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Runtz Brings Its Iconic Strain to the Masses

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Since 2017, the global phenomenon that is the Runtz strain has not abated. The brand has remained strong, but this year, newly independent, Runtz is relaunching as a top-tier luxury weed lifestyle brand, with all new Runtz genetics plus the classic strains available in multiple states. More people can finally say that they have smoked real Runtz.

The Runtz phenomenon started at Emerald Cup 2017 in Northern California. Ray Bama and Yung LB got hold of Runtz and started to market it online using social media. Grower Nick Corwin eventually met Ray Bama in the Bay Area through Friends. LB, Ray’s roommate, was an up-and-coming rapper and an informal weed ambassador for Cookies—aka one of the Cookie Boys. Nick discovered Runtz when he combined Zkittlez with Gelato 33, creating a dark purple flower with a distinct candy terp profile. They knew they had something, and they went with the Runtz name to capture that candy terp. 

“When Runtz first came out it was the darkest thing and then when you opened the bag everyone would say candy,” Ray remembers. “At that point there wasn’t really a terp like that besides Zkittlez. But with Zkittlez, the exhale wasn’t quite as candy, as creamy,” Ray says. Nick says that the Gelato 33 upped the Zkittlez potency and added even more of a candy profile. 

The three showed up at Emerald Cup with a little over 300 jars, along with 2,500 Runtz t-shirts to hand out and a group of models rocking the Runtz logo. They camped out in front of the Cookies booth (it was the year Cookies debuted London Pound Cake) where a line formed around them. They sold out in minutes, getting so much attention that Cookies asked them to leave. But Berner took notice, and Cookies would eventually become Runtz’s exclusive distributor. 

“We made a whole appearance in letting people know who we are and we’re here. And that impacted the fuck out the culture,” LB remembers. 

The same excitement and hype of that day kept its momentum over the next year. However, how the strain and brand (what LB calls a “strand”) became the phenomenon that it did, spreading all across the U.S. to hotspots like New York, Atlanta, and Miami, was not merely organic. Ray and LB worked out a sophisticated multi-pronged approach to branding the strain as a lifestyle. They went on tour, doing pop-ups city by city, everywhere drawing a crowd around this new thing from California called Exotics. 

In particular, LB became the face of the brand, and he wove his identity as a weed mogul into his hip-hop singles and his social media. Meanwhile, Nick and Ray reached out to artists, creatives, people in fashion, and musicians, and built a network of culture-makers and content producers. Within a year, they saw Runtz take off. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone wanted it. Everyone claimed to have it. 

“We weren’t trying to follow the trend. We weren’t too much caring about the politics behind weed,” LB said. He was trapping weed at the time and saw that the industry was expanding. 

“It’s enough for everybody to eat off this plate. You’d be a fool not to capitalize,” LB said. 

LB went hard at marketing and promoting Runtz as he toured with his music. As he went around the country, he put on events to raise the brand’s profile, despite the risks. 

“These other weed brands, they weren’t doing the sessions and pop-ups that we were doing,” LB said. “We were taking a big risk doing that,” he said, considering most states still considered weed to be illegal. 

“We brought that gorilla marketing to the corporate cannabis world,” LB said. “It had never been done before besides Berner. But Berner had a strategic classic high-end way to do it. We just kept this shit so urban, so close to the culture, it’s like one of them was doing it,” LB said. 

Runtz became the phenomena that it is because, LB and Ray say, of the work they put into promoting and marketing the strain. 

“We just love working. We ain’t better than nobody but we gonna hustle. I guarantee I’ll hustle a lot of these other people,” LB said. “We started getting that recognition.”

Are You Smoking Real Runtz?

Even as the hype built, Runtz was kept exclusive and relatively small-batch. The demand for Runtz in the country far outweighed its supply, and plenty of bootleggers stepped in to fill the lack with fake bags of fake Runtz. Meanwhile, growers that did get hold of Runtz genetics (which wasn’t hard—the guys made a point to spread the genetics far and wide) all too often renamed it and built their own following off of it. 

Ray says getting bootlegged, copied, and ripped off was just part of the game. 

“To this day if you go buy ten eighths from any dispensary or ten eighths from the street, nine of them are going to be Runtz. Runtz is the most renamed strain, the most bootlegged,” he said.

But to an extent, it was on purpose. 

“We’ve constantly hunted and serviced the top one percent of the market and we’ve pigeonholed ourselves there because we never really expanded as far as we could,” Ray said. “We kept our releases very small.”

