Cash Only’s 420 Recs: Zach Harris, Weed and Skate Writer

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I am proud to share my name with Zach Harris, even if weed industry people sometimes get us confused. After all, I regularly worked with the Philly-based writer for years while I was editor at Merry Jane. Harris was one of our main contributors, and we’d often be CC’ed on the same emails, so marijuana media mix-ups were par for the course. 

But ZH is his own man — a unique Zach with strong convictions, a well-oiled cortex, and the lungs of an ultra-marathon runner. For real, this guy can smoke some fucking weed. It always blew my mind that the dude would chief at least a dozen or two joints a day, yet still be awake before me and always hit his deadlines. 

Me and Harris collaborated a lot, including on several features I’m proud of to this day: His screed against “moon rocks,” caviar, and tarantula joints; a deep dive into the secondary market for rare and discontinued Backwoods flavors; and the very first investigation of the “mysterious vaping illness” (later dubbed EVALI) which was spurred by fake and bootleg THC cartridges. This last scoop went viral and led to coverage on Rolling Stone, NYPost, and countless other publications before the topic became a national news item. 

These days, Harris still writes about weed and skating for publications like Complex, but mostly does consulting and copywriting for cannabis brands like Cookies, Viola, Elyon, and more. Not too long ago, he conceived and executed an exclusive partnership between Cookies and Spitfire Wheels, celebrating pro skater Kader Sylla. Zach is also very good at Twitter and is a must-follow for anyone who’s into authentic cannabis culture.

We’re grateful to consider Harris a pal and co-conspirator, and the weed lord made some time to talk about his pot preferences with Cash Only. In a fun interview, Zach discusses his morning joint rolling rigamarole, shouts out some heady growers, and also gives the nod to his brother Malcolm’s upcoming book. The Harris family is full of heads, what can I say! Big ups to Zach H. — you’re a real-deal stoner with a beautiful brain.

Photo by Zach Sokol

Do you have a current favorite weed strain? How do you like to consume it?

Zach Harris: Lately, I’ve been smoking a lot of sun-grown First Class Funk and Horchata my family grew in NorCal and then some indoor London Pound Cake. I try to switch up flavors pretty frequently, but I’m typically into the more funky, gassy, savory strains. 

Consumption-wise, I’m usually smoking a bong or dab rig at home and then personal-sized joints whenever I’m outside. We’re still in a pandemic, so I’m not passing my joints to anyone, but I’ll usually have enough on hand to give you your own persy joint if I like you. Sometimes, I smoke joints at home instead of the bong. I’ve also been rolling a lot of hash holes lately, which is just a joint with a rope of rosin in the middle — very heady and popular these days. They’re great for when I’m really trying to smack myself in the face. In general, I like to roll joints.

Zach Harris’ joint case is always this full.

What’s your day-to-day consumption like? Bring us through a day in the life of your lungs.

I’m definitely an all-day smoker; I like the label “stoner.” In the morning, I try to match my French press with a bowl or joint for each cup of coffee from like 8 am to noon, so that gets the day going. Then I’ll roll about 8 or 10 joints before I leave the house. I have this cool joint case that I got at a flea market a while back, and I feel a little naked if I’m out and I don’t have that with me at least half-way full. I also think the process of rolling joints is really meditative — you get in a good zone. 

If I’m at home most of the day working, I’ll keep packing bong bowls or doing dabs pretty steadily. And then if I’m out and about, I’m smoking those 10ish joints I rolled earlier at the regular pace of a cigarette smoker — like half a pack a day haha. I used to smoke a bunch of cigarettes when it was less acceptable to smoke weed in public, but like five or six years ago I quit cold turkey and just replaced that habit with more weed. Plus, these days no one gives you shit for smoking weed in public, so I just keep smoking my joints. If I’m outside and I run out of rolled ones, I usually have enough supplies in my tote bag to roll more, so I’ll do that.


Do you have any favorite weed products — any particular papers, grinders, or whatever? What makes them special? 

I’m a big fan of simplicity and simple stuff that works. I like a two chamber grinder. I don’t need a keef catcher; I want the keef to stay with the weed, where it belongs. I usually roll with 1 ¼ size Vibes or Element papers with the Raw perforated wide tips. Those perforated wide tips are key. I want the crutch on my joints to be the size of a cigarette filter, not a tiny nub that you can’t actually hold between your fingers. 

