TSUMo Munchie Madness

Everyone has a favorite snack. It’s usually a chip with a delightful crunch and a one-of-a-kind flavor punch that satisfies every fiber of your being as you settle in for your favorite leisurely activity. As cannabis edibles continue to walk on the savory side, few brands have perfected the art of the cannabis-infused chip quite like TSUMo Snacks. In a bite-sized summary, TSUMo’s crunchy infused chips are thoroughly coated in seasonings that inspire nostalgic memories while getting you lifted.

Co-founder and CEO Caroline Yeh spent a decade in traditional consumer packaged goods, before moving into the cannabis industry with Bloom Farms and Kiva Confections. Yeh explains that embracing “flavor first” means all of the brand’s chips are reminiscent of fan-favorite tastes in the snack chip world. When TSUMo Snacks launched in California in September 2021 it offered five choices that Yeh and her team considered to be pinnacle flavors and textures of the snack chip kingdom: classic cheese and fiery hot crunchers (with a texture inspired by Cheetos), and zesty ranch, salsa verde, and hint of lime offered as circular tortilla rounds (think Doritos). Nacho cheese and chili limon (made with a curved tortilla shape inspired by Fritos) became available by August 2022. By October 2022, TSUMo Snacks announced that it was also releasing Snoop Dogg-approved bags of Uncle Snoop’s Snazzle O’s in both onion and spicy onion flavors inspired by the shape and flavor of Funyuns.

“Teaming up with the iconic Snoop Dogg for this snack collab was something my team and I have been dreaming about,” Yeh said through a press release. “Snoop aligns perfectly with TSUMo Snacks’ values, as he has always been authentic to his true self.”

TSUMo Snacks co-founder and CEO Caroline Yeh

TSUMo Stands Apart

While TSUMo Snacks continues to develop craveable flavors, Yeh is proud to use the company’s consumer success to support the cannabis community.

“As a woman of color who has worked in cannabis for many years, you don’t often get to be the one in charge to make the decisions on things that you want to advocate for,” she said. “But now as a CEO, I get to make the decisions on things that I want to advocate for.”

To coincide with the release of its limited-time holiday flavors in 2022, TSUMo Snacks partnered with Wunder and Nugg Club to create a bundle for a “Weed Wish You a Happy Holidays” campaign, donating $2 per bundle to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. Yeh also feels it’s important for her company to support up-and-coming Asian-owned cannabis brands.

“As an Asian woman, one of the things we’re looking into is working with other Asian companies,” she says. “I mean, there aren’t very many of us in the cannabis space.”

Yeh says TSUMo has plans to align with Asian-owned cannabis companies for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is observed annually during the month of May.

TSUMo Snacks currently donates quarterly contributions to an organization called Our Dream Our Academy, a nonprofit mentorship program that supports social equity applicants and BIPOC entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry through a rigorous online program geared toward training up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Courtesy TSUMo Snacks

A Consistent Snacking Experience

TSUMo Snacks are offered in two sizes: a 10 mg single-serving bag, and a 100 mg bag, which can be divided up into individual servings. All of the brand’s chips are made with a cannabis distillate and tumbled in a proprietary blend of seasonings to ensure that each one is packed with consistent and irresistible flavor.

TSUMo’s chili limon tortilla strips have an electric zing of lime. Using a special blend of paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, among other ingredients, a single chip contains a powerful, zesty punch of spice similar to Takis chips. The brand’s fiery hot crunchers, on the other hand, offer a pleasant yet spicy heat that makes you grab for the nearest glass of water, but keeps you coming back for more.

Not only are TSUMo Snacks easy to pick up and eat right out of the bag, but you can also take these infused chips to the next level as an additional ingredient or complement to a meal. Integrate these flavor-packed chips into more creative dishes, from chips on a sandwich, additions to a snacky DIY charcuterie board, or as you’ll see on our recipes page, a crunchy mac and cheese dish worthy of any 4/20 celebration.

