How Bloom Farms is Disrupting the Cannabis Industry with Innovation and Community
By Dana Kelly
It only seems fitting that a decade after my teenage self ransacked the house looking for my parent’s pot, I’d be sitting on the living room couch, in the house I grew up with, with my mom, handing her a vape pen as we scoured Netflix. She looked at the PAX Era, confused, prompting me to teach her how to use it. While I’m new to vaping too, I still used this moment to falsely assert sophisticated cannabis knowledge.
“When you see that light, you know you’re doing it right,” I coached. She inhaled, exhaled, and smiled at me. We ate candy and passed the device back and forth a few more times. This was a first for us. My whole family (read: my parents and I), are aware that we all smoke cannabis, but I have taken a firm stance of “I don’t want to get high with my parents.” I didn’t want to judge each other’s joints or watch my adult human parents start giggling uncontrollably. That said, I can always count on them to leave some in the top drawer of my dresser to use on my own when I come home for the holidays. (Welcome to Northern California parenting.) Once, when I came home from college, my mom and I ate edibles and had a garage sale. That is, to this day, one of my favorite memories. I didn’t want to corrupt that memory by having awkward smoking sessions later in life with my parents in our forest of a backyard.
But vaping was approachable. The team at Bloom Farms graciously enough given me two of their premier products to try: the Pax Era (along with an Indica Pod) and the Highlighter (along with hybrid and sativa pods) right before I went to visit my folks. This, I figured, would be the perfect way to defeat the awkwardness of being home for the holidays and wanting to enjoy the effects of THC. I’d never really vaped before, so this was a well-timed gift to receive. The rolling hills of where I’m from in Northern California beg for you to drive into the secret hideaways where kids have come for decades, roll a joint with your friends, and take in the view. This activity is muscle memory for my friends and I when we go home, it’s part of what makes our home so special. Cannabis is deeply tied to the culture of where we grew up and how we experienced nature. But alas, most smoking devices are not conducive to our parent’s houses, no matter how many towels you place at the bottom of the door.
I brought home an indica cartridge for the Pax Era, which is what I shared with my mom the first night I got into town. I’d driven the 7 hours from Los Angeles to Marin County and I needed to relieve some tension over home-cooked soup and Friends reruns. The device hit well and a calm came over my body. I discovered quickly that the medium heat is my ideal temperature. I enjoyed the new smoking ritual with my mom, and it was nice that I was able to find a way around the mental hurdle I had about using cannabis together.
It wasn’t until later, when I spoke with the Bloom Farms CEO, Michael Ray, that I realized the scale and sheer goodness that radiates out of his company. We caught up about a month after I had received the PAX Era and the Highlighter, and we talked about not only the products, but the community building that is inherent to Bloom Farms.
“I couldn’t really relate to the cannabis products on the market,” Ray reflects. “A lot of them were ultra potency focused with not much thought put into the packaging. [It was] this kind of traditional stoner mindset. For as long as I can remember, I enjoyed cannabis, but I never really connected with any of the brands. Bloom Farms was really born with the focus of providing a safe and enjoyable product geared towards the consumer who doesn’t really consider themselves a stoner.”
He had me hooked at the end of that last thought. My smoking rituals have changed as I’ve progressed through adulthood, and I was ready to embrace a new way of enjoying THC. Ray went on to talk about the importance of community for Bloom Farms, citing it as the motivating force behind Bloom Gives, the company’s CSR initiative. The company is a one-for-one business, pledging that every Bloom Farms purchase effectively provides a meal for someone in need through San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. I immediately felt a sense of familiarity as I spoke to him about this element of his business, knowing that I too donated to the same food bank as a child.
“ I grew up in Calaveras County, where there’s not a lot of jobs. There’s not a whole lot of money in the area. Growing up, my father was an airline pilot, and my mom was a house-mom. And we were comfortable, we were okay. We had everything we needed. And my place used to always be the kind of epicenter for where me and my friends would be,” he explains. “And when you get a little bit older, and you get introspective, you start to realize that, I started to realize that that food we’d been sharing was a huge problem in my community. Many of my friends lived below the poverty line, they didn’t have everything they needed.” He tells me that one in five children in California go to bed hungry, despite the state being one of the seven biggest economies in the world. He comes across as a low-key person with big passion, and you can tell by his inflection that giving back to the communities he knows and loves is a top priority.
We talked at length about Bloom Farm’s other community minded programs that fuel consumer and industry relations. There’s Bloom Fit, which combines Bloom Farms products and specialty yoga classes for Los Angeles and San Francisco consumers. There’s Bloom Appetit, a curated dinner experience that combines locally sourced food, responsibly grown cannabis, and live music, because, as Ray puts it, “food and cannabis have gone together since the beginning of time.” On the industry side of things, Bloom Farms is host to the “Bud-tender Bash,” which is an industry night of sorts, as well as a career fair that connects cannabis companies with qualified job seekers.
“I’m sure you’re picking up on the theme here,” jokes Ray. “We’re very event driven, it’s where we put our money where our mouth is so to speak. It’s a lifestyle changing the stigma; it’s showing people that cannabis isn’t what you may have thought it was 10 years ago. We are doing great things and having a lot of fun at the same time,” Ray continues with a transparent enthusiasm.
After all is said and done, the folks at Bloom Farms are here to stay. Not only are they disrupting the market with products like the PAX Era, but they are investing in their communities and industry in a big way. And at the end of the day, what will people feel better about – a vape pen or the community behind the vape pen? As a novice-come-amateur vaper, my money’s on Bloom Farms.