Inside the Battle for Sex-Centric Cannabis

For all this speak about marijuana culture going mainstream, and corporate pot growing brands that enchantment to all people from soccer mothers to achy grandparents, the truth is that, in the hashish marketplace, sex still sells. So, for that be counted, do mansion parties, celebrities, private planes, custom motors, and supermodels.
This is why, with simply under 3 million Instagram followers, the most powerful weed influencer inside the world for the past few years has been an ex-black-market rich person named BigMike — words, no space. BigMike runs Advanced Nutrients, the ever-present, hashish-centric agricultural deliver commercial enterprise with annual sales of over $110 million and placed many years of illicit developing experience into the launch of his signature line of prison pot, known as BigMike’s Blends.

Then, closing yr, the OG Instagram playboy daredevil, Dan Bilzerian, determined to enroll in the marijuana enterprise, launching a line of vape pens, pre-rolls, extracts, buds and tinctures underneath the brand call Ignite, bringing his 26 million followers into the mix and putting in place a natural battle among the two controversial guys: for customers, for double-faucets, and for the ire of self-respecting women anywhere.
Like the Fox News of the pot, Bilzerian and BigMike each realize the way to cater to their base. Both guys use social media to chronicle their outrageous exploits, and are seemingly flanked anyplace they go through a harem in lingerie or bodycon attire. (Bilzerian says the pictures of him cavorting with almost bare girls are just “catering to, I suppose, most people of my fans’ sexual frustration.” BigMike declined to comment for this story.) Both stay on spacious estates inside the Hollywood Hills, wherein they’ve been regarded to host (and publish about) decadent soirées: one in every of Bilzerian’s recent pot-centric bashes featured an in-house tattoo parlor and an overall performance by Cardi B.
And both men have had glamorous brushes with the law: Michael “BigMike” Straumietis spent nearly a decade on the run from the DEA for cultivating big amounts of marijuana, whilst Bilzerian’s affection for explosive weaponry has brought about a misdemeanor in the U.S. (he pleaded no contest) and an arrest warrant from the united states of Azerbaijan.
So even as Canadian marijuana mega-corporations boost billions in institutional capital with sunny projections approximately increasing the marketplace of individuals who use cannabis, the center stoner demographic — young men who eat quite a few pots — remains a powerful pressure, both culturally and commercially. Just as casinos offer unfastened hotel rooms to compulsive gamblers and liquor agencies continue to exist at the cash of alcoholics, the weed industry relies on heavy customers. And if Instagram fans are any metric, the potheads of the arena need three matters from their marijuana moguls: butts, boobs, and bikinis.
Still, now not all weed-tinged myth lives are created identical. Bilzerian and BigMike aren’t, of direction, precisely the identical man. There’s range the various white men who sell pot these days, you know? BigMike is 59 and rocks a reddish gray goatee, whilst Bilzerian is 38 and opts for a dark, full beard. Bilzerian grew up with a belief fund and played expert poker; BigMike is self-made. Bilzerian is jacked, whilst BigMike has a dad-bod. BigMike’s own family is Greek, while Bilzerian’s is Armenian. Bilzerian is coming off a current breakup, even as BigMike got engaged closing fall to a Bulgarian version who did no longer speak English once they first met.
Perhaps most importantly, pot connoisseurs might word that BigMike is the real expert, here, and in fact oversees the farms generating bud for his eponymous pre-rolled joints, at the same time as Bilzerian’s Ignite merely licenses its branding out, and does no longer yet hold any marijuana commercial enterprise licenses.
BigMike’s feed is likewise peppered with inspirational costs, something you’d reputedly in no way discover on Bilzerian’s.
“Some of the stuff he does is a bit tacky,” Bilzerian sniffs, about BigMike. “I don’t think we’re simply doing the identical matters, aside from smoking weed.”

Randolph Palmer

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