At home I use a bong from Heir. They sent me one in 2019 when I was writing a lot of product reviews and I’ve sworn by it since. It’s incredibly easy to clean, super sturdy, and works every time. The other product I use a lot from my time on PR seeding lists is the PuffCo Peak Pro. Don’t need to say much about that one; it’s a spaceship dab rig and it is perfect.

Last but not least, my parents live out in California and they have a friend who’s a sick woodworker, and she recently carved me a custom rolling tray, so I use that every day. Thanks mom and dad!

The custom rolling tray Harris uses.

Which cannabis brands impress you these days — whether due to their products, their aesthetics, or something else.

Honestly, most of the flower I smoke comes from a super small unbranded family farm, but when it comes to branded weed, the two California companies I’ve worked closest with — Cookies and Viola — have impressed me with their product, but also the people and approach. As a freelancer, I would also like to say that they both pay on time, which is way cooler than any packaging. 

As far as other branded flower, I really dig the Mom’s Weed from Huckleberry Hill Farms in Humboldt, Gummiez and The Menthol from Compound Genetics, and I’m really stoked to check out the new menu of strains from my friends at The Rare — their Olive Wagyu is one of my favorite Gelato profiles and their packaging is always some of my favorite.

I also recently tried a couple strains from Green Bodhi that were both really great — shoutout to those guys, they’re doing things right.

Zach Harris at Washington Square Park on 4/20/22

What activity do you like to do after you’ve gotten stoned? 

I’ve been really into bowling lately, and taking joint breaks every few games is a really good way to get your head right. Same with the beer league softball I’ve been playing lately. Smoking a joint between innings in the dugout is great. I also like skateboarding, biking, and going on walks while I’m smoking weed. The best stuff to do while you’re stoned is the stuff you can do while you’re actively smoking, because I’m always gonna want to smoke another one. I’m the guy who is always gonna ask “Can we smoke here?” no matter what we’re doing, so whenever the answer is yes, that’s what I wanna be doing. 

Can you recommend something to watch while stoned?

Can’t go wrong with TV procedurals. Whether it’s Monk, Burn Notice, Law & Order (any flavor), or Hawaii 5-0, the best shows to watch while you’re stoned are things that you can watch without much context. So many of the premium cable or streaming site shows are just overly dramatic roads to nowhere, man. They’re all so dark — like not even in content, but in how they’re shot; I can barely see what’s going on half the time. Much better off with a few episodes from season 3 of the early 2000s network dramedy Las Vegas starring Jimmy Caan — he’ll spend 45 minutes sussing out a gang of motocross-riding card counters or something like that. Much chiller.

What do you like to listen to after smoking? Any albums, radio shows, or podcasts?

I think we’re in a pretty incredible golden era of rap music in every corner of the country. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Detroit wave like Veeze, Icewear Vezzo, GT, Babyface Ray, 42, and those dudes. Then the Flint guys, like Rio, Sleazy World Go from Kansas City, and Memphis heads like Glorilla, Key Glock, and of course Young Dolph. Ummmm, Fivio, DThang, and the scene in New York is cool. I’m also still listening to a lot of Drakeo the Ruler and Ralphy — that LA sound. Then finally, I like the scene of guys killing it out here in Philly — OT7Quanny, Poundside Pop, RB Cat, and a bunch more. There’s so much good music out right now.

Can you recommend something to read after smoking? 

Can I ever! My brother, Malcolm Harris, is getting set to release his third book, Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World, in 2023, so you should pre-order that now. And while you’re at it, grab his first two books, Kids These Days: The Making of Millennials and Shit Is Fucked Up and Bullshit: History Since the End of History. Yes, he’s my brother, but he’s also an incredible thinker, writer, and stoner, who has an uncanny ability to break down super complex subjects in a way that is fun, funny, and radicalizing. If you’re bummed at how things are going in the world and you want to know how they got this way, Malcolm’s books will make some things click. Seriously, go buy all his books right now. 

I’ve also recently read a couple books by some skate friends that are really awesome. The Most Fun Thing from professor Kyle Beachy is a great compilation of short essays about life, love, and skateboarding. And Top of Mason is a novel by pro skater Walker Ryan that reads super fun and fast. I read it on the beach in Miami and it was perfect.

Who’s in your dream blunt rotation? Dead or alive. 

Gotta give an obligatory shoutout to my family, because they all smoke just about as much weed as I do, but we don’t all live in the same city. So when we all get together, those are my dream sessions. 