Ray, LB, and Nick were powerless to stop the brand from getting bootlegged. They saw ugly imitations of their iconic mylar bags for sale in smoke shops all over the U.S. and Europe. To handle their growth, they contracted with a much larger corporation in California to take on marketing and distribution, but found that they were even more hamstrung by not having full ownership of the brand. 

“Just being on the road built Runtz so huge, that I didn’t know how big it was until I got to Atlanta in 2018-2019. Everywhere I went everybody said they had Runtz. But they didn’t get it from us,” LB said. 

“I used to get mad and upset, but for what? It helped the brand out,” LB said. 

The fact is, the guys couldn’t supply the demand for the strain. They developed other phenos to help make more product available, and partnered with regional growers to help suppy the rest of the country outside of California. 

“The demand was so high it wasn’t enough,” he said. 

For a time, everybody supposedly had Runtz and almost nobody smoked real Runtz. The guys had created a movement that they no longer were in control of. Still, they never stopped promoting Runtz, which had sprung a corresponding clothing and lifestyle brand. They continued to release Runtz phenos and crosses, each one cleverly marketed with stylish mylar bags plus whatever media LB cooked up. 

Ray says that they tolerated people copying them. They understood that they were trendsetters. 

“We never hated on anybody. People stole our sauce, they steal our sauce to this day, blatantly. And we’ll be like, as long as you’re feeding your family we don’t start shit with people,” Ray said.

“We actually do it for the culture,” he said.

Being copied just inspired them to be more innovative. 

“The way we combated that bootlegging is by constantly releasing new products, new product identity, new IP, just always releasing new stuff and they can’t keep up with us,” Ray said. 

In 2020, rumors of a strain called Obama Runtz circulated, and a video by a Atlanta trapper talking about it went viral. The team jumped on the viral moment and launched an Obama Runtz strain with a corresponding song and music video referencing the viral video. They later had another viral hit when they released Coochie Runtz in a die-cut mylar bag in the shape of a cropped photo of the midsection a big-bootied woman in a thong, one image of her front and one image of her back on either side of the bag. The photo was unrefined and unabashed and definitely attention-grabbing. Runtz marketing is often this mix of media savvy and a focus on the culture around weed instead of just the weed itself. 

Courtesy of Ray Bama

The Relaunch

They’ve spent years planning, growing, breeding, and making deals for the next phase of Runtz. 

“We’ve been the disruptors of the industry,” Nick says. “We’ve done it multiple times and we’re going to continue to do it.”

They disrupt and they start trends. Even before Runtz, Ray invented the GlowTray, a rolling tray with a built-in light that was a phenomenon for years. He and Nick manufactured, marketed, and distributed the GlowTray themselves. Runtz kicked off the trend of using mylar bags instead of jars, which at the time everyone had preferred. Potato Runtz, a collab with designer Imran Potato, together they were the first to create a special shape die-cut mylar pouch (bags that are cut into a shape rather than square), which are now very trendy. They claim they were the first to do things like pop-ups and tours to promote their strain, which by now has become a common tactic in the industry for indie brands. 

Their next disruption will take place in smoke shops across America with the launch of Runtz brand tobacco leaf blunt wraps. They noticed that everyone around them were rolling their high-end Runtz weed into crappy Backwoods leaves, half of which from each package had to be tossed for being unusable. 

“We want to push the culture forward. We don’t want our people to go buy Backwoods and throw away half,” Ray said. “The weed is so good and expensive and you put it in the Backwoods and it rips or has two stems.”

They talked to some friends in the tobacco industry and ended up traveling to the Dominican Republic to survey tobacco farms. They sampled twenty varieties before going with the Broadleaf. They hand-selected the bales, which each undergo a 5-step sorting process for quality control. Each leaf is washed, trimmed, and pressed so that it’s perfect for rolling a blunt. They’ll launch next month in 4,500 shops across the country. 

At the recent Hall of Flowers convention Runtz debuted its first new strains since last year’s Coochie Runts: Bootleg Runtz, Day Day Runtz, iRuntz, Super Runtz, a collab with indie brand Don Merfos Exotics, and FTP Runtz, a collab with the clothing brand. Early next year, they’ll introduce a Classics line, with their most popular strains made widely available at an affordable price, including strains that haven’t been available in a while like Divine Runtz, Pink Runtz, White Runtz, Real Runtz, Obama Runtz, and Runtz OG. 

They’ve also been working hard to build a network of growers and dispensaries in states outside of California to grow and distribute actual Runtz flower. The plan is to be able to launch new drops simultaneously in California as well as states like Florida and Michigan. In California, they’re continuing to pheno hunt their own genetics by collaborating with top brands like Wizard Trees, Doja Pak, and Seed Junky Genetics. They’ll also be selling Runtz seeds in smoke shops.

