The increasing legalization of recreational marijuana throughout the U.S. has not only caused a shift in public perception of the drug, but it has also created a multibillion dollar industry on the rise. No longer viewed as a counter-culture hippie escape, pot production has broken into the luxury lifestyle market with products such as cannabis cigarette brand Toast aiming to bring a "haute high" to consumers.
"People aren't all potheads and they don't all want to just get completely wasted," explains Gabrielle Rein, chief creative officer of the Aspen, Colo.-based company. "They want to use it socially and want to enjoy being able to have it now that it's legal, so the whole idea came about to create the first lower-potency cannabis cigarette."
Rein likens the product to alcohol, describing each cigarette as providing an equivalent experience to the relaxed feeling one gets after a cocktail or glass of wine. "It's almost like a very fine whiskey or a cognac," adds the designer. "It's a completely unique blend that we created to give you this sort of feeling and this user experience. One cigarette is like a cocktail and one puff is like a sip. We're not saying this brand fits into all aspects of your life, but it's more the lifestyle of wanting to use cannabis regularly as you would spirits — and responsibly."
The brand has plans to launch in Las Vegas within the next few months with anticipated future expansion to California, Massachusetts and other states with legalized recreational use. The custom blend, which is currently grown in Denver, is not the only product detail Rein and her colleagues scrutinized over in development.
"We researched the Twenties and all of the beautiful [Art Deco] cigarette cases," she says of the $85 packages that contain 10 violet-tipped cigarettes. "We were heavily inspired by the Jazz Age and luxury cigarette brands from Europe."
The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate noted how use of the drug is no longer relegated to dank basements adorned with lava lamps and beaded curtains: "You see people smoking all the time and it's everywhere now," she continues. "It's just now coming out of the darkness and now people are able to enjoy it legally and responsibly."