Califari’s mission is to tell the story of the ever expanding cannabis universe through art in both the physical and virtual worlds.
Founded in 2015, the California-based company’s Global Artist Network creates art posters for cannabis strains that highlight the personality and stories behind popular cannabis strains. These posters hang on walls across the U.S. from pharmacies and dorms to law firms, living rooms, and pop-up art galleries. They provide another way for people to engage with cannabis culture and celebrate the plant on a deeper level.
To connect with even more cannabis and art lovers, Califari announced in a April 6 press release that they are partnering with Merida Capital Holdings to launch a new digital platform that uses non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to to create and distribute one-of-a-kind pieces of cannabis strain art.
“We fundamentally want to expand the cannabis art experience as much as possible,” said Jason McHugh, Founder and CEO of Califari, in a telephone interview with Cannabis Now. “That’s why we’re very excited about the NFTs.”
Put simply, NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency tied to digital assets that make it possible to own and sell digital art. Each digital token has proof of ownership and authenticity. However, Califari’s platform will be more than an online auction site – it will also provide opportunities to develop and gamify cannabis brands where users can grow and breed their own digital cannabis.
“We’re going to create our own trading card universe based on tribe art. What is particularly exciting is that this will be a place where every cannabis brand can have a central publication location, ”said McHugh. “The power of collaborative marketing is a big part of what we want to do – to bring the presence of digital art into the physical offering of cannabis products that would be found in pharmacies.”
Jesse Barney, founder of Barney Design Co., a West Coast creative agency that provides design solutions for cannabis brands, acknowledges that NFTs are a strong outlet for independent artists looking to monetize their creativity.
“It’s a very accessible currency that you can make yourself and it’s 100 percent tradable,” he said, adding that he thinks the trend will stay here.
McHugh says the platform will be launched in at least six months, but Califari and Merida Capital are releasing five single-edition NFTs in the form of animated cards on April 20: Grand Daddy Purple by Ron English; OG Kush by Jesse Hernandez; Sour Diesel by Matt Leunig; Northern Lights by Simon Haiduk; and Pineapple Express from KAM.
This first release, called “The Genesis Series”, will take place on OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace. While no minimum bid has been set yet, McHugh takes up the ethos of the cannabis community and says this should be an inclusive experience.
“We want these to be open. We’re going to make it available so everyone can buy it, ”he said.
In addition to providing financial support, Merida Capital Holdings, a private equity firm investing in growth drivers in the cannabis and hemp industries, connects Califari with its broad ecosystem of cannabis companies.
“Merida has always been focused on identifying innovative opportunities with world-class companies across the cannabis industry, and we are excited to bring Califari’s impressive art catalog, which is already reaching international markets, into the booming NFT space,” said Mitch Baruchowitz , Managing Partner at Merida Capital Holdings.
As cannabis strains move beyond indicas and sativas and become more complex to produce certain effects, it is only natural that the art of cannabis strains would evolve with this shift. But Barney addresses the power of the digital token to hold the memory of legacy strains like Pineapple Express and Northern Lights.
“I appreciate that Califari and Merida are striving in this way to remind things of things in a new technology,” he said. “This is where NFTs really have an advantage.”