But that’s not a very fun answer, so let’s go with John Cardiel, Klay Thompson, Kylie Minogue, Young Dolph, and Megan Thee Stallion. That would be a sick crew.

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Phil Hanley Is Taking It Easy

Phil Hanley has a laid back approach to his material, which is more self-deprecating than punching up or down at anyone.

Most recently, Hanley financed and produced his latest special, “Ooh La La.” He betted on himself. It paid off and resulted in a brisk, tightly constructed 45 minutes of consistent laughs, both big and small. Hanley, who has plenty of nostalgia for his high school days of dropping acid and skateboarding in Canada, talked to us about his earliest experiences in comedy, the Grateful Dead, and dyslexia.

What work went into self-financing and producing your special?

Well, I did have a producer and my friend directed it. Russell Marcus Price directed it, but just coming up with the design for the backdrop, I taped it in one of the Comedy Cellar venues and other people had taped specials there before because they’re really generous with letting us use the venue and stuff. I wanted it to look different. I had to design, come up with the backdrop, and then hire people to build it all out. There are five cameras. I can write the jokes and perform them, but all the other stuff is just really not anything that I have a strong grasp of. It was a lot of work and then you tape two shows and edit it together, and it’s just a whole thing. It’s all new. I had done a special in Canada when I first started and I did a Comedy Central special and you just show up when you’re not doing it yourself. This way, there’s just so much going on.

What clubs did you play at in Vancouver?

Yeah, I started in Vancouver. There were tons of open mics and stuff that I did, and then there was a great club here called the Comedy Mix that now is no longer. It unfortunately shut down. But yeah, I was lucky. When I started comedy, I moved back in with my parents and the club was an eight minute walk. It was so close.

This is one of the rare specials in which the comedian doesn’t mock their parents. They sound great.

Yeah, it’s funny. My parents, my dad, was a huge comedy fan and particularly a standup fan. They were onboard right away. Even now when I’m home, I’ll be talking about my friend Sam Morale at dinner, and then I’m going out to do a show in Vancouver and I’ll hear my dad watching a special or I’ll mention a comic. They’re older, they’re retired and stuff like that, but they’re pretty hip to the current standup scene.

How do you decide when you know an hour of material is ready to go for a special?

Well, I’m not a perfectionist in any other area of my life, but I could just work material over and over again and I kind of set a date. Because what I needed to do was to set a date and then just get on your agent to fill out the weekends. You can overthink these things. I knew that I had three months [before filing] on the road then to really tighten stuff.

Of course, as you’re about to tape, all of a sudden you have all these new bits and stuff and have to decide, do I just love this bit because it’s brand new and I haven’t done it a million times? Or is it actually up to par with the other jokes in the special? With comics, your mind tends to play tricks on you. You’ll have a brand new bit where you think it’s the best thing in the world, but it’s really just fresh for you to tell so you got to kind of figure that out.

What were some of the brand new bits in the special that stayed?

I think there’s a bit that was really new. It sucks now. I was able to do it up until I just played San Francisco and I was able to do a lot of the material from my special because it hadn’t come out yet. But the joke about a scientific study that said that unstable women were better in bed. That was a real thing. I didn’t read the whole study, but I did read that headline and then I just had that bit for so long and I was trying to figure it out. I was trying to figure it out and there were so many angles. In my head initially I was like, “Well, unstable women, I guess I’m sure to some I would be considered an unstable man. Does that make me better?”

I just couldn’t figure out the right thing. And then you just get it and something just clicks. Some jokes come to you and are so easy right away. You try them that night and they’re kind of there. And then other things you’re just like, no, something’s funny and you just can’t quite get at the right angle. That was one that I had had for probably a year and a half and tried different things and then would drop it for a month and forget about it. And then a comic would be like, “Oh, I love that premise you had.” I was like, “Oh, yeah. Okay, I’ll try that again.”

What would you say are some of your favorite clubs that you go to test out material?

There are some clubs that you just trust. Some clubs are just easy, because the crowds are just pumped. For me, working at the Comedy Cellar is ideal because it’s a mixed crowd. It’s now basically a landmark so there are tourists, they’re from another state, but they’re kind of hardcore comedy fans. And then there’s just local New Yorkers that have been going there forever. I’m really lucky to get to play there every night because it is a good mix of people. If stuff works there, you’re pretty sure that it’s going to work.

