“This looks like one of those Hollywood homes from the ’70s,” JoJo said running her fingers through the fur of an electric blue shag carpet on the floor beneath us.
The two of us, along with a slew of others, were at a secret location to kick off the festivities to Flow Kana and The Imaginary Foundation’s Night of Cosmic Wonder set to take place at Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center later in the evening.
I hadn’t had a chance to look around yet but from the look of things, she was on the right track.
A few minutes earlier, I was driving into the lap of luxurious living in the winding Piedmont hills before hiking up a trailing path to a picturesque, double-story house complete with sprawling foliage, a lavish fountain and way too many steps leading up to the front door.
“We like to throw these events in sophisticated and elevated settings,” Flow Kana CEO Michael Mishkin shared.
He’s the mastermind behind Flow Kana’s delivery service platform that connects patients with eco-responsible cultivators near them. His farm-to-table approach provides organic, local cannabis throughout the Bay Area and has become a major name – not just in California, but throughout the industry.
“We believe a big part of the cannabis community already lives and vibrates in this level of aesthetic and unfortunately due to prohibition hasn’t had the chance to express themselves in this way,” he continued.
The stark white, L-shaped couch with matching shag pillows I was sitting on faced a beautiful painting casually sitting up against a wall, rock star style. And through the ceiling-to-floor glass windows, I could see a throng of people sharing joints outside on the deck decompressing after attending to the grind of their weekday schedules.
One of them was a freelance BBC correspondent that was off the clock, just enjoying an evening out. He mused about this being a sign of the times, motioning towards the now-overflowing balcony of attendees that had formed, spontaneous and temporary cannabis crews to partake in the pre-rolls being passed out.
“This is hilarious to me because I grew up as this stoner kid when it was totally not okay and not cool to do so. And here we are,” he said, offering his glass of water in the air for an impromptu cheers.
And there we were among the crowd of people in everything from dresses and jeans to suits and sandals, speaking to how spread out along the spectrum cannabis lovers are. Some were a part of the cannabis industry like JoJo, the whip-smart accountant who keeps cannabis businesses afloat by making sure the financial aspect of their companies are in line with the law. She talked to me about 1099s and shared stories of sorting through receipts in plastic bags from businesses new to doing things by the book.
There were plenty of others, though, who were just regular folks there for a good time. Two friends who had driven from San Francisco in post-work, rush hour traffic burst into laughter when I asked if they were a part of the industry.
“I am 1000 percent not a part of the cannabis industry and I should probably be wearing a mask right now,” one of them admitted as she took a hefty drag from a joint.
But, the night was not an evening for hiding out. Especially, as one attendee noted, on the heels of major changes in California’s medical marijuana program. Plus, Mishkin has put a lot of effort into making sure everyone feels comfortable to be themselves.
“We spend a lot of time putting these events together because we feel that the cannabis community at large has suffered for many years from coming together in public spaces,” Mishkin said.
After being served medicated cookies by someone decked out in full astronaut gear and loading onto comfortable shuttles (complete with audio instruction for the ride) to our destination, we were ushered into the Chabot Center where Eric Davis of Techgnosis spoke to the crowd before we were presented with a live planetarium show with music by DJ Darkhorse. Galaxies swirled around on the dome screen fashioned on the ceiling, as the talented projectionist took the audience on a journey through the evolution of space. Following the performance, Mishkin spoke to the audience about the importance of exploring the intrinsic connection between cannabis, art and space.
The evening was a fantastical look at how much cannabis has grown up and a glimpse into the future of more mainstream events where more of the public can come enjoy the high life in the hills without feeling the need to hide out. Hopefully that can become a reality one day. Even if that notion, especially for those in non-legal states, seems light years away. For now, though, Flow Kana has the Bay Area covered with their awesome events, which they hope to expand.
“I’d like to see the future of cannabis events span across all kinds of different categories. From educational TED-like conferences, to sporting events to beautiful evening receptions,” Mishkin said. “As far as Flow Kana goes, we’ll continue to build amazing events, with different themes and concepts that continually drive to bring the community together in an environment they can be proud of.”