Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” And in California’s highly competitive cannabis market, you need to have heart—and a product that screams “Pick me!” Higgs cannabis Founder Oliver Higgins can successfully check both those boxes.
“I’ve been a joint smoker since I bought my first bag of weed, rolled up a joint and played Goldeneye on N64,” Higgins says. “So that love affair was always going to be the first product I created.”
The Los Angeles native founded his eponymous cannabis lifestyle brand in 2017 to create exceptional, high-quality products for recreational users seeking an unparalleled cannabis experience. “Our goal is to spread happiness,” Higgins says. The stylized branding and good-vibes-only, retro-nineties aesthetic represents the essence of the SoCal lifestyle.
Higgins believes that cannabis consumption is more than just a means of relaxation; it’s a lifestyle choice that fosters a sense of belonging and place. “Growing up in Southern California, there were so many outdoor activities where weed is a welcome addition, from surfing, skiing, golfing, hiking, to just going to the movies,” he says. “I wanted to create something that could be a part of all those adventures while simultaneously being something where if you left it on the restaurant table, people asked, ‘What is that?’ without even knowing it was cannabis. My favorite part is when someone opens the box up for the first time without knowing what’s inside and seeing their reaction.”
Higgs Cannabis Is Created for the SoCal Lifestyle
Meticulous attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to excellence are the guiding principles that shape the Higgs brand. This steadfast dedication is palpable in the refined taste, enticing aroma and impeccable presentation of every Higgs product. Each item is a testament to the pursuit of crafting an extraordinary experience that exceeds expectations, leaving a lasting impression on discerning connoisseurs who appreciate the finer nuances of exceptional cannabis offerings.
“As a lifelong cannabis user and joint smoker, I make sure we take an artisanal approach in every aspect of our business,” Higgins says. “From hand-selecting the finest genetics to carefully monitoring our cultivation and production processes, we maintain the highest standards of craftsmanship.”
The brand’s strive for perfection has enabled Higgins and his team to consistently deliver cutting-edge creations, setting a benchmark for unrivaled consistency and uncompromising quality. By continuously staying at the forefront of emerging trends and anticipating consumer demands, Higgs cannabis products exude a sense of freshness and excitement, captivating and delighting an ever-growing audience.
Higgs offers an expansive array of products thoughtfully catered to the diverse palates and preferences of cannabis consumers who embrace the Southern Californian lifestyle and want their products to be cool, casual and carefree. The product portfolio encompasses personally curated flowers, masterfully crafted pre-rolls, convenient infused mini-joints and delightfully flavorful live resin vapes. Every product is a testament to the careful craftsmanship of Higgs’ collaborative team of cultivators, scientists and product developers.
Expansion Plans Into Canada
Higgs is proudly preparing an expansion into Canada. The product line will feature
the finest small-batch craft cannabis sourced from legacy growers and passionate microprocessors spanning from Newfoundland to British Columbia.
Higgins says the same lifestyle ethos of the original SoCal launch exists in Canada.
“I have so many fond memories of smoking weed in Canada over the years that it feels as natural to launch there as launching in California,” he says. “I believe that Canadians have always embraced the culture of cannabis.”
Higgins says that America’s delays in reaching federal legalization have hindered efforts to join the international conversation. “It’s exciting to be dealing with actual set rules, regulations and real government bodies,” he says of the northern expansion.
The first products in Canada will be jarred flower available exclusively at all Oceanic Releaf retail stores and coffee shops in Newfoundland.
As Higgs continues to evolve and expand, the company remains dedicated to delivering exceptional products and transformative experiences. With a steadfast commitment to pushing boundaries, Higgs endeavors to elevate the cannabis industry to new heights and redefine the very standards of excellence within it.
But beyond premium products, Higgins says, Higgs is a mindset, a way of life. “I just want people to be happy, and I think cannabis does that for a lot of people in many different ways,” he says. “Higgs, to me, means happiness.”
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles examined participants who smoke or have smoked tobacco cigarettes, and divided them into three groups: current, former or never pot smokers.
The authors of the study said that limited “data are available regarding marijuana smoking’s impact on development or progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in middle-aged or older adults with a variable history of tobacco cigarette smoking.”
“We compared [current marijuana smokers], [former marijuana smokers] and [never marijuana smokers], and those with varying amounts of lifetime marijuana use. Mixed effects linear regression models were used to analyze changes in spirometry, symptoms, health status and radiographic metrics; zero-inflated negative binomial models were used for exacerbation rates,” the research team wrote.
Most participants were followed for four years or more, according to the researchers, who wrote that “incident COPD, respiratory symptoms, health status, radiographic extent of emphysema or air trapping, and total or severe exacerbations were not different between [current marijuana smokers] or [former marijuana smokers] versus [never marijuana smokers] or between those with any lifetime amount of marijuana use versus [never marijuana smokers].”
In their concluding analysis, the researchers wrote: “In a cohort of ever-tobacco smokers of ≥20 pack-years with established COPD or at risk of developing COPD followed over an average of more than 4 years, a history of current and/or former smoking of marijuana of any cumulative lifetime amount was not found to be associated with a significantly deleterious impact on progression of COPD. Among ever-tobacco smokers in the same cohort without COPD at enrollment, self-reported current and/or former concomitant marijuana smoking, including heavy marijuana smoking, was not found to be associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing COPD. However, in view of our study’s limitations and of previously published findings that conflict with our results, additional studies with a larger sample size and longer duration of follow-up that are specifically designed to evaluate this issue are needed for a better understanding of potential long-term effects of marijuana smoking in persons with or at risk of developing COPD.”
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano touted the findings from the UCLA study, which was published this month in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.
“These results are consistent with decades worth of data finding that cannabis smoke exposure is not associated with the same sort of deleterious pulmonary impact as is tobacco smoke exposure,” Armentano said. “They should be reassuring to cannabis consumers and to health professionals alike, and they should help to guide future policies with respect to the crafting of evidence-based public health messages and associated regulations.”
NORML noted that the findings “are consistent with those of prior studies concluding that cannabis inhalation, even long-term, is not positively associated with COPD, lung cancer, or irreversible airway damage,” and added that “the use of vaporization technology, which heats herbal cannabis to a set temperature below the point of combustion, is associated with reduced exposure to toxic gasses and has been identified as a ‘safe and effective’ cannabis delivery device in clinical trial settings.”
In one of the studies cited by NORML, researchers from Great Britain in 2018 said that the “available literature fails to support an association between cannabis smoke exposure and the onset of COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, shortness of breath, or irreversible airway damage,” although they did “identify a link between marijuana inhalation and more frequent cough, sputum production, wheezing, and chronic bronchitis – though they acknowledged that these symptoms largely cease upon quitting.”
“The long-term respiratory effects of cannabis differ from traditional smoking,” the researchers wrote, as quoted by NORML. “[C]annabis smoking does not appear to be carcinogenic.”
It was New Year’s Day 2017, just 365 days before California flipped on the legalization switch. Angelenos woke up to the usual post-NYE content—extravagant rose floats, embarrassing party photos and resolution posts. But something was amiss in the hills: The iconic Hollywood sign said “HOLLYWeeD.” What?!
News reports worldwide called it “vandalism” masterminded by a “prankster” saying the act might have been the work of a “thrill seeker.” The Los Angeles Times quoted the Los Angeles Police Department Security Services division saying security footage around the sign showed a person dressed in black at 3am “climbing up the mountain, scaling the sign’s ladders and hanging tarpaulins over the Os to change them to Es.”
“My first thought was that it was some kind of weird PR stunt,” says Alberto Sandomir, a cannabis grower from Oroville who saw the Hollyweed sign that morning. He had just moved back to LA and, like most operators in the weed market circa 2018, was distributing flower locally and out of state. “It certainly brought a lot of attention to the weed business in LA in general and made a statement about how much Los Angeles is a part of the cannabis culture.”
LAPD launched an investigation to figure out who meddled with the iconic sign to no avail. A full week later artist Zach Fernández, who goes by his artist name @jesushands on Instagram, turned himself in and was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing. Members of the Los Angeles City Council were angry because the spectacle attracted droves of Southern Californians to the area to see the sign. Former councilman David Ryu encouraged the city attorney and the LAPD at the time to pursue a case against the artist even though there was no damage to the sign.
