Meet Sava's Queer-Owned Brands

Cannabis and queerness share an important but often overlooked history. While both communities experienced a long history of ostracization from mainstream culture, the two became fatefully intertwined during the 1980s AIDS crisis, when activists such as Harvey Milk rallied for medical cannabis to bring relief to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. The voices of queer advocates were instrumental in the eventual legalization and ongoing destigmization of the cannabis industry. 

In recognition of this history, we selected SF Aids Foundation as the recipient of our June giveback, a monthly program where we donate $10 from every order placed on the first of the month. We’re also offering a limited edition pride bundle featuring products from three of our queer-owned brands: Cann, Drew Martin, and Sonder. 

As a queer-owned company ourselves, Sava is proud to offer products from fifteen queer-owned brands: Cann, Drew Martin, Sonoma Hills Farms, The Farmaceuticals Co., Stone Road, Calexo, Wyld, Sundae School, Nouera, Biko, Sonder, House of Saka, Somatik, Mondo, and James Henry. Shop products from our queer-owned brands.

To celebrate Pride Month, we sat down with the founders of our queer-owned brands to discuss being queer in the cannabis industry, the interconnectivity of queer history and cannabis, and their brands’ plans for Pride Month.


Cann

Taking a (cliche) cue from some of the world’s most innovative startups, Cann began in co-founder Jake Bullock's garage in Palo Alto, California while he was in business school in 2018. He recruited co-founder Luke Anderson, and the pair built a brand known for their line of cannabis-infused social tonics. The Canns are refreshingly low-dose and designed to give a social buzz with no hangover. In 2021, Cann and Sava collaborated on the Lime Basil social tonic, a flavor available exclusively on Sava and endorsed by Ruby Rose. 

Sava: How has being queer shaped your experience in the cannabis industry?

Luke and Jake: As queer founders, we know what it feels like to be excluded and marginalized, and we also know the power, creativity, and joy that comes from being our true selves everyday. Our queerness is the context, the starting point for us to empathize, to include, to act and to build towards an industry with the values we believe in.

Queer leaders have always been at the forefront of the cannabis industry, whether it was community leaders fighting for decriminalization during the AIDS crisis 30 years ago, or our brilliant peers with queer-founded cannabis companies fighting for wellness and acceptance today.

Sava: What are Cann’s plans for Pride Month?

Luke and Jake: We are partnering with queer-founded cannabis brands, Drew Martin and Sonder, on a Pride-themed product collab to help you celebrate Pride, which will be available on Sava in early June. Also, keep an eye out for our queer-inspired, queer-led retake of the old “Fanta Girls” ads around California in June.

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to shout out?

Luke and Jake: Check out WayOUT, who invests in at-need LGBTQ+ youth centers across the country (Fun fact, Luke helped found the non-profit before starting Cann).

Try our favorite Cann products: 


Drew Martin

Drew Martin produces a line of globally-inspired botanical pre-rolls, made with low-dose sativa hybrid cannabis sourced from an independent queer female-owned farm in Mendocino County. The brand was founded in 2020 by Drew alongside his business and life partner Andrew Freeman, and their best friend Nicholas Pritzker. Inspired by the radical resistance of queer people that fought for cannabis legalization, the 100% queer-owned company is committed to creating a more inclusive, equitable, and beautiful industry. 

Sava: How has the history of queer identity and cannabis intersected in the past?

Drew: The path for California’s legalization of cannabis was blazed by queer activists. Harvey Milk proposed one of the country’s first decriminalization bills in San Francisco before being assassinated. Dennis Peron dedicated his life to providing access to medicinal cannabis, especially to AIDS patients, and was beaten and arrested for doing so. We get to enjoy working with and consuming this plant freely today because of the sacrifices of our queer forbearers.

Sava: What does being queer in the cannabis industry mean to you?

Drew: To me, being queer in the cannabis industry means that I have a unique responsibility to fight for cannabis justice. I recognize that the fight for decriminalization and legalization that queer activists fought for in California is inextricably linked to the struggle to repair the damage that the war on drugs has caused to Black and brown communities.

Sava: What does Drew Martin have planned for Pride Month?

Drew: We’re offering the Parade Me Around PRIDE Bundle, which includes Drew Martin "The Collection" x2, Sonder Space Crystals x4, and Cann x4, plus a limited edition Parade Me Around sweatshirt...all for $75. Proceeds will support Supernova Women, Copper House, and POT LA. It's available for delivery in the Bay Area through Sava.

