The True Story of How Hollywood Insiders Blew Up the Pot Pen Industry
Acme Elixirs is the product of one man's drive to break into the movie biz.
Throughout this century, the symbiosis between weed and movies has reached new highs of mutual gratification. Whether you're looking at kids firing up to watch Pineapple Express or the joint burning in Seth Rogan’s bathroom ashtray, you see a shared affinity on both sides of the screen for the entertainment-enhancing properties of marijuana when applied liberally.
Now that quasi- and full legality are affording pot-business veteran’s the space to legitimize their operations, investors from the film industry are emerging as perfect partners. Cool creatives who love weed beat the hell out of droves of business suits looking to wring money out of an industry they don’t understand, threatening its integrity to capitalize at any cost.
“What’s cool about the people in the film industry being so excited about cannabis is that they’re willing to take a risk with us and put some money behind it."
Companies like Acme Elixirs are on the forefront of the union of filmmakers and pot producers. Specializing in simple pens and high-grade, homegrown CO2 cartridges, Acme was born from the film industry’s demand for a discrete way to get high on set. Founded by Pete Pietrangeli, backed by movie executives and enjoyed by stars like Johnny Depp, Sarah Silverman, French Montana, and Kevin Smith, Acme’s presence in the limelight is symbolic of lucrative friendships forming within the film and cannabis melting pot.
“What’s cool about the people in the film industry being so excited about cannabis is that they’re willing to take a risk with us and put some money behind it so the people in our community don’t feel like it's some big corporate person coming in, The Man, or whatever,” Pietrangeli tells KINDLAND. “They’re creative people who are super successful, affiliated with multi-million, sometimes even billion-dollar companies. It’s exciting. The original people in the community—master growers etc.—aren’t as threatened by these guys. Movie people are helping a lot of us scale up our operations, while the demand on the film side continues to grow.”
Pietrangeli, executive VP of production at StarStream Media, floated himself off weed farms upstate while breaking into film. After producing a well-received pilot, Grow, that never went to series, among other promising yet hollow leads, his side hustle ultimately opened the door.
Working as a co-producer on Life of Crime, a prequel to Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown starring Jennifer Aniston and Will Forte, Pietrangeli began smoking his weed with the crew and eventually the cast.
“It gave me a weird in on set. I went from being somebody people didn’t even want around to somebody bringing everyone together.”
"Next thing we knew, we had people’s personal assistants coming to pick them up from our front door, wanting more and more and more. We were just giving these things away."
A particularly raucous wrap party resulted in one of the film’s producers investing in Pietrangeli's farms, and others followed. Pietrangeli was then hired at StarStream, currently producing Why We’re Killing Gunther, a Taran Killam (of SNL) film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Cannes-buzzed The Little Hours with John C. Riley, Fred Armisen, and Aubrey Plaza.
Having observed the need for a more-sophisticated (read subtle) method of intake on set, as smoking is seen by some entertainment pros as unprofessional, Pietrangeli started making C02 oil with his weed, filling e-cig cartridges, and sharing them at work.
“We made this Grapefruit OG that is so good, literally everyone loved it," recalls Pietrangeli. "Through word of mouth, next thing we knew, we had people’s personal assistants coming to pick them up from our front door, wanting more and more and more. We were just giving these things away, not really capitalizing on a brand. I didn’t even want to deal with it. I was finally working in the film industry, but the demand was so crazy, and the feedback was so great.”
Pietrangeli on set
In Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers, Johnny Depp hits an Acme pen on screen. Meanwhile, Smith had championed the product behind the scenes. “We brought Kevin jars of our weed and pens. After that, he made an announcement to his cast and crew that we grew the best.”
Acme became a staple at wrap parties by hiring doctors to provide recommendations in the artist parking lots of star-studded events as Acme reps handed out pens.
Overall, using a pen is less hectic than smoking bowls throughout the day, an activity that is obvious and increasingly weird with age.
“Everybody in the film industry is very intrigued by cannabis,” Pietrangeli continues. “They go hand in hand. It’s a cool investor, it’s a savvy investor, and it’s really fun to strategize with these guys.”
While not a big pen person, I love the Acme setup. As with all vapes, the “smoke” smells but doesn’t linger. This Acme produces enough exhale to feel you’ve accomplished something. Cartridges are flavorful and potent. Overall, using a pen is less hectic than smoking bowls throughout the day, an activity that is obvious and increasingly weird with age.
The Acme cartridges also fit on G Pen’s G Slim, and can be purchased at LA Confidential, among other Los Angeles dispensaries.
Here’s what I thought of three on-set Acme favorites: Grapefruit OG, Gorilla Glue, and Diablo Kush.
Gorilla Glue: Sativa Dominant Hybrid
One of the most popular strains in recent years, Gorilla Glue is famous for a languid euphoria leaving you “glued” to the couch, hence the name. Notes of pine and evergreen washed in before a minty finish. The flavor transported me to a quiet winter forest where I felt calm and content.
Diablo Kush: Indica
A rare strain, the Diablo Kush gave me a dark and tropical vibe. Gorilla Glue is to winter wonderland what Diablo Kush is to a hot beach, offering a fruity flavor and fiery pull. I was a bit taken aback the first time I hit it, then hit it one too many times, in traffic to an 8:00 a.m. doctor’s appointment. Potency justified, as it is the devil’s weed, I prefer to experience this cartridge while horizontal.
Grapefruit OG: Sativa Hybrid
Between its delicate citrus flavor and fun, zingy high, Grapefruit OG was my favorite of the bunch. Flavored naturally because the strain tastes like grapefruit, it’s superior to synthetically flavored cartridges, most of which contain an indistinct saccharine goo. The high was happy, productive. I wrote the world “elated” in my notebook, and the sun seemed brighter.