Earlier this month, David Bronner, CEO of the soap brand Dr. Bronner, a short flight from Southern California to Portland. As a dedicated supporter of Oregon Operation 109, which aims to legalize psilocybin-producing mushrooms for therapeutic use, Bronner wanted to be on hand for the historic passage of the poll.
As the head of an iconically popular boutique skincare brand known for both Castilian and political activism, Bronner was also delighted to have his carry-on bag filled with some samples of his latest product: a limited-edition bar of soap that is, so far anyone knows an industry first.
It wasn't until he approached the phalanx of Transportation Security Administration agents that he realized that maybe he should have left those soaps at home.
"I thought, 'Wow – that really smells! "Bronner said to Adweek, remembering how relieved he felt when he was on the plane.
You see, the soaps in question were infused with the scent of fresh marijuana.
Even for consumers who are familiar with Dr. Bronner – a certified B corporation that spends around a third of its profits on a variety of social and environmental causes – one relevant question might be: Why? With all the fresh and floral scents in the world, why would a personal care brand want to create a soap that smells like something that is illegal in 60% of the country?
As with all of Dr. Bronner has these reasons too. The brand has partnered with an organization called Sun + Earth, a certification standard that ensures that a specific grower has grown their cannabis outdoors in natural light, with no chemicals, that is tended by fairly paid workers. Limited edition sales benefit the work of the group.
"We hope the excitement over this cannabis-scented soap will encourage people to use natural farming methods to help farmers who grow cannabis and hemp outdoors," Sun + Earth executive director Andrew Black told Adweek.
It is an enduring truism about American consumption that most shoppers have no idea where what they buy – be it meat, clothes, or cars – actually comes from. And as legalization efforts have gained ground in recent years, this maxim includes cannabis as well. While it is easy enough to think of marijuana growing as the work of barefoot devotees cultivating sun-drenched parcels somewhere in the Cascade Mountains, the truth is often less idyllic.
Cultivators grow at least a third of America's cannabis crops indoors under artificial light, where only four plants are made to bloom to power 29 refrigerators, according to the U.S. Forest Service. In California, the cannabis industry uses 9% of all energy in the state. An oft-cited study by the Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that for every kilogram of marijuana grown indoors, 4,600 kg of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
Courtesy of Dr. Bronners
Then there are the chemicals. "In California and elsewhere, cannabis has long been grown using large amounts of pesticides," read a 2019 paper published in the National Institutes of Health's Environmental Health Perspectives. "Some of these are only for ornamental plants and many are associated with them." Cancer or other serious health effects. "
Bronner believes that most cannabis users need information about such facts.
"There's a lack of awareness. There's not a lot of knowledge. People don't really think about it," he said. "You really should think about your cannabis as much as you think about your food. You don't want pesticides in your food – and you do don't want them in the flowers you smoke. "