Hip-hop veteran, cannabis connoisseur, and entrepreneur B-Real was in town for a meet-and-greet event at the Dr. Greenthumb’s dispensary in La Mesa.
The SoCal cannabis shop held its grand opening in October, complete with food, entertainment, lowriders, and an in-person appearance by B-Real.
The dispensary also hosted a blood drive on February 4.
An In-Store Meet and Greet
Various cannabis brands were on hand in the parking lot at the past weekend’s event, handing out free swag and talking to attendees about their products and current specials.
For the entirety of the event, a DJ played hip-hop tracks from a booth in front of the dispensary.
The mix started with songs by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and other artists before switching to Cypress Hill tracks when B-Real showed up in the early afternoon.
For attendees who came with an appetite or gained one after arriving, Banger Management served up free burgers on the exit side of the dispensary.
Parked next to the Banger Management tent was the Creamy Cafe Ice Cream Truck, where owner Sam handed out frozen treats to sweet-toothed event attendees.
Talking Cannabis with B-Real
When B-Real arrived at the dispensary, I had the opportunity to talk with him for a few moments about his relationship with cannabis, the industry, and the upcoming Cypress Hill album.
With every cannabis consumer, there is a different story as to how their relationship with the plant began.
B-Real says he first discovered cannabis when he was approximately thirteen or fourteen years old.
“Me and my friends at the time, we were badass little kids,” says B-Real. “So we’d be jumping in people’s backyards and snatching up their weed plants for the older kids.”
At home, B-Real says his parents had differing opinions about cannabis.
While B-Real’s mom didn’t have any issue with cannabis use, he says his father did.
“My mother…she was always pretty much open to it,” says B-Real. “My father, not so much. He opened up later on in life.”
But in the mid-nineties, when cannabis legalization began its slow trickle back into the United States in medicinal form, California’s Proposition 215 helped to start changing people’s minds about the plant.
B-Real says that his father was among those who began adopting a more accepting stance when it came to cannabis.
“My mother, before all that, she was always cool with cannabis,” says B-Real. “My father, he sort of changed his…maybe five, six years before he passed, he had changed his mind about it. He would smoke occasionally.”
B-Real says that his father’s cannabis use was recreational, though it may have had unintentional medicinal effects.
“I don’t think he looked at it as medicinal…he didn’t know it was medicinal,” says B-Real. “It was as casual as this. My whole life he had been against…shit…one of my older brothers was a drug addict so he was always hard on anything.”
B-Real says that as Cypress Hill’s popularity started to increase, so did his dad’s interest in trying cannabis.
But while it would be the man’s first time trying cannabis, it wasn’t his first exposure.
“He had been around it as a youngster, but he had never done it,” says B-Real. “So I took the time to roll him one and he took it home and smoked it…and he asked me for more after that. So I imagine he had a great experience. He probably thought I should have been doing this all along!”
Prop 215 Changes the Game
When Prop 215 passed in California in 1996, it affected a wide range of people, including those who constantly rallied for cannabis legalization, like Cypress Hill.
B-Real says Prop 215’s passage vindicated the pro-cannabis movement and put legal weight behind everything that the band had been saying about the plant.
“It validated all the work we had been putting in as activists and advocates, that now people were opening up to vote legislation in for medicinal purposes,” says B-Real. “That meant that people beyond your consumer of cannabis said, You know what? This is right. All the other shit you’ve been talking for so long is wrong. We need to put this out there for people…stop putting people in jail for this shit.”
B-Real says that people began to realize that what the government had been telling them about cannabis for decades was untrue.
In 2022, B-real says there are now more educational resources available to help educate people about cannabis and disprove lies and misinformation that have spread for many years.
“When people got to that point, they were open enough to know, this is not as bad as we’ve been taught,” says B-Real. “And that opened a lot of people up, and people remain open now. There’s more information about it than there’s ever been, available to anyone at any time, and that helps. When you’re taught so much with the anti-propaganda, there’s no information to prove any of that wrong, you tend to stay away from it if you’re not in the know.”
B-Real says it just took time for people to learn about cannabis and be open about it.
Hip-Hop and Activism
Ever since Cypress Hill burst onto the worldwide music scene with their debut album in 1991, the band has witnessed cannabis progress from prohibited status to legal for medical use and later adult use.
Despite cannabis’ legal status, Cypress Hill has never been shy about vocalizing how they feel about its use and related government policies.
As advocates, the band has decried cannabis criminalization throughout the years and made their position clear regarding the freedom to use the plant.
But in the age of increased legalization across the United States, Cypress Hill isn’t backing down from tackling current cannabis-related issues.
While cannabis is permitted for adult sale and use in California under 2016’s Proposition 64, the system is not without flaws.
Since California legalized cannabis, many people have voiced their concerns and opposition to restrictive and crippling policies that prevent many from entering and thriving in the state’s legal industry.
A New Album
Cypress Hill addresses some of the issues facing the cannabis industry in Open Ya Mind, a pointed track from the band’s upcoming Back In Black album.
“We’ve achieved a lot in cannabis, much more than I think anyone anticipated that we would, and I don’t mean we as Cypress Hill, I mean we as a people,” says B-Real. “But there’s still work to be done. There’s a whole lot of things that need to be worked out so that this industry is fair to the operator, to the consumer, because right now it’s not. The taxation is ridiculous, it’s absurd to operate in the cannabis industry. They’ve made it hard for independent folks, the mom and pop-type shops that don’t have the financial backing to jump through all the fucking hoops and the taxation they put on us. So I think they need to work that out.”
B-Real says the topic is something Cypress Hill wanted to tackle on the new album.
When it comes to moving past the current issues that the industry faces, B-Real says there needs to be lobbying for cannabis in California, something he says is currently lacking.
“Politicians have lobbyists for every agenda they wanna fucking push, and here, we haven’t created one,” says B-Real. “That’s a bad on us in the industry because, realistically, we’re gonna wait on another group to come do that and the group that’s gonna come do that ain’t gonna be one that we’re cool with—which is either alcohol, or tobacco, or pharmaceutical.”
B-Real says that, while the big industry players might score some wins for the smaller operators, they’re ultimately fighting for personal interests.
“When their lobbyists come in, they’re gonna lobby for them, not necessarily for us who are operating now,” says B-Real. “We might reap the benefits of it, should we survive the wave that’s happening right now. But still, it’s gonna be more beneficial to them so I never got why a lot of us have not just banded together and gotten folks to lobby for us.”
Cypress Hill’s new album releases on March 18.