Get Lifted was a cannabis event hosted by ShowGrow‘s LA Dispensary.

Located in Downtown core, it was pretty easy to find. I just looked for the busy lineup outside with blaring live music. This was my first time attending a community event and it definitely had that nice local vibe. Entry was pretty easy, and whatI noticed right away when inside was 2 massive lineups. One line was for the customers to apply for medical marijuana rec cards from the on-site  Doctors. While the other line was to get into the ShowGrow Dispensary.

Waiting in line, I ended up talking to Monica and Nico from LA. We joked how Nico decided to eat non-medicated candy at the event.  We also chatted about what brought them to the event and what they look forward to in the future of legalization. This was there responses summed up in one sentence:

“My mom is involved in medicine, and it’s such taboo for her to talk about it at work. I’m happy with legalization it’ll open up the conversation. It’s something that needs to be talked openly about!” ~Monica

“I’m just here for the Good Weed! *Laughs*” ~Nico

I also had to holler at the fellow photographers that are working Media for the event. I met “Dim Slum” a very talented L.A photographer who focuses on a stylish urban style. He to me represents the reach of the cannabis industry. Growers grow, dispensaries sell, consumers buy and that money and success helps others. Those involved in many various industries benefit from new cannabis businesses and competition. Dim tells me, “Although cannabis is a new industry, the flock of competition from photographers/videographers is already rushing in.”

“I used to photograph for a cannabis company involved with High Times, but they got raided and shut down…” ~Dim Slum

This message was also a good reminder that the obstacles the Cannabis industry and the chain reaction is has. I had a couple questions for the staff from Show Grow about the event. The staff member said the CFO would be able to answer my questions better. Which after my first question, he led me to the Sachin the C.R.O. I introduced myself, and when I mentioned Canada. He tells me the owners of ShowGrow are from Montreal Canada! Awesome! Sachin came to LA just 6 weeks ago from New York. He got into the industry because of his co-worker. Also a fellow Wall Street guy, he asked Sachin if he was interested in joining the Show Grow team. He saw the appeal and here is now, working with a top dispensary in Los Angeles.

“We put this event together to bring the community out and have a good time. It’s about building an eco-system that’s enjoyable and fun for everyone.” ~Sachin, CRO ShowGrow

Shortly into mid-conversation, a staff member notifies Sachin that Zach is inside. Who’s Zach? I wondered. Sachin tells me he wants to introduce me to a guy. I follow him and we walk straight past the lineup of 75-100 people and straight into the ShowGrow ShowRoom. Walking through is a similar feeling when you get that line bypass at the club, it was pretty cool. Inside was my first time inside a legal dispensary.  The dispensary was massive, in the middle was the counter, like an island. Product and Marijuana everywhere. Even police officers were inside walking around and having a good time! I continue to follow Sachin and we walk up to a tall, lanky guy rocking sunnies and a noticeable tattoo above his eye. “This is Zach…. he’s the guy who altered the Hollywood Sign to say Hollyweed” Sachin says.

“I just want to make sure the message is clear. It’s about being and staying youthful and living in the purest form. I think this project really allowed me to express that.” ~Zach via Vice

A huge smile instantly lit up my face with a slight chuckle. I remembered the day when Hollyweed news happened, I couldn’t laugh at the hilarity of the whole situation.  I loved it so much, the Hollyweed sign even became a profile photos in one of my chat groups. What Zach did had to be one of the most viral positive displays about Marijuana in the recent decade. The timing was spot on, the idea behind it and we the audience loved it. As you would coin, “an overnight success”, which literally Zach had done the project at night. Just in time for the morning news. And there he is… right in front of me.

Friendly, happy, chatty. He shared so many great stories of how everything just exploded after that incident, such as meeting Tommy Chong, going on Vice and future projects. What I didn’t realize about the whole Hollyweed story at that time was that it was an art project. Not just a vandalism story that media focused on.  If you look closely at the Hollyweed sign, you can see that Zach pays homage to Danny Finegood. In 1976 Danny a student at Cal State changed the sign to Hollyweed as part of a school art project. In his article with Vice, Zach mentions the main goal of the piece “is to bring the conversation about marijuana in a positive way.”

The project was fun, risky, had humor, a bit of shock value, good timing, a great message and it just happens to be on the most iconic sign in Los Angeles. The negative attention? Trespassing and Vandalism? in my eyes, not really. He used black and white fabrics to create the letters “EE”. Once that fabric is removed, there was no destruction, no damage of the actual sign. Let is slide. So really the negative, trespassing. The positive “a powerful global message to the changing laws and culture of cannabis”

A post shared by Zach Fernandez (@jesushands) on

“I literally just changed the Venice Sign to “Be Nice” right before I got here” ~Jesus Hands

Even when I look at that photo, I still can’t help to laugh. One of my best weed memories in Los Angeles till this date. I hope to share a J with him one day. I went back outside, to check out some of the live music, and the big block Jenga games going on. While watching, I came across some other great people.

 “We’re excited about the different ways we can consume cannabis, especially in a safe and happy way” ~Anthony and Laurie

“I Miss D.C! I love the people, they are more real. I feel there are better opportunities back home, but I’m staying in LA to smoke freely” ~Moe from D.C

“A Gala featured my work on Human Consciousness this month, I’m interested in the way Marijuana fosters this interaction” ~Parinya Champ

“I’m from Colorado, ain’t nothing here I haven’t seen my nigga” ~Dom and Rod

I was really happy to get to connect with people and the community. That’s what made the experience worth it for me. With the negative light marijuana has still cast over it, I got to meet people that worked on Wall Street, to artists, to travelers, locals, skaters, married couples and viral icons. These are the consumers, everyday people, real people all who enjoy the plant in a judgment-free environment. There are still laws about smoking marijuana in public, so this was a smoke-free event. I hope the next time I’m back in L.A, I can toke up while asking questions to these awesome people.

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