Sometimes you’ll go and it’ll work on the road, a joke will work in a 45-minute set because they really get to know you and then you’ll come back and it won’t be hitting the same way at the Cellar and you’re like, “Oh, no. It’s not as strong as I thought it was.” But to me, the Cellar is a great place to get a read on a joke. I feel like if something hits there, unless it’s New York-centric, which I tend to try to steer away from, you know it’s going to kind of work everywhere.

I like that the Cellar actually keeps an eye out on the crowd, making sure they’re respectful.

Oh, yeah. Totally. I feel like people are well behaved there compared to other places. Sometimes on the road you’re like, nevermind in a comedy club, I can’t believe an adult would behave this way, just indoors. You’re like, “What are you doing?” They police those rooms and they make people lock up their phones and stuff like that, which is nice because then you feel like you can maybe take a risk or try something knowing that no one’s going to be videotaping it or whatever.

It’s funny watching the special, there wasn’t too much material where like, oh, this is stepping or dancing over a line. It was all good fun, even if something was teetering on the line. You know what I mean?

Oh, yeah. I want people to laugh and have fun and obviously, not take themselves so seriously. If people are offended or whatever, that’s not my goal. I don’t feel I’m being rebellious if someone gets offended or anything like that. I really want a room of strangers to all laugh, not to say that I still can make fun of things, but as long as any group doesn’t take themselves too seriously, they’re not going to be offended.

You have an easygoing presence on stage.

It feels easygoing, but putting it all together and all that stuff isn’t easy. It’s funny, I’m severely dyslexic to the point where people didn’t even realize. Now I’ve started working with dyslexic organizations and I’m on the board of a big one called Eye to Eye in the States and I had the opportunity to go and talk to kids that are dyslexic, and I’m learning more and more, but part of it is organization and getting out the door and getting to a place on time is challenging.

Coming up with material is always hard. It can be challenging, but once I’m actually on stage, I know I’m not late, I’m not running back because I forgot something, that part is easy. I think part of that is just because having a learning difference makes everything else so challenging that once I’m on stage, it is fun and it is kind of, for me, the easiest part of the day. But with that, memorizing material and all that stuff can be more challenging.

Do you tape your material to practice?

Even though I have so much difficulty reading and writing, for some reason I still like to write out jokes. I feel they’re their best when they’re written out. I always have a legal pad. I print them out in big grade three lettering and my spelling is always mocked by my colleagues and my printing. My friends always say it looks like a ransom note, but that’s just the way I do it. 

What are some crowd reactions you get for speaking about dyslexia? Do you ever meet people who relate or feel better to have a laugh about it?

Jack, it’s so crazy. I’ll say, I’ll play the late show. I was in San Francisco a week ago and your openers … you play Denver, wherever, you go on stage and it’s late and the people before you might have just talked about sex. Really sensational things and these graphic sex stories. I go up and I’m talking about being dyslexic. It’s so common and it’s affected so many people, that people are like, it’s hitting. It makes no sense that I can talk about an experience I had in the first grade, not being able to read, and it’s hitting hard at 11:15 on a Friday night where people got up, went to work, went for dinner, went for drinks, then came to the late show.

Or at the Comedy Cellar, sometimes I’ll go on at 1:00 a.m. and I’m talking about being a kid in special ed and it’s hitting. I think it’s really common. I do meet people afterwards, and that’s generally what they want to talk about. It’ll be someone whose kid’s dyslexic or someone who is dyslexic themselves or had some type of learning difference.

Must feel nice turning those experiences into feel-good comedy, right?

My favorite part of comedy is that you have a bad experience, you have a heartbreak or something tragic happens to you, when you’re a comic and especially with your friends, you’re surrounded by comics. You’re immediately like, “Oh, that’s going to be a great bit.” It’s almost the worse something happens, the better. You’re going to get something out of it. Even though obviously it sucks and is painful at the time, heartbreak or whatever, you do know in your head, you’re like, “I will get something out of it.” 

You take a shitty experience and then if you get five minutes of jokes out of it, you can tour that for a year and a half and kill doing those jokes. It feels almost worthwhile when going through a bad experience. That is like 100 percent the beauty of comedy. You do get something out of it when you go through something shitty.

When did you start talking more about dyslexia in your stand up?

