Media companies are finally changing their tune when it comes to cannabis. After decades of reporting from all sorts of outlets about cannabis as a problematic drug, the New York Times changed the conversation by calling for the legalization of cannabis in 2014—and one of the people to have a real conversation with the head of their editorial board about the changing times was Mary Jane Gibson.
Mary Jane (her real name!) is an actress, writer, and a former lifestyle entertainment and culture editor at High Times. She’s spent years tracking the legalization of cannabis, and her work has been seen in Rolling Stone and Playboy, as well as on PBS. Complex has called her one of the 15 most powerful women in the weed industry, and she’s also the host of the Weed + Grub podcast with comedian Mike Glazer.
In our conversation today, Mary Jane joins us to talk about her journey into cannabis culture, and how journalists are now writing about long-standing issues that have needed to be addressed for decades, including social justice, social equity, and how to right the wrongs of the war on drugs—among many other topics.
- Why so many publications are so bad at writing about cannabis.
- The biggest issues cannabis journalists are grappling with in 2021.
- The remarkable work being done by the Last Prisoner Project, Mission Green, and 40 Tons.
- How nanotechnology is improving the edible experience.
- What Mary Jane does on the Weed + Grub podcast—and how cannabis-infused cooking has changed in the last decade.
- How cannabis cups, dinners, and other events work—and why it’s entirely possible to try twelve different strains in one sitting without getting too stoned.
“Weed and food are the cornerstones for conversations about anything under the sun.” – Mary Jane Gibson
“Just don’t bite the hand that fed you, and yeah, make sure that you include the people who love the things that you’re selling the most. – Mary Jane Gibson
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Rick Kiley: All right. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Green Repeal. We were off for a little bit in August, but I am Rick Kiley. I’m one of your co-hosts. I’m here with Jeff Boedges. Jeff is in New York City today. Hello, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Boedges: Hi, gang. Freshly back from Maine. I feel like it’s been two weeks I’ve been back from vacation. Feels like five years. So, back drinking from the fire hose.
Rick Kiley: Right. Did you go for the lobster-fecta, which for our listeners is having lobster at every meal in a day?
Jeffrey Boedges: I did. And I am happy to commit that I did accomplish that. I also did one day of the pork-fecta.
Rick Kiley: Oh wow.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, which is hard to do in Maine but if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.
Rick Kiley: That’s really good. I went to the wonderful State of Hawaii and it was beautiful. There was a lot of pork and some lobster but it was mostly pineapple-fecta I think is what was there, pineapples and everything. Anyway, so we are excited to have a wonderful guest on our podcast today. Today, we welcome Mary Jane Gibson. She’s an actress, a writer, a former lifestyle entertainment and culture editor at High Times. She’s invested years tracking the legalization of cannabis and as a result, she has become a prominent voice in the industry. Mary Jane is also the co-host of her own podcast called Weed + Grub (so maybe we can talk about that pork-fecta, lobster-fecta thing) alongside an actor and comedian, Mike Glazer. Mary Jane’s distinctive perspective in cannabis and world culture has been sought after and published by well-established media outlets such as Rolling Stone, Playboy, and PBS. It went a different direction. Playboy and PBS is quite the combo. All right. She’s considered one of the 15 most powerful women in the weed industry. Complex Magazine said that and we’re excited to have her here. Outside of her involvement in cannabis, Mary Jane has a depth of experience in film production, performing arts, where she’s earned awards from Fringe New York City, FringeNYC or is it Fringe New York City, I’m not sure which one it is, the William and Eva Fox Foundation and the Seattle Fringe Festival. She is multitalented.
Rick Kiley: Mary Jane, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Mary Jane Gibson: Wow. Hi. Thank you so much. I’m so delighted to be here.
Rick Kiley: We’re just delighted to have you here. And we, of course, everyone, I’m sure, asked you this. Is Mary Jane your real name or just a cannabis pseudonym?
Mary Jane Gibson: It is my real name. It’s a family name. I was named for my father’s aunt who passed away just a few months before I was born so I inherited Mary Jane from her. I will say when I moved to New York and I started meeting my friends who worked at High Times, several of them thought that I had assumed the name and one of them even thought that I might be using it to get closer to them and have me inside as a narc.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, yes.
Rick Kiley: That does strike me as something that like a really incompetent police department in like the 80s would do, right?
Mary Jane Gibson: Oh, totally. It was like, “Hello, fellow kids,” kind of like, “Yes, I like the marijuana. My name is actually Mary Jane.”
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s kind of like a villain in like one of the Austin Powers movies. They’d be Mary Jane if that’s what they did. You know, it would be sort of the obvious thing.
Mary Jane Gibson: Totally. I mean, there are so many Sativas and Indicas and all sorts of wonderful weed-themed names out there and you often meet them in the cannabis industry. I’m not sure whose is real and whose is not but Mary Jane is an old family name for me.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I think it’s one of those names, but it does kind of predispose you to become the woman that you have. And I laugh about this every weekend because there’s always somebody on a pro football game who has the worst name for a pro football player or a pro baseball player. So, there’s a relief pitcher for a team. His last name is Balfour. You’re destined and then there’s like a kicker like Gramatica. But there were some other ones that just last week that have these names that just like that guy was destined to be a kicker. And you, Mary Jane, were destined to talk about cannabis.
Mary Jane Gibson: Well, thank you. Thank you.
Rick Kiley: So, on that note, just give us, our listeners, the overview of how you arrived into the cannabis industry if you don’t mind.
Mary Jane Gibson: Oh, my goodness. I can sort of trace it. I mean, I’ve always loved the canna culture and being around cannabis and psychedelics and everything like that. I’ve always been interested in it since I was a teenager. But when I really entered into it as a sort of any kind of a professional career was when I was living in New York City, I’d been working as a performer, and my friend was the managing editor of High Times, and she knew that I needed side jobs like any actor in New York does. So, I was bartending and doing bits and pieces of production work. And she said, “Would you like to proofread for High Times?” And I said, “I’d love to.” And so, I came on board as a proofreader and then worked my way up to my first writing assignment there, which was a 100-word book review, and just kept going. And finally, I was offered an editorial position there.
