Remember NFTs? The craze may have died down slightly since it burst into mainstream discourse in the first quarter of 2021, but don’t let this fool you, the blockchain technology is far from over. In fact, it’s just getting started. Despite the downsides to crypto technology as a whole, there are some aspects worth raving about too. NFTs aren’t just limited to the mega-rich wanting to flaunt their Bored Ape Yacht Club profiles on their social media, they’re also a powerful tool for connecting communities.
And what better community to build an NFT project around than weed—an industry progressing almost as rapidly as the blockchain itself. Given the rate at which the stigma behind cannabis is diminishing, with countries across the globe slowly warming up to the idea of legalising weed, it was only a matter of time before crypto fanatics created a weed-based NFT of their own. Arguably the most successful, at least at the time of writing this, is Crypto Cannabis Club—a relatively new venture with the aim of connecting 10,000 stoners, smoking up in the metaverse.
So, how did this come about? And, more importantly, how can you join? According to its CEO Ryan Hunter, Crypto Cannabis Club “came from an idea to create a collection of NFTs that were cannabis-themed characters. That was the starting point, an idea we could anchor around.” But Hunter also added how it’s really “about creating a community experience. Our goal is to create a community of cannabis consumers that crosses into the real world as well as into the metaverse and virtual communities.”
In essence, it’s a social club for stoners—based partly in the real world and partly in the virtual one. This is done through creating “places for the community to gather and to come together in the metaverse” as well as “NFT games, which will allow people to earn cryptocurrency and prizes from playing the games.”
“In the real world side of things though is where we’re really expanding into the cannabis community that’s there today. We’ve already hosted a number of real-world events,” Hunter told SCREENSHOT, drawing upon events the project has already hosted—from LA to New York City, Miami to a planned event in Mexico. “We also have communities forming their own chapters, across the US and across the world.”
So, in essence, purchasing the marijuana-themed NFT is a ticket to both real-world events and a vast online community of cannabis enthusiasts. But with a hefty price tag of at least $600 for a ticket, is it really worth it? Granted, I don’t have the funds myself to fork out for this project, but I was inquisitive of the community behind it, so I decided to plunge head-first into the Discord community—albeit, without my own flashy, personalised NFT profile picture (a term abbreviated as ‘pfp’ on the platform).
Although I was unable to access the events, as well as a number of other features on the server, I was greeted with a hearty welcome. “Hey, welcome!” one user exclaimed. “Good morning, good afternoon, good energy your way,” another echoed. The warmth I received from strangers was such a stark contrast from what I’ve experienced in London. So much that I had to double-take—had I accidentally ventured into a cult? No. It was just a group of legitimately hospitable people… or maybe they were just high?
Either way, it seems clear that the project has delivered on creating a thriving community. However, it’s hard to ignore the steep entrance price. Of course, this is the nature of NFTs (and capitalism as a whole). Demand drives up the price—it’s within the project’s best interest to keep a level of exclusivity within its members. But at what cost? Such exclusivity could shut out the very people who would benefit from Crypto Cannabis Club the most. Take medical cannabis patients in the UK as an example, who are often forced to pay for their own cannabis to self-medicate their symptoms.
In reply, Hunter mentioned that this is an issue “that really concerns me. I want this community to extend beyond NFT ownership. We have some specific plans of how we’re going to go about doing that but not quite ready to reveal them yet.” I guess for the time being we’ll have to wait and see. But with all things considered, it’s exciting—a project at the “intersection of two emerging industries.”
But aren’t NFTs just a scam? Despite their promising potential, classic rug pulls are common in the world of NFTs. For instance, in October 2021, a developer of the project Evolved Apes vanished with 798 Ether—around $2.7 million at the time—with nothing but a JPG file for investors to show for themselves. Given the wild West nature of NFTs, it’s understandable users could be sceptical. In response, Hunter advises anyone wishing to invest in the tokens to “do their homework.”
