Jackie Bryant is one of the preeminent cannabis reporters in the game. To just call her a “weed writer” feels like a slight, though. She’s a reporter’s reporter with a gumshoe quality and a background covering other beats — who now focuses her energy on the cannabis industry.
Regardless of the topic, Jackie is an extremely sharp thinker and total hound, with many of her stories incorporating dozens of interviews. If anything, she’s elevating the weed beat to the standards of “mainstream” investigative reporting through her no holds barred approach.
Take, for example, her essay “Growing Pains,” published on her substack, Cannabitch. While more of a meta analysis of the trials and tribulations of writing about weed for a living, Jackie is still fearless in her convictions and backs them up with personal anecdotes that most writers would sweep under the rug due to fear of controversy. Despite the risk of alienating certain publishers, she makes the case that weed media is stuck in some negative feedback loops, and says so in no uncertain terms:
“On the strictly editorial side, many journalists and editors are overrun with neverending content needs and non-commensurate pay, so they will run quick-hit, thin stories based on press releases without fact-checking. It has created a cozy environment between publicists and journalists that feeds the content beast and keeps clients happy, but it also results in lazy, poor-quality journalism.”
G’damn! Tell us how you really feel 😉
Jackie recently took a full-time gig at San Diego Magazine, but her by-line has appeared everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Her website lists at least 60 different big-name publications she’s published work in, though the body count is certainly higher. Jackie is the embodiment of a career writer, and the clip of her output lights a fire under my ass.
Jackie doesn’t just cover weed; she also walks the walk and is a serious smoker with distinct personal preferences. This comes across loud and clear (or, well, hazy?) in her Cash Only interview, where the journalist details a medley of strains, futuristic products, and craft cannabis farms she gets down with. She also explains her policy when it comes to receiving product samples, and discusses the healthy boundaries she and her boyfriend have embraced when it comes to smoking (or not smoking) together. Thanks Jackie, you’re a weed inspiration to us all!
How would you describe your relationship with weed these days? Are you a regular consumer? A “pothead”? What’s your daily consumption like?
Jackie Bryant: Yeah, I’m definitely a pothead. I know people are not into that phrase these days and sorry for not doing my part to “reduce the stigma” on this one, but facts are facts. Plus, “pot” is a funny word.
Anyway, on weekdays, I typically take a bong rip with coffee and will continue to do so throughout the day, once or twice every few hours into the evening.
On weekends, I tend to smoke a bit more, either joints or the bong, especially if I’m at home. I keep a live resin pen and one-hitter handy if I’m out and about, and I often eat a small-dose edible (10mg) during the day, especially if I’m doing something outside.
I used to dab every night, but I haven’t for the last month or so and think I will probably try to keep that consumption to a minimum, as a treat only, though I love it… truthfully, I’m a little skeptical about the long-term safety and reliability of e-rigs, but that’s a rant for another question.
What’s your current favorite strain and how do you like to consume it?
This is probably going to make me sound like a weed starfucker (whatever that is) but I swear it’s genuine: right now I’m smoking on 6ixth Sense by California grower Fig Farms, which took 11th place in the indoor category at this year’s Emerald Cup (the same grower also won the same category). It’s just really gorgeous, super stoney body high weed and really pretty, too, with deep greens, purples and, I swear, some blues. I’ve been smoking a lot of uplifting strains lately high in lemon terps (which I love), some more “sativa”-like cultivars, and this has been a nice antidote… It’s hot tub weed.
I also love Mom’s Weed from Huckleberry Hill Farms, which is a legacy farm in Southern Humboldt County that I’ve written about a lot, and the growers from which I consider friends. It’s the genetic sister to another proprietary strain from the farm, called Whitethorn Rose, which is deep purple and incredibly fruity. Mom’s Weed has more balanced terps and only hints of deep purple, but it’s incredibly fragrant and a really zippy, high-THC high. It’s very special weed. Both phenos have a 45-year-old Paradise Punch genetic line in there and were cultivated originally by the current grower’s mom.
Omg I just realized how… California I sound. I swear, I’m actually from Long Island lol!
Do you have any favorite weed products right now — whether a particular edible, topical, or even paraphernalia?
I just got a floating flower ashtray from Another Room, which I am obsessed with, especially because I also just got an inflatable hot tub, so, you know, they match.
I’ve also been digging my Rogue Paq stash bag, Budwell one-hitter, Mota bongs, Stona grinder, Edie Parker tamping sticks, Puffco hot knife, and the Cupsy bong (these things are literal life-changers).
I get sent a lot of products for free to try out, but these are ones I actually use and that I think are worth the money.
As a cannabis journalist, I’m sure you’re regularly sent samples or care packages from brands. Do you have any personal policies about writing about a brand that sent you swag? How often does a care package lead to you covering the company?
