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ClubM, a Birchbox-style service for the pot-smoking set, turns 1 with an L.A. cocktail party

ClubM, a Birchbox-style service for the pot-smoking set, turns 1 with an L.A. cocktail party
The exterior, left, and interior, right, of ClubM's monthly subscription box that contains a selection of cannabis and cannabis-related items centered around a specific theme. (ClubM)

ClubM, a San Diego-based subscription service that has positioned itself as a kind of Birchbox for the cannabis connoisseur, marked its one-year anniversary with a low-key celebration at the Edison in downtown Los Angeles that included cocktails, magic tricks and a spirited discussion about California's upcoming proposition to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and older.

The Oct. 12 event was hosted by ClubM co-founder Chris Husong, who told us the company officially opened for business in October 2015, shipped its first monthly box of high-end products in February and currently has some 2,000 members overall and 300 current subscribers. Membership in this particular club requires two things: an invitation and a doctor's recommendation, both of which can be arranged through the service's website. (This is where we need to remind readers that although several U.S. states have legalized adult recreational use, here in the Golden State the legal purchase of cannabis is restricted to those holding valid recommendation paperwork issued by a California-licensed physician.)

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Once past the velvet rope of membership, subscribers can look forward to a monthly delivery (by private courier since the U.S. Mail and delivery services including FedEx and UPS prohibit such things) anywhere in California of thoughtful, themed boxes about the size and heft of a leather-bound encyclopedia volume, each emblazoned with a gold logo of an owl clutching a key. (Husong says the owl was chosen not just because it’s associated with wisdom but also because it’s a symbolic messenger in many cultures.)

Inside each $97 monthly box is an assortment of cannabis and cannabis-related accessories with a retail value of $200 or more, all of it selected to fit a specific theme such as "Love" (the debut box back in February 2015), "Explore" or "Imagine." And if something in the mix strikes a customer's particular fancy, additional orders can be placed online.

One of the examples on hand at the event was the "Imagine" box from March 2016, designed to celebrate Albert Einstein's birthday (the wild-haired theoretical physicist was born on March 14, 1879), which included Einstein quotes (example: "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."); a 12-piece wooden IQ brain-teaser puzzle; caffeinated tea (Earl Grey and Masala Chai); a stash box; vape pen case; and four different THC-containing products derived from sativa strains of cannabis. (Husong explained that sativas have a reputation for stimulating the mind and aiding creativity.) It also included a link to custom playlist of music selected to accompany one's enjoyment of the box contents.

Despite the presence of the boxes, Wednesday night's gathering, in a bar smack across the street from LAPD headquarters we might add, was no hazy, back-room smoke-fest. It was actually about as proper and genteel a soiree as you could find, with a bespoke cocktail (called the Golden Key), a roving magician named Rmax (who, by deliciously sheer coincidence, happened to be the son of "Marijuana Grower's Insider's Guide" author Mel Frank) whose skill with the card deck was enough to make one momentarily question their sobriety, and an eclectic mix of folks whose careers involved the marijuana economy in some capacity such as Ophelia Chong, founder of Stock Pot Images, a stock-photo agency specializing exclusively in cannabis-related imagery. (Her business card includes the disclaimer, "Not related to Tommy," just below her name.)

Even though California's Proposition 64 won't be decided by voters until Nov. 8, that Wednesday evening in the Edison's Game Room made it seem like the shift in public perception, if not public policy, was already underway, a feeling heightened even further looking up at the monolithic LAPD building on the way back to our car.

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me @ARTschorn.

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