Rick Kiley: What book was High Times reviewing that you had to sum up in 100 words?
Mary Jane Gibson: It was the memoir of the lead singer of the band, Ministry, and it was fascinating.
Rick Kiley: Wow.
Jeffrey Boedges: Whoa. That’s cool.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah, I loved Ministry. What’s his name? Al Jourgensen? Is that his name? I can’t remember his name, but yeah, it was great. It was fantastic. It was such a truly great exercise for anyone who’s never written for print, I mean, like fitting something into 100 words is its own special kind of talent. And so, it was such a big deal for me and it was $100 a word. So, I got $100 to write that review.
Jeffrey Boedges: Album good. Buy.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. And I was just hooked and I was not only writing about cannabis but cannabis culture, and all of the sort of ancillary things that go along with weed, like listening to great music or enjoying any kind of wonderful movie. So, that’s where it really started was working for High Times and I took an editorial position there in 2014.
Rick Kiley: All right. Cool. So, in that work and your relationship with the plant and with the culture, obviously, you’ve probably covered a wide array of topics. You talked about your interest in cannabis culture or canna culture. Is there something that you are particularly fond of, interested in? Like, is there an aspect about the industry, the culture that you connect with most?
Mary Jane Gibson: I think to the creative aspects of it that’s how I’ve always used cannabis in my life, is to enjoy art and music and creativity. And so, when I took the editorial job at High Times, I was the lifestyle editor and then I took over the entertainment section. And that meant that I got to interview a lot of artists and about how their use of cannabis and how it affects their art or fits into their life. That’s what’s always really interested me and also talking to people who are on the fringe, not necessarily the people who are running what the cannabis industry purports to be. Especially nowadays as it moves more mainstream, I’m really interested in amplifying the voices of the people who are on the fringes. The queer community are largely responsible for cannabis being legal in the first place and a lot of people forget that but Prop 215 was authored by a gay activist, Dennis Peron, here in California. And so, it’s really important for me to continue to connect to the fringe communities and the legacy community, which is the people who pre-date legalization. I think that’s what I’m most interested in now, in addition to all of those creative souls, is it’s just the people who made it possible for us to be where we are today.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Can I ask a question like when you were interviewing people in 2014, especially people who may have been famous or at least well known, how forthright were they about their relationship with cannabis back then?
Mary Jane Gibson: For the most part, super forthright, because I feel like when you get to a level where you’re being interviewed and especially when you’re interviewing someone for High Times like they’re not coming in.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. They’re not surprised. “Oh, you guys want to talk about that?”
Mary Jane Gibson: Exactly. Like Margaret Cho knew when she signed up for a cover feature for High Times that we were going to talk about weed, and we did. And we shot her in a bed covered in weed in Atlantic City, and it was amazing. So, usually pretty forthright, and generally very recognizing of their privilege to be so, I feel like. It’s definitely something that has damaged a lot of people’s lives because of the drug war. So, I think most people that I was interviewing were really willing to go on the record as saying that they found cannabis to be beneficial in some way, if not for them, then maybe for a family member, and that they were very supportive of the movement.
Jeffrey Boedges: Cool. Yeah. That’s in Atlantic City, no less.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I’ll give you props for having the cojones. Good, good.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: We’ve had a lot of people on the show. It’s very interesting when we talk to them and they are now some form of professional in the industry and how many stories start back with them being having an unusual entry through the legacy or the traditional market, that they were somebody who had an experience which was very different than what we were being fed by the War on Drugs and the Just Say No era in the 80s. And I think those people are making waves today and I think they have a credibility to their story that I think is hard to replicate.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. I think of someone like Al Harrington, the NBA player, who has a big cannabis company now, Viola, and his trajectory was that he grew up in the 80s when it was the DARE program and smoking cannabis was akin to doing hard drugs. And that’s what he grew up with and what he truly believed in. Then when he saw cannabis as medicine for his grandmother to treat her glaucoma, it totally changed his world view. And I think that that is really interesting, especially to hear athletes coming online talking about using it to treat their injuries and how it’s totally changed their minds. But it’s just fascinating just to see it all evolve. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, cool. I’m curious, a lot of folks also we talked to they have a story about how they were introduced to cannabis either through some sort of medical need or someone in their family and it helped them. I’m curious if it played a role in your life in a significant way prior to you starting with High Times in 2014. Is there a personal connection that led you there or just like you went to college?
Jeffrey Boedges: Was it college? Yeah.
Mary Jane Gibson: So, I grew up in Newfoundland off the East Coast of Canada, where it was all hash and hash was imported to Newfoundland. And I had friends who worked at a record store and they would come and pick me up in their car and we would roll a spliff and they would put on the latest album. And it was just the greatest way to experience music, especially as a teenager, driving around in a car, stoned, and listening to like anything literally. But that was a really amazing time in the sort of early 90s for music as well for me. I mean, that’s the genesis of all music that I love.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, in Canada, it’s spliff and not “spleef”?
Mary Jane Gibson: A spliff is what I call tobacco with the hash in it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. Yeah, yeah. Well, we used to smoke “spleefs.”
Rick Kiley: That was in Missouri.
Jeffrey Boedges: That was in the Midwest. So, it’s just one of those things like “is-yu” or issue. I want to say spliff instead of “spleef”.
Mary Jane Gibson: That’s so funny. Yeah. That’s awesome. So, that was my relationship to it was just experiencing music with friends, driving around in cars. And then I really actually stayed away from it when I was in school. And throughout my theater career, I just smoke it sort of at a party with friends but when I really started to incorporate it into my life on a daily level, which I have here in California, was with the regulated market introducing me to super low dose edibles on a daily level. It’s like nature’s Xanax. I mean, 2 milligrams of weed with my coffee in the morning and that’s how I live now.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right.
