High Gear with Odessa

High Gear: We’re examining your stash, chatting about your gear.

Odessa is the head of content at Tokyo Smoke.

Can you tell us a bit about your gear? What are your essential pipes / pieces / paraphernalia?

I keep all my stuff together in a Jimi Hendrix lunch box that I bought quite a few years ago. I have a mix of high-end accessories like a PAX, vintage things like ashtrays, and an off-brand Ninja Turtle pipe a friend gifted before he moved to England.

What’s your go-to accessory or favourite brand? What kicked your sessions into high gear?

Getting a PAX really changed things up for me because I can use it when I’m doing something like cooking. I don’t want to fuss with a pipe and lighter when I’m in the kitchen, but I do like to get in a groove while I’m making a meal, if you get my drift.

I also love Concrete Cat’s pipes. The look goes so well with other quirky ceramic decor pieces that are in our apartment.

Do you have any rituals around rolling? A favourite session spot?

My favourite thing to do is have a smoke before meditating, putting on a face mask, and having a bath. It really gets me in a chilled-out frame of mind.

Does your session have a purpose?

I think it’s hard for everyone to find moments of quiet and clarity these days. Smoking helps me achieve finding a bit of both.

All photos by Zhamak Fullad

Body Talk: Rose Aura

Evelyn Salvarinas can help you see inside yourself. As the founder of Rose Aura, she facilitates the physical exposure of your chakras, and what they’re trying to express about your current state of being. The special camera Salvarinas uses – the Coggins camera – was invented in the 1970s by Sue and Guy Coggins, and it uses Kirlian photography to produce images that capture the energy different parts of your body produces. Based on that image, Salvarinas can speak to you about what chakras are blocked (bad!) and ways you can open them up (good!).

Though Salvarinas can speak to the process after having it done many times herself – and by seeing the reactions of those she takes photos for – there’s still an air of mystery about the process, as the camera’s proprietary restrictions mean there are limits to what she can know about it (for example, she can’t open it up). “It is kind of mystic, which I like about it,” she says. Here, Salvarinas explains what aura photography is and why it’s gaining such momentum.

Can you describe what aura photography is?

An aura is your surrounding energy. It’s made up of your different open chakras – there’s seven chakras from the base of your spine to the top of your head. The way that my camera works is that different parts of your hand are connected to different organs, and those different organs are connected to your different chakras. The camera has two hand sensors with plates  in different locations; it sends the information from the inside of your body to the camera, and then it creates a radius of the different chakra colours. Then, what I do is I describe what those mean; we talk a little about what’s not open and why that might be, and what you can do to work on those things, because ideally what you want is all of your chakras to be engaged and open.

How did you first learn about it?

I lived in New York for four years. I lived close to Magic Jewelry, which is in Chinatown, and every time something happened to me, I would go get my aura read there. They have the same camera that I do. I would go get a photograph when I quit my job, filed my taxes, got food poisoning – I wanted to see how this was reflected. When I moved home, I wanted to check my colours but there was no one here to do it. So, I researched the camera and bought it from the people who invented it.

Rose Aura founder Evelyn Salvarinas’ own aura photo

Why do you think people are so interested in aura photography right now?

Not only do you get this reading, but you also get this really great memento of the photo – a Polaroid that can never be replicated again. It’s a really good tactile snapshot of what’s going on internally, and I think people really respond to that. People always want to know more about themselves.

When people get their aura read, do you find they’re surprised by the outcome? Or, do you ever know when some comes up to you what the photo will look like?

I never know – I think that I know, and every time I’m wrong. I unfortunately don’t have that gift where I can see the auras, but I have this amazing camera, that shows those colours for us. If people think that they’re super high-energy and maybe they have a chakra block and they can’t open up, then sometimes they’re surprised. But it’s all inside of you. I’m just translating the information. People are pleasantly surprised by how accurate it is.

Can you talk about three colours that you might see in the photo, and what they represent?

