April 27th, 2017
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This year, festival-goers traded in their flower crowns for weed crowns, as luxury cannabis brands made an unprecedented hit within Coachella’s party circuit.

While Coachella doesn’t condone the use of illicit substances on its grounds (including marijuana use by medical card holders), this year attendees only needed to travel a few miles outside the festival to find themselves immersed in one of several non-sanctioned marijuana-themed events that took place both weekends, before and after the celebrated 4/20 weed holiday.

Where for the past 10 years Coachella parties surrounding the festival have always been dominated by fashion brands like Jeremy Scott, Levi’s and Lacoste (where ya been at?), this year a new crop of luxury cannabis brands came to Coachella, with “ganjapreneurs” bringing custom Coachella-inspired strains of weed like Lowell Farm’s “Coachella Blend,” fashion-forward weed accessories from cannabis carryalls to rose gold vaporizers, and lavish weed-themed wellness activations, all to the festival masses.

With more states voting to legalize recreational marijuana use around the country, the apparent “Green Rush” is amongst us with new “cannabrands” cropping up on the daily. In our own state of California, Prop 64 passed at the voting polls last November, decriminalizing marijuana. While it’s currently legal to grow, consume, and carry marijuana, vendors are still waiting until next year for recreational licenses to be issued to legalize its buying.

Where there is a corporate festival, there is money. From a marketing perspective, Coachella is the ultimate environment to expose young consumers to brands. With over 100,000 festival-goers in the desert at one time, and a majority of the attendees being trendy, affluent Millennials (event tickets alone are $300), brands are eager to capture the attention and expenditure of their target consumer audience.

Adding to the fact that Coachella is inherently aspirational by its costliness, any brand that associates itself with the festival, its parties, or culture, plays into its own cool factor. The celebrities and influencers who attend these invite-only events also play a major part in extending their fully branded experiences to millions of followers by sharing them online, or flexing on the gram.

“The real headliner is the weed.”

During weekend 1, The Seven Six hosted their first Day Sesh event, an “Art and 420 Party” in Bermuda Dunes, which featured weed sampling, DJs, healthy refreshments, and live painting on nude models from artist Adam Enrique Rodriguez. Definite stoner activities.

Every other Coachella party seemed to have some type of branded weed accessory, from Milk Makeup’s iridescent-packaged rolling and blot papers at Nylon’s Sunday brunch to Grindr’s rainbow ashtrays and lighters at their party with Galore, it was clear that even brands outside the weed space were playing into it with their freebies.

The biggest marijuana-themed event that took place during Coachella was undoubtedly Weedmaps Oasis, from the “Yelp of Weed” themselves. Staging a weekend-long retreat on a private undisclosed compound also in Bermuda Dunes, Weedmaps curated an invite-only “marijuana lifestyle experience,” bringing together best-in-class luxury cannabis brands (Brass Knuckles, West Coast Cure, FlavRX, and Nameless Genetics) to take over five giant geodesic domes and a fully functioning greenhouse, each showcasing a unique marijuana product. From blunts to vapes to dabs and a candy shop of edibles, Weedmaps wholly represented the current marijuana ecosystem. Along with educating attendees about cannabis with all its uses and benefits, and offering medical card consultations on site, Weedmaps maintained its efforts as the thought leader in the industry.

“We don’t want to compete with the festival, we want to compliment it,” said Jeff Malinovitz, an event organizer at Weedmaps. Rather than feature or promote artist/DJ acts (like other Coachella parties) that take away from the music at the festival, at Weedmaps Oasis “the real headliner is the weed.”

By allowing attendees to decompress from the festival chaos by bringing them to a fully decked out retreat to get high and pamper themselves with spa-inspired treatments (massages, manicures, pedicures) and offering yoga as well as healthy food and drink, Weedmaps has elevated marijuana from the stigma of a criminal substance into a luxury wellness activity. Have a hit to that!