Green Queens: How Anja Charbonneau Is Changing Cannabis Culture

 Photography by Shola Lawson:  www.shotbyshola.com

Photography by Shola Lawson: www.shotbyshola.com

For Anja Charbonneau cannabis is still uncharted territory. And her crowning achievement, the print mag Broccoli, is at once a sensory experience and a fresh look at cannabis through the lens of art, culture, and fashion. Anja and her team are reinventing the stoner image. The pothead image. The smoker.

Toss what you know about weed out the window and consider this a full paradigm shift. Shipped free with a Broccoli subscription the first issue trained its eye on features such as weed ikebana arrangements, hand-blown produce pipes from Humble Pride, and Yacht singer Claire Evans.

The second, fresh off the stacks, newly released issue, features grower-turned creative Mennlay, artist Aleia Murawski, the lawyer Lauren Rudick, and the activist and filmmaker Donisha Prendergast. To name a few.

It also happens to be a magazine created and run entirely by a team of women and non-binary people. “Broccoli’s focus on women is two-fold. Behind-the-scenes, we’re a woman-owned business with an all-female team, and our contributors are all women or non-binary people,” Anja says.

Read more from the Green Queen below.

Tell us about how Broccoli magazine came to life…

Prior to starting Broccoli I was the creative director at Kinfolk, making books and magazines for the brand. I fell in love with publishing, and as the legal cannabis market was growing around me I noticed there was a gap for a beautiful, forward-thinking magazine in the space. After three years at Kinfolk I was ready for a new project, and I wanted to run my own business, so Broccoli is now my full-time gig. We’ve had an overwhelming response to launching the first two issues-- it’s incredibly motivating to suddenly be part of a massive community of women around the world who are interested in weed.

Today more than ever, legalizing marijuana seems to be at the top of the list in most political debates. Why do you feel weed should be legalized?

Cannabis isn’t as divisive as one might expect, in terms of political viewpoints in America. In fall 2017 a new poll was released that shows a majority of Republicans are actually in favor of legalization. Legal cannabis creates a lot of jobs, generates a lot of tax revenue, and there’s more and more proof that cannabis can be a very effective tool for reducing opioid use and provides new treatment options for many different medical conditions. The real work has to happen after legalization, when states are creating laws around who can get into the business. Cannabis prohibition has majorly harmed communities of color for decades, jailing people over the most minor offenses, and then in many cases these people are prevented from getting into the legal industry because of having a criminal record or not having access to the same financial resources that an investment group might have. Every step in legalization is a change to make up for this, to do better as we move forward. We believe in legal weed because it’s just a plant, and it’s one that helps a lot of people. Everyone deserves the right to have safe access to cannabis, without being judged.

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Anja says,"

It’s incredibly motivating to suddenly be part of a massive community of women around the world who are interested in weed.

The magazine is directed specifically towards women, why did you choose women as your target audience?

Broccoli’s focus on women is two-fold. Behind-the-scenes, we’re a woman-owned business with an all-female team, and our contributors are all women or non-binary people. This is really rare in media, and we’re proud of it. Through our content, we are highlighting women and their relationships to cannabis, featuring women who work in the cannabis industry and those who don’t. We want to see women taking up as much space as possible in the cannabis space, so that we can grow the industry and culture in a positive way.

“We want to see women taking up as much space as possible in the cannabis space, so that we can grow the industry and culture in a positive way.”

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Broccoli is free and will be distributed only three times a year, how were you able to make this available for no charge? Can you explain your business model?

We believe strongly that cannabis should be accessible, and this belief carries over to media as well. By offering a free magazine we’re encouraging more people to interact with Broccoli, which in turn will spark more conversations about cannabis. The magazine is funded entirely by brand partnerships, so we’re aligning with companies (both within and beyond the cannabis space) who share our vision to normalize cannabis. There’s a lot of creativity and innovation coming from cannabis entrepreneurs as the industry blossoms, and we’re excited to provide a platform for sharing their stories.

You chose to showcase the art and culture of cannabis, how does this differ from other weed-friendly publications?

Most existing cannabis magazines focus on the industry and feel very male-dominated, which can be alienating to a more casual user, or someone who’s just curious about weed. Broccoli celebrates cannabis while also acknowledging that it’s just part of our reader’s life, and it fits in to a whole constellation of creative interests. By connecting cannabis to art, fashion, science, food, wellness, design (or a myriad of other topics), we’re reframing weed overall, and showing that it’s already connected to many beautiful and necessary parts of life.

“Cannabis prohibition has majorly harmed communities of color for decades, jailing people over the most minor offenses.”

Who is a woman in your life you admire?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Bjork. She is a creative powerhouse, and while she’s primarily a musician her magic transforms across mediums so easily. I have a lot of respect for how outspoken she is about her experience as a woman in the creative industry, and for how open she is to experimentation and weirdness. She also has an amazing, bizarre sense of humor and it comes through in everything she creates. I love that! She’s a genius but also hilarious. 

Want more from the cannabis culture? Check back on our Green Queens series in partnership with MISSBISH. We'll be featuring a woman in weed per week! 

Want even more? Register to participate in the Slack Session co-hosted with MISSBISH. Green Queens in the Cannabis Industry is going down April 25th at 6:30 PST, mark your calendars and sign up here. 

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