Brave New World

Canna culture goes mainstream

Illustration by

Michele Svengsouk

Times are changing

It is my second day of junior year, coming off of the Summer of Bones. We pull into the high school parking lot, passing what’s left of a joint amongst the five friends. We’re putting it out when a Jeep Wrangler aggressively pulls up behind us and an older man and woman dressed like students jump out with radios in hand, calling in for backup like they’re on television.

Police cars swarm the lot, lights and sirens on, and within moments we are cuffed and crammed into the back seat. I whisper to the boy next to me, “Bad Boys.” Not the cop show (it wasn’t on yet), but the Sean Penn film we watched together. He laughs nervously. The next day our exploits make the local paper. We’re juveniles, so no names are printed, but the damage is done nonetheless. Suspensions, embarrassment, angry parents, strained friendships.

This is what counts as a major drug bust in this town. Five kids with a roach.

Time passes, and I’m in California. The laws have flexed, but I never get a cannabis license. A lot of my friends have them, and are usually willing to pick something up for me. I never get one of my own because I believe that ultimately my name will show up on some list and be used against me. I’ve learned not to trust any system when it comes to cannabis.

A few more years go by, and Colorado is the first state to go fully legal. I’m living there so I decide to visit a dispensary for the first time. Maybe the times are a-changing.

I go in. Take a number and survey the room. All walks of life, everyone is connected. We are the cannabis consumer. We’re young, old, black, white, male, female, tattooed, preppy, blond, brunette, dreadlocked. We’ve always found a way to identify one another out in the wild, and suddenly, we’re sitting here as legit as you can get.

They call my number and I go into a back room where the actual purchase takes place. I buy some oils and a couple pre-rolled joints. I chat with the young man behind the counter. We talk about the product. We talk about the weather. Big snow on Saturday, am I going to the mountains? No, I’m hopping on a plane back to LA for the weekend. This is bizarre, but feels so right. In here, everything is normal, sedate: how it should be.

Elsewhere, in another time, another place, we might be judged as reckless and irresponsible, as criminals. But here, we’re all just people.

Now I’m sitting outside on a beautiful restaurant patio with my wife. We order a Blue Dream starter to go with our vegan lasagna. After absolutely devouring our dinners and a chocolate lava cake, we decide to get in an Lyft and giggle ourselves back to our house to spend the night together.

It’s a brave new world indeed.

Here at Popularium, we’re looking for great stories where cannabis is a cool supporting cast member for an amazing shared life experience. About how it can enhance the other good stuff: life, food, sex, entertainment, friendship, creativity, spirituality.

My pal Asa Beal and I have put together some of our favorite canna tales, products, and thoughts for you check out. It’s all brought to you by our friends at Tinley Collective.

Providing delicious ways to medicate.

Rob Maigret's Illustration
Rob Maigret

Editor-in-Chief & CEO, Popularium

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This is one of my favorite Popularium stories. I love the idea of this older generation being more free, a little more hip, and a little more liberal than the younger generation. When Steve and his father-in-law are in the car and Steve is beginning to see this guy for who he really is — he has this realization that his father-in-law is the cool one, and that he’s actually kind of the lame one. That’s magical. The fact that his father-in-law is turning him on to cannabis as a legitimate medical aid — fantastic.

Tinley Collective My Green Bible Study One morning I was slumped over my oatmeal, barely awake after another night of tossing and turning. Maggie brought up medical marijuana. by Steve Ausburne Read Story

We have to remember that for every state like California, Washington, and Colorado where cannabis is legal, there are even more states where it’s not. Places like Florida where the laws are so complicated that it’s hard to know what is legal and what isn’t. I remember reading this story and being heartbroken. Knowing what we know now, it’s beyond sad. It’s tragic. But the thing is — it’s getting fixed. The question is, how many more need to suffer until we get our shit together?

Amerijuanica All the while, I kept saying to myself, This should be legal everywhere! It's a miracle drug! It was much better than taking opiates and ruining my concentration, or taking nothing, and just riding the bad times out. by Heather Law Read Story

“Have you tried pot?” my mom asks me. We’re in her giant white egg of a Toyota Previa, driving home from baseball practice. After thinking for a few beats I tell her yeah, I’ve tried it once. She tells me it’s an okay thing to do — in moderation. I don’t exactly take the “in moderation” part to heart.


