Born and raised in Kamloops, BC, but happily settled in Portland, Anja now considers herself part Canadian and part Oregonian. What started as an experiment is now a highly respected publication sold in over 40 countries. In their efforts to spread the power of flower, she and her all-women team at Broccoli are involved in everything from creating festivals to art installations at New York’s PS1.
Over the course of a year, I had a challenging time where everything happened at once; I got divorced after 11 years of marriage, my father became very sick, and I quit my job to go and be with my family before he died. Coming out of these experiences, I felt like I had nothing left to lose so I did something I never thought I would — I started a magazine.
Broccoli was like merging two loves of mine. I’ve been a long-time cannabis enthusiast, and while I was working as the creative director at Kinfolk, I really fell in love with the process of creating magazines. Kinfolk was such a cult magazine; it truly started a print revival. Suddenly there were beautifully-made niche magazines for every subject, except for weed. For me, High Times and other old-school publications weren’t representing how I saw cannabis culture evolving; for one thing, they were very masculine. For the women in my life who use cannabis, it’s just one element of a much bigger picture; they are curious about science, plants, cooking, artists, musicians, creators, and so much more. And I knew I wanted to create a print magazine. Weed is so sensory and physical; it makes me want to stay away from my computer and spend time with tangible things. So, I thought I’d take the risk and experiment in print for two or three issues. We are now producing issue number 8.
Weed is so sensory and physical; it makes me want to stay away from my computer and spend time with tangible things. ”
Women are really great at sharing with each other, but we haven’t traditionally been given many platforms to do so; Broccoli is one attempt to change that. Cannabis is an evolving narrative, and the reality for many women in these spheres is that they have rarely heard their stories reflected in media. When we were first researching and talking to different women about their experiences with cannabis, a common theme emerged — transformation. Many of the women we spoke to had tried weed when they were younger, went through life changes, and then often something dramatic happened in their lives to lead them back to this plant.
I don’t have a transformational origin story about weed myself. My first time smoking was with my roommates, watching movies when I was 20. I’d just moved to Vancouver, and it was our way of bonding. Now I’m in my mid-30s, and I use it differently as I become more conscious of my body and what stress does to it. It helps me with sleep — I’ll have a low-dose edible about two hours before bed. If I’m working super hard and I don’t get a good night’s sleep, everything goes off kilter. I use it medicinally but also just for fun — if I’m hanging out with a really good friend, we’ll smoke a joint to laugh and float through the evening together.
Portland was a great place to start the magazine. Thanks to the adult-use cannabis laws, it is full of interesting entrepreneurs and people doing creative things in the cannabis industry. The culture has moved so quickly here that it is easy to forget that cannabis is illegal in so many places. It’s our responsibility to set a good example; the rest of the world is watching. Copies of Broccoli have been sent to over forty countries, from Italy to Japan; I had a letter from a reader in Peru the other day. Things are evolving in unexpected ways, creating exciting opportunities. Earlier this year, we did an installation and discussion at MoMA PS1 in New York with weed flower arrangements. We were running hemp plants in from a double-parked car in the street; it was so surreal and funny. I couldn’t believe they let us do that, but the U.S. Farm Bill had passed a week before, making hemp federally legal. Tonight, I’m moderating a panel for Latitude in Calgary. It’s always exciting to see what the cannabis community is like in different cities.
The hardest thing about working in cannabis is that it has a way of changing your relationship with weed. When you turn a hobby into a job, sometimes you don’t want to talk and think about it at the end of the day. Weed used to be private and therapeutic for me, and now I have to carve out a space to remember that I can still have that time for me, unrelated to the business. I love to take long walks by myself, listening to music on my headphones and having just a little bit of weed to fuel the mood. I give myself the freedom to wander aimlessly, lingering whenever I see a really nice flower, and taking in the environment around me.