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Article: Meet Lauren Yoshiko, Portland-based Cannabis writer.

Meet Lauren Yoshiko, Portland-based Cannabis writer.

Meet Lauren Yoshiko, Portland-based Cannabis writer.

For over a decade now, Lauren’s had a hand in the cannabis space, with related bylines in Rolling Stone and Thrillist. She also wrote Broccoli Mag’s newsletter The Broccoli Report—now known as Sticky Bits—a twice-weekly recap of cannabis news, written with canna-preneurs in mind. Her podcast Broccoli Talk, co-hosted with Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey also saw many plant-loving listeners through peak-quarantine isolation. Talk about keeping spirits high.

What can we learn from Lauren’s extensive reporting across the years? 

There’s never been a more important time to track what’s happening in the rapidly-evolving space of weed biz. Despite the exciting arrival of legalization at the state level, federal restrictions, banking access, social equity concerns, and public perception issues remain a part of the territory. 

Lauren has become a sort of cultural ethnographer, following creators in this space as they pioneer a path that’s quite literally uncharted. And in an era as rife with change as this one, that kind of knowledge can empower future canna-preneurs as they make the space more accessible for all. So when TFP sat down with her on a sunny day in Portland, Oregon, we came with a lot of questions.


Q: How did you get started in cannabis culture reporting?

A: I had graduated with a literature degree and eventually moved to Portland and loved the Willamette Week, it had this local Rolling Stone energy almost. They were snarky and smart, but also had a Pulitzer Prize, so I really respected their reporting, and they started to have a weekly weed column by a guy with a fake name. This was in 2014. Culturally, we were starting to have those conversations like, "Hm, we should have equal numbers of female bylines…The female perspective in front of and behind media lenses is becoming more of an expectation." 

That gave me the confidence to email the editors at Willamette Week and say "Hey, love this column. I think I know how to write. I have a lit degree and a medical marijuana card. And I would love to contribute if you want to have a female voice in your weed coverage." They were like "Let's get a beer tomorrow," and I was in the next issue.

Go-getting seems to be a common trait of those paving the way in this industry. And Lauren's dynamic journey in cannabis, donning the hats of budtender, harvest manager, copywriter (to name a few) serves as a good example. Now, with her book hitting which hit the shelves on March 12th, 2024, she's proving once again that she's not just writing the story; she's shaping the narrative.


Q: Tell us about your book.

A: It’s “Green Scenes: A Guide to Legal Cannabis Destinations and Experiences Across the United States.” I focused on 15 or 16 states in the end. There are more states that have legalized, but it takes some time for states to come online, to get established. So I focused on the ones that are up and poppin’ right now. In each state, I break it down into a few cities where there is a lot of stuff happening.

 


Q: What inspired you to start writing it

A: An Australian guidebook publisher called Hardie Grant was like "Weed's legal in America. Why isn't anyone writing weed books?" and I was like, "You have no idea how hard it is to do weed stuff in America. Because even though it's legal and we have a lot of things happening, you can't get a bank account, you can't ship things over state lines, there's so many federal-related issues.” They're guidebook pros, and they reach out to artists all over who are experts in their arena. And they were like "We want to write a guidebook about weed and you seem like somebody who could do that."

Can I get an amen for Lauren’s testimony to the struggles? The legalization of cannabis is only the beginning of a much larger culture shift. Even still, it’s cool to see how creativity finds its way through the regulations, rising up to the surface like a plant peaking through a sidewalk crack in a concrete jungle. We were excited to hear how Lauren’s research for her book put her face to face with that kind of ingenuity.


Q: What kinds of business and canna-preneurs did you focus on in your book?

A: At first, I was like, "this is gonna be 3,000 pages long, there's so many people doing so many amazing things. I need a travel budget to visit all these places,” and they were like "You don't get that." So it was more using a curative lens of "Who do we really want to support?" "Who are the people doing really special things to build the industry we want to see?" which was speaking my language. 

Sometimes it’s a weed-oriented culinary pop-up. Sometimes it’s a wellness experience with sound baths and an overnight, cool, weed-friendly resort thing. Sometimes it’s a weed-friendly manicurist like in Portland, Oregon. It really shows the breadth of creativity when it comes to creating cannabis experiences. I think a lot of people everywhere want to experience this taste of legal weed in more ways than just buying in a store. And shops are a big chunk of the book. But that is what made it particularly fun – going beyond just shops run by ethically minded people to experiences run by ethically-minded people as well as who are truly going the extra mile to build the industry that a lot of us hope to see.


Q: What does it mean to you to work in the cannabis space in 2024?

A: It doesn’t necessarily mean touching weed anymore. Being in the cannabis space, to me, means being invested in what’s happening in the cannabis space. It’s impossible to say you know everything about what’s going on in cannabis, but it’s about caring and keeping up with people who are in and around cannabis. And being interested in their challenges and successes.

No argument there! Since TFP’s come up in the early 20teens, we’ve discovered our greatest source of strength to be our vibrant network of creators advocating for equity, freedom, and accessibility within this industry. And as we look Beyond the Burn of these like-minded visionaries, we’re able to hone in on what makes each of them so revolutionary…

If the next decade is anything like the past, it’s clear we’re in for a winding road. But innovators like Lauren, with her bold spirit, in-real-time reporting, and unwavering dedication to the people, remind us that both small wins and big dreams are vital parts of a meaningful evolution.

Check out Lauren’s book: Green Scenes: A Guide to Legal Cannabis Destinations and Experiences Across the US 

Check out Lauren’s weekly newsletter Sticky Bits

Follow Lauren on Instagram.

Read more

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