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to shout out?

Drew: Supernova Women: Supernova Women is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by Black and Brown women that works to empower Black and Brown people to become self-sufficient shareholders in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space through education, advocacy, and network building.

Copper House: Copper House Detroit is a neighborhood-based safe space for the cannabis community. As a Black & queer-owned "Bud & Breakfast," they center their communities in their experience design and offer a curated environment that feels like home.

POT LA: POT is a full-service pottery studio owned and operated by people of color, a majority of which are women and Los Angeles natives. Founded in 2017, POT cultivates a space that is accessible and empowering for those who have felt marginalized in ceramic spaces – namely persons of color.

Try our favorite Drew Martin products: 


Sonoma Hill Farm

Sonoma Hills Farm is a Sun + Earth-certified craft cannabis farm and culinary garden nestled on 60-acres in Sonoma Valley. Their COO, Joyce Cenali, began cultivating for personal use in her home garden in 2004, and later established a larger collective and medical grow project in the Sierra region with several hundred patient members. She was recently recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as a Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business.

Sava: What’s your experience been like as an LGBTQ+ member of the cannabis industry?

Joyce: For queer folks, there is an inevitable unveiling that occurs, a moment where those in our circles face their gut. The reaction to your first whiff of ganja isn’t too different. There is a commonality in that reveal between queer folks and cannabis enthusiasts. That raw moment when you may find out whether the fellow human facing you stands in judgment or in grace. Facing that truth is empowering. There’s an advocacy and a power and a special swagger in putting the work in and being true to yourself in certain moments where it would be simpler to just not. Queer folks have unique experience in facing friction and structural bias, and the cannabis industry is stronger for our participation.

Sava: How would you describe the intersection between queer identity and cannabis?

Joyce: It's unlikely we would have a legal cannabis industry in California or anywhere, without the work of many trailblazing LGBTQ+ advocates. Cannabis has been used for social, religious, stress relief, and medicinal purposes for thousands of years and the plants were (and remain) a critical therapy for AIDS patients. Patient advocates in San Francisco took that message to the people and secured the passage of Prop 215, which legalized medicinal cannabis in California in 1996, and thus began the march towards nationwide legalization. 

Sava: What are Sonoma Hill’s plans for Pride Month? 

Joyce: In honor of Pride month, Sonoma Hills Farm is rolling out a new strain dubbed "Double Rainbow" (Indica Hybrid). As a tribute to the joy of life in all its vast and diverse colors--the farm will be launching the strain on June 4 and a portion of Double Rainbow's proceeds will go to SF Queer Nightlife Fund. It will be available in 1/8th jars and pre-packs (pre-packs are ready to smoke tasters served in elegant pharmaceutical grade glass pipes).

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations you'd like to shout out?

Joyce: Brownie Mary for pursuing patient rights with unwavering commitment, Lesbians Who Tech for showcasing our broad successes, SF Queer Nightlife Fund and Stud Collective for keeping our community heart beating and dancing.

Try our favorite Sonoma Hills flower products: 


The Farmaceuticals Co.

The Farmaceuticals Co. is a women- and queer-owned and operated healing company in Big Sur, CA. Their co-founders Robin & Chaos both had moms who were dealing with difficult medical issues, and the prescription drugs they were given seemed to be making them feel worse, not better. So they set out to make the most effective and the most natural products they could - without the use of extracts, concentrates, or chemicals - just pure cannabis flower and organic olive oil. Today, the brand is known for small batch, double lab-tested and hand-crafted products, such as their tinctures and balms. 

Sava: What are your thoughts on being queer in the cannabis industry?

Robin and Chaos: The experience of being queer in the cannabis industry has actually shifted a lot in just a few years, as cannabis became legal in California and money started pouring in for some companies. Pre-legalization, it was those living on the fringes of society, those marginalized populations that were mostly growing the cannabis and hand-crafting products to sell to the one or two dispensaries in town. But as the industry shifted after legalization and, it feels like almost overnight, became corporate and for lack of a better word more “bro-y,” we’ve really felt our queerness in a different way. We’ve struggled between tamping it down, trying to hide it, to highlighting it. Would people buy the other product because we are lesbian owned? Would people unfollow us on IG if we are obviously queer? Could we literally stay alive as a business if people knew we were queer? In the end we had to say “Fk it” and be unapologetically who we are, even if it means we haven’t yet gotten the millions from investors to build up our company. And like all identity politics, it’s also about intersection. We have huge white privilege in this industry. Like in every other industry, those who are most marginalized have to work SO much harder than everyone else. And as white queers, that is not us.

