Since we were introduced to Erykah Badu in the mid-90s, the talented multi-hyphenate has been an innovator in everything from music to fashion and art. These days, she’s making waves in the world of cannabis.
The star, who has a cannabis company called Apple Trees, is teaming up with lifestyle cannabis brand Cookies to launch “That Badu.” It’s a premium line of cannabis products designed specifically for women, which is a group that isn’t often directly marketed to as conversations about the use of such products can be taboo. But Badu is aiming to change that, as cannabis has become a must-have for its many uses and in its many forms. She’s doing so with her product, which is “rolling” out with pre-rolls and loose-leaf products on International Women’s Day (March 8) and will soon expand to psilocybin teas (which she will name ‘That Badu Technology”) and the selling of bongs and vanity trays for rolling on Mother’s Day. She’s also planning a documentary called Pu–y and Weed to help remove some of the stigma for women that’s attached to the popularity of cannabis use.
“It is a ritual,” Badu tells ESSENCE. “It has become a medicine, a self-medicating system. It’s the safest thing that calms us and helps us align with our work, our art, our families. In childbirth it’s so important because a lot of mothers use it in that ritual of childbirth and fathers, too. And not only in the form of flowers but in the form of teas in the leaf formula, lotions, creams, sprays, tinctures, food. There are so many ways you can use this herb that goes straight to the nervous system to immediately help calm it and help you become the purest form of yourself at the moment, especially if it’s not abused. So we definitely want to talk about the education of it, the safety and the care that you should take with it. It’s a special gift from the earth.”
The four-time Grammy winner chatted with us about where her passion for advocating for cannabis began, why her line is dedicated to women, and the work she’s doing to remove the taboo that surrounds talking about and consuming cannabis.
ESSENCE: How did this collaboration come to fruition? I know you have your Apple Trees brand so how did you end up working with Cookies to create That Badu?
Erykah Badu: We started with the Apple Trees line. We manufacture paraphernalia: grinders and kits and bongs and humidors, tubes and all sorts of things that go along with the culture. I’ve worked with this company called Weed Maps starting in the year 2020. And Kamel [Jacot-Bell] from Weed Maps said, “[Cookies founder] Berner’s trying to get in touch with you” a couple of years ago. At the time I didn’t have enough information or data to go into that world. I had to do a lot of research before I even called him back to see if it was something I really wanted to do and if it aligned with my brand and with my vision. We finally came upon having a conversation and here we are.
Do you remember how you first got into cannabis?
I started out really late with everything. I was an artist who was super serious about my craft. I didn’t go out to parties, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke. I did art. That was my high. That was the thing that made me feel good and aligned. I got into college and of course the culture is very heavy in college. A few people used herb and that’s how I got introduced to it. Later in life, I became a doula and a lot of my birth mothers used cannabis in many ways. So the first research we did was to find out the medicinal uses of it because of course it’s not just a product. I wanted to find out how I could be useful in this arena. So when I first started doing my initial compiling of my notes and questions, they all had to do with women and how we benefitted and who we are in them and I learned that the conversation is a bit taboo at times. But a lot of this information must be researched. One of the first uses of marijuana recorded is in ritual and that’s how I use the medicine, in ritual. I want to push the narrative or start the dialogue about this ritual we all partake in and how we can protect the image of it and respect that sacredness of the plant.
These products are coming ahead of Mother’s Day. As a mom, why has it been so important for you to march to the beat of your own drum? And to do so with your kids? I love that you sing with your daughters and do photo shoots with them like you did with Puma in Vogue. Why is that important to you?
It’s important to me because they deserve it. I don’t think they should have to backtrack to relearn things or unlearn things. I think they should be fed the closest thing to the truth that they can get to help in their journey. That’s why it’s important to me to be an aware mother who’s in alignment with nature and with culture and the world. We’re all learning together. Puma is an improvement on my design, as I am an improvement on my mother and she on her mother’s design.
And how do you like to consume That Badu?
I’m not a social smoker. I smoke in ritual when I need to relax. I use herb in my bath. I use it after my sauna. I use it in my shadow work, when you get up at 3, 4, 5 in the morning because it helps me connect with that part of myself that’s looking for answers and searching for a stillness or quietness. It helps me to get to that place safely.
I love the blue and white Chinese-inspired design of the products. I know you were hands-on with that.
On Mother’s Day we’ll introduce our teas and a bong also in this same print, made by the amazing artist Roberto Lugo. He’s very influential in the pottery world. That’s another way we can take the conversation even further — to the art world. And along with the bong is a beautiful vanity tray. You can roll on it, you can put jewelry on it.You can use the vase for flowers, but instead of harming flowers, I thought it would be really beautiful to encourage the gift of a dozen roses but instead of a dozen roses we give a dozen pre-wrapped and pre-rolled blunts in the vase. And if somebody gives me that, that’s marriage material — or at least long-term boyfriend.
Is there anything else you want people to know about this one-of-a-kind collaboration?
I’m just really excited to be a part of this conversation and help push it forward. I’ve learned from a lot of wonderful women across the board in the cannabinoid world; women growers and owners and product creators, content creators, journalists. So many people who’ve done the research are contributing to this thing because it’s for all of us.
That Badu launches in Cookies stores in LA starting March 8 on International Women’s Day, with a worldwide rollout to follow wherever Cookies is sold.