Rick Kiley: All right. Cool.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I do CBD for the same thing. I’m like just too edgy and a little good CBD kind of brings me even keel. Maybe I should go ahead and do the 2 mg.
Mary Jane Gibson: I highly recommend it.
Rick Kiley: The driving around listening to music in your teenage years is, I think, quite a familiar story. I think I had some friends that we thought we were so brilliant and funny in that situation that we decided to record ourselves when doing it and listen to it later. And it was gobbledygook messes like, “Oh, this was not funny.”
Mary Jane Gibson: I know, but isn’t that the great thing about being stoned is that if you hadn’t recorded it, you would just remember that as the best time ever so it encourages you to like really stay in that moment, right?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Don’t go look at it through some sort of evaluatory lens that has peaked with sobriety.
Mary Jane Gibson: Right.
Rick Kiley: Okay. So, you talked a little bit about like the first job you got with writing for High Times. What I’m curious with because I mean that was 2014, only seven years have passed, but I’m wondering if since you’ve been in the business, does the stories or approaches to telling the stories about individuals, the relationship with cannabis and the industry, has it changed over this past, like not even a decade, but like since you started? Do you find that the conversation and what media companies are willing to sort of cover and put out there or the tone or angle they take, is that changing?
Mary Jane Gibson: Yes. Thank God. You know, so many mainstream publications don’t know how to write about cannabis, how to report about it, because the only sort of thing that they know is what they’ve been steeped in, which is the propaganda of the drug war. So, even somewhere that is ostensibly liberal like The New York Times would report on it as cannabis is this problematic drug that we don’t know enough about and just sort of the problematic aspect of it. And then in 2014, when I started working at High Times, the editorial board published a huge full-page editorial calling for the legalization of cannabis. And I spoke to the head of the editorial board for an interview for High Times and it was one of my first guests. It felt very cool. And he sat down with me and was like, “We need to change the conversation,” and I’m interested in driving this forward. And since then, we’ve seen places like The New York Times or any of those bigger publications open up to interview not only the people who sort of ring the alarm about the drug war but at least they’re bringing in other people from the cannabis industry who actually know how to speak and write about cannabis. So, I have seen a change. As far as the media outlets that I’ve been working for, they’re mostly the counterculture outlets that have been pro-weed or at least not buying into the anti-weed stance for a long time. Like Rolling Stone and Playboy and High Times are all clearly all about counterculture.
So, I’ve never run up against having an issue, an is-yu, writing about cannabis because I’ve always come from the perspective that I learned, which was very much on the side of pro-weed. But I am very happy to see outlets like PBS, for instance, when they contacted me and asked me to write about cannabis, that’s exciting. And I think that the conversation is really opening up.
Rick Kiley: That’s great.
Jeffrey Boedges: Do you think that’s a microcosm for all of the country, though? Because I kind of feel like it is like I find myself having a lot more conversations about cannabis with my children than I ever thought I would.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah, especially when it comes to talking to kids about it. As states go legal, I mean, there are 37 states now with some form of cannabis laws on the books. This is a conversation that everyone should be having with their kids. Especially in states where cannabis is legal for adult use, everyone was terrified that, what about the children, right? What’s going to happen? They’re all going to start smoking weed when they’re 12. And that’s actually not the case. The studies are showing that rates of cannabis use have not increased among teenagers, that episodes of opioid abuse are actually down, that legal cannabis is good for everyone, for society as a whole. Whether or not you choose to use it that the people who are choosing to use it it’s not detrimental to them or to society. So, yeah, it is really important to start having those conversations at home, I think, and it is representative of the entire country that so many people are seeing the benefits of cannabis at home or economically or in whatever way, it’s affecting their lives in a positive way. They’re all seeing it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Mine because I was giving my dog some CBD drops last night and they’re like, “What is that?” So, I was like, “CBD.” They’re like, “What is that?” So, I had to kind of start the education to my children about it and they were like, “Oh.” This much I’ll say is that when the conversation is reframed into a more slightly scientific approach, I’m not a scientist, obviously, but I know enough to be able to explain things in a barely dispassionate way, they’re like, “Oh, okay,” and, “I want to go play video games.”
Mary Jane Gibson: Right.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. “This is boring, dad.”
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Like, “Stop talking.”
Rick Kiley: “I thought this is going to be cool.”
Jeffrey Boedges: So, in a way, I’m ruining the cool factor for cannabis already. Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I was just going to say somebody should write a book or at least an article about…
Jeffrey Boedges: A children’s book?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. A children’s book about cannabis. It could be a pop-up. Maybe a scratch and sniff. That would be good. I was more like…
Jeffrey Boedges: Why dad’s hungry all the time?
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Go ahead. Sorry.
Rick Kiley: I was thinking though I think a lot of parents would be interested in a book on how to talk to their kids about cannabis in this decade because being a Gen-Xer and growing up in the 80s where I had the experience. I’ve told the story before. I had the experience I was part of like a high school peer awareness counseling. So, I was a junior and senior. We would like mentor the freshmen. And we were brought into these like seminars where we learn stuff and they put these drugs up on a screen and they’re like, “Which one of these is the worst drug?” And they had like heroin and they had crack, and they had all the drugs of the 80s and they said, “The worst ones, marijuana.” And they would go into this whole thing about how it’s like the worst thing in the world and be like they tried to scare you constantly. And that’s hard stuff to peel off but I think parents who are in Gen X who grew up with that are probably they’re intellectually maybe okay with it, but they don’t know how to talk to their kids about it. I think there’s a big opportunity for somebody there.