Courtesy TSUMo Snacks

Recipe: Hot Mac & Cheese

by TSUMo Snacks

Ingredients (Serves 6)

2 cups dry elbow macaroni shells or cavatappi

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

2 cups of shredded sharp cheese

6 10 mg-size bags of Fiery Hot TSUMo Snacks


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook pasta.
  3. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a separate skillet or a large pot.
  4. Add the flour to the butter and stir over medium heat until the mixture is lightly browned; 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and whisk to remove any lumps and add the salt and pepper.
  6. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble (about 6 minutes).
  7. Stir in the cheese and whisk until smooth and melted. Turn off the heat.
  8. When the pasta is almost done but still firm, drain it and add it to the cheese sauce.
  9. Smash all 6 bags of Fiery Hot TSUMo Snacks into little crunchy bits.
  10. Sprinkle about two bags of the Fiery Hot dust on top of mac & cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes in a buttered dish.
  11. Let the mac set, and add the remaining four bags of Fiery Hot dust.

This article was originally published in the April 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Huff & Puff

Haejin Chun, the chef behind the cannabis-friendly Big Bad Wolf dinners, follows her heart to radical places in this world gone crazy, normalizing cannabis and building authentic community. Originally from Southern California, Chun studied installation and community art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco before pursuing a dream of living as an artist in Paris. With romanticized ideas of drawing something on a napkin and paying for her coffees, Chun spent two years in artist residencies while living in a beautiful rooftop terraced-apartment in the heart of the city of love. The seed was planted for her private chef business in Paris, which takes its food scene more seriously than many other places. She had hosted private non-cannabis-friendly dinners for about two years when California legalized cannabis for adult use in 2018. She says the next step of starting Big Bad Wolf was a “no-brainer” that would be harder to resist than allow it to unfold.

“I love hosting,” Chun says over a phone call after a busy weekend of events at the 2022 Emerald Cup Harvest Ball. “I think the food is always secondary to me. It’s really about the guest experience for me and to kind of keep up with that love of wanting to gather people together, wanting to make these connections. There’s nothing else that brings people together and makes people kind of check their ego at the door than somebody who puts their full heart into the food.”

Courtesy Big Bad Wolf

Women at the Table

While Chun has hosted many cannabis pop-ups and private dinners at this point, her first cannabis gathering held just for women remains a special memory.

“It’s just a totally different vibe when you have a table full of badass women,” she says. “Something about the women’s dinners are calling me more.”

At the first women’s dinner she hosted, everything on the menu was centered on optimal ingredients for vaginal health, beginning with a communal elixir.

“We do a lot of herbal concoctions in ancient culture and traditional Chinese medicine, so I blended a lot of herbs like ginseng and ginger with pineapple and other things that are good for your vagina and made that into a communal shot,” Chun says of the drink that included cannabis-infused honey. “I bought these gorgeous vessels and it became ceremonial.”

She describes women pouring shots for each other, creating a collective energy that, once combined with a healer who led a guided meditation, resulted in some dinner guests letting themselves be seen entirely raw and exposed by weeping into their dinner napkins.

big bad wolf
Photo by Grace Sager

“There have been women and other people in the community that have come up to me and been like, ‘Your events are the only place I truly feel safe just to be me,’” Chun says. “That was the highest compliment I could receive doing what I do… I feel like, on an ancestral level, cannabis has been such a huge part of our lineage. It’s been used for death rituals and communal gatherings… I feel like there is this ceremonial, ritual element to cannabis that I really feel is a huge part of what I want to advocate for.”

At another dinner Chun, who is a first-generation Korean American, says that she curated a menu “that shaped the woman that I am.” One of the dishes was entitled “caretaker” and examined “how women are expected to step into this role of being caretaker.”

“We don’t always get to celebrate our own rights of passage because we have to step into this role for whether it’s our parents or our family or whoever it is and it’s kind of like expected of us,” she says. “There’s a specific dish and it’s basically jook, which is like a rice porridge that we make whenever somebody is sick and obviously, I did it in an elevated way.”

Photo by Grace Sager

The dish found its cannabis element in a homemade chili oil infusion. Chun treats the cannabis ingredient the same way she treats the other aspects of the meal, looking for seasonal, fresh, sustainable ingredients and often working with cold-pressed rosin in her infused dishes.

“I don’t really want to go to an infused ingredient that’s been sitting on the shelves for whatever amount of time,” Chun says. “Even with olive oil, there’s a rancid period and it changes the flavor, so I like to make fresh batches of everything before every dinner.”