The three colours that you see the most are red, orange and yellow. Going up from that, you have green, light blue, indigo and violet – those are more rare colour combinations. Red is your root chakra, it’s at the base of your spine, and that is your power, your life force, your vitality, your will, your sense of self. Orange is your navel chakra, and that’s your creativity, your desires, also your sexuality and your confidence. And yellow is your solar plexus chakra, and that is your positive energy, your good vibes, your humour, your fun – those are a more common colour combination.

What I do often see with those colours is the violet crown chakra; that’s at the top of your head, and that’s your connection to spirituality, your understanding of the divine and your understanding of the oneness of the world and all of its beings. What I find is that people who have a reading for the first time, is that they’ll have their root and navel chakra engaged but also their crown chakra is engaged. Just sitting down at the camera for the first time, even if they’re not spiritual people – it becomes a spiritual experience.

Very rarely will I see a rainbow, which is what you want – all your chakras are engaged. And it’s just so beautiful.

On October 3, join Rose Aura for a special night of aura reading and a crystal workshop at Tokyo Smoke Queen West. Click here for more details and to sign up!

Story by Odessa Paloma Parker

What’s in store: Fugitive Glue x Tokyo Smoke

Meet Jano Badovinac. He’s the founder of Fugitive Glue, a Toronto-based design studio that created the beautiful Bomba pendant lights found in Tokyo Smoke outposts.

When did you first develop a passion for design?

At a very young age. Every since I was little I’ve been fascinated by objects and the built environment, from playing with LEGO to constantly rearranging my room. I always found pleasure in mentally visualizing how something can be changed, improved and changed again.

What’s the first thing you ever designed/made? How did it turn out?

On paper…

A spaceship. Pretty sure I was six-years-old. Me and my brother were on a mission to explore the galaxy. The drawing looked cool but we lacked that Elon Musk money.

Physically…

An elastic launcher made from LEGO. You’d be surprised how many design constraints exist in one of those things. I was probably around eight-years-old, but it worked. Building one helped me understand the need for ergonomics and prototyping.

How did you come to collaborate with Tokyo Smoke?

We were brought in to do the lighting for the Bellwoods location.

Our Bomba pendent was a great fit for the space. Both had a raw industrial vibe. Plus, as an upcycled product they aligned well with the store’s curated offerings.

Everything in there has a story and has been well thought-out.

What’s the most interesting thing about working with other brands?

As a designer I aways enjoy getting to know the story behind the brand. Learning the history while understanding its values, motivations and goals. Hearing anyone speak passionately about their vision is great design motivation. Especially if that ventures outside their comfort zone. That always help push innovation.

Your projects span from slippers to lighting design – what outlet or object have you not explored yet that you’d love to work on?

I would love the opportunity to design a small courtyard house with a garden. One with vegetation larger than me. I’m fascinated by tranquil spaces in bustling urban environments. I love people but need my hermit time. Everyone should be able to come home from a busy day and relax, surrounded by greenery.

Story by Odessa Paloma Parker

Portrait courtesy of Fugitive Glue; Tokyo Smoke Queen West photos by Kayla Rocca

Green Scenes: Pop culture’s role in cannabis normalization

As more countries and states legalize medicinal cannabis use, and others begin to allow recreational use, bud has moved from the underground to the mainstream (and the main street, too, with dispensaries now nestled between yoga studios and upscale boutiques). Its representation in film and television has also turned a corner.

The image shifts in tandem with evolving laws, and is inevitably tangled up in the political climate. For pot, the most persuasive medium isn’t the news; it’s American pop culture. And in the past century, a cannabis user’s depiction has gone from criminal, to deadbeat, to anti-hero, to commonplace.

Public attitude was initially mislead by negative propaganda. Early fear-mongering grew out of racist sentiments thanks to a slew of sinister stereotypes plucked from central casting. According to filmmaker Ron Mann’s documentary Grass, when the “innocent-looking weed” entered the United States in the early 20th century via the Mexican immigrant labourers who smoked to relax, it was given the foreign-sounding moniker ‘marijuana’, and both the workers and the flower were vilified in silent films, with cannabis shown as a corrupting force linked with homicidal tendencies and temporary insanity.

