Social media has put such revelations front and center.
Last November a video circulated on the Web showing Miley Cyrus, the former Disney star, enthusiastically receiving a Bob Marley birthday cake from her friend Kelly Osbourne for her 19th birthday party.
“You know you’re a stoner when friends make you a Bob Marley cake,” Cyrus exclaims in the clip. After a number of accusations labeling Cyrus a bad influence, her publicist said the singer was being “sarcastic.”
Osbourne, on the other hand, took to Twitter to explain clumsily that the whole thing was totally implausible anyway: “If Miley Cyrus is not recording/filming/touring, she works every day. How could she possibly do all that if she was stoner?”
Maybe this kind of spin was unnecessary. Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Del Rey might be joining a marijuana-culture tradition that formerly only men like Jerry Garcia, Willie Nelson, Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg) and Wiz Khalifa could get away with.
But taking it a step further than those men, they’re seamlessly integrating it into their endorsement deals. In an advertisement for her Pink Friday fragrance, Nicki Minaj can be heard singing the phrase “burn a L,” which is slang for smoking a cigar filled with marijuana, also called a blunt.
A recent picture that Rihanna uploaded to her Instagram shows her wearing a jacket from Chanel, a brand she is often associated with, with her hair flawlessly coifed and an enormous blunt in her hand. In just four days, the image had more than 205,000 likes and 7,000 comments and counting, nearly all in adoration.
And while marijuana remains an illegal substance that can result in serious criminal charges in most states, there hasn’t been much public outcry.
“During the Reagan era, this sort of stuff would get you banned from radio,” said Will Hermes, a senior critic for Rolling Stone and author of “Love Goes to Buildings on Fire,” a book about New York City’s pop music history.
Now marijuana “is about as normalized as beer or cocktails, but still enough of an issue politically that it feels like uncharted territory for these women to explore,” he said. “Being a pop star, transgression is good for business. And at this particular moment in American culture, saying you smoke weed is a pretty safe way to transgress.”
Vita Coco, a brand of coconut water that Rihanna has been the face of since 2011, is not just unfazed by its spokeswoman’s transformation into one of her generation’s most famous marijuana users, it actually appreciates the singer’s ability to tap into the movement.
“We knew exactly what we’re getting into when our partnership with Rihanna began,” said Arthur Gallego, a spokesman for the beverage. “We are looking for someone who is dynamic and evolving with culture, whether it’s a sound or a look or a viewpoint. Does her association with marijuana affect our brand? No, no, it does not. There has been no fallout.”
If decriminalization measures continue to pass state by state, could Del Rey, the current face of H&M, be the next face of THC? How long will it take for a star like Rihanna to land a major cannabis campaign, similar to a partnership between P. Diddy and Ciroc vodka?
“If marijuana gets legalized to the point where it can actually be marketed,” Hermes said, “then these ladies are really in a good position be on the front line of endorsement deals.”
Someone better put Terry Richardson on hold.