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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Irwin

Queer-Led Cannabis Companies Keep Pride Alive

Don’t fall for pinkwashing — buy your Pride supplies from companies owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community.


SF Weekly

If you’ve walked into any dispensary in the Bay Area last month, you’ve seen it: a range of freshly-minted gummies, vape carts, creams, and pre-rolled joints wrapped in the rainbow colors of the pride flag. One package touts a donation, while another vaguely alludes to a love of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, long nails, and sassy wrist flicks. All of them proclaim that principles of inclusivity, equality, and acceptance are core to the company’s mission.

But just because a store’s shelves are decorated with glitter, doesn’t mean the cannabis industry is free of homophobia. Despite the “chill” reputation, plenty pot shops and grow houses have issues with workplace discrimination, hetero-centric microaggressions, and insensitive jokes. Further, it’s clear that many of these companies care more about selling to “the gays” than supporting them.

As I sit in my room, surrounded by an oversized, rainbow-printed beach towel, a wooden crate filled with rainbow flags, unbranded candies, confetti, two hats and three T-shirts, I can’t help but wonder how all this canna-swag matches up against these brands’ donations to LGBTQ-benefitting charities.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think straight- and cisgender-led brands have any right to profit off of Pride, just like I don’t think anyone should only stand with the queer community one month out of the year. Fifty-two years after the Stonewall Uprisings — a series of anti-capitalist, anti-police, freedom-hungry riots — simply stating that one stands in solidarity with the queer community is less than the bare minimum. Donating a measly 5 or 10 percent of profits, in an industry that owes its very existence to the legacy of compassionate use pioneers in the LGBTQ+ community. Further, in an industry where many companies are like profit-sinking startups that thrive off investor capital, one has to wonder how much coin 5 percent of profits even amounts to. Straight-led companies patting themselves on the back for such an act overshadow the dozens of queer-led brands that, by their very existence, carve out space for the equitable inclusion of people from all backgrounds in the cannabis industry.

Rather than contributing to the tone-deaf tradition of rainbow capitalism, here’s a list of our favorite products, many of them new, from queer-led brands that you can support all year long. Many of these companies didn’t run Pride-themed marketing campaigns at all — probably because their tinctures, pre-rolls, topicals, and beverages speak for themselves.

Roll-Your-Own Kits Stone Road ½ oz. flower, natural rolling papers, tear-and-use crutches | $50

Stone Road’s classic and hash-infused pre-rolls have been catching the attention of industry connoisseurs for several months now. Seed- and stem-free, they always include top-notch flower with a freshness you can taste. Now, the company is selling roll-your-own packs for those of us looking for a little extra cost savings or who like to combine our favorite psychoactive herb with tobacco or more benign substances like chamomile and lavender.

CBD Therapy Drops Farmaceuticals Co. One, 1 oz. vial; 300mg CBD | $66

There’s a lot of CBD tincture companies out there, and some of them cut corners more than others. Most companies use extracts to create their products, for example, cutting overhead costs and, unfortunately, lowering their effectiveness. Farmaceuticals Co. tinctures are made by processing whole cannabis flowers, which means they go the extra mile for patients dealing with particularly high levels of anxiety, pain, insomnia, or other conditions they treat with CBD.

Social Tonics Cann One 4-pack of 8 fl. oz. seltzers; 2mg THC and 4mg CBD each | $14

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all drank a little bit less alcohol, and indulged in a little bit more weed? That’s the thinking behind Cann’s social seltzers, the White Claw of cannabis drinks. Each can comes with a mood-lifting micro dose of THC and CBD, perfect for loosening up without getting couch locked.

Pride Energy Gummies ReCreate One, 10-pack of gummies; 10mg CBD and 5mg THC each | $24.50

Sometimes, a gummy with just THC can cause undue anxiety and paranoia. Add in a little CBD, and you can take the edge off. However, ReCreate goes one step further: combining THC, CBD, and the popular South American caffeinated plant Yerba Mate. That makes these edibles truly unique, with just enough of a kick to get you moving after a weekend of partying.

Sundae Driver Pre-Roll Minis Besito 10 ⅓ gram pre-rolled joints | $51

Sundae Driver is one of the most relaxing strains around. Just a few puffs, and the day begins to melt away. More than that, however, and you might miss the next few days, too. Besito’s mini pre-roll packs are the perfect size — facilitating just a handful of drags without sending you one toke over the line. Plus, the conveniently-sized two-inch tin is the perfect size for throwing in your pocket if you want to keep these stashed for a discreet smoke break while you’re out and about.

“The Quickie” Facial Toning Spray Taylor & Tess One, 8 oz. spray bottle; 10mg CBD | $28

Taylor & Tess’ hemp-based facial products redefine inclusivity, deliberately ignoring the gendered trappings of most beauty products. Their facial toning spray, “The Quickie” is both a pre-moisturizing, post-cleansing toner and a makeup refreshing spray you can carry with you throughout the day. The broad-spectrum CBD it’s infused with has reported anti-inflammatory effects as well as oil-regulating effects. Other ingredients, like aloe, witch hazel, and kakadu plum extract moisturize brighten the face while killing acne-causing bacteria on the surface of the skin. Even better, the packaging is refillable!

Infused Herbal Vinaigrette Dose of Saucy One, 1 oz. pouch; 5mg THC | $6

The cannabis industry looks a lot less like the wild, wild west of yesteryear these days. Edibles are getting more creative and better-tasting by the day, and Dose of Saucy is characteristic of the new frontier. The nascent company sells single-servings of infused barbecue sauce and a citrusy vinaigrette, each with 5mg of fast-acting THC with an onset of 15-45 minutes. Self-identified “executive cowgirl” Tess Taylor only sold in Los Angeles up until this month, but recently expanded her sales throughout the state so us San Franciscans can get a taste, too.

Red Congolese Flower The Congo Club 3.5 grams of flower | $55

If you’re a sativa diva, keeping a jar of red congolese flower on hand is a must. Few strains are as highly functional, making it a coveted pick that’s hard to find. Luckily, the Congo Club specializes in carrying this strain and it’s genetic siblings.

Popping Cannabis Crystals Sonder One, 10 mg single package | $9

No, these aren’t poppers — they’re something that might even be a little more fun. Sonder is the first cannabis company we’ve heard of to make the cannabis-infused version of pop rocks, the strange, pop-in-your mouth candy that’s simultaneously scared and excited kids since the 1950s. These novel edibles, decorated in the most adorable neon packaging and yellow-and-hot pink text that reads “Cheers Queers!” make for a great party gift.

42Olympics Baseball Cap Sundae School One black nylon cap | $42

Sometimes, we want to wear our heart (and lungs) on our sleeve. The luxury “smokewear” outfitters Sundae School do so in a way that’s quirky, fun, and a bit more subtle than the tacky, tie-die headshop merchandise stoners are known for. Think streetwear, but make it stoner-chic. The brand is AAPI and queer-led, and published a radical “K-Queer Reader Zine” about heteronormativity in South Korea that’s also worth a read.

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