“I recently got deleted off Instagram, again. I had about 4.1 million followers. My Snapchat was number two in the country, not just for cannabis, but in general: It was Kylie Jenner, me and Cardi B. And then they deleted that also. But in terms of sheer numbers online, my watch time is roughly 70 million watch time minutes a month. So I get in a day what some of the biggest cannabis websites get in a month,” explains Thomas Araujo, better known as Dope As Yola, when asked what makes him (probably) the most popular cannabis content creator in the world. Javier Hasse, Benzinga Staff Writer – The Fresh Toast. August 13, 2022
We need to go back a decade because, as they say, it takes 10 years to become an overnight celebrity. He remembers first trying the herb the day before the Raiders lost the Super Bowl to the Bucks.
In 2012, at age 22, Thomas made his debut as Dope as Yola, posting product reviews and other fun videos, among fan favorites were his recreations of famous movie scenes with cannabis buds. “I was showing my weed face on Instagram before anyone else, so I had a lot of followers.”
Around that time, he met John Castaldi, a guy who traveled with him, joined him at cannabis cups, and would ultimately become his business partner. John was already a fan of Thomas’ “Story Time” segment, which would go on to become one of the most popular “story time” segments in the internet, often garnering more than 1 million views each on YouTube alone.
“When I look back I realize the amount of stupid things I’ve done. And I think people can relate to it,” he voices. “Right now I have the biggest cannabis audience in the world and it’s taken 10 years, but it’s an organic following. Every single person there follows because they feel identified… My fans are more than fans: We’re like friends who haven’t met yet.”
Currently, Thomas does live streams, videos, podcasts and more. He also recently started his own brand, The Dopest Shop, which was born out of a desire to make safe cannabis products available in all 50 US states. Thomas and John partnered with Claudio Hand and started selling HHC products – disposable vapes, vape cartridges, edibles, concentrates and pre-rolls.
“HHC is a natural cannabinoid found in cannabis that provides extremely similar effects to THC,” explains Claudio. However, unlike THC, HHC is allowed by the federal government as it is derived from hemp, which was legalized by the passage of the United States Farm Bill of 2018. The brand has filled a long-standing unattended niche in states and rural areas where THC is illegal.”
This was also one of the main reasons why they created HHC products, versus the more popular Delta-8-THC, another hemp-derived cannabinoid that has become insanely popular in the last year or two. They simply don’t like the feeling, the high, that Delta-8-THC products give you. And consumers seem to concur.
Despite his busy schedule, he still smokes “a ton” of weed daily. “People always ask, ‘Why do you smoke so much?’ and I say, ‘All this time I didn’t have enough weed.’ During the day I only smoke a little and work; it’s more like drinking water or coffee.” Contrary to popular belief, Thomas doesn’t think marijuana makes you lazy. And he feels he is living proof of that.
In his opinion, marijuana won’t make you lazy, but I can emphasize this trait, if it’s already part of his personality: “Marijuana can be an excuse, but I’m not going to do anything with you, it won’t make you lazy… a stereotype… It’s not about smoking, it’s about caring and having a purpose. Weed is just there to be a friend and just relax. That’s how I see it.”
“I got paid for my first anything for weed content in 2019. So from 2012 to 2019, I was just poor and struggling. And I think it made it better; my fans really saw that I really was not getting paid. I’m making this content for free, I’m putting in 60 hours a week because I love it so much. And I think that’s what elevated us to where we are. And then the cult following of people going, ‘I know your whole story from start to finish. I can watch it online.’”
Thomas recalls the best joint he ever smoked was in downtown Denver, Colorado. Over a cup of pot, a fan of his who had driven from San Francisco, California, just to meet him, shared a joint filled with a pound of pot. It took 32 hours to smoke it, but they did. “I think it was the craziest thing I’ve ever done, but the most memorable too.”
Also unforgettable was the experience of smoking a 40 gram joint in front of the camera. “I smoked everything without moving, I didn’t get up, the water didn’t burst. I just smoked for two and a half hours. And it was the most memorable thing because that’s what started my YouTube. That’s what people said: ‘I’ve never seen anyone do that in my life.’ I had been coughing up tar for weeks. But I still have this cockroach, I’m going to frame it in a shadow box.” Forbes
If you could share a joint with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Adam Sandler and Chris Farley, two of his favorite pranksters. “I’ve had a lot of celebrities on the podcast smoking together. My first big break was with Tommy Chong. I rolled a joint for Tommy Chong to smoke in 2015, and I think that was the most memorable, sitting there unable to believe that this is where marijuana has brought me.”
“I’ve never seen a pot fight, but I’ve seen bar fights. I’ve seen people killed and shot, drunk. I’ve never met anyone smoking a bowl and saying “let’s fight”.
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