- Virtual cannabis dispensaries are opening up in Ethereum-based metaverse game worlds like Voxels and Decentraland.
- Crypto Cannabis Club’s dispensary in Voxels is a recent example that even lets California residents order actual weed.
Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
As more states embrace legal marijuana for medical and recreational usage, dispensaries are popping up all over the United States. They’re even showing up in the metaverse.
With the concept of the metaverse—a future, more immersive version of the internet—gaining ample buzz since Facebook showcased its own plans, a handful of digital dispensaries have launched in Ethereum-based metaverse game worlds like Decentraland and Voxels (formerly CryptoVoxels).
One of them, designed by the creators of Ethereum NFT profile picture project Crypto Cannabis Club, just launched in time for the 4/20 “holiday” and is available to explore in Voxels via a web browser. Recently, I toured the space while chatting with the project’s CEO, Ryan Hunter.
Nestled alongside virtual NFT art galleries on Voxels’ Neutron island, the virtual Crypto Cannabis Club is a large venue that features a grow house with pixelated plants, a screening room with a Twitch stream on the wall, and various real-world weed brand logos all over the place. Like the hit game Minecraft, it has a boxy and sort of lo-fi allure.
But it’s also sparse and sterile. Unlike the real-world dispensaries I’ve visited, the metaverse version has been completely empty every time I’ve visited. Along with no real players hanging out, there are no A.I. “workers” standing by, and the Twitch stream has been offline each visit. It’s just so ... quiet. In fact, that whole area in Voxels seems pretty desolate.
I wondered to myself during one visit whether I should actually imbibe cannabis to get a kick out of the experience, but that doesn’t seem like a surefire remedy.
Rather, the virtual locale needs people present; it needs like-minded community members that can bring the vibes. Otherwise, it’s kind of like a simple 3D website that you can walk around in ... and then click through to 2D sites to actually visit the brand partners and buy products.
The 4/20 launch party apparently showcased the usefulness of a virtual meet-up spot, as members of the Crypto Cannabis Club hung out, chatted, listened to live music from a DJ, and no doubt celebrated the occasion with their own respective supplies. The Club also plans to host movie nights and virtual speakers, to give the Voxels venue more ongoing functionality.
— Crypto Cannabis Club (@CryptoCannaClub) April 20, 2022
Hunter said that the space is also useful for showcasing branding from its nearly two dozen cannabis industry sponsors—like Marley Natural and Neptune Seed Bank—that provide product discounts in turn to NFT holders.
Anyone can visit the metaverse space in Voxels, but the NFT acts like a membership pass to access discounts and enter real-world meetups, for example. An NFT serves as a deed of ownership to an item, such as a profile picture, collectible, or video game item, and it can have utility—such as access to gated virtual and real-life experiences.
The Club has its own branded marijuana products, as well, and California residents can order and have them delivered through a link embedded in the metaverse space. I can’t take advantage of the feature, as I live elsewhere in the States, but I imagine that there is a thrill to ordering real weed in a virtual world.
Weed meets Web3
For Hunter—previously COO at musician Willie Nelson’s weed brand, Willie’s Reserve—the Voxels dispensary is a first step for the cannabis industry into an early metaverse world.
He envisions it becoming “more of a transactional space” as technology improves, potentially suggesting a future ability to purchase products without leaving the world. Hunter also hopes that industry partners launch their own metaverse experiences that can potentially be integrated within the Club space.
It’s also a matter of planting a flag into a crypto metaverse ahead of Meta (previously Facebook). While CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently indicated openness to interoperable NFT assets—potentially things like avatars, artwork, and apparel—it’s still unclear just how open of an ecosystem it’ll be, and how permissive it will be of potentially risqué content.
“I do say this a little jokingly, but we don't necessarily want Mark Zuckerberg’s version of the cannabis community in whatever awaits us in metaverses,” Hunter told Decrypt. “We really look at this as a way to try to influence what that cannabis community is going to look like and the type of experiences that they're going to have.”
This isn’t the only metaverse dispensary that Crypto Cannabis Club is developing, either. While Voxels was an ideal starting point due to the comparatively low cost of its NFT land plots, Hunter said, his team is also creating a dispensary for the upcoming game The Sandbox.
He shared some concept artwork and said that it will have more of a video game influence, matching the vibe of the persistent online world that features spaces from celebrities and brands such as Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Steve Aoki, and The Smurfs. That space is planned to launch later this summer, he said, although the game itself doesn’t have a firm release date.
Crypto Cannabis Club isn’t the only Web3 project to launch a metaverse dispensary—previous examples include one in Voxels from Higher Life CBD, which similarly offers an ordering option with delivery, as well as Kandy Girl in Decentraland.
There’s also a wide array of weed-themed NFT projects out there, ranging from NFT-funded animated series Stoner Cats from actress and producer Mila Kunis, to profile picture collections like Stoned Ape Crew and Best Buds. Images from Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs—which convey IP rights to owners—are even being used for physical weed packaging.
Crypto Cannabis Club’s own physical marijuana products also offer a real world crossover, Hunter said. Each package has an RFID tag included, and when scanned, it lets the buyer mint a free NFT of the packaging artwork. “It's a way for us to engage folks who are cannabis consumers and to help to educate them about NFTs,” he explained.
The project has held various real-world events to date, plus members are creating their own local chapters around the country and internationally, as well. “They're getting together in person to hang out and socialize, definitely to consume cannabis, and just to vibe,” said Hunter. “it's amazing to see that kind of grassroots thing happening.”
— Crypto Cannabis Club (@CryptoCannaClub) April 28, 2022
But now with a metaverse locale, the project has the option to overcome physical boundaries and host meetups in the metaverse at its virtual dispensary. Hunter said that many cannabis users are also into gaming, and that the metaverse—something of a video game version of the internet—provides an ideal crossover of those interests.
“The metaverse is going to have early adopters who are cannabis consumers, or at a minimum, are cannabis-friendly,” he said. “So we think that there's going to be a natural attraction there that's going to be mutually beneficial.”