For many cannabis connoisseurs, rolling and smoking the perfect joint is the ultimate way to enjoy the herb, allowing it to fully express its bouquet, flavor and potency.
Rapper and serial entrepreneur Berner, who leveraged an early start in California’s quasi-legal medical marijuana market into a cannabis empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is one such aficionado. He says that rolling and smoking a joint isn’t just a means to an end. Instead, his self-professed “favorite way to smoke” is a process that borders on the ritualistic.
“I feel like it’s therapeutic to break down some bud, to roll it, to light it, to get that perfect roll on it,” Berner, whose given name is Gilbert Anthony Milam Jr., says in a recent Zoom interview. “You give yourself a pat on the back and get all fired up when it’s burning perfect.”
As part of his passion for rolling the perfect joint, Berner created Vibes, a joint venture with Greenlane Holdings, one of the world’s largest purveyors of cannabis and vaping accessories. Offering a line of premium rolling papers and cones as well as other smoking accessories, Vibes is on “a mission to create the ultimate smoking experience for connoisseurs,” the company proclaimed in a recent press release.
New Organic Hemp Rolling Paper
The original offerings included rolling papers and cones in rice, hemp, and ultra-thin styles. And just last week, Vibes announced a new family of products made from organic hemp. Berner says the original hemp rolling papers are quality products that are the favorite of many cannabis smokers including good friend and fellow hip-hop icon Wiz Khalifa, but he decided he could make a new and improved version. After years of research and development, the company decided on paper made in France from organic hemp, with finished products cut and packaged in the Dominican Republic. Berner characterizes the new line as a “home run” for Vibes.
“I feel like this one is probably the best smoking paper on the market,” he states confidently. “It’s thinner than an ultra-thin. It’s just a beautiful smoking paper.”
Berner recognized that there was a demand for premium rolling papers as he was growing his brand Cookies, which now has bright blue dispensaries and cultivation partners in seven states. He notes, however, that the product isn’t for everyone.
“It’s a little more difficult to roll this paper,” he explains. “You have to have a certain kind of bud and you have to you have to break it down a certain way. I recommend using a Santa Cruz Shredder to get that perfect fluff and consistency.”
Berner notes that there are other quality rolling paper manufacturers, some of which he considers his mentors. But Vibes is the only brand that is unapologetically intended for cannabis, while others market their products for rolling tobacco cigarettes.
“We designed everything for smoking bud,” he says.
That focus allows the company to offer products with the cannabis community in mind, including the Cubano, a cone designed to be “short stogie-type paper” that will hold up to eight grams of bud. It’s a paper designed with the “player” in mind, he says.
Entrepreneur And Entertainer Juggles Multiple Ventures
As the head of Cookies, Berner says that he can sample 30 to 40 different strains of cannabis in a month, leading him to find creative ways to enjoy his herb. As a brand, Vibes gives him an outlet to make his ideas a reality. But he is also still very much involved in the music business, including a livestreamed guest performance with Bob Weir and Wolf Bros. for St. Patrick’s Day. And he also has a collaboration with one of the biggest names in Latin music in the works, which he revealed publicly for the first time in the interview for this story.
“I’m working on a project with Ozuna, which will be super. No one’s really expecting that. I haven’t told anybody that, except you,” he says. “But, you know, you guys get the exclusive news.”
Even with the incredible mark he has made in the music industry, which includes 16 albums, Berner says that one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is being successful in an industry where people of color are underrepresented.
“It’s cool that Vibes is a minority-owned company,” he says. “It feels good to be in the [cannabis] space.”