Fernández, who says he’s a daily cannabis consumer, told media outlets at the time it wasn’t a prank. It was an art installation he considered sacred. Swapping the double Os to Es was also a hat tip to artist Danny Finegood who had himself modified the iconic sign to read “HOLLYWeeD” nearly half a century ago on January 1, 1976, the day cannabis possession was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in California. Conveniently, Fernández’s rendition of Hollyweed occurred just three months after the Golden State approved Proposition 64 in the 2016 election.
But could the art installation have had opportunistic intentions? Dr. Dina, the woman who inspired the character “Nancy Botwin” on the show Weeds, co-owns SoCal’s oldest continually operating dispensary, Alternative Herbal Health Services. She implies the Hollyweed sign was essentially marketing. “Hollyweed was recreated a few years back because the original photographer refused to let anyone use his photo and a CBD brand recreated it for their own branding images,” says Dr. Dina, whose nickname was bestowed upon her by Snoop Dogg. “I know this because one of my first employees at the dispensary was the son of the original photographer whose idea it was!”
Reflecting on the most recent iteration of Hollyweed, hindsight reveals context we couldn’t decipher in 2017. Hollyweed wasn’t just a cheeky art installation, and its symbolism arguably holds more inertia than its ’70s predecessor: The sign foreshadowed cannabis’ ascent into the mainstream. It signified the City of Angels’ dominance in the California market, the rise of the “suits and ties,” the line between legal and “traditional” operators, Apple store-chic dispensaries, weed parties in the Hollywood Hills, strains named after appealing moods, and the overall “Coachellafication” of cannabis.
“There was a changing of the guard that happened when Prop 64 was approved,” Sandomir says. “The Hollyweed sign was a sign of things really shifting into a different landscape for the legacy famers.”
Dr. Dina also notes the Hollyweed sign represents a figurative changing of the guard. “We started as not-for-profit collectives operated by real freedom fighters who risked their freedom on a daily basis so they can help others only for this industry to turn into for-profit businesses run by opportunists looking to cash out, and who don’t care about patients,” she says. “Overnight, patients became customers, and we lost our ability to provide free meds to sick people who really needed it.”
Hollyweed also represented the convergence of media, entertainment and cannabis. In January 2017, High Times announced it was moving its headquarters to LA after being in New York for more than four decades. Bong Appétit, a television series on Viceland featuring host Abdullah Saeed throwing elaborate cannabis dinner parties,launched its first episode on December 14, 2016.
“It was such a sweet time for us and the show,” says Jason Pinsky, producer of Bong Appétit, who filmed an episode of the show with Fernández shortly after he turned himself in. “When I look at what we did in 2017 versus future seasons—such as season three, once regulation and retail sales were in effect—everything had to be done with receipts and through the system. Bong Appétit in the halcyon days of 2017 is when we built the pantry. Today, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did then without massive budgets. The symbolism of the Hollyweed sign was a massive celebration for JesusHands and what he did, for Vice and for Bong Appétit and what we were doing: mainstreaming cannabis to a global audience.”
Pinsky says he came out to Hollywood for the convergence of cannabis, industry and entertainment. The Hollyweed sign represents the manifestation of all of that for him personally, and the blossoming of California’s cannabis industry.
Sometimes the line is thin between art and vandalism, but I’d argue the Hollyweed sign revealed most people can’t tell the difference between the two, particularly the LAPD and most of the city’s politicians. And even if the signage was marketing, defacing one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks garnered a massive response, which is always the end goal for an artist.
Hollyweed 2017 will go down in history as a precursor to the subsequent tectonic shifts that are still occurring in California’s cannabis market. But on that New Year’s Day, not so long ago, the power of art once again captured the moment—and a city’s collective imagination—perfectly.
This story was originally published in issue 47 of the print edition of Cannabis Now.
The message is clear: Earth Day 2023 is the most critical time for citizens of the world to work together and save our planet; the relentless burning of fossil fuels, plastic-filled oceans and rivers and unsustainable population growth has brought us to the brink of environmental disaster. That’s why it’s crucial at this pivotal moment in human history that we hold businesses and governments accountable for their roles in creating a more sustainable future for us all.
Innovative thought leaders and progressive politicians are rallying to play a part in the fight for the blue planet’s survival. And what better time to act than Earth Day, which is themed “Invest in Our Planet?”
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22 that’s dedicated to raising awareness and promoting environmental protection and sustainability. The global initiative encourages people around the world to raise awareness, promote sustainability and inspire long-term action to protect our planet and create a more sustainable future for generations to come.
The Importance of Water
One of the biggest plights facing humanity is clean water. The once-mighty Colorado River, for example, is in a clear state of crisis and can no longer supply the insatiable thirst of more than 40 million people and 5 million acres of farmland that rely on it for its lifeblood.
In California, where water resources are often limited due to frequent droughts and other environmental factors, cannabis cultivation has raised concerns about water usage and its potential impact on local supplies, ecosystems and sustainability.
Cannabis is a water-intensive crop and, unless it’s being cultivated with sustainable techniques such as dry farming, it requires significant amounts of water for optimal growth. A 2021 study reviewing the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation found that, on average, a cannabis plant consumes an estimated six gallons of water per day during cultivation (June-October).
Stiiizy, one of California’s leading cannabis brands, is doing something about this crisis for Earth Day 2023.
Stiiizy Partners with LA Waterkeepers
As part of its Joint Efforts good works program, Stiiizy has joined forces with the non-profit organization LA Waterkeepers by sponsoring a community cleanup along the banks of the Los Angeles River to directly impact the residents of LA’s Atwater Village neighborhood. Employee volunteers from Stiiizy will work with LA Waterkeepers’ crew to remove plastic debris and other pollutants from the Los Angeles River’s banks and nearby regions. Together, more than 180 volunteers from both groups will take part in a significant cleanup operation.
To guarantee that Angelenos continue to have access to clean water, LA Waterkeepers has successfully combined litigation, science and community activism for more than half a century. In order to further this ambitious objective, the foundation prioritizes advocating for necessary adjustments to the way the public handles water. The outcome speaks for itself: Los Angeles County is investing some $20 billion in water infrastructure over the next two decades due to these decades-long efforts.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Stiiizy’s Joint Efforts program is led by the company’s Director of Social Impact, DeRon Waller, who says the initiative was born out of a commitment to service that permeates through the company’s ethos and says that Joint Efforts has the “backbone of unity and service. Our CEO and founder is a military veteran and like most veterans, even after the uniform comes off, service remains a driving factor in life. When we were building out this program, I knew I didn’t have to fight and plead my case as to why this was important, but rather how we’d go about doing it,” he says.
The Joint Efforts program, according to Waller, emphasizes the shared ideals that cannabis supporters hold most near to their hearts, whether it be through the organization of food and toy drives, the provision of homes for in-need families, planting trees, the restoration of parks or, of course, fundraising.
“The organizations that we partner with oftentimes receive more support from our huge network in the form of donors and volunteers, simply through word-of-mouth,” he says. “We like to focus on partnering with community organizations that are working tirelessly to defend and improve the environment here in Los Angeles. LA Waterkeepers has been at it for years, and a lot of our employees are from the surrounding neighborhoods where this impact project is taking place, so it made perfect sense for us to reach out and propose an Earth Day 2023 partnership. Our team is excited to be doing something so close to home with this project.”
Keep it Local
Waller’s advice to other cannabis brands who want to get involved with their communities is direct and effective.
“Being intentional means to treat your community involvement like an investment, not a gift,” Waller says. “If you want to do business and provide plant medicine in any community you should get to know that community first. Every community is different and has different needs. We can’t presume we have all the answers. In our industry, we’re still facing an uphill battle against negative perceptions, stereotypes and stigma from years of prohibition and misleading propaganda. If we really want to reach that promised land of federal rescheduling and national legalization, then the onus is on us to demonstrate why cannabis deserves it and we can accomplish that by showing the positive impact of the plant.”
Chef Ayo Cherry, executive chef and owner of Served, believes food should be as fulfilling as it is filling. She wants clients to taste the positivity in her dishes.
For years, Cherry was Lil Wayne’s personal chef. A killer steak got her the job. Since then, she’s moved to Los Angeles, expanded her business, and gone on to cook for DaBaby and Travis Barker among other personal clients and events. How tasty is Cherry’s food? Well, her skills led her from sleeping in her car to flying in a private jet.
The former winner of the Food Network’s Supermarket Stakeout recently recounted her big break in a conversation about her career, as well as her experience with CBD and meals she recommends for High Times readers.
