Sometimes, Weed Events Are Just Okay
Coming along for the ride for a week of weed events.
By Clare Sausen
High Functioning is a monthly column exploring the weird, wide world of weed events. From dab legends to porn stars and tattoo artists to ceramicists, we talk to them all to find out what the future holds for the new party scene.
This is my first summer spent in the San Fernando Valley. After spending the last seven in swampy Washington, D.C., I've become accustomed to the East Coast’s wet blanket of heat covering my skin in a layer of sweat, whiteheads, and mosquito bites every time I step out of the door. Now, I’ve braved California’s June Gloom to make way for the dry desert heat, where succulents thrive and no one’s Botox-ed foreheads glisten.
A Week's Recap
Does the cannabis industry really need more representation from white male celebrities? The country’s most popular consumption lounge, theWOODS, has the answer: apparently, yes. The Tulum-inspired oasis is owned by iconic stoner and prolific anti-vaxxer Woody Harrelson. My first event of the week was presented here by the Dope Women Network,a grassroots organization looking to connect women in the cannabis industry.
The dispensary in the front, filled with ombre-labeled eighths and lavender-infused joints, soon gives way to the outdoor area: the self-proclaimed Ganja Giggle Garden. The GGG is home to a non-alcoholic bar and a variety of cabanas available to rent for no less than $100/hr. Today, the spot will host guest speakers Kristi Palmer, co-founder of the household edibles named Kiva Confections, and Imelda Walavalkar, co-founder of Pure Beauty—home of the cutest mini-joints on the block—to discuss their experience in the ever-struggling industry.
In the GGG, beautiful tapestries of tropical greenery hangover-chic stone fixtures while massive wrought-iron bird cages covered in plastic tarps house a variety of parrots—a concept that may sound nice to some (I mean, not to me, but maybe to some), but quickly turns creepy when intermittent squawks and screeches start to harsh your buzz. The industry titans shared that even they remained unoptimistic about the future of the industry, with a sky-high tax rate and overly-strict regulations strangling brands even as well-established as their own.
This event encourages women in the industry to socialize and network, which I’ve seen happen before my very eyes: friendships, businesses, and collectives have formed thanks to their introduction at the event. This one, though, was a bit different. At least double the size of the one I had attended the month prior and now nearly evenly filled with men. Though this growth was impressive, it detracted from the organization’s original mission. I had to beeline for the gift bag at the end to avoid the continual advances of a man who brought his cat with him (who wasn’t a big fan of the squawking, either).
One thing I’ve learned about these events is that there are not very many places to have them. Thursday night, I’m back at The Artist Tree for some of their late-night programmings; this time, though, the sun-drenched clubhouse had transformed into a strip club for an alien-inspired pole-dancing pop-up—a phrase they took quite literally, pulling out a collapsible pole that wavered in the air with even a slight breeze.
The queer-centric troupe took turns taking to the pole, “shaking their rumpuses,” as the host insisted they do. Many handed lit joints to the performers like dollar bills, testing their balance even further as they gripped the pole with only their thighs. Each artist cycled through vaguely astrological tunes like Beyonce’s “Alien Superstar”, Ariana Grande’s “N.A.S.A.”, and Katy Perry’s “E.T.” in PVC skirts and high lucite heels, with one even donning a full rubber mask of the latter.
Though obviously campy, the evening was truly quite sexy as ashtrays filled and a shirtless assistant named Buffalo scampered on the ground to gather stray bills. The night capped off with a challenge from Kenzie, a pigtailed performer in a shimmering lilac bikini: “Who can smoke a joint faster than me?”
A woman in the crowd raised her hand, and she grabbed it, pulling her onto the stage and asking her name. As Alex introduced herself to the crowd, the DJ handed both of the ladies a pre-roll and lit the ends as they held them between their lips. Kenzie won by just a hair, but her rookie counterpart certainly held her own, finishing the full king-size in less than 90 seconds. The crowd cheered as I realized binge culture will certainly not end in post-alcohol spaces.
On Friday, I ventured to Venice Beach, an eclectic neighborhood known for many things: bodybuilders, skateboarders, and now cannabis connoisseurs. The Ispire Lounge has officially joined the city’s First Friday initiative, a monthly fair on the iconic Abbot Kinney Blvd. where food trucks line the streets and locals and tourists alike pay over $6 for a single taco.
A revolutionary in the concentrates space, Ispire offers fully digital dab rigs to take the worst part out of the concentrates: the blow torch. Their vaping hardware ranges from disposable pens to full-on dab rigs that operate at the touch of a button. In the space itself, comically oversized paraphernalia is alive at every corner: from a humidifier that mimics a vape pen to massive bongs on either side of the DJ booth, the products wereVIP guests.
The lounge itself was open-air and filled with vendors in every corner. The first I saw was Pabst Blue Ribbon, now throwing their hats in the weed-spiked seltzer ring. I asked their brand reps which flavor was their favorite, and they responded “strawberry kiwi” in unison, with one offering that it tasted just like a Capri Sun, which I think was supposed to be a good thing.
I eventually ventured out to the balcony, where sports-loving weed brand Jeeter had set up a game of “Guess That Strain,” offering to blindfold patrons and give them a hit of five different pre-rolls to, you got it, guess their strains. While a true journalist may have abstained, there are only very few things I’m good at in this world, and my human urge to show off got the best of me. I was 5 for 5 (it was multiple choice—I’m not an animal) and took home a jumbo-sized joint dipped in kief as my trophy.
What We Smoked
The Dope Women Network continues to have the best gift bag on the block. This one was topped with samples from both of the featured brands, including Kiva’s Yuzu Fizz 10mg gummies and their 2.5mg mints (an offering I gifted to a low-tolerance pal), as well as a pack of Pure Beauty’s signature miniature pre-rolls in the indica variety. It featured a wide variety of other goodies from additional sponsors, including gummies, pre-rolls, and even a transdermal CBG patch, which I frankly can’t say I ever really felt the effects of—not that I entirely knew what I was looking for.
During the event itself, we traded in drink tickets for mocktails of our choice between Strawberry Fields and Blackberry Jalapeno, which you could “medicate” for $12.
At The Artist Tree, there was absolutely no free weed,which I’ve come to expect. I bought an eighth, rented a bong, and ordered a Diet Coke to enjoy my evening.
At Ispire HQ, you received a free disposable pen with a “your logo here” graphic emblazoned on the front as you entered the door. Among a few other vendors, including a dab bar, the main line was for joints rolled by a professional in rubber gloves who filled each with a river of concentrates in a well of flower and finished it with a glass tip to keep.
Overall, this week had more to offer than last month’s adventures in terms of atmosphere, sexiness, and, perhaps most importantly, free weed. As the weather heats up here, so do the events, with no humidity or nipping insects to dampen the garden parties. This month, I’m rating the lineup with a B-; I think it’s time to upgrade to something a bit more exclusive…