Last year, High Times covered Sacha Baron Cohen’s massive $9 million lawsuit filed against a dispensary that ran a billboard ad with his image without permission, but the actor and plaintiff have reached an agreement to drop the lawsuit.
CBS News reports that a document filed in Boston federal court on Tuesday said “the two sides have agreed to dismiss the case.”
According to court documents filed on July 12, 2021, Sacha Baron Cohen filed a $9 million lawsuit against Somerset, Massachusetts-based Solar Therapeutics, a dispensary, for running a billboard ad with his image without his permission.
Solar Therapeutics erected a billboard on an interstate highway in Massachusetts that features a picture of Baron Cohen as Borat, with his thumbs up and the words “It’s Nice!,” one of Borat’s catchphrases. It also read “Happy 4/20!” The billboard appeared in Somerset near exit 10B.
“By use of the billboard, the defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business,” the 2021 complaint reads. “To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life. He never would participate in an advertising campaign for cannabis, for any amount of money.”
It continues, “In addition, Mr. Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an Observant Jew; and he is proud of his cultural heritage. He does not wish to be involved in the heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules—a controversy in which many rabbinical leaders have stated that cannabis use is a violation of Jewish law.”
Baron Cohen and his California-based company Please You Can Touch LLC originally were seeking $9 million in damages for the misuse of his image.
While Baron Cohen, Please You Can Touch LLC, and Solar Therapeutics reached an agreement, it is not being made public whether or not a settlement was involved. It may signal a symbolic warning not to use the intellectual property of Baron Cohen improperly without a fight.
The misuse of celebrities to sell cannabis is an ongoing problem. Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, and Montel Williams—who has a legit cannabis company—have all fallen victim to CBD and cannabis scams that claim to be endorsed by celebrities.
Yes, We’ve Interviewed Sacha Baron Cohen
If you’re scratching your head, we understand. Baron Cohen has joked many times about cannabis, usually as the character Ali G. But the lawsuit clearly states that he hasn’t ever actually smoked cannabis in his life.
Baron Cohen interviewed with Dan Skye for High Times for the October 2003 cover of the magazine—but interviewed as Ali G, his fictional stoner character, not himself. The new lawsuit explains why Baron Cohen openly jokes about cannabis, but does not consume due to his faith.
“Me can role up two spliffs using one hand,” Baron Cohen as Ali G told High Times in 2003. “Dat iz why I iz known as bein double-joined a’ight. From de moment me woz born de chronic has been at de centre of everythin me do—when me mum squeezed me out of her punani me woz cryin so much dat she let me have a drag on her joint. Den three years later me first word woz ‘reefer’.”
“[…] U iz de only mag dat pay in weed,” he said. Ali G then told High Times that his favorite weed is “grown in a small part of Jamaica called Somalia.”
Baron Cohen’s Ali G may be a big pothead, but Baron Cohen plays many characters. And just because he jokes about it, doesn’t mean that he’ll allow a business to steal his image for profits.