Elevated Virtual Reality in Los Angeles: Where Industry Meets Culture
By Gooey Rabinski
Having been relegated to the black market by nearly a century of federal prohibition, American cannabis consumers aren’t used to brand descriptors such as “craft,” “boutique” or “small batch.”
In most of the United States, cannabis-themed entertainment involves the hope that one’s 20-something dealer will ring the doorbell with a crinkled, overpriced bag of mystery weed before the pizza arrives and the beer goes flat. Things are slowly improving, however. In a few areas of the country, adult use legalization is opening new opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide unique entertainment options to choosy purveyors of pot.
Cannabis consumers in the major cities of states that have recently legalized adult use are beginning to enjoy some decidedly top-shelf options in terms of their weekend entertainment. In trendy Los Angeles—which is predicted by many to become the epicenter of the emerging cannabis industry—small entrepreneurial startups are beginning to offer boutique cannabis-themed events. These trendy soirees are aimed squarely at sophisticated marijuana consumers with disposable income, the type that are frequently labelled “connoisseurs” by their peers.
One such company is Grassfed, a startup in Los Angeles founded by Dan Braunstein and Tomer Grassiany. Grassfed’s brand vision includes activism, community service and operational motives that exceed profit. “Our mission is to help de-stigmatize cannabis by offering a sophisticated way to consume it and enjoy both its medical and recreational properties with like-minded individuals,” states the company in its vision statement.
Grassfed’s approach involves the creation of dining and social events that cater to discerning cannabis consumers living in the world’s most plentiful pot playgrounds, including cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. The company’s approach integrates carefully tuned elements like music, food, virtual reality, organic cannabis-infused edibles, and an overall enlightened ambiance to create one-of-a-kind experiences for fans of the world’s most medicinal herb.
Companies like Grassfed are the genesis of what promises to be a multi-billion dollar industry in only a few short years. The initial popularity of these highly refined, experience-based events may be an indication of the market opportunities that will emerge over the next decade in legal states like California, Colorado, and Oregon.
Due to the pioneering efforts of entrepreneurs like Braunstein and Grassiany, cannabis consumers in California’s major cities are finally enjoying entertainment options comprised of more than a poorly rolled joint, a pint of ice cream, and two hours of Netflix. Until prohibitionist states legalize adult use cannabis, companies like Grassfed will continue to offer both locals and tourists an opportunity to experience cannabis with a touch of class.
Dan Braunstein from Grassfed recently sat down with CannaBiz Journal for an exclusive interview.
CannaBiz Journal: “What was the genesis of your idea to create the Grassfed brand? What inspired you?”
Dan Braunstein: “One of the main things that inspired me was vaping. After I adopted vaping, I more fully realized that there are many different flavors in the world of cannabis. At Grassfed, we treat cannabis more like wine.
“I always believed that cannabis can and should replace booze at various occasions. I’m an ex-musician; to me, the pairing of music and cannabis was always magical.
“Finally, we wanted to offer a unique and quite different cannabis experience compared to our competitors. Most cannabis events are designed to attract ‘stoners’ who simply want to get high. Grassfed events take a different approach. We strive to create an experience that is more sophisticated and involves class and refinement.”
CBJ: “Grassfed events feature no alcohol and no smoking. How does this reflect your brand and marketing strategy?”
DB: “It relates to our overall approach to cannabis and socialization. By embracing an environment in which only vaping and micro-dosed edibles are available, we serve two purposes. First, it’s a clean, healthy and very flavorful experience. We truly believe that vaping is the way to go, especially when you use the top vaping brands.
“Vaping really allows you to taste the full flavors of our favorite plant. When you burn it, you burn most of the flavors. Vaping also allows you to control your high. Generally speaking, higher temperatures will result in a more intense euphoria. It’s also better for one’s lungs and body. It’s simply a superior approach to the inhalation of cannabis medicine.
“The second purpose of Grassfed’s policy, quite honestly, is to filter out those who are only looking for events where they can get really high. That’s not our approach. We’re trying to attract artists, foodies, cannabis geeks, music lovers and more. Those who simply want to see how high they can get aren’t our target audience.
“We believe cannabis should be used to enhance and engage with the world, rather than disconnect. We integrate the vaping and eating of premium organic cannabis strains to help the participants of our events reach this state. While not our core goal, participants of our events end up learning about how cannabis can be leveraged as a wellness therapy and lifestyle enhancement, not a cheap escape.”
CBJ: “Your events feature a small selection of boutique, small-batch craft vendors. What are the criteria by which these vendor partners are selected?”
DB: ”We try to collaborate only with brands that have a vision similar to ours. We don’t compromise when it comes to partnerships. We have high standards both flowers and edibles.
“The driving philosophy behind Grassfed’s events is really integrity. I won’t serve our guests something that I wouldn’t consume myself. I vett potential exhibitors with my partner Tomer. Tomer specializes in organic cannabis-infused chocolates and shares my standards and passion for unique, refined cannabis events.”
CBJ: “As adult use legalization permeates the entire West Coast beginning in January 2018, cannabis-themed lifestyle events will continue to grow in popularity. What are your plans to attract a larger audience and grow the Grassfed brand?”
DB: “Live music is going to be a big part of it. We’re currently expanding to areas outside of Los Angeles, like the San Francisco Bay area. In terms of branding, at the end of the day, it’s all about storytelling. When you have a good story, people will follow….”