Las Vegas is a transient city, meaning almost everyone here isn’t actually from here. The fact seeps into every bit of culture, shaping Las Vegas cannabis into what it is today: multifaceted and ever-changing. The people that call this city home have brought their customs into what now seems like, the true melting pot of weed. With it, they’ve created a culture and community like no other.
If you remember our very first influencer feature, we covered some of these community leaders; the ones pushing the industry forward in the way their voice allows. Some of those voices have recently pushed for the approval of AB341, allowing for consumption lounges. While the community celebrates, the stakes have risen for both the grey market and the green.
Dispensaries have longed for cannabis consumption lounges but the ‘secret sesh’ vendors hailing from counter-culture will benefit most from the new playing field.
We’ve all heard of them, some of us have been to them; but, the vendors at a sesh push for innovation in cannabis. They propel the movement and preserve the culture. To Yoga meet-ups, to business mixers, and of course the traditional set-up; these events create and cultivate the foundation of what legal cannabis should be.
As we discuss the legalization of consumption lounges and how it affects everyone here, we have to also discuss the duality of the green and the grey. Both sides of the market play a vital role in progression; but, one group in the grey market tip-toes both while never getting the recognition they truly deserve. Believe it or not, cannachefs may benefit the most from this new bill while also bridging that gap of recognition.
So, what do cannabis chefs have to do with consumption lounges? And what does all that have to do with the Green and Grey markets? Well, if you didn’t know, most cannabis chefs fall into the grey. Despite all the Bong Appetit and Cooking with Cannabis, the legal industry doesn’t allow for extensive culinary opportunities. Some work hard enough or are lucky enough to land a spot on a show or a shoutout from an influencer; but, it’s far and few in the legal realm of things. The Grey market continues to be the only avenue for up-and-coming chefs to build their clientele until cannabis consumption lounges are approved. At that point, they can cook and showcase their skills in a compliant setting. As we wait for legislation to allow for this, some of the community has found their solutions to the problem.
Personally, I think everyone in the industry could benefit from a conversation with Brooksie Hussle. When I first got into the local industry, it was hard not to hear his name. The aggressively ambitious cannabis entrepreneur has shown, not only me but countless others, what the community can truly be. Contrary to what some may believe, he’s known on both sides of the industry as a compliant business owner, a coveted host, and a community leader. Originally from the Pasadena area, he came to Las Vegas in 2009 when the market was new. From his perspective coming to California, it was undeveloped, still highly criminalized, and had no one rallying behind it. The High Times Cannabis Cup changed his view.
Cannabis Chefs & The CannaChef Union
Finally seeing some of the community come together, he noticed a staggering problem. The quickly moving industry wasn’t acknowledging or helping a lot of the small businesses that paved the way for it. When you see how much is available outside of a shop, it’s upsetting to know why it isn’t there. Brooksie started his cannabis brand with the help of some friends. As cooking with cannabis was part of what he did, he continued to see a lack of space for them as he grew. To help them gain exposure and, in turn, grow their business, Brooksie created The CannaChef Union. The union is a network of chefs that have first access to paid opportunities, sponsorships, and help to build their brand through social media and trade shows.
In the few years that The CannaChef Union has been operating, chefs have praised it as a wealth of knowledge and support. Outside of booking chefs for private events, Brooksie recently started a cooking show, Swag House Kitchen to offer another platform for growth. With Brett Rhamer, Brooksie leads the show in a similar cooking format with weed being the special ingredient. To further the effort, Brooksie brought a similar show to the events he hosted. Giving small businesses and influencers a chance to highlight their work. He feels the small business have more power than they believe and giving each other praise when it’s deserved is vital.
Unfortunately, the barriers between the green and grey markets have come up against the union. Over the last year, raids have tried to shut down the union, seizing their PayPal accounts under the charge of selling cannabis. In this situation, however, a consenting adult having a chef cook cannabis-infused food in their home -not apartment, condo, or rental- is completely legal in the state of NV. The issues they face once again bring up the problem that the lack of lounges presents. It alternatively presents the bias when pursuing some businesses over others.
Green Market VS. Grey Market
So, how does all of this relate to cannabis lounges and AB341? As we celebrated the legislative win and with 710 just around the corner, it seemed fitting to discuss what’s next for Las Vegas. Things are opening back up which means Brooksie will be back to events more often and the cannachef union will see more opportunities again. Even so, in-home cooking may pick up more as some have grown to enjoy it more. In the grand scheme of things, cannabis lounges change the entire landscape of cannabis. Obviously, it will change things for cannabis chefs and the sesh culture. Even though the licenses are limited right now, most cannabis-legal states have proven things can happen quickly once they start.
For example, look at the surrounding area of the first open-consumption restaurant, Lowell Farms, or even any newly erected dispensary for that matter. Economically, the area flourishes. After the effects of the shutdown, it’s what both Las Vegas and cannabis need right now; it’s what cannachefs need! As Brooksie and I talked, he brought up the stark contrast being in the green and grey markets.
The legal market says they are operating at 1.0 while the underground market is at 3.0. Due to lack of heavy regulation, Brooksie sees it closer to 7.0 with the newest and best cannabis inventions coming to the underground market. He named a few with only some of them recently crossing into the green market with sponsorships. He applauds their hard work but reminds me that they all start in the grey market and most remain there due to the same regulations. Knowing that fact, he again laughs at the contrast of visiting a sesh and seeing both legal and illegal business owners rubbing shoulders.
“The law keeps us from bringing the industry together fully.”
Like I mentioned before, licenses are limited. This doesn’t stop both markets from working together at times where it’s applicable to do just as Brooksie hopes. He laments his love for Oklahoma cannabis and how they’ve handled a lot of situations, with complaint businesses sharing a license with smaller vendors during specific events. Though the market is young and very saturated, it incorporates both markets at many complaint events to spread the opportunity for all.
In the end, my conversation with Brooksie called for a rally behind your fellow stoner or at least standing up for cannabis when you have to. When it comes to lounges, support for smaller businesses, and cannabis as a whole it’s a community effort. We all have our own way we can help; but, he sees every person getting a profit from cannabis as an opportunity to help cannabis. As we celebrate the legislative win, think of what the next win needs to be and what you can do to help us get there. Many people in the community see the divide between the green and grey market but Brooksie hopes to heal that with things like The CannaChef Union and his cooking show. While there are some problems in our industry and plenty we can point fingers about, the fight truly lies in a different arena.
Looking to hire a cannachef for your next party, check out The CannaChef Union. If you’re looking to learn more about cooking with cannabis or for more information about his show follow Brooksie Hussle. We all fight for cannabis in our way, make sure you use what’s true to you.