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Dark Brandon Goes Dank: Biden Meme Is Smokin' Hot After He Pardons Marijuana Offenses

"Dank Brandon" rolls into the joint.

Joe Biden smiling and wearing aviator sunglasses
"Dark Brandon" continues to rise. 
Getty Images

President Joe Biden pardoned federal offenses of simple marijuana possession Thursday. The surprise move lit a fire under the viral "Dark Brandon" meme and sparked a new strain dubbed "Dank Brandon." 

In October 2021, the phrase "Let's go Brandon" entered political and popular discourse after a reporter, while talking with a Nascar racer, misquoted a crowd chanting an obscenity about Biden. The disguised insult has since been used at Republican campaign rallies, on the floor of Congress and at QAnon events.

In recent months, however, the counter-phrase "Dark Brandon" has made the rounds on social media and has even been adopted by the Biden administration. That reverse spin on a phrase intended to insult the president has become a cheerful phrase used by Biden supporters to tout the administration's successes, such as drop in gas prices, the slaying of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and the cancellation of up to $20,000 per person in student loans

"Dank Brandon" adds a different vibe to the meme. "Dank" refers to high-quality strains of marijuana, according to Urban Dictionary. Social media users began sharing "Dank Brandon" memes Thursday, shortly after Biden announced the pardons.

Here's what you need to know about the Dark Brandon meme.

What's Dark Brandon?

According to Know Your Meme, the phrase "Dark Brandon" originated in March when a person on Twitter riffed on movie titles by adding the name "Brandon," which stemmed from the "Let's go Brandon" phrase. 

In May 2021, another person shared a post on Twitter with images of purported Chinese propaganda against Biden. The illustrations show Biden, with yellow glowing eyes, sitting on a throne of AR-15s that looks like the Iron Throne from the HBO series Game of Thrones. Some Biden supporters liked the images, saying how they looked so "metal." 

The meme began gaining momentum in July and early August, especially with falling gas prices, the death of al-Zawahri, and the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act

Some people are also sharing Dark Brandon memes in reference to the FBI raid on Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, even though the Biden administration reportedly wasn't briefed on this law enforcement action

How did Let's go Brandon start? 

In October 2021, Brandon Brown won his first Xfinity Series Nascar race at the Talladega Superspeedway. NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast interviewed Brown following his win on the race track with a crowd behind him chanting "Fuck Joe Biden," which had been often chanted at US sporting events over the past several months.

During the interview, Stavast remarks about the crowd saying, "You can hear the chants from the crowd: Let's go Brandon."

It's unclear whether she mistakenly heard the phrase or decided not to repeat the term due to the profanity in the chant. 

Conservatives and others opposed to Biden's presidency seized on the phrase. It has since been used as a chant at political events and placed on merchandise from shirts to gun parts

What did social media companies do about the hashtag? 

Not much. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TIkTok didn't remove posts with the Let's go Brandon hashtag. 

"Let's Go Brandon" trended on Twitter multiple times since October 2021, with Republican politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, using the hashtag, with the latter even putting the phrase on a dress. Cruz and Boebert were among the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results

To counter the phrase, fans of Biden began using the hashtag #ThankYouBrandon, which trended on Twitter in November 2021. 

One company that did take steps in banning the hashtag is fitness company Peloton. A report from right-wing website PJ Media shows the hashtag isn't available to be added to user profiles. Peloton customers can use tags in their profiles to associate with others members with similar interests. 

"We have a zero tolerance policy against divisive, explicit, or other content that violates our policies," the company said in an emailed statement. "We actively moderate our channels and have removed tags that span the political spectrum, while still allowing members to express themselves using tags like #WomenForTrump."