Doja Drops Bring Weed to the People

When the Hollywood Strain Premiere Party initially launched in the summer of last year, it was the place to be when it came to weed in Los Angeles. For an event that had no public advertising and for which the address and method for entering were a secret, attendance was regularly packed. Smokers looking for the best top-shelf weed mingled with industry insiders, all talking about the latest hot strain drops.

Doja Exclusive founder Ryan Bartholomew is no stranger to creating events and buzz. His brand has been at the bleeding edge of strain trends in California for years now. As far as hype in the industry goes, Doja is one of the biggest names out there. Originating from Sacramento, the brand is now based in Hollywood, California, aka the center of the weed world.

In a sense, both the pop-up model and selling directly to consumers harken back to an earlier time when excitement around legalization made the Prop 215 medical marijuana era in California a constantly buzzing scene of seshes and pop-up events. For Bartholomew, this approach to sales and marketing is just one part of a larger plan for Doja Exclusive to circumvent traditional retail as much as possible.

High Times Magazine, August 2023

For the most part, Bartholomew said, the dispensary is a fading concept that is becoming increasingly impractical for marketing weed. He says that few people these days are excited to go shop at a dispensary. Most importantly, getting fresh product on the shelves has become a huge challenge. The supply chain to the dispensary shelves can be slow and, after testing and distribution, the product often arrives less than fresh. If it doesn’t sell out immediately it languishes for months. For Doja the situation was unacceptable.

“The shit was old inventory and I’m thinking this isn’t good for what I do. I’d rather just let people know where I have the latest drops and then let them come out and get it directly from fresh batches that I’ve recently QC-ed and feel comfortable about,” he said.

It led Bartholomew to conceive the idea of a direct-to-consumer sales event, which manifested as the Hollywood Strain Premiere Party. The idea was simple: “Let’s do something where consumers can come grab new flavors and meet me in person. The weed will be good every time. We make sure of that,” Bartholomew said.

The event also allows Bartholomew to build hype around the new strains that Doja is bringing to market.

“I wanted to do something a little different since we had constant new phenos that we were rolling out with JBeezy [of Seed Junky Genetics] at the time. We also had the project in motion with Duke of Erb and some new strains dropping with Fiya Farmer,” he said.

Ryan Bartholomew of Dojo Exclusive and Juan Quesada of Backpack Boyz. Photo by Dan Wilson, @visithollyweed

Part of the early buzz of the event was that you could try new genetics that weren’t yet widely available, hence the “Strain Premiere.” It became the only place in the world to get the freshest and latest in Cali genetics.

“We had new genetics that no one else had,” Bartholomew said. “We were one of the few brands to put out new staples last year, so it was dope to be able to have a curated menu of flavors that were new and unique.”

Doja premiered strains such as Permanent Marker and Push Pop, and has released multiple phenotypes of Giraffe Puzzy so that fans can see the process of isolating a new strain. Doja has also dropped exclusive clones and seeds at the event, as well as street inspired merch that quickly sells out.

In 2021 Bartholomew held several industry-only mixers in cities such as Las Vegas and Miami, which were well attended by his many industry acquaintances. Last year he wanted to expand on the concept, but this time to create a space that was partly for the industry and partly for the consumer.

“I felt like I needed to focus more on connecting with the people that actually buy the product, not just other people in the industry. One of the ways that I knew I could get people out was to have these Hollywood events where I invite my industry friends like Wizard Trees, Sourwavez, Don Merfos and Gerb, Fiya Farmer. But at the same time, everyone else can come too,” he said.

 “So now smokers can talk to Wizard Trees and be like, ‘Yo, I really fuck with what you’re doing.’ That was always the idea behind it. That’s why from the very first one, I invited all those people.”

Sourwavez of King Sourwavez Genetics and Chico Shyne of John Doe Supply Co. Photo by Dan Wilson, @visithollyweed

The spot has always been a place to sight weed industry insiders and celebs. Big players like Sherbinskis, Terphogz, Mr. Gelatti, Super Dope/Fear of Boof, TenCo, Fiya Farmer, Wizard Trees, Fidel’s, Freddie Biggs, Ray Bama, and culture makers like Desto Dubb, Lil Meech, Lupe Fuentes, and Jewice have all been spotted there.

For Bartholomew, the success of the event shows that it’s time to start thinking about what comes next.

“We can always keep a consistent amount of people in there but we’re not looking to keep a consistent amount of people. We’re just looking to touch and go. We want something hot, new, fresh all the time,” he said.

Doja Exclusive has done direct-to-consumer pop-ups all over the U.S. and Europe, and he says that Hollywood is one of his smallest, crowd-wise. But it has gotten the most buzz, including regular press coverage.

“Does it help sales? Yes, it does boost sales all over the board. There are people in New York that are buying the product because they’re like, ‘Damn, those guys are having the Thursdays in Hollywood,’” Bartholomew said.