Sava: What’s important to know about the history of queerness and cannabis?

Robin and Chaos: Queerness and cannabis are extremely intertwined. There is a direct connection between the AIDS crisis in San Francisco in the 80s and the legalization of cannabis. During the AIDS crisis, patients often had to turn to cannabis to help with the pain, nausea, and wasting syndrome because the federal government wasn't helping. At that time, Dennis Peron who is thought of as the father of the medical cannabis movement, was living in the Castro in San Francisco with his partner who was sadly dying of AIDS. After his partner's death, Peron founded the Cannabis Buyer's Club and then co-authored the Compassionate Use Act in 1996. Unfortunately, despite the deep history of queers building the cannabis industry, there is a still a huge lack of queer leadership in the industry. I think the more we talk about this, the more it will change for the better; queer and especially queer POC owned businesses will begin to thrive.

Sava: What’s Farmaceuticals’ plans for Pride Month?

Robin and Chaos: We will be donating a portion of our profits for the month of June to two places: The Trevor Project which focuses on suicide prevention in LGBTQ youth and to The Marsha P. Johnson Institute which supports and protects black trans lives through programs and relief funds.

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to shout out?

Robin and Chaos: SAVA! You are *so* amazing. We are deeply in awe of you every single day. Also Ventoso Farms and Tuff n Tendergrass Farms - our incredible queer-owned partner farms.

Try our favorite Farmaceuticals products: 


Stone Road Farms

Stone Road joints are made with only pure flower, harvested by farmers devoted to strictly organic practices. Founded by Lex Corwin, the company emphasizes beautiful, minimalist design and a keen eye for detail, reimagining what affordable cannabis products can look, taste and feel like.

Sava: How did you get into the cannabis industry?

Lex: I started growing weed when I was 17 and never looked back! The first place I ever grew was on Stone Road in Connecticut on my neighbors property. After working through college I started Stone Road at the tender age of 23.

 Sava: What’s your experience been like in the cannabis industry?

Lex: I've never worked in a more inclusive, welcoming community. In the cannabis industry everyone is celebrated for being unique.

Sava: Thoughts on the history of queer identity and cannabis?

Lex: They are intertwined. Gay people have higher rates of anxiety and depression because of earlier trauma and cannabis has been used for generations to help with mental health issues.

Sava: What’s Stone Road’s plans for Pride Month?

Lex: We are giving 10% of profits in June to the LGBTQ freedom fund to ensure queer people are no longer wrongly incarcerated!

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to shout out?

Lex: I know Sonder and Cann are gay owned too so hollaaaaaa 🌈🤠💙 

Try our favorite Stone Road products: 


Calexo

Calexo was conceived in 2018 by late-blooming cannabis users, as an alternative to alcohol. The drink is a sparkling cannabis beverage made with all-natural fruit juices, botanicals, and nano-emulsified THC, and is precisely dosed for an easy-to-control, uplifting experience.

Sava: Thoughts on the history of queer identity and cannabis?

Ian: Queer history and cannabis both have long histories of fighting hard to have a relaxing moment being comfortable in your own body.  Restrictions on our control of our bodies and relationships are closely entwined.  Liberating yourself through radical joy is a common thread through so many of the marginalized communities that we are fortunate enough to be a part of. 

Sava: Thoughts on your experience being queer in the cannabis industry?

Ian: I’m proud to create products and community to support what I want to see in my life.  I helped create this product because I didn't see the thing I wanted in the marketplace.  Being a queer person means forging your own path and it is important that everybody speaks up and creates the world they want to live in.

Sava: What are you excited about for Pride month?

Ian: Dance parties in small groups to experience the pleasure of sharing space and time together.

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to shout out?

Ian: See Black Womxn (@seeblackwomxn), WideAwakes (@wideawakes), Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts (@dvcai).

Sava: Anything else you'd like to share?

Ian: Calexo loves you and wants you to have the best time in your body possible.

 

Try our favorite Calexo products: 


Nouera

Nouera is an Asian and queer founded brand with a focus on pairing sustainably grown cannabis with the healing arts. They’re known for smallz, their collection of mini pre-rolls for an easy and fun sharable experience with friends. Try their classic palate for a more grounding, Shiva inspiring experience and their cosmic palate for a sensuous, shakti elevation.

