High above Bel Air, in a lofty mansion patrolled by guards with AR-15s, professional poker player and partier Dan Bilzerian is presiding over a glitzy event celebrating the launch of his new line of cannabis products. With Ignite, Bilzerian aims to muscle his way into the legal marijuana marketplace. The line includes flower, prerolls, live resin and vape cartridges—in fact, the Ignite CBD vape pen was recently awarded a High Times Cannabis Cup for Best CBD Product at the 2018 Alaska Cup. Bilzerian proceeded to highlight the win by posing with the Cup resting on a nude model’s keister, with a dramatic view of Thailand in the background. It’s his most-liked Instagram pic ever, he says.
Bilzerian’s home is perfectly in keeping with his personality—opulent, with a large amount of real estate dedicated to his weights and workout machines, and populated on this evening with poreless models in bodycon dresses. His enormous kitchen is filled with black-shirted staff streaming to and fro replenishing the food station for the festivities. A note on the gleaming stainless steel fridge says, “DAN’S FRIDGE ONLY—thanks for looking” with a little smiley face signature. Bartenders pour vodka for guests swarming up the stairs into the inner sanctum, eager to gawk at the multi-millionaire’s abode. A DJ spins house music. Lights glitter, waterfalls tinkle, fire pits flicker. It’s all very over-the-top—just as Dan Bilzerian likes it. As one of the AR-15 toting guards notes to us when we eye his weapon while passing him in the stairwell, “Dan’s all about bravado.”
We encounter Bilzerian giving interviews in the penthouse, overlooking the massive rooftop gym and pool. He’s surrounded by people eager for a moment of his time, and he clearly relishes it. We’re given a few minutes to chat with him about Ignite. He’s excited to talk about his plans to expand the line into national and international markets. He recalls the first time he ever smoked weed, and muses about what his legacy will be.
What follows is a condensed and edited version of our conversation.
With the California launch of Ignite, you’re entering the world’s largest marijuana marketplace. Why now?
Well, I’ve actually been working on this for two years, so it’s just finally coming to fruition. It’s been a lot of work. We were going to do Nevada first and then we switched over to California. We’re going to do Nevada afterwards. And we’re also working on Canada. There’s just so many things—we just signed a deal for our CBD products, we’re going to be in 56,000 different locations. And we’re selling CBD online. We’ve been doing a lot of different things—this is our launch for THC products. As of tomorrow they will be available in California, but we’re expanding.
We’ve got a pretty good roll out planned in Canada. The beauty of Canada is, the whole country is going to be full rec and then they’re going to allow global export, so it’s just going to open up a lot of doors.
What do you feel your responsibility is to the cannabis community?
Just to promote the movement. I mean, really shine light on the fact that this is a plant that never should have been illegal in the first place. You can’t die from it. It’s got a ton of health benefits, and it’s just safer than any other way to relax and enjoy yourself. It’s better for you than alcohol. It’s far better for you than most of all the other drugs out there, including prescription drugs.
I look at CBD especially, all the benefits that it’s had for people fighting cancer or injuries. I could go on and on. I was actually helping this kid out—he’s passed away now, but he was on a ton of super, super strong painkillers and he started doing CBD and he was able to limit his use of like Oxy to, like, once a day, which was pretty crazy. And honestly, at first I didn’t really believe it. I just thought people were just trying to sell snake oil or whatever. Then I actually saw people using it, and it helped them out with pain and had significant effects. And it’s helped me out with sleeping.
I think for cannabis to be a Schedule I drug is just absurd, and I think the more people that stand up and talk about it, I think the better and the faster it’s going to be legalized, with Canada blazing the trail.
Do you use cannabis for its medicinal benefits, or recreationally?
I don’t know that I would say I’ve gotten a ton of medicinal health benefits from cannabis, other than the fact that I can work out the next day instead of being hungover from alcohol, and I can still have fun and, you know, let loose. I live in a world where I’ve got a million things going on all the time, and it’s nice to be able to smoke at the end of the day, and relax and unwind and kind of turn off the noise. And it’s definitely been beneficial for sleeping.
Did you ever play poker high?
I did. And I wouldn’t recommend it. You think that you’re doing good things but it’s not always—it’s funny. I was playing chess with friends, I would get high at night and I would play and then the next day I would look at my moves and I would definitely say that, you know, smoking a bunch of indica will impair your chess playing for sure. And I would say that translates to poker. So I would not recommend it.
Do you remember the first time you smoked marijuana?
Yeah, I do. Out of a tin can on a golf course. I was like 13. That was pretty fun. It was not good weed but it was good enough. It was back in the day when it was like regs and crip or hydro or whatever. So we had these shitty regs, and poked holes in a can. We’ve come a long ways.
Now that you have access to the best marijuana in the world, what’s your favorite?
Really depends on what I’m doing. If I’m working out, I really like Tangie sauce. I know sauce is usually pretty hardcore, but for me, if it’s a sativa and I get into the gym I can get that good mind-muscle connection and it helps me out. If I’m watching a movie, I’ll definitely go more towards indicas or hybrids. I don’t like to smoke and go to the club. That kind of gives me anxiety. I don’t really like to be around a bunch of people. I was never really that guy. I know friends who can do it. I can’t, not my gig, but whatever works.
So you consider yourself a cannabis connoisseur?
I get into it. I like super terpy stuff. I do the low-temp dabs. I really look into what the different terpenes do. I’m just not a half-ass guy. If I’m going to get into something, I get all the way in it. And I’ve been smoking for like 27 years, but I haven’t really been like super into it like I have been the last few—as far as the terpene breakdown goes. I mean back when we were smoking, we didn’t have the breakdowns of the limonene, the myrcene and all the other stuff. Now you actually can see the breakdown of what you are smoking, and then see how that dictates how you feel and understand it.
And I think a lot of people get caught up in how much THC is in the bud, but it’s just like when you go to the liquor store—you don’t just buy Everclear because it has the most alcohol. So yeah, I think the terpenes are important, and I actually like when the plant gets natural sunlight, even though it doesn’t look as pretty. But you know, I was super involved in our line. I’ve tested everything that we’re going to sell.
What do you hope your legacy is after all of these ventures?
I mean, I honestly hope this is it. I hope it’s not the gambling and Instagram and the girls and all that other shit. I hope that it is this cannabis company, because it’s something that I really feel I can be proud of and can stand behind. And, you know, with gambling, somebody’s got to lose for you to win. Whereas with this, you can provide a great product, and you can win and they can win and everybody’s happy, you know? To me, that’s success.