AACE Interview: Steven Phan

When Steven moved from the birthplace of the medical marijuana community of San Francisco to New York City, he went from a city awash in cannabis history to a city in need of cannabis education. San Francisco in 1996 passed Proposition 215 which legalized medical marijuana for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and AIDS patients in need of medicine to help them regain their appetite and to help alleviate the effects of the pharmaceuticals they had to take. Only recently New York city watched from the other coast, and became the in July 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act which permitted the use of non-smokable cannabis for medical purposes. The first dispensary in New York city Columbia Care opened last January 2016.

From the QuadDeuceNil mission statement: QuadDeuceNil: FourTwoZero was created as a way to bring that positive culture where ever I go. The purpose is to help spread knowledge, educate, change misperceptions, and spread the love for cannabis, with the hopes of forging an educated community and open culture. 

We are honored to have Steven here on AACE and proud of his work in educating the east coast about cannabis and it's benefits. 

What spurred you to enter the cannabis market?

My personal experience with my family is one of the most influential factors for my entry into the Cannabis market. As a first generation Chinese/Vietnamese American whose parents immigrated to the US, I experienced a strict, traditional upbringing with zero-tolerance towards Cannabis. Fortunately, my curiosity got the best of me. While researching Cannabis to further educate myself and my family, I peeled back the layers of misconception ingrained by society. I discovered the amazing potential of Cannabis and became inspired by stories of social injustice and prevented access to its medicinal properties. I was further motivated when I moved from the Cannabis friendly city of San Francisco to an intolerant New York City. It was at this point that I decided to create QuadDeuceNil and use it as a platform for myself and others to educate and spread awareness, both at home and throughout our communities. I've always loved and collected Cannabis themed shirts, so the next logical step for me was to create apparel and accessories for others just as passionate as myself to display their love and support for the culture and the movement.

What is your favorite strain and your favorite way of ingesting?

My favorite strain is Jack Herer because of its distinct, piney smell accompanied by it's cerebral, sativa high.  I might also be biased because I had the chance to meet and smoke with the man himself in 2009 attending Ed Rosenthal's Wonder's of Cannabis at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. 

How did you come out of the 'green closet" with your parents?

My experience with coming out of the "green closet" is remembered as two separate events. The first time I consider premature because it was involuntary. My mom found Cannabis in my room for the first time back in high school and that was it. The second time was when I told my family about starting my Cannabis lifestyle brand and the meaning behind the name, QuadDeuceNil.  Sharing and explaining the brand is special because it was a clear statement that I'm in the industry and I'm here to stay. We even sold our first order of shirts out of my backpack with my mom at the Brooklyn Smorgasborg, on 4/20! 

Making Connections and Finding Common Ground

Finding common ground: How do we speak to other Asians about Cannabis? Look for common ground, tradition, family stories, heritage, cooking + eating, healthcare, once you establish a commonality, you will find an open door to discuss the benefits of cannabis. With my parents I found our common ground to be healthcare. (photo from our road trip last December) - Ophelia Chong

 

My parents George and Josephine Chong of Toronto Canada

My parents George and Josephine Chong of Toronto Canada

AACE Interview: Randy Robinson

Randy is one of our favorite writers in the cannabis industry, his piece on What the Cannabis Industry is Doing to Mainstream Weed clarified where we are heading from Colorado to California. As we move forward we will see more Asians coming out (they have been in the business longer than most think) and speaking out publicly and adding their voices to the multiple paths of cannabis.

"Clarifying regulations, increasing consumer protections, and creating reliable products is more important than ever for Colorado and the nation’s marijuana industry as a whole. More than half of U.S. states now permit some legal form of cannabis, and eight states have legalized recreational use." - Randy Robinson

What spurred you to enter the cannabis market?

I've been toking for most of my life. It was always just a fun thing for me, until 2009 when I took the Endocannabinoids and Medical Marijuana course at UCCS with Dr. Robert Melamede.