The cultural imagination really only starts to know cannabis in 1936 with Reefer Madness, the anti-pot exploitation film financed by a church group, and an array of subsequent crime films like Marihuana followed. They build on the cautionary tales of powerful prohibitionist Harry Anslinger, who presumably doubled down after this musical ode to cannabis from the 1934 film, Murder at the Vanities, slipped past the censors.

For years, Hollywood studios gave Anslinger unprecedented control over all movie scripts in the Motion Picture Association of America that mentioned drugs. Other improbable, and in hindsight often laughable, sordid cinematic tales with outlandish claims were aimed at hysterical parents, who already feared ‘the devil’s weed’. (Cannabis is also a frequent player in mid-century pulp fiction, where it’s demonized as the ‘physical and moral ruin’ of many innocents.) Over several decades, representation was characterized by juvenile delinquency, and cemented the stereotype.

So, what changed? The first paradigm shift came in the 1960s during the juggernaut youthquake Summer of Love, and with the film Easy Rider, which helped bring about the demise of the old, all-controlling Hollywood studio system. Cynics and non-conformists embraced cannabis as rejection of the establishment and its expectations of respectability. In the wake of the smash-hit Hair (1968), and the mystical enlightenment in Thomas Pynchon’s spaced-out Inherent Vice, it also became inextricably associated with hippies who protested Civil Rights violations and the Vietnam war.

Soon after, a controlled substances act eliminated mandatory minimum sentences and brought about a shift in mood and public perception; pop culture was emboldened further by soon-to-be president Jimmy Carter, who campaigned on a decriminalization platform. Throughout the 1970s, cannabis figured on the small screen without fear-mongering or fanfare — it’s a casual aside on Norman Lear’s progressive sitcom Maude, and a memorable riff in Chevy Chase’s Saturday Night Live ‘Weekend Update’. On Barney Miller, Wojo’s accidental hash brownies famously gave the cops of the 12th Precinct the giggles. As the story goes, the notorious episode did not air in syndication at all during First Lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug reign; in the years before box sets, its very existence remained an urban myth.

In later years, the representation of smoking during bygone eras is imbued with a sort of nostalgia for counter-culture roots, depicted in dysfunctional (are there any other kind?) suburban families and disaffected youth from That 70s Show to Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm. In the former, mom Kitty wonders what all the fuss is about so she tries some herself, a plot point that reflects the cross-over curiosity that began to happen in middle-class circles of the day. And Kitty’s not alone; there is arguably no better line in Mad Men than, “I’m Peggy Olson, and I want to smoke some marijuana.”

At the beginning of the aspirational 1980s, cannabis features on the big screen in a positive light. It doesn’t make the characters stupid, or criminal, or lazy. In a key scene from the hit 9 to 5, for example, dinner turns into a pot party when Dolly Parton’s on-screen son suggests she and her work friends share a joint (when she initially protests, he’s the one who extols moderation, which is a nice touch). It’s when Parton and co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin smoke the Maui Wowie (the same strain, by the way, that Cheech and Chong first famously shared in Up in Smoke), that they are finally emboldened to plot an overthrow of their horrible boss.

It’s just as blasé in the 1982 thriller Poltergeist. Carol Anne’s beleaguered parents take the edge off at bedtime by chatting about their day while rolling and smoking a couple joints. Notice that dad (Craig T. Nelson), is pointedly reading a biography of Ronald Reagan, who’s just been elected American president – a clue that the relaxed freedom to portray pot in this normalized way will be short-lived, when Mrs. Reagan and her ‘Just Say No’ policy ignites the war on drugs.

And let’s not discount comedic riffs on spliffs, and the amiable burnout types featured in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed & Confused. We’ve seen a slew of comedies featuring endearing stoners, from Bill and Ted to Harold and Kumar, to Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express.

Meanwhile, in Canada: Weed makes its way onto the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a high point in the extended punchline of The Kids in the Hall’s sketch comedy run (specifically with Scott Thompson’s recurring weed aficionado and savant, Bauer). Around the same time, the CBC’s satirical news show Celebrity Tip enlists venerable author Pierre Berton, then 84, to demonstrate how best to roll a joint.

