Sometimes I’ll admit, Leafly nation, that when I look out into the vast swath of cannabis lovers, I tend to see the same faces. Cannabis is for everyone (that wants to partake), yes, but it isn’t always by everyone. And to the adage “seeing is believing,” I’d add that seeing someone like yourself is believing in yourself. Believing you can do it, that your vision for a cannabis experience, be it smokable, dabable, vapeable, edible, or spreadable, will connect with people.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and for many of us, the harbinger of spring. Things bloom in spring, flavors ooze from food, and the longer days mean we want to be outside with something to celebrate. While cannabis grows just about everywhere now, we can’t pretend like its history in Asia and the ingenuity of people in East, West, and Southeast Asia didn’t allow the rest of us to make the same earth-shattering discoveries—weed rocks!
Asia invented weed. They often prohibit it. And yet countries in Asia are re-establishing themselves as cannabis hotspots. I mean, Guam legalized it in 2019, and you can now buy Cookies weed in Thailand. But if you don’t have the time for an international flight right now, you can smoke good thanks to these stellar AAPI-owned brands at your local shop.
TSUMo Snacks Good Fortune Bundle
Not all edibles are created equal, and not everyone wants a sugary gummy or brownie bite to get them where they want to be. TSUMo Snacks have established themselves firmly in the savory category, emulating the umami flavors of Funyuns with their Snoop Dogg collab (he is also a co-owner) and the kind of cheese dust you want to lick off your fingers. For AAPI month, they’ve gone all-out with a communal effort that includes other brands on our list.
The “Good Fortune” bundles includes new offerings, the Spicy Cheesy Ramen and Spaghetti & Meatballs puffs, made in collaboration with the weed-loving Chef Roy Choi. The bundle also includes other AAPI-produced weed goodies that vary depending on location: mini prerolls from Pure Beauty, a disposable rosin vape pen from Bloom, and gummies from either Elefante or Sundae School.
“Authenticity is incredibly important, particularly in cannabis,” says TSUMo’s founder and CEO, Caroline Yeo. “I’m a huge fan of Roy. He really values the plant; he is very selective about the products that he works on. So it is very much his personality and his style coming through. We aren’t well-represented in the cannabis community. We run companies and we participate in this industry. … We’re here!”
In the Bay Area, we stay, as E-40 once said, “loyal to my soil.” The family-owned cultivators Oakfruitland also live by this ethos—they grow their flower indoors in Oakland, for everyone. Quality and value are paramount; you can browse their headstash eighths in strains like Guava Runtz and Oak-lato, dank quarters, and half-ounce bags of Zkittlez and Cookies family smalls.
Auntie Aloha gummies
If you’re sick of gummies that taste like strawberry, orange, grape, and other standard fruit flavors, Auntie Aloha welcomes you to a more tropical palate. Cannabis, also called Pakalōlō, has existed in Hawaii for centuries (Maui Wowie anyone?), as both a medicinal and recreational tool.
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Co-founder Pat Arora can recall her Thai mother incorporating cannabis and its many merits in her cooking. So parlaying the island vibes into something consumable for those of us on the mainland was to be expected. You can indulge in the juicy profiles of guava, pineapple, coconut, and passionfruit, all delivered in 5 milligram doses and 100 mg per bag. All of their gummies are vegan, and offer options in indica, sativa, and hybrid effects to suit every time zone.
Pure Beauty prerolls
It’s hard, in a state constantly striving for the biggest and strongest strains, to persuade consumers to try mini prerolls. But having smoked an innumerable amount of Pure Beauty joints and flower, I find them an ideal “dogwalker” treat for busy days or sharing with friends at the park. Pure Beauty collects their water from the air, grows their flower in soil rich with good fungi and fertilizing critters, and prevents runoff into local ecosystems.
That’s all on top of curating a portfolio of sumptuous strains that range in effects, cannabinoid ratios, and flavors, including some personal favorites Tangimal and Sea Star. Their latest release pairs their little joints with rosin and ice water hash for a one-and-done afternoon smoke as we cruise into summer.
Bloom rosin Surf vaporizers
I will never get off the soapbox that rosin and solventless concentrates are the way to go, no matter the medium. Bloom has been making vaporizers for nearly a decade, but they’ve upped their game with the surfboard-shaped rosin disposable vapes. This new line, with strains that warrant Pavlovian responses like Papayahuasca and Lemon Cherry Gelato, use their proprietary “Surf” vaporizer technology to prevent clogs, maximize terpene expression, and ensure your high crests like the best of waves.
Dolo x Felicia Ann x Emerald City Genetics
“There are voices in the AAPI community that need to be amplified,” says Bay Area-based visual artist Felicia Ann. The East Bay equity brand Dolo Rolling Co. knows, and harnesses, the power of collaboration. In the latest in their series, they’ve partnered with the AAPI-owned cultivators Emerald City Genetics and neuroscience-student-turned-artist Felicia Ann for a special release of Gelonade and Emerald Dream strains in flower and preroll form, decked out with Ann’s vibrant artwork. A portion of the proceeds will go to Oakland’s Chinatown organization, who’ve weathered the recent storm of pandemic grief and AAPI violence with grace.
Joke’s Up dispensary and Runtz Wraps
One of the most popular, impactful strains of the 21st century, Runtz, has an AAPI team behind it. Yung LB of Runtz fame was born in California, but tiny south Pacific archipelago nation of Tonga is his motherland.
“I got a story behind me…we came to America looking for a dream,” he shared on a podcast, saying that his parents left Tonga, where most people don’t have hot water, to provide their children a better life.
After a frenetic childhood in Long Beach, he moved to the Bay Area to graduate high school, and it was in Oakland that he met the cultivators who’d created the strain that would become Runtz, our 2020 strain of the year. And from Runtz, the sky’s the limit. He’s since opened the Joke’s Up dispensary in Los Angeles that serves only the most exotic zaza and hosts a plethora of cannabis culture events. And if you’re a blunt lover, they now offer Runtz Wraps.
And that’s seven excellent weed goodies from our friends with AAPI backgrounds. We’ll keep an eye out for even more. Feel free to shout out your favorites in the comments below.