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An exclusive first look at Jay-Z’s new cannabis brand: sleek, cigar-inspired pot luxe

A display of three different Monogram cannabis products.
Monogram’s products at launch include four packs of .4 gram pre-roll Loosies ($40), clockwise from left, a slow-burning, cigar-inspired OG Handroll (1.5 grams, $50), 4 gram ($70) and 2 gram ($40) jars of flower. Instead of names, the strains are numbered: No. 1, No. 70, No. 88 and No. 96.
(Monogram)

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s foray into the Golden State’s burgeoning cannabis market comes into clearer focus with the rollout of the Monogram brand’s first products to market, starting Thursday. Jars of sleekly packaged flower, pre-rolled mini joints and a cigar-inspired pre-roll joint are available.

Instead of traditional strain names, the four varieties of San Jose-grown cannabis available at select California dispensaries (and Monogram’s own delivery service) are being identified by two-digit numbers — No. 01, No. 70, No. 88 and No. 96 — and categorized as either light, medium or heavy, based on the strength of the high a smoker can expect.

For the record:

9:50 a.m. Dec. 10, 2020An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated DeAndre Watson’s title. He is Monogram’s Culture & Cultivation Ambassador, not Master Cultivator.

Although representatives for Caliva, Carter’s partner in the venture, didn’t explain the meaning of the numbers, a casual Hova fan can tell you that 1996 was the year his debut album, “Reasonable Doubt,” was released. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to think that if there’s numerical significance to strain No. 96, perhaps there is to the others as well.

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Another set of numbers to note: the ones on the price tag. Retailing from $40 for a four-pack of .4 gram mini joints dubbed Loosies to $70 for four grams of cannabis flower packed in a squat UV-light-protected jar, the inaugural Monogram offerings skew decidedly premium, though that’s hardly a surprise coming from a guy whose Ace of Spades Champagne (a label Jay-Z snapped up in 2014) sells for $300 a bottle.

The most intriguing of the three launch products is something called the OG Handroll (1.5 grams, $50), an individually packaged, pre-rolled joint described in press materials as “the equivalent of a premium cigar, intended to burn slow and even for multiple sessions,” thanks to a hand-rolling process “specially architected by the brand’s Culture & Cultivation Ambassador, DeAndre Watson.”

A pre-rolled joint next to its packaging.
The $50 Monogram OG Handroll is billed as the equivalent of a premium cigar, intended to burn slowly for multiple sessions.
(Monogram)

San-Jose based, vertically integrated cannabis company Caliva first announced in July 2019 that it had tapped Carter to serve as its chief brand strategist. Two months ago, it announced that one of the first fruits of that multiyear partnership would be a cannabis brand called Monogram.

Since that announcement, there has been a seismic shift in the canna-business landscape. In November, five additional states legalized some form of cannabis use at the ballot box, bringing the total number of recreational-use states to 15 and medical-use states to 36. That was followed, in early December, by a symbolically historic vote in the House to federally decriminalize cannabis.

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There has also been a flurry of activity surrounding the parties involved in the Monogram brand. In late November, a publicly traded Canadian company called Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp. announced that it had entered into agreements with Caliva, Carter, entertainment company Roc Nation (founded a dozen years ago by Jay-Z) and Santa Rosa, Calif.-based cannabis firm Left Coast Ventures to form a multi-tentacled, weed-focused behemoth called TPCO Holding Corp., also known as the Parent Co..

The transaction is expected to close in January, at which point Carter will become the Parent Co.’s chief visionary officer.

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A clue to what Carter’s vision might include can be found in his comment in the Nov. 24 announcement of the deal. “Although we know we can’t fully redeem the injustices created by the ‘war on drugs’,” it read in part, “we can help shape a brighter and inclusive future. The brands we build will pave a new path forward for a legacy rooted in equity, access and justice.”

Starting Dec. 10, Monogram products will be available via delivery across the South Bay and the greater Los Angeles area as well as in San Francisco (see the monogramcompany.com website for additional delivery information) and at select Caliva-operated dispensaries including Deli by Caliva locally, a delicatessen-themed dispensary in Bellflower.


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