As for why his Hollywood event gets so much buzz, Bartholomew said that it’s all about the legacy and reputation of California weed.

“I think there’s just a fascination with Cali weed,” Bartholomew said. “We’re from the most influential place for cannabis. It’s like if you’re a fashion designer and you’re from Milan or a sommelier from Bordeaux.”

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

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Jon’s Stone-Cold Cop List #27: Art Trippy

August has been a whirlwind. From Outsidelands in San Francisco to Jimi’s fourth Transbay Challenge taking place in LA for the first time, my travels have taken me from great grow, to great show, seemingly countless times this month. There’s been a LOT of heat to sort through!

While my cup is certainly overflowing with dank at the moment, it felt important to tie this month’s Cop List to one of the biggest labors of love I undertake at this job, September’s Art Issue. You see, this issue is my baby. I spend all year working on it. In fact, I’ve already begun on 2023’s. The issue is all about showing the larger reach of the cannabis community, past the plant navel gazers like us, and I truly believe it’s an excellent showing of the breadth of our community. If you don’t normally read our print magazine, or haven’t picked one up in years, this is the one I’d really like for you to check out. It’s a lot less plant focused than our normal issues, but we work really hard to make sure there’s something for everyone – and it just looks so fuckin cool. This year’s covers were done by NYCHOS and CES, who are both absolute legends in the graffiti game… I still can’t believe how great it looks.

With that in mind, the below are some of the most beautiful, trippy, or just out of the ordinary things I’ve seen in awhile – from excellent cultivation, to excellent branding, to excellent vibes. Most of ‘em hit on more than one front, but I have no doubt you’ll see that for yourselves.

As always let me know if there’s something I missed, or something you’re looking forward to. The search for the good bush never sleeps!

Snowtill Organics

Courtesy of Snowtill Organics

I’ve been drooling over Snowtill’s IG for awhile now, so when I went up to the bay for Grasslands earlier this month I HAD to tap in to see if the finished product matched the promo shots. Let me just say, it’s not easy to impress me lately, and it’s even harder for the real to stack up to the bud porn most post online, so believe me when I tell you, these nugs are even better in person. In fact, calling them nugs almost feels sacrilegious, as if they were any old weeds. These beauties were nothing short of works of art. Grown as organically as possible indoors, Snowtill combines the best of both worlds to output some truly next level products that frankly are as close to perfection as one gets. I got to take a peek at four of his strains, and while each is a standout in its own right, it was his selection, Electric Sugar, that floored me. From the absolutely shimmering buds to a high that lasts hours, this is how cannabis is supposed to be.

Fiya Farmer’s Strain Album

Courtesy of Fiya Farmer

I’m a sucker for good marketing. We all know this by now. I love fancy mylars, good content, and creative launches, but we also all know that when someone’s trying super hard on the promo side, it’s usually because the actual product is lacking. Well friends, I’m pleased to inform you that I might have found the holy grail here. Showcasing the progression of his genetics, Fiya Farmer has released his first ‘Strain Album’, and while the marketing is some of the best I’ve seen, the weed inside is even better. Appropriately designed after a record, as each of these ‘tracks’ are LOUD, the eight piece compilation guides the consumer on the evolution of the farmer’s work. Beginning with C.R.E.A.M. & Zangria, two personal favorites he collabed on with Wizard Trees, and finishing up with Brrberry Gary #12. My personal favorite has to be the Sweet Retreat, which along with Track 7 ‘Midnight Mistress’, are upcoming collabs with Doja Pak. I know these boxes are ultra limited, but if you get your chance don’t miss checking this out – this record’s previewing the biggest hits of next year, for sure.

Doja Pak’s LA Premieres

Courtesy of Doja Pak

Speaking of Doja Pak, I wouldn’t be adequately doing my job if I didn’t let you in on the best underground weekly in LA right now. Though I can’t tell you where exactly it is (you’ll have to follow Doja on Telegram for that), what I can say is that every Thursday feels like the 215 days in Hollywood again. You see, each week the Doja gang assembles to debut the latest from their brand, or that of one of their friends, and the whole thing turns into an exotic potluck, as Ryan called it on IG. Taking place in a private space, probably the most special element of this event is the community it attracts. From cultivation legends like Fieldz and Wizard Trees to world class trappers, this unique gathering actually attracts both sides of the market, and I regularly see rec dispensary owners and brand guys in there trying to take a peek at the new. While I have a ton of good things to say about Doja, probably the most important is that this team stays ten down – there are few others who have as good of an understanding of what’s happening on the streets, as what’s happening in the boardrooms. Doja’s it.