Sava: How did you get into the cannabis industry?

Jessica: I am a cannabis entrepreneur, activist, and educator. My co-founder and I started Nouera to provide entertainment and social engagement spaces that treated cannabis as the social medicine it can be to help people feel more authentic with themselves and each other. We've been pairing cannabis with healing arts in social spaces since 2017 and it is our pleasure to continue championing this plant in healing and wellness focused areas and with our latest product, smallz.

Sava: Thoughts on the history of queer identity and cannabis?

Jessica: Cannabis "legalization" can be traced back to the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. The LGBTQ community was suffering tremendously and cannabis was something that helped people suffering. The story of cannabis is the story of compassion and huge credit is due to the brave LGBTQ community members who 'legalized' medicine for their brothers and sisters when no one else would during a very scary time.

Sava: Thoughts on your experience being queer in the cannabis industry?

Jessica: I find more openly queer people in cannabis than I do other industries and I find this refreshing. The cannabis industry, similar to LGBTQ+ community, still has a lot of societal stigma attached. People who are willing to stand out against the stigma of their identity and right to love are often also willing to stand up for a plant that has been misrepresented for racial, fear-mongering, and control based reasons.

Sava: What are your brand's plans for Pride Month?

Jessica: We will be launching educational information from the leaders of the Brownie Mary Club- sharing their latest recommendations for cannabis budtenders and cannabis pros.

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to shout out?

Jessica: This month, we support and highlight Rainbow Railroad, which helps LGBTQI+ people escape state-sponsored violence.

Try our favorite Nouera products: 


Biko

Biko was created to celebrate the cultivation and use of cannabis as a time-honored tradition for (and by) women specifically (but not exclusively). As a black woman owned social equity brand, Biko's existence and success is embodied by working toward ending systemic racism and inequalities in the cannabis space.

Sava: What’s your experience been like being queer in the cannabis industry?

Timeka: As a cannabis founder, it is important to me to ensure we are creating the change we want to see in the industry - building safe spaces, supporting diverse teams and fostering inclusion as foundational to company operations. We must remain open, honest and full of love as we engage a space that doesn't always feel friendly, but was built on the backs of queer pioneers.

Sava: How has the history of queerness and cannabis intersected?

Timeka: Queer leaders have been instrumental in cannabis being made available to medical patients who need it, which has led to increased normalization and the adult-use laws we all benefit from today. Their work continues to guide us and inspire us as we build a more inclusive and equitable industry - we must never forget the hard work, dedication and sacrifices made by queer pioneers allowing us to enjoy and profit off of this plant.

Sava: What’s Biko’s plans for Pride Month? 

Timeka: We are launching on Sava during Pride Month, and to celebrate we have 25% off on all Biko products from 6/5-6/6.  This month, we are also excited to be offering a conversation between Renee Gagnon and our very own Director of Community Engagement for Southern California -- Luna Lovebad.  In a show of support for Luna, we will be donating a portion of proceeds in June to Folx Health’s HRT care fund, which redistributes financial resources from allies in and out of the LGBTQIA+ community to support trans, nonbinary, and intersex folx to access hormone replacement therapy care.  On June 12th, Timeka will be participating in a Pride & Equity Social with @tokeativity, leading a licensing breakout session for the queer community.  Later this year (because Pride is all year), we will be producing Queer Cannabis Festival, a digital experience celebrating independent queer artists and musicians.  Every month, we offer artistic microgrants though our Creators Circle program where our mission is to uplift and support underrepresented artists in our community. For more information, or to get involved, please email bikoflower@gmail.com and follow us @bikoflower.

Sava: Any LGBTQ+ organizations that you'd like to highlight?

Timeka: This month, we’d like to highlight Folx Health and their HRT Fund.  We also want to shout out The Social Impact Center -- co-founded by our Head of Brand, Kristen Lovell -- a nonprofit committed to LGBTQIA+ inclusive support and education within the cannabis industry.

Sava: Anything else you'd like to share?

Timeka: We already mentioned our valued team member Luna Lovebad, but we have a little bit more to say about her!  We ask for collective positive energy to support her as she undergoes a long awaited gender confirmation surgery this month.  Cannabis is not an easy industry for anyone, much less those who do not fit into a cis heteronormative mold.  As women, as fellow LGBTQIA+ sisters and brothers, we know this.  We ask that this community supports Luna and makes space for future generations of transwomen to find a home in this industry.  You can support Luna by following her @lunalovebad and directly support her art and activism: https://linktr.ee/lunalovebad.

