On the heels of Seth Rogen’s announcement last week that Houseplant is finally arriving in California, we talked with him and CEO Michael Mohr about their journey to serve the state’s cannabis consumers.
Houseplant is the cannabis line originally launched by Rogen and Evan Goldberg in Canada two years ago. When Rogen popped into California industry events like Hall of Flowers, it generated a lot of fanfare at the time. We expect the launch to be wild.
The Early Days
Mohr joined me first. We asked if the company started as a rotation between Rogen and Goldberg, and then he got in to help execute.
“Yeah, Evan’s my cousin. Seth has been a good friend for decades,” Mohr explained to L.A. Weekly. “We knew that they had an incredible opportunity to do something special in this industry.”
Houseplant was essentially a friends-and-family operation in the late 2010s when everything was still under wraps prior to finally picking a partner, making the announcement and hitting shelves in 2019 north of the border. “Basically, that’s the way it started. I mean, now you know we have a team with over 16 employees. You know we have offices in Toronto and L.A., and employees in New York.”
Rogen then joined us, and we dove right into it talking about his obvious appreciation for good pot. But what was the process like coming to California to find the garden that would represent – as he put it earlier in the week – his life’s work?
“It’s been a fun journey, honestly. Obviously, for a very long time, I’ve had a lot of strong opinions about weed and what I personally would look for out of a certain strain of weed and just as far as overall as someone who smokes a lot of weed. It feels like I am not someone who is highly considered by people in general in that regard, you know?” Rogen said half-joking. “And so those were things that were really important to me. It was kind of like a two-prong thing.”
The first thing he said was making sure that Houseplant had the weed he actually smoked, “and that I am, you know, incredibly proud to smoke.” From there, they wanted to provide things for people like them, who smoke weed and would also like to have nice things around.
“It really came from a passion for weed and to try to create a company that honored weed as much as it should be honored, you know?” Rogen said. “It’s something that I genuinely love and spend a lot of time thinking about, and have for many many many years and it’s nice to be able to put all that thought into something and to be able to manifest things with all these opinions I’ve had about weed and about the lifestyle surrounding it for so long, you know?”
We asked Rogen when it first really clicked that he could be pro-weed in a public sense?
“It’s interesting. I think I’m very lucky that a lot of things have put me in the position to be as vocal as I am,” Rogen explained. “One is I’m like a white dude which instantly makes it that I do not and will not face the repercussions for smoking weed that I would if I wasn’t, you know? But also, I’m from Vancouver, British Columbia, which is also one of the most weed-liberal cities in the world. So being a white guy from Vancouver who was just able to smoke weed, all the time, and I came from somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of stigma towards it, I never felt like I couldn’t talk about the fact that I smoked weed. I moved to L.A. and I started becoming a famous person and I would smoke weed all the time and I would talk about smoking weed all the time.”
Then he’d end up on talk shows talking about it because it was simply never a big deal for him. When so few in Hollywood were willing to talk about cannabis, it was just something he’d been around his whole life.
“To me it was just how I grew up, it wasn’t a big deal to me,” Rogen said. “I remember David Letterman telling me no one will talk about this and that’s why I find it fascinating. He’s just like, if you ever wondering why I’m asking you about it so much, it’s because no one’s talking about it.”
A video of Rogen and Letterman game-planning a dispensary visit on The Late Show following the first wave of states legalizing cannabis all those years ago has amassed over 2 million views on YouTube.
Rogen noted that he was hearing plenty of successful people in Hollywood puffed, but one actor really stood out. “I was like, cool he’s a very successful man. And in some small way I was like, if I can offer that comfort to other people and let them know that you can smoke weed all day and become a successful productive member of society, then that is the least I can do for sure.”
Supporting Equity Brands
The conversation went back to Rogen being a white guy from Canada. One of the biggest differences between the U.S. and Canadian marketplaces at the moment are conversations happening around social justice and equity in the industry for the communities hit the hardest by the cannabis arm of the War on Drugs. How does Houseplant plan to participate, given Rogen’s support of Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes?
“I mean, luckily, it’s what we believe in, so it’s not hard to integrate it into the DNA of the company,” Rogen replied. “The company itself, I think, is a reflection of us and who we are and what we believe. We very much believe that the only reason weed was ever illegal is for racist reasons, you know? It’s the only reason it was ever illegal in the first place, so we’ve been supporting expungements both financially and drawing as much media attention to expungement programs as humanly possible.”