For Nick, Ray, and LB, the Runtz relaunch is about solidifying their place as a high-fashion, high-art, luxury brand. They’re relaunching their streetwear clothing line with Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club, they’re looking into doing a Runtz restaurant, and they’re planning a Runtz festival for 2024. 

“LB always told us, Nick, Ray, we’re the Louis Vuitton of cannabis,” Ray said. “They’re wearing Louis Vuitton and Gucci and they’re smoking Runtz.”

For LB, the fact that the brand has made such waves while still being relatively new to the scene is something he doesn’t take for granted. 

“For us to have a seat at the table with a lot of these top-tier names is an honor,” LB said. 

He’s learned that the art of selling weed in today’s market comes down to marketing a lifestyle. It’s what the Runtz brand does better than anyone. 

“It’s not even about selling the flower. Just even knowing how to brand a product to a level where people want it so much to where it’s like we’ll buy the brand overall,” LB said. 

“That’s crazy to me to be honest. And it’s amazing. Just to be one of the brands that’s top-tier as far as even being around the top, top people is just an honor. Runtz is new, we’ve been on the scene probably 4-5 years, so we’re literally new,” LB said.

The post Runtz Brings Its Iconic Strain to the Masses appeared first on High Times.

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Germany: Implementation challenges of cannabis legalization

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As many people gathered to dance and listen to music at the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, Germany to celebrate the recreational legalization of cannabis on April 1st, 2024. Many have wondered if it’s too early to speak on whether the German government’s new law on the “controlled use of cannabis” will be a success or failure as it still leaves many questions unanswered.

The government’s objectives are simply “eradication of black market sales”. Originally this was planned to be achieved via authorised sales through licensed stores, this was later abandoned due to its conflict with European laws. As a secondary plan, under the new law consumers now have the choice to navigate two options: grow at home with the limitation of 3 plants or join a growers association which limits possession to 30 grams for those between the ages of 18 – 21, 50 grams for anyone older and only 25grams in public

Yet one thing is still at fault, these growers’ associations still need to be created. By law, they will not be able to start operating before July 1 – and to do so, they must first obtain a license with many conservative voices still fighting its implementation in certain parts of Germany

Suppose the regional authorities don’t play ball and instead decide to make setting up these growers’ associations more difficult. In that case, consumers who don’t want to start growing cannabis will continue to buy from their usual dealers. Forsmall-time dealers, the new legislation provides a certain advantage, in that it is now legal to carry 25 grams of cannabis on your person.

Another of the government’s stated aims is to lighten the workload of police officers and judges. With decades of prohibition and repression having failed to reduce cannabis consumption – quite the opposite, in fact – what’s the point in continuing to ask them to apply a failed policy? The problem is that implementing the new law is already proving to be a real headache. It prohibits smoking cannabis near minors, within 100 meters of schools, sports facilities, children’s playgrounds and in pedestrian zones between 7 am and 8 pm.

All these prove to be the first few implementation problems Germany is yet to face and we are excited to see it all come together.

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A taste of Cannabis: South African Edition

A few places that could help you experience the South African cannabis space

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We have all tried our chances with a Google search hoping to find the best places to satisfy our cannabis needs but we never seem to find exactly what we need. With 4/20 coming up, we at CannaAfrika decided to make your life easier and have created our Ganja Guide for your best and safest South African cannabis experience.

Is Cannabis / Marijuana Legal in South Africa?

As you might know, Cannabis in South Africa has been decriminalized by the country’s constitutional court for personal use by adults in private. However, there are still many ifs and buts, grey areas and fairytales.

South Africa is moving towards fully legalising Cannabis shortly. It seems weed is posed to become a major South African export. This has led to a large variety of Weed Clubs, Dispensaries, and health stores selling to the public.

