The MedMen corporate dispensary chain has just released a two-minute commercial starring Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams and put together by Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Jonz.
The piece airing now on MedMen’s website and via YouTube features several scenes of stills narrated by Williams that walks the viewer through the history of cannabis culture, opening with a revelation that George Washington grew hemp.
The commercial then condemns “80 years of unjust prohibition,” explains New York’s former “stop and frisk” policy that gave police wide latitude in stopping people on the street and unfolds with a courtroom scene in which a young Black man is handcuffed while a couple, Williams as the husband, hug and cry.
The film then features peaceful scenes involving cannabis, such as a men’s discussion group, as Williams explains people have found relief via cannabis from pain, stress and anxiety. He explains that cannabis is creating “a new global market” complete with jobs.
“The symbol of counterculture is at long last just culture,” Williams narrates as he and a woman toting a MedMen bag hold hands on a suburban street. “It’s normal again. Here’s to the new normal,” Williams says.
The campaign is titled “The New Normal” and is part of MedMen’s campaign to get rid of the stigma tied to cannabis use, according to Forbes. MedMen is known for aggressive marketing, but this campaign represents a foray into issues where race and drug policy intersect.
Williams told The Hollywood Reporter that he investigated MedMen, liked what he found and then decided to participate in the project with Jonz.
“It was a super collaborative experience,” he told THR. “I have opinions, particularly when it comes to things that I care about. He solicited my ideas and vision to make something responsible.”
Williams told Forbes that his reasons for taking part in the campaign reach back to his childhood.
“The issue of racial injustice in cannabis is very important to me,” Williams said. “I witnessed crack-era Chicago growing up in the ‘80s. I saw first-hand cops preying on poor people, frisking us on the streets. We moved to suburban Massachusetts and I saw all these white kids smoking weed, growing weed, selling weed, where it was basically just overlooked. And this type of coming-of-age story … it’s in the fabric of America. Why are white kids allowed to experiment, make mistakes and not be vilified for it?”