Some of my first jokes were about being dyslexic. I had a therapist here in Vancouver and he observed that. I didn’t even realize what the hell I was doing, but he was really interested in comedy and he’d ask me about it at the end of our sessions and I would tell him and he’d be like, “You’re taking these negative experiences and making something positive out of them.” That is the best part.

As far as being empowering for dyslexics, I think it does help. It certainly helps me. Currently, I’m in Vancouver. I’m writing a book about being dyslexic and as I was doing the research, my jaw would drop, because when you have a learning disability, you all experience the same things, but you really suffer in silence because when you’re a kid, you’re not going to like… I was in special ed, but you don’t really connect about it. You’re just so bummed that you’re being forced to do this thing that you have so much trouble doing or whatever. Yeah, I think it is empowering just to also know that people go through similar things.

So many great comedians have come out of Canada. What material is really specific to there? 

Well, that’s interesting. In certain cities, there’s always local jokes or whatever, and sometimes you’ll see it on the road. I think part of the reason is that there’s a long line of Canadians that were funny; we are in, like it or not, and some would dispute, but we’re still in the shadows of the States. 

For example, if there’s an American election, it’s a huge story in Canada. Where if there’s a Canadian election, you guys have your own stuff. We’re really still in the shadows. I feel like that’s just the best place to be. Even in the sense, I’m sure in families, the younger siblings might be, I think in my family, I’m the youngest, but the younger siblings might be the funniest just because we’re, I don’t know, just observing. We’re just observing a lot. I feel like in Canada we have our own culture and our own stuff going on, but they’re also, every day, we turn on the news or CNN or whatever there, we do spend time observing what’s going on in the States.

How’s the book going?

The book, it’s going well. Yeah, it’s quite an endeavor and I have been really enjoying it. I’m a huge Grateful Dead fan. I put on a show and then I try to write, stay at my desk and write for the full show. If you know the Dead, that’s a pretty good writing session. They play for three hours.

I do that sometimes as well.

It’s the best. I did that when I started comedy. Before I even started comedy, I used to write screenplays for kids movies and stuff. I would do that and I put on a Dead show. I have this huge encyclopedia of every show, and I would look, I’d pick a show, and then I would read a little bit about it. As I was writing and I was also going, “Oh, wow. Brent really is going off in this ‘Turn On Your Lovelight.’”

Also, I can only listen to shows from the late ’80s and early ’90s if I can’t write with some blistering show from ’77 or something like that or the earlier stuff. The book has been going good, though. It’s long because I write slowly, but it’s pretty trippy. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but if you’re trying to write about things that happened years and years ago, if you really, day after day, if you’re thinking about these events, you start coming up with dialogue and there are times you can be pretty accurate.

Let’s journey back in time. How were your acid experiences in high school?

I took acid in high school. Part of my motivation was I couldn’t read. I was forced to go to school. It was stressful, and I took acid, and I knew that even there were dudes that were considered partiers that considered acid dirty or too much of a drug, whatever. I always felt a little bit weird about it. And then years later, I’m in a therapist’s office and my therapist’s like, “Yeah, you were so stressed and unhappy with basically your nine to five job, which was school, that you needed a release that took you to another dimension type thing.” It agreed with me. Although I don’t take it now, I do look back at those experiences so positively. I had a blast, but I realize it doesn’t agree with everybody. It certainly agreed with me at the time being in high school and taking acid and skateboarding on a summer night.

Sounds pretty great.

Yeah, absolutely. And then I love the Grateful Dead while I’m drinking chamomile tea, but the Dead while on LSD, especially those wild shows where they were most likely taking it themselves is wow, that’s really the ultimate, you got chocolate bar in my peanut butter. LSD and a skateboard and a Dead show is, when I was a teenager, that was about as great as it got.

Did you ever go to any Grateful Dead shows?

I’ve been to different carnations of the Dead, I’ve probably been to close to 100 every chance I got. Tons of Bob Weir and RatDog shows. I play San Francisco, they always booked me the weekend before the Dead played Shoreline, so I’d always get to see the Shoreline shows, and I always go to City Fields in New York, and I saw Phil Lesh and Friends and the Dead. Anything Bob Weir does, I’ll support. Another dyslexic.

Oh, really?

My favorite dyslexic, Bob Weir.

I didn’t know that.