Oh, definitely. It’s a tough line to walk because I need samples to be able to write about things (no publication has the budget to subsidize all that — and even if they did, they wouldn’t; those days are gone!) but I want to make sure that nobody expects anything just because they offer to send samples and I accept. I make it very clear that samples don’t dictate coverage, but I do try to explain what type of writing I’m doing and when, and unless offered, I don’t request things I don’t think I’d be able to consider for coverage.
Unless I’m soliciting from a brand directly for a specific article I have in mind, it’s a total crapshoot on sending me things, but I try to do unboxings on Instagram stories to give everyone who takes time to send some visibility. So, it’s hard to say the hit rate, but if I like it, I’ll find a way to work things in over time. If I love something, I’ll write about it over and over forever. Also, I look at and try everything I get, so even if it’s not for me, I may be assigned something at some point that a product could be a fit for, so I am really always keeping the reader in mind first and foremost, rather than my own preferences. I also don’t do brand partnerships, except for the odd brand-sponsored weed party I’ve thrown here and there, so any endorsement I make is purely just because I like something (though I may have received it for free). From what I can tell, readers and brands get this about me, so, thankfully, it hasn’t been too much of an issue. Someone here or there always gets pissed when I write about someone else’s brand and not theirs, to which I remind them that I’m not actually on their or any one else’s marketing team 🙂.
What activity do you like to do after you’ve gotten really stoned?
Eating!! Which is an obvious cliche, but I used to be a restaurant reporter so I really do have a deep love of indulging in high-quality food while getting high. I particularly love ice cream with nuts or chunks or something in it, because I love chewing on delicious, crunchy things while stoned. I also love gardening, which I am lucky to be able to do year-round in San Diego. Hiking, too, and obviously the inflatable hot tub. Snuggling with my dog. Sex. Writing? Everything? I’m a very tactile stoner.
Can you recommend something to watch while high?
Into the Inferno by Werner Herzog. It’s about volcanoes and it’s directed, starred in, and narrated by Werner Herzog, so that’s all you really need to know.
Fantasia. There is nothing that could convince me that weed smokers weren’t heavily involved in the making of that, or at least the type of people who, under freer conditions, would be weed smokers. High Maintenance is stoner programming done right, IMO, and also travel and food shows a la Anthony Bourdain.
Can you recommend something to listen to while smoking?
I like really heavy, all-encompassing music while stoned, or sounds with a lot going on either energetically or aurally. My top rotation is probably Talking Heads, Author & Punisher, Tool, Mogwai, War on Drugs, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Low. Oh, and that old self-titled Fever Ray album from 2009 or some time around then. It stands the test of time and is total pothead catnip.
Can you recommend something to read once stoned?
I’m currently working my way through Imperial by the great William T. Vollman, which is an exhaustive, enormous socio-political history book about Imperial County in California. It’s one of the agricultural breadbaskets for the nation, is a border region, has the Colorado River flowing through it, and has the country’s largest lithium reserves so, of course, it’s a total corrupt shitshow. The book is long and dense, so you almost kind of have to be stoned to get through it, but I’m committed. I don’t read a whole lot of fiction, I’m embarrassed to admit.
An essay from my substack Cannabitch was included in the Best American Travel Writing 2021 edition, which was curated and edited by Padma Lakshmi. It’s about fire season in the Emerald Triangle and there are many other stunning examples of travel writing in there, too. I think travel writing is really great for people who smoke weed. The right kind is really transportive and transformative, you can really let your imagination run wild. Paul Theroux is a good travel author to explore, and so is Pico Iyer.
Who’s in your dream blunt rotation?
I would have really loved to have smoked with Peter Tosh. Growing up my parents and I had a long-standing debate about who we preferred, Tosh or Marley, and I was always firmly on the side of Tosh because I liked his heavy basslines more and loved that he was baldly political, really walking the walk as far as that was concerned. I would just love to listen to him talk for a while.
Actually, also, my boyfriend! He used to smoke weed but literally quit right as he met me two years ago because he was also trying to quit cigarettes, so he just wanted to just ditch smoking altogether. He has actually taken to dabbing on occasion — he likes liquid blanket-feeling highs — and he eats what I call “bitch dose” edibles (lol, sorry, I truly do respect what consumption path everyone is on, but allow me some gentle ribbing). I love him to death, we have a house together, and are planning to get married blah blah blah all that.
But I will be totally honest, it kind of bums me out that we’ve only smoked weed together a couple of times, just a few puffs. I would love to sit with just him and smoke a fat joint of delicious, gorgeous weed and, lol, see where that goes. He knows this, I don’t push him, we are currently at a detente but I have a feeling one day he’ll regain the urge and I will definitely be there with one rolled up and bells on. Either way, he lets me be me and vice versa, so it’s all good. But I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t the #1 person I dream of smoking with!