The business of information has never been so crucial as in the world of cannabis. Where major media moguls once conspired to take the plant down (we’re looking at you, William Randolph Hearst!), in the twenty-first century new voices have emerged, ready to shout the truth from the rooftops. In cannabis there is life, love, freedom. It should be normalized, because it is. These valiant wordsmith warriors have brought landmark cultural touchstones to the cannabis community. From filmmakers to attorneys, designers to activists, here are the media mavens we’ll listen to any day.
B. Le Grand
At age sixteen, B. Le Grand took the unusual step of buying herself a ticket out of paradise, leaving her native Hawaii for San Francisco and a life of adventure in media and advertising. She started her own web design and marketing firm, Designs By Bo, which she operates to this day, and was the Creative Director and Editor in Chief at Runway Magazine from 2011 to 2012 among other unique experiences. However, Le Grand also knew she had a calling that would involve her passion for cannabis, one that evolved into her now nationally-renowned Edibles List and Edibles Magazine. Edibles List began in 2010 as a submission form to collect data on all businesses and vendors selling legal edibles; it has become the number-one source in the United States for critical evaluatory information on edibles products. Its sister magazine, the first and only publication of its kind dedicated to edibles, topicals, tinctures and vapes, debuted in 2013 in California, Colorado, and Washington, eventually expanding nationwide. “You can’t just put a toe in, you have to dive in and learn about the plant,” Le Grand asserts. “Learn everything you can and then share that knowledge, because at the end of the day we are all working toward the same goal.” She practices what she preaches with gusto; Le Grand’s loyal staff describe her as “fearless,” “compassionate,” “hardworking,” “business savvy,” and a genuine fighter all in equal measure. Not only that, but away from the magazine she’s also a bonafide rock star: As lead singer, guitarist, and keyboardist for her Los Angeles-based band Le Grand, this keen-minded entrepreneur is grooving on every melody life has to offer. We dig the sound.
Sometimes what seem like cruel twists of fate become perfect opportunities for success. Entrepreneur Elana Frankel found this out the hard way when an accident left her with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). “One minute I was chatting with girlfriends,” she recalls, “the next, I was having a CAT scan.” The TBI initially left her bedridden and having difficulty communicating, only for treatment with CBD oil to open a whole new world. As she healed, Frankel was inspired to reach others who could benefit from CBD, and she developed Indigo & Haze, a brand of infused bath and body care products designed for “the high thread-count hippie.” CBD sugar cube scrubs, teas both drinkable and for the tub, and an irresistible hemp-based body lotion are among the most popular items; Indigo & Haze has become a cherished favorite for those in the know. But by 2018, Frankel wanted more – drawing on her long background in publishing and creative marketing, she developed a biannual magazine that would explore the unique role of women pioneering the cannabis industry. Women & Weed has unveiled three absorbing issues so far, gathering such a potent following that this March Simon & Schuster released Frankel’s book-length iteration, in which she anthologized essays from numerous women involved in the canna-business and those who could personally testify to ways in which the plant has changed their lives. Elana’s vision is the gift that keeps on giving; her ideas can only take us higher.
Mannada comes from the Korean language, meaning “to meet” or “to gather.” Hard to do in modern times, but Kristin Jordan, founder of the event series which bears that name, knew the power of congregation in spreading the crucial information and social bonding that the cannabis community sorely needed. Over her past decade of involvement in New York’s cannabis movement (and eventually the national and international industries), Jordan has been a major force in bringing people together. An attorney and real estate expert, she was a founding member and the first Executive Director of the Cannabis Cultural Association, a nonprofit that works to provide resources for marginalized communities in the space, and proudly focuses Mannada on producing events that highlight professional networking groups who have historically been overlooked, such as roundtables for Latinx and Asian entrepreneurs. Jordan particularly wants to encourage Asian representation in the cannabis industry, as she feels many more stories from that community and those like her with Asian heritage can add a richer understanding to the history and future of cannabis. Kristin’s sister venture to Mannada, The Maze, is a national event guide to cannabis meetups and seminars with listings for major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta. Among Mannada’s landmark events are the Cannabis Law Summit and the Cannabis Media Summit, the latter being the first of its kind in the sector to center on journalists and broadcasters. According to Jordan, the role of media in shaping the future of the cannabis industry is significant because these storytellers control the narrative that goes out to the widest audiences. Today, as Director of Real Estate at Acreage Holdings, the largest multi-state cannabis operator in the U.S., Jordan is busier than ever in helping others create their own spaces for cannabis stories. She’s been named one of 2020’s most influential movers and shakers in the industry, and we know that, through virtual conferencing or in-person get-togethers, we can rely on Kristin Jordan to continue pushing us all to join in harmony.
