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High Habits

Dec 20, 2018 01:55PM ● By Ricardo Baca
“What is my cannabis style? Do I even have one?”

As much as I dislike that question more on that shortly I’ve been thinking more about the construct of cannabis style lately, especially since North America is seemingly obsessed with the so called cannabis lifestyle these days. But the cannabis lifestyle being portrayed in these varying media outlets and TV programs doesn’t reflect my own relationship with the marijuana plant. And beyond the style specific serrated and leafy aesthetics, I would also never claim to live a cannabis lifestyle or any particular kind of lifestyle, for that matter.

I just live my life. And cannabis is a part of my life, most days.

That said, I know I’ve been intentional in crafting my public facing style as it relates to cannabis. And while this is less about Huf boxers and Jonathan Adler candles and more about my personal take on the image I want to put out into the world, it’s still technically my cannabis style.

And I think it makes for an interesting conversation, because asking friends about their own cannabis style (or lack thereof) will yield a rainbow of varying answers. While some take it to the extreme with the “Weed Kween” bling and leaf print robes, others take a more subtle approach by supporting hemp clothing brands and more muted shout-outs to the plant (via related icons such as pineapples and trees).

And that’s where the conversation gets interesting. What are we putting out into the world when it comes to our relationships with marijuana, and what does that say about us? Of course this delves far deeper than our clothing and jewelry choices, because style is such an all-encompassing metric.

And so back to my cannabis style. When a friend asked me about it at a recent networking function, I laughed at the thought. “I can generally piece together an outfit each morning that doesn’t embarrass me, but beyond that I don’t regularly think all that much about my style,” I remember telling her.

But when she pushed me, asking me to expand my thinking and to include how I presented myself as a member of this community to the greater world as a whole, it started to come together.

I found myself immediately turning the tables and looking inward, because my day job (at full-service agency Grasslands) has me thinking constantly about how my clients present themselves to the public. What does their personal social media presence, their company’s website, their thought leadership op eds and speaking engagements say about their place in this industry, their
role in this space?

And what does my cannabis style say about my role in this space? After some mildly uncomfortable introspection, here’s where I’m at today:

Advocacy for Sensible Drug Policy Reform: While I’ve been gifted countless T-shirts and flat-brim hats over the years, you won’t regularly see me wearing much of that overtly branded weed merch. I am, however, drawn to clothing that educates and pushes the envelope of long-overdue drug policy reform and it’s even better when the sale of such wearable benefits individuals and organizations doing this important work.

And that’s why my friends have seen me rocking Ts with a message: “Weed Like Statehood” to promote D.C.’s aspirations for full and equal representation, “Beto For Texas” to elevate a pro drug policy reform candidate in a state that needs his voice, and “The War on Drugs is a War on Us” to promote a non-profit working toward sensible drug policy. Every time someone asks me, “What does your shirt mean?” I take it as an opportunity to spread the important word.

Fact-Based Information: I’m hardly the most prolific cannabis commentator on Twitter or Facebook, but when I do post something, I know it’s timely, compelling, important and published in a legitimate media outlet. So I’m proud to count fact-based information as central to my cannabis style.

As I’ve written before, negative misinformation fueled an unjust drug war for nearly 80 years, but misinformation is misinformation, and spreading misleading charts, lists and stories positioning the industry in a positive light is just as harmful as the drug war rhetoric of decades past.

Hemp For Victory: I have a pair of Levi’s shoes that are nice, brown leather and tan fabric, nothing special and yet I get so many compliments on them. People usually notice the brand’s iconic red-rectangle tag first, but even then their curiosity is more of the I didn’t know they made shoes variety.

When I tell them the shoes are made of hemp, that’s when the compliments start flowing in.

Poor hemp. While marijuana never deserved the awful reputation assigned to it back in the 1930s, non psychoactive hemp was even more misunderstood by the masses. But now the suburban moms know all about cannabidiol (CBD), hemp seeds and the sturdy fabrics woven from hemp, and it’s encouraging to see them and others invest in brands that have doubled down on this malleable textile and food source.

RICARDO BACA is a veteran journalist and thought leader in the legal cannabis space and founder of Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency, which handles public relations, content marketing, social media, events and thought leadership for brands and executives in legal cannabis, hemp and other highly regulated industries.