And it’s not just the same chili oils every time. Each blend she creates is suited to complement particular dishes.

“You could have a chili oil with 20 different types of spices or types of ingredients, you know, there’s just a full spectrum and I feel like not every chili oil will work with every dish, so, for me, being intentional with what chili oil I use is really important too.”

big bad wolf
Photo by Grace Sager

Leading the Pack

Chun’s a self-trained chef who challenged herself to up her game while hosting dinners in Paris. She’s lived the “Cali lifestyle” since her teenage years when she started smoking weed, but says it was always something that she had to hide from her family.

“As soon as [California] legalized I was like, ‘Let’s fucking go,’” she says. “It was a no-brainer. I felt like it would have been harder to resist than it would have to just let it unfold the way that it did.”

But even though Chun was ready to host infused meals and dinners with cannabis flower pairings, the world around her was not and she initially struggled to find private spaces open to cannabis consumption.

“When I first started, it was definitely difficult to find cannabis-friendly venues,” she says. “The owners or the people who managed the property smoked weed and they were still like, ‘I don’t know what the neighbors will say.’ And I would literally sit them down and be like, ‘So you smoke and you’re all about this, but you’re still perpetuating this like, I don’t actually fuck with you narrative?’ And I was like, ‘Don’t you think it’s important, especially because we’re at the forefront of legalization, to advocate for more spaces for us?’”

big bad wolf
Photo by Grace Sager

She also reflects a drive to walk into the wild unknown with the name of her company. The phrase Big Bad Wolf has been something that has stuck with her since her childhood when her grandma would tell her folklore stories about a wolf. In naming her business, she was also thinking about how people “wolf down” food and how wolves travel in communal packs.

“The leader always leads from the back to make sure that everybody gets there,” she says. “I feel like that was truly the heart of the messaging behind what we do and making sure everybody gets a seat at the table. In a way, you know, it just all made sense.”

True to form, Chun followed her instincts and turned down a spot on the Food Network’s competitive reality cooking show Chopped 420, only to have the producers call her back later offering an opportunity to work behind the scenes as a cannabis consultant.

“It was such a proud moment for me to have that affirmation of like, ‘Yo! You stayed true to who you were and you never shied away from it. You weren’t apologetic. And now you’re being rewarded and recognized for it,” she says.

In terms of what’s next, Chun is hosting private cannabis dinners and planning more cannabis pop-ups. The best way to get brought into her tight-knit wolf pack is to follow her on Instagram @bigbadwolfsf.

Courtesy Big Bad Wolf

Recipe: Chili Oil

by Haejin Chun


1 Tbsp ginger

1 Tbsp garlic

1 Tbsp dried chili flakes

1 Tbsp Sichuan chilis

1/8 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp of anise

1/4 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp of white pepper

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup of avocado oil

1/4 cup of cannabis-infused sesame oil

Note: I infused the sesame oil with 1 gram of decarbed 8th Wonder (Cherry Kush x Louis XIII OG) by Permanent Holiday.


Mince ginger and garlic.

Grind all spices to powder. 

Add everything to a heat proof/tempered glass jar.

Heat up avocado oil to 230 degrees Fahrenheit and pour over dry ingredients.

Make sure to leave extra room for bubbling and add cannabis-infused sesame oil slowly.

This article was originally published in the March 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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D.I.Y. Edibles Essentials

Christina Wong is a culinary cannabis educator, recipe creator, and self-described “baked baker” whose expertise making her own edibles has garnered widespread attention throughout the industry. From beautifully decorated shortbread desserts, elaborate cakes, and a wide variety of other delicious creations, Wong frequently celebrates the intersection between culinary art and cannabis.

Through her creative media company Fruit + Flower Co., Wong teaches others how to properly understand the process of making their own edibles by demystifying the terminology, reviewing the methods of infusion, discussing correct dosing, and providing numerous recipes to put all the learning into practice. High Times took a moment to chat with Wong about tips for beginners, which infusion methods are best, and what’s trending in the edibles scene.

The Art of the Home Edible

To Wong, food and cannabis are a perfect combination.

“If you like cannabis, you love food, because the best thing in the whole world is to get high and eat,” she says.

