To market its new pot-focused Kathy Bates workplace comedy "Disjointed," Netflix took over a West Hollywood medical marijuana dispensary for the weekend where offerings included strains inspired by the streaming service's shows including "Grace and Frankie," "Orange Is the New Black" and "BoJack Horseman."
The Netflix Collection features a dozen different dried cannabis flower options sold in wooden-stoppered glass jars. Strains include Banana Stand Kush ($65 for 3.5 grams), described as "[a] fruity indica perfect in a bowl, vaporizer, or big yellow joint," which takes inspiration from "Arrested Development," and a hybrid dubbed Rutherford B. Haze ($50), one of three strains inspired by "Disjointed" and described as "[a] moving tribute in cannabis to our 19th president, this sativa can help you begin your own personal reconstruction."
To celebrate the release of the show, which started streaming on Netflix on Friday, the company partnered with Alternative Herbal Health Services to temporarily turn it into Ruth's Alternative Caring — the SoCal dispensary that's the setting for the show — for the weekend. (The pop-up pops down at 6 p.m. Sunday.) The West Hollywood dispensary wasn't chosen at random. The woman in charge, Dina Browner (better known as "Dr. Dina," a nickname bestowed upon her by Snoop Dogg), served as the show's cannabis consultant. ("Some of the things you see on the show may — or may not — have actually happened here," Browner told us Saturday.)
In addition to the consumable cannabis (which, under current California law can be purchased only by those 21 or over with a medical marijuana recommendation from a California-licensed doctor), a table on the way out of the pop-up offered visitors an assortment of more traditional marketing swag — long-sleeve T-shirts emblazoned with Kathy Bates' Ruth Whitefeather Feldman character, baseball-style caps with an embroidered pot leaf and heart design, enameled pins of bushy green buds and tote bags printed with the names and label designs of all the strains.
The press materials describing the effort note — so we're passing the information along here — that Netflix "[is] not profiting from any of the sales." (That appears to be an important point to underscore because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.)
While it's not the first entertainment property/cannabis strain tie-in to come down the pike (the marketing effort for Kevin Smith's 2014 film "Tusk" involved two strains — Mr. Tusk and White Walrus — sold temporarily at L.A.'s Buds & Roses dispensary), it's a pretty high-profile one. And with Proposition 64 making non-medical adult-use of cannabis legal in California as of November 2016 (sales aren't yet allowed; that's coming early next year), this could just be the beginning of a long and fruitful buzz-building relationship.
For Netflix subscribers wondering if their favorite show inspired a strain, the other offerings in the collection included the Omega Strain and Eve's Bush (both "Disjointed"-inspired), Camp Firewood (inspired by "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later"), Prickly Muffin ("BoJack Horseman), Vodkush ("Chelsea"), Peyotea ("Grace and Frankie"), Sassafrass OG ("Lady Dynamite"), Baka Bile ("Santa Clarita Diet"), Poussey Riot ("Orange Is the New Black") and Moon 13 ("Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return").
Ruth's Alternative Caring Pop-Up Dispensary at AHHS West Hollywood, 7828 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, through 6 p.m. Aug. 27.
For more musings on cannabis commerce and culture, follow me at @ARTschorn.