It was June 20th, —the summer solstice—and I was sitting elbow to elbow on a bus with cannabis business owners and spokespeople. We were on our way to an Emerald Exchange Outpost event at a mansion in the Hollywood Hills. While our van hugged the curves of the road, nine strangers got to know each other a little better.
We were there to celebrate and promote the craft cannabis industry.
The Emerald Exchange had selected more than 25 dispensaries and 25 brands, as well as cannabis and mainstream media, to connect over our shared passions: outdoor, sun grown cannabis, the conscious lifestyle that smart growing promotes, and high-quality produce. With industry regulations, the new standardized networks and practices have the potential to dramatically change how the industry develops.
The benefits of outdoor grows are numerous but, as a fellow bus-mate mentioned to me, the craft cannabis movement is every bit as much about making choices that are better for the planet as it is about producing a higher-quality product.
The van arrived at Le Jardin Secret, a mansion with sweeping arches, a dramatic blue-tiled staircase and giant doors, and we all excitedly exited the bus.
Upon entering the mansion, we were transported to a
luxurious getaway. The cavernous rooms were adorned with nuanced tiling and almost all decorated with large crystals.
I first passed through the kitchen, where I picked up a bite of corn fritter topped with cashew cream and tajin cooked by the skilled Chef Holden Jagger, of Altered Plates. Holden is an advocate of cannabis food pairing in much the same way that many pair wine with food. He cooks with attention to flavor and, instead of hiding the taste of cannabinoids in food, encourages diners to relish in the tactile quality of joints they smoke while eating. He envisions a future where enthusiasts appreciate the nuances of how cannabis was grown, the way it was grown, where it was grown and by whom it was grown. A joint would be presented in a test tube, uncorked and smelled, and then a terpene pull would be taken before even lighting the joint. A terpene pull, for anyone like me who has never heard of it, is where you smell the joint before lighting it, to taste the flavor.
After indulging in Holden’s delicious treat I moved into a foyer area where I ran into Walker Townsend, the marketing manager for Seedlip. He handed me a beverage that was floral, herbal, cold and refreshing. More importantly, it was not an alcoholic beverage. Seedlip is a nature company that produces non-alcoholic spirits for anyone who likes to imbibe delicious beverages but doesn’t need or want to introduce alcohol. Their spirits pair well with joints, food and good company. Seedlip beverages are great to drink when you’re not drinking.
I made my way through the mansion and found a coffee station manned by Desiree J. Borja. Desiree poured me a cup of Steepfuze coffee, a balanced and tasty CBD-infused product. She explained to me that Steepfuze is the only company with a patent to infuse coffee beans with CBD full-spectrum oil. They are based in Colorado and infuse their beans at the time of roasting. Desiree confided in me that she’s worked for some companies that do not respect their product as much as Steepfuze does, and that working for a company with an appreciation for quality impacts culture and makes it a kinder, more welcoming community to be a part of. The company makes decaf coffee, too, which she sometimes drinks in the evening to loosen up her muscles after exercise.
After chatting with Desiree, I moved outside to sample a strong and smooth joint provided by Southern Humboldt Royal Cannabis. Southern Humboldt Royal Cannabis produces plants that are free of pesticides, microcontaminants and other adulterations. I indulged in the taste of the joint while taking in the elegance of a curvaceous, illuminated pool surrounded by a man and a woman wearing attire similar to loincloths while dancing rhythmically to the calm beats a DJ was playing from an island in the middle of the pool.
While taking it all in, Keiko Beatie greeted me. She was wearing a lei. She works at Coral Cove Cannabis Health and Wellness Resort, where she teaches classes on cannabis and female sexuality. She teaches women how to peel back the layers of shame they may have about their own sexuality and employ the use of cannabis to coax it to the surface.
Coral Cove Cannabis Resort is an all-inclusive cannabis vacationing spot located in Jamaica, an hour and a half away from Montego Bay, and offers visitors yoga, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, massage, peaceful respite from the busy world and cannabis cultivated on site and dispensed to visitors daily. Upon arrival, a visitor receives a basket containing eight strains of cannabis to sample and choose from. Every day they’re given an eighth of cannabis flower. If a visitor runs out, they can walk 300 feet from their room to the cultivation area, where more flower will be dispensed.
As the evening was coming to a close, I ran into Lakshmi Revilla, who works in distribution. I asked her how the culture of cannabis might continue to change and how the craft cannabis movement might shape its evolution. She’s happy that more people will have access to the flower, but hopes that market demands do not lower the quality or the culture of growing. More specifically, she’s hoping the craft cannabis movement will ensure that the culture of wellness, established by leaders who have been in the industry for years, will be respected by those who are new to the industry and looking to make large profits.
I felt myself fading and made my way through the elegant Moroccan bazaar, taking in its positive energy one last time before heading to the van. If I learned one thing at the party it was that the craft cannabis movement is here to stay and, hopefully, that the passionate leaders who grow with the planet’s best interests in mind will continue to shape the Southern California market long into the future.