Oh, dude. He is so dyslexic. He plays guitar like only a dyslexic can. He’s such a unique guitar player. I love bringing a friend to a Dead show and a musician or whatever and they’re smoking. They get a little fucked up and then all of a sudden they just start saying to me, “What the hell?” He just plays his chord so uniquely and he’s such a unique player. As a dyslexic, I’m like, “Yeah, you would approach it that way only if you were dyslexic.”

Did you ever get to see Jerry Garcia?

I did get to see Jerry, yeah, when I was really young. You can’t put into words what it’s like. I get goosebumps. I remember once I was at a show and I had looked away for a second and the crowd cheered, and I turned to my friend, and I’m like, “What happened?” He goes, “Oh, Jerry lifted his leg.” Everyone was so focused on him, and he would solo, and then the whole arena would exhale at the same time.

Nothing really touches that. I guess maybe John Coltrane or these legendary performers that people talk about losing themselves in their music. But with Garcia, it was like, and I didn’t have enough life experience to fully understand, but it was an absolute lift off. When he would play or solo, you’d just completely lose yourself, and then the song would end, you’d take a deep breath and the next thing you knew, you were in the middle of it again. It was incredible.

Now I go to shows and I’m kind of sober. I just take it in and enjoy it. But yeah, man, Garcia was unlike anything else I’d ever seen. I’ve seen tons of all the jam bands now, but he was the guy.

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In Conversation with Skateboarder Braydon Szafranski

Braydon Szafranski’s first skateboarding experience at age seven resulted in 30 head staples, a traumatized teenage babysitter, and a confiscated board by Mom. Where most would consider that the culmination of their skateboarding endeavors, it was simply the start for young Szafranski, unphased by the whole ordeal.

Ten years later, he fled his hometown of Las Vegas to settle in the arguable industry mecca of skateboarding, Los Angeles. By a stroke of fate, he ran into Chad Muska, one of skateboarding’s biggest talents and personalities, in front of Brooklyn Projects skate shop on Melrose Avenue. Having mutual friends from Sin City, the pair struck up a conversation, which led to watching a footage tape that Szafranski had with him. Blown away after seeing the first trick, Muska sponsored him on the spot. From that point on, Szafranski’s career took off, eventually earning himself coveted spots on the Baker skateboards and Emerica footwear teams before turning professional in 2006.

As much as skateboarding is integral to Szafranski’s existence, so is the same with marijuana. Since the early days of his career, he has been a steadfast proponent of the plant, as is most evident in the introduction of his Baker 3 video part. In our interview, we discuss how legalization has changed Nevada, the secret to achieving Zen-like clarity while trying a trick, and why the skateboarding culture has always been so closely associated with weed.

Photo by Sam Muller

Do you remember the first time you smoked weed?

In school I remember that the D.A.R.E program affected people differently. There was a cop there explaining marijuana, that it’s the “gateway drug” that “changes you and makes your personality crazy.” I remember my neighbor—my best friend since age three—and I looked at each other and we were like, Oh my god, we need to try this!

My neighbor’s older sister, who was in high school, was having a party. She came over, grabbed me, and said, “Hey, I want you to come to the side of the house with me.” Of course it was two high school dudes who were smoking her out and asked if we wanted to hit it. We both smoked and realized, Wait a minute, this isn’t anything like what the cop said—this is very mellow and casual and we don’t feel like psychos! We’ve literally been smoking ever since.

In previous interviews you mentioned that you and your dad have weed tattoos. How did those come about?

My dad knew that I smoked since I was younger, but he wouldn’t talk about it or anything because [he] was just smarter than that. When I turned 18, he came over and gave me a 12-pack of beer and an eighth of weed. He said, “If you are old enough to die for this country you are old enough to do either of these in this country—fuck what they say.”

The next thing that came out of his mouth was: “But if it was up to me, I would throw away that 12-pack and smoke this the rest of your life. I’ve never heard of anyone smoking a joint and doing a mass murder, but I see drunk people doing dumb shit every day,” he said.

He then offered to buy me a tattoo. He wanted to get some weed leaves with some handcuffs, so we both got that, with “Legalize” underneath. He always made this joke that if it ever became legal that we would add the “D.”

He never registered to vote in his life, but when legalization was on the ballet, we both registered and voted. When it passed and weed became legal, we went to a tattoo parlor the same day and added the “D.” He was jumping up and down, screaming, “It’s fucking legal!”

Photo by Sam Muller

Nevada is coming up on six years of being marijuana-friendly. How has Las Vegas, as a microcosm of the state, changed since then?

