1st Time I Bought Legal Weed

Buying Legal Weed in LOS ANGELES with Christine Blackburn, June Johnson, Madi Fair and Christina Wong.

Episode 203

Show Notes

Christine Blackburn, Christina Wong, Madi Fair and June Johnson

Ever wondered what it’s like to buy weed in Los Angeles? How to Do the Pot’s producer Madi Fair, an LA native, reveals her expert tips to help you navigate the city’s vibrant cannabis landscape — from some of her favorite dispensaries, to activities to enjoy while consuming. Our guests help to demystify weed shopping in LA, so whether you’re a local or planning a visit, you’ll feel confident when you’re ready to try.

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Ellen Scanlon (00:00):

This podcast discusses cannabis, and is intended for audiences 21 and over.

June Johnson (00:06):

My first time, I actually didn’t buy anything. I ended up leaving, and going home, and researching and figuring out what I even wanted and what I could ask as a question so I wasn’t just standing out there being like, like, what do you have?

Ellen Scanlon (00:23):

Welcome to How To Do The Pot, A podcast helping you feel confident about cannabis. I’m your host, Ellen Scanlon.


You just heard from California-Based June Johnson, the co-founder of Collective High, a cannabis event and education brand. If you’ve traveled to Michigan, Colorado, Washington State, or San Francisco lately, I hope you’ve checked out our episodes that guide you in exploring local cannabis there.


Navigating the cannabis industry in different states can sometimes be intimidating. I’m here to help so you know what to expect, and so you don’t miss out on the unique and fun ways you can incorporate weed into visiting new places.


In this episode, we are traveling to the largest city in California, Los Angeles. Whether you’re planning a visit or you live there, I hope today’s local tips and stories will help you feel more confident about buying and consuming cannabis in LA.


Before we get started, I want to talk for a second about How To Do The Pots’ newsletter. The newsletter is a twice-a-month resource that will help you feel confident about cannabis. For health, wellbeing, and for fun. The newsletter is also our direct line to you. You can hit the reply button, and let me know what topics or guests you’d like to hear on the show. There are already thousands of subscribers reading and responding, and the more the merrier.


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Have you ever tried weed-infused pizza, wood-fired, real tomatoes, infused pizza? Well, in LA you can. All you have to do is text a company called Stony Slice and pick it up from their downtown LA location. It’s just one example of the many ways that LA’s cannabis scene is uniquely creative.


Local paper, The LA Times, dubbed Los Angeles weed’s culture capital. Biased or true, what do you think?


In LA, there is definitely a lot of weed around. And so today we have some local experts to help us all feel more prepared. Cannabis tourism really is a thing, and if you want to buy some weed while you’re in LA, there are a few things you should know about how the adult-use cannabis market works.


First, like in all adult use states, anyone over 21 with an ID can buy weed. You’ll want to bring some cash, some places accept debit cards. Most dispensaries have ATMs, but there is usually a fee.


One fun fact, there are more dispensaries than there are Starbucks and public schools in Los Angeles. You could easily fill your day by traveling around and visiting a bunch of different cannabis shops, kind of like how you might stop and grab a coffee from different cafes throughout the day.


How To Do The Pot’s own LA based-producer, Madi Fair, has two favorite dispensaries in LA. Women-owned Josephine and Billy’s, if you are in South LA. Or Sweet Flower, which has locations all around the city.


They’re both known for having knowledgeable bud-tenders who are passionate about helping you find the weed that’s best for you. Josephine and Billy’s hosts lots of events, including First Sundays where you can shop local vendors and get to know the local weed community.


If shopping isn’t quite enough and you really want to hang out in a community space while you consume, there are two consumption lounges in LA. One of which is owned by actor Woody Harrelson.


Madi is an LA native, and she’s watched the cannabis market grow up in her hometown. She sees two distinct types of shopping experiences in LA.

Madi Fair (05:16):

When you come to LA, you’ll notice there are tons and tons of dispensaries to choose from. I strongly believe there are two main categories of dispensaries here. The first one is the beautiful, curated, thoughtful dispensary that kind of looks like a gift shop or wellness store.


And then there’s the other type that’s kind of back alley. Very legal, but only serves one purpose, which is to sell you weed. They usually have intense, bright lighting, a bodyguard that might not smile at you, and they only take cash. The funny part is oftentimes these two dispensaries carry the exact same products, or many of the same, but the vibes are completely different.


This is why I would always recommend a newcomer to check out Google Maps, and look at some photos before heading to the first dispensary they see off the plane.


I know Venice Beach is also a notoriously weed friendly place, and growing up here, you could very easily get a medical card from one of the people dressed in their bright green scrubs on the Venice boardwalk. But I would not recommend buying your weed here. It might seem like the cool local thing to do, but instead, I’d move further away from Venice Beach and closer to Santa Monica or Mid-City to buy your weed. You’ll get more options, more appealing vibes, and just a generally better experience.

