Oscars goodie bags had the ultimate swag: free marijuana

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It’s one of life’s indignities that the wealthier people are, the more freebies they seem to get, but in the case of the Academy Awards, goodie bags with $100,000 in diamonds, vacations and even vibrators are a way for companies to get exposure when celebrities are seen using those brands, according to published reports.

It’s a sign of the times, then, that in California, where adult use of marijuana is legal, the backstage gift packs for A-list celebrities at the Oscars contained cannabis for the first time ever.

Some 50 packages of pre-rolls and jars of cannabis from California cannabis brand Flow Kana were provided to stars with dressing rooms — with permission from the Academy Awards and the Dolby Theater, according to a Flow Kana spokesman.

Flow Kana prides itself on sustainability and cannabis grown by small batch farmers in Northern California — ostensibly a good match for the Hollywood crowd, so many of whom endorse environmental issues, as well as health and wellness. But the goal, of course, is getting celebrities to talk about and be seen using Flow Kana, to boost the social acceptability of cannabis, reduce cultural stigmas about its use and sell more product to boot.

And that’s where image counts, with studies showing that consumers are drawn to brands, including a recent poll of 600 high net worth individuals by Emerging Insider, a Chicago communications firm, that found 74 percent were willing to spend $300 on new cannabis products (31 percent said they’d spend $300 to $1,000) and 41 percent were willing to spend more on well-known brands than other makers.

With goodie bags, it’s often pay to play, but there was no immediate word on how much Flow Kana might have been asked to pay in order to place its boxes backstage. According to a recent Forbes article, Distinctive Assets for the past 16 years has distributed “Everyone Wins” gift bags to 25 nominees in all acting and directing categories in the week before the Oscars, and companies that donate items placed inside the bags pay a promotional fee of at least $4,000 to have their products included.

Product placement aside, Hollywood and Oscar night is about the power of stories on the big screen, so Flow Kana made sure to tell one of its own. Along with cannabis flower, each gift package contained information about the farmers who grew it, where they grew it, and how — to spread awareness about the importance of small, sustainable cannabis farms.

Maybe it’s like making sure small, independent films are made, instead of ceding everything to the big studios? That’s a concept everyone in Hollywood can understand.

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