“The pen is mightier than the sword” has become Christina DeGiovanni’s motto over the years, and boy, does she have the experience to back it up. As founder and CEO of Emerald Media Group, DeGiovanni has crafted publications and media channels that explore cannabis as part of the larger fabric of culture and lifestyle elements; her signature outlet, Emerald Magazine, speaks to women interested in products and information to enhance their health, wellness, and all-around quality of life. But before the green goddess could approach a friendlier, lighthearted side of the plant, she was thrust into darkness. From a young age, DeGiovanni was a cannabis consumer and advocate; upon graduating from high school, she pursued a journalism major at Humboldt State University in California, choosing the institution because of its location in the heart of cannabis cultivation country (“the Emerald Triangle”). While in college, Christina was dating a cannabis cultivator and one night in 2012 their home was raided by federal agents. Jailed for the evening and besieged for months by asset seizure, complicated court cases, and obstacles galore, she decided to start a magazine to share the truth about the good that the plant can do – and the stories of those unfairly impacted by legislation and stigmas on all fronts. Today Emerald is recognized as a powerful source of wisdom for consumers looking to bridge cannabis with their more mainstream passions, and DeGiovanni herself is heralded as a champion of other women in the space, regularly working with organizations that provide capital to women-owned startups and constantly making herself available to give advice to other female entrepreneurs. “I want people from all walks of life to learn about cannabis and to embrace it,” she has said. “There is no standard… anymore. It’s everyone from senior citizens to millennials [and beyond].” Ever the ultimate in California cool, even though she’s relocated to the East Coast, DeGiovanni is the canna-big sister you’ve always wanted.
Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, Anja Charbonneau has made her creative mark in Portland, Oregon for the past several years – first as an award-winning photographer and art director for Kinfolk Magazine, and since 2017 as the Editor in Chief and Creative Director of Broccoli. Billed as “a magazine created by and for women who love cannabis,” Broccoli emerged with a distinctive focus on art and visual imagery tied to the plant. Its alluring designs, conceived by an all-female staff, separated it immediately from other cannabis media, as well as the publication’s commitment to print. Charbonneau sees Broccoli continuing to innovate, even as the cannabis industry changes, by normalizing the plant in the context of art and culture, and by further developing an international appeal for readers. “We ship to over 40 countries now,” she explained in a recent interview with Coveteur. “We’re trying to make sure that our content makes sense to people who live in Japan or… Germany, and isn’t totally focused on what’s happening in the U.S.” The global perspective, the elegant artistry, and the fact that issues are available for free all contribute to Broccoli growing into an increasingly household name (at least among cannabis lovers). Public educational events, such as those with designer Rachel Comey and art installations at MoMA PS1 in New York, have also helped Charbonneau connect her loves of the plant, the visual, and encouraging people to learn. She worries about the misinformation spread so easily about cannabis and CBD, but truly believes in the industry’s ability to thrive. And her optimism goes for print media as well. “I think people can find ways to reach niche audiences and do it in a way that’s affordable for the reader,” she commented. “We believe that all consumable media, music, film, should be free, and in a way, there are really important reasons why it should be free, so that everyone can afford to access it, but then it doesn’t make a business out of it. We have to try to balance those two things.” Amen, sister.
We couldn’t make this list without Honey Pot’s very own Boss Lady! Visionary extraordinaire Ronit Pinto’s background of filmmaking and journalism came together in Detroit, where she merged her interests in grit, extremism and intellectual curiosity, to form Honeysuckle – a cultural publication with high visual impact. Dedicated to exploration, timely topics and personal expression, Honeysuckle encompasses deep dives into everything from environmental advocacy to social taboos, art, spirituality and beyond.
As cannabis became an increasing area of concentration, Pinto took the opportunity to turn a small opportunity into an historic moment: For the past few New Years Eves, she would create a showcase of cannabis brands on Times Square billboards, for the first time ever. The campaign, featuring fifteen leading companies, changed eighty years of New York advertising policy and sparked a host of new marketing alternatives to open for cannabis businesses.
Social justice has always been a core theme, earning Honeysuckle two Citation Awards from the New York State Assembly (Assemblywoman Inez Dickens of Harlem) and State Senator Brian Benjamin for progressive reporting.
Identified by such outlets as The Bluntness as one of the “badass women leading the charge in cannabis innovations,” while continuing her filmmaking and other creative projects, Pinto embodies the very source of hope and courage she wants audiences and writers to express in her platform. Her openhearted ethereal nature invites us all to learn something new about ourselves and our world. “If the world feels too small, make it bigger.” Amen!
A version of this article was published in Honey Pot’s UNDER THE FEMALE INFLUENCE issue. Read the entire issue here and on our apps for iTunes, Google Play, and Zinio.
See more from our media experts in our new series HighLights – going deep inside the cannabis industry and bringing you to-the-minute updates on all there is to know. Watch episodes one and two now, brought to you by the creators of Edibles, Emerald, Honeysuckle and MARY Magazines!