Likewise, this doesn’t mean all projects will fail. If you play your cards right, you could be in with a very lucrative investment. At face value, it seems that Crypto Cannabis Club could be one of the lucky few. In Hunter’s own words, what they’re doing is “very authentic”—a claim which is honestly hard to deny. My experience with the community has been welcoming, even when lacking an NFT myself.
“Like any kind of financial instrument, there’s always going to be a market and the prices will always fluctuate over time,” Hunter continued, hinting that we may see market prices for NFT alter in the near future. “But really we have a long term vision: we’re focusing on building our community, not just on the price of the NFT. We believe that if we do a really good job of building a committed community, the price will follow. Or in other words, it’ll get the price it deserves.”
“If you look at NFTs in general, they’re easy to dismiss as just hype,” Hunter added. “However, if you take a closer look and analyse the evolving ways in which people communicate, the concept becomes much clearer.” He drew attention to how people are now using memes instead of verbal messages or texting. “That’s another example of using digital assets in a way that people haven’t used them before,” Hunter said. “Maybe older folks might not be involved with this—but that doesn’t mean it’s something that will die out any time soon.”
It’s the very same reason why people fill their rooms with vinyl, stamps, or long Furbies. We like to collect things: it’s a trait that “we’ve seen across societies, across ethnicities, across cultures,” Hunter argued. “If you take one search on eBay for Beanie Babies, you’ll see they’re going for a lot of money—even though they were popular in the 1990s. It’s the same reason why children come home with pockets full of bottle caps and rocks. There’s an inherent nature in people to collect things. NFTs are just another example of a collectable.” Not every NFT project will survive the test of time but the interest in NFT will. It’s just human nature.
When Mark Zuckerberg almost broke the internet—the dry toast memes did, not him so to speak—after officially introducing the world to Facebook’s (aka Meta’s) metaverse back in October 2021, one certainty became clear in most people’s minds. Zucko was about to face many of the same challenges he previously encountered on social media—like having to police harassment and regulate kids on his platforms—only this time, it would happen in the metaverse. Currently, the virtual platform is somewhat messy, experimental and, you guessed it, dominated by men. Though it will take us a while to solve the first two problems listed above, some companies are already looking into efficient ways to attract more women into the metaverse, and make them feel welcome too (so that they eventually stay in it).
Now picture this: you’re a female-identifying gen Zer. While you like to stay updated on what’s going on surrounding NFTs, the metaverse hype and cryptocurrencies, you’re also not that much into those things to be involved in the communities that have formed around them. And you probably already know why: it can be pretty intimidating trying to join male-dominated communities and virtual worlds, especially when the only experience you have to compare it to is social media platforms.
Enter female-led and sustainable Stockholm-based brand Rave Review and its upcoming launch of ‘CryptoPanties’ NFT collection created in collaboration with digital fashion collector RedDAO—an attempt at promoting diversity in the metaverse. The selection of panties as the entryway into the world of NFTs was an intentional one, as Rave Review shared in a press release. “The panties are an unexpected garment. Super feminine. It made the most sense to us to design pieces for the types of people we hope to see more of in the metaverse,” creative directors Josephine Bergqvist and Livia Schück explained.
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Like other NFT collections (which are more often than not geared towards men) the CryptoPanties will allow buyers—especially women, who are usually left out of the industry—to join an online community that is safe and welcoming. Rave Review’s precise goal for such new collectives is to gather the already existing high-end upcycling community on the blockchain.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds. To gently introduce women to the hows and whys of the metaverse, Rave Review has created an interactive play-by-play to get them started. “For one week, we will be releasing passwords through social media. When inserted to our website, they will unlock a number of challenges and get access to newcomer-friendly guiding instructions and FAQs,” the company shared. Completing these challenges will allow users to learn and explore crypto basics, sign up for pre-sales and gain early access to NFT reveals, all within a safe and accessible community.
Sales will open on 8 March 2022, International Women’s Day, on Rave Review’s CryptoPanties website.