Since the start of the pandemic, we have been inundated with online content related to relaxation, or we go through Instagram with posts on how to breathe, the value of yoga in maintaining wellness, the latest meditation app, or a cat meme with an uplifting message. But sometimes you just need an old school ritual to keep it together. Marijuana has been culturally stigmatized and even illicit in different forms and quantities, but that veil is slowly thinning as more research demonstrating the health and wellness benefits of cannabis is leading to its endorsement by credible medical and wellness professionals. This has also led to the gradual decriminalization of marijuana in several states. As Americans confront the unfinished business of racial equality, we also shouldn’t forget that thousands of citizens are still incarcerated for marijuana-related charges. According to a recent ACLU report, “Black people were still nearly four times more likely than white people to get arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates.” A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform.
Drew Martin, purveyor of a cannabis brand bearing his name, is well aware of this and the civil inequities around us. His brand stands out among the noise of the industry for its attention to social issues. As the head of an openly Queer company, Martin tells me that it is important to not only be socially responsible, but also ethical in sourcing and distribution. Drew Martin partners with organizations such as the Black Lives Matter and the Last Prisoner Project, an organization supporting the release of incarcerated people with non-violent cannabis charges. As I speak to him, I can hear the passion he has for not only his brand, but for what it represents.
Martin sources his cannabis from local cultivators such as Spirit Chicken Farm in Mendocino, California, which grows cannabis outdoors, as opposed to a greenhouse. His herbs are grown in the rainforest of Washington State. For the botanicals that are not native or not able to be grown in the United States, he goes to the point of origin. Everything native or arable in the local climate comes from the Friends of the Trees Society in Port Hadlock, WA. He has forged partnerships directly with growers, and, for example, sources ginger from Peru, and works with a co-op of female farmers in India to bring rose petals to his blends. By doing this, he’s able to support local economies and promote fair wages.
Originally from Seattle, Martin personifies Wanderlust. Living a nomadic life, from moving to Brazil as a teenager and bouncing around for several years before coming back to the US with stints in San Francisco, Tennessee and Hawaii, finally settling in Los Angeles. During his travels he worked as a bartender and garnered a James Beard Award for mixology. Six years ago, Martin became really interested in plant medicine and decided to pursue studies in that field. According to Martin, this knowledge and experience can be found in his product. I asked him about the creative process and inspiration. As a mixologist, he tells me that his goal is to engage people in a sensory experience. His passion flower and lavender blend is from a memory of Provence in late June, where you can smell the scent of blooming lavender fields, and his time Brazil, picking passion fruit off the vine. Martin hopes that when people smoke these blends, that they elicit a response individual to them.
Name : Drew Martin
Instagram : @drewmartinco
Birthplace : Seattle, WA
Métier : Herbalist, Mixologist, and creator of Drew Martin.
Sources of inspiration : I spent a great portion of my life wandering to every corner of the globe I could get to. It opened my eyes to so many things, people, and of course, to myself. Tea houses in the Himalayas; trekking in the Sahara—I have this mental library of little snippets from my adventures that inspire me constantly.
Sources of motivation : I am driven by the desire to craft incredible experiences for people. The act of bringing something beautiful into the world, and seeing other people enjoy it is an incredible feeling.
What makes you happy : I’m an Aries so I need social interaction like I need oxygen. Put me around a dinner table with good food, good wine, and good weed and I am as happy as I could ever be.
Favorite reads : The Secret Life of Plants is my favored cult classic. The science may not be super sound but I find the parallels between people and plants absolutely enchanting.
Favorite tunes : I have this incredible Brazilian funk album from the 70s that I listen to so much I think my partner has started to learn Portuguese.
Favorite foods : Whatever you can pull from the sea. I’ve always gravitated to coastal living, so maybe that’s part of it. But I love fish in every way imaginable.
Beauty tips : Drink lots of water. Smoke enough weed.
Favorite ways to unwind : See above. Throw in some great natural wine.
What gets you in a working flow : Since quarantine started, I shifted to working from home and I set up a home office in my garden. It’s incredible, my coworkers are now hummingbirds. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stomach working inside again.
What are you working on now : Since my line of botanically blended pre-rolls just launched, I’ve been working to introduce them to the world. It requires a lot of focus and creativity considering I can’t be out meeting people IRL. So we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to genuinely connect with people on the internet. Aside from this, I’m already working on expanding my line of pre-rolls with new fresh flavor profiles. I’ve been wrapping my mind around the perfect blend to smoke with Thanksgiving dinner. If I nail it, maybe we can even get grandma to light up.
Favorite motto / quote : “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” We must reckon with the reality that the cannabis industry is built on the criminalization of black and brown people. I am striving to build a company committed to justice and an industry that is more equitable.
Photography by Chantal Anderson