Jeffrey Boedges: We should do a festival at one of the big marijuana conferences that basically takes all of the Reefer Madness films and kind of does like a film festival because I remember one in junior high and they were like kids are learning about marijuana from Rock and Roll. Now, I’m old. So, they played snippets from Boston like smoking and they put all these just crazy classic rock songs. I was like, “Yeah. Those are great songs.” I think there would be a real celebratory moment for all of us of a certain age.
Rick Kiley: But I do think your approach, Jeffrey, of just making it into boring dad talk, you may keep the kids away. You never know.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: All right. We were just talking about a topic there but I’m curious, Mary Jane, when you’re talking to media companies or when you’re thinking about ideas to bring up on your show, like what do you think are like the hot topics for now, for fall 2021, right now?
Jeffrey Boedges: Basically, asking you the program.
Rick Kiley: Now, my question is like, what are people asking about? What’s bubbling to the surface in regard to it? I mean, we’ve been talking a lot about legalization. We’ve been talking about the lack of the ability to bank for these companies. We talk about challenges around marketing and heavily regulated industry of social justice, all these things. But I’m curious if there’s something you’ve just been like bumping up against a lot recently.
Mary Jane Gibson: Oh, my goodness. It’s such a big topic and there are so many things to talk about. Definitely, social justice and social equity are incredibly important right now for anyone who, especially the people who have been most harmed by the war on drugs, for those people to be able to now enter the industry and get licenses, to be able to make money from the industry that criminalized their activities. Now, all of these people are making a lot of money so they have the right to profit and we need to make sure that those people have access to licenses because the entry-level is so expensive in so many states. The bar is set so high. So, somewhere like New York, I’m really interested to see what happens there because it seems like they’ve looked at other states and what’s gone wrong with those states and they’re going to try and right some of those wrongs. So, that’s a massive issue.
Rick Kiley: On paper, it seems like a good plan. We’ll see. I live in New York. I don’t know what’s happening yet but I’m told that this month if you have a medical card in New York, you can start growing your own plants.
Mary Jane Gibson: Fantastic. You can also smoke cannabis anywhere you can smoke a cigarette. I was just in New York and I just smoked a joint walking down the street in Williamsburg and it felt great. It was wonderful.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. People are saying New York’s fun again so there you go.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. It smells fun. I know that.
Jeffrey Boedges: It definitely smells fun.
Rick Kiley: That really smells fun.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s our t-shirt idea for the day, “New York. It smells really fun.”
Mary Jane Gibson: I love it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, I was going to ask you, Mary Jane, I know you’re also involved in The Last Prisoner Project. I’ve heard you speak about it on some of your podcasts. We’ve interviewed some guys from there as well. That’s a cause near and dear to our heart.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yes. I’m not officially involved with them but I support their work and I try to talk about it as much as possible. And they’re one of the advocacy groups that is doing great work to get incarcerated people for cannabis offenses out of prison. There are also other organizations that are doing great work. Mission Green is another one. There’s one here in California called 40 Tons that was founded by Corvain Cooper, who was given clemency for a life sentence for a cannabis offense. So, there are lots of great organizations out there doing wonderful work, and Last Prisoner Project is one of the greatest. The other thing that I love talking about that I get super excited about to talk about in cannabis is the developments that are happening actually in weed products. There are some really cool developments in edibles with nanotechnology making them fast-acting. So, it sort of bypassed that uncomfortable experience that you might have where you eat an edible and it doesn’t kick in and then you eat more, and then all of a sudden you’re on the floor.
Rick Kiley: Who’s done that?
Jeffrey Boedges: No one we know. And I don’t know anyone that’s talked to light switches. I might.
Mary Jane Gibson: Wow. Well, I want to hear that story. My experience, like everyone, I had that weird experience where time slowed way down and the walls got weird and I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I really can function like this,” but the fast-acting edibles are great, especially for newer consumers, because they really want to experience the effect of the edibles within a shorter window so that they can go on and have fun. And so, these nanotechnology, fast-acting edibles are really exciting. I love them.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I think the weed cocktail culture is, in my opinion, one of the most undiscovered and going to be underappreciated as of right now frontiers that we can conquer because of the way the consumption goes. The consumption of cannabis is so different than bar culture and if we really want to sort of co-op some of that culture, we need to be able to have a way to imbibe, feel it, but not feel it for 10 hours. So, it’s got to be a reasonable amount of time but I think that’s going to be one of the hottest areas in weed as we move forward from a consumption standpoint.
Mary Jane Gibson: You’re so right. I’m sorry. There’s a leaf blower right outside my window. I think you can hear that.
Rick Kiley: That sounded like a dog. That was a leaf blower?
Jeffrey Boedges: A very weird leaf blower.
Mary Jane Gibson: My dog is barking at a leaf blower and the chaos around me. It’s chaos. I was going to say absolutely, Jeff, the fastest growing sector of the cannabis industry right now is the beverage sector and infused beverages with especially using this fast-acting nanotechnology with lower doses. So, there are some of these Cann Social Tonic is the one that a lot of people talk about and it’s 2 milligrams of THC, 4 milligrams of CBD per can. So, they’re really offering you a pretty low-dose experience and that’s what people are really comfortable with. And it’s blowing up.
Jeffrey Boedges: We call it sessionable and we think of beer like most people will drink of 5% beer because they can drink six of them over the course of six hours and be like okay.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yep. Exactly. PBR has come out with a hard seltzer. Well, not hard, but like a cannabis-infused seltzer. Lagunitas Beer has Hi-Fi hops. There’s a new brand here in California called Gem+Jane. There’s all of these wonderful. My fridge is full of them right now. It’s what I reach for instead of alcohol at this time in my life. I’m not drinking alcohol right now. So, it’s just great to have a fridge full of cold sparkling weed beverages.
Jeffrey Boedges: I’m very excited to have a little bit more accessibility to it here in the Northeast. We really don’t. I mean, while everything’s legal, the commercial side hasn’t caught up.