Best Nationwide Online Stores:

  • Taste of Cannabis:

Taste of Cannabis (TOC), a leading CBD retailer under CannaFood International, was established in 2019 at the beginning of South Africa’s cannabis journey. Specializing in high-quality CBD products and Full Spectrum Cannabis Products, TOC addresses various health issues. The company, known for its diverse, innovative and exciting product range collaborates with experts to ensure efficacy. TOC extends its offerings to pets, pain relief, and sexual wellness to allow customers to experience the world of cannabis in many different ways. TOC originally operated online and has expanded to operate in 9 prime kiosk locations, pharmacies across Africa, and other online stores. Find them here www.tasteofcannabis.co.za

  • HighTEA CBD:

HighTEA CBD is a well-known and locally loved online cannabis edibles and vape club. HighTEA is passionate about everything cannabis related and prides itself on creating eye-catching, delicious happy products. Their wellness first mantra is evident in their delight from customer feedback on how their products affected people for the better, coupled with their fame from their CBD gummies and full spectrum cannabis oils that bring life to the small artisanal cannabis products.  Find them here: www.hightecbd.online

CBD Gummies, CBD Oil, Cannabis Products Cape Town, South Africa

(Hightea CBD Cannabis Oils and Edible Products)

  • Tubby’s Kitchen

Run by a mom and son duo Tubby’s Kitchen was started by tasting various local teas and incorporating CBD as a way to heal the body from seizures. Tubby’s vision is all about health and infusing CBD into the dining experience to provide customers with an opportunity to enjoy physical and mental healing for a balanced life. Tubby’s Kitchen fuses your love for cooking and CBD with a great range of CBD teas, pastes, and spices. Now you can choose to start your day off with an amazing CBD cup of tea and enjoy cooking with their tasty paste and spices.  And what adds even more to Tubby’s is the fact that all these products are natural and none are infused with isolate or chemically produced CBD oil. Find them on www.tubbyskitchen.co.za

Best Retail Stores:

  • CannAfrica

CannAfrica is a company that views its products as a new way of thinking and a new way of living, with a focus on healing. With its scientific approach, CannAfrica prides itself on producing products that have been carefully researched and tested to ensure great quality. As a trusted dispensary that has a ton of quality goods such as oils, gummies and coffee, CannAfrica has something that will suit your CBD needs. Their values are all about health and making your way of life a lot more easier and enjoyable. With a great online store and a few store locations in  East Rand Mall, Pretoria, Spriggs and more on the way. For more store locations near you check out their website: www.cannafricaer.com

  • Tree of Life

Tree of Life is a revolutionary health and wellness dispensary founded in 2021 which provides its patients with natural healing products. Tree of Life prides itself on providing organically grown cannabis, roots and select plant-related products which includes oils, capsules, teas and coffees. With an exclusive collaboration with DANK as its storefront provider they are continuously providing wellness and building long-lasting relationships with patients from all walks of life. The stores can be found in Hatfield, Pretoria and Bryston, Johannesburg. For more information visit their website: www.treeoflifestores.co.za

  • Canna Kingdom

Canna Kingdom is known as a one-stop shop for all things cannabis. Hosting a range of products from smoking accessories to therapeutic oils and medicinal pet drops, to growing equipment and nutrients, even infused soft serve ice cream, Canna Kingdom boasts of retailing the largest range of smoking and cannabis products in South Africa, with 4 Johannesburg locations, Parkuhurst, Malibongwe, Hillfox and Glenhazel. Their website is currently under construction but sign up for when they finally launch again: www.cannnakingdom.co.za

Best Private Clubs:

  • Hi-Grow Cafe:

The Hi-Grow brand consists of multiple sub-brands that create one united Community. Hi-Grow Cafe (NPC) is an association of cannabis consumers, cultivators, connoisseurs, and other related stakeholders supporting the growth of the cannabis community in South Africa one tree at a time. Hi-Grow provides the platform for the cannabis community to come together and enjoy the cannabis culture. They are passionate about education and the delivery of accurate information regarding cannabis in South Africa. The cafe is located in Menlo Park, Pretoria. Find out more about your membership at www.higrowcafe.co.za

(Cannabisters Club in Cape Town)

  • Cannibisters:

Cannibisters is a members-only club incorporating a herbal apothecary in Cape Town. It is a home away from home where members can share cannabis and related products privately and responsibly. The club environment is elegantly presented in the familiar style of a retail store, coffee shop and relaxed lounge area. Cannibisters also offers a few nights of the week, either classical or light jazz music and cover bands. The aim is to ensure that they create a peaceful, healing and safe environment. They offer cannabis connoisseurs and medical users a legal space to enjoy and share the herb.

Email High@cannibisters.com

  • Grow One Africa:

Grow One Africa™(GOA) aims to be a self-regulatory organisation and service provider within the recreational craft cannabis social grow club market in South Africa. They provide a self-regulatory Grow Club Compliance Model and then facilitate the opening of private cannabis social clubs in compliance with the 2020 Proposed Cannabis Bill. This model focuses on responsible cannabis use, sharing and cultivation while providing full traceability to all associated GOA cannabis social club members. GOA motto states they believe that social clubs show that it is possible to create a safe, informed community where like-minded people can practise their constitutional rights of possessing and using cannabis in private, while still complying with current legislation. Looking to find a way to start your social club look for further assistance here: www.growone.africa/clubs/

This is just a short list to introduce you to what South Africa could offer you in the world of cannabis. Stay tuned for more as we continue to update our list.