Representation in the naughts has steadily been keeping pace with the evolving conversation about legalization, arguably advancing the discussion by deliberately moving away from the couch-locked comedic clichés. The entrepreneurial widows in the critically-acclaimed Saving Grace (Brenda Blethyn) and on Showtime’s award-winning Weeds (Mary Louise Parker) turn to dealing as though cannabis were as banal as a Mary Kay cosmetics scheme. The downbeat and closely-observed series High Maintenance fuses humour with melancholy in short, everyday vignettes about the life of a New York pot dealer with clients of all stripes. 

Broad City‘s leads, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, lend another IRL point-of-view to pot use, and how young women are finding that built-to-last friendships can include a heady hit now and then. As another dynamic duo dabbling with flower, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin recently re-connected for Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. Tomlin’s wise former-hippie Frankie now takes a more modern approach to cannabis. The image of consumption is less furtive and freewheeling; it’s less about experimentation, and more of an essential part of her self-care routine. Cannabis is depicted as therapeutic – a recreational antidote for stress in the age of anxiety that’s not much different from the way Scandal’s Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) savours her nightly goblet of red wine. Even uptight Grace occasionally partakes. 

Lifestyle maven Martha Stewart shares some of Grace’s orderly and controlling tendencies, and one way she’s punctured her long-time prissy image is through an atypical odd-couple comedy with Snoop Dogg, for whom smoking is a raison d’être. He made a pot-fueled appearance on Stewart’s daytime show a decade ago that lead them to co-host an Emmy-nominated cooking show called Potluck Dinner Party. 

Later this month, high-end fashion label Rodarte’s designing sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy will make their feature film debut with Woodshock; the elliptical and impressionistic narrative is about dispensary employee Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) coming to terms with great personal loss. And in the Netflix-and-chillout original sitcom Disjointed, Kathy Bates is pot activist Ruth Feldman, who runs a medical dispensary. Another similarly-set dramedy called Highland, starring Margaret Cho, is in development at TNT. By any measure of mainstream pop culture, it doesn’t get much more normalized than when the dispensary replaces the local diner, bar and coffee shop as the go-to network sitcom setting.

Story by Nathalie Atkinson

Smoke Sounds with Jahmal Padmore & Hayley Elsaesser

In this installment of Smoke Sounds, we focus on fearlessness. A common creative hurdle, we discuss ways to overcome fear by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

Hayley Elsaesser is a talented designer based in Toronto. Having brought her young brand from Australia, her fun and in-your-face designs are meant to make the wearer stand out (and feel amazing). In this episode, Hayley chats about what it means to create with no fear, and how to prioritize action as a way to overcome creative roadblocks.

Hayley Elsaesser

“It’s really tiring and frustrating to have to please people all of the time. And to be constantly thinking… ‘Will someone like this or will they think I’m weird?’ Whatever. That’s so emotionally draining, and you have to just force yourself to stop thinking that way and really say fuck it and do what feels right for you.”

– Hayley


Photo by Olivia Seally

High Gear with Fox

High Gear: We’re examining your stash, chatting about your gear.

Fox is a musician.

Can you tell us a bit about your gear? What are your essential pipes / pieces / paraphernalia?

At home I usually use a bong or roll spliffs. My “kit” for when I’m out and about contains: a grinder my girlfriend got me for Christmas a few years ago, a corner store pipe (that’s usually pretty clogged), sometimes Zig-Zags, and a lighter of course.

What’s your go-to accessory or favourite brand? What kicked your sessions into high gear?

My go-to accessory is definitely my bong. Nothing fancy. It’s just a medium pink glass bong I got on Yonge street. I don’t usually go for brand names. I just go for something that looks nice, isn’t too pricey, and works.

Do you have any rituals around rolling? A favourite session spot?

Most of my rolling/smoking rituals take place in my room where I have access to all my favourite things. My guitars, my dog Freddy, and Netflix.

