WASHINGTON: It is a beautiful Spring day in Georgetown, a hip community due south of downtown Seattle. Nestled inside a business park of vibrant small businesses — crystal shops and massage therapists — across from a colorfully muralled wholesale flower market and the local Post Office, is the world headquarters of Leaf Magazines, publishers of NW Leaf and 12 other regional cannabis lifestyle magazines, and the home of the popular Leaf Life Podcast.
I have been invited to join hosts Wes Abney (the Bearded Lorax), Mike Ricker and sidekicks Mary J. White (the smoking female), and Ashley (Stashley the token female) for a two-part podcast discussion on the role of counter culture magazines in the mainstreaming of marijuana.
Walking up the flight of stairs into the offices, I get a rush of nostalgic feeling. Entering the suite I see the tell-tale signs of the independent publisher — walls lined with framed cover art, filing cabinets plastered with hip stickers, branded swag and advertiser product everywhere. And the buzz — of creative folks doing what they love to do best.Those familiar with my writings will recall that “Pop Culture to Pot Culture” has been a prominent theme in my work over the past decade spent chronicling the legal cannabis industry. And there is nothing I enjoy doing more than regaling folks with colorful stories from my time in New York City working for Rolling Stone and SPIN magazines, and (later AOL/Time Warner), so I jumped at the invitation to play guinea pig on the podcast whose tagline is “All Things Cannabis For All People.”
Now, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Wes Abney since before recreational marijuana was legalized as part of Washington’s I-502 voter initiative in 2012. Wes and his Northwest Leaf Magazine (which he founded with local photographer Daniel Berman) played an important role in organizing, informing and connecting the robust but fragmented grassroots medical marijuana community in Washington.
While many other independent publishers have tapped out, or sold out to bigger corporate publishers, Leaf Magazines has bucked the trend and is in expansion mode. The full size tabloid — still free — is now available in 13 markets across the country.
Like Rolling Stone, and later Spin, Leaf Magazine provides its readers with a window into the world of legal cannabis. More than just showcasing the latest strains, products and smoking technologies, Leaf gives voice to the vibrant grassroots community that drove first the medical cannabis movement, and now is shaping the legal marijuana marketplace.
The Bearded Lorax and Ricker have a ritual to kick off the session: “Before we get educated, we have to get medicated.” So, I dutifully play along as surrogate “Greg the Guinea Pig.” After a hearty spin of Stashley’s wheel, I win the opportunity to sample some very nice Agro Couture—Super Lemon Haze Live Resin in a vape cart, which I enjoy via a new-fangled device called a Bello vaporizer. The Bello is a very cool, socially-responsible way to inhale pure vapor without spreading germs. You plug your cart directly into the base of the machine, and a detachable glass fills with delicious vapor that you then use a sterile straw to inhale. It delivered a very terpy, very tasty hit that powered our free-wheeling, wide-ranging canna conversation.