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New in the Oscars 2019 swag bag? All kinds of cannabis loot

There's a little something different in the swag bags that Oscar-nominated actors will receive this year — a range of cannabis products and services from five companies, including one from a Canadian company.

Canadian beauty company Nannette de Gaspé stars in the nominees' coveted gift bag

Nannette de Gaspé Bain Noir cannabis sativa bath soak treatment is the only Canadian cannabis product among a selection in this year's 'Everyone Wins' gift bags, better known as the Oscars swag bag sent to all actors nominated. (Nannette de Gaspe)

There's a little something different in the swag bags that Oscar-nominated actors will receive this year — a range of cannabis products and services from five companies, including one from a Canadian company.

The "Everyone Wins" gift bags are sent to all 25 nominees in the acting categories, and — although not officially sanctioned by the Oscars — their extravagant nature has given the bags some star status of their own.

Los Angeles-based Distinctive Assets, a niche marketing company that specializes in product placement, has been distributing the bags to Hollywood A-listers for 16 years. The company has said this year's contents are reportedly valued at around $100,000 US, and include things as luxurious as a $40,000 safari vacation to Tanzania and as humble as a poop emoji toilet plunger.

"The biggest new theme in this year's gift assortment is tied to the legalization of cannabis in California," said Lash Fary, founder and president of Distinctive Assets, in a statement emailed to CBC. 

He said the company "had a huge influx of inquiries from brands in the cannabis space," and he feels the brands selected for the swag bag "are the leaders in their respective gift categories." 

High Beauty's cannabis facial moisturizer and cannabis facial oil will also be in the swag bag. (Distinctive Assets)

From chocolate edibles to a CBD-infused beauty products, none of the cannabis offerings contain the psychoactive ingredient THC. However, California-based nominees over age 21 will later receive their choice of oils and concentrates to use with a vape battery included in the bag, provided by Coda Signature, the Colorado company that also produces high-end cannabis chocolates.

The Canadian connection

Nannette de Gaspé, an independent luxury beauty company based in Montreal, is one of five brands whose swag bag offerings have a cannabis connection. Its Bain Noir cannabis sativa bath soak treatment, which retails for $325 Cdn, contains hemp-derived cannabis sativa seed oil extract.

Adele Rubiano, president and chief operating officer, said the product's inclusion in this year's swag bag came as a surprise to her and company founder Nannette de Gaspé Beaubien.

"Truthfully the 'Everyone Wins' Oscar nominee bag was really not something we had considered," said Rubiano. Instead, they were approached after Fary learned about the brand from a friend. "Of course, when you're presented with that kind of opportunity you don't say no."

"We're very excited to see who actually reacts to it, and hopefully we get a shout out from it. There would be nothing better than that."

Alison Gordon, co-CEO of cannabis company 48 North, says the products in the Oscars swag bags show that cannabis is becoming more mainstream. (48 North)

The other cannabis-related offerings in the swag bag include CBD chocolates from Coda, cannabis-infused moisturizer and facial oil from High Beauty, membership to MOTA, a Los Angeles-based social club for cannabis users, and an ingestible CBD-oil-based supplement from CBDRxSupreme.

Alison Gordon, co-CEO of 48 North, a female-led Canadian cannabis producer licensed to sell and distribute, says the inclusion of cannabis in the swag bags is a sign that cannabis is becoming far more mainstream.

"When people think about cannabis they often think about getting high or medical, and a lot of people don't realize that the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are going to be in all sorts of products that people aren't even thinking about today, whether that's their vitamins or beauty products and food."

Matt Ryan, vice-president of marketing for National Access Cannabis, which includes retail chains Meta Cannabis and New Leaf, says including cannabis products like edibles and beauty products in the swag bags fits with the wellness industry's interest in CBD oil. (National Access Cannabis)

She said there have been misconceptions about cannabis, including that people who use it "are all counter-culture and not productive members of society. The fact that it's part of an Oscars gift bag is amazing that we've come this far."

In the past Hollywood agents would go to some lengths to hide that high profile actors were marijuana users, but now that's changed, said Gordon. "The minivan majority is not going to penalize an actor for being a cannabis user anymore."

Hollywood sets the standard for many brands and trends, she said. "The Oscars are a big part of that whole shift that we need and that's happening where people are starting to understand that their misconceptions about cannabis were part of the prohibition and not really true." 

Matt Ryan, vice-president of marketing for National Access Cannabis, which includes the Canadian retail chains Meta Cannabis and New Leaf, said the inclusion of these products in the swag bags shows that "the normalization of cannabis is happening."

A big part of that is the wellness industry's interest in cannabis derivatives like CBD.

"The CBD movement in the wellness space is huge and certainly trending right now. It's not a surprise that we're seeing those wellness-based products put into a bag like this," he said. 

Given Hollywood's interest in health and beauty, Ryan said it makes sense to see products in the Oscars swag bag.

"Cannabis is certainly attributed to a wellness lifestyle and when you look at those products in those bags and you look at the people who are going to be the recipients of those bags — it's a great fit."

About the Author

Brandie Weikle

CBC News

Brandie Weikle is a senior writer for CBC News based in Toronto. She's a long-time magazine and newspaper editor and podcast host with specialities in family life, health and the workplace. You can reach her at brandie.weikle@cbc.ca.

With files from Melissa Bennardo

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