Shavo Odadjian never had thought of himself as the type of guy to smoke cannabis when he took his first puff at 17 years old. He and his friends joked about how funny it’d be if he took a hit of a nearby concertgoer’s joint while they waited for Metallica and Guns N’ Roses to take the stage at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena on October 3, 1992.
“I didn’t even smoke cigarettes — I was a good kid,” he said. “But I still loved metal and skateboarding. I was more of a straight-edge, ya know?”
The System of a Down bassist-to-be sarcastically asked for a hit, and before he knew what was happening, the joint presented itself clenched between the thumb and forefinger of an outstretched hand. It was the moment Odadjian’s life changed forever — and it didn’t even get him high.
Now, 26 years later, Odadjian has taken his passion for cannabis to the next level with his lifestyle brand 22Red. Advertised as “the new face of urban subculture to the millennial generation,” 22Red is half-cannabis, half-apparel and, most importantly for Odadjian, all quality.
As a cannabis connoisseur, Odadjian said it was only natural that he get into the cannabiz.
“Everyone and their mother has been asking me to do strains for them,” he said.
Without much expertise in horticulture, Odadjian enlisted the help of a friend who happens to be one of Los Angeles’ premier cannabis cultivators. Since then, building 22Red has been an organic process built around an affinity for quality cannabis and clothing, Odadjian said.
Odadjian’s 22Red gives accessory-minded stoners the opportunity to coordinate their joints and disposable vapes with snapbacks and sunglasses. What might differentiate Odadjian from other celebrities jumping on the canna-bandwagon may be the clothing quality.
Odadjian’s second partner owns a clothing factory, so the shirts are made from scratch, from fabric and in cuts Odadjian picks himself — not just itchy cotton garb ordered en masse from Indonesian sweatshops.
But it’s the quality cannabis that drives the brand, he said.
“My whole purpose in doing this is giving people what I smoke,” Odadjian said, “because I smoke the best and I have such a taste for it … It isn’t just me, because I’m a celebrity, putting my name on something. It’s me actually working hard, meeting the right growers, curating the right flower.”
System of a Down played on October 16 at Talking Stick Resort Arena, and fans may have noticed that Odadjian often wears a number 22 jersey on stage. He was born on April 22, married on May 22, and formed System of a Down when he was 22 years old (22 years ago).
“It’s always followed me around,” he said. “It’s a number that’s manifesting. I have manifested a lot of my successes and a lot of my failures, too.”
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Odadjian said he associates the number two with the color red, giving us 22Red.
The first product, pre-rolls of Odadjian’s handpicked strains, launched on October 22. He plans to release new products on the 22nd of every month, including all-CBD pens, tinctures, and microdosed gummies.
“This is bigger than Shavo, this is bigger than System of a Down,” Odadjian said. “I’m putting my heart into it. I’m not trying to do what everyone else is doing. I’m trying to make something quality. I’m trying to do it right.”
The non-psychoactive products can be purchased online from anywhere, but for now, you’ll have to visit California to get a taste of 22Red cannabis itself.