Legendary comedian and cannabis icon Cheech Marin built his career on being an outsider, getting baked on the big screen at the height of prohibition in the ‘70s and ‘80s. But Cheech has evolved with the times, and is now riding the wave of legalization with his own cannabis line Cheech’s Private Stash, currently available in California, Nevada, and Colorado. Cheech’s brand is entering an extremely competitive market with a number of celebrity weed lines, from Willie Nelson and David Crosby to Seth Rogen and Whoopie Goldberg.
MERRY JANE sat down with Jeffery Mascio, CEO of Cannabis One, a Colorado-based company that recently partnered with Cheech to bring his brand to consumers across the country. Cannabis One focuses on a “seed-to-sale” model, featuring a portfolio that includes brands such as Cannabis, cultivated in its clients’ state-of-the-art grow facilities; The Joint, its flagship retail concept; and an array of other cannabis product brands, including the award-winning chocolate edibles line Honu and the vape-focused INDVR. Additionally, Cannabis One has a partnership with Evergreen Organix, which uses Michelin star chefs to create its edible confections, further expanding Cannabis One’s offerings.
Mascio starts to laugh recalling the first time he met Cheech. “Meeting an icon for the first time is always great,” he said. “But meeting one that was so genuine made it even greater.”
So what was it like to actually dig in and work closely with a cultural icon to launch a brand? Mascio explained that Cheech is laser-focused on staying true to the brand’s slogan: “It Will Always Be Good.”
“It was a unique experience,” said Mascio. “There are multiple celebrity brands out there, but Cheech is one of the few that actually gets in the weeds (pun intended) to make sure everything we make is up to his standards.”
According to Mascio, Cheech is the exact opposite of a celeb who slaps their name on a product for the payday and then walks away. When it comes to what he likes and doesn’t, Cheech is very specific. “He’s willing to work to make sure his vision comes to life, which is unique with celebs.”
Of course, Mascio is honored to be newly partnered with half of one of the greatest comedy duos of all-time. Cheech and Chong pretty much single-handedly created the stoner genre with movie classics like Up in Smoke and Nice Dreams.
“Cheech is an icon to many long-time cannabis users and his legacy transcends generations,” Mascio said. “His association with marijuana goes back to a time when the thought of legal marijuana use was unheard of, so we’re so excited to be partnered with him to bring his style of cannabis products outside of the home market of California.”
Can we expect to see Cheech use his one-of-a-kind comedic skills to promote the brand? Mascio answered slyly, “I can’t say too much, but you will definitely see him active in his brand.”
When it comes to the other brands in the Cannabis One collection, Mascio is just as proud. Washington-based Honu produces award-winning cannabis-infusions. “Where they really excel and win all their awards is with their chocolate edibles,” Mascio said. The biggest challenge with Honu is “keeping everything in stock because they sell so well.”
Mascio noted that a dedication to high quality is a cornerstone of Cannabis One’s house of brands. This ethos has resulted in the seamless integration and distribution of Evergreen Organix, which “uses Michelin star chefs to create original recipes for their baked goods and confection." The company was founded in Las Vegas by savvy hospitality industry veterans with access to world-class chefs.
For Evergreen Organix, bringing top chefs into the edibles category is proving to be a game-changer. “Every good chef loves a challenge, and this was a challenge others haven’t taken on before,” Mascio said. “Having a higher degree of training, the experience of fine dining, and the pressure that comes with the expectations of a 5-diamond and 4-star critic fuels the process.”
Creating the Evergreen Organix recipes is a true marriage of art and science. “Evergreen takes humidity, barometric pressure, temperature, and other conditions into effect before we start to create,” Mascio said. “Ingredients are very important, but so is the math that dials in all the perfect conditions to create an unforgettable experience when you bite into one of our edibles.”
INDVR, another Cannabis One brand, makes “best-in-class” flavored vapes. “The coolest part of INDVR Fire is the premium blend of CO2 extracted THC, that’s perfectly balanced with organically cultivated therapeutic essential oils that have notable qualities of their own and food grade terpenes that are unmatched in the industry,” he said. “I’d love to speak more about that, but the details are proprietary.”
As an experienced player in the booming cannabis industry, Mascio has some stark advice for newcomers. “If you’re just now coming into the industry, you’re late,” he said. “The brands and products are everywhere, so if you’re going to succeed you better have something better than everyone else.”
And how would aspiring cannapreneurs find that elusive key to success? Mascio says there’s no magic bullet, only hard work. "Do your research and look at all the brands that have failed or are in the process of failing. There are a lot of lessons out there to be learned," he added.
This article was created in partnership with Cannabis One. For more on the company and Jeffery Mascio, visit their website here