The #FreeBritney Weed Strain Is Mostly Empty Viral Marketing

Tastes just like Victoria's Secret body spray and...freedom.

The #FreeBritney Weed Strain Is Mostly Empty Viral Marketing
Image:Joan Summers

Living in Los Angeles temporarily has its perks, such as the vegan grocery store in my neighborhood with tap kombucha and a thriving activist scene. If neither of those appeal, there’s also the local dealer who sells weed strains named after archaic legal frameworks like conservatorship. These days, I’m smoking #FreeBritney.

Why name a weed strain after the long-running campaign to free Britney Spears from her decade-long conservatorship? Viral marketing, I suppose, and an easy sell amongst the politically restless, pop-culture-minded dilettantes of West Hollywood. I smoked Lolo’s #FreeBritney indica strain for no particular reason other than that my husband came back from the dealers with its fabled nuts. I yelped when I saw the label because it is patently absurd.

According to marketing materials from the brand, this stuff is supposedly a spin-off of Deja Vu, a “rare indica dominant strain created through crossing Now N Later with Jet Fuel Gelato.” It smelled like my personal weed nemesis, Gorilla Glue, which is the stuff former teenagers like me used to smoke on the floors of college dorm rooms across America: pungent, but not in a heady way. It’s more reminiscent of the lingering aftertaste of the notorious Victoria’s Secret body mist, Secret Dream Angel. Like I stuck my face in the bottom of a Sephora employee’s purse. Wet nickels mixed with Target changing room.

But nobody really cares about the smell of weed anyway, unless they’re landlords or roommates or parents who don’t approve. The taste of it matters more, or so I’ve been told by self-serious budtenders. If I were to pin it, #FreeBritney tastes like… the spliffs I used to make with baby blue American Spirits. (A spliff is when addicts like me pull all the tobacco out of cheap cigarettes, mix it with weed shake, and then stuff it all back in like a disgusting cannabis sausage monstrosity.) After a few hits of #FreeBritney I’d had enough. Lots of care on branding! Not so much on aftertaste.

It’s a perplexing gimmick, this #FreeBritney weed. I find it odd to name a federally controlled substance after a person who, until very recently, was the target of mass scrutiny for their alleged use of substances. So much so, in fact, that outlets in the aughts deemed it necessary to ask if Spears was fit to be a mother, with all that “illegal” hoo-ha she was supposedly up to behind the scenes. I’ve smoked almost every single day since I was 17, mostly in secret. Now, I can sit on a veranda just off Sunset Boulevard, puffing #FreeBritney on a dick-shaped bong that was delivered to me via weed Postmates, contemplating Californians’ ability to smoke this stuff, and Spears’s own inability to exercise any personal freedom.

This weed is neither politically motivated, nor is it actually useful. It won’t free Britney if I smoke it, nor is there any ask on part of Lola. On Lola’s site, there’s no mention of any sort of “activism,” if that’s what the #FreeBritney “movement” could be described as. Instead, the weed’s branding reads more like a hashtag on Instagram meant to remind people that an influencer might actually still read the news. Or, at least, the trending topics on Twitter.

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