His first lecture blew my mind. Until then, I thought pot was just for controlling nausea and glaucoma. That first day of class, he went over cannabis's anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-tumor, and anti-aging properties. I was firmly committed to legalization ever since.

Originally, I studied molecular biology under him because I wanted to go into biotech. I realized after graduation that I don't enjoy lab work, so in the summer of 2013, I decided to pursue my dream of being a professional writer. It was just dumb luck that Colorado legalized cannabis around that same time. My science background helped me lock in my first cannabis writing gigs, and I've been here ever since.

What is your favorite strain?

It's difficult to pin down one strain, but Gorilla Glue is probably my favorite right now. It gives me a crazy case of the giggles, which is my main goal when I smoke these days. Given the current political climate in the US, I think we could all use a good laugh now and then.

These days I don't smoke much flower though. I prefer dabs and tinctures, especially ones extracted from sativas.

How did you come out of the 'green closet" with your parents?

Initially, they did that for me. When I was a teen, my mom was doing laundry one day, and she found a joint in my pants pocket. She didn't punish me, but she did give me a scolding, probably because I asked her not to throw away my weed next time she found any.

I also wasn't very good at hiding it. I constantly reeked of Colorado skunk, and although I can fool a lot of folks into thinking my cashed-out eyes are just a product of being half-Korean, my parents could always tell. 

Overall, their biggest issue with it, at first, was they feared I'd get arrested. But after Colorado went legal, they stopped seeing it as a bad thing. In all the years I got lit, they never punished me for it. Which I'm grateful for.

AACE: Interview with Kristin Jordan

I met Kristin the way most people meet nowadays, via Facebook, we met in the POC in Cannabis group where we discovered our shared views and agenda. It was rare a few years back to meet another Asian in cannabis, but now I am happily finding more entering and coming out of the "green closet". At any cannabis event I am always going up and introducing myself to fellow Asians because I want to hear their story. Kristin is the executive director of the Cannabis Cultural Association as well as a top consultant for acquisitions, real estate, due diligence and marketing. Kristin is based in NYC and we are honored to have her here on AACE. - Ophelia Chong

What spurred you to enter the cannabis market? 

I wanted to participate in the legal industry because I believe in the medicinal and wellness properties the plant provides.

What is your favorite strain? Sour Diesel

How did you come out of the 'green closet" with your parents? I am a Cofounder and Executive Director of the Cannabis Cultural Association, a nonprofit organization which promotes economic opportunities for people of color in the industry in addition to creating awareness about the devastating effects of the War on Drugs on marginalized communities.

 

KRISTIN JORDAN

KRISTIN JORDAN

AACE: Interviews with the guys of 626NightMarket, Edward Chien and Kevin Ngo

I was on a panel at the High Times Business Conference in Los Angeles last month, it was the diversity panel that appears at each cannabis conference, in many ways it is a great add and in other's it is the standard "got to have one of these" go to panel ideas. After the panel I met Kevin Ngo, automatically it was "OH HEY ANOTHER ASIAN!" fist bumps and "wow, so glad you are here" pats on the back. Kevin is a shining star, his enthusiasm and bushy tailed bright eyed personality won me over in 2 seconds. His partner Edward Chien I met later at another event and again the fist bumps and back slaps was going around our small Asian circle. 

626NightMarket is a food festival based on traditional Asian night food markets, with over 150 vendors specializing in every Asian cuisines and add music, liquor, art, films, games to create an evening that is unparalleled in foodie events. The festival debuted 7 years ago and has built a loyal following that has over 800K attendees to four dates at the Santa Anita race track and three in Orange County. With the success of 626NightMarket, Edward and Kevin are planning the next venture, The Munchies Cannabis Food Festival, and the name succinctly spells out to the point exactly what is going to be offered. California will be entering adult use 2018, and with that there will be no need for a medical card for 21 and over adults to access cannabis and cannabis products. The change in law will allow The Munchies to welcome new consumers to experience the best of California has to offer. 

