Entertainment

High design: Seth Rogen is bringing his cannabis home goods to the US

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

After summiting the stoner comedy genre with movies like “Pineapple Express” and “This is the End,” actor Seth Rogen and screenwriter-director Evan Goldberg have set their sights on the US cannabis market.

On March 11, the duo will launch their cannabis lifestyle brand Houseplant, with home goods including ashtrays and lighters shipping across the country, and strains of cannabis available for delivery in California to start. Their co-founders include producers James Weaver and Alex McAtee — who are part of Rogen and Goldberg’s studio, Point Grey Pictures — as well as venture investor Michael Mohr, who is heading Houseplant as CEO.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are bringing their cannabis lifestyle brand Houseplant to the US, around two years after it debuted in Canada.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are bringing their cannabis lifestyle brand Houseplant to the US, around two years after it debuted in Canada. Credit: Courtesy of Houseplant

“Our founders have a long history enjoying cannabis and believe it should be treated with the reverence it deserves,” said Mohr over email. “Through their film work, and the pride with which they speak about cannabis publicly, Seth and Evan have shown the world that not only does the potential exist to have a healthy relationship with cannabis, it is also very normal, and can have an amazingly positive impact on one’s life.”

Following an initial debut in Canada in 2019, Houseplant enters the US market at a time when there is growing momentum to legalize cannabis across the country. This past November, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota joined 11 other states — as well as Washington DC — in approving its recreational use and sales, and New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled his intention to do the same. The legal cannabis industry is projected to be worth $41.5 billion by 2025.
The ashtray set was designed by Rogen and features a rest for one's smoking apparatus, a saucer to hold a lighter and a matching earthenware vase. Houseplant's products are meant to be displayed in the home.

The ashtray set was designed by Rogen and features a rest for one’s smoking apparatus, a saucer to hold a lighter and a matching earthenware vase. Houseplant’s products are meant to be displayed in the home. Credit: Peter Novosel/Courtesy of Houseplant

Despite its lucrative market potential, marijuana has yet to be legalized in all 50 states. Cannabis is still classified by the country’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I drug — with “the highest potential for abuse,” and “no currently accepted medical use.”

And while it’s often asserted by advocates that cannabis is safer than alcohol consumption, a 2020 study showed that today’s increasingly potent strains are linked with a greater risk of addiction, anxiety and psychosis. THC’s cannabinoid cousin, CBD, has meanwhile soared in popularity thanks to its reputation for soothing stress and pain, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet made a call on its safety.

High design

Houseplant joins a growing number of cannabis brands using design to transform the image of smoking from a closed-door habit to an integral part of one’s lifestyle.

“Houseplant was born out of our love and passion for cannabis, design and art,” Rogen said in a press statement.

The first three home products available at launch will be an aluminum and leather lighter that doubles as an ashtray; a set of three vinyl records with music meant to enhance one’s high; and an earthenware ashtray set with a matching vase. The set was designed by Rogen, who lately has been sharing his new interest in pottery-making online.
The block table lighter has a lid that can be used as an ashtray and a notch to hold a smoking device.

The block table lighter has a lid that can be used as an ashtray and a notch to hold a smoking device. Credit: Peter Novosel/Courtesy of Houseplant

Over a decade ago, Goldberg’s script for the 2008 movie “Pineapple Express,” starring Rogen and James Franco, opined on the design and engineering potential of weed. That vision has been realized following states’ legalizations, as unmarked Ziploc bags and basic head shop supplies have shifted to increasingly personalized strains offered in glossy dispensaries. There have even been accolades for cannabis design through the advertising industry’s Clio Awards, which recognized Houseplant’s packaging in 2019.

In the coffee-table book “High on Design” published last year, editor Anja Charbonneau of cannabis culture magazine Broccoli writes on the seismic shift seen over the past decade. “The creatives behind these efforts envisioned a weed culture…the same way one might approach coffee, wine, or other handcrafted goods in an accessible way,” she said. “They created objects meant to be seen and enjoyed, not hidden away.”

The vinyl record set comes with three albums: “Sativa Session,” “Indica Session” and “Hybrid Session.” Credit: Peter Novosel/Courtesy of Houseplant

Mohr echoes that sentiment. “Our design ethos is centered around the idea of bringing cannabis out from its various hiding places and instead proudly displaying it in one’s home,” he said. “We saw a void in the market for beautiful, thoughtfully designed objects for people who enjoy cannabis and saw an opportunity to create something special.”

An equity gap

As some move to elevate the industry, there are still striking racial and social disparities, as cannabis culture moves forward through patchwork legality in the United States. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report that revealed that Black people are still 3.6 more times as likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than White people, despite both groups partaking at similar rates.
In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order in October of 2020 to pardon over 2,700 people convicted of possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, following in the footsteps of Canada. Yet Canada’s attempts to do so have been criticized for their lack of speed. According to the CBC, 257 pardons were granted in the first year.
Houseplant will offer smoking-related home goods around the U.S. as well as marijuana delivery service in California.

Houseplant will offer smoking-related home goods around the U.S. as well as marijuana delivery service in California. Credit: Peter Novosel/Courtesy of Houseplant

And, in California, where Houseplant will put down its roots, The Guardian reported last year that Black entrepreneurs have been disadvantaged while establishing their cannabis businesses in Los Angeles’ highly saturated market. Many White business owners in the city have meanwhile thrived. Last April, the state announced a grant program of $30 million to support entrepreneurs from communities disproportionately impacted by the plant’s criminalization.
“How do you get to come and make millions of dollars off of our misery?” said Lanaisha Edwards, a Black LA-based entrepreneur, told The Guardian. Edwards had applied for a cannabis license to open a store in the city but said she was rejected after a year of planning due to the proximity of an existing dispensary.

“The war on drugs destroyed so many families. We should at least get to come out on the other end and create some wealth out of it. But it’s not gonna happen the way this is going,” she is quoted as saying.

Rogen and Goldberg — who will undoubtedly enter the market with the additional advantage of being celebrities — appear to recognize these disparities, and have announced a forthcoming mentorship program for “underserved entrepreneurs” called InHouse. They also publicly support drug policy reform organizations.

“Evan and I also recognize that our lifelong dream of starting a cannabis lifestyle brand like Houseplant comes with a commitment to changing the unjust and racist cannabis laws that still exist in today’s society,” Rogen said. “We understand our responsibility to help right those wrongs and are dedicated to creating a more diverse, equitable cannabis industry.”

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