BY LEAH MAURER \n This is a huge success, not just for Cypress Hill and Bhang, but for the cannabis reform movement and the cannabis industry across the board. \n Scott Van Rixel, Bhang’s CEO, explained, “Every other week some group or entertainer approached Bhang wanting to license themselves and it was the same story, ‘This is what we want you to give us to use our name.’ Cypress Hill’s cannabis agent came to us with a different approach. It was more like, “we don’t want to slap our name on a product. We want input and we want the products to be dope (no pun intended).” \n \n \n Van Rixel and his partner were in intrigued so they pitched Cypress Hill an idea that was not an endorsement deal but a joint venture company. Cannabis is personal. “We all have a personal attachment to this project, which is why both sides agreed to not use our names. It’s Cypress Hill/Bhang (CHB), a convergence of who is behind that name. “ \n The feeling seems to be very mutual. B Real, Cypress Hill’s lead rapper, said, “It’s really a partnership. Cypress has been looking to come into the industry for a while, but we held back waiting for the right partner. Bhang expressed interest in working with us in doing something together that was not typical of other collaborations you see today in the culture. We met and found ourselves on the same page about what we all wanted to accomplish. With that, we started a unique partnership and we are excited about the possibilities.” \n Cypress Hill has been an icon in the cannabis advocacy movement for as long as I can remember. They have been talking about legalization both on stage and through various mediums in their platform since their beginning. Many people likely recall their SNL appearance that raised eyebrows across the country. While some may have shaken their heads at this action, it made it apparent that this ground-breaking hip hop group was clear in it’s beliefs about this plant, and that they were willing to go to extreme measures to showcase that to the public, regardless of the consequences. \n DJ Muggs, who is both the DJ and producer for Cypress Hill, remarked, “We were putting ourselves at risk back in the day – every time we blazed on stage. The amount of weed we had on our tour bus, being outspoken about legalization in the middle of Reagan’s “war on drugs,” rapping about weed, making videos about it, even lighting up on Saturday Night Live. We knew any one of us could go down but the herb is magical and it’s part of who we are. We weren’t sitting in a room making a master plan about being activists, we were just doing what we do. Cannabis should be legal everywhere and nobody should be in jail. Fact.” \n However, in fact, according to Wikipedia , Cypress Hill was is not only considered to be among the main progenitors of West Coast rap and Hip Hop in the early 1990s, but “the band has also been important for the advocacy of medical and recreational use of cannabis in the United States.” \n Of course, I had to ask about what their feelings were regarding the social and criminal injustices that we have seen in the area of cannabis and if they planned to do any type of activism to highlight needs in this area. Their answers were both refreshing and inspiring. \n B Real agreed that many have gone to jail while “paving the way for our rights and that should never be forgotten,” and Van Rixel followed up by saying, “we are exploring developing a non-profit component that will specifically be tasked with addressing social injustice. Minorities have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis and now you have people coming in and enjoying the opportunities in the space. We believe there is a moral responsibility to undo the “crimes” of the past and release people who are still being incarcerated.” \n CBH plans to offer a number of products including flower, pre-roll’s, concentrates, edibles and several others, and based the selection process on what they knew people liked. “Keeping it simple but while maintaining quality and integrity,” explained B Real. They will be products that all of CBH agrees on and will have quality at the forefront. Their products are currently in various stages of development and expect to launch in 2017. \n Van Rixel added, “We saw the opportunity to truly partner with each other and we knew we were all going to be participants and genuinely care about the products, not just the money. Cypress Hill has invested their heart and soul to further cannabis and Bhang admires that and wants to do that justice. CHB was born out of our mutual expert input. It’s a creative process that works well. The bonus is that we all get along really, really well.” \n What I admire most about this is that they gave cannabis a voice when many other people wanted to do the same, but could not for fear of losing their freedom, job, family, or other pieces of their life as they knew it. Cypress Hill’s constant presence in this industry and the fact that they have openly risked their own liberty is an incredible lead up to their space in life, now as middle-aged men, and how they are gaining health benefits from this plant, and partnering with a high quality, national brand, Bhang, that is doing the same.