We Put Cannabis Brands Tied to Famous Names to the Test to See if They Live Up to the Hype

As we’ve all learned from witnessing decades of celebrity endorsements, slapping a well-known name or likeness onto a product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good.

As cannabis continues to go mainstream, plenty of famous faces are not only open about what they’re smoking; an increasing number of actors, athletes and musicians are lending their names to new industry products, or actively investing in startups.

But have you ever wondered which cannabis product a dead celebrity might endorse? Because we sure have.

For the sake of debate, we auditioned everything from Garcia Hand Picked flower to the recent George Harrison-Dad Grass collaboration as well as strains from Berner Cookies and Oregon-based Belushi’s Farm—yes, some of the famous people in the lineup are still living. As we’ve all learned from witnessing decades of celebrity endorsements, slapping a well-known name or likeness onto a product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good. So we put the cannabis branded by pop culture icons to the test. Here are the results:

Gary Payton by Berner Cookies

Cookies seems like a good place to start when it comes to celeb-backed cannabis brands. The company was founded by Bay Area rapper Berner in 2008, and responsible for the Girl Scout Cookies strain that has since become a household name. In fact, Cookies has become such a popular lifestyle brand, its hoodies and hats are often displayed in the windows of mall-dwelling retailers like Zumiez and Vans.

Gary Payton is one of Cookies’ top-rated strains grown in collaboration with Powerzzz Genetics. Named after the NBA player who’s widely considered to be one of the greatest point guards of all time (Payton’s jersey number was 20, which corresponded with the number of this promising phenotype), this cultivar’s genetics come courtesy of a cross between Y Life and Snowman.

The nugs are on the small side, but still dense and sugary with crystals. Expect deep green buds, a funky, piney nose, and a heavy body high that could easily result in couchlock depending on the smoker’s condition. At 34% THC, Gary Payton definitely has a “by varsity stoners, for varsity stoners” vibe, which is about as legit as any celebrity-backed megabrand can be.

BUY: Lemonnade PDX, 6218 NE Columbia Blvd., 971-279-2337.

Mendo Trips by Garcia Hand Picked

Founded by Trixie Garcia, Jerry’s daughter, Garcia Hand Picked partners with area farms to cultivate a selection of familiar strains, and a number of the growers the company works with are Sun+Earth certified, the gold standard when it comes to organic, outdoor production.

We scored an eighth of Mendo Trips, a syrupy indica cultivar with airy, aubergine buds acceptably sparkly and fragrant for the price ($35 for a prepackaged, glass jar embossed with Jerry Garcia’s face). The flower was a perfectly delightful, quick-smoking mouthful of candy that, though couched in indica genetics, delivered an elastic body high.

I smoked this before organizing my notes for an upcoming episode of WW’s Dive podcast and found the high to be clear enough for quick thinking but languid enough to keep me relaxed. However, at 25% THC your results may vary. My primary takeaway was that this brand would probably appeal most to an older generation of smokers or die-hard Deadheads.

BUY: Gnome Grown Dispensary, 5012 NE 28th Ave., 971-346-2098, gnomegrownorganics.com.

All Things Must Grass by George Harrison and Dad Grass

The most gratuitous of the celeb-backed brands we sampled was a CBG-CBD blend produced by novelty cannaisseurs Dad Grass. The branding suggests heavily that George Harrison has somehow given his blessing to this box of hemp-blend pre-rolls, but prospective buyers should also consider that Harrison died of lung cancer, which makes this post-mortem collab a bit tone deaf.

The pre-rolls smoke smoothly, but the flavors and textures just leave too much to be desired. Even for a hemp enthusiast, these are too bland to get enthusiastic about. Would George Harrison smoke Dad Grass? We’ll never know, but I’d like to think he’d be more into vaping Jerry Garcia’s selects from a combustion-free Volcano, you know, for his health.

BUY: dadgrass.com

Nilla Wafers by Belushi’s Farm

Who knew that when Jim Belushi, of all people, moved to the Rogue Valley to build a cannabis farm that he would become an esteemed cultivator? Because that is very much what happened, so much so in fact, that Belushi’s Farm has become a marijuana hub of sorts for Southern Oregon’s cannabis community. That’s all well and good, but we put Belushi’s reputation as a neighborhood steward aside to try a pre-roll of one of the farm’s signature strains: Nilla Wafers.

Nilla Wafers is a sweet, piney, dank cultivar with a rich, cottony exhale, bred from a cross of Wedding Cake and Sundae Driver. The result is a balanced expression of both bouncy and relaxing genetics, and Belushi’s variation has a robust, fragrant terpene profile that evokes both a damp, evergreen forest and a sugar-spiked diesel tank.

After smoking roughly half the joint, my high was, more than anything, responsive. The high never really veered toward spacey oblivion or hyperactive focus, but rather supported my resting mood. This is really tasty, well-processed herb. It just happened to be grown by a household name. Bottom line: Belushi’s flowers are welcome in my stash box anytime, but I don’t expect I’ll be streaming K-9, K-911, or K-9: P.I. anytime soon.

BUY: Nectar, 3350 NE Sandy Blvd., 971-703-4777, nectar.store.