I’m a pretty type A person, raised in an Asian household getting straight A’s and staying in line. Cannabis and anything illegal was not in my repertoire when I was younger. So my first experience with cannabis was out of my arena, but it’s where this all started. One day in high school, one of my closest friends had some ‘schwag’ in a bowl. I didn’t even know what it was, and remember asking “What’s a bowl?” He just handed it over and said he would light it for me; All I had to do was breathe in. I gave it a shot. I did it. And I just remember this overwhelming sense of joy and elation. This experience that I was able to share with one of my best friends opened my world. I experienced a shift in consciousness and perspective that I didn’t get with anything else. That day we just hung out and listened to Santana’s “Abraxas” album, on vinyl. I remember hearing every single guitar note. I wanted it to play again and again. We just kept smoking and listening to all his records. It was quite magical.
I later stepped into the open cannabis industry through the Vapor Room, after having just gotten my medical cannabis recommendation. I remember descending the steps down into the Vapor Room, with its ornate wood carvings which I believe Jeremy Fish helped create. It was a really friendly vibe; people were vaping with their volcanoes, and the budtenders were being very amicable. There was a comprehensive menu, making it feel like Willy Wonka’s factory. I remember thinking, “I can have that…and that… and that? You’re going to show me this and let me smell that?” It was incredible. There was a positive energy to the place and a feeling of community and compassion. When a group of people came through the door that clearly didn’t have the money to spend there, Martin, the owner, brought them in nonetheless, giving them compassion grams and joints before they went on their way. They couldn’t have been happier, as if it were Christmas for them. That was my first introduction into what a truly compassionate program and dispensary looked like.
The inspiration for Meadow, however, came from my first day at Oaksterdam University in February 2014, right after legalization in Colorado. There was a lot of energy around what happened, and Oaksterdam had the incredible vantage in that our professors were the advocates who had been fighting for the right to use cannabis. There was a lawyer, Robert Raich, who talked about civil liberties; Lauren Vasquez talked about what to do if you got pulled over or interrogated by a police officer and how to keep your rights; Debby Goldsberry talked about how to run a dispensary. Ed Rosenthal talked about how he set up his own grow operation. There were even people teaching us how to cook, make cannabutter, and grow independently.
These people are legends and giants with significant backgrounds and experiences in this movement, being incredibly forthright with the information they had to offer. They were inspiring. Richard Lee, one of the founders of Oaksterdam, had to leave Oaksterdam after being raided. He experienced a lot of strife in dealing with that situation and its aftermath. Despite this, he continued fighting and pushing forward, putting his freedom on the line for it. When do you see people sacrifice so much because they believe in something so wholeheartedly? It was inspiring to hear all these stories from the people behind the struggle to achieve legalization.
At the time, there was this sense that things were changing with Colorado. And a feeling of inevitability of legalization for California even though it was in Prop 215. My background in the startup technology space made me realize that a lot of compliance requirements would be placed on this industry, making having the right tools a vital part of promoting this change. My objective in business was to scratch our own itch by helping patients get cannabis, connecting them with a reliable local dispensary that we vouched for and believed in. And there was no other dispensary owner that I could imagine working with besides Martin from the Vapor Room.
Unfortunately, the Vapor Room had closed its doors after an IRS audit. (Editors Note: Vapor Room re-opened December, 2018). Based on our synergistic working relationship, when it shut down we were able to focus on delivery and Meadow was born. Martin and I got together and I talked about this idea; I told him my story and how I would love to help bring to people’s doors the feeling I experienced in high school, the feeling I experienced in the Vapor Room and the feeling I experienced at Oaksterdam.