Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Darren Criss, best known for his starring role on Glee and his creepy portrayal of the killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assasination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, has, like many, many other celebrities, joined the cannabis space, investing in Cann, a Los Angeles-based cannabis-infused drinks maker. But, unlike most other celebs, Darren is slightly outside of his comfort zone in the weed world, not being an avid marijuana consumer himself.
“I think I’d be a fool not to invest in an emerging trend like this,” he said during an exclusive interview.
The cannabis beverage market, worth $901.8 million in 2018, has grown 45 percent annually in the past two years and is expected to reach $ 2.8 billion by 2025.
One In A Million
Cann, which offers “social tonics” with flavors such as grapefruit rosemary and lemon lavender, was founded by Jake Bullock and Luke Anderson, two Ivy Leaguer’s and former investment bankers.
Despite the co-founders’ impressive résumés, at first, Darren thought that Cann was “a dime a dozen” kind of company, “one of the many popular cannabis-infused drinks.” Yet, he quickly understood that this drink was different: it has only five ingredients and they’re all natural; plus it’s also low on calories, the actor explained.
“I realized that there was really no other drink like it. There’s just no negative effects, no steps I’m taking back if I have a really great workout day.”
The 33 year-old singer and songwriter views Cann as an alcohol substitute too.
“I can let my hair down and let loose, take whatever edge off without being worried about the poison that alcohol can be. For me, mentally, it was nice to know that there was something that I could do that was fun, sexy, different and that offered something fun to the party that didn’t have this sort of guilt factor involved”
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For Darren, cannabis consumption is all about dosing, something that is usually not top of mind during people’s first experiences with alcohol and cannabis.
“There’s an adult way to consume these things. And I think Cann, with its low dosage of 2 mg of THC and 4 mg of CBD, is a very adult way to enjoy the privilege of responsibility,” he said.
Recalling his college days in the University of Michigan, the actor remembered pounding cheap beers and taking one too many shots during his freshman year. But, in senior year, he had his first nice, high end beer.
That was a turning point for him: Darren realized that there was a whole world of products that were meant to be enjoyed for their quality rather than quantity – the famous gourmet vs. gourmand situation.
“I think, for the most part, there asre actually a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the way cannabis works. We’re kind of stuck in freshman year. And what’s great about Cann is that they’re graduating people out of that frat party freshman year and, hopefully, taking them to graduation. We’re trying to take people by the hand and showing them it’s not just bongs and volcanoes. It’s very, very different and it can be sophisticated,” he voiced.
Criss’s relationship with cannabis is tied to how he approaches his creative roles: “I’m always very interested in the blank space that’s not occupied. Whether I’m writing a song or playing a character, I’m always trying to find the place that hasn’t really been explored yet within its own existence.”
He added, “That’s why I’ve always been cannabis curious. Despite the fact that I’m not a mainstream cannabis user, I’m born and raised in California. And you have to be living under a rock not to notice the cataclysmic shift in the cannabis industry and the way that it’s affecting the global economy as legislation shifts around.”
The Connective Tissue
Darren feels it’s important to believe in something beyond just thinking that it’s cool. That is what drove his investment in Cann.
“Cann is making a very conscious effort to amplify and make opportunities for the black and brown communities that have been mass incarcerated because of the War on Drugs,” he explicated.
As an advocate for LGBTQAI+ rights, Darren connected with Cann’s queer friendliness immediately.
“Seeing that kind of diversity being represented in any company is always exciting, and making sure that there are opportunities for people, and upward mobility for people to flip the script a little bit on the way that this industry has ravaged so many marginalized people,” he concluded.
“When anybody attaches himself to a company, it has to have a personal connective tissue. And I was very much into these diversity benchmarks.”
Franca Quarneti co-authored this article.