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Weedo: The new kicks on the block

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Ever since the inception of 8000Kicks and their introduction of sustainable hemp footwear, inquiries directed to co-founder Bernardo Carreira often humorously inquire about the safety of smoking the brand’s sneakers. Although a jest, the consistent stream of such queries on the brand’s social media channels augured well. Never one to squander a creative opportunity, Carreira seized upon his clientele’s suggestion by partnering with the renowned European seed bank, Royal Queen Seeds (RQS), to birth WEEDO: an exclusive collection of shoes crafted from premium cannabis blooms.

8000Kicks typically harnesses traditional hemp fibers, transforming them into footwear through a multi-stage process encompassing harvesting, retting, carding, and pulping of the source material, culminating in the spinning of yarn, which is then meticulously woven into textiles of superior quality.

WEEDO footwear, however, diverges from convention by incorporating CBD extracted from the cannabis plant. Each shoe is meticulously crafted using up to 500 grams of top-tier CBD sourced from cannabis plants. They are exceedingly sought-after, with only a limited edition of 100 pairs available. Offered exclusively on the RQS and 8000Kicks websites on a first-come, first-served basis, the steep price range of WEEDO footwear (1000-1500€/$1500USD) reflects the substantial cost and labor invested in producing such a distinctive and captivating product.

According to Carreira, the genesis of WEEDO stemmed from a collaborative brainstorming session conducted via email between himself and RQS President Shai Ramsahai, which culminated in a face-to-face meeting at Spain’s annual Spannabis cannabis expo. “We were already entertaining the idea of a collaboration,” Carreira remarks. “Upon our rendezvous at Spannabis, we formalized our intent. Amidst a plethora of unconventional concepts, the notion of a cannabis-infused shoe took root.”

What does the creation of a cannabis-infused shoe entail? Carreira elucidates that the process involves the utilization of an industrial grinder to pulverize cannabis blooms into minute fragments, subsequently hand-stitched onto the shoe with meticulous precision.

In a bid to spotlight sustainable materials, WEEDO footwear integrates cotton alongside hemp for laces, insoles, and interiors. Furthermore, to ensure the shoes align with vegan and eco-friendly standards, these materials are bonded using water-based adhesive. Moreover, their aesthetic and olfactory appeal is noteworthy.

A footwear marvel: A sneaker boasting innate aging capabilities? This further fuels the enthusiasm of sneaker aficionados for the collaboration between Royal Queen Seeds, 8000Kicks, and Nisiseltor Studio.
Visually, the sneakers evoke the impression of having been uniformly coated in freshly ground cannabis—a spectacle that is surreal, chic, and remarkably sustainable.

photo: 8000Kicks

“The most remarkable aspect of these shoes lies in their appearance, texture, and aroma,” Carreira muses. “Even with the shoe before me in my office, I find it difficult to fathom that we’ve actualized a cannabis-infused shoe. Its singularity is what renders it so captivating.”

Augmenting its novelty is the revelation that fortunate possessors of WEEDO footwear will observe a color metamorphosis over time. This phenomenon is straightforward: owing to their composition of authentic cannabis blooms, the shoes are predisposed to transitioning from verdant to earthy tones as the blooms desiccate.

A sneaker endowed with inherent aging properties? This serves as yet another catalyst for the fervor surrounding this special collaboration between Royal Queen Seeds, 8000Kicks, and Nisiseltor Studio. In fact, Carreira reports an influx of over 5000 new registrations subsequent to the public announcement of WEEDO’s impending release. With such fervent interest, could 8000Kicks continue along this trajectory with subsequent releases featuring authentic cannabis?

“It’s quite a formidable endeavor, truth be told,” Carreira acknowledges. “Presently, our focus is on finalizing the pre-sale launch of WEEDO.”

While the CEO of 8000Kicks understandably directs his attention toward the imminent launch of WEEDO, he remains open to the prospect of future fantastical and groundbreaking innovations.

“Our objective is to deliver WEEDO with unparalleled quality, leaving our clientele astounded, but thereafter…the possibilities are boundless,” he asserts. “Consider this: Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma—titans in the industry, yet none have ventured into this realm. Yet, we have—we’ve birthed the world’s inaugural cannabis-infused shoe.”

Remarkable, isn’t it? Ponder on that for a moment.

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