To tell you the truth, it’s something that should have happened a long time ago out here. People come to Vegas to experience all of their desires—everything they can’t do in their normal day-to-day life.

I don’t think that it’s changed; I just think that no one is paranoid anymore. If you have an ounce in the trunk of your car and it doesn’t reek, you can drive to a friend’s house without looking over your shoulder, thinking that it could be the end of everything.

I think the original argument is that people would be going crazy if weed was legalized; but clearly it’s not like that.

If anything, it calmed down the city. I’ve talked about it with people that have law enforcement in their families that have said that since it became legal, the amount of DUIs and DUI deaths have gone down because more people are smoking. Think about all those people that were super shitfaced, wasted, but instead took two hits from a joint and thought, Ah, I’m just gonna sit on the couch tonight. I don’t even care about going out. 

How, if at all, has smoking helped your skating?

It 1000% helps. Anyone that knows skateboarding understands that it’s as much, if not more, of a mental game than it is a physical one. The mental game is the strongest part of skateboarding, the hardest part. 

I think Jon Miner [Emerica footwear videographer] explained it perfectly to me. He said, “Your ADHD would always get a hold of you, where you would get close on the first try, but then get so excited and mentally in your head that you might try the trick for four hours and not make it.”

If I’m in the middle of trying a trick [that is becoming a battle], and I take a hit or two, all of sudden my mind goes from What was I losing? to What can I gain? I instantly focus in: Okay, slow it down. You know what you are doing. You know how to make this happen. You wouldn’t be trying this if it wasn’t for you knowing that you can do this. And within a try or two I usually ride away. It has everything to do with not just taking that approach from the beginning. 

It seems like what you are describing is something involving being present, almost a Zen state. 

I think a lot of people who use it as medicine in the right way can get into a Zen moment and it can honestly change your perspective of what you are doing through skating, and a lot of different things, as a whole.

Why is skateboarding and weed so closely associated with each other?

I think that weed is in every culture. However, skateboarders, before this new era, were bandits. Everything came from an outlaw perspective. Skateboarding, from the beginning, is a crime. It should always be an outlawed thing because, you know, it’s what we do. We do the funnest things in places that you are not supposed to, and that’s what makes it so spectacular.

Despite weed being considered an outlaw thing in the past, most skaters weren’t scared to hide it. Athletes in any category that wanted to be in the Olympics were scared of blowing sponsors if they got caught, even though they smoked weed in their off time! Skateboarding didn’t have drug testing and not being able to be on a team if you smoke. Skateboarding is about being who you are. I think that’s why skaters have shown the world that we smoke weed and can be open about it.

Photo by Sam Muller

You mentioned the Olympics. What are your thoughts on skateboarding being involved since Tokyo 2020?

I don’t care. Just like Jake Phelps (RIP) said, “One week every four years, and then it’s done and no one seems to give a shit again until the next four years.”

It’s the same fifteen, elite skaters that actually care over the millions of skateboarders that are out there. If you want to be part of that world, that’s awesome. I think that it’s wonderful that it’s going to be in the Olympics if that’s what skateboarding wants to be. I’m still not, to this day, going to say if skateboarding is a sport whether it is or isn’t considered one now. It’s still always what it was to me.

What are you most interested in these days?

Skateboarding. I still try to get out as much as I can. I’ve broken every bone in my body so many times, so it’s whatever. I’m 39 years old, so when I’m not sore from the last session, it’s time to get back out there.

Now I have days in between skating when I’m sore as shit, so I started thinking about other things that inspired me in my life. I always loved art, drawing, and tattoos. It fell into my lap when a friend who had a shop said, “Why don’t you just start apprenticing under me?” I thought it sounded fun. Now it’s become an addiction, just like skating. It can be nerve-racking to think, If I fuck up, this is something that is there for this person’s life. I get this same feeling of rush when I am tattooing that I do when I’m doing anything else. 

Besides that, my interests include painting, side projects, and woodshop stuff. Anything that can keep me moving and going forward.

Now for the most important question of the interview: Does weed save lives?

Weed does save lives. I’ve been saying this since the beginning of time and now the fucking world is starting to see it.

How many times have you talked about that with skaters?

It doesn’t matter what country, city, restaurant, or whatever. If a skater recognizes me, it’s always, “Weed saves lives! All right, Braydon, woo!”

Follow along with Braydon’s skateboarding and tattooing here.

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