All Lowell, No Bull: A Convo with California’s Lowell Herb Co-founder Sean Black

On a crisp evening, a few friends and I attended the Lowell Herb Co’s “Autumn Harvest Party” held at their sleek, yet welcoming, headquarters in Los Angeles. Nestled in the hills of LA, cannabis lovers and industry folk gathered to celebrate another successful year for Lowell Herb Co. The entryway and walls were decked with their famous pre-roll packs while gorgeous people from their team greeted everyone with their choice of joint. The space itself felt more like a swanky loft than a corporate setting, soaked in rich woods and decorated with hip furniture. They had a “Rolling Station” set up for guests to learn how to roll like a pro, yummy CBD-infused beverages to sip on while you toked, and a free taco truck parked in front to satisfy any mid-party munchies (the tacos were delicious). Every floor of the venue was filled with cannabis enthusiasts as they spilled from every corner and onto the cozy decks and patio outside. Music was playing thanks to a live DJ and I’m pretty sure I saw Miranda from Lizzie McGuire. All in all, for my very first harvest, it was a great party!

A couple weeks later, I had the pleasure of returning to their office to chat with Lowell Herb Co. Co-Founder Sean Black about the company.

MM: For the readers who may not live in California or simply aren’t familiar with Lowell Herb Co., can you share with our audience a bit about your story and the brand’s as well?

SB: Lowell was “reborn” out of a desire for cannabis to be treated in a better way. I was always a cannabis enthusiast while my friends were into fancy whisky, coffee, and decadent chocolate. My friends who were into whisky would have gorgeous pieces like decanters and flasks, while my coffee friends would have these elaborate rituals for their beans. Meanwhile, my thing came in a plastic bag. My friends were the connoisseurs whereas I was looked at as, for lack of a better term, “the pothead”. With that being said, when cannabis was on the ballot for legalization in California, I knew I wanted to create a beautiful boutique product that treated cannabis with as much reverence and love as the great coffee and alcohol companies treat their products.

MM: What was your biggest hurdle developing the product?

SB: The real delineator are things that actually affect how you consume the product. What would drive me the craziest was all the plastic being used, not to mention how it directly touched the cannabis. When we first started Lowell, before there was any of the packaging rules and requirements we have now, we always went the extra mile. We always tested it, listed it as pesticide free; we even put the Instagram handle of the farm your flower came from. Since the beginning it’s always been about natural and earth materials for us. It’s not just about looking good but about actually being good for your flower. We use recycled hemp paper for our pre-rolls, it’s sealed with a food grade sealant to keep it fresh inside of food grade safe glass; there’s absolutely no plastic and everything is 100% recyclable.

MM: Was this attention to detail ever a hindrance for the development of your company, specifically during the early stages?

SB: I don’t think growth has ever been our priority. At the end of the day, what we want to do here is to make the cannabis products people are the proudest to own and share. I’m not proud of something simply because it made it onto dispensary shelves; I’m proud of Lowell products because they were cultivated sustainably and responsibly. We began with our pack and for six months that was our sole focus.

MM: Speaking of your prepackaged pre-rolls (which include matches), they’ve become one of the most recognizable products in the cannabis industry. Who was behind the original idea and design of this iconic packaging?

SB: Our belief from the beginning was to provide a product that was good enough for the cannabis connoisseur but also convenient enough for the cannabis novice. We wanted to bypass the consumer needing to purchase additional paraphernalia in order to enjoy our flower. We’ve always included the strain name and THC percentage on our packaging for the hardcore cannabis enthusiast because that’s who we are at Lowell; in addition to a brief yet detailed breakdown of the strain and its effects for the novice, as well.

MM: That’s very thoughtful. The company released the limited edition “Variety Pack” of pre-rolls earlier this month. Can you tell us more about it?

SB: The variety pack is my baby; it took us 18 months to get the mechanics of it right. Not to mention everyone here submitting their favorite strains to be included. It’s a limited-edition product that won’t be on shelves forever and the next time we do it, we’ll include entirely different strains.

MM: I’ve tried it and I’m a fan. Shifting gears a bit; Lowell has been very vocal about and open to hiring employees with non-violent criminal records; specifically, those with cannabis related crimes. What pushed the company in that direction?

SB: We believe cannabis should be treated the same as alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, coffee or any other indulgence that adults have. It not being treated like that is unjust and unfair. If you read the story on the inside of our flap it’s the story of William “Bull” Lowell, the first farmer prosecuted in the state of California for growing this plant after it was outlawed in 1913. That’s partly why hiring people who we believe were unfairly treated by society for their personal preference and lifestyle has become a theme within our brand. The fairness of cannabis enthusiasts being treated equally as part of our society and not as drug addicts is a huge goal for us.

MM: That’s a wonderful mission, and as a cannabis enthusiast, it’s greatly appreciated. I also really enjoyed the Harvest Party the company threw earlier for all its cannabis friends and colleagues.

SB: I’m happy you liked it. We plan on throwing more of those parties for budtenders every month. Again, it’s all about us celebrating and normalizing cannabis. When you think about who’s pioneering this change, it’s the people on the forefront selling it; the budtenders. We want to celebrate them the same way we care for our Lowell employees or those who’ve been arrested. Your budtender has taken all kinds of risks; like potentially making it a lot harder to find another career in the future or having a fall out with friends and family because they don’t agree with what they’re doing. All in order to normalize the conversation around cannabis. Without the first people doing it, it never becomes acceptable to everyone else, which is why they’re so important.

As a budtender, hearing the respect and appreciation Sean has for us and what we do for the industry was very endearing. I look forward to seeing what the company has planned for 2019.