Asa's Growing Up Weed

delicious ways to medicate

There’s nothing like being a teenager. You’re hopped up on hormones, itching to test boundaries, and totally fearless. As for me, I was a bookish, mild-mannered kid growing up, so when I started toking I felt pretty badass. Part of the fun was the idea of rule-breaking, feeling like I was part of a secret club. Then there were the munchies, the fits of hysterics, all the shenanigans. But the real fun started when things got cerebral — less ‘70s Show more Lebowski. I’d pack 10 people into my tiny college dorm room, start the rotation, and put on a heady record by Bowie or Neil Young. The conversations that followed were often emotional. Friends unearthed things to friends in healthy ways. And while weed hasn’t lost its fun, it’s become something I can be serious about too. And that’s pretty cool.


A gutted Swisher Sweet. A few grams of too-dry weed. A covert spot in the park. These were some of the essential ingredients to high school life in Atlanta. I share a lot of these memories with Maxim, as we started toking at the same time. I chose this story because it represents something more than just getting stoned; it examines a moment when weed became more than a fun diversion. It becomes a catalyst for two teenage boys opening up, allowing masculinity to give way to vulnerability.

It wasn’t until I got stoned with Rob — using that same Da Vinci vape — that I fully appreciated this story. What I realized, is that he is someone who really enjoys the way that cannabis relaxes the brain and lets us make connections and have thoughts we wouldn’t when sober. Archer is the perfect piece of nostalgia for Rob to disappear into because it mixes the pop culture of his youth (cars, films, Americana) with the style and humor of today.

I really admire Tonya. The first word that comes to mind when I think of her is wise — you could call her an old soul. But that wisdom, while undeniably an asset, is born out of some serious hurdles she’s been forced to confront in her young life. One piece of wisdom this story shows is knowing when to pause and take a deep breath. It’s something most of us do too seldom, but it’s crucial to our mental health. She and her wife Rachel use Sunshine Daydream to take that healthy pause, letting THC soothe them when they need it most.

Asa's Endorsements

Cutting Edge And Classic Products

  1. Tinley Amaretto Extract

    Cannabis and coffee are a match made in heaven. I discovered this in the most cliche place of all time: Amsterdam. Usually that means smoking, but being able to get your caffeine and your THC in one sip is pretty damn cool. The different high you get from ingesting the cannabis might work great for those that were overwhelmed by combining coffee with toking.

  2. Pax Vaporizer

    Part of the fun of vaping is that you feel like a secret agent. It’s a totally different experience from lighting up a joint, so it’s fun to embrace that by using a space-age gadget. Ziggy Stardust probably smokes a Pax. Probably my favorite part is that it burns actual bud, not oil or extract, so you can just pop your favorite strain in there and see a whole new side of it.

    featured in You Never Saw A Taste Like This by
  3. Jack Herer

    Jack is the first strain I tried that had a specific name, so it’s wrapped up in nostalgia for me. It’s got some serious skunk to it, but also that pine tree flavor that I can’t get enough of. It’s like a woodsy gin cocktail. I appreciate strains that give you a little energy and some focus (like the focus required to write this blurb), which Jack does so well.

    featured in In Hem We Trust by

Martyn’s story is made up of three powerful ingredients: Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue, White Widow, and a pain that is so powerful that it reaches down into the reader and pulls out their own torrid past love affairs. A broken, distorted, but today contained — angst. When you’re young, and experience this sort of feeling, this sort of sound, and this sort of high, it can break you. Those three elements fuse into one memory that is so intertwined that you can’t separate it. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about being so human that you catch love like a disease.

Tinley Collective I love this weed...not dulling my mind. Or my libido. Soaked In Jazz by Martyn V. Halm Read Story

Things Asa Loves With His Weed

delicious ways to medicate

  1. Game Of Thrones

    I fucking love Game of Thrones. It just hits me in this weird sweet spot mashup of fantasy novels I devoured as a kid; brilliant, snarky dialogue; and of course, sex scenes with some of the hottest women and men on TV. I love disappearing into the weird world of Westeros, and nothing aids the suspension of disbelief quite like a joint of sativa or a few Kiva Terra Bites. THC also makes me fully appreciate the cinematography of HBO’s flagship. Sometimes lost amidst the violence is the sheer visual beauty of Game of Thrones, and pot lets me revel in those gorgeous shots of The Wall or a Weirwood.