Despite this, many people miss out on the enjoyment of homemade edibles because cooking with cannabis can be intimidating.

“When I first started looking [for information], there was this mystique and mystery to making edibles,” Wong says. “For me, there was definitely a fear of messing up or making it too potent, getting too high, or giving something to somebody that gets them too high. I want to challenge people to rethink that we can make cannabutter and edibles at very low doses, it doesn’t have to be all super high dose.”

Buying edibles at the dispensary is convenient, but it can be cost prohibitive, she says. 

“I think that cannabis is such an important plant medicine that the more people know how to cook and bake at home so that they can give themselves and their loved ones medicine, the better.”

Photo by Cherrnor Malekani @visualsbychern

Understanding Infusion

Wong shares that one of the most primary essentials to creating edibles is understanding proper dosing. Instead of decarbing flower and infusing a fat like cannabutter she recommends beginners try adding an oil-based tincture in which the THC dosing is already measured. Once confidence is established, home cooks can start to learn how to decarboxylate their flowers or trim. All of the recipes Wong posts online use whole flower infused with either cannabis-infused butter or oil, and include directions to dose at 5 mg per serving or less.

For first timers, Wong recommends going for an easy decarboxylation method: Mason jars in an oven.

“Everyone has a Mason jar, everyone has an oven, and it’s foolproof,” she explains. “It’s smell proof. There’s less smell. And even if it’s not the most efficient way of getting all of the cannabinoids to convert and to infuse, at least that’s the place to start. And then they can get their confidence, and then try something new.”

Wong explains in more detail on Fruit + Flower Co. that her usual process to decarb cannabis includes placing cannabis flower in a pint-sized Mason jar and sealing the jar with a lid. After setting the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, she heats the cannabis an hour, shaking the jar every 20 minutes. After it is left to cool, the decarbed cannabis can be infused to a fat such as butter or oil.

Courtesy Fruit + Flower Co.

Expanding Expertise

While Wong has made it her goal to educate and inspire others to learn how to make their own edibles, it is but one facet of her expertise. In the past, Wong worked with brands and organizations to create unique desserts, such as Source Cannabis and Stündenglass. Most recently, she helped host the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) 3rd Annual Mogu Magu party (Mogu meaning mushroom in Chinese, and Magu is the name of a Chinese hemp goddess) held in September to celebrate the mid-autumn festival.

Although she recommends using whole flower for beginners, Wong sometimes branches out to use a variety of other types of cannabis ingredients in her more elaborate creations.

“I’ve been experimenting more cooking with concentrates just because I love the pure flavor of that,” she says. “You can get so much flavor and terpene profile and high potency using concentrates.”

Making edibles at home offers unlimited potential, but edibles sold in dispensaries are usually more limited. But recently Wong has noticed an increase in edibles infused with solventless concentrates as well as savory edible offerings.

“I’m seeing more solventless edibles coming out onto the market because I think people are caring more about the quality of not just the ingredients of what goes into their edibles, but also the quality of the cannabis that goes in,” Wong says. “But I think if you are a plant enthusiast, and you want to appreciate all flavors, and everything the plant has to offer, solventless is absolutely the way to go.”


Courtesy Fruit + Flower Co.

Recipe: Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Shortbread Bars

by Christina Wong

Soft and crumbly, these luscious browned butter and vanilla shortbread bars are glazed with a creamy vanilla bean icing. Infused with 10 mg of cannabis each, strains such as Wedding Cake and Biscotti with doughy, creamy aromas, would pair well with the nutty, vanilla notes of this edible. 

The showstopper decor is my signature “botanical bandit” style, made with pressed cannabis leaves and organic edible flowers. Inspired by my friend The Velvet Bandit, who spreads positive art through wheatpasting.

Time to Prepare: 55-60 minutes

Makes 20 approximately 3” x 1.5” bars dosed at ~10 mg each


3 cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cornstarch

1 ½ cups cannabutter (200 mg THC total), softened*

1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon choice of milk (whole, oat, hemp, almond)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped

½ teaspoon salt

Vanilla Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped

¼ cup choice of milk 


Small cannabis fan leaves and edible flowers for decoration, rinsed and pat dry (Optional)


1. In a medium saucepan, melt the cannabutter over medium high heat until the butter starts bubbling and turns golden brown. Butter browns at 250 degrees F, a low enough temp to prevent cannabinoid and terpene burnoff. Remove from heat to cool to room temp, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour to chill until the butter has solidified from liquid to softened state. Stir occasionally. Can be made ahead and stored until ready to use.  