Rick Kiley: Well, and we also need to solve for on-premise consumption. You know, I think a place where you can go socialize that’s not in your home or your backyard or in perhaps a festival or something like that. I’d like to see that become more commonplace because I’d like to go to a place of great music and crack open a couple of those and drink them in an afternoon like that’ll be wonderful.
Jeffrey Boedges: Can we come to your house, Mary Jane?
Mary Jane Gibson: You can come to my house anytime. You’re so welcome. It is chaos. There’s a lot going on here right now.
Jeffrey Boedges: There’s a lot of leaf blowers there. Yeah.
Mary Jane Gibson: You’re welcome to come over any time. I wanted to say too, Rick, that I’m working right now with – I can’t really say much about it but it’s a brand that is going to launch at festivals with consumption spaces. And I think you’re on track for exactly what’s going to happen.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. That’s great. And it’s like because a lot of the work we do in the alcohol beverage industry is support of the on-premise retail channel. And there’s a lot of work in mixology and getting drinks on menus and how people discover and work with bartenders, mixologists, and sort of getting products introduced to them. I’m just excited about that to be more mainstream because I think it’ll be a lot of fun and a lot of engagement. It’ll be a lot of consumer discovery through that avenue where I feel like it’s still a little intimidating for some people to go into dispensaries. It’s still not necessarily like it’s a tough one-on-one sort of discovery metric there. I wonder about it.
Jeffrey Boedges: A drinkable product that looks and acts and smells and tastes like something people are familiar with is going to be a far less intimidating introduction to the category but I think it’s important. And I also think, just in general, when you think about all of the beer and wine and spirit companies out there, they’re concerned and rightly so about what marijuana will do to their business. And it’s like they need to stop looking at it as a threat and more looking at it is like, “All right. How are we going to adapt and how are we going to make this part of our culture and make that work for everyone?” But I think that they’re starting to come around to it.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. I mean, I have to say I had the great fortune to go to many, many, many large-scale cannabis events, a lot of big cannabis cups, and that kind of thing. I don’t think that people who are worried about cannabis festivals really understand that what happens when you get pleasantly baked and you’re listening to great music is that you want to go over to that food vendor and buy a giant turkey leg, and then you want to go over to that beer truck and get an ice-cold IPA, and then your experience is perfect. And you’re not actually going to spend less money. You’re going to spend more money because you’re having a great time and you’re going to buy drinks and food. It’s good for everyone. It’s a very stimulating plan and it will stimulate the economy as well.
Rick Kiley: Cool. Well, you set us up for a good segue because I want to make sure we talk about it, Weed + Grub. All right. This is the podcast that you’re doing right now. In fact, you had an episode that dropped today. So, can you tell us more about it, how you started working with Mike? What sparked the idea, all that stuff?
Mary Jane Gibson: Oh, my goodness. Well, we were at a big weed event and I had heard about Mike Glazer. He’s a comedian, a wonderful comedian, and I had been made aware of his work because he was making these viral videos with BuzzFeed where he was doing things like getting high and hanging out with the sloth or eating a sundae with a monkey or getting stoned with Snoop Dogg. And I’d just been made aware of who he was and his work. And I was working the event and so I showed up to meet him because we’ve been told to sort of rendezvous at a certain point. And he tells it as though I sort of showed up in a cloud on this golf cart and we connected anyway. And then he came back the next day to reintroduce himself because he had done a dab and forgotten what was happening.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s an occupational hazard.
Rick Kiley: I knew there was something I liked about you.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. But we just vibed as the saying goes and when I came back to Los Angeles, we connected for one of those sort of like L.A. lunches where you sort of like figure out like what everyone’s about. We just decided, “Oh, this is like not even a networking thing.” We just want to be friends and make things and never stop talking. And we had this lunch and we knew that we both love food and we obviously both love weed and we both love making things. And so, we started our podcast three years ago and it’s very loosely defined format because it’s about comedy, cannabis, cooking, culture, calling things out. We have guests who smoke and who don’t smoke and industry guests and just entertainers. We’ve had everyone from Megan Rapinoe to best-selling author Roxane Gay to David Crosby or Jim Belushi and drag star Trixie Mattel. We’ve had like a wide array of guests from all sorts of backgrounds, and it’s just like a cornerstone. Weed and food are the cornerstones for conversations about anything under the sun and it’s really about just sort of setting that table and then opening it up.
Rick Kiley: Cool. I mean, it sounds like a lot of fun. I haven’t listened to too many yet but you do cover a wide array of topics. And Mike is very funny. So, we’ll make sure people who listen here check it out if they haven’t already. I’m curious, is there a particular idea you’re trying to get across or are you just trying to sort of create space for good conversation? Are you trying to do anything?
Jeffrey Boedges: Are you trying to accomplish anything or just have fun? We’re just trying to have fun.
Rick Kiley: Are you trying to solve any great problems?
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. I’m trying to stop people being assh*les about weed. Like that’s the I guess…
Rick Kiley: Perfect. That’s the second T-shirt of the day. Stop being an assh*le about weed.
Mary Jane Gibson: If you don’t like it that’s okay but don’t have an opinion about other people who do because it works for a lot of people. So, that would be the big thing. But really, we’re just trying to have a great, great time and I think you forward the conversation about cannabis in a way that is just fun and entertaining. As much as we want to be educational and informative, we also just want to talk to people, especially we have a lot of listeners in places where they just don’t have access to legal cannabis. And so, that’s also a snapshot from California as one of the world’s largest legal weed markets. So, it’s just neat to cover it for people who also don’t necessarily have that access. But truly, we’re just trying to have a great time. That’s the big thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: I think you guys are big in Australia, at least that’s what I’m taking away.