You went to culinary school. I think a lot of us have ideas about what it’s like, but how was your experience?
At the time? It sucks (Laughs). I had no money. The food I made in class was probably everything I was going to eat that day unless I had to work, and I worked at a restaraunt. I went to La Cordon Bleu, which is a traditional French style. You learn the brigade system for the kitchen, so they really take the old-school ways seriously. Everything had to be right. You had to have your full uniform checked prior to coming into class. If you were wrinkled or kind of a mess, you couldn’t come into class. I had a nose ring and it’s like, “Take off your piercings before class.” It was a whole thing every day.
I learned a lot of small skills I took for granted until I got older. I wouldn’t have had the amount of knowledge that I got because I am from a small place. I am from Tallahassee, Florida. There was no one who was going to offer me what my, specifically cuisines across cultures class, offered me. Whereas somebody who grows up in LA, who’s maybe eating out from every culture, I don’t necessarily know that culinary school would be as necessary for that person. For me, I need[ed] to do it.
Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished with your company, Served. What was your initial vision for the business? Where’d you start off after school?
I had zero vision for my benefit when I started. I would love to be one of those people, like I had these big specific dreams. I didn’t. I was working at a restaurant called Dirt in Miami. I was the senior sous chef and I got promoted to the catering manager, and much like all of us, I overworked and burned out. I was pulling 80, 90 hours a week.
I was in charge of the catering, didn’t have that much staff, and we were the commissary kitchen for the two locations. Sometimes I would go out to my car to sleep for two or three hours and go back to work and keep cooking. If you know North Miami, I shouldn’t have been doing that, but I’ve done it. I had to do it to get the work done, because if there’s nothing at the commissary, then there are two locations now who are behind.
I met a personal trainer who was using the exact same commissary as us, the space. I would see him cooking meals for his clients and I would just be like, “Hey, if you’re doing meal prep and you’re making chicken breasts, you don’t need to cook them for 35 minutes because they’re gonna reheat them and you’re cooking them to death already. You need to cook them until it’s safe for people to eat them.”
Eventually, he said, “If you ever want to do this for me, for my clients, I would love to have you. You can do the work from your house.” I did not have the faith, but I said yes and figured it out from there. I went to other personal trainers and was like, “Hey, I do this for this person, would you be interested in something like that?” I’m just trying to make ends meet at this point because I left my restaurant job and now I’m doing this, but this doesn’t pay as much as my restaurant job.
So how’d it all lead to cooking for Lil Wayne?
One day I was in a group of private chefs and a friend of mine said, “Would you like to cook for Lil Wayne tonight?” Of course. I went [to the gig] and was told, “We have 10 chefs trying out, so this is just a trial, don’t get your hopes up.” I cooked and then they said, “Hey, can you come back the next night?” Cooked again, and then I was asked, “Can you come back the next night?” And then the fourth night I did not get asked to come back. Usually, they tell you around four or five o’clock to be there at six, which is insane.
They would give you an hour, but that night I didn’t get the call and I was like, crap, I didn’t get the job. And then about eight o’clock they were like, “Hey, he didn’t like the other chefs’ food, so can you come right now?” I ran to the house and became Lil Wayne’s private chef. I started making more money than I had ever seen. And then I was like, “Oh, we need an LLC. There needs to be a business. There has to be something.” I had no idea what to do. (Laughs)
How’s it cooking for someone over the span of years? Like, how does your client’s taste change and yours evolve as well?
With Wayne, it’s very different from what I do now. I mean, for someone that high-profile, he had other chefs literally since he was like 19. What my tastes are is completely irrelevant. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass what I want to cook (Laughs). They tell you what he does and does not eat. You must submit a menu and they choose from it. Basically, that was my setup over there.
My claim to fame, so to speak, was my plates are typically very aesthetically pleasing. I cook food for you to actually be full. I very much try to toe the line between very pretty aesthetic, but also you’re gonna be full. I don’t believe the super tiny portion of it, which irks my soul.
(Laughs) Not a fan?
I’m Southern. The idea of charging somebody $300 for a bite of steak is ridiculous to me. But with Wayne, you make what they like, and that’s it. You continuously make what they like. But if you are a chef who values the creative aspect of food, and I’ve met several others, that gets old very fast. I’m not gonna lie, it kind of hurts. Food is like my art form. It is an expressive thing for me.
Yeah. I’m a creator, so I always wanna be pushing what I think is cool, too. I think the misconception with people from my culture specifically is that those pretty plates aren’t delicious and flavorful, and a lot of times, they’re not. But that’s not the case with me. I try to combine those two worlds for them. Constantly repeating yourself sucks after a while and then you kind of find yourself in this place where you’re… I was making more money than I had ever seen. I literally went from being a few payments behind on rent and bills and everything to six figures in four days.
When I was going to culinary school, I was walking 10 miles each way to go to work at Longhorn and now I’m on a private jet going to Australia, and this is like a two-year gap. So it was a big change, and it was very fast. It was hard to reconcile that this food is making me miserable, though. I don’t want to fry any more hot wings. I don’t want to make another well-done steak. I don’t want to.
How’d you make the change?
The change was, I saved up and saved up and I decided I was moving to LA. I had zero clients there. People ask me, “Why LA? “ Cause I want clients who want vegetables, and LA feels like the place.
My current clients are more aligned with who I am artistically. For certain clients, diet is not so restrictive to the point where you can’t enjoy making the food. Now, I’ve had clients who are, you know, these well-known actors, and they eat nothing. They want it to be green but they don’t want you to use olive oil and they don’t want you to use salt. I went from making a well-done steak, and chicken wings to making wilted spinach with nothing else on it.
I was like, okay, this isn’t much better either. It’s just the other side of it. At what point do you get to do the art for the art’s sake? I’m sure you hear people say it all the time, it’s like you’re kind of whoring out your skill to make a living. I wasn’t enjoying it. Now, finally have the balance of doing fun dinners where they’re like, “Oh, what do you wanna make?” And I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I have a million ideas.”
That’s great. What’s both your personal and professional experience with cannabis and cannabis-infused food?
I am not a smoker. Not that I find anything wrong with it, I just don’t like the way it feels in my lungs. Like many of us, the very first time I came to visit LA I had a terrible experience with the THC drinks. It was lemonade. The person who split the drink with me, we both drank a third. And this other person was violently projectile vomiting. I could not stand up straight ‘cause I literally felt the ground shaking. Everything around me was spinning. I’m looking around, like everyone knows.
(Laughs) They usually know.
They probably do ‘cause I was trying to keep my balance. Anyway, I got older and I started seeing the effects of CBD. I have anxiety, as we all do, but mine, it’s pretty bad. I started doing the little CBD drinks and saw what everyone was saying.
I do feel calmer, and it’s easier for me to focus a little bit, but I didn’t feel high. That was very important to me because, you know, I need to be focused, but I don’t need to be freaking out because I have to cook. THC freaks me out because when you’re cooking, you’re being judged and I can’t.
My current boyfriend was like, well, “Why don’t you try five milligrams? It’s, like, a glass of wine.” Well, mama loves her wine (Laughs). It became less of a party. Now, that’s how I do it.
I’m still such a baby, like five milligrams is my absolute cap, to still be able to function and feel normal.
And so, once I looked at cannabis like wine, it changed the idea of weed and food for me because I was like, oh, this can still be – pardon the pun – an elevated adult experience. I met a chef in the bay, Solomon [Johnson], who’s a 420 chef and won Chopped 420. He’s about this life and he also does more elevated food. We had a few conversations about it, and then, I got really into food as a way to heal yourself.
I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my clients. We’re talking about something that they’re putting in their bodies every day. One of my clients was like, “Hey, I have high cholesterol right now.” And I’m like, “Okay, we’re gonna start doing smoothies and getting these things in your body.” His cholesterol went down drastically, which was great to see.
Now, having clients who have gluten intolerances or autoimmune disease with so many allergies to day-to-day food, it is such a struggle for them that they almost have this weird relationship with eating now because it’s a toss-up if they’re gonna get sick or not. Being able to sit in that place in their lives, it’s nice to say, “Hey, I got you from all angles. We’re gonna make sure this is filling but also fulfilling.”
And so, to think about THC specifically as a part of that, it helped me kind of shift my thinking to be like, okay, this is like a wine pairing. It’s a weed pairing. It’s part of the overall culinary experience for them, and it’s something that adds to the consumption of the food and that is something I can get behind.
