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Art of Weed: L.A. Brand Stiiizy Opens Flagship Art Gallery/Cannabis Emporium

7:30 AM PDT 8/21/2019 by Ingrid Schmidt

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The downtown L.A. store boasts a 29-foot installation by Hollywood-loved street artist RETNA, a tunnel with projected LED art, a vape pen customization bar, and plenty of budtenders.

With a name derived from the slang skater term “steez” (style + ease) and three I-s standing for innovate, inspire and influence, L.A.-based premium cannabis lifestyle brand Stiiizy was launched in November 2017 by Cali native James Kim. Miley Cyrus, Migos, Wiz Khalifa, YG, comedian Joe Rogan and Post Malone (who recently dropped his own Shaboink cannabis brand in July) are among its OK-to-publish fan base.

Located in a sprawling warehouse-like building in downtown L.A.— licensed to produce, manufacture and sell — the label will open the doors of a 6,500-square-foot experiential flagship store on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 12 p.m. Kim gave The Hollywood Reporter an exclusive sneak peek at the company’s state-of-the-art space that one-ups MedMen, also known as “the Apple store of weed.”

A strong scent of cannabis wafts through the parking lot and reception, where guests confirm an eligible 21-year-old age, before groups are led from an exterior lobby into the arty outer sanctums of the new retail space. With collectible pieces by renowned L.A. graffiti artists Mr. Cartoon and Kelly “Risk” Graval hanging next to elaborate “Instagram pods” decked out with installations of vibrant faux flowers on one side and metallic silver blooms on the other, the social media appeal is evident. The installations are “a reflection of the creativity in the Arts District,” says Kim.

En route to the shop, guests walk through a “light tunnel” room emblazoned with an ever-changing show of LED-projected graphic art (to the tune of $75,000-worth of high-def projectors and walls brushed with $10,000 black matte paint to heighten the experience.)

Next up is the lofty shop, complete with graphic 29-foot installations by Hollywood-loved street artist RETNA, whose fans include Justin Bieber, Kris Jenner, Swizz Beatz, Usher and Dave Chappelle. The minimalist space, finished with a black-and-white marble-effect epoxy floor, houses four futuristic sales pods with mirrored inventory. This is a calculated move, so customers can be better attended to without feeling “rushed, crowded or pressured,” says Kim, adding that 50 percent of dispensary sales are flower, so he wanted to spread out the most lucrative goods.

While Stiiizy is known for its vape pens in seven colors, the flagship store opening will mark the drop of the label’s Liiit flower and pre-roll brand (in flavors including King Kong, White Walker, Grape Sorbet, Orange Cream and Strawnana; vacuum-packed with nitrogen to preserve shelf life) and Biiit gummy edibles in seven flavors, all exclusive to its retail shops. There will also be an array of limited-edition, street culture-inspired Stiiizy merch, from beach balls, T-shirts and skateboards to lanyards, rolling trays, hats and $300 glass bongs.

A Stiiizy vape pen personalization station offers complimentary engraving of initials in a variety of fonts or emoji characters such as diamonds, lightning bolts or magic 8-balls. An eighth camouflage-patterned pen will launch soon, with a percentage of proceeds going to a veterans organization, says Kim, who served in the U.S. Army in Baghdad, Iraq as part of the 2007 troop surge when he was just 19 years old. “Cannabis helped me with my PTSD and anger, and that gave me the passion to build this business” he says.

The boutique also sells over 55 other popular cannabis brands, such as Lowell Herb Co, Papa & Barkley, Elyon and KushyPunch to add variety and a range of pricing. All of the edibles are displayed candy shop-style for greater transparency, since regulations forbid imagery or viewing panels on packaging.

Soon to come are “voyeur” windows in the shop that cut through to a grow room that showcases on-site, seed-to-sale cultivation. “We’re going to be able to show consumers a real cannabis jungle, which everyone is interested in, right?” Kim says. “You’ll be able to see the whole process in action!”

