Are celebrity weed brands better than regular weed?

We tried six strains to find out

It seems like every time we open our internet browser (which is often) there’s another celebrity dropping a branded cannabis strain. Some of them are straight up licensing deals to slap a familiar name on a product, while others are true partnerships between the famous person and a trusted cannabis company.

We aren’t knocking either, because we’re down to try any and all weed. OK, maybe not any, because we’ve definitely had bad experiences smoking an anonymous joint making its way through the lawn at Pine Knob, but that’s beside the point. The point is that we tried a few of these celebrity weed strains to see if the hype was warranted.

With a plethora to choose from in Michigan, we settled on The 8th by White Boy Rick, Detroit rappers Blade Icewood and Southwest T’s strains, and Khalifa Kush (it should be obvious who’s behind that one).

click to enlarge The 8th by White Boy Rick. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
The 8th by White Boy Rick.

The 8th by White Boy Rick

Time is money. No one knows this better than Rick Wershe Jr. (aka White Boy Rick), who spent nearly 30 years in prison for cocaine possession after the FBI used him as a drug informant when he was only 14, the youngest FBI drug informant in history. He’s not a celebrity in the sense that he makes art or music, but he’s the poster child for unfair prison sentences and abuse of power during the so-called “War on Drugs.”

Weed was legal in Michigan upon Wershe’s release, so he started his cannabis brand The 8th in collaboration with Pleasantrees as a sort of “fuck you” to the federal government. The 8th is a play on words and nod to both a unit of measurement for weed and the 8th Amendment, which outlaws excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment. The amendment is even written on The 8th’s packaging.

The 8th comes in a couple of different strains, which Pleasantrees chief legal officer Benjamin Sobczak tells us were pre-existing from the brand’s genetic library.

Wershe chose to partner with Pleasantrees due to the brand’s commitment to social equity issues in the cannabis industry, and he worked hand-in-hand with their cultivation team to curate the right selection.

SinMint Cookies: Wershe ain’t playing with y’all on this one. At 30% THC, SinMint Cookies is an Indica strain that will leave you incapacitated. We weren’t ready to be knocked on our asses when we smoked this, and honestly felt it was a bit harsh. This is best suited for experienced weed heads only, otherwise, just a few modest hits will leave you blazed and glaze-eyed. The buds glisten with trichome crystals and have a pleasant, citrusy aroma.

Motown Funk: Motown Funk is much more gentle, with only 20% THC. We got this Indica strain in a handy set of five prerolls that feels like a hard plastic case of cigarettes. When you pop it open, you’ll notice the slogan “time is money” on the inside, which feels pretty cheeky. In stark contrast to SinMint Cookies, Motown Funk gave us the relaxed high we were after. It’s a nice one to chill out after a long work day and it made us ready to sink into the couch for a Netflix binge. But about 30 minutes later, we were feeling oddly upbeat and ready to wash the dishes.

click to enlarge The Code by Southwest T. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
The Code by Southwest T.

Southwest T

In comes another BMF — Detroit rapper Southwest T of 263. Beyond having a STARZ TV show produced by 50 Cent inspired by him and his brother Big Meech (the show is called BMF), Southwest T has released four marijuana series through HYMAN Cannabis.

Each series has its own tagline and includes several strains. There’s Black Magic (“walk by faith, not by sight”), Loyalty (“let no man separate what we create”), Death B4 Dishonor (“after us, there will be none”), and The Code (“I did it for y’all”).

Unlike White Boy Rick’s The 8th, Southwest T’s weed didn’t come from pre-existing strains. HYMAN used pheno-hunting to develop them exclusively for the Detroit rapper. Pheno-hunting is a process of creating new strains through seeds (phenotypes) from a female cannabis plant that are created after it’s bred with a male plant.

“For each collaboration that we do, we never tie an existing strain to their name,” HYMAN Cannabis director of public relations Ryli Kant tells us. “Our head cultivators work with farmers within the industry to source the best plants, get seeds from various different strains and then grow several different crops from that seed. We went through that process for each drop to see what strain fits what they’re looking for.”

The pheno-hunting process can take several months to over a year.

Southwest T’s Death B4 Dishonor line was released just days before the premier of BMF’s first season in 2021. This year the rapper and HYMAN partnered together once again to drop “The Code” to coincide with the show’s second season.

The Code: This Sativa strain took a while to kick in and we didn’t even realize we were high until about 40 minutes later when we got the insatiable urge to reach for every crunchy snack on top of the fridge. Though Hyman describes it as “creative, energizing, and happy,” we could feel our eyelids getting heavy after a few puffs. We did feel suspiciously talkative, though. None of Southwest T’s strains felt particularly strong for us, which is a good thing.

Black Magic: Black Magic had a slightly spicy and earthy taste that hit real smooth. The high was very gradual and laid back. One unpleasant thing we noticed was some serious cottonmouth after smoking it. This isn’t completely uncommon, but we didn’t experience this with any of the others we tested, and feeling like your throat is closing in on itself is not fun!

click to enlarge Icewood Rose Gold by Lil' Blade. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Icewood Rose Gold by Lil' Blade.

Lil’ Blade

After hitting the Blade dance, it’s time to hit the Blade weed. Or maybe you hit the weed first and then dance. Either way, the late Detroit icon Blade Icewood’s son Lil’ Blade is honoring his father’s legacy with this strain, which was also released through HYMAN.

Icewood Rose Gold: Rose Gold is a hybrid with a fruity flavor and slightly tropical aroma. It’s supposed to have around 28% THC, but it didn’t seem that strong. It left us feeling upbeat and ready to dance, which made for a good night out. We got Rose Gold in a preroll, which was surprisingly fat and included a glass tip. Unfortunately, the tip broke off, giving us a mouth full of bud. (That’s probably our fault for taking it out of its protective glass tube and stashing it in a bra to sneak inside a concert.)

click to enlarge Khalifa Kush by Wiz Khalifa. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Khalifa Kush by Wiz Khalifa.

Wiz Khalifa

Last but not least is Wiz Khalifa’s Khalifa Kush, which entered the Michigan scene in June through a partnership with Gage Cannabis.

Khalifa Kush: The “Black and Yellow” rapper’s weed is described as a “potent, all-day Indica Dominant Hybrid OG with a classic terpene profile,” on Gage’s social media accounts. By “all-day” we can only surmise that they mean you have to keep smoking it all day to keep your high, because we found it wears off quick. Smoking it on a camping trip, we felt at one with nature as we settled into a hammock to read a book, but the high didn’t last that long and we were lighting up again soon after. We could see the “Wiz Kid” smoking Khalifa Kush in between recording songs on a full day at the studio. Khalifa Kush is only available at Gage Cannabis locations.

So is celebrity branded weed somehow superior to regular weed? From our smoke test, not really. That doesn’t mean it’s not good. We thoroughly enjoyed White Boy Rick’s Motown Funk and Icewood Rose Gold, which was probably our favorite. But instead of choosing our weed based solely on the name attached to it, we’ll stick with the desired effect and THC content strategy, like usual.

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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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