Do you find THC goes well with certain dishes or ingredients?
It’s fat. It’s fat-soluble basically, so the fattier a dish is that you eat before it, it makes it a little bit stronger, but it also slows it down. So, if I wanna do an edible after a large meal, maybe I’ll walk it off so I don’t go to sleep full, but also I have this chemical thing happening that’s also bringing me down now, which is really nice. Instead of putting like, I don’t know, wine on top of my large meal (Laughs). You always want to put it in a fattier dish, because it helps it bond in your liver longer. I am not a scientist but I know it’s true. I just can’t explain how (Laughs).
Say for any of our readers who want to cook a nice and easy meal when they’re enjoying some cannabis, do you have any dish recommendations?
Jerk salmon croquettes, which is super easy. If you are on a really tight budget, you can use canned salmon. Growing up, my family used canned salmon or a random piece of salmon around the house. I just like a salmon croquette, ‘cause then you can put salmon, drop one egg in there, or you could also use mayonnaise ‘cause it’s cheaper than eggs right now.
You put a bunch of seasonings, anything you got in your fridge, garlic, onions, any herbs you have, and you throw all of it in the bowl. Maybe a little bit of panko or flour or something, so you can make a little patty. I like to coat mine in panko after that, so it’s nice and crunchy. You don’t have to, though. You can literally do that and you sear it off. If you have that with a salad or have that by itself, that’s such a quick and simple flavorful meal. And if you only have one piece of salmon, it’s a good way to stretch one piece of fish. I made it today with one piece of $10 salmon, which is .6 lbs. I got five of the little croquettes from it, which is enough for two people.
Any go-to desserts or personal favorites you’d recommend?
I am such a simple dessert girl. I love peach cobbler. Buy a can of peaches. I make it the old-school way, where it’s the rough dough with sugar, flour, and cold butter. You squish it together with your hand. You put the peaches in a cast iron skillet, you know, cinnamon nutmeg, you take the flour and the butter and squoosh it into a coarse dough. Throw it in chunks on top and throw the oven at 400 for 20 minutes. Amazing.
There are very few megastars with such well-earned cred and balance in both their artistry and activism. As B-I-G a movie star as Woody Harrelson unquestionably is, he’s also irrefutably a cannabis superhero and he’s been pulling off this deft trick for more than four decades now. But this very moment, right now, could arguably be when all the pieces in his life that matter most to him—love, craft, action—have aligned as never before. Woody Harrelson is, once again, riding high.
Moments after walking into theWOODS, the kind of amazing, buzzy dispensary/cannabis club/Zen sanctuary on Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood, CA that Harrelson co-founded with partners Devon Wheeler and Jay Handal and expertly designed by Thomas Schoos, I’m struck by how very much the same the longtime weed advocate seems. I’ve been running into this guy for the better part of two decades and he looks, acts and comports himself similarly each time. That, too, scores major points on the authenticity scale. When it comes to Woody Harrelson, what you see is precisely what you get—hardly a given in this City of Angels.
For most of us, Harrelson will always be the impossibly naïve and lovable “Woody” from the iconic 1980s television series, Cheers, and to others he more closely resembles Marty Hart, Matthew McConaughey’s Louisiana crime-solving partner in HBO’s award-winning series, True Detective. Here’s the thing: If searching for the real Woody Harrelson isn’t exactly an exercise in frustration, it’s certainly a most welcome challenge. Is he funny? Is he smart? Is he passionate? Is he stoned? All valid questions to be sure, and ones I was pretty determined to find out for myself. So I did.
In fairness, I’ve run into the Midland, TX native several times over the years, and at each encounter, Harrelson was either laughing or otherwise happily regaling famous friends with anecdotes. The first time I saw Harrelson was back in 2004 at Nike House in Venice, CA at a casual party honoring Nuyorican actor Rosario Dawson. Harrelson, relaxed in a gray hoodie, was on the step-and-repeat posing for photographers alongside Jason Lewis, the model and actor featured in Sex and The City (Samantha’s younger boyfriend, “Smith”). As I watched Harrelson and Lewis goof around, it struck me how alike they seemed in both appearance and demeanor, as if Harrelson was the younger man’s favorite uncle. I must say, the moment left me with a deeply positive impression of Harrelson.
A couple of years later during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, I saw Harrelson at Lotus’ exclusive afterparty following the screening of The Grand. There, huddled in a corner just out of earshot from the rest of us mere mortals, Harrelson and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines were literally howling with laughter. Again, that left me with a strong “good vibes only” imprint on my growing visual résumé of Harrelson.
Then, a little more than a decade ago, I again catch Harrelson, this time in WeHo at the legendary Chateau Marmont, at a Golden Globes party where the irresistibly charismatic actor was in mid-story, smiling as he spoke to a small group that included Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Ben Stiller. Again, all eyes were on Woody.
Back to theWOODS.
As the movie star warmly greets the assembled team—photographer, stylist, assistants—he listens to the ideas he’s given in advance of the photo shoot and with a quick nod, signals his approval. As the first set-up in the lush outdoor patio is being prepared, I can’t help but compare this easy-breezy celebrity encounter with the countless, much more difficult interactions I’ve had with other famous subjects over the years. Given his long, celebrated acting career that includes nominations for three Oscars and nine Emmys (one win) as well as being a recipient of four Golden Globes, a BAFTA (British Oscar) and a whopping seven Screen Actors Guild awards, Harrelson doesn’t seem to let any of it get to his head—or his soul.
I mean, his Best Actor Oscar-nominated turn in The People vs. Larry Flynt remains an undisputed acting tour de force; but lest we forget his indelible roles in White Men Can’t Jump, Natural Born Killers, Indecent Proposal, Hunger Games, The Thin Red Line, EDtv, Money Train, The Messenger and on and on and on.
So, it’s not a huge surprise, then, as we wrap up the shoot and move to a quieter spot to converse, that the first question I pose is about acting: “Do you think you’ve ever had a role where you said, ‘You know what, I cannot do better than that’?”
“Well, I never have felt that way. I always feel like I could do better,” Harrelson says, smiling. “Even Cheers?” I counter. “Well…no, not Cheers,” he says, suddenly bursting into laughter in that familiar way I’ve witnessed him doing all of these years now.
At this very moment, being the reason why Harrelson is laughing so genuinely now, satisfies me in ways I’m not quite fully understanding. Could it be that I want Woody Harrelson to like me, as he seems to like so many in his presence? That was unexpected.
“To answer your question about the perfect role, the other day I was biking when I started thinking about [the 2017 film] War for the Planet of the Apes and how I would’ve done my character so much better,” he says. “I had a whole different take on the character, some kind of behavioral modifications that I was integrating that would’ve made the character so much more interesting and better than what I did. How do you have some kind of character remorse like that six years later? I never feel my performances are perfect. I never feel it. But I liked the movies and I liked my performances in both LBJ (2016) and Glass Castle (2017), but both of these films also attain the same level of greatness in the US since nobody saw these movies!” Woody Harrelson is laughing hard once again.
If Harrelson’s status as a legit movie star is beyond reproach, then, certainly his role as cannabis royalty is similarly established. A National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board member for the past two decades, Harrelson is one of the Hollywood OGs when it comes to advocacy and activism for the plant, particularly for small farms and outdoor (sungrown) cannabis.
No less an authority than Tim Blake, the founder of the prestigious annual cannabis awards show and mega event Emerald Cup, weighs in. “When Woody was on the stage to receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, he said, ‘You know, these are my people. This is my community.’ And he felt it. He’s protested before, he’s humble, he knows the scene. It was really touching. I’ll love Woody forever for that. Everything we are fits with him. Woody’s evangelizing for sungrown small farmers—he’s putting his name on the line. He’s the real deal. I can’t thank him enough for doing what he did.”
With the results of the recent 2022 midterm elections, Maryland and Missouri have joined the 21 states (and the District of Columbia) where adult-use cannabis is legal. I wonder what Harrelson’s take is given the relative speed and scope of the legalization movement occurring in the US. His answer surprised me.
