Marijuana companies under fire for meat-covered model at party

A pair of edibles companies that do business together are facing a public relations backlash after a photo from a Las Vegas party held last week sparked outrage on social media.

The photo shows a nearly naked model who was lying on her back and adorned with slices of cold cuts for guests to snack on.

Indignation erupted on Facebook over the weekend.

Some cannabis professionals are now calling for a boycott of both California-based Altai Brands, which hosted the party, and Colorado-based Dixie Brands, which has a professional affiliation with Altai and was listed as a sponsor of the event.

“Women of the industry will not stand for this,” Debby Goldsberry, a longtime California cannabis insider, wrote on Facebook. “Guess what, #boycott. Pull Altai from your dispensary shelves, and demand an apology.”

Others began hashtags such as #BoycottAltai and #BoycottDixie.

The gathering was held while nearly 11,000 cannabis executives, entrepreneurs and investors were in town for the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo last week. The party was an after-hours event and wasn’t affiliated with the larger marijuana business conference.

“This experience has been humbling and eye opening and I personally take full responsibility and apologize to all attendees, customers, the cannabis community and the females in my life,” Robert Weakley, CEO of Altai Brands, said in a statement Monday. “I could try to explain what we were thinking but that would be pointless as there is no excuse – it was a bad choice and it was offensive.”

Dixie Brands Chief Marketing Officer Joe Hodas said his company had almost nothing to do with the party. No one at Dixie sanctioned the decision, he said, adding that the company was one of a half-dozen “minor sponsors” that did not support the party financially.

However, the Dixie logo was part of the party, and social media posts called out the company.

“We’re deeply sorry for the situation. I know that there are many who were really upset by it, and it’s not something we (at Dixie) would ever have done,” Hodas said Monday.

Cassandra Farrington, the CEO and co-founder of Marijuana Business Daily, which hosted MJBizCon, denounced the episode.

Marijuana Business Daily does not support or condone any of these actions nor was involved with these events in any way,” Farrington said Monday. “We are a woman-owned business, have written numerous articles decrying sexism in the cannabis industry, called out other events that behaved poorly with respect to women … and have set and enforced clear policies for our events that do not allow for objectification of women or men in exhibitor booths or on the show floor.”

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