Gift of Doja (GoD) is a women-of-color-created cannabis equity brand—specializing in honoring the vibe of “all beings and all things.” GoD’s terpene-rich phenotypes can be found at many dispensaries throughout greater San Francisco and Los Angeles, or via various delivery services in the Bay Area. GoD Curator Nina Parks enjoys being a steward of sacred plant medicines and the Divine Feminine—for her, it’s a calling.
GoD curates small-batch cannabis grown by farmers from across California who choose to cultivate under processes using love and intention. You can find strains such as HER-lato, grown by Growing Tree Farms in Grass Valley, or Michelle Obama Kush, grown by a woman-owned cultivation site in Salinas Valley.
The brand came together in 2020, when Parks was inspired to start a business in spite of the odds. Shelter-in-place orders were still in effect then, but it provided a unique window of opportunity for some people, such as in Parks’ case. “[I] just happened to know one day,” Parks told High Times. “I woke up now, and I had a vision.”
Parks’ journey in the cannabis space began as she rolled out her brother’s brand, Mirage Medicinal. “Well, first off, my birthday is 4/20,” she said. “I was just kind of born for this shit, right? It actually started making a lot of sense too when people are like ‘you’re stoned all the time.’”
When people constantly asked Parks about her birthday, joining the cannabis industry just seemed to make sense.
Parks grew up deeply embedded in the world of street art—being exposed to art and streetwear while she was riding the bus throughout San Francisco. One of the things she likes most about living in a city like San Francisco is that you get to observe the ebb-and-flow of the human experience.
“I was reading Jay Z’s book the other day, Decoded,” Parks explained. “And like, he’s talking about Basquiat. And his reverence for him and how, even though they live very different lives, they all heard the same sirens.”
Parks was intrigued how people all walk the same streets and with so many different universes in one densely-populated urban space. Part of that aesthetic included warehouse parties, people creating, people with cameras and documenting life. So, for Parks, she started off as a street photographer.
There’s always something going on in the San Francisco area. Not to mention the rich hippie culture in San Francisco—from the bohemian culture of places like The Fillmore, or the other areas in the Bay Area that have an innovative, creative vibe. San Francisco is a place that has the ability to provide the space for you to find yourself. “We’re not going to judge you if you come into a meeting smelling like weed—like half the city smells like weed. It’s not the same,” she said. “If you leave San Francisco, we are not the same.”
Part of the lifestyle in the city is reaching the coastline to be able to witness the sunset or finding a good peak to roll up and spark up a joint. GoD exudes the city’s magic. “With Gift of Doja, the purple on the packaging itself is really there to stimulate the imagination,” Parks said. “The sunset on the top of the jar is very much an homage to thatؙ—that moment between light and dark when everything is just beautiful. Then the space on top of the jars, for people just to write something out. Like I said, I came from graffiti culture and if you didn’t know how to write, you didn’t have a name, you know? That’s just something that’s just being lost. People don’t even teach handwriting in school anymore. I know, this is like a long way to get to like, where I’m going with a brand.”
Parks was in her twenties when she was able to witness graffiti expand from its definition as a “hooligan activity” into the fine art space. She saw so many similar things that were happening in the cannabis space when it was in the pirate-like, Wild West era. As a photographer in San Francisco, that vibe is something that Parks doesn’t want to lose. She always been documenting the things around her, such as civil protests in regards to police accountability.
Parks was also a case manager and fulfilled many other roles. As a middle-class mixed kid, she had the privilege of being able to move through many, many different spaces. “What I learned though, is that weed connected it all,” she said. “In every single space that I went into, like weed connected at either end or the beginning. So, if I wanted to be in a club, and I wanted to like shoot a concert, just like well, shoot some fire-ass weed over to the bouncer and you might just make it if it’s good shit.”
When Parks started running the delivery service, the satisfaction came from being able to bring somebody aid for their relief. It meant that a person who was chronically ill with a physical ailment wasn’t any bit more important than the one that had the mental, emotional ailment that just needed somebody to talk to.