“I’m 100 percent against the legalization movement,” Harrelson says without hesitation. “I believe in the decriminalization movement. If you only say legalization, now you leave the government’s hand in the pie. It’s going to be in the pie regardless. Decriminalization is a much better way to go. So, yeah, I don’t believe in this whole ‘who are they to tell us it’s OK for us to smoke?’ or ‘why does the government have that right?’ If you think about it, the only thing that should be illegal is if you hurt someone else or their property, right? That’s what should be illegal. Here’s the bottom line: Weed shouldn’t be more regulated than alcohol. It hasn’t caused anywhere nearly as many deaths as alcohol or ruined as many lives. I’m not sure if my life’s been ruined… I don’t quite remember! [Laughs]
But I do want him to remember as I’m ever curious about how his love for the herb began. Surely there’s a story there.
“My mother used to say to me, ‘Son, if I ever find you smoking marijuana, it’ll just kill me,’ so that kept me away from herb until my senior year in college. And there was a guy named John St. Angelo and I knew that he smoked. And, ironically, all through high school, I always looked down on pot and those who smoked it. I looked at myself more in the athletic mode and I looked on them as just stoners, you know, when they’d be hanging out smoking. And I’m embarrassed to say it now, but I did judge them. I really did.”
The star takes a pause, presumably recollecting what his college life looked like.
“So, I remember John St. Angelo always offered herb up to me, and we went out and smoked and it was out of those things, I think you call them a steamroller. We smoked a hit and then he opened this box—he’s got like five or six different types of herb. And then he opened a specific one, and we both did one hit each. After that, John put everything back together and placed everything back in the box. That’s it—one hit. And I felt phenomenal. I mean, it was like I was tripping on a joyous euphoria, you know? I kept thinking that I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to try this. One thing was certain, I was going to make up for lost time. And so I did.”
Harrelson’s cannabis CV is extensive, so much so that I told him about my picks for the Mount Rushmore of celebrity advocates which include Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Jerry Garcia, Tommy Chong and him. “Wow, I’m flattered by it,” he says, smiling that smile of his. “Anyone I left off the list you think may be a candidate?” I ask. “Well, there are a lot of people, of course,” Harrelson says. “But did you know Paul McCartney went to prison for days?” Our talk then veered into the time Harrelson himself was arrested by the state of Kentucky in 1996 for planting organic hemp seeds (Kentucky didn’t differentiate between non-psychoactive organic hemp and THC). To see Harrelson speak about herb, there’s no question how much he loves it. His passion for hemp, though perhaps not as globally known, burns just as bright.
“I think that day is coming,” Harrelson says about the need for hemp to become a leader in fashion, architecture and more if we’re to survive on this planet. “I feel like we’re going to make hemp available in any number of ways. Well, the point is we have to become more sustainable and hemp is a route towards sustainability because it’s really easy to grow and you can use it for so many different things and it takes so little water when compared to other crops.”
For all his knowledge and loyalty for all things cannabis, Harrelson says he took a break from it for nearly two years and, unsurprisingly, how he found himself back to it entails a pretty epic story. Enjoy.
“I took off about 20 months, but Willie [Nelson] is so crafty because he’d offered me already 5000 times to smoke with him and I’m being strong telling him, ‘Willie, remember, I’m not smoking.’ ‘Oh, yeah. OK, then.’ And then he’d host a poker game at his house with me, him and six other friends, and I’m feeling that anxiety that, you know, temptation. So, Willie offers me some herb, and I’m like, again, ‘Willie, remember? I’m not smoking.’
‘Oh, OK, buddy. OK.’ And then I lose a hand. Now, Willie’s real smart. He’s cagey. So he offers me herb right then when I lose the hand, and you’d think from the pain of losing that hand I’m gonna take a hit? ‘No,’ I said, ‘Willie, remember, I’m not smoking’. And he says, ‘Oh, yeah, man. Oh, yeah.’ Well, finally, he used reverse psychology on me when I win a hand. So, I’m jubilant and right then he offers up the herb and it’s Willie’s Reserve in a pen. And I’m thinking to myself, you know, it’s a pen, it’s not, it’s not actually smoking. You know, I don’t know what I thought, exactly, but the point is, I grabbed it, took a hit and Willie turns to me and says, ‘Welcome home, son.’ He’s something else.”
Turning to more current endeavors, we then talk about his latest acting gigs: the Cannes Film Festival sensation, Palme d’Or-winning and Golden Globes-nominated film Triangle of Sadness, directed by the celebrated Swede Ruben Östlund, where Harrelson plays a Marxist alcoholic boat captain of a super luxury yacht in the comedy with a message movie. Next up is Champions, a film where Harrelson is reunited with fellow cinematic cannabis icon Cheech Marin and portrays a former minor-league basketball coach ordered by a court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities. Big-hearted and inspirational doesn’t begin to cover it. Lastly, with what just may be another nominated turn, Harrelson stars as E. Howard Hunt—opposite Justin Theroux as G. Gordon Liddy—in HBO Max’s highly anticipated Watergate miniseries, White House Plumbers, premiering March 2023.
“Well, I had so much fun portraying my character in Triangle of Sadness,” Harrelson says. “Ruben is one of my favorite directors and I think he’s a true master of his craft. I have to say, it was a privilege to be a part of that movie. The film sends up the super-wealthy, but you never feel like you’re being preached to at all. It’s funny.”
As our talk gets deeper, easier, friendlier, cheekier—for the entirety of our encounter, Harrelson has been merrily puffing on a Spanish Lime Haze joint from Pure Beauty—I sense the actor in front of me is in complete synch with his current environment. Harrelson not only lends his considerable star power to theWOODS, but he palpably wants to hang out as much as possible right where he is. The effect is the equivalent of taking a deep breath and exhaling: heady and relaxing.
“The designer of theWOODS, Thomas Schoos, did all the heavy lifting,” Harrelson says. “You know, it’s not my design at all. If it was up to me, it would’ve been pure hippie, completely psychedelic. But a picture does paint a thousand words. I mean, look around. You don’t get this in Amsterdam anywhere. No you don’t. So, to me, I wanted a beautiful space for people to be able to come and enjoy. I wanted a very comfortable space, a very homey space.”
“Why West Hollywood?” I wonder out loud.
“It’s interesting, I’m glad you asked me that, Richard,” Harrelson says. “West Hollywood has really done great by us. It’s amazing that this is here. And we’re also set to open a bar in March . theWOODS is definitely at the forefront because of West Hollywood’s broad-mindedness. I was going to say magnanimity, but if you think about it, we shouldn’t be regulated at all so it’s hard for me to use that word. I’ll just say the City of West Hollywood is definitely broad-minded. And good for them and for us.”
Harrelson isn’t so generous with his sentiments when it comes to California generally, and what he perceives to be unfair treatment of the cannabis industry by the state.
“I do feel like the state government treats us badly,” Harrelson says. “They don’t treat any other industry like they treat us. They tax the shit out of us. I feel like for all the money the state of California makes on cannabis taxes, shouldn’t they be treating us a little better? It’s a matter of fairness, my friend. Straight up.”
To know Harrelson at all is to know that a large part of his herb advocacy stems from his deep-held beliefs that sungrown cannabis is the best in the world. “For me, the best herb is definitely sungrown, soil nourished and water purified,” he says. “You know, water is something that I never used to think much about. And then on a relatively recent trip to Trinity County [CA], I started thinking about the Trinity River, and how key the water source is for herb. So, you have these indoor grows that use fertilizers that aren’t necessarily healthy, and this plant takes in more sun than any other plant. Herb is the highest receptivity to sun of any plant; did you know that? So this plant is meant to thrive in the sun. I’d rather take a joint and pass it around that’s been grown outdoors naturally every single time.”
“This plant is meant to thrive in the sun. I’d rather take a joint and pass it around that’s been grown outdoors naturally every single time.”
I then sneak in a fun question: “In a lifetime of smoking weed and clearly having amazing experiences with the coolest people on the planet while smoking herb, is there one moment that stands out where you said, ‘I can’t believe I’m here smoking herb with X person?’”
“Wow, yeah—I did smoke with some really amazing people,” he says.
Anyone you’d like to smoke with? I ask. “Maybe Jesus,” Harrelson says. Somehow, I’m not remotely surprised. Of course Woody Harrelson, America’s chillest actor, would like to smoke with Jesus because even being in theWOODS, anyone can get its singularly spiritual environmental vibes (there are several Buddhas throughout the establishment).
I then logically ask about the future of the dispensary and cannabis club: “Any other locations to look forward to?” Harrelson shuts that down in a minute.