Oakfruitland’s Oak-Cano

Courtesy of Oakfruitland

The featured image for this month’s column (the first ever in which I’m actually in the picture) was taken at Oakfruitland. As you can see in the image, I was floored by the work these guys put in front of me. From their Oak-lato to their Sugar Coded, each pack was more impressive than the last. In fact, even their V-Power, which has graced this list before, was even brighter than the last cut I’d seen, so let me be clear here: these guys have a LOT of winners. That said, my pick of the day was their Oak-Cano, an RS pheno which is truly something else. With a much more peppery nose than the rest, what’s most refreshing to me about the Cano was the fact that it’s nose was truly unique. It’s not just candy, or gas, though you can smell the hints of those terps that the market responds best to, and it’s much less of a downer than I was expecting. While I wouldn’t call it morning smoke, this is definitely the type you can light up in the afternoon to accentuate your workflow, as opposed to crash from it.

Sacred Fruits’ Magic Carpets

Courtesy of Sacred Fruits

I’ve already told you how good these guys mushies are, but they’re not content with just having the best fungus around – they needed to innovate. Their latest creation, the Magic Carpets, are without question the best way to consume psilocybin I’ve experienced. Basically all natural fruit roll ups, the carpets each contain 2 grams of magic fruit – which is more than enough to get a real experience in – but for those more experienced explorers, they come 2 rolls to a tube, so 4 grams in total. Made using simple ingredients and organic fruit, the Magic Carpets were SF’s “response to an overabundance of chocolates and gummies”, and it’s one the entire community will benefit from.

SF Canna / Planta’s Big Boy Prerolls

Courtesy of SF Canna / Planta

Y’all know my preferred consumption method is joints, and how hard it is to match the quality of your own hand roll once you get it down, so when I find a preroll that I actually want to smoke, it’s hard not to shout about it from the rooftops – so why try? The latest of these prerolls I’ve experienced actually come from two brands, SF Canna, and Planta, both of which are currently packing 1.8 gram full flower rolls. While I know they also have donut versions, the full flower ones are the perfect cannagar style experience one looks for when they want to get real high, and feel like a boss in the process. Complete with branded biohemp filters, these are a must cop if you see them at your local.

Your Highness Ecozotics

Courtesy of Your Highness

In the past I’ve told you about Your Highness’ indoor work, and the folklore around strains like Shady Apples & Lemon Meringue. Well friends, I am pleased to tell you that those fan-favorite genetics that were once unattainable to most just got a hell of a lot more affordable. Dubbed their new ‘Ecozotics’ line, the YH gang has brought their acclaimed cuts into the greenhouse to make them more accessible to consumers of every tax bracket. On the shelves at ~$30 an eighth, you can find these guys at the Pottery in LA, or any of the Farmacy locations in California.

Flatbush Zombies x Sackville’s Limited Edition Collab

Courtesy of Sackville & Co.

I don’t know if the Zombies have the same effect on people from everywhere, but as a New Yorker it’s pretty impossible for me to not love these guys. From their swag, to their unique voices, everything about these guys screams not only originality, but that they’re true to themselves – which is arguably the most New York characteristic there is. That’s why when I saw that the Flatbush gang paired with another native Brooklynite, Sackville & Co., to release a custom designed smell-proof stoner travel-kit, I had to tap in. See, this is something they’re undoubtedly all using, and even as a road warrior myself, few are on the go as much as those guys. Complete with three storage containers, a rolling tray, and a custom four-tiered grinder, you certainly don’t have to be a fan to find the function in this kit, but you’ll be hard pressed to get em before their fans do. Dropping next month on Sackville’s website, keep an eye out!

Headfirst Headstash

Courtesy of Headfirst Headstash

If you happen to find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, and you’re looking for a bit more than a head trip, I highly recommend tapping in with Headfirst Headstash. These guys have all the exploratory goodies you could imagine, and then some. While Sacred Fruits presented the first mushroom fruit roll up I’d seen, these guys brought me the first fun dip (produced by @mushthrax) – which, I know, sounds absolutely bonkers, but totally fuckin rules. Now, I won’t lie and say you don’t sorta taste the fungi – shit doesn’t taste like roses, after all – but the sweetness of the powder does a pretty good job offsetting the gross, and out of all the ways I’ve tried consuming these now, this has got to be one of the best. That said, they’ve got far more than fun dip – from chocolate bars to gummies, so tap in when you’ve gotta defeat your ego boss level.

Stuf Cannabis

Courtesy of Stuf Cannabis

I do my best to try and keep my eye out for up & comers, and there’s a new brand down in San Diego that’s caught my attention. Dubbed ‘Stuf’, these guys are bringing to market flower and hemp blunts, both of which are of impressive quality for a rookie. The deal is though, while this is the first real legal play for this squad, their cultivator Jake is anything but a new jack. Having been cultivating in his home since before moving to California many years ago, Jake was dialing in his process long before the ideation of this brand. But if you do stuff well for long enough, eventually opportunity knocks. I’m excited to see how these guys grow.

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