Ellen Scanlon (06:44):

LA is a very big place, so it makes sense that there’s a wide variety of ways to enjoy the weed scene. The law says that cannabis can only be consumed on private property in California, so keep that in mind and be discreet. Madi has some great ideas for how to spend a day in LA. All you have to do is add weed.

Madi Fair (07:11):

Los Angeles is really one of my favorite cities in the world, and it’s even better when you add weed. There are some incredible, beautiful dispensaries you can hit up in all the different parts of the city, and then just enjoy a really fun day wandering around LA.


I would really recommend starting at the Grand Central Market in downtown LA. It’s a historic building full of incredible food, from oysters, to cheese, to sandwiches. And you can even grab a beer and walk around.


After you’re full, I’d recommend starting a hike up in Griffith Park and just going all the way up to the top so you can check out the observatory and the 360 degree views that really show you how vast LA is. Plus, you can act out the Lala Land scene if you feel up to it.


And then when you’re done, I’d had to Hollywood Forever Cemetery to watch a movie or live music. You can picnic before. And yes, it is a cemetery, so it’s spooky, but I really recommend it. It’s such a unique experience. A lot of times people dress up for the cult classic movies, and you can enjoy the beautiful, spooky vibes.

Ellen Scanlon (08:21):

Now that you have some ideas for what to do in Los Angeles, I hope you’re excited to check it out. And I know it always helps to hear from other women who have been there. For June Johnson, buying weed in LA informed the creation of her company, Collective High.

June Johnson (08:39):

I grew up in a very cannabis-friendly household. Age-appropriate wise. I wasn’t until mid-to-late high school that I even knew that my mom smoked weed, and that was only because she clocked me for bringing weed on my spring break trip. I thought I was clever because I was putting in all these code names on my dry erase board in between my packing list, and she just straight called out.


She’s like, “Is this your pipe, and are you talking about weed?” And then we just were able to have a very grownup conversation around usage.


So I mostly got a lot of my cannabis through friends on the non-legal side of things. And so it wasn’t until, cannabis was just legalized recreationally in California, before I finally went to buy my own weed. I went to this amazing place called LAPGC run by the absolute incredible Michelle Mendoza, previously before Sweet Flower.


And I was so intimidated, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what the difference between sativa, and indica, and all these things were. And I’m your quintessential Libra in that I have such a hard time deciding on a menu of things, and just my decision process is, it’s a lot.


So going in there, I just felt super intimidated, super overwhelmed. And I just remember thinking, “This is like McDonald’s. I don’t even know what to order right now.”


And I’m sitting in line, getting really flustered. Because everyone seems to know, give me this strain and that strain. And I don’t want to be that person who’s asking 5 million questions while I’m just trying to get weed, but I also just don’t want to buy something out of being intimidated. That’s not for me.


And so my first time, I actually didn’t buy anything. I just ended up leaving, and going home, and researching, and figuring out what I even wanted and what I could ask as a question. So I wasn’t just standing up there being like, what do you have?


So I went back with a little bit more confidence and ended up getting some really amazing pre-rolls. But that experience was enough to make me really start to love and fixate on the delivery experience, because it allows me to go on a website, read the description of things, find out what it is so I’m not in the moment feeling like I just need to be quick with my order.


Of course, now it’s different. After working in the cannabis industry, I feel much more confident going to a dispensary. It’s just a completely different understanding when you have that education. Which is actually why my friend and I created Collective High, our cannabis event company, so that we could help people feel comfortable around cannabis and get that level of education in a really cool setting, and through consumption events that hopefully eradicate the stigma of cannabis by getting people to understand and then have those conversations with their community.

Ellen Scanlon (11:32):

Michelle Mendoza, who June mentioned, is beloved in the cannabis industry. And I was lucky enough to meet her when I was first starting out in the industry. Definitely check out Sweet Flower where she is the VP of Innovation. Its stores are beautiful, relaxed, and there are seven locations throughout LA.


LA-based Christina Wong is a cannabis chef, and the owner of Fruit and Flower. She didn’t know what to expect when she first bought weed in a store.

Christina Wong (12:03):

The first time I purchased legal cannabis, I didn’t know shit about shit. I thought I knew, but I was so clueless. I must have walked back and forth at least three times in front of the dispensary until I finally worked up the courage to walk inside. And once I got inside, I perused the aisles, and there was just jars of flower next to iPads with words and strains that I didn’t understand.


And the shelves were lined with this rainbow of candy-colored bags of gummies, and chocolates, and candies. And then behind these glass cases were tiny little jars of concentrates and vape pens, and all these other things that had aggressive-looking branding and packaging that looked like it was made for bros.


And on all of these packaging, I kept seeing words like sativa, indica, hybrid, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum strain, vape cart, dab, rosin, resin, hash, keef, bubble hash, live, frozen what? Whoa, huh. What’s my dose? What do I like? I don’t know. What’s a normal beginner dose?