Art of Weed: L.A. Brand Stiiizy Opens Flagship Art Gallery/Cannabis Emporium 7:30 AM PDT 8/21/2019 by Ingrid Schmidt FACEBOOK TWITTER EMAIL ME The downtown L.A. store

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Riding to dispensaries and cultivation tours on weed-friendly buses, learning how to cook edibles, and playing in dab-and-disc-golf tournaments have all been activities featured in our weekly Cannabis Calendar, but cannabis-friendly paint classes seem to have found the strongest footing since the state legalized the plant in 2012. Just like a boozy painting session, instructors use cannabis to help lubricate their students’ creativity, helping them find their inner Bob Ross by painting portraits, nature and plenty of happy trees.

After operating in private venues and gray areas for over six years, cannabis classes and tours are now receiving official licensing through local and state measures that recognize social pot consumption. But Keila Castillo already had it figured out: She runs her cannabis painting class out of the Coffee Joint, the only licensed pot lounge under Denver’s social consumption program.

We recently caught up with Castillo to talk more about her class, how cannabis can influence painting, and the future of social consumption businesses.

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Westword: Are stoned students easier to mold? How do they receive coaching?

Keila Castillo: So much easier! I really feel like humans in general are more connected to their creative side and more inclined to follow their artistic intuition when they’ve partaken of the green goddess. I definitely see a difference in how receptive students are and how (surprisingly) my painters seem to have a better understanding of how to do things artistically the more stoned they are. I guess there is a limit; overall, though, definitely a huge difference from when I used to teach Paint and Sip events.

Do you use cannabis when you paint?

I usually do toke a little when I paint. If I’m painting samples for class, I usually have a big painting day or two where I reward myself for finishing a painting with a dab. Keeps motivation high, if you know what I mean. I’ll also smoke a bowl or joint on occasion, but dabbing is most effective and fastest, so I can get back to painting. Sometimes I’ll partake during class, but I keep that to a minimum so I don’t forget the next steps!

Are there any sort of prompts or painting styles that you feel go best with cannabis use?

Definitely. Flowy or gradient backgrounds — things that allow people to really get into a vibe with the whole process of painting first without having to focus too heavily on the details. I find that people really tend to groove well with trees, water and mountain scenes when they’re stoned, which is great for painting Colorado-esque scenes.

Does eating edibles affect painting differently than smoking or vaping would?

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It definitely does. The main difference is that it’s hard to tell how much you’re consuming until MUCH later [with edibles]. I feel that smoking, vaping and even dabbing allow a person to realize how much they’ve consumed in a very immediate way, so they’re not blindsided later like you might be with edibles. I’ve had a visitor from out of town over-consume and pass out before, which can be really scary. I was definitely grateful to the staff at the Coffee Joint for their knowledge and expertise on over-consumption that day. To all of the veteran consumers, though, I say definitely try one of our classes on an edible. The body high it gives you makes the event a much more spiritual-like experience.

How has operating a social consumption business changed over the past five years or so, and where do you see it going forward now that laws are slowly allowing it?

I think the biggest difference is the more widespread social acceptance of it, even in states where recreational cannabis use hasn’t passed yet. This has already allowed for social consumption businesses to grow in areas like marketing and reaching their target audience. Previously, you couldn’t even mention cannabis on Eventbrite or Groupon, and now both have numerous cannabis-adjacent, consumption-friendly events on a daily basis.

Ideally, with increased legislation allowing for more social consumption spaces and “tasting” rooms in dispensaries, one would expect that operating a social consumption business would become easier. However, it seems that some of the legislation, such as language in HB 19-1076, makes it more difficult for cannabis tourism, the lifeblood for most social consumption businesses, to thrive. Hopefully, as a community of cannabis hospitality business owners, we can help steer the course of future legislation in a way that benefits everyone.

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Of all cannabis-friendly classes in Colorado, painting sessions have found the strongest footing since the state legalized the plant in 2012. Just like a boozy painting session, instructors use cannabis to help lubricate their students' creativity, helping them find their inner Bob Ross by painting portraits,… ]]>