    featured in Strong As Sansa by
  2. Blood On The Tracks

    Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature was great comedic fodder. But if that media brouhaha did anything positive, it at least made us consider anew the words of one of the most brilliant songwriters ever. And for me, Blood on the Tracks is as good as it gets. When I’m stoned, the little stories that Dylan tells, or just hints at, become loose threads that my mind tugs at as I listen. A little couplet like, “A saxophone someplace far-off played / As she was walkin’ on by the arcade” sends my thoughts on a tangent, dreaming stories for these charcoal-sketched characters. Not many albums do that for me.

    featured in The Diamond Sat On Velvet by
  3. Minna Ola

    Sex and cannabis — it’s not for everyone. But for those who enjoy it, the way that our favorite medicine enhances the sense of touch is pure magic. The key to loving this blissful pairing is to focus on foreplay (actually good advice period, ahem straight guys). Slow things down, focus on intimacy, explore the ways that cannabis changes your sensations. And if things start to heat up, a toy like the Ola is an amazing way to set your partner’s nerve endings to singing and dancing.

    featured in The Gap Between Lust & Love by

Asa's Love In The Time Of Cannabis

delicious ways to medicate

This collection of stories is all about breaking taboos. The national conversation about cannabis is more out in the open than it’s ever been, but it’s not the only topic emerging from the shadows. Kink culture and the BDSM community, while certainly not mainstream, are gaining awareness. Casually dating multiple partners, especially for women, is slowly being accepted by the enlightened world. And humor is reaching a level where almost nothing is off limits — we’re being desensitized to the power of certain words.


Meghan’s erotic tale is a hedonist’s dream. The ingredients alone — cannabis, rum, Pablo Neruda’s poetry, BDSM accessories — hint at the sensual evening to come. This story is all about opening oneself up to an exciting new experience, and I’m convinced that Meghan required this particular blend of stimuli to give in to a master who knew what she wanted better than she did. You might want to read this in private.

Anne Palmer is a goddamn modern woman. She sees the things she wants in life, and goes and gets them. This story is all about tastes maturing — whether that’s with alcohol, music, sex, or cannabis. Ms. Palmer (if you’re nasty) shows us the value of not settling, and demanding the best: in weed, rum, babymakin’ music, and sex partners.

In-laws + Cards Against Humanity = ? Lucky for you, Tonya will let you live this awkward evening vicariously. In this case cannabis isn’t a stimulant, it’s a calming agent. When the subject of your sex life comes up in front of family, you might just find yourself in need of a toke break to escape the madness.

Two worlds

I’ve lived in two pot worlds. The one in Atlanta where it was called purp, and dro, and weed, and pot, and marijuana. And the one in California where it is called cannabis, and concentrate, and flowers. I love them both for the weird stories. I love them both for their differences. But what I love most is how they track with the evolution of the public image of cannabis in America.

Atlanta, 2003. Smoking weed is an adventure. Every. Single. Time. Buying it can be terrifying. You get a text on your RAZR that just says “grant park by da fountain” and that’s where you go, nervously approaching the Camry with tinted windows. Then you roll to one of a half-dozen curated smoking spots: “the Bridge” or “the Tracks”. Usually you smoke a blunt, made from an emptied cigarillo and way too much saliva. And always, you feel like the king of the world and laugh your ass off.

San Francisco, 2011. My Louisianian ex-drag queen roommate orders a spice rack’s worth of jars of impossible fuzzy bud and flirts with the delivery guy. You follow up a bong rip with a hit from the giant Volcano bag and sink into the couch as HBO’s static ident fades to black. You eat pot brownies in Dolores Park that you bought from a guy in a cardboard Burger King crown. You visit a farm near Sebastapol where bulging Ziplocs of homegrown are exchanged for billable hours of social media marketing. You definitely still laugh your ass off.

I’m glad that our weird, hypocritical, brilliant country is starting to come around on the pretty minor issue of cannabis. Cancer patients should be able to toke. Dogs deserve to have their anxiety cured by CBD (not a joke). Lazy stoners should be able to order weed from the couch.

I’m also glad that I got my weird weed education in Atlanta. It’s helped me appreciate the new world of cannabis today.

Asa Beal's Illustration
Asa Beal

Managing Editor, Popularium

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