The Oakland Toke

Puff, Pass, Paint


Visitors to Oakland are always enthralled by supreme sunsets, sports culture, and now the emerging cannabis scene. Those residing in Oakland are equally impressed with the passage of Measure Z, which is the city’s alternative to the War on Drugs. Since Measure Z places adult cannabis use as the lowest police priority, functions like Puff, Pass, Paint are allowed to exist.


Puff, Pass, Paint is a two-hour, cannabis infused art class that provides a safe environment for people to toke and stroke. The canvas and cannabis concept was rolled into  reality six years ago when Denver-based painter and ganjapreneur, Heidi Keyes, and a group of friends, sat around her living room discussing possibilities. Fast forward to 2017, Puff, Pass Paint is in eight locations including Washington DC, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Los Vegas and Portland.


Oakland’s class is hosted by Tyler Joyner and Austa Martin. The class is held twice a week at a warehouse located on 2607 Mandela Parkway. Residents and retreaters can take public transit to the West BART station and catch a four minute cab ride from there.


The warehouse itself provides much more than a safe place to medicate. It’s a community spread for both cannabis and creative activities. “We can have a lot more students here,” said Joyner, “We get to paint on the walls too,” he laughed.


While every month has a different theme — like Koi fish, sugar skulls, and cactus — Puff, Pass, Paint is designed to break down stigmas, infuse normalcy, and provide a space for people to come together.


“There are some people who come that don’t smoke, but love the [environment]” said Austa Martin. “I have one girl that comes every other week, or once every three weeks.”


Martin continued to explain that “People’s reactions are really funny” when they first arrive for the class. “People are definitely nervous in the beginning. People also talk a lot in the beginning, but once they start to smoke, everyone gets really focused on their painting and the class starts to quiet down.”


“People with PTSD are so happy to have a space like this,” said Joyner, who has seen more veterans benefit from cannabis in California than anywhere else. “We are able to smoke cannabis inside [the warehouse].” Alchemy Extracts partners up with the event and supplies artists with their own vape pens during the session. Puff, Pass, Paint is BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis) and also hosts two other Puff, Pass classes. Puff, Pass, POTery meets every Wednesday, and Puff, Pass, Pastry meets every Sunday. Guests do not need to bring their 215 cards, but must present a valid ID proving they are over 21.


First time attendee, Vikutori Pope, heard about the class through her friend. She shared that she was excited for the experience, and was lured by “the fact that we get to paint. I love to paint, and I’m an amature so I like to try and see how good I can get. I want to relax, get to smoke and paint.”  


Fellow tablemate, Shauna, said she had heard about the class online, and since she was a resident of Oakland, she decided to try it out. “I’ve been using cannabis for 12 years,” Shauna said, who also has a history with acrylic painting. “I love to paint and I want to hang out with my friends. This seemed like a really awesome activity.”


All art supplies: paint, canvas and brushes, are included with your ticket. The team uses water-based acrylic paint in an effort to have your work dry by the end of class. At the end, people can either take their art home, or leave it behind for display on the “wall of misfit paintings.” There’s no such thing as an art mistake in this class, both Joyner and Martin agreed on the term “Happy Accidents” for unique paintings.


“This is about having the experience. It’s about being creative together. It’s about the process, not the product. I think cannabis and creativity go hand-in-hand. I think creativity lets us know as humans that we have a bit of worth because we are able to produce something. Anytime we’re reminded of that, I think it’s just something that helps us out, that gets us to the next place,” said Joyner.


To see if any of the Puff, Pass classes are in your neighborhood, or when the next session is, log onto, or visit them online at or on

Emerald contributor since March 2012


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