If the past year and a half has taught us one thing, it’s that cannabis is pandemic-proof. But what about a weed tour of North America, one that’s taking off just as the Delta variant begins picking up speed across the United States? The team behind the 2021 North American Weed Tour isn’t worried.
“This is pandemic proof, unless I get sick,” laughs Joseph Brabo, co-owner of Respect My Region, which is organizing the tour.
Launched on August 1, the tour is set to run until December 15, 2021. And like so many events during this year and a half (and counting) of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will include a ton of remote work.
The tour is set to include 80+ podcast and Instagram live streams carried out both remotely and in-person. So far on the tour, Brabo said, they’ve done several podcast interviews with people in California and West Virginia, and they’ll also visit cities and towns up and down the West Coast and cover the cannabis culture on the ground in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Chicago, and Florida as well. The itinerary is quite fluid though, and will be driven largely by where the big cannabis events are held over the next few months.
Guests that have featured on the podcast so far include Brett Puffenbarger, Managing Partner of Good Highdeas, Lord Haiti of OMS Rolling Papers, Briahna Galin of Swank Publishing, David Garcia of Tree Factory, and Greg Welch, also known as @cannabiscapes. Elana Goldberg, CEO of The Cannigma, is also on the lineup.
Respect my Region is a music, cannabis and technology company that creates content and marketing material for cannabis professionals and the music industry. In a press release from late June, Respect My Region said the tour — the fourth they have held so far — “will give their audience a behind-the-scenes view into the legal cannabis industries across the United States and Canada.”
Respect My Region CEO and founder, Mitch Pfeifer said “in our younger years,” when the group was just doing the West Coast, it was easier to hit the road for the whole trip, but that the current setup makes more sense now due to the power of the internet.
The hybrid model also makes sense in light of what happened with the 2020 West Coast Weed Tour. Pfeifer said that after spending three months planning the tour, they had to cancel all of their events beginning in mid-March as COVID-19 stay at home orders went into effect across the country.
But all was not lost. In the end, Respect My Region reviewed more than 350 cannabis products from more than 50 dispensaries in California, Washington, and Oregon, and managed to visit more than 20 cannabis facilities across the West Coast. They also published the 2020 West Coast Weed Tour Awards, which included categories like “Best Cannabis Flower – West Coast” (winners included Maven Genetics’ Gelato Gas 97.5 and the Cure Company’s Marathon OG 97, a strain hand-picked by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle himself) and “Best Edibles – West Coast,” among others.
Pfeifer said that on the North American Weed Tour, he and Brabo are looking to meet as many people as possible in the legal cannabis sector, and to educate cannabis consumers about how legal cannabis looks across the continent
“Over this last year we’ve seen so many states come on with legalization and it seems the time is now to look at cannabis not in terms of state-by-state but in a more macro view. What legal cannabis looks like across the continent, the trends, the industry players, the product categories and strains,” Pfeifer said.
Brabo echoed the sentiment of helping consumers learn about legal cannabis and connect with great cannabis brands, and added “also we’re trying to go viral with some content.”
He also described legal cannabis as an industry that is supposed to be worth billions of dollars, but still faces consumer hesitancy to transition to the legal market, largely because they believe their dealer has better weed for a better price.
“We want people to discover brands that are quality but also affordable,” Brabo said.
A theme that came up throughout this interview is a true love of cannabis and a desire to experience everything that weed has to offer across the country.
“I want to smoke weed from other places. I’m really interested in seeing the quality and helping people know what things look like and help them save money,” Brabo said.
Both Pfeifer and Brabo are self-admitted “weed snobs,” and have some rather harsh words to say about the cannabis in Colorado — though they made sure not to name any names.
In addition to a desire to explore weed from across the country, Inspiration for the trip has also apparently come from the culinary world as well.
“The West Coast tour and this one was 100% inspired by Diners and Drive-Ins (TV series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) and that shit with Guy Ferrari [Fieri]. So was [No Reservations and Parts Unknown host] Anthony Bourdain. Both of those guys inspired us to go out to farms and labs and buy weed and do reviews,” Brabo said.
Pfeifer also described how the tour can also provide a window into the future of cannabis, and how it will look some day if and when federal legalization is approved.
“Once you start traveling you break out of your bubble and your echo chamber and start understanding where the future is going. Because once it goes federally legal it’s not going to look like any one state; it’s going to be a combination of all of these things. For us what’s exciting is trying to understand the future and what legal cannabis is going to look like,” Pfeifer said.
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