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together flour and cornstarch. Set aside. 

3. In a large bowl, beat together softened cannabutter, powdered sugar until creamed and fluffy. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk, vanilla bean, and salt on medium speed until combined. 

4. Slowly stir in the flour and cornstarch mixture a little at a time until combined. Continue beating until a crumbly dough comes together. It should feel like crumbly soft sand that holds together. Press together and make sure any crumbly flour bits are mixed thoroughly into the dough. If the dough is too dry and crumbly and not holding together, drizzle and mix in a little more milk until the dough can press and hold together. 

5. Press the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Place into the oven and bake on the center rack for 40 minutes. Turn the pan halfway through baking to bake evenly until slightly golden brown on the edges. Remove pan from oven and place onto a rack to cool. 

6. Make the Vanilla Glaze: In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with milk and vanilla bean until you get a smooth, thin, runny glaze that just coats the back of a spoon with a thin film. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach desired consistency. Set aside. 

7. Glaze + Decorate: Place the small cannabis leaves and edible flowers (optional) each scattered across the top of the cookie. Pour glaze evenly on top of the entire cookie pan and over the cannabis leaves and flowers. Using a small spatula or pastry brush, gently spread to evenly distribute the glaze and coat the decoration. The leaves should look like they’re covered with a sheet of ice.   

8. Let the cookie and icing cool completely in the pan until the glaze hardens, three or more hours. Using the sides of the parchment paper, lift the uncut cookie out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into 20 rectangles. Store covered in a cool, dry place.

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post D.I.Y. Edibles Essentials appeared first on High Times.

Pot in the Pantry

Long gone are the days when cannabis edibles were limited simply to sweets like brownies or gummies. Brands like Potli are bringing cannabis into daily meal routines with infused kitchen pantry staples, making cannabis consumption more welcoming and accessible to consumers of all ages and experience levels.

Potli was co-founded by CEO Felicity Chen, along with her college roommate Christine Yi, with a goal to bring cannabis-infused ingredients into the kitchen. The company began with selling infused raw honey (the “Dream Honey” won first place in the CBD category at the 2021 Emerald Cup), followed by other unique cooking ingredients such as a cannabis-infused extra virgin olive oil, as well as a cannabis-infused sriracha (which also won first place at last year’s Emerald Cup in the Edibles/Savory category). More recently, the brand has begun an expansion of ready-to-eat products with its cannabis-infused shrimp chips as well (made with Potli’s infused olive oil), which won first place in the Edibles/Savory category at the Emerald Cup in 2022.

Potli products offer a fresh new way to use cannabis as a condiment. 

Courtesy Potli

From Pot to Potli

Chen, a Bay Area-native, met her Potli co-founder Christine Yi when they were randomly paired as roommates during their freshman year of college on the East Coast at Boston University. During that time, Chen recalls experimenting with cannabis in their dorm room, causing the hallways to smell strongly of herb. But ultimately, she discovered how cannabis helped her on a more personal level.

“I have always been someone that has been you know, a more anxious teen and going into my college years to someone that just had a lot of energy and didn’t really know how to calm my brain,” Chen says. “It just was something that was interesting to me and calmed me.”

After graduation, Chen returned to the Bay Area and Yi remained on the East Coast, and their transition from consumers to entrepreneurs began as they worked together to develop Potli.

Although Potli became a way to keep Chen and Yi connected remotely, it was also founded as a method to help treat Chen’s mother’s asthma and allergies. When Chen returned home, she discovered that her father had learned how to keep bees in order to harvest honey for her mom. 

Chen explains that her mom’s daily routine usually starts with honey and lemon. Raw honey can be added to a variety of different dishes, such as tea, oats, or smoothies, and contains beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Add cannabis into the mix, and it becomes even more useful as part of a healthy regimen.

Courtesy Potli

While Chen’s mother was not interested in smoking cannabis, adding it to her honey allowed her to partake in a format that she found more familiar and comfortable.

