You can hardly hurl a vape pen these days without hitting a marijuana-focused magazine, but what about one that’s created by and for 25- to 40-year-old female cannabis enthusiasts — and has the look and feel of a high-end shelter magazine?
That’s a rare creature, like unicorn rare. But there’s at least one out there (we’re talking magazines here, not unicorns). This one is called Broccoli, a new title that debuted in November 2017 with weed ikebana on the cover and stories about Mexican candle-making, cannabis-based alternatives to medicine and artist/activist nun Corita Kent on the pages in between.
With issue No. 2 of the thrice-yearly magazine dropping now (more on how to get your hands on a copy below), we hopped on the phone with 34-year-old Portland, Ore.-based founder, creative director and Editor-in-Chief Anja Charbonneau to talk Broc. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation.
Obviously the title is a reference to marijuana, but with so many slang words to choose from, why Broccoli?
It’s just a fun, irreverent word. And, if you think about it, broccoli has such a bad reputation. Being a child of the ’80s no one wanted their broccoli. Now there’s a huge amount of territory for broccoli to be explored in this new conceptual way — and there’s something fun about that.
What career path led you to launch a cannabis magazine that aims at a 25- to 40-year-old female readership?
Before this I was the creative director of Kinfolk magazine, which is based over in Denmark now, and that’s when I really fell in love with print publishing. Seeing the new legal cannabis market emerge, it felt like there was a real opportunity to bring that experience and that love for editorial storytelling to the cannabis space in a new way. A lot of the magazines already out there are really industry-focused. If you weren’t into knowing about the new CO2 extractor or whatever, it might not speak to you. We’re really trying to speak to a more casual consumer, where this isn’t the sole focus of their life, and do it in a really modern way.
The magazine looks and physically feels a little retro. What inspired that?
I really, really loved the conceptual-interiors magazine from the ’90s called Nest, and there was this amazing magazine that only existed for a year in the ’50s called Flair. And it was completely astounding. The woman who ran it used all these conceptual-printing techniques. Every cover had a cutout. There was textured paper, scented paper — really conceptual editorial treatments. … [T]hat’s my dream — to have an ever-evolving fun and playful magazine that talks about something kind of weird and unusual.
Issue No. 1 had dispensary reviews, profiles of the women shaping Portland’s pot scene, and an article about a unisex smokewear line called Sundae School, to name just a few. What are a few highlights from the pages of issue No. 2?
We’re kind of a mix of weird and serious. So on the weird side, there’s a story about a cat-run dispensary, and on the serious side, we’ve got a really great piece about women doctors in the field. We ask them, “What do we know about medical cannabis?,” “What don’t we know about medical cannabis?” and “Why don’t we know those things?” I love that [it talks to] doctors who are leading in the field and [who] are also women. It’s really important to mix education in with the fun.
Did you just say the words “cat-run dispensary”?
We have these amazing collages done by an artist in Chicago — really hilarious cat-and-weed-plant collages — and the article is like an imaginary review of a dispensary-opening event that was reported on by cats, and the dispensary was owned and run by cats. And it’s dispensing catnip that’s not regular street catnip but elevated, upscale [catnip] for the “meow-llinneals,” as my editor wrote. It’s very full of puns, very tongue-in-cheek, and we’re kind of poking fun at ourselves as well. But you’ve got to just go there sometimes.
Is there something that we’ll never see in the pages of Broccoli magazine?
I always thought it would be the macro photos of weed nugs because that’s something I didn’t think people were interested in, but I’ve seen some very beautiful purple [cannabis buds] so it’s kind of changing my mind. I’m always open to having my mind changed about the things I believe.
What was the circulation for your inaugural issue, and are you increasing or decreasing that with issue No. 2?
We had a circulation of 20,000 for the first issue, and the print run is still kind of the same [for issue No. 2]. But we’re expanding a lot more overseas, which is kind of the interesting result from the first issue. Because of legalization issues in the U.S., there would be interest [here], but we started hearing from women in Hong Kong, South Africa and India. We have a stockist in Latvia now! It was so fascinating to hear from all these women and learn about how cannabis fits into their lives where they live and how the culture is there and seeing all these shared interests, ethics and morals appear. The emergence of this community has been really special to witness.
We definitely anticipate growing [the press run] for the third issue. The second one is almost all claimed already.
When will issue No. 3 be out?
We publish three times a year so issue No. 3 should be [out at] the end of summer, July/August, with the fall/winter issue coming out about October/November.
Where can potential readers score a copy of Broccoli?
We’re shipping now through the first week of April so people who have ordered theirs online will get their copies in the next couple of weeks. We’ll also be available at Mister Green [4884 Fountain Ave.] in L.A. and Le Market [in North Hollywood] as well as [the] Rachel Comey [store at 8432 Melrose Place] if there are any left after our L.A. launch party this week.
People who pick up a copy in a bricks-and-mortar store will get it for free. Why aren’t you charging a cover price?
Being free was really important. We really wanted this cannabis media to be accessible for people. There are a lot of important conversations happening right now surrounding weed, and we don’t want to put a barrier to entry to that [conversation]. … It’s also really fun. You never get anything for free anymore! If you order it online, you do have to pay for shipping, though — $8.80 per issue to be shipped anywhere in the world — because we don’t get kickbacks from the post office.
For more on cannabis commerce and culture, follow me at @ARTschorn.