And now to Edward and Kevin and their answers to the 3Q's from AACE:


 

EDWARD CHIEN

What spurred you to enter the cannabis market?

After years of event production with the 626 Night Market and the legalization of cannabis in California. I decided it was time to start The Munchies Festival. Bringing people together has always been part of my nature and cannabis my passion. Why not put them together with delicious food?

What is your favorite strain?

Super Lemon Haze. Mmm… lemons…

How did you come out of the 'green closet" with your parents?

You mean how badly was I “beaten out” of the closet? LOL. I love my parents and I understand we come from very different times and culture. Today I try my best and be very patient with my parents when it comes to cannabis education. It does not come easy but I truly believe one day I will be able to have a sesh with my parents and get a good laugh out of all this.


KEVIN NGO

What spurred you to enter the cannabis market?

One of the main reasons why I decided to go into this market was throughout my schooling this was the one and only industry that supported me financially for several years. Although the market is consistently changing it has created a strong sense of appreciation to cannabis has to offer. This drug has got me through tough time and has help one of my best friends fight through cancer.  

What is your favourite strain? Green Crack

How did you come out of the 'green closet" with your parents?

This is still a grey area between us. They know about it but we don't talk much about it. 

LINKS:

626NIGHTMARKET

THE MUNCHIES CANNABIS FOOD FESTIVAL

THANK YOU EDWARD AND KEVIN!

AACE: Interview with Amy Yamamura of Wildflower

I met Amy via my cousin Alfred Kee, who like me is in the cannabis industry. We are both enthusiastic boosters of the plant and the people; and that is were Amy comes in. I had the pleasure of meeting her online and asked if I could interview her for AACE. Amy is the creative director for Wildflower, which is based in Vancouver, Canada. I am a huge admirer of her and her work. She has to be one of the nicest people I've had the honor of meeting. Wildflower products can be found in Washington and Canada.

She is such a trooper that she answered the questions like an Asian kid doing homework, on time and handed in with a smile. I also have been  fortunate to have tried the Wildflower products and I am in love with their mission, to create sustainable product designs and healthy cannabis + CBD products. Amy's designs also blew me away, with the simplicity of design, "just enough", and not overwhelming with design elements that are only decorative not productive.

Amy Yamamura of Wildflower

What spurred you to enter the cannabis market?

I was at the right place at the right time. Shortly after moving from Tokyo to Vancouver in 2011, the Canadian government made the announcement that they will be issuing MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations). This news inspired my partner at the time, William MacLean, who is the CEO of Wildflower and I to apply for the license. Whereas William saw the business opportunity and ingenious ways to put together a company, I saw the need and potential for a beautiful and strong brand. Together we formed Wildflower and in 2014 the company became public and here we are.

What is your favorite strain?

At the moment, I love Viper. Like the name says it, it “vipes" you up.

 How did you come out of the 'green closet" with your parents?

I’m kinda sorta still hanging in and out of the closet. At 40.  My Dad is Japanese and I grew up in Japan where marijuana possession is a serious criminal offence.  For that reason, my parents and I never really talked about me using cannabis.  Now that I am working as a creative director in a public company and everything is cannabis, the vibe is definitely lighter around the topic. I gave both my parents our vapes.  I have yet to have a toke with them though.

 

The Wildflower Mission: 

The Wildflower mission is to connect people with the healing power of plants.

We live to share and inspire holistic wellness by designing, developing and producing the world’s most innovative and best performing cannabis products.

We will achieve this mission through a commitment to our values of transparency, sustainability and freedom.

Interviewed by: Ophelia Chong

AACE Interview: Krystal Kitahara

Krystal Kitahara is a young Japanese American entrepreneur with a business background and a strong belief in the healing powers of cannabis. Krystal quit her 9 to 5 to create Yummi Karma and its unique line of cannabis-infused edibles, topicals, and tinctures. Since then, she has been winning edibles awards left and right and we're honored to have the opportunity to chat with her.

