All photos courtesy of Green Flower Media
Despite the legal bounds cannabis has made in recent years, our wonder plant remains haunted by a stigma concocted during the mania of America's post-Depression '30s. The "Father of Reefer Madness," Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the then newly-minted Federal Bureau of Narcotics, believed, among other things, if "you smoke a joint you're likely to kill your brother," and that marijuana should be outlawed primarily due to "its effect on the degenerate races." However silly, this kind of propaganda was successful enough to overshadow the benefits of cannabis to this day, causing society to write them off as nonsensical stoner rhetoric.
Green Flower Media is here to tackle the issue of social acceptance, a feat far greater than legalization, by lifting the stigmas surrounding cannabis through education. Providing trusted guidance in cannabis directly from the world's top experts, the subscription-based online library offers hundreds of classes, explanatory videos, and articles that stream directly to all devices for $18 a month. From how to grow a plant, to how cannabis could treat a specific medical condition, even the difference between THC and CBD, literally any question one could possibly have about marijuana can be answered in seconds through Green Flower.
As legality creeps across the country, thrusting cannabis into the mainstream, the combination of too little factual information and a surplus of misinformation left over from the hysterics of the Reefer Madness era pose a glaring problem for the community moving forward. Cannabis has the power to change the world, the world just doesn't know it yet.
To further understand the concept behind Green Flower Media's nuanced platform, we sat down with Max Simon, founder and CEO, at his tranquil home in the small, sunny valley of Ojai, California.
"I've been consuming cannabis my whole life, but didn't know I was self-medicating," said Simon. "I was diagnosed with severe ADHD when I was young, and had a really rough time in school. I found cannabis when I was 13, and didn't realize it was what helped me stay centered. So I've been using my whole life, but I always had a tremendous amount of shame about it."
It wasn't until years later when Simon, whose background includes building Deepak Chopra's online business, was working as a consultant for a vape pen company that he began to conduct his own research into the benefits of the plant. "I realized this has been my medicine my whole life, I just didn't know it," he said. "So first, I dropped my own guilt and shame about it. Then, I realized I had to help the rest of the world understand just how valuable and beneficial this plant could be. So, between my own love of cannabis and the sheer need for credibility and validation, Green Flower was born."
Max Simon, founder and CEO of Green Flower Media
Currently, Green Flower offers over 150 different classes, everything from cannabis yoga and cooking classes to explainers on all things cannabinoids, how the endocannabinoids system works, what happens when you consume cannabis, and how cannabis can be used to treat specific ailments like cancer, epilepsy, insomnia, or depression. The courses are led by respected MDs and industry experts in their fields. Simon explains, "We have a very big mission, which is to be the world's trusted source for providing credible guidance around cannabis: whether that's about health, growing, medical, or the industry."
Two and a half years into the massive venture of compiling the largest trove of cannabis knowledge ever attempted, Green Flower has around 150,000 subscribers, a number that continues to rise as the company evolves. "It's starting to get real," he said. "But I'll feel like we're really on our way when we're at about 10-15 million subscribers. We're in the very early stages, but now is when we're starting to hit a tipping point and the growth is really picking up steam."
What makes Green Flower so special is the purity of intent with which the project is carried out. There is no advertising on the site, and a number of the experts are investors in Green Flower themselves strictly because they believe in the idea, like Steve DeAngelo, owner of famed Harborside Dispensary in Oakland, and one of the most respected figures in the industry today.
"In any other industry in the world, Steve DeAngelo would be the legend of all legends for what he's built. But because of all the misinformation out there about cannabis, and the ways the press has spun him at times, he has not received the respect he deserves. We give him an authentic platform to speak from and everybody goes nuts because he's so good. It serves him too, because he's finally receiving validation for something that's been true for decades. He just didn't have a place to be seen."
Steve DeAngelo, cannabis legend, filming a course for Green Flower Media
In an industry plagued by an atmosphere of paranoia when it comes to outsiders attempting to harness the knowledge of cannabis insiders, Pete Pietrangeli, owner of pen company Acme Elixirs and the Melrose Ave. dispensary LA Confidential, explains why the community has been so receptive to Green Flower: “Companies like Acme and Harborside embrace Green Flower because they’ve been so selective with the experts they choose to highlight in their content. They’ve streamlined useful knowledge, and it’s nice to have a reliable source of media and education in an industry where everyone has their own opinion. Industry giants like DeAngelo, who take pride in cannabis, feel more comfortable knowing people can access trusted info when looking to enter the space.”
The site tends to attract an older audience, those curious as to how cannabis could help them, who are either lost as to where to look for information or are too afraid to ask. "We're the website that people send their parents to, making cannabis safe to understand from a legitimate standpoint," said Simon. "We also have an enormous amount of people from inside the industry who are subscribers because they're building companies, looking for ways to legitimize what they're doing, and we have all the science, all the studies, all the expertise of how these things work. Then we have growers, another category with virtually no guidance out there."
In addition to moving their operation to a 10,000 square foot production space in Ventura, California, a beach town an hour north of Los Angeles, Simon hopes to expand from the health and wellness space to the growing and industry side of things. "We're about to launch the world's largest grower's training platform called The Grower's Quest. We've signed deals with about 35 of the world's most legendary growers alive to share their secrets through the Green Flower platform. It's people like famed cultivator Kyle Kushman, Mel Frank, who wrote The Marijuana Grower's Guide, and Casey O'Neil, who runs Happy Day Farms and Flow Kana, all sharing their strategies to lift up the community, finally be recognized for their expertise, and become known all over the world."
The only way to lift the harmful stigma that has hindered the development of a plant capable of helping so many is through education. By creating a safe, discrete space for people to learn, Green Flower can help allow them to shatter whatever taboo at their own speed. I could tell my grandmother a hundred times a joint will help her insomnia, but if it's not coming out of a doctor's mouth, she's not going to hear it. With the help of Green Flower, maybe the brainwashed generations who need cannabis the most will finally listen.
Simon concludes, "People think cannabis is simple, like isn't it just about smoking pot? But once you realize that cannabis is this enormous, innovative landscape of creativity and growth, you realize, I don't know anything about this. We are the place where people learn about cannabis, the cannabis industry, and what the opportunities are. And the opportunities here are endless."
For more on Green Flower Media visit their website here
Follow Lindsay MaHarry on Instagram