“I can’t really think of anything but this one spot right now,” he says. “Even the amount of labor it’s taken for this location precludes doing another one. I simply can’t even wrap my head around it. It just seems too colossal. I’m telling you, Richard, if this thing doesn’t succeed, you’ll be able to contact me in my mother’s guestroom, in Ohio.” Oh, yeah, there’s that laugh again.
Wanting to wrap up our bonding sesh on a high note, I ask this quintessential American celebrity and lover of herb, to finish this sentence: Cannabis matters because…
“If used medicinally, it’s powerful and good,” he says. “It’s also the most important plant on the planet. It’s time to end the political stigmatization of this amazing plant.”
At this point, I tell him what a mega-famous celebrity relayed to me when I had asked him to complete the “why cannabis matters” sentence. “Pot excites and heals—what else does that?” “Ohh, I like that!” Harrelson says. “Why didn’t I say something like that?” Harrelson is having another full-throated laughing moment and it’s something else to watch.
Then it hits me: Harrelson is completely having a moment, his best moment of his life. He’s happy in a way that seems, well, scripted, but it’s so clearly not. I share my epiphany with the affable and eternally youthful legend: “Woody, are you living your best moment right now?”
“Thank you, Richard,” Harrelson starts, clearly moved by my question. “I like to look at it that way. So, yes, I think that’s true, this is the best moment of my life. You know, it’s funny, there’s not much that I do that I don’t want to do. And I don’t really like doing press at all, but you made it kind of fun and easy.”
Could this be? Does Woody Harrelson like me? I look up to see his face, and of course he’s laughing that laugh of his. Yeah, it’s definitely Woody’s moment once again.
This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.
From humble origins, the legacy of 420 has grown into a celebration of global proportions. Marked on April 20 each year, the festivities take many forms, though a love for cannabis and appreciation for the community remains constant. Today, parties marking weed’s unofficial high holy day range from legacy, large-scale smoke sessions to major productions headlined by reggae legends and chart-topping rappers. The day is drawing near, and with more and more states embracing legalization, there are more 420 events happening than ever. With that in mind, here’s a look at ten of the most notable 420 events happening across the nation.
The math here is simple: Add some of reggae’s biggest names to one of the most iconic venues in the entire US and it equals an unmissable 420 experience. That’s what’s on tap for Colorado’s famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which will host the Marley Brothers for two unforgettable nights. On April 19, Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, and Ky-Mani Marley will perform with special guests Sean Paul and Protoje. On April 20, the children of Bob Marley return for another show, this one with Steel Pulse, Lee “Scratch” Perry and more. These should be some seriously special nights—the Red Rocks’ specialty.
Things should be next level at the fifth New York Cannabis Freedom Festival now that adult-use cannabis is legal in the Empire State. Featuring music, guest speakers and vendor exhibits, the NYCFF is packed with panels, events and a performance by headliner Raven International, all backdropped by the exciting prospect of seeing where legal cannabis in New York goes next.
Want to experience 420 in its full glory? Head to Denver for Mile High 420, which bills itself as the world’s largest free celebration devoted to smoking cannabis. Set in Civic Center Park, this year’s installment remains free but does require advanced registration, which seems well worth it given the event is set to be hosted by stoner legend Tommy Chong and feature performances from Rick Ross, Fivio Foreign and Waka Flocka Flame, among others.
Golden Gate Park’s Robin Williams Meadow is home to California’s biggest free cannabis event, where crowds flock to Hippie Hill to ring in the arrival of 4:20 pm. This year’s edition is set to feature a performance by Erykah Badu as well as plenty of top-notch people watching. And, if the city of San Francisco opts to approve pending permits, 2023 will also see the return of legal sales and consumption to the event for a second year. But regardless of that outcome, the place will undoubtedly be packed with the smell of good flower this 420.
Want to get in on a secret? Keep close tabs on this page from top California cultivator Glass House Farms, where specifics on their plans for April 20 will soon be revealed. Past activations and surprise pop-up events from the brand have featured the likes of Flying Lotus, Duckwrth, Guapdad 4000, Tiffany Haddish and Eric Andre, so there’s good reason to believe they have something equally amazing cooked up for this year’s installment.
Not every 420 event happens on the exact date, making the party last even longer. One great example is Washington, DC’s National Cannabis Festival. Taking over the RFK Festival Grounds on April 22, this multi-faceted event includes a concert headlined by rapper 2 Chainz in addition to educational programming, an exhibitor fair and an aptly named “Munchies Zone.” There’s even the prospect of a catching a weed-themed wedding or two while you’re there.
Invading Hadley, Massachusetts from April 21-22, the Grass is Greener Gathering doubles as a celebration of 420 and Earth Day (April 22) with a stacked music lineup headlined by Action Bronson on Friday and Fugees’ founder Wyclef Jean on Saturday. Featuring three music stages, 75+ vendors, pro wrestling exhibitions and hot air balloon rides, GGG is an annual East Coast stoner’s paradise that also makes a point of using their proceeds from ticket sales to support worthy causes.
The Scranton-based festival is one of the largest on the East Coast. For its ninth installment, the PA Cannabis Festival is hitting the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, where it will host two stages and 300+ vendors for a wild weekend of weed-themed fun. Presented by CuraLeaf, the 2023 edition will feature performances from Bong Hits for Jesus, Space Kamp, and Kottonmouth Kings. This year also introduces the option to camp on-site for those seeking a more immersive, scenic excursion.
Agate Dreams in gorgeous Suquamish, Washington has found a perfect marriage with their annual 420 Golf Tournament. Set to return for its second installment in 2023, the event offers a chance to hit the links with your pot-loving peers for a scramble format completion in pursuit of a cash prize. Naturally, registration costs $420 per four-person team, which includes meals and swag.
Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 Fest takes place at Sweetwater Brewery. There’s an old-school rave vibe to this brewer’s warehouse that doubles as a venue for the annual occasion. Beyond having a blast with good bud and brews, you can also enjoy a lineup of musical talent topped by Shakey Graves, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Ghostland Observatory. It’s a testament to this fest’s appeal that they can snag such a dazzling mix of acclaimed artists to come through.
Writer’s note: Lately I’ve been getting invited to shows and events that… well, would have made my teenage self do backflips. In an effort to share more cultural significance with you all, I’ll occasionally post “Snaps’” highlighting these events, shows or projects for you to attend, or at least get a glimpse of, no matter where you happen to be physically.
If you’re in L.A., or can get here in the next few weeks, you absolutely have to check out the new Basquiat exhibition at The Grand LA, “King Pleasure.” Curated by his sisters and nieces, “King Pleasure” is a collection of rarely before seen work by the iconic artist, from his sketchbook doodles to more traditional fine art from throughout his education, on display now in Los Angeles after a highly successful run back in New York City.
Whether you’ve been a fan since back when he was doing the work, or you’re just joining the team now, “King Pleasure” is going to present Jean-Michel in a way you’ve never seen before. Recreating both his studio and his childhood living room within the expansive four gallery show, the depth of his creativity is really on display here. While you’ll see countless works in his signature style, you’ll also learn his abilities reached far past what some consider to be more abstract art pieces.
A few weeks back I had the chance to visit the show before it opened with my friend, and an iconic artist in his own right, Joey Colombo. As we navigated through the expansive collection that ranged from actual doodles to theater-sized canvases, I know I speak for both of us when I say our eyes were opened to just how incredible Basquiat’s life and work truly were. From getting to step inside his living studio, to admiring the improvised canvas he’d create to get an idea out, the artistry on display extends far beyond the work most of us are already familiar with. And some of it is GIGANTIC. The final gallery, which holds the pieces he made for the Palladium, will likely make you feel smaller than any other canvas work you’ve seen in the past. When it clicks that someone the same size as you did all that, and not some giant, it’s stunning. And they’re each a single canvas!
The show is about more than just the work though. It’s truly a celebration of his life. Complete with maps of New York City and Los Angeles pinpointing the places he grew up and found himself, as well as the hotspots he frequented, there’s a special type of intimacy here. You get to peruse his collection of keepsakes from around the world, and the notes in his sketchbook. I don’t know if I’ve seen ANY show offer this much insight into an artist’s being. You can see firsthand the things that were important to him. In the recreated studio you can feel his process. It’s really quite remarkable.
The New York Times wrote that the show “creates an emotional impact that’s hard to shake,” and TimeOut New York called it their “favorite exhibit of the year.”