Mary Jane Gibson: We definitely have some listeners in Australia, which is amazing to me. I mean, it’s really cool to look at the analytics and see that people are tuning in from around the world. That is just incredible to me.
Rick Kiley: Jeff, we have one in Australia, just so you know. We have one.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I’m aware. He works with us so he has to.
Rick Kiley: Occasionally. That’s fine. So, can you talk a little bit and I don’t know to what degree your expertise starts and stops here, but I haven’t cooked with cannabis myself. You talk about food and recipes and all that sort of thing. Do you do it? And I guess the second follow-up to that is just like how challenging is it for someone to incorporate cannabis into a recipe? Is that a hard thing?
Jeffrey Boedges: And how has it evolved? Because, I mean, in the old days you just shoved flower in your drink.
Rick Kiley: There’s brownies and cookies. I get that. But I mean, let’s get a little more sophisticated here, too.
Mary Jane Gibson: It’s so sophisticated now. And honestly, I’m spoiled because I live in a place where there are so many infused options that I don’t have to make myself. But I do have infused olive oil on my counter at all times to drizzle on a ripe tomato. I also have infused coconut oil that I can use both for cooking and as a topical if I have a burn or something. I have like all sorts of infused cannabis oils and fats around my house at all times, and I can add those into any recipe. I think the key for anyone who’s interested in cooking with cannabis for the first time is there’s so much information out there about how to do it correctly, how to decarboxylate your cannabis, how to calculate your dosage, how to make sure that you’re not going to make those knockout brownies. You’re just serving your guests something that’s going to elevate the experience, not put them all on the couch. There’s just so much information out there and great people doing great work, incredible cannabis chefs across the country who are putting out books and blogs and videos about educating. I try and shine a light on as many of those people as I can all the time. For instance, Chef Nikki, who is Dave Chappelle’s chef and she works with Migos and DJ Khaled and all sorts of stars, cooks with live rosin capsules. What I learned from her is that she introduced me to these live rosin capsules that you can just break up and drop into your food and they’re already activated. And it’s amazing, all sorts of options.
Elise McDonough, who is a colleague of mine from High Times, she wrote the Bong Appétit cookbook. She’s an incredible educator. I always encourage everyone to follow her on Instagram @cannabisedibles420. There are just lots of great people out there with incredible information. It’s a great time. Just make sure that if you’re experimenting with your weed, like know where your cannabis is from, obviously. If you can’t get lab results, at least know that it’s from like a trusted source so you’re not worried about pesticides or heavy metals or anything in there and go low and slow. That’s the main thing. Like, I made an infused cobbler with some purple punch trim. Mike and I were making a video and I ate a huge piece because it was so delicious. The ensuing video is about ten minutes of me with T-rex arms and just drinking water. I’m like totally nonverbal. I mean, I had a great time but it wasn’t great content.
Rick Kiley: So, low and slow, everyone. Let’s take the advice. Now, I heard you might be planning to publish a cookbook. Is that true?
Mary Jane Gibson: We’re hoping to. We’re working on it now. We’re writing the book proposal. We’re working with an amazing agent and we’re very excited about it. We’ve got the outline done and we’re writing it right now so we’re excited.
Jeffrey Boedges: The Joy of Cooking High.
Mary Jane Gibson: Ooh, I’m snatching that. Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Dinner for people who aren’t assh*les about weed.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yes.
Rick Kiley: Five courses to weeding out your uncool friends.
Jeffrey Boedges: Weeding out the assh*les. Yeah.
Mary Jane Gibson: Listen, I’m taking notes. I am taking notes.
Rick Kiley: This is what we do.
Mary Jane Gibson: You should charge for this. Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Well, the bill’s in the mail.
Mary Jane Gibson: Okay. I’ll pay you in weed, though. I hope you know that.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s fine. Everybody else does. Why wouldn’t you?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I was given some money that turned out to be a cracker. So, I’m curious, you’ve been doing the podcast for three years. You’re talking about this cookbook. Obviously, you know a lot about it. I’m very interested in epicurean events that incorporate weed and we’re event people. We produce events all over the country. And I’m curious because if we work with a wine company, we’re going to do like a dinner with a wine pairing and that sort of thing. I’m curious if you’ve been involved in or would like to create perhaps an event that incorporates the two, and if you’ve had any thoughts about what that might look like.
Mary Jane Gibson: Absolutely. Mike and I get stoned and we go on walks and have big dreams all the time.
Jeffrey Boedges: You call them something. You had an alliterative phrase for them. It was like chunk, chuck.
Mary Jane Gibson: To stomp to chomp. We go on walks to get the step count up so that we can eat that hot fudge sundae or whatever.
Jeffrey Boedges: Stomp to chomp. Yeah. That was it.
Mary Jane Gibson: So, we dream up big things. And one of the things that we dreamed up a while back was having a Weed + Grub live show where we would just have all of our friends show up and wonderful guests and comedians on stage. And then outside would be a little pop-up sort of farmer’s market where we could have growers show off their wares and edibles makers and topicals makers. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to like a weed farmer’s market, there are a few out here in California, and it’s just honestly the coolest thing because someone could show up and, yeah, show off the peppers that they just grew next to someone who has some outdoor sun-grown and it’s just the best. So, that would be my absolute dream, would be to curate some sort of day-long Weed + Grub festival where there would be sort of like an accompanying farmer’s market-style thing. And then also we’re working on doing a pop-up with a friend here in Los Angeles. He’s a very successful pop-up around town and we’re going to collaborate with him on a dish for a limited release thing.
So, we’re working on a few things but there are so many amazing supper clubs around the country doing the coolest stuff. And some of them are in New York. Hawaii Mike, Chef Mike is in New York, I think, and he’s doing amazing stuff. So, if you have not been to a cannabis dinner, I highly encourage you to go. It’s one of the best experiences you can have. It is all of the education and information that comes along. You don’t even feel like you’re learning anything. We learn so much while perfectly baked and eating great food with great people.
