate.”
On top of the other virtual parties happening, Colorado-based cannabis dispensary Lighshade is throwing its own. Colorado-based DJs will start streaming their tunes at 2 pm Colorado time on top of a comedy set from comedian Sam Clark and a cannabis cooking class from Chef David Hadley. It will stream on Leafbuyer.com, a cannabis deals network, with donations going towards Cannabis Doing Good, a cannabis collective of brands.
Remember the 2004 film “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle?” Well, White Castle is bringing us back to those days by throwing a watch party on Twitter at 4:20 p.m. PT. During the film, the fast feeder will be sharing trivia and giving out gift certificates. It’s also encouraging followers to launch their own virtual watch parties with the hashtag #partywithwhitecastle so the brand can join in. On the menu for the day is a “Muncheese Meal” for $4.20, which includes a double cheese Slider, cheese sticks, cheese sauce and a soft drink with free orders on Uber Eats.
Livestream music platform Nugs.tv is bringing together some of America’s largest cannabis gatherings–the National Cannabis Festival and The Emerald Cup–for a livestream event called “Highstream 420 Festival.” Starting at at 4 pm Eastern, music performances, including from Melissa Etheridge and The Disco Biscuits, and panels and workshops will stream on Nugs.tv, with donations going to several coronavirus funds for artists.
California-based dispensary Caliva is giving its staff some love who are still working as essential workers this 4/20. It’s giving $4.20 of every sale of its limited edition products towards funding more resources for its staff.
On top of that, in a campaign called “The Joint Effort,” Caliva is matching up to $10,000 of donations made to Silicon Valley Strong, a COVID-19 organization created to help those displaced in Silicon Valley and will be giving a portion of its sales to the Historically Black Colleges & Universities Cannabis Equity Initiative, that seeks to increase the number of African Americans in cannabis careers.
Remember the bright red Supreme Oreo cookies being sold for $8 for a three-pack? On 4/20, East-coast pizza chain &pizza started a contest to give away 140 packs of Supreme Oreos and $4.20 discount pizzas.
Participants had to text #supreme to 200-03 with the ingredient they would want to see on a future pizza, follow the brand on Instagram and tag three friends they would share the pizza with. The proposals include: CBD chili oil, tiny pizzas, sour cream and onion fried crickets and Carole Baskin, yes Tiger King’s Carole Baskin. Instagram followers are voting for their top choices on the brand’s Instagram Stories and winners will be announced on Tuesday.