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Merry Jane Stakes Out More Digital Territory

Variety logo Variety 4/12/2017 Nick Clement
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Merry Jane launched in 2015 as a cannabis-focused digital media platform. Co-founded by rapper Snoop Dogg and media entrepreneur Ted Chung, Merry Jane showcases editorial content on the business and politics of the cannabis industry, as well as offering original video content and a database for the identification of cannabis strains and dispensaries. Backed by Snoop Dogg’s capital venture firm Casa Verde Capital, Merry Jane has become one of the premiere destinations for pot enthusiasts.

“We wanted to bring a global voice to the mainstream cannabis community,” says Jim Baudino, Merry Jane VP of business development.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Merry Jane editor-in-chief Noah Rubin: “We want to speak to the future of the cannabis marketplace, as well as expand in areas outside of cannabis, such as politics and entertainment reporting.”

Merry Jane has made original content deals with Seth Rogen and Miley Cyrus, and hired music business mega-manager Guy Oseary as strategic adviser. They’ve expanded into the world of television, producing both scripted and non-scripted shows, including MTV’s “Mary + Jane” (since cancelled) and VH1’s “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” with plans for original content expansion in the near future, as well as daily informational videos and news reporting.

“Cannabis content is of course our focus, but we’re also looking at the longevity of our content, and we want to appeal to as wide of a sector as possible,” Baudino says. “We see Merry Jane taking a global approach, and with every media outlet going through a ‘green rush’ of cannabis content, we want to remain fresh without cornering ourselves into one area.”

And when you’re paving the way for the future of cannabis-branded entertainment, it’s tough to gauge what is and isn’t a success. “We’re playing in a new space which creates new opportunities, with some cool branding partnerships emerging,” says Rubin.

Strategic brand partnerships are an essential component to Merry Jane, as they’ve forged relationships with MTV, VH1, Twitch, Reddit, Vice and Complex.

“We’ve partnered with Vice and have gotten into content sharing between Merry Jane and [cabler] Viceland, and we see these opportunities as a way of moving our company forward. You have to be willing to experiment when not many precedents have been set.”

The outreach to the sports community has also been a top priority for Merry Jane. Its Cannabis in Professional Sports event during the Super Bowl highlighted the benefits of cannabis use among the NFL’s players. “Our Super Bowl event was a huge success, and it’s time that the NFL starts to really look at cannabis as a viable health option for its players, rather than relying on opioids and other prescription medicines,” Baudino says.

Merry Jane sees the mixed-martial arts world as a potential spot for cross promotion. “MMA is an area we’re interested in,” says Rubino. “Many of the fighters are smokers as cannabis helps with pain relief and training.”

Activism is also central to the building blocks of Merry Jane, with the company taking a proactive role in legalization efforts, and working with the public to provide better information about cannabis culture.

“We’re obviously pro-cannabis and we want to get the word out to as many people who will listen,” Baudino says. “This audience deserves a legitimate outlet and through activism we can steer social change and open ourselves up to a new audience.”

Activism within the cannabis health and wellness sector is another area that is of importance to Merry Jane. “We want to put a spotlight on the very specific health problems that people are facing, especially children with various forms of seizures, and act as an advocate for health reform,” notes Rubin. “Women’s issues in the cannabis industry are something that we plan on getting behind in an active way.”

Merry Jane has launched apps in both the iTunes Store and Google Play.

“What we’re going to do is launch an app that fully ties into the core values of Merry Jane,” Baudino says. “We have a downloadable app that’s available now at iTunes, it’s in the beta-phase, but it gives an idea of what we’re doing. In the next six months, there will be some exciting new developments in this space, like mapping functions for dispensary locations and Uber pickups to dispensaries. We also have an interactive social-media component called Sesh, which is user generated, and allows people to share their cannabis-related stories to a wider audience.”

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