Jeffrey Boedges: I like the sound of it. But I think we need like the taste of California which would be all about foods like in a festival format, bigger so that you could go around and taste all kinds of different things. Now, I don’t know what that’s going to do to you at the end of the day. You may not be able to operate any kind of machinery, but it sounds awesome.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. Just don’t drive and take a Lyft. I mean, judging a cannabis event, people just don’t understand like how could you smoke 12 strains of cannabis in one day? And it’s just like anything else. You just take small sort of sips if you will. Like, when you’re looking at cannabis to really taste it much like tasting wine, you are not consuming an entire glass or joint. You can look at it and smell it and taste it before you ever light it up and smoke it or vape it or whatever. So, there are lots of ways to learn about weed without necessarily taking an entire big joint to the face.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ve talked about that in the past like what’s the equivalent of spitting? And I guess Bill Clinton taught us all those years ago, “Don’t inhale.”
Mary Jane Gibson: Right.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. You could do the dry toke, too, which is just like puffing on it before it’s lit and you get all the flavors. It’s amazing.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. Yeah. Dry toke. I haven’t heard that term but it makes sense to me. Self-evident.
Rick Kiley: Dry toke. That’s not a T-shirt, though. I’m just saying. I’m sorry.
Mary Jane Gibson: Not so appealing.
Rick Kiley: No. It doesn’t sound appealing but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Sometimes you’ve got to be a pro. So, I’m looking at what the rest we want to cover here. I’m just curious as we come towards the end of our time, you talked about the desire for the festival. I mean, I imagine you’re going to continue producing this podcast. Where do you look to take it next? You know, perhaps the cookbook, perhaps the festival. Any other sort of future plans in regards to the platform, the Weed + Grub?
Mary Jane Gibson: Oh, for sure. I mean, as we all sort of continue to stay at home and be safe as much as we can, the world is also opening back up. And so, as safely as possible, I think our dream is to take Weed + Grub on the road again. We did a tour two years ago I think now where we went from, we started in Alaska at a comedy festival and we did a Weed + Grub live there. And then we did all the way down the coast to California, which means everything is legal all the way through Canada. That whole West Coast corridor does legal weed in every spot so we stopped and we talked to growers and we talked to comedians and we had live shows and it was so much fun. And so, I think our big plan would be to do that again, to bring some version of that to some festivals. Mike is headlining some shows coming up and the more that he does that, I’m like, “Well, like let’s add Weed + Grub to your bill like let’s do the opening Weed + Grub act.” So, I think, yeah, our hopes are to continue to have these conversations with all of these incredible people all around the country and doing more and more live shows in addition to the podcast and everything else that we have going on, and the book, which we’re so excited about. The live shows, I miss people. I love being on stage and I love, love talking to all sorts of folks. So, that would be my dream.
Rick Kiley: That’s exciting.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I like the idea of being the Anthony Bourdain of weed and traveling and experiencing the different food and weeds at the same time. I think that’s got a built-in audience. We need a weed channel.
Mary Jane Gibson: Wow. Well, they’ve tried. And this is the thing I think that I’ve really learned is that it’s still pretty niche. I don’t know how interested people are really in tuning into programming that is all weed all the time. And that’s why I think Mike and I are so interested in incorporating cannabis into our conversation, but not making the conversation entirely about cannabis.
Jeffrey Boedges: 100%. Sure.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. It gets a little dull when it’s just all weed all the time. And I love it. And my life is mostly weed much of the time but there’s more to it.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, even the History Channel doesn’t always do history anymore. They do made-up history.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, they did that that Snoop Dogg where he had his own version of the Olympics, which I am kicking myself for not catching but I got to imagine that’s kind of the first foray into…
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. I mean, anything he does is he’s always got the right idea it feels like. Like, he just sort of knows what people are going to want, and more often than not, he’s right. And I think that like his partnership with Martha Stewart was so perfect because he just cracked that wide open to a whole new group of people who would never watch otherwise. And so, I think that’s what needs to happen is we need to keep opening up the conversation. And that’s one thing that Mike and I definitely fight about with corporate cannabis is that they’re trying to exclude people from the conversation and they’re saying things like, “We need to veer away from stoner culture.” If you veer away from the people who got you where you are, you’re making a huge mistake and I think that it’s just about continuing to build to the table, put more chairs up to it, not try and define any shape or size. It’s just hugely inclusive because that’s what cannabis is.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s a common branding thing all the time. It’s like how do we attract a new customer without alienating the people that got us here? That’s a fairly common marketing conundrum. But I hadn’t really thought about it for a vertical before until just now. So, that’s a really interesting perspective.
Rick Kiley: Well, I mean, I think Jeff, when you and I started working in Scotch whiskey it was not very cool like this is 20 years ago.
Jeffrey Boedges: We couldn’t give it away, man.