For another actual artist’s perspective, Joey told me “[the] show was exciting and inspiring.. it got my creative juices flowing!”
In addition to work by Basquiat, the show also has several of Warhol’s originals, including his iconic portrait of Jean-Michel, as well as those of his family—including Jeanine, this show’s curator.
On display through July, don’t miss your chance to experience these rarely and never before seen works, through the lens of his actual family. There’s over 200 of them, and there’s truly something for everybody. You can get your King Pleasure tickets here.
If you’re looking to break into the highly competitive California cannabis market, you’ll need more than just a good idea and some funding. Navigating the complex regulatory environment, securing reliable partners in retail distribution, white labeling, cultivation and creating a successful brand can be an overwhelming challenge for any new or existing company. However, with the 818 Brands cannabis business hub, you can scale your business at a fraction of the time and cost and get access to a wide range of expertise and support.
Located in the heart of California’s San Fernando Valley, 818 Brands is one of the top cannabis cultivators and distributors in Southern California. Founded by three first-generation indoor premium cultivators with over 20 years of combined experience in the industry, 818 Brands provides a unique incubator program that can help both new and existing companies achieve their business goals. From fresh, exotic indoor strains to sales strategy, marketing support and banking, 818 Brands offers a comprehensive suite of services to support your journey.
“As first-generation indoor premium cultivators that started in the weeds of the San Fernando Valley, we understand that AAA quality and consistency is what wins when building a cannabis flower brand,” says Rami Vardi, co-founder of 818 Brands. “At 818 Brands, you get experience, quality and consistency when it comes to flower and brand building.”
The incubator program focuses on three key pillars of expertise: retail distribution, white labeling and cultivation. By partnering with 818 Brands, you can gain access to the company’s entire sales structure, including a network of dispensaries and distributors that will help you secure highly competitive shelf space. You’ll also have the support of a carefully curated sales team that will help you develop a strong sales funnel. Moreover, 818 Brands’ experienced branding and marketing team will help you launch your brand and expertly walk you through the steps to brand building.
One of the key advantages of 818 Brands’ incubator program is the access to their brand hub, conveniently located between the west valley of Los Angeles and downtown. Here, you’ll find a range of business support services, including offices, a shared conference room and showrooms. Itss an excellent place for brands of all sizes and stages to network with like-minded people and learn from experienced professionals in the cannabis industry.
“Launching a cannabis brand can be a daunting challenge, but with the right partner, you can achieve your goals faster and more cost-effectively,” says Mac Leo, who is the director of marketing. “At 818 Brands, we provide a one-stop-shop for all your cannabis business needs, from cultivation to retail distribution and branding. By accessing our expertise and resources, you can scale your business and gain a competitive edge in the SoCal market.
Through its incubator program, 818 Brands provides a comprehensive support system for businesses of all sizes and stages. They offer access to their entire sales structure, including distribution, sales and marketing support. Plus, their indoor cultivation hub, located in California’s San Fernando Valley, produces some of the best cannabis strains in the state.
When you join the incubator program, 818 Brands will work with you to create a detailed plan and support solution every step of the way. Their support includes access to a distribution license, sales support, brand and marketing support, and fresh, exotic indoor flowers. With 818 Brands, you can quickly scale your cannabis business with much less risk than doing it all on your own.
Dibs Reserve used 818 Brands’ incubator program to get their products into highly competitive shelf space in SoCal-area dispensaries. According to the founder of Dibs Reserve, “818 Brands facilitated the launch of our cannabis brand, Dibs Reserve, with sales, fulfillment and marketing support. 818 Brands really hooked it up by getting our brand into some of SoCal’s hottest dispensaries, too. I highly recommend using 818 Brands to build your brand.”
Steps to Success
818 Brands understands that starting a cannabis business can be challenging, especially in a highly competitive market like California. That’s why they’ve designed their services to help you achieve success quickly and efficiently. Here are the steps 818 Brands will take with you to build your company.
Access to Distribution License: 818 Brands will help you cut down your startup time to launch your brand in the legal market by providing access to a distribution license in California. This will enable you to operate as a licensed entity and start selling your products immediately.
Access to Sales Support: Their extensive network of dispensaries and distributors will help you secure highly competitive shelf space for your products. Plus, their experienced sales team will work closely with you to develop a strong sales funnel, ensuring that your products reach your target audience.
Access to Brand and Marketing Support: Building a strong brand is essential to the success of any business. 818 Brands’ experienced branding and marketing team will work with you to create a unique brand identity that resonates with your target customers. They’ll help you develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes social media, advertising and public relations.
Access to Fresh, Exotic Indoor Flower: Consistency is key to building brand loyalty. 818 Brands understands the importance of having access to high-quality cannabis products. That’s why their 150,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art indoor grow facility produces some of the best cannabis strains in California. You’ll get access to their top-shelf cannabis products, ensuring your customers can always enjoy the freshest and most exotic strains.
When partnering with 818 Brands, you can expect success. You’ll gain all the benefits of starting a business with a strong foundation, which naturally lends itself to a long-lasting future. The beauty to this partnership is that you can stand out in a crowded marketplace and achieve success more quickly and efficiently than doing it on your own.
“818 Brands knows that every brand has its own specific needs,” Leo says. “The innovative incubator program allows you to quickly scale your cannabis business with much less risk than doing it all on your own.”
Maya Kendrick is a cool ass stoner chick based in L.A., who’s known for her adult film work. We met through mutual friends and I quickly became a fan of her Instagram, which features snapshots from her mellow day-to-day life — hitting the bong, hanging with the cats, lots of hot girl ring light selfies, etc.
Maya entered the smut industry in 2016 and has appeared in hundreds of scenes and movies since. She took a brief hiatus from working this past November to “get mommy milkers” — as she explained on Twitter — so we thought now would be a good time to publish a very fun conversation with the performer and pot lover.
Over the course of an hour phone call, Maya explained how smoking weed in high school felt like a totally different high, bravely admitted that she doesn’t know how to roll joints, and also detailed the first time she tried DMT. She was accompanied by some trippy scientists at a crypto conference, and the bros blabbed about shooting mice with lasers while she laughed her ass off throughout the trip.
This was a very fun conversation with a very lovely person — thanks Maya!
What was your first time smoking weed like?
Maya Kendrick: My first time smoking weed was on a trail in the park across from my house with a bunch of my friends during the summer after eighth grade. It was in Washington State. So we were smoking weed out of an Arizona Iced Tea can and I remember being very paranoid cuz there was some sort of park maintenance person whose truck was parked nearby. They were wandering around the area and I was like, “We’re gonna get arrested by this park ranger for smoking weed!” I was so scared for absolutely no reason. That man definitely didn’t give a shit.
Did you get stoned during this first time smoking?
I was slightly high, but I was more just in love with the experience of doing something I wasn’t supposed to. I had been so eager to rebel in some fashion. And then the second time I smoked weed was out of a cheap purple plastic bubbler. And that time I got insanely high. I did enjoy the experience. I wasn’t scared or paranoid or anything. I just had a great time, and everything was a million times funnier. I was happy.
Did it become a regular part of your life from then on?
Every Saturday, when I hung out with my friends, we would try to sneak away from whoever’s parents and smoke. We would sit under a blanket on a deck and hotbox it. Back then, we’d get so stoned. Like fucked up. Getting stoned in high school feels like a different drug. It’s different and I wish I could get that stoned now. I have a vivid memory of being high in high school and one of my friends drove me to my house so that I could pick up clothes, and we were already high. And when I left, I kissed my mom on the mouth. I was so stoned, that it seemed normal. I didn’t know how to operate my body normally. And I was like, “She’s going to know I’m high. I haven’t kissed her on the mouth in like eight years!” [laughs]
What’s your day-to-day consumption like today?
Some days I wake up and start smoking right away. Other days, I wait until later in the afternoon. Generally, now, any type of weed I smoke makes me tired. Even if I’m smoking sativas, it makes me sleepy unless I’m also on Adderall. How weed affects me just changed maybe like a year and a half or two years ago. Before, I used to be able to dab. I used to exclusively dab for years. I still do it occasionally, but I don’t do it as my main method of consumption anymore. I feel like I have no tolerance these days. I will smoke a sativa joint and be like, “I need to take a nap. I’m kind of sleepy.”
What’s your preferred way to consume these days?