All photos by Jacqueline Ashton

What’s in store: Dahae Song x Tokyo Smoke

Our Queen West flagship has a very special space – one that features a permanent installation by Dahae Song. Her work, which explores different states of being, is graceful, nuanced, and worthy of contemplation. Here, Song talks about her practice.

Photo provided by Dahae Song

Can you tell me about when you first discovered your love of art?

When I was really young. When I was five even, I had written in my journal “I want to be an artist when I grow up.” I started drawing at an early age. That’s still the feeling I try to go back to now. Seeing the world in a child’s eyes.

Photo provided by Dahae Song

How would you describe a typical day in your studio?

I’ll have everything planned out first. I’ll have woken up in the morning and I’ll have planned out, “Ok, I’m going to do this much painting.” But when I get there, that does not happen. I’ll prepare surfaces, but any of the painting I actually end up making – I never even stick to what I think at all. My whole day is just sitting and thinking, and going with the flow.

Photo by Kayla Rocca

Tell me about your collaboration with Tokyo Smoke.

I was approached by [creative director] Berkeley Poole. I love the fact that she asked me and said, “We like your art, and we just want you to create a space where people can come and trip out.” And that’s my dream. I don’t like to show anywhere, gallery space or event space, unless I love the space. It’s such an important element of my work. If I don’t love a space, I can’t work with it.

How would you describe the installation?

They’re very personal works. All my work is very personal. They’re the way I think, they’re the way I feel – they’re my language system. They’re fragments of my world; every single piece is an extension of myself. So, how I install is, I bring these fragments, these pieces of me, and I inhabit the space. There is no concept behind a specific installation, but if you are wondering about my work in general, it’s about states of being. Different states of being within one’s self. It’s about the duality of the external world and the internal world, the duality of the macro and the micro.

I think about different ways of existing, different ways of growing, and how every single state of being is valid in itself. 

For me, this installation is one thing within the space – all the pieces are connected like a microcosm.

Photo by Kayla Rocca

Pick up a pack of exclusive Tokyo Smoke Queen West Rolling Papers – with a package designed by Dahae Song – next time you’re at the flagship.

Story by Odessa Paloma Parker

Bottle drop

As more people embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle, cannabis is poised to become the social lubricant of choice

The room was awash with a bright violet light when the beat dropped in. Cotton candy-coloured clouds hovered above the dance floor and light from a disco ball lapped at the bodies grinding below. The bar, flanked by six-foot tall Bird of Paradise palms, was serving Station cold brew alongside the usual boozy options.

Ariella Starkman, co-founder of the Toronto-based production and design company Thank You Kindly, specializes in creating meaningful event experiences that contribute to community building. Parties like this: Sally’s Day Off. She says she’s noticed a trend among younger people attending her events, which is a shift away from alcohol.

“They’re way more productive,” Starkman says. And informed, she adds: “There’s more conversation about the dangers of binge drinking or losing control or consent. All these things are connected and I think not drinking is driving a lot of those conversations among young people.”

Pot, however, doesn’t tend to give users the same feeling of submitting to a substance. With legalization of marijuana in Canada approaching, and a generational shift towards healthier living becoming increasingly prevalent, there’s fear in the alcohol industry that this could wreak havoc on their bottom line — even if this has not, so far, been the case in Colorado.

In the Highest State, alcohol sales have continued the same single digit year-over-year growth, however, the recreational marijuana market has grown first by triple, then double digits. May marked a milestone for Colorado’s cannabis industry as it was the 12th consecutive month that pot sales topped $100 million; $90.1 million of that generated by recreational users alone.

Meanwhile, in Nevada — less than a week after it became legal in the state on July 1 — a shortage of weed prompted the Republican governor to respond by endorsing a Statement of Emergency along with measures to get product flowing to retailers. One dispensary in Las Vegas reported a 1,000 per cent increase in sales since legalization.

“The reason people are driven to drink for the most part is because they are bored,” says Starkman. “If you can create event experiences or spaces where people are not bored and they’re either entertained by something we built, or there’s content that interests them, then you don’t have to rely so heavily on alcohol.”

