Booze and pot entered the popular culture lexicon as textbook vices, each enduring its own Prohibition. The latter’s state legalization has been unfurling across the country at a staggering speed, for medicinal as well as adult use. Rolling a joint after work has become, for many, as normal as cracking open a cold one—a way to unwind and take pleasure in a ritual.
What Good Beer Hunting does for beer, Dope Girls—the feminist zine I co-run with Art Director Rachel Hortman—aims to do with cannabis. Many beer drinkers have moved beyond Moe’s Tavern, excited to peruse an extensive draft list, hunting for the rare and new, occasionally complaining too much despite an embarrassment of riches. Similarly, you won’t find many of those Pink Floyd posters with all the butts on them in the homes of people who hit a vape loaded with Durban Poison oil before heading to the gym. Beer and cannabis aren’t only legitimate lifestyle enhancements—they’re often actual forms of art. Just as a discerning eye could see an adeptly plated slab of burrata drizzled with balsamic reduction is a masterpiece, so is a clear, bright pour of session IPA or a bowl packed with Cali Kush—positively frosty with all those knockout trichomes.
So GBH and DG are joining forces with this column, setting out on a quest to highlight the marginalized voices in the cannabis community. We want to tell you about the the grow entrepreneur who started research as a way to help their chronically ill pal find relief. We want to tell you about a burgeoning cannabis sommelier program. About illegal states bordered by legal ones. What happens to weed dealers when their state gets granted legality. The prison system and organizations fighting to bail out non-violent offenders incarcerated on cannabis-related charges. A few killer ideas for the stoned bubble bath that previously only existed in dreams. And, mostly, we want to champion the inherent beauty and functional aesthetic currently driving consumers in this nascent community.
My first time smoking pot wasn’t particularly remarkable. I was 15 and told my mom I was studying for AP Euro. Instead, I sat precariously perched on a friend’s sticky backyard patio set, taking a few fiery puffs from an Expo marker case that had been transformed into a pipe. (You’ll never find a more resourceful crowd than stoners.)
But the love affair didn’t really kick off ‘til I enrolled at University of North Florida, where I started taking new friends from the dorm deep into the woods of our on-campus nature preservation, marveling over the herb’s crystals, smells, and how we felt after smoking the kind with purple hairs versus orange. We often bonded over making what we called “salads,” during which each smoker would contribute a nobule of whatever green they had to the bowl before blazing up. As an adult, a sometimes-complicated relationship with alcohol pushed me back into the familiar arms of Mary Jane, one way to kick back that never did me dirty the next morning or inspired strings of garbled texts sent to exes at 2am.
I’ve since dived deeper, learning about various terpenes, nuances that differ with sativas as compared to indicas (not to mention hybrids!), all while becoming a go-to resource for canna-curious friends, helping them select starter strains and even turning my dad on to a vaporizer specifically designed to combat his persistent insomnia. (He reports mixed results with the Blackberry cartridge I started him on, but is having better luck with his sleep Dosist—which is also helping him learn proper dosage because of its cool vibrating indicator.)
Weed is totally fun, yeah, but it’s also becoming an increasingly crucial component of our culture. (See above re: that prison thing I mentioned.) It can help us better enjoy good moments, soothe bad ones, and shine light on the way our society functions—ugly patches included. Plus, like beer, it often just tastes great.
Once regarded with ridiculous names like “devil’s lettuce” and “jazz cigarettes” (JK, that last one is pretty tight), with vanilla champions like Martha Stewart and 420 gyms cropping up in legal states, it’s safe to say cannabis’ edge has been both smoothed and shellacked. Craft beers were once fairly inaccessible outside of a handful of larger cities. But these days, my relatively podunk college town of Jacksonville, Florida now boasts more than a dozen breweries. Your otherwise out-of-touch uncle brought Dogfish Head to the Fourth of July cookout—who, frankly, may be just as psyched on the high brow nature of the brew as he is on the high ABV.
In the same vein, I find a thicker circle forming around me should I spark a jay at a party. A square friend from high school mentions Blue Dream as a desert island bud. I regularly smell that pungent, often gassy, smell around my adopted hometown of Atlanta, which can only mean one thing: someone—in close vicinity—is getting high. And it’s not even a big deal (though it should be noted Atlanta only recently passed decriminalization legislature). The green has officially entered the mainstream, but there’s still so much to discuss.
There’s massive intersection, too, between cannabis and beer. The two share hotbeds—like Portland and Denver—bursting with innovation in both arenas, sometimes combining the two. (Why is that?) Like, how dreamy does a CBD-infused brew or a combination brewery and dispensary tour sound? Cannabis is a close cousin of hops, after all.
Meanwhile, cannabis is pioneering its way to the mainstream with a finesse at catering to women. Industry players know women (with high amounts of disposable income) want smart and sleek—beauty in functionality. With the omnipresence of gorgeous objects with which to get high as well as women in positions of power, cannabis has immediately lowered the barrier to entry for feminine people. Beer is finally starting to catch up, but it could definitely take a page from the green rush’s guidebook—especially considering some recent misses at trying to be more inclusive to all genders. (Though, admittedly, access to legal cannabis is already negatively affecting neighborhoods the same way craft beer has—in a way that pushes out denizens who are lower-income and mostly people of color. There’s so much work to be done.)
It’s a process. But we’re getting there as a larger society, developing both cultures in a symbiotic way that doesn’t dictate life but, instead, enhances it.
With this column, we’ll mostly deviate from cannabis 101. (But real quick: a good rule to know is the difference between sativa- and indica-dominant strains. Remember that “indica” sounds like “in-da-couch,” which is where you may end up with this horizontally-inspiring variety. Sativa is more likely to amp you up. Or, with some people, inspire anything from headiness to downright paranoia). Instead, we’ll look deeper, offering insight into the subtle gradients of the culture as well as the actual plant. We aim to be an unpretentious resource. Like everything at GBH, we like to party, but we also think more critically about everything than your average acquaintance. Which means, like the older sibling you maybe never had, we’ll hold your hand and help you take the perfect rip—and don’t worry, we won’t laugh (too much) if you cough along the way.
Who knows? One day we could be calling on you to join us for a snifter of mixed-fermentation Saison and to share a fattie blunt of some high-CBD (the non-psychoactive cannabinoid credited for managing pain and anxiety, among other ailments), low-THC (the cannabinoid that makes you feel cerebral or high) Charlotte’s Web in Chicago or something. There’s a lot of potential. And we’re glad to have you along for the ride.