For over a decade, friends and strangers far and wide would ask actor Jaleel White, who played Steve Urkel in the hit ABC family sitcom Family Matters, the same questions when dispensary shopping, or even sent him pictures of his likeness on rolling trays and trucker hats:
“Do you make Purple Urkle? Is this your weed? Where can I get some Urkle, Urkel?”
The answer? April 20th in California stores, thanks to White’s fresh collaboration with award-winning brand 710 Labs. Together they’re dropping Its PurpL, a line of exclusively purple cultivars selected from the best breeders the US has to offer.
Its PurpL’s debut lineup offers:
- Purple Urkle (duh!);
- a special cross of Urkle and The White known as Stefan;
- and Mendo Purps x Zkittlez.
The living soil-grown elite cultivars come packaged as eighths, mini-pre-roll packs, and live resin disposable vape pens.
Show-stealing actor inspires a Purple
Dispensaries weren’t even around when the Family Matters actor made his debut and memorialized himself in ‘90s pop culture.
But the Purple strains of cannabis were on the rise then, and White’s endearingly uncoordinated character inspired the name for a purple strain known to zap body pain, and maybe a little hand-eye coordination, too: Purple Urkle.
White’s no stranger to toking, he said. He first started to seriously consider a foray into cannabis around six years ago, when Proposition 64 in California was on the next state ballot and Colorado had already taken the plunge. He had gotten plenty of offers in the past, but none of them felt “right,” or were willing to represent White’s intersecting identity as a foodie.
Simply put: Urkel couldn’t put out bad weed; i.e. “boof,” “bammer,” or “boo-boo.”
“The legacy of the character has just taken on its own life,” White tells Leafly. “I’ve been associated with something, an avenue of cannabis that’s respected and known. My criteria was, ‘I cannot do this and put out a, you know, a boo-boo offering of no effort.’”
Two stars collide
The stars aligned two years ago, when White ended up sitting next to first-class hashmaker Brad Melshenker, CEO of 710 Labs, during a plane flight. Melshenker liked White’s shoes. Kevin Costner was there.
Then it happened again! Two random flights together. White and Melshenker went from single-serving friends to something more. They smoked weed and hung out.
“We have never been a brand that pursued celebrity deals, as our focus has always been quality over everything,” says Melshenker. “Its PurpL was created through conversations we had while smoking this beautiful plant.”
Working through a pandemic, the duo selected some purples and came up with the branding. All of the flower is cultivated, extracted, and designed by none other than 710 Labs itself, winner of countless awards.
“The cannabis plant’s purpose is to bring people together and to heal. We are both in it for the long haul,” says Melshenker.
Its PurpL is ready for its close-up
Its PurpL’s graffiti-esque logo evokes cone joints and smoke tendrils, in addition to a slightly tripped-out version of White’s adolescent mug. There also may or may not be waffle irons.
The brand’s Instagram is currently sprinkled with intriguing morsels, like purple sushi or ice cream bonbons, with the hope that Purp lovers will be able to appreciate how the PurpL products pair with their lifestyle, or at least their favorite food.
“At this point, you know, I have smoked and smoked plenty,” White laughs. “Its an enhancer of your meal, no different than a glass of wine. It doesn’t define my life, but at the same time, it’s a huge component in a brand that I’ve now established.”
Rather than trying to enter the game as an OG, White frames Its PurpL as “a lifestyle brand that celebrates adventure and food, and what’s going to enhance adventure and food more than some bomb-ass weed?”
Besides the dank buds and terpy pens, White is also keen to use this new platform to advocate for greater diversity and stigmatization for what he calls a “raceless plant,” after a year that laid bare all the systemic barriers and legislation still gatekeeping who can enter and participate in cannabis spaces.
The release is slated for 4/20 on the online platform Next Level, with limited in-store units at Berner’s on Haight.
“I’ve been on the cover of cereal boxes. I’ve had my own doll. I’ve had pajamas, sleeping bags, all types of different things. But this is the one right here, because of what it stands for culturally, and the changes that are taking place for legalization and making things right,” says White. “I hope to be seen as someone who was, you know, somewhat of a pioneer. And I say that humbly, because it takes a team to make anything like this happen.”