I felt so overwhelmed. I felt intimidated, and I was too scared of asking a dumb question. And I didn’t even know what to Google. And the person behind the counter was really patient but not very helpful, and I was scared.


So eventually I said, well, I guess I’ll have that one. And I pointed at a shiny, beautiful, rose gold disposable vape pen by Beebo. And I chose it because it was pretty, I really liked the branding. It was beautiful and feminine, and I thought I’d look cool holding it.


But I had no idea if it was made with high quality cannabis, or if the company was one that I’d like to support, or just anything about vape pens and vape oil in general. I will always remember that first experience as a canni-curious newbie, and how intimidated I felt. Because I think about how many people must feel the same way.


I’m pretty new to this. I really only got into cannabis a couple years ago. And I was around it most of my life, but learning all of this is very new and it’s really intense. So if you’re canni-curious or you’re new and you don’t know what to ask, you’re not alone. I felt the same way.

Ellen Scanlon (14:17):

I hope you don’t feel alone. I am really here to help guide you.


One tip about asking for help in a dispensary. Bud-tenders can’t give medical advice. They work in retail, and they talk to people about weed all day. So their expertise is in knowing the products, and how people use them. It’ll be up to you to explain what you want help with, whether it’s for stress, sleep, or just a really fun night out with your friends.


Their job is to help match the products in-store with how you want to feel. And if you’re buying flower and have strain questions, don’t forget to check out How To Do. The Pot’s Essential Strain series. We have short episodes about a lot of fun and famous strains like Strawberry Cough and Jack Herre. Check out those episodes if you’re looking for suggestions.


LA-based Christine Blackburn is a comedian and the host of the podcast, Story Worthy. She has a great story about serving in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga, when she heard the news that weed was becoming legal in California.

Christine Blackburn (15:37):

In 1996, I was in the United States Peace Corps in the kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. I was teaching English there. And we would get the radio from America. It would usually be a few days old, but we would get news.


And I remember hearing the news on NPR that the state of California was legalizing marijuana in 1996 for medical use. And I remember that day, specifically sitting there in a big kava circle with friends in a training class. And I remember thinking, “When I get out of the Peace Corps, I’m moving to California.” And that’s exactly what I did.


This August, actually, I’ll have been in LA for 25 years. And of course, marijuana was medically legal, and we would all get our medical marijuana card from the local weed doctor, Doc 420. She was really big. This beautiful Iranian woman who had a shop on Melrose. And you would go into her shop, and it would be this red velvet luxurious room full of mirrors. And she had spray-painted them all gold. They were beautiful.


So the whole room was full of mirrors, and they had a big TV screen, and they would be showing a loop of John Candy movies or Steve Martin movies. And you would wait there for your name to be called. And they’d call you to the front, and then you’d go into the back and meet with one of these doctors.


It was such a joke. And you would say, “I have anxiety.” And they would say, “Okay, here’s your prescription.”


But you had to get it renewed every year, that was kind of a drag. Because it was like 40 bucks a year to keep it going. During that time … I moved here in ’97 and it had just become medically legal. So during that time, the dispensaries were, you would see the green plus-sign, and that would kind of indicate that’s where they sold marijuana, a dispensary.


But the places were all very laid back, at least where I would go. Where there would be marijuana on the counters, but in huge, big fish bowls. You could actually pick the pot up, smell it, hold it, feel it, know if it was sticky. Everybody has their preference.


And then you’d be waited on by, in my case, I went to this one dispensary that there was these Russian guys. And they would let you sample the pot, you could smoke there. They would sit with you, we’d play backgammon. Sometimes you’d see the curtain open in the back, you’d see piles of money.


It really was on the edge of legalities, I’m sure. But I’m a big fan. And I’m glad it’s finally out of the closet, as it were. Because it was just so silly to have to feel like you were somehow of a lower class, or a lower person, because you smoked cannabis. I mean, it’s a dream plant, and I’m now very excited to share everything I love about it.

Ellen Scanlon (18:51):

Thank you to Christine for painting quite the picture of the nineties medical cannabis scene in LA.


My goal with sharing these stories is to take the scariness out of doing something that was illegal for a long time. And to help you feel supported, less alone, and a little lighthearted when you decide to shop for cannabis. I really want you to have fun.


And if you have bought weed in New York or New Jersey, I am dying to hear all about it. Please send us your story in a voice note to high@dothepot.com.


Thank you for listening to How To Do The Pot. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com. Are you one of the thousands of people who love How To Do The Pot’s newsletter? If you’re not getting it, please sign up at dothepot.com. And if you like How To Do The Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It really helps people find the show.


Thanks to our writer, Devin Andrade, and our producers, Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and we’ll be back soon with more of How To Do The Pot.



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