EXCLUSIVE: B-Real From Cypress Hill Talks About His Cannabis Brand Dr. Greenthumb's And Innovation In Cultural Industries

Dr. Greenthumb's, one of California’s most recognized cannabis retailers created by B-Real of Cypress Hill, opened a new cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles in April where they launched a new line of cannabis flower with the intention of providing high-quality weed to all Californians.

Dr. Greenthumb's flower falls into three categories: Loyal, Legacy, and Unapologetic. Loyal refers to B-Real's commitment to quality cannabis, but with price in mind. Legacy pays homage to the cannabis farms that have maintained their quality and authenticity for decades and Unapologetic caters to the customer who wants the best weed, regardless of budget.

In addition, B-Real, whose name is Louis Mario Freese, is thinking of expanding the brand to New York, most likely the largest potential market in the country.

“We have a development partner and a team that is actively working on store and product expansion. I love New York, I've done shows in the city forever, and as I often say, New York is the city that gave Cypress Hill a start even though we were a West Coast group," B-Real told El Planteo in an exclusive interview.

The U.S. Cannabis Industry: Dr. Greenthumb's View

The legalization of cannabis in some states has enabled different market segments where brands compete to find their place. While some growers maintain operations in multiple states, others struggle to stay afloat, producing signature cannabis. Dr. Greenthumb's flowers are sourced from small California cannabis farms that are selected for their history and connection to cannabis culture.

B was recently at The Hall of Flowers where he observed first-hand the latest prevailing consumer trends and marketing strategies in the legal cannabis industry.

“It was interesting in many ways,” said B after his return from the event, having observed that cannabis brands are investing their money more efficiently, spending what's necessary to stay afloat and leaving luxury ostentation behind.

Likewise, he believes this rationalization of spending is a "smart trend" that will continue as the industry (which already lacks access to traditional financial services) loses liquidity.

B said he also observed a more defined segmentation within the industry. "I also saw more brands getting more defined, or I guess, people, trying to find their corner or thing and not trying to be everything to everyone." 

-What can you tell us about Dr. Greenthumb's line of cannabis flowers launched in April?

"What I'm trying to do with this line will take a while to really cement and come together. In the end, I'd like to have quite a few, maybe ten or twenty farms that I'm working with at any given time, in California. Here, it's about finding legacy farms and strains they love and are accustomed to. I want to showcase these farms and the people there while making sure the customers know I really do support the grow and the product itself, that I've verified it."

Finding New Cannabis Strains

The entrepreneur talked about selecting the best strains that will surprise cannabis enthusiasts. But how does he select them?

B-Real explained that working with small producers allows him to find products "at all kinds of price points" and ensure that “everyone can get down with the brand, but still know it's good to smoke - that I'd get down with it.” He added that the configuration of the brand can vary from state to state.

“In other states, maybe where you can't buy wholesale or there aren't family and legacy grows, the brand will be a little different. Overall though, our core values of legacy, culture and family are going to be intact, those are things I won't let slip under any circumstance. Dr. Greenthumb's, in terms of products, is about me and my family looking out into the world of growers and bringing back things I can support and sharing that with my customer and fans' family,” B-Real said, acknowledging that his connections within the industry have allowed him to meet high-end cannabis farmers. And while they all offer unique products, sometimes the time just isn't right to enter into a strategic partnership with Dr. Greenthumb's.

“I know a lot of people who love good smoke, not surprising, right? We've got folks out all over talking and smoking and working to find situations that make sense for the customers and the gardens. There have been farms I would love to work with on the culture and quality side, but it wasn't the right time because of pricing or supply, so we say let's check in down the road a little," he said.

"It doesn't make sense to hurt a garden with a price point lower than they need right now, to benefit a customer and the same on the other side. I don't want to charge a customer more just because I like this farmer or that farmer. When the right things come together, we all share and benefit, so it's a forever type grind we committed to, and I think that's part of what makes this aspect of the brand special.”

The Future Of Craft Cannabis In The U.S. 

Being in contact with small farms, B knows first-hand the challenges they face. So, how does he imagine the future of artisanal cannabis in the event of the federal legalization of cannabis in the US?

He said that federal legalization will eventually happen and that it will have a positive impact if small cannabis businesses are allowed to do their jobs.

In terms of innovation, he draws a parallel between cannabis and other cultural industries such as Hip Hop and beer.

“[From] Hip hop to beer, you can see the underground or craft side of things starting trends, determining what is cool or hot. These are the people who know the trade and love it enough to innovate, and the large commercial folks often follow their lead or buy them."

Finding A Niche

“I imagine like cheese or beer or wine, there will be places around the country that are known for certain things. Some might be the climate, others might be the groups of people who associate there. Those things change over time, some become iconic places and others fade out of the spotlight. I think Humboldt is one of those iconic places, like Napa for wine and Bronx for hip hop, but maybe one year it will be a part of Oregon, Vermont, or Boulder, Colorado that is delivering the new hot flavors or brands. Unless the government intentionally shuts them out, the craft will have a place in the market.” B-Real said.

A fan of BJJ?

INSANE is one of B’s brand sponsors, "Team INSANE" at Subversiv 7, the world's largest Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) grappling tournament. In fact, B Real himself has a keen interest in BJJ and martial arts in general.

“I have a high degree of respect for the BJJ world, all martial arts really. I trained karate for quite a while and have been involved a bit with the MMA world for many years as well. BJJ is one of the arts that openly accepts, for the most part, cannabis as a part of training or recovery and that's one of the reasons I wanted to work with Subversiv and the community overall.” 

While the physical stress of competing in BJJ is not the same as the stress of concert touring, many performers turn to cannabis derivatives such as creams and tinctures to ease pain, reduce anxiety and promote sleep. However, this is not the case for B- Real.

“I'm mostly a smoker when it comes to the good herb, but I've tried things over the years, stuff people have given me to test or sample, that sort of thing. I'd say I am mostly smoking when it comes to tour though,” he said adding that he's excited to have returned to the stage after the pandemic.

Pot In Latin America: The B-Real Experience

-After smoking weed for a long time and having access to so much of it, what are your favorite strains?

"You know me, my favorite is still Kush. I love the OG, it's played such a big role over the years for me and my crew. Bubba is great...that style. I do mess with some of the exotics, some of the flavor profiles these days are great."

-What about smoking weed on Latin American tours? What is the best pot you remember?

"Smoking weed in Latin America used to be tough due to the fact that the quality of cannabis there was not so great and the cannabis that was decent was scarce. These days though it's a different story. There are now many talented cultivators with great strains. There has been a big push on the growers to educate themselves and we have seen huge strides in cultivating great quality cannabis. So for guys like myself, it's much easier to smoke something in those regions. I always have Phuncky Feel tips [glass tips] with me which enhances the smoking experience everywhere I go."

Image Courtesy of Dr. Greenthumb's. 

Posted In: B RealBenzinga ExclusiveDr. Greenthumb'sCannabisESGLatin AmericaNewsEntrepreneurshipExclusivesMarketsInterviewGeneral


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