In the name of producing accessible events, Starkman strives to make non-drinkers feel comfortable, whether it’s a daytime event like a panel discussion or a party like Sally’s.

“Catering to people who aren’t drinking tells me that I have to consider different entry-points,” says Starkman, who also built a sort of digital age photo booth for the event to create audience engagement. Starkman tells me that her business partner, Allegra Christie, has recently stopped drinking but still blazes; a decision that will inform their model.

The reasons for ditching the bottle but still smoking pot vary, from alcohol interacting with medications to the productivity that comes from eliminating hangovers from your weekly routine, to a simple distaste for it. Kimberly Esquila, a DJ and student of  environmental design at OCAD University, is allergic to alcohol. “You want more from the experience of going out, which is what I search for,” says Esquila, who played a set at Sally’s Day Off. “Loud music in a dark room is pretty underwhelming.” She’s a pot smoker and enjoys sativas, which help her concentrate, work through creative road blocks and lighten her mood. “It’s just way more fun to smoke than it is to drink,” Esquila says.

Luis Mora, a Toronto-based photographer, stopped drinking three and a half years ago following a surgery and realized he actually preferred sobriety. “That lifestyle — I just don’t like it, it doesn’t fit with my schedule and how I work,” says Mora. “As a freelancer, weekends are not weekends for me.”

His partner was quick to follow suit and mostly abstains from drinking to this day. Mora says it was an easy transition for them both, since they were already not in the habit of keeping alcohol in the house. Born in Colombia, Mora grew up in a culture that had a different relationship to alcohol. Latin parties, he says, are about dancing and all that moving around means you naturally drink less.

“It’s not about getting completely drunk,” he says. “The way we drink is very different compared to in North America.” He’s found himself returning to those roots, frequenting a neighbourhood club that hosts Latin dancing nights. In another turn of events, he tells me that his mother has been exploring the world of medicinal marijuana. “That shows you that times are changing,” says Mora, who had to hide his pot smoking from his mom until recently.

In a 2016 report, Deloitte found that 22 per cent of the Canadian adult population consumes recreational marijuana on at least an occasional basis (not including medical marijuana), with a full 7 per cent of the population consuming on a daily basis. A further 17 per cent show some willingness to try it if it were legal.

Steve Levitt, economics professor at the University of Chicago and co-author of Freakonomics, in a 2014 episode of the podcast by the same name, was relating the dangers and societal costs of alcohol. When asked what substance (pot or alcohol) he would wish all four of his children would use in the future, he answered, surprisingly, booze. But just for one reason — the social aspect.

“Because I think alcohol is just such an integral part of being an American…. In 30 years I’d probably give you a different answer because the role of marijuana in society might change.”

Story by Nichole Jankowski

Illustration by Madison van Rijn

In the business of bud: MedMen

A medical cannabis program may have been established in California two decades ago with the passing of Proposition 215, but it’s only recently that the industry has experienced the kind of explosive growth that is redefining marijuana use for the masses. MedMen, a cannabis management and investment firm that oversees 10 facilities including several posh dispensaries, has been at the centre of these changes. Here, co-founder and chief operating officer Andrew Modlin talks about mainstreaming marijuana, and why this emerging industry is the tech boom of the millennial generation.

What is MedMen and what is your vision for the company?

The technical answer is that MedMen is a cannabis management and investment firm. We offer turnkey services in the areas of cultivation, extraction, production and retail. We currently manage 10 facilities, including three dispensaries. We also have an investment arm that has closed more than $90 million in deals with its first private equity fund.

The more inspirational answer is that we are defining the next generation of cannabis businesses and consumers. I am not overstating the case when I say this is an opportunity to write history. There’s a $50 billion consumer market forming right before our eyes, and we are seeing a shift in society’s attitude toward pot. Our vision is for a truly mainstreamed marijuana market where patients and consumers are at the centre.

MedMen's West Hollywood location
MedMen’s West Hollywood location

Tell me about how you first launched the company?