Rick Kiley: But things go and they have generational and it’s because there was like a generation of people that grew up, became old, and the older and young people didn’t want to drink the thing that their parents drank. It’s a perfectly natural cycle. But, yeah, I think there is a challenge in the industry is how do you – you know, it’s funny because the consumers today are clamoring to connect with authentic brands and authentic brand stories. So, the people who work and live in creating products for the legacy market or have come from that market, I think they’re going to have an easier time connecting with new consumers based on that platform rather than trying to put in some place something slick and corporate that seems like it’s not for anyone necessarily. So, I assume as the industry continues to mature and I think more people who are very skilled in developing strategic marketing initiatives, I think we’re going to see that probably weed out the ones who are good or weed out the ones that are bad.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yes, and nice on the pun. I totally agree with you. I just covered this big cannabis company that tanked after a year because it was run by people who had no concept of anything about the cannabis industry, and they were the ones who wanted to veer away from stoner culture. Meanwhile, a mile away, there’s a store run by a Berner who’s a Bay Area rapper and cannabis star who caters to stoner culture and his store is doing brisk business with lines out the door. So, just don’t bite the hand that fed you and, yeah, make sure that you include the people who love the things that you’re selling the most.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Cool. Well, we’ve had plenty of experience. I think there’s a lot of people out there that look at an industry, some of the ones that we serve as currently. They go, “Oh, I can do that. I got money,” and then they come in and like, “I don’t…” You still have to do your homework and you really got to know what you’re doing, even just from a strategic standpoint, much less a creative. You got to have a plan.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. It’s so interesting. I mean, I don’t really know how much cannabis has to learn from the alcohol industry because I think a lot of people really assume that they’re comparable and they’re really not. I think that cannabis actually has a lot more to learn from the sex industry in a lot of ways, the way that it was criminalized and now it’s being commodified. And what exactly is going to happen when those regulations start to tighten and people start to try and make a profit off of it? And it’s going to exclude a lot of the people who got us here in the first place if you look at what’s happening. I just really see a parallel between cannabis in 2021 and online sex workers in the late 90s or early aughts, with the advent of the platforms where they could sort of own their work and they’re being strangled out. It’s just really interesting. Comparing cannabis to alcohol is always tricky. I know it’s easiest for people to understand it that way, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way to think about it.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s a whole another episode. Congratulations, Mary Jane. You just got yourself booked for the second. Let me call my PR people.
Rick Kiley: It’s funny. I mean, I think as we’ve been doing this podcast and obviously we come from a lot of work in the adult beverage industry. There are similarities but there are differences, too. And it’s interesting to track how it’s going because part of it, cannabis hasn’t arrived yet. You know, like we don’t have federal legalization so we don’t know what sort of the governing entities and the compliance are going to be outside of what’s going on right now and how that’s going to change. And also, cannabis is actually part behaves like adult beverage and part behaves like pharma, and like that’s never had to happen for alcohol. So, how do those two get along? It’s just so interesting from a marketing perspective because it’s really unique. There’s really nothing like it. I mean, it’s an entire industry that has baggage, not just a category or brand that has baggage and it faces all these different regulatory issues. And then people have a use for it in so many different ways. Whereas, alcohol use is pretty singular in sort of what you’re doing it for. There are different occasions or whatever but the feeling, the effect is usually it’s one or two or three needs but you know what it is. So, it’s just fun because it’s so bizarre.
Mary Jane Gibson: It is. Fun, I think, too, is what I love to remind people. You know, everyone gets so very serious about cannabis, of course, because it’s very serious. There are very serious things going on around it and a lot of things that we need to pay attention to with serious minds. But also, it makes me question authority and it’s a fun, weird plant that just is a mind-expanding consciousness-elevating thing. And the reason that it was criminalized in the first place was because it caused people to not necessarily toe the line because they were exploring their thoughts and journeys as people. So, I don’t know. I just think that it’s an amazing thing that everyone should have access to, but some people don’t want us to.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It’s just fear, unfortunately. All right. Cool. Well, that’s a great way I think to land this ship. We’re just going to end because sort of what we’re doing here, we call this The Green Repeal because we’re trying to sort of see how we’re trending towards federal legalization. So, we like to ask everybody who comes on this podcast if they have any insight, intel, and/or a thought about when you think cannabis might become federally legal across this whole great land of the United States.
Mary Jane Gibson: I talked to so many people who know so much more than I do about this and I can tell you that they all say the same thing, which is nobody knows.
Rick Kiley: Which is why it’s a great question because it’s never the same answer.
Mary Jane Gibson: Never the same answer. I think that there are people who are in the cannabis industry and cannabis business who try to convince investors that it’s going to go legal very soon. And I would caution anyone against believing them because they don’t know. And I also think that the time has come and the tide is turning in 37 states with some form of cannabis laws. And I think 17 states with adult-use means that we’re ready and we’ve got Canada to the north with federal legalization. Mexico’s laws are coming online and it’s just time. So, you can choose how to look at it depending on where you stand. My answer is just I truly don’t know. But as long as I have a platform to talk about it, I will be covering it with Mike and having a good time doing it. You will have to come on our podcast and chop it up with us there because talking about it is the greatest. It’s my favorite.
Rick Kiley: Awesome. We would love to.
Mary Jane Gibson: Also, I want to know about this lobster-fecta, pork-fecta situation because…
Rick Kiley: Yeah, you do.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s fattening. I got a fecta.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yeah. You got me thinking about a poke-fecta, you know.
Jeffrey Boedges: I got some poke sitting in my office waiting for me right now.
Rick Kiley: All right.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yes. The greatest.
Rick Kiley: Cool. All right. Well, Mary Jane, thank you so much for joining us. If people want to check out your podcasts, it’s Weed + Grub. I think you can find it in every major app download podcast store, right?
Mary Jane Gibson: That’s right.
Rick Kiley: Any other place we should direct people if they want to find out about you or anything you’re working on?
Jeffrey Boedges: Or the cookbook because I want a cookbook.
Mary Jane Gibson: Yes. I’m so excited. I think it’s going to be really fun. It’s going to have like games and hosting tips and all sorts of stuff. You can follow Weed + Grub, @weedandgrub on Instagram and my handle is @thisismaryjane_. The original thisismaryjane, I don’t know who she is. She needs to give that up. And also, my website is ThisIsMaryJane.com where you can check out some of my writing.
Rick Kiley: Great.
Jeffrey Boedges: Awesome. Amazing.
Rick Kiley: So great to have you on. Well, we’ll have you back when we’re talking about Jeff’s next episode, the weed is…
Jeffrey Boedges: Weed and the sex industry.
Rick Kiley: People are going to tune in.
Mary Jane Gibson: I can’t wait.
Rick Kiley: All right. Thanks so much.
Mary Jane Gibson: Thanks. Bye.