The social media icon Dan Bilzerian, also known as “the King of Instagram,” is reportedly trying to bring his cannabis company to the United Kingdom. Ignite is already thriving in both the United States and Canada as a retailer of vaping liquids, e-cigarettes, and CBD-infused lip balms. But the prospect of Bilzerian entering the UK’s newly established cannabis market isn’t good news for everyone.
Carly Barton, a lead campaigner for medicinal cannabis patients, is just one person who has spoken out against Bilzerian’s latest business venture. In fact, when she found out he would be speaking at a top conference in the industry, Barton backed out. “We’re building up and industry which has barely just begun,” she said. “We’ve got the opportunity to shape it in the way we feel is appropriate for the people. There is a responsibility to set some kind of moral standard.”
Apparently, Dan Bilzerian isn’t going to help set that standard.
The “instaking,” described as a “wealthy, perma-tannned American,” is all about parading his life of over-the-top parties, fancy cars, and guns, all while surrounded by naked women. With an Instagram following of over 27 million people, Bilzerian doesn’t have to do much advertising for Ignite. Although many of his posts are described as “blatantly sexist,” Bilzerian has done very well attracting customers.
Bilzerian’s main brand promoters are women, and they are reportedly paid very well for their jobs. Just last year, Ignite put on a U.S. competition to find 10 women to represent the brand. They were offered $100,000 for a year-long contract.
How has Dan Bilzerian responded to complaints about his “sexist” branding methods?
Bilzerian doesn’t seem to have any qualms about how he markets his products. Although many like Barton accuse him of tainting the budding cannabis industry, he believes he has every right to capitalize upon his already-established personal following. “I don’t tell them how to run their company and they shouldn’t tell me how to run mine,” he said.
But there really isn’t anyone telling cannabis companies how to do things, and that’s a problem. According to the UK industry body for the Centre of Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), there isn’t much regulation.
Although UK’s CBD market is currently only valued at £300m per year, it is expected to experience extensive growth over the next five years. That’s why several different companies are trying to enter the market right now. The product types include items anywhere from CBD-infused water to CBD animal snacks to calm your pets. Products must meet requirements of their own individual categories, but CBD itself is severely under-regulated.
There is a lot of wiggle room for CBD to be marketed vaguely, incorrectly, or irresponsibly, and many companies take great advantage of that. While the CMC did not specifically speak about Bilzerian’s Ignite, it did say that the industry as whole must watch out for “bad players” that will inevitably appear in the market. This is why all companies must be “socially responsible.” The hope is that Bilzerian will follow this advice.