Broccoli magazine is reinventing the image of cannabis culture

by Grace Wang in January 2018
Food & drinkWomen

As marijuana legalisation spreads across the US, it is emboldening a wave of trailblazing independent publishers. Joining Mary and Gossamer, the thoughtfully considered Broccoli magazine is celebrating the experiences of women who smoke weed, and providing a platform to look at cannabis culture through art, culture and fashion.

Founder Anja Charbonneau was formerly creative director at Kinfolk, and hopes to create a platform for passionate, driven women, while normalising weed smoking and building an image of marijuana beyond the worn out, hippie stereotype. The magazine is free, and international subscriptions at £18/year covers shipping and handling. We got in touch with Anja to find out more about how they’re translating cannabis culture into print.

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‘Seeking Arrangements’ (above) presents cannabis leaves in the form of ikebana, viewing them as perennial works of art. What was your thinking behind this feature?
Many people consider the symbol of the pot leaf to be worn out and too tied to hippie culture to be anything interesting or fresh, but it’s actually a very beautiful plant. We wanted to highlight its elegance, and by pairing it with other flowers we’re driving home the fact that it’s just a plant, not some scary and unknown evil.

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Ikebana arrangements always have a deeper meaning, so we felt that it was a suitable style for our story. We were lucky to be able to work with Amy Merrick as the floral designer, who has trained in Japan with ikebana masters. It was the first time she ever arranged cannabis. We did the shoot in my living room and it was a fun and surreal experience, both of us kept laughing at how unreal was, to be surrounded by weed in my house.

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Throughout the first issue, there are suggestions like musician Lizzy Jeff’s recipe for the perfect joint, or a candle to burn while listening to Midori Takada. What kind of reading experience did Broccoli want to give?
We want to stimulate as many senses as we can through the printed page, to nod to the sensory and personal experience of using cannabis. With the photography and design we’re able to explore fun visual treatments, like psychedelic imagery, distorted type and spiralling text that requires you to turn the magazine around in order to read it (above).

Without using something like scented or edible paper (maybe in a future issue?), it can be tricky to activate the other senses directly through print, so we’ve used a lot of our captions to inspire off-the-page experiences, recommending products and ideas that can be applied to real life. We’d love to play more with conceptual printing techniques in future issues, like cut-outs and textured paper to celebrate print’s tactile possibilities.

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Luminaries profiles women who work in the industry — did you feel like you had a bit of a ‘coming out’ too when launching the magazine?
It’s another shoot done in my living room! I always love a good profile series, since I’m based in Portland it felt like a way we could honour the women doing interesting work in the local industry.

I haven’t felt weird about talking about my relationship to cannabis publicly, but I live in a legal state and am not part of a community who has been targeted by the war on drugs, so I’m in a position of privilege when it comes to being open about weed. We’re approaching this carefully with all of our interview subjects in the magazine, checking many times to make sure they are completely comfortable with the way we present their cannabis use. It’s simply not safe for everyone to be open about it, and we definitely respect people’s comfort levels.

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Tell us about featuring the underrated pop artist Corita Kent (above).
Corita Kent’s strengths as a community activist and an artist are very inspiring to us, and we wanted to shine a light on women who haven’t been given proper dues for their work. As a pop artist, Corita Kent should be a household name, but instead people only know Andy Warhol. We were thrilled to have the support of the Corita Art Centre behind the piece, knowing that our readers would appreciate both her art and her message.

The works that we featured were created around the height of the hippie era in Southern California, and they spread a message of positive action. We all need to hear words like Corita’s, especially given how bad things can get politically. Since the 2016 election, many people are finding their activist voices for the first time, but unsure how to find the balance between their creative passions and their beliefs. Corita is a good role model to show how these two things can come together. In the end, the article has nothing to do with weed, but it’s an example of our priority to be a platform for the voices of passionate, driven women.

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Lastly, the ads in the issue are totally cohesive with the rest of the content (above). How did you decide who to work with and how each ad is presented?
As a free magazine without investors, the brand partnerships are what make Broccoli possible. We approached companies who share our vision of normalising cannabis, and who put a lot of care into the design and production quality of their products. Most of our partners are cannabis brands, except one boutique in Philly called Yowie who is also one of our stockists. Yowie carries smoking accessories and host pop-ups with smoking themes where you can buy ceramic pipes made by women, collections of vintage ashtrays, that kind of thing.

Some of our partners were placing their very first print ads, and since the launch of issue one, our reader community has expanded so quickly and they’ve been so supportive, so we’re going to keep working hard to make sure that all of our content feels thoughtful, even the ads. There are a lot of important stories to be told, and it’s all uncharted territory.

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