Parks started learning more about cannabinoids, terpenes, the entourage effect, flavonoids, and she knew that she needed to continue to experience this. “I had the opportunity when I was rolling out my brother’s brand, Mirage Medicinal, to curate those menus. It was the best thing ever to just smell hella bags of weed.” She went on to explain how knowing the flavonoids has helped to sell cannabis over the phone. “They’re like, ‘What you got?’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, what are you looking for?’ And you just go down the whole adjectives list. The whole similes list. How else do you sell weed on the phone?”
Then life happened, and around 2017, when Parks’ father passed away, it was a massive challenge for Parks to keep doing what she does. Her father also didn’t leave a will. Her entire life had to pivot to cleaning up 64 years of his life, essentially, she said.
When Parks finally came up for air, she wanted to know what it was going to look like, and what it is that she wanted to create that could add some value to the space.
“The plant wants you to play with your imagination. The plant wants you to play with your senses and still kind of be there. Gift of Doja and the way that the brand is rolled out, it’s very specific to different terpene profiles. So, you can get multiple jars [of] whatever flavors that I have; you will learn the plant through it. Through that, you get to figure out, much like how in Harry Potter the wizard goes to the wand and the wand starts moving and chooses the wizard—the weed eventually chooses you. You find the one that connects with your endocannabinoid system. Some people are just purchasing [based] on the THC content and it’s just like, ‘oh, you may just be fucking yourself up on it,’ you know?”
GoD is still in its infancy but Parks has plans to expand it into a place where people can come to have a whole plant experience and learn about it. She would like to be able to highlight the terpene profiles, highlight the territory that it was grown in, and highlight the growing processes that these cultivators really put their heart in.
Parks is always on the hunt for new phenos. She’s also enlisting the help of her friends because she does have her own specific terpene profile. You’ll find a lot of limonene, lemony-like flavors, because Parks likes that level of awareness associated with those strains.
For the People, By the People
Parks grew up saturated in California’s dispensary life: endless wellness centers. That’s how she grew up understanding the plant. “People are chronically ill for a plethora of different reasons; that could be everything from physical ailment to, like, mental health. Also it was like the veterans that really stood up and were like, ‘We need a place to be.’ That’s how all of these dispensary spaces and smoke lounges actually were able to pop up. We have that consciousness here.”
The cannabis industry grew out of the hippie movement—the free-loving, the ‘damn the man,’ anti-capitalist space.
Parks’ art and activism has always been front and center. “I struggle really hard with the business space because my mind doesn’t actually work in that way,” she said. “Where I’m like, ‘how am I going to squeeze every bit out of my bottom line?’ However, I’m also like, well, I definitely need to make sure that I can pay people well because the Bay Area is not an easy place to live.”
When Parks started selling weed, and not just with the delivery service, but participating in brokering, it finally opened the doors to financial freedom. She felt like she earned it and wasn’t just being plugged into somebody else’s machine.
“I can’t complete my dream without being in a space where we’re helping other people’s dreams also,” Parks said.
That’s what it’s like at a local equity distro, so after Parks left the delivery service, she plugged into local equity distro with Ramon Garcia, Morris Kelly, Ron Brandy, and Nancy Doe. “It’s like Black and Asian women and men, you know, it’s diversity,” she said. “The world is out there yelling and creating all of these divisive separations.
On GoD packaging there’s a little trademark, signifying equity trade. The equity trade indicates that GoD qualifies for equity in its local jurisdiction. There are provisions for local, state, or national equity certification.
“So I qualify in my jurisdiction and I am committed to helping the cause move forward,” Parks said. “For me, also, as a business owner, that’s been everything, because working with folks, like more set-up SF routes, like seeing his hustle […]”
Parks wants to gain visibility and be represented in a way that’s meaningful in the space that we’re in. That can be an uphill challenge because getting shelf space isn’t easy.
“[I’m] so blessed to be able to be rolling out at a High Times store, being able to see DIOS on the floor, too, and see them represented […] It’s phenomenal, you know, to be able to see it represented that way.”
While other people are focused on aspects such as merchandising and expansion—Parks is seeking a more organic experience. Just seeing the progression and being a part of it is what she believes will lead to balance. “You’ve got to have balance,” she said.
Read this story originally published in High Times November 2021 Issue in our archive.
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