Try our favorite Biko products: 

Biko Photo Credits || Photography: @davidelaffe @general_qu @emilyeizen || Models: @honeydavenportofficial @masynwade @lunalovebad

Sonder

Sonder was founded by individuals with a deep love of cannabis as a tool for creativity. In 2018, wife and wife team Faun Chapin and M. Paradise built a company rooted in creativity for like-minded thinkers, dreamers and makers. Sonder is a labor of love; a reflection of lives spent as makers who seek to delight and inspire a sense of wonder in the world. They’re known for their full spectrum vape cartridges and “space crystals” cannabis pop rocks. 

Sava: How has queer history and cannabis history intersected?

Faun and M: The queer community was foundational in the fight to legalize and normalize cannabis and they have been erased from so much of the story told today. We want to retell the story of cannabis to include women and the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the Black and brown communities that endured systematic oppression for using and fighting for this plant medicine.

Sava: How did you start using cannabis?

Faun: I was raised in Mendocino, deep in the Emerald Triangle, by my single mother of three. My mother used cannabis to survive and then thrive. My mother taught my younger siblings how to cultivate exceptional sun-grown cannabis.

Sava: Does Sonder have anything fun planned for Pride Month?

Faun and M: We’re releasing a co-branded pride bundle alongside queer owned brands Cann and Drew Martin, which is available for delivery in the bay exclusively on Sava.

Try our favorite Sonder products: 


WYLD

Based in Portland, Wyld is Oregon’s leading cannabis edible brand, known for their THC and CBD infused gummies, made with real-fruit ingredients & flavors that embody the true Pacific Northwest culture. WYLD is committed to preserving the land they proudly call home, as well as working to create a more equitable legal cannabis industry. 

Sava: What’s your experience been like being queer in the cannabis industry?

René: First and foremost, I’m very thankful to live in a time where cannabis is legal and being queer is generally more socially acceptable than ever before. Furthermore, I feel cannabis has a way of bringing folks of all walks of life together so for me, being queer in the cannabis industry has been refreshing and a blessing because there is no pretense with the cannabis community. It’s very much a come as you are/live and let live mentality in my opinion. That’s not to say there’s no intolerance or lack of acceptance in the cannabis industry but coming from a previous career, it’s certainly a breath of fresh air.

To see the tolerance and diversity of people working in the space and the myriad consumers brings me joy and hope for the narrative to continue changing to even more acceptance, understanding and compassion to bring people together and help shed light on the power of cannabis.

Sava: How have queer history and cannabis history crossed paths?

René: My mind immediately goes to the AIDS epidemic, along with the words compassion and desperation. With the initial HIV drugs suppressing appetite and symptoms of AIDS already causing loss of appetite and ‘wasting,’ cannabis became a very useful tool to help stimulate appetite and maintain some body mass but also help deal with the painful side-effects of the drug. People needed relief and cannabis was providing that for them. 

These circumstances are some of the reasons why medical marijuana became a reality and by 1983, 34 states had enacted legislation that made marijuana available through “research programs,” to support folks in need.

We’ve come a long way since then but certainly still have a long road ahead and I’m fortunate to work with a great team of people at WYLD who care about making positive change in the world around us to build on what was started back during the AIDS epidemic and move the needle even further to provide access to cannabis.

Sava: What does Wyld have planned for Pride Month?

René: For the month of Pride, Wyld has made an effort to make sure that we support our partners not just for one month but for years to come. Our community is in constant need and support; this is not just a one-month focus. We acknowledge the turbulent history of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, as well as celebrate the courage, strength, and resilience that define this intentional community and its Pride.

To show our support, Wyld has partnered with the Equality Federation, a national organization focused on addressing the inequalities that the LGBTQ community faces. They track and monitor important state legislation that affects LGBTQ Americans and helps organizations in all states that need support. We have entered a long-term partnership to assist in this much-needed work. 

Wyld has also partnered with Pride Northwest, a local organization in Oregon that brings visibility to Oregon and SW Washington’s LGBTQ+ community by celebrating the history and accomplishments of the community. In addition, they educate everyone about LGBTQ+ rights and more. Our work in this community is never done. We continue to stand with the LGBTQ+ community and activists who continue to fight for justice and equality across this country.

Try our favorite Wyld products: 

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