I smoke out of a bong and I vape a lot. I can’t roll anything, and I’ve never been able to roll anything. And now I feel that that ship has sailed. I live in a state that sells pre-rolls, so why try now? I admire other people who can roll, though. I genuinely think of it as a skill set. My hands just are too dumb — it’s not gonna happen.
Do you have a preferred type of flower, whether a specific strain or just a certain flavor profile?
I actually don’t. I kind of like everything [laughs]. I’ve always just been like, “The more weed, the merrier.” I’ve never had a favorite anything. I like it all. I’ve never felt like, “Oh I want to be this specific type of high.” I’m willing to gamble.
Where do you buy weed in L.A.? Any particular dispensary?
For years, I went to this dispensary deep in the Valley in a strip mall that had no signage or anything. It just said “dispensary.” All the girls there were so hot and I became friends with them all; it still makes me mad that I never got any of their Instagrams. Now, they’re just, like, in the wind. This dispensary didn’t tax anything, and I’m pretty sure they were just very, very sketchy. But the weed was great and reliable. And I went there literally once a week for two and a half, maybe three years. Then I went back one time and everything was gone and it was just boarded up.
What about today? Where do you get your weed?
I immediately pivoted to ordering delivery. Grass Door is my preferred dispensary for delivery. It’s just so easy. They also have sales all the time and I love a sale. It makes me feel better about buying a dumb amount of weed. I’ll buy a few half ounces of different stuff and then I’ll get a few disposable vapes. Sometimes I smoke less weed when I’m busier. Some days, I’ll smoke an eighth. I haven’t smoked flower in like three days. I occasionally try to take a tolerance break. It used to be so hard for me. I couldn’t even think about not smoking for like two days. Today, though, I can take a break if I’m busy — that’s easy. I’ve definitely matured in my relationship with weed, whereas before, I was just like dabbing all day, every day.
Are there any types of weed products, like ephemera, grinders, or pipes that you like?
I really like my grinder. It’s from Sackville and Co. It’s the one that doesn’t have a kief catcher. It’s my favorite. I’ve had it for like a year and a half, and it’s indestructible. I like that you don’t have to grind up weed everyday. I’ll just grind up weed every three days and it will fill the grinder. It was the biggest barrier in getting me to transition from dabbing to flower. I was like, “I have to make myself enjoy this. So let’s get a bong that I like. Let’s get a grinder that I like.” Then it was easier to transition into using flower regularly.
Do you just stick to weed, or do you like psychedelics, too?
I do psychedelics sometimes. I did shrooms once in high school and had a really great experience with it. I just don’t take them regularly because they’re time-consuming. I did acid for the first time last September, and I was super wary of it. I was really nervous. So I only took like half a tab and then like basically nothing happened. Occasionally, I’d be like, “The ground looks a little weird.” [laughs] I’d be into trying more now. I’m no longer scared.
And then I tried DMT for the first time that same night, and I really liked it. I hit a DMT vape pen. I was at a mountain retreat in Denver after a crypto conference. This guy was really selling me on DMT because he was very into it. He said it only lasts 20 minutes and if you don’t like it, you don’t hit the vape again. So I tried it. I don’t really mind that it tastes like plastic; I can get over that [laughs]. And I had the BEST evening. We were sitting on this deck in the Colorado wilderness watching the sunset and I vaped DMT for like three hours. It was so fun and so funny.
I didn’t really know any of the people I was with, and they were mostly these insane scientists talking about experiments they used to do on mice where they would shoot them with certain lasers. I was just sitting there laughing — it was funny that they were talking about their actual jobs as scientists. I was just like, “I don’t know why I’m here. I do porn. I am so unqualified to be listening to your science experiment talk.” So I just sat there, did more DMT, looked at my hands, and cracked up. “Thanks for the DMT, babes!” You know?
I’m curious if weed plays a role when you’re performing in adult films. Do you ever smoke before getting to set?
Yeah, I definitely have. I used to always dab before set because by the time my makeup was done, I wouldn’t be as high anymore. I was like, “I’ll just sit there really high and get my makeup done for an hour and a half and then I’ll be slightly less high and I’ll go to work.” So I used to do that all the time. Now I will vape outside on set. But for a long time, I didn’t smoke weed on set because the producers were so strict, specifically like with the girls.
Was it a consent issue thing? Like they were worried you’d be incapacitated or something?
They were worried that I would be a worse performer. They were not worried about consent. They were worried that my performance would suffer. They were more worried my eyes would look fucked up [laughs].
Does weed make you perform differently?
Sometimes it’d make me more comfortable. Like, I can do everything that I can do sober when I am stoned, you know? I don’t think it’s great if I’m doing scenes where I have to do tons of dialogue and acting — weed won’t help me reach my peak performance. But for gonzo stuff, I don’t think it affects me negatively. It’s almost like a background thing. I can be high and do high-performance sex; that’s not an issue. After all, I used to smoke weed at six in the morning and then go to the gym with my old porn agent.
What about in your personal life? Does weed make sex more enjoyable for you?
Yeah. I think I like both. There’s definitely some times when I’d like my head to be as clear as possible. I like being high when I have sex and I like being sober when I have sex. I feel like I do both equally. I smoke weed more before I do escorting work — way more than I smoke weed before shooting porn. I’m generally an anxious person. So whenever I smoke weed, I am typically more relaxed. I was never anxious on set, but I can be when meeting a client. So I usually smoke a little bit before meeting them to calm my own nerves. Not that there’s anything to be nervous about. I’m just a nervous type of person [laughs]. Porn made me nervous during the first 30 scenes or whatever, and now it’s 300 later so I’m not nervous doing it anymore.
What activity do you like to do after you’ve gotten stoned?
I like to do the dishes and laundry when I’m really high. Dishes are my favorite calming activity after I’ve gotten too stoned. Sometimes if I’m really high, I’ll just walk into the kitchen and while it wasn’t my intention to do them, that’s where I end up. It feels nice. It’s meditative. Sometimes I’ll listen to music while doing it; sometimes I won’t listen to anything. Or I’ll do my laundry and then I’ll come inside and I’ll smoke weed and play video games. And then 30 minutes later I get up and fold the laundry. And then I come back and smoke more weed and play more video games. It’s a nice little routine. I’m often accidentally productive when I’m stoned. I’ll get distracted into a productive task.
What about something you like to watch while high? Anything particular?
I really like the YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning. This is kind of a corny answer, but it’s these two dads who have a daily talk show on YouTube that they’ve been doing since I was right out of high school. It’s funny, it’s short. I don’t have to think about anything, and it always makes me laugh hysterically. I’ve been watching it for like over 10 years. I watch it basically everyday without fail.
Have you ever met them or spoken to them online?
I haven’t, but I did fuck one of their employees one time [laughs]. When I first moved to L.A., I followed a bunch of the crew members and show producers on socials. I thought that one of them was really hot, so I followed him on Twitter and then he hit me up one night when he was drunk with his friends. And I was like, “Yes, I need to capitalize on this opportunity. This is what I moved here for: to fuck random crew members from this weird YouTube show.” [laughs] I don’t know if the hosts know who I am now, but I hope the crew member told them, “Hey, me and my friend tag teamed this porn star.”
Do you prefer any type of music or radio shows while stoned?
I generally listen to the last 10 songs that I’ve liked on Spotify. So there are some songs from Father’s new album. I love this song called “If We Were a Party” because it reminds me so much of Miley Cyrus, circa 2012. I can’t get that one out of my head. I’ve also been into hyperpop the last few years. I love the new Harry Styles album. I was a big One Direction fan as a teenager. That’s basically the gist of my music consumption.
Do you like reading while you’re high?
I usually read the news or articles that I see retweeted on my Twitter feed. Whatever catches my eye. I follow a lot of people who are into crypto and stuff and sometimes I’ll just look at somebody’s feed and try to understand what they’re saying [laughs].
If you could smoke anywhere in the world that you have not been to, where would you want to sesh?
If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go somewhere in Thailand with an infinity pool. Sounds like a nice answer. I just got my passport last year, so I’m eager to travel. Plus, Thailand has reformed its weed laws — no more death penalty! They’re trying to capitalize on the global weed market.
Last question is if you could smoke with any person dead or alive, who would be in your dream blunt rotation?
I’m gonna go with Anthony Bourdain and John Waters. It would just be so interesting. I don’t want to squander this opportunity on someone like Snoop Dogg, though no offense to Snoop Dogg.