Is smoking weed the ideal quarantine activity?
In Oregon, where Broccoli, “A Magazine for Cannabis Lovers”, was born, weed has been deemed an “essential service”, critical to the well-being of those sheltering at home. Whether or not you live somewhere where cannabis is legal, there is now a public health incentive to spend most of your day inside, horizontal — so there’s never been a better time to smoke weed. Opening with a series of wonderfully strange weed-related factoids (“What’s more talked about than climate change, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, sliced bread, and, at times, Donald Trump? The answer is CBD, according to the U.S Google search data”), Broccoli makes the whole idea of smoking more delightful.
Editor Anja Charbonneau talked to us via email about the new issue, the benefits of being an outsider, and the joy of eating edibles in the bath.
You have a stoned orchid on the cover of the magazine. I love it. Can you tell me the story behind that series?
In the winter of 2017, when we were working on our second issue, I was shooting some photos of tulips at home for fun, and there was a frame where one of the flowers was arching towards a glass ashtray containing a joint; it looked like the tulip wanted a puff. I held onto that idea for a couple years and eventually contacted Carl Ostberg, a photographer based in Vancouver who also does all his own floral and styling work, to ask him if he’d be interested in shooting a series of flowers smoking joints. The results were exactly what I had been dreaming of: a lush, luxurious series with a sense of humor. Most are portraits of flowers getting stoned solo, but there’s one raucous party photo filled with flowers smoking together.
You write in the editor’s letter that you profile women artists who the reader might not have heard of — women who are outsiders — because “we often feel like outsiders too. We’ve taken roundabout career paths to land in this realm of niche publishing.” Can you tell me a little bit about the benefits of being an outsider?
When you’re working in media, it can feel lonely to live outside of the cities where most publishers are headquartered. Broccoli has also been a fully remote team since the start; we live across several cities and countries. No one on our team has ever worked for a legacy publisher or any big media company, so it’s easy to feel career FOMO when it seems like all the action is happening somewhere else. We miss out on things like industry events, and we don’t get to have that casual but impactful time in person with people who would be our industry peers if we lived in a media hub city, although a lot of that stuff is on pause now due to the pandemic. It puts additional pressure on our ability to create content that will resonate beyond us. Broccoli’s following happened very naturally; we didn’t have high-profile contacts to rely on for spreading the word. This is where I think our team should really feel proud of our outsider status: we made something that people truly connect to, without a PR team or a rolodex of media friends.
Do you feel like an outsider?
Personally, I didn’t go to university, and spent most of my twenties trying various small business ideas, eventually working as a freelance photographer shooting for indie retailers and designers here in Portland. I applied for an art direction job at Kinfolk when they were headquartered here, and learned so much from my previous editor, Georgia Frances King, about how to manage budgets, work with freelancers, and strategise the economics of magazine-making from a business perspective. I worked with Kinfolk for a little over three years and was sure that I would never want to run my own magazine, as it’s a very challenging business to run sustainably and there are already so many beautiful magazines out there. But with the interesting cultural shift happening around cannabis, the moment was too compelling to ignore, and Broccoli was born. I figured that even if we only managed to produce a couple issues, it would be a fun experiment. Now, we’re working on our 10th and it’s incredible to see how the project continues to evolve.
I love the way you describe smoking weed as allowing you to “sit in awe of what we find to be beautiful”. Can you talk a little bit about the connection between beauty and weed?
We’re actually working on an article about awe for our winter issue, to learn more about what’s going on in our brains scientifically when we see something breathtaking, like a gorgeous sunset or a flower that is so beautiful it makes you want to cry. Weed can help me tune in to my surroundings; it shifts the way I’m thinking just enough to dispel distractions so that I can appreciate what I’m seeing, feeling, and hearing around me. I love the sensory enhancements of weed, and one of my favorite ways to consume cannabis is to get a tiny bit stoned, put on some music in my headphones and go for a solo walk in a neighborhood with a lot of plants. On these walks I let myself pause for as long as I want to look at a leaf, take pictures of rain droplets on petals, and to really zoom in on the details. Focusing on natural minutiae is really therapeutic for me, and weed acts as a lens into that mindscape.
Smoking weed can feel precious because it’s a way of returning to oneself. Of finding interiority, when we often have difficulty locating our sense of self outside of productivity and attainment. Perhaps you feel differently? Some people find smoking makes them more productive.
I have definitely experienced the kind of weed-smoking productivity that makes me want to clean my house or organize a drawer full of junk, but I have zero desire to be working in my email or a spreadsheet if I’m stoned. As a small business owner, I often need that push away from productivity, otherwise I take it too far and forget to take breaks. Weed helps me remember that I need to take care of myself, that I need time away from screens and away from work. I really love low-dose edibles for this; it took some experimentation to figure out the right dosage for me (I like 2.5 mg of THC, often with some CBD mixed in) but I really love the physical relaxation that comes along with edibles. I hold so much tension in my body when I’m stressed, and sometimes smoking weed enhances that tension for me, rather than relieving it. Edibles are processed through different bodily systems than smoking, which is why they elicit such a different feeling.
So is smoking the ideal quarantine activity?
Honestly, it depends on a few factors. Cannabis tends to enhance how you’re feeling, and if I’m feeling anxious I don’t like to consume by smoking. But, because I’m lucky enough to live in a legal state, I have got to know which consumption methods work for me in certain circumstances. Smoking is a faster, more direct effect, and makes me a bit jittery if I’m already feeling off-kilter. My quarantine weed preference is to have half an edible (usually 2.5mg of THC) and sit in the bath watching a TV show. I’m warm, I’m comfortable, I’m distracted by the show, and the weed soothes and relaxes me along with everything else. Weed is so sensory, so you really need to consider your mood, your surroundings, and what you’re hoping to achieve.