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Salt and Pepper Chips: "How do you just eat one?” Dosing is an issue in the edibles business, how do you manage dosing with a product that out of habit, most people will eat in one sitting? Have you thought of mixing non-medicated and medicated chips into one bag so that the dosage is manageable in one sitting?

Funny that you ask! No one should, under any circumstances, try to eat just one chip. I’ve done it and would not recommend it to anyone! (You should see flavor testing days at our facility!) That’s why we made a single serving bag with enough chips to be satisfied, and with the perfect dose (50 mg) of cannabis. And if you need a larger dose, it gives you a perfect excuse to open another bag.

 

Your products are skewed towards to women, do you have plans for tinctures for men? For instance you have Mood Magic for PMS, would there be one for men? 

Let’s be honest, the PMS tincture benefits men too. It’s funny because men have lined up to get Mood Magic for their girlfriends. We’ve even gotten a few thank you notes. In all seriousness though, we would never leave men out. We are a female-run company, and there’s a lot of shiny, glittery things in our facility, but we do let men work here too and they provide valuable insight into our products. You’ll definitely see some more masculine products in the future.

 

Will Yummi Karma be the first with a medicated soy sauce? 

Well we already have a medicated teriyaki sauce, and that’s been a hit in our community. Now that you bring it up, we’ll have to make some soy sauce in your honor!

 

Margaret Cho’s QA with us answered this question “There has been an explosion of edibles on the market in the last year, from pretzels, popcorn, medicated nuts and of course everything chocolate. If you were going to create an edible for the Asian market what would it be?” Margaret answered: Pocky! What would your choice be for a snack that appeals to Asians?

First of all, we need Margaret’s number, because she was born to be our spokeswoman! We will totally make her Pocky. I can’t tell you how many medicated Asian-inspired meals I’ve made thanks to our Sriracha sauce. Yummi!

 

Love Potion Number 420: Asians love sex as much as the next person, how would you sell this in an Asian market? Comedian Randall Park appeared in a series of KY Lube ads which played off the quiet stereotypical Asian behaviors. The Asian market has been growing and ad agencies have been sensitive to our cultural differences. As an Asian American woman, how would you market Love Potion to this market? 

We kind of just put it all out there, and people of all colors, races, genders, sexual orientations and everything in between are responding! Love Potion #420 was one of those beautiful mistakes that we stumbled upon and decided to launch it right away. Try it, then thank us later.

 

When you decided to start Yummi Karma, how did you tell your parents about your idea? What was their reaction to your entry into the cannabis industry?

I have been so lucky to come from a really tolerant, open-minded family. My Japanese father is a successful businessman, so I took a business oriented approach to telling him about my idea. I came prepared with market research and a business plan, and he was sold.  My mom, who has always struggled with sleep issues was easier. She was the inspiration behind our Drift Away tincture, and once she tried it and got a full night’s sleep, she quickly became Yummi Karma’s first superfan!

 

One of the best late night commercials was for Pearl Cream which had actress Nancy Kwan as their spokeswoman. Does Yummi Karma have plans on manufacturing any beauty products? 

Wow, that commercial is a gem! We are very excited to share with your readers that we are launching a beauty line called High Gorgeous! The products are amazing and have been so fun to develop. We can’t promise your skin will glow like a pearl, but it will definitely shine like a… cannabis leaf??? Ok, we’re still nailing down the slogan there. Canna you help us? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

AACE on NBC Asian America

Monica Lo, Tiffany Wu, and Ophelia Chong discuss their 2016 goals for AACE. Read more on NBC Asian America

*Photo by Lew Robertson/Stock Pot Images, LLC

On Asian Americans and Cannabis

AACE co-founder, Monica Lo, on her personal journey and how she got first involved in the cannabis industry and AACE. 

Read more on Civilized.