It's time to set aside your preconceived notions of who weed lovers are. Classic stoner movies like How High, Half Baked, Cheech & Chong, and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle have led us to believe that people who indulge in cannabis are vapid, simple-minded, and most definitely do not read, however, a team of inspiring women are on a quest to change that.
Anja Charbonneau is the Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director of Broccoli, the first fashion and culture magazine created by and for women who love weed. Published three times a year (and free of charge!), it features interviews with marijuana growers and cannabis royalty like Donisha Prendergast (granddaughter of Bob Marley), works by artists like Aleia Murawski and Pegge Hopper, and weed Ikebana by floral designer, writer, and stylist Amy Merrick that looks like it belongs in the pages of Architectural Digest.
We spoke to Charbonneau about Broccoli's first two issues, why major fashion magazines are hesitant to embrace weed, and why her team will never run out of ideas.
Ikebana by Amy Merrick, photo by Anja Charbonneau
Who started the magazine and what was the idea behind launching it?
Our team got started on Broccoli’s first edition in 2017, and three of us (Jessica Gray and Jennifer James Wright) used to work together at Kinfolk while I was their creative director. We brought on a couple of editors — Stephanie Madewell and Ellen Freeman — and brought the first issue to life. The magazine looks at cannabis from an art, fashion and culture perspective, prioritizing women and marginalized voices. We wanted to show that creative, smart women enjoy weed, providing a forward-thinking and beautiful platform for this international community of cannabis lovers. We want to make weed comfortable to talk about, and a magazine is a really great tool for that because you don’t have to get high to engage with the subject matter.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges when creating Broccoli? Were you met with any resistance because of the content?
We have been turned down by a couple artists and galleries when requesting to publish their work. I wrote to one of my favorite fashion photographers who used to shoot for Valentino and Vogue through the 80s/90s, and after a few emails back and forth they said that while they think the concept is beautiful, their work can’t be associated with cannabis. It was a funny coincidence that our first big piece of press was from Vogue, and I wondered if I should check back in with the photographer once we had that stamp of approval. People who engage with the content are pretty excited by it, our first cover story (cannabis Ikebana arrangements) really got people talking.
Why do you think it's hard for fashion and lifestyle magazines to seriously tackle the subject of weed in a sophisticated way?
I’ve seen more heritage titles doing articles on weed in a modern and fashionable way, but Broccoli was the first fashion-adjacent magazine to dedicate an entire publication to the subject. Someone asked me in an interview if I was worried that we’d run out of ideas, but it’s crazy how much potential there is when talking about weed. We situate the plant within a bigger constellation of our reader’s lives and interests, so not every article is 100% about cannabis.
We ran a music review on the reissue of Midori Takada’s ambient album, Through the Looking Glass, a personal essay on the Chinese tradition of burning paper offerings for the dead, and a profile on a fashion company who donates all of their proceeds to social justice organizations. Our readers are smart, so we don’t need to tell them, “Hey, listen to this album when you get high!”, rather we speak to their senses and values and let them decide what comes next.
Broccoli is owned, written, photographed and designed solely by women and non-binary people. Why was that important for you?
I love working with groups that are inclusive and supportive, and I’ve always found that energy with these communities. As a media platform, the magazine can help support and elevate these voices, while we talk about cannabis and other projects that share our values. We’re lucky that we have the opportunity to involve so many different contributors from around the world, lifting each other up during the process and showing so many unique perspectives.
Why do you think people in fashion are hesitant to embrace cannabis culture?
Over the past year or so the amount of coverage on cannabis within the fashion world is growing exponentially, especially thanks to CBD products, which don’t get you high, and it’s cool to see. We held our second issue’s launch at Rachel Comey in Los Angeles, which was such a kind welcome from the fashion community. I love seeing designers play more with cannabis themes, my favorite is Sundae School, a Korean-American line that isn’t afraid to be upfront and playful with how their collections incorporate weed. From making what they call “ethereal smokewear” to showing models with joints, they’re helping to break the stigma and we loved interviewing them for our first issue.
Can you describe the aesthetic of the magazine for those who haven't seen it yet?
I like to say that we exist in the space between beautiful and weird. The magazine’s design is modern and elegant but nods to the psychedelic and playful elements of cannabis too. We love playing with woozy type manipulations and floral-inspired color palettes, and I’m always looking to include unusual visual delights. The most popular story from our second issue was cat and weed collages made by Stephen Eichhorn, we’re really trying to have fun with it which helps to balance out our more serious and political content.
Which celebrity or influencer is a good representative of weed culture?
Rihanna is very beloved by the cannabis community (and… everyone?), I think it’s because she’s always been so open and casual about the plant. She’s stylish, powerful, has a sense of humor and she loves weed, and people really respond to that boldness. People are so ready for a Rihanna weed product that they tried using Fenty blotting papers to roll joints, but the papers didn’t burn very well.
Are you a pot smoker? What's your favorite way to consume?
I can only speak for myself, which is a yes! Our team is split between several states and countries, and it’s illegal in most of those places. But, I’ll say that between our team and our large network of contributors, some use weed and some don’t. I live in Portland, Oregon, where weed is recreationally legal, so I have the luxury of being open about it. My all-time favorite product is the Quill, a super sleek vaporizer pen that uses cannabis extract, but I also love mints, candies, and a good old classic joint.
What's your favorite strain?
It’s tricky to say a favorite strain because one strain type can actually differ a lot depending on which farm the plant comes from, but lately my go-to is Mountain Girl Lemon from Oregon-based Pilot Farms.
Why decide to make each issue free?
Making a free magazine was really important to us so that we could reach more people, especially those who might just be curious to learn more about cannabis. We’re helping to normalize the plant, and by giving people easy access to new perspectives on cannabis, we’re giving them a tool to help reframe the stigma. The magazine has a really premium print quality despite being free, and the project is possible because we work with brand partners who advertise or collaborate with us on partnered content. We’ve been lucky to work with companies that are doing impactful work and actually changing people’s lives with their products.
What's next for Broccoli?
Our third issue is arriving very soon, both on our website and in shops around the world. Hoping to do a couple launch parties, but we also want to start hosting smaller events, like getting a group together to watch a weird old psychedelic film. We’re also launching a digital message board platform soon to help our readers connect with one another from around the world, a place for them to share their experiences with cannabis in a more personal way that facilitates thoughtful discussion.