By Andy Paschen / June 11, 2019

A Chat With an L.A. Cannabis Pioneer About America’s Best Weed City

Where to shop, what to buy and the problem with budtenders

Chris Folkerts
Chris Folkerts (left), the inventor of the GPen, with frequent collaborator Berner

Two weeks ago, the American cannabis industry enjoyed a watershed moment in Illinois, where legalization was ratified by the state legislature, rather than voter referendum. It’s the first state where that has happened, and could prove to be a seminal moment in the push toward nationwide legislation.

Of course, this might all seem ho-hum to a Californian, where legal weed has been available since 2018. But have you really taken advantage of the laws in the Golden State?

To learn about the very best businesses in a burgeoning industry, we sought out Chris Folkerts, inventor of the G Pen and founder of Grenco Science. With collaborations with Burton, Wiz Khalifa, Gumball 3000 and the LA reefer king himself, Snoop Dogg, to his name, Chris has been at the eye of the storm in California for some time.

Below, you’ll find his advice on where to shop, what to buy and the difficulty of trusting a budtender — no matter how knowledgeable they are.

InsideHook: You’ve just touched down in L.A., where are you going for cannabis?

Chris Folkerts: If I were to touch down in LA and head straight for the hotel room, the first thing I would do is get on [on-demand delivery app] Eaze. Their user experience right now is unparalleled when it comes to delivery.

And for the light smoker, what would you recommend picking up?

If you’re a light smoker, I would recommend 3:1 THC to CBD [cartridges]. Generally for people who are not avid users that tends to be about the right percentage. The good thing about vaporization is the immediacy that it takes effect, and for portability and discretion, that’s my preferred method.

Any suggestions for those who prefer edibles?

I personally like the Plus gummies. They do a great job, the packaging is beautiful and it’s found in 5mg squares. However, my tip for everybody, with all cannabis products, is that you can always take more. Build yourself up to a comfortable place, as opposed to trying to figure out what that is beforehand.

For people you are using cannabis more frequently, what would you recommend in terms of cartridges?

Any of the 1:1 cartridges, or any cartridges that range from the high 50 percent THC to low 80 percent THC. The cartridge from our fill partners — Caliva, Cookies, Herbology, Humboldt Farms, Old Pal, Lemonade and Raw Garden — are great for people who have made their way past their initial stage of cannabis use. From there, it just comes down to a matter of preference.

But if you had to crown one of them top dog …

[It would be] the Cookies brand cartridges. They run that brand almost like a fashion company: they’re constantly dropping new genetics. If you’re looking for someone who’s not an amateur, who understands the difference between your flavors vs. all cannabis cartridges, hands down Cookies is the top of the food chain. London Pound Cake was the first cartridge that we [G Pen] ever did with them, and that’s the cartridge that’s still my favorite.

Are you more an Indica or Sativa person?

To me, what differentiates plants is not Indica vs. Sativa. Terpenes is what differentiates things in terms of aroma and flavor. I’m not of a, “Hey if I smoke a Sativa then in the morning I’m gonna be energized” person. I have plenty of Sativas that if we sat on my couch and smoked it in the morning, you wouldn’t get up from it.

So what do you say to someone on the hunt for the genetics that fits them best?

One of my issues with the experiences of stores is it depends on who that budtender is and what they’re recommending. Are they recommending based off of their experience? What is their experience, how much do they smoke? It’s really difficult to gauge. With that being said, some budtenders are extremely knowledgeable and passionate. And if you go in there and you’re not sure what you want, you’re going to be sold whatever they sell you. There’s not a system right now that allows for training or to give that guidance, so you’re at the mercy of the person that’s there.

Allow yourself to find that fulcrum point. Edibles, tinctures, vaporizers … start with very small dosages and then working your way up. You really should experiment in small doses, rather than finding the genetic and going from there.

Are there any dispensaries in Los Angeles you recommend?

The Cookies store on Melrose has the best layout and selection. They have every single hot item, they have whatever that “it” component is. MedMen has been used as the standard, and they set the bar as far as a retail experience — any of the stores I go into now are following a bit of their format. It’s been extremely progressive and forced a lot of shops to up their game as far as an aesthetic or a consumer experience. A lot of places used to look like dingy old headshops … now the whole industry has been forced to mature.

What is it about this plant and Los Angeles that make such a strong pair?

My personal experience with cannabis and the city of Los Angeles is that it really helped me find myself. What my calling was, who I was, what I was passionate about — I attribute it not only to the plant but also to the city, and seeing something that always had such a stigma be an important factor in the city. When I first moved here there were more dispensaries than Starbucks. The acceptability of cannabis here has touched so many lives, and I think that’s been an inspiration to the rest of the nation. L.A. really calls the trends. L.A. is the biggest driving force in the whole recreational movement. And it’s something to appreciate about being here.

Parts of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.