The steady state-to-state legalization of marijuana allows the cannabis community to come together with a sense of freedom. The timing of this postponement was particularly significant in New York, where legalization came in late March, just weeks before COVID-19 vaccines became an option for all adults. So when Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh, co-founders of cannabis marketplace and consulting firm Humble Bloom, hosted their first in-person event this summer since Spring 2020, it was very special.
“It was a physical manifestation of our company’s ethos,” says Burnett, referring to Humble Bloom’s focus on community. Held at The William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn last August, The Happy Camp (THC) was a place where people come together, consume cannabis, shop (brands like Lock & Key Remedies, Calm Better Days, Come Back Daily, and Kind Fine. ). Jewelry sold their wares) and laughing: The night ended with a comedy show in association with Auntie’s House.
As she walked across the room, Burnett said she felt “this integrative and intersectional energy that is rooted in the connection of community and caring for one another”. She loved watching everyone hug. “It was just so nice to see people come out, careful, careful, aware, open, honest and just so loving and ready to laugh. And use cannabis.”
Founded in 2018, Humble Bloom not only hosts events, but also advises cannabis brands to help them take an “inclusive, humanistic approach to branding and marketing”. The site also hosts a marketplace where you can shop from cannabis-centric brands that share your values - there are collections dedicated to Asian brands, black brands, LGBTQIA + brands, and more.
In everything they do, Swatosh and Burnett focus on bringing people together and forging connections in the cannabis industry – between cannabis entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.
Cultivate fellowship in a growing field
Throughout the pandemic, Humble Bloom hosted virtual events ranging from new moon meditations to ally workshops. But actually, bringing people together in real life enabled Swatosh and Burnett to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of their fellowship. One of the people Burnett met was a black man who grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who came with his mother. “He even had little flower pots that he grew that he wanted to share with me,” says Burnett. His mother said to Burnett, “I’m just so grateful to be here in this fancy hotel that I would never go into, but I’m surrounded by people of all ages and races.”
This event was also the first time many people who work with cannabis had the opportunity to meet – from street vendors who operate in the old market; to a PrestoDoctor doctor setting up people with medical marijuana cards for use in medical dispensaries; to folks at Rebelle, a Massachusetts recreational pharmacy. “Some people would say, ‘But isn’t that competition?’ We say, ‘No, it isn’t,’ “says Swatosh. “Just because I started growing my plants in my garden – can’t wait to get these clones soon – doesn’t mean I still don’t go to the pharmacy and get the weed from someone I love to support and try.”
Maintaining a strong kinship within the legal cannabis industry will be vital to ensuring that it remains open and accessible to small businesses. This is especially important when it comes to black and brown owned cannabis companies, as these communities suffer and continue to suffer disproportionately from the effects of decades of discriminatory drug policies.
Working in a hazy room
Anyone in New York age 21 and older can now legally use recreational marijuana. But the sale of cannabis won’t be legal until April 2022, and there are still no regulations on the sale of cannabis. New York Governor Kathy Hochul is working to set up the government offices and bodies necessary to establish rules and licenses for the sale of cannabis, but it could take up to two years for such regulations to be fully in place .
Although cannabis use is legal in New York, Burnett and Swatosh say there is still much work to be done to make this state a welcoming place to use. “Technically, there are still no safe places to consume it. While it’s decriminalized, that doesn’t mean people aren’t targeted for cannabis,” says Swatosh. “What [cannabis legalization] has real meaning in people’s lives has not been worked out. “
And there’s still a lot to be done to welcome the cannabis industry to smaller brands and business owners. “Cannabis really offers an opportunity to flip social, political, environmental and economic paradigms. But at the same time it will have a devastating impact as a commodity, ”says Swatosh. “You have these big companies that have [control of] manufacturing, distribution, packaging and everything else – everything is monopolized. “
Working in the legal cannabis industry doesn’t come cheap. For example, Humble Bloom had to buy consumer insurance for The Happy Camp that allowed people to smoke, “which drove up our insurance costs,” says Burnett. “It went from about a few hundred dollars to nearly $ 3,000 for a single event.” These costs make it difficult for small brands to survive in the legal cannabis industry by taking cannabis revenue out of the community and putting it in the pockets of bigger brands.
While lawmakers iron out the logistics of legality, Burnett says it is important that individuals fight for guidelines that will help make cannabis an accessible and inclusive industry. “Advocate the things you want to see in the cannabis industry before it’s too late,” she says. “Be part of the process.”
Next up is Humble Bloom Más Xula, a three-day event in New York City with Mexico City-based, Latina and Black-affiliated hemp brand Xula. The series begins with a roundtable discussion, Femme Sessions, on Sunday, October 3rd, at the Vale Garden Residence at The William Vale; On October 5th, guests gather at the Pollyn Plant Store in Williamsburg for a night of DIY herbal training. The grand finale is the Fiesta Despedida, a “full spectrum party” in the Ideal Glass Studios on October 8th.
After the Más Xula graduation, Humble Bloom will continue to celebrate the cannabis community, both IRL and URL, as Burnett puts it. “People have these stereotypes about what stoners are and how they interact,” says Burnett, but the experiences that Humble Bloom curates are “a tribute to stoners who do, who care, who love and who share” .
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