“I’m a second generation Chinese American, meaning that like, there’s no way my mom would ever smoke weed with me. That was just a given, right?” Chen says. “But she understood the benefits of cannabis. And all of its anti-inflammatory effects through the lens of ‘This is medicine.’ And so, medicine typically is consumed with edibles. And it’s also truly the healthiest way to consume cannabis, through an edible.”

One of Potli’s main goals is to create and promote food as medicine, a philosophy that has led the company to create its best-selling infused honey products. The company’s honey harvest operation includes anywhere between 30 to 50 hives, depending on the season (honeybees are more active in spring and summer). Currently, Potli sells different infused variations of infused raw honey, such as one that contains THC, CBD, and CBN, while another contains just CBD.

Cannabis as a Condiment

The company has continued to expand its line of pantry essentials to include other useful ingredients as well.

Potli’s Cannabis Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced from the same region that the company gets its cannabis—Lake County, California. Their olive oil comes from Campodonico Olive Farm, among a few other local olive farms, while their cannabis comes from Aster Farms, which is well-known in the region for its dedication to transparency and organic growing practices that produce high-quality sungrown cannabis flower.

Chen believes it’s crucial to promote and work with local producers in order to spotlight some of California’s agricultural products.

“That’s the reason why we create what we create, because our products are pretty much products that you can only find in California. And it is grown with such intention, and created with such care, and it tells a story about all of these different farmers that make it and are behind it,” Chen says.

Following the success of Potli’s cannabis-infused extra virgin olive oil, its cannabis-infused sriracha took the stage, offering a spicy kick to a variety of meals.

Between offering infused honey, olive oil, and sriracha, Potli already covers a wide base for experimentation.

Courtesy Potli

“But these are the types of things that [you] really can make any recipe with it, right? And that’s what I love, is that you can make a salad dressing to like, fried chicken, and you can use every single ingredient and make wildly different products. You can make a soup that’s really Chinese style, so like [with] tofu. So all of these things are just really, really different,” Chen says.

Chen explains that she personally enjoys experimenting with different cannabis-infused dishes in the evenings.

“I love making food. That’s also one of my ways that I de-stress,” Chen explains. “And part of that journey is also making food with Potli goods that get me high, and then I have the best sleep ever.”

In the past, Potli carried infused chili oil and apple cider vinegar products as well. Chen shared that there are plans to re-release these products soon. Chen also hinted at a new, exciting product coming in the near future. While she couldn’t divulge the details just yet, she explains that it’s something she’s confident that the Potli community is going to love.

In the meantime, Potli’s dedication to creating versatile food items will continue to lead the way in infused home cooking and healthy eating.

“We really think that through edibles and through things that you eat, health is just something that is based on what you eat. And, you know, that’s the age-old adage,” Chen says. “And that’s really what the company’s main values are, is that we’re correcting people’s health and helping people feel better through the foods that they eat.”


This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post Pot in the Pantry appeared first on High Times.

AAPI Appreciation in the World of Weed: Movers and Shakers

Race is a topic that comes up a lot in cannabis, as social equity and the War on Drugs is discussed, but APPI folks are often left out of the conversation completely. Due to the harmful and racist “model minority” myth that Asians have to be model citizens, it is often assumed that they won’t have anything to do with even the world of legal cannabis—a myth that also shows there is still a major stigma against weed. To dispel those antiquated notions, we spoke with some of the major movers and shakers in cannabis who come from an AAPI background and are proudly bringing their cultural heritage to the world of cannabis. 

Photo courtesy of Fusion-Studio

Clark Wu – Attorney, Bianchi & Brandt 

Clark Wu is an attorney with Bianchi & Brandt and appreciates that the team he is on, specializing in cannabis law, has a variety of different backgrounds and strives to increase overall diversity in the cannabis industry through their practices. His work with the firm includes assisting groups that secured social equity licenses in Arizona and providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

“I give back outside of work through the American Bar Association’s judicial internship program by mentoring law students to encourage a more diverse generation of lawyers,” he says. “I’m also a part of the International Cannabis Bar Association’s Diversity Committee, which seeks to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry while reducing barriers to entry by developing tools to help social equity groups succeed. My firm has not only supported but encouraged these efforts.” 

