Cannabis used to not be the capitalist enterprise it is today. Sharing, collaborating, and reinventing the species and products that other people have already made is part of the culture. In short, there’s a reason for the old, well-known chorus of “puff, puff, pass.” Smoking weed is about more than the herbs you put in your pipe; it’s also about the people you participate with.
But with the rise of legalization, many of these traditions have clashed with the impulses and best practices of the free market. In an oversaturated market with high base costs and a surplus of hungry investors, it quickly becomes competitive. Unlike the popular fantasy, your local pharmacy owners probably aren’t walking around in the back room: they count inventory, calculate profit margins, and scramble to cover their profits.
However, there’s one way cannabis companies across the state are still celebrating the spirit of yesteryear, despite the changes brought about by commercialization: collaborations. Of course, collaborations take place in many industries, from clothing companies collaborating on a collection, to food companies joining forces to create a limited edition granola bar. However, for many cannabis users, collabs symbolize a rejection of the individualistic mindset that is taking over the industry and a return to its more cooperative roots.
“This culture is all about sharing and community, and all the good things need to be emphasized, despite the negative connotations that outside sources try to impose on us,” said Blue Reyes, a local budtender who made a living selling cannabis before it was legalized for recreational use. “It’s all supposed to be about love, and how do you show love in an industry where everything is commercialized? You work together – you make something in your packaging and then you put their logo on that too, and you let everyone know that you’re working together.”
Fortunately, there are collabs on the market for almost every type of cannabis consumer, from vapes to prerolls to concentrates. Here are some of the best collaborations from Northern California brands.
although gas house is headquartered in Oakland, their roots are in Atlanta, Georgia. The company’s founder, Kingston, is a legend for famously (and, before moving to Oakland, anonymously) running a state-of-the-art indoor grow house that supplied cannabis to some of the country’s most famous professional athletes and rappers. in 2016 VICE featured him and his business partner Felix in a video documentary, disguised in a bandana, glasses and wig as a disguise. When asked if his family or friends were aware of his operation, he replied: “No. Because right now the value of this crop could cost us both our lives.”
Kingston is undoubtedly a master of his craft – and now that he operates in a recreational rule of law, he is getting the recognition he deserves. Every eighth of Gas House looks like it’s been dipped in sugar and scores high in tests for cannabinoid content. Gas House has partnered with some of the most recognized names in indoor, Cookies and Big Al’s, as well as the pre-rolled blunt company Packwoods.
While Gas House is the champion of loud, photogenic peaks, madrone represents the Emerald Triangle culture of artisanal farming. Madrone packages their product in pots with simple, color-coded labels that correspond to the type of light the plants are grown under. Madrone lets their buds speak for themselves. Some of their most popular strains include The Viper, a potent couchlocker, the knockout indica Ingrid, and the goofy sweet tasting Mendo Crumble.
Madrone works with 40 different independent farms throughout NorCal, many of which are small and family-owned. These are heritage growers, who have been in the game for decades, environmentally conscious sustainable farmers. In the spirit of sharing their passion for the old-fashioned farming culture, they recently released a special kit, containing a large 14 gram coke for you to trim at home – a method, Madrone insists on their Instagram page, has been the standard for NorCal growers and connoisseurs for decades. This one will have you dusting off your Birkenstocks and old Grateful Dead records.
although Friendly Farms also sells concentrates and flowers, they are best known for their live resin vaping cartridges. These cartridges are filled with 100 percent living resin — a difficult feat considering how viscous the substance can be on its own. While most companies mix live resin with inexpensive distillate to dilute it, Friendly Farms instead makes their oils with a layer of aqueous terpenes, making them some of the tastiest cartridges on the market. Better yet, Friendly Farm cartridges are compatible with a standard 510 thread battery, although users will need to vaporize them on low heat to get the full effect. Think of these pens as a dab-on-the-go.
Friendly Farms partners with brands big and small, from the company “#DesignerWeed” Connected Cannabis Co. to lesser known gems such as North Country Farms. Better yet, they are one of the few vape brands in the state to engage in such partnerships on a consistent basis. Because the collabs are often released in small batches in limited edition, new varieties are regularly available.
San Francisco preroll brand Space Coyote wants to take you back to the 1960s and emphasize that collaboration, art and sustainability are at the heart of their mission. The company only sells infused pre-rolls, each made in collaboration with a different company: grab a 1:1 CBD:THC pre-roll infused with the Oakland brand Chemistry‘s resin extract, or a hash infused pre-roll with some Humboldt’s brand Nashaice water hash and taste what NorCal cannabis has to offer.
Many infused pre-rolls are collaborations, but Space Coyote stands out in that the strain of the flower and concentrate they use in each product is clearly labeled, with the partner company’s logo prominently displayed. Space Coyote also uses every last drop of those concentrates – while some companies add concentrates to the outer layer of the paper for a flashy look, everything inside the paper is rolled on a Space Coyote joint. Just a few puffs and it will make sense why their tagline is “totally cosmic”.
The concentrate company Surprise Surprise is itself a collaborative project founded by Royal Key Organics. Based in Sonoma County, this company pays special attention to quality breeding techniques such as live soil, organic inputs and careful phenotype “hunting” to find the best repeats of different strains. While Royal Key Organics’ primary operation is vertically integrated, Suprize Suprize engages growers across Northern California, as well as several successful artists such as the dystopian Americana printmaker Bill Barminskic, and legendary psychedelic poster designer John Van Hamersveld.
Cannabis growers love Rebel Grown Organics, Acids for you, and Neukom . family farm working with Suprize Suprize in a truly collaborative way – while Suprize Suprize extracts most of their concentrates in-house, many of the strains are bred and bred by separate companies. The result is consistently premium, small batches of live resins, resins and diamonds that often also come with collectible pins and stickers.
While competition has made it difficult for many companies to make a name for themselves in the cannabis industry, collaboration remains one of the key ways entrepreneurs help each other. For consumers, on the other hand, indulging in a collaboratively crafted product can be a gateway to reminisce about the cannabis culture of past years and honor that common ethos today.
Fortunately, consumers can trust these companies to deliver a quality product every time, from limited edition indoor exotics to boutique pre-rolls. So join forces and grab one of these products the next time you want to tap into the larger cannabis community.