Mohr spoke to Houseplant’s history of supporting reform and efforts to integrate itself into the equity-supportive ecosystem of well-intentioned businesses looking to incubate social equity applicants in California.
“We’ve been vocal about it from the first time that we ever talked about the company publicly,” Mohr said. “And we continue to make good on that promise. We have an in-house program that we launched at the beginning of the year where we have two mentee entrepreneurs here in California that are equity license holders, and we’re working with them to help them through their business challenges and figure out how to grow successfully here in California.”
We asked Mohr if the mentees were partners within the supply chain of Houseplant. “No, they have their own businesses, and we help them with our resources, with our network, with the diverse experiences that our team has,” he explained. “We sit at the table with them and help them work through their challenges to grow their business. We want to see this industry develop in an equal and just way.”
Mohr went on to note how thrilled the company was to hit Los Angeles doorsteps next week. While the first batch will be delivery-only through Amuse, they expect to have a few dispensary partners in the not-too-distant future.
But what about the weed?
Celebrity cannabis has had a wild few years, and while the Baby Yoda and Pink Rozay have been noteworthy, other celebs have generally tossed whatever into a bag – sometimes with little to no review, allegedly. But Rogen is a lot more synonymous with pot than pretty much any celeb selling weed not named Willie Nelson. What did he and Goldberg’s selection process look like? Who was growing it?
“On the cultivation side, Seth and Evan have tried over 100 different strains to help us pull down our curation process. We have a small group of approved cultivators that we work with,” Mohr replied.
This kind of response is admittedly cryptic, but there are positives to take away. Sure, we’d love to know who is growing the pot. But there is plenty of great, white-labeled cannabis in California grown by people who don’t want to put their name on it. Plus, the secrecy makes it easier to change things behind the scenes.
This would make it easier to grab heat than their Canopy deal did. Canopy’s quality of product had some hiccups over the years. CEO David Klein told us in August they’re working on it, but at the time of the original Houseplant launch in Canada, it wasn’t helpful. That being said, pretty much everyone but Seth Rogen thought they would have access to better weed in California. So it’s unreasonable to use the Canada drops as a benchmark for the quality we’ll see Thursday. Rogen deferred, as always, to his beloved Vancouver as having the best pot on earth.
But since we don’t know who they are working with in America, drama-free garden swaps would be no problem. And just the idea of selling the weed to Seth Rogen should sound fun to some of the heat white label growers avoiding the spotlight. While few and far between, they certainly exist.
We asked Rogen what’s actually in his headstash at the moment. He countered that the three strains they’re dropping for the L.A. launch are very representative of what he’s smoking on a daily basis. “And we have more coming because I also like to try new weed and new strains. That’s exciting to me and we for sure want to provide that experience to people because it’s part of the fun thing about smoking weed and the spice of life is variety,” Rogen said.
The sativas of the pack include a Jack Herer and G13 Haze pairing named Diablo Wind. It’s Terpinolene, Caryophyllene and Ocimene heavy and tests just over 25%. The second sativa-leaner for launch is Pancake Ice bred by Ethos Genetics from Denver, Colorado. Bonus points for giving the breeders credit. Pancake Ice is a blend of Chem Dawg, I-95 and Mandarin Cookies cross.
The Indica dominant cross of Tangie and Kosher Kush named Pink Moon is the final offering of the launch. Houseplant notes a strong perfume of tangerines and oranges with a spicy, clove finish.
Rogen’s First Heat
We asked Rogen what his first experience with real top shelf pot was?
“Well, it’s one of those things I look back on and it speaks to why probably I became the person who I became in more ways than even I could probably appreciate, until I started reflecting on it, but because I’m from Vancouver, the first weed I ever got was like a sticky Fresh Beautiful nug of weed, and I remember it,” Rogen said. “I remember we didn’t know how to smoke it because all the weed we had seen in movies looked essentially like a big bag of oregano, and that was always how we’d seen it portrayed, and we got the equivalent of like a really fresh bottle of weed.”
Rogen said when he and his friends went to smoke their big score it had been compressed into a pancake. It was a struggle to get it lit.
“I look back and honestly think how lucky I was to smoke really good weed, from the very beginning, from the very first time I started,” Rogen said. “Then, I would travel the world and go to other countries and other cities and realize what terrible bullshit we did, that’s what most people were smoking.”
Houseplant drops with Amuse Thursday.