Photo courtesy of Angela Cheng

Angela Cheng –  SVP of Marketing and Communications at Pacific Stone  

Angela Cheng was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Vancouver in a progressive household with artist parents. She feels that the immigrant experience and growing up creative helped inform her choice to work in cannabis marketing and help brands tap into their creative energy. 

“I would love to see more people who look like me working in cannabis. Representation is important, and as the cannabis industry continues to evolve it’s important to not just show up but to actively participate in the conversation,” she says. “My parents are now very proud of my work but it took time, and I think part of the reason it took time was because there were very few platforms for AAPIs in cannabis.” 

Courtesy of Socrates Rosenfeld

Socrates Rosenfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of Jane Technologies, Inc.

As the CEO and Co-Founder of Jane, a cannabis e-commerce provider, Rosenfeld initially got some pushback from his mom when he entered the cannabis space. As an Indonesian man, his mom had a lot of preconceived notions about cannabis but eventually, Rosenfeld was able to educate her about the good it can do. 

“My mom came around once she realized our ultimate mission is to help people, and that Jane was founded on my own healing experience with the plant,” he says. “As Asian-Americans, cannabis is a part of our history. It’s up to the current generation to redefine what the plant represents for ourselves—as well as for previous and future generations.”

Courtesy of Anne Fleshman

Anne Fleshman, VP of Marketing at Flowhub

As an active member of the cannabis industry for almost four years now with Flowhub, a cannabis point of sale company, Fleshman compares her cannabis journey to “coming out.” Cannabis was never something she spoke about openly before, and it took her a while to get over her stigma. 

“For a long time, I felt guilty about my personal consumption of cannabis,” says Fleshman, “There is still a stigma for sure, but I believe it’s diminishing. It’s refreshing to see communities normalizing cannabis as medicine and more states legalizing adult-use sales. As the industry matures, we have a unique opportunity to create a diverse and inclusive workforce that reverses the damages of the War on Drugs. We must create clear pathways to mentorship and educational opportunities, and prioritize the experiences of people of color and women in industry leadership roles.”

Courtesy of Marion Mariathasan

Marion Mariathasan, CEO and Co-founder of Simplifya

As CEO of compliance software company Simplifya, Marion Mariathasan has founded numerous cannabis startups and is no stranger to the industry. 

“It is nothing like how it was back when I first got into the industry in 2015,” he says of the stigma he faced. “When I first told my family and friends about my interest in the cannabis space and that I was starting a RegTech company, they were super shocked. Much of the shock I believe had to do with the fact that cannabis was still federally illegal, and due to the negative perception they had of cannabis—primarily due to misinformation.” 

Courtesy of Vince Ning. Jun S. Lee (left) and Vince C. Ning (right) (Co-Founders & Co-CEOs) 

Vince Ning – Nabis 

Vince is Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Nabis, the licensed cannabis wholesale platform. Vince’s prowess in technology, finance, and data analysis have helped him partner with cannabis brands across the state of California, where he has helped hundreds of businesses launch and scale. In doing so, he is always conscious of both his marginalization as an Asian person as well as his privilege. 

“It was definitely something that was on our mind,” he says when discussing being Asian in the industry. “We knew we’d be put in that category, and we really tried to first learn more about the existing cannabis culture. We didn’t want to come in and just be these Asian techies coming into the cannabis industry, trying to just do things our way. We really wanted to learn about how the industry got here and really integrate ourselves into existing fabric and try to help it and help shape it rather than forcing anything.”

Photo by Ellen Jaskol. ellenjaskol@gmail.com.

Sonya Lo, Executive Board Member, urban-gro

As the only female AAPI CEO of two major indoor growing ventures under urban-gro, Sonya Lo would like to see more representation in leadership positions, because she knows it is there in the grow room. Many of the world’s poorest farmers are women of color, and she believes that for them, seeing that representation is critical. 

“Sustainability isn’t just about carbon reduction, but also about creating better opportunities for farmers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to technology opportunities such as the ones I’ve had,” she says. “Over the next 10 years, I hope the indoor growing industry will reflect the increased diversity of industrialized nations’ populations and the adoption of these technologies in countries where women of color are the farmers.”

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