Stepping through the open doors of the host home for Flow Kana’s latest tasting event was like stepping back in time to an era of lunar launches and Mad Men.
The aesthetic vibe of the multi-tiered, open floor plan home — nestled in the misty, tree-choked hills of Piedmont — was steeped in a swanky early 1960s vibe, from the mid-century modernist architecture to the retro-futurist art installations throughout.
An impressive spread of scrumptious hors d’ouevres conspired with bottomless glasses of wine and inexhaustible coolers of beer to weave the impression of effortless abundance. The only thing missing from this Cold War-era cocktail party was, well, cocktails.
But I wasn’t looking for a highball, I was looking to get high — for the purposes of this assignment, I was Chron Draper. Thankfully, I’d come to the right place.
In some ways, Flow Kana is like any other cannabis delivery service: patients get verified, scan a menu to see what’s available, place their order and get some herb.
But Flow Kana is a delivery service with a difference. It exclusively sources small-batch, sungrown boutique strains from farmers committed to sustainable, organic cultivation.
Farmers like Casey O’Neill, self-described “ganjier” and half of the team behind HappyDay Collective, a diversified family farm that grows about two acres of vegetables, flowers, herbs and of course marijuana.
O’Neill and fellow farmer Amber Cline both half-jokingly refer to their cannabis as the “small farm support subsidy,” and say the revenue makes the rest of their farming operation possible.
“I love to grow delicious, quality food for the people who come to the farmers market and growing this other stuff makes that possible,” O’Neill says, alternately motioning at a basket of gorgeous green jalapenos and an assortment of jars filled with buds and joints. “But so much of my passion is tied up in this amazing plant, cannabis.”
And that dedication shows in the final product, which is absolute fire.
My first taste of HappyDay Collective’s Clean Green certified sungrown cannabis came in the form of a green bong rip of some Lemon Ogre, recommended to me by a predictably congenial man holding a thick burning roach and smiling uncontrollably.
“If you like sativas, that Lemon Ogre is incredible, man,” he said, with a gravity that made it seem as if it took all of his physical strength to form the words, but he had to, because they were the most important words in the world.
I was impressed with the Lemon Ogre and told O’Neil as much. When I did, he cracked a mischievous smile and the top off a mason jar at the same time.
“This is the ultimate right here,” he said, offering me a smell of the jar, which was earthy sweetness punctuated by muted pine funk. “That’s the Headband x Sourband and it’s the best of the best right now. It was a great year for that strain last year.”
O’Neill and I share a bong bowl of the stuff. Soon, it felt like 2015 was a pretty great year too. The onset was instantaneous and exhilarating, in a first bong rip sort of way.
It isn’t the most powerful herb I’ve ever smoked, but it’s surely some of the finest, most flavorful and all around pleasant smokes, outdoor or otherwise.
After a bit of animated conversation with O’Neill and some samples of the other HappyDay strains on display, I wandered off into the crowd.
At some point I found myself absorbed in a plate of tasty snacks, which I was eagerly washing down with Mendocino beer and some cold-pressed fruit juice made on-site by the friendly people at Happy Moose Juice.
I was marveling at the astonishingly tasty and aptly named “Refresh and So Clean Clean,” a watermelon, cucumber and mint-based tribute to southern rap legends Outkast, when I was roused from my trance by the piercing clarity of a ringing bell.
The Swami Salon had begun.
Swami Select farms is headed by “The Swami of Pot,” Swami Chaitanya and Nikki Lastreto.
Lastreto kicked off the salon by explaining the “rules.”
“That bell means it’s time to start tasting one of the strains we’ve brought,” Lastreto said. “When you hear the bell again, it means we’re starting another strain tasting.”
With that, she fired up a joint of some Prez Kush and put it into rotation. Then she lit another, and another, and another…
Swami made a speech, urging people to substitute “inspirational” for “recreational” in the phrase “recreational use.”
“We all started enjoying this plant because on some level it inspired us,” he said, getting no argument from the exceptionally affable crowd.
After a while, joints were coming to me from all directions, some of them from HappyDay, some of them from Swami.
“What’s this?” I asked a glassy-eyed, smiling young woman handing me a joint to keep the one already in my mouth company.
“I have no idea,” she said, “but try it.”
This isn’t the first time Flow Kana has thrown an elaborate, semi-exclusive party celebrating their vehicle for delivering farm-grown cannabis. Apart from myself and a few other journalists, the gathered guests seem to largely be major players in the burgeoning cannabis industry — from hash artisans like Frenchy Cannoli and the Dank Duchess to representatives of canna-tech companies like Open Vape.
That’s no accident. The events are fun, but there’s a calculated effort to put marijuana’s best foot forward at them that speaks to the company’s desire to move cannabis into the same cultural realm as fine wine.
And it seems to work — the passion is definitely there. The assembled crowd was almost entirely undeterred by a series of fleeting rain showers that threatened to wash out the event, chatting happily and, other than casually shielding their joint or whatever from being soaked, carried on as if nothing was happening.
Inspired by the un-extinguished high spirits of my fellow cannabis aficionados, I ignored the heavy sprinkling, sparked my lighter defiantly and took and enormous bong rip, blowing it towards the sky.
Have you attended or organized a cannabis tasting party? Tell us below.