My early professional background is in the visual arts, mixed media, design — I have a B.F.A. from the UCLA. I met my business partner Adam Bierman nearly a decade ago when he hired me to work at his marketing agency. In 2010, we got a call from a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles to do some marketing and design work for them. I knew marijuana dispensaries existed, and that’s about it. Adam knew even less. He went to meet the owner, and he found out how much business this tiny dispensary was doing. He called me and said, “we’re in the wrong business.” And that’s how we jumped into the cannabis industry headfirst. We first opened our own dispensaries and then we went into consulting and that evolved into the management company. Last year we launched our first private equity fund. Today, we are in three states with close to 200 employees and continuing to grow. We recently signed a lease for a building on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, where we will be opening our fourth dispensary. We expect it to open toward the end of the year, or early 2018.

Tell me more about your vision for a mainstreamed marijuana market — how do you make it a reality?

There is a persistent stereotype about marijuana and marijuana users — that we’re all stoners who go to shady pot shops. Marijuana is a lifestyle and wellness choice. You can choose to manage chronic pain with cannabis instead of prescription pain killers. You can choose to smoke a vape pen rather than drink alcohol when socializing with your friends. There is absolutely no reason why it should not be treated like any other consumer product, like coffee or wine. Yes, it should be tightly regulated, but it should be legal and accessible to adults. When you look at cannabis as a product and not an illicit drug, it changes your entire approach to how it is cultivated, produced and marketed.

At MedMen, we focus on authenticity and excellence. We want everything we do to be of the highest quality. For example, our dispensaries. Most dispensaries, even modern ones that are clean and welcoming, still feel like a transactional environment. It’s more like going to a deli then actually shopping for something. We wanted our dispensaries to feel like a real retail experience. We put a lot of thought into the journey the customer goes through when they walk into the store. So we create clean and airy spaces, and we try to give the consumer as much information as possible via iPad menus and actual products they can browse. I love seeing people walk into our dispensaries for the first time. Their reaction is often “this is not what I expected.” And that’s exactly the point.

What are some of the biggest positive changes you’ve seen in the industry since you launched?

I think the biggest one is that this is now a viable career for people entering the workforce and professionals at the top of their game. We recently hired our chief marketing officer, and she came from Capital Records. Our new director of retail worked for Gap, Calvin Klein, Givenchy. Our director of communications is a former staff writer from the Los Angeles Times. The list goes on. When we opened our new dispensary in Orange County, we received 1,500 applications for 20 positions. This industry needs lawyers, accountants, logistics experts, marketers, lab technicians, high-tech farmers. This is the tech boom of our generation.

What surprised you most about working in the marijuana business?

I work in the marijuana business. Nothing surprises me.

Story by Nancy Won

Photos courtesy of MedMen

Tokyo Smoke’s sister brand, Van der Pop, will be holding court at two MedMen locations this week. Stop by, say hi and enter to win a Pax3

Thursday August 24, 2017 (OC/Santa Ana) – 1pm to 3:30pm PST

Saturday August 26, 2017 (West Hollywood) – 1pm to 5pm PST

High Gear with Jody

High Gear: We’re examining your stash, chatting about your gear.

Jody is a model and body positivity activist.

Can you tell us a bit about your gear? What are your essential pipes / pieces / paraphernalia?

I gravitate towards pieces that are both discreet and portable since I’m almost always smoking outside. Some papers or a small pipe, a grinder card, and a stash jar are all I really ever need.

What’s your go-to accessory or favourite brand? What kicked your sessions into high gear?

Since I can get paranoid about reeking of weed, my discovery of smell-proof bags was a big one. Putting my stash and gear in them reassures me that the scent isn’t bothering anyone else as I go about my day. I think it’s important to be considerate of other people in your surroundings.

Do you have any rituals around rolling? A favourite session spot?

No rituals, but I feel most comfortable smoking outside, surrounded by nature – ideally when I’m camping or cottaging, but I’ll settle for a nice session in a park. It feels more appropriate and natural than hot boxing a living room to me.

Does your session have a purpose?

Usually it’s a way for me to unwind after a long, stressful day – I guess you could say that I like ending my day on a high note.

All photos by Jacqueline Ashton