“When I was a kid, on the TV they said ‘don't do drugs’ and they would list marijuana as one of them. I remember all the commercials saying that if you smoked weed, you’d sink into the couch and you’d melt away and evaporate forever, like you would move at a pace that you couldn't ever escape. Those commercials were glued into the back of my head,” says Grammy-winning Guyanese-American musician Carlos St. John Phillips, best known as SAINt JHN, relaxing in his beautiful, art-filled home in Puerto Rico.
Defying pre-established notions, Carlos gave cannabis a try in his teenage years, while he was still living in New York and heavily influenced by the “Reefer Madness” propaganda.
“I remember distinctly that, immediately after I smoked, I was the greatest rapper alive. Whatever I said, I freestyled it and it was better than anything that's ever been said. I don't care whether you got a tape that disproves me, I know it for a fact, It was amazing,” he reminisces. “So it felt like it gave me more time to think, like there was more space and opportunity in my head. And between my words, I got to deliver something in a way that I couldn't before. It was like watching ‘The Matrix,’ I had more time on the clock. It was the same minute, but it had 3 more minutes inside of my head.”
Despite the amazing experience, Carlos didn’t smoke much after that. In fact, he pretty much ditched the herb for more than a decade. The anti-drug campaigns he grew up watching still stuck with him. “Those commercials made such an indelible impression in my mind.”
It was only as a full-grown adult that he revisited his consumption.
Ten Years Later – Or The Perfect Timing
When Carlos finally gave cannabis another shot, when he finally gave himself permission to not just “test” it, but really try it, he turned to edibles. Smoking wasn’t really of his liking, neither did it go well with his career as a singer. His voice was one of his main assets.
Lost Farm - COURTESY
“I liked edibles because I didn't have to burn anything, there was no scent, no trail; it was more discreet. They gave me a little bit more freedom… So I got into Kiva’s Petra mints. It was epic: a small, rectangular tin in my pocket with diamond-shaped mints in small 2.5mg doses that I could pop, my breath would smell good, I would look better… And my rap was my greatest rap, again. So, my second try was on my own terms. I didn't even have to question it from then, I was so certain about what I wanted to feel because I could control my dosage. It's funny, most people feel that way about flower, and I feel that way about edibles.”
This passion, this love, this infatuation, lasted for years. Finally, it turned into a business. SAINt JHN recently launched a new product line in collaboration with one of the top companies in the space, Lost Farm by Kiva Confections. The collection currently features two skews of vegan, live resin edibles: Dragon Fruit x Grape Pie Cookies Gummies, and the newest offering from the second collaborative drop, Blood Orange x Chem Dog Chews.
This limited-edition edibles release is layered with natural flavors and infused with great cannabis strains handpicked by SAINt JHN himself. Each serving is dosed at 10mg of THC.
“I wanted to feel something that was not just mental, but also physical, with a long-lasting effect. I didn't want to have to pick up papers and roll up, and smoke again in 45 minutes. I wanted my experience to be more customized,” he explains. “I've seen people smoke, I even smoked three times. But I was looking for something new, I was trying to endeavor into a place that most people wouldn’t necessarily go. And I'm happy I did. The road less traveled always leads you to somewhere that is way sexier.”
But, why Kiva? Yes, it’s one of the top-selling edibles brads in the U.S.; yes, it makes great, delicious, vegan products. And so do others.
Carlos responds without hesitation: “It's my favorite edible brand, unquestionably.”
“I started my new cannabis journey with Kiva’s edibles, and fortunately, we forged a partnership. It does not always happen like that when your favorite brand becomes your partner,” he discloses. “I talk to artists all the time and they all have some aspirational goal in one way or another as it relates to consumer products. So you might have some slippers or some sneakers, shorts, different types of apparel, food goods… and they'll love a specific brand. But their introduction into that world will be a partnership with a brand that's not their favorite. But me, I love Kiva.”
This clear fascination Carlos has for Kiva products was fundamental to creating a great edible of his own. “It doesn't always work like this: Magic usually takes much longer, much more of a drawn-out process, and it's usually not as simple. I must be fortunate because I was already in a system of loving Kiva products, and by the time we're collaborating on this, all of the options were in a universe of things that I loved already.”
A Deep Love Of Cannabis And All Things Art
While SAINt JHN loves cannabis to do freestyle rap, he will never indulge before performing his music on stage. “Some of us some of us grasp control in different ways. While I may have a firmer grip on what I'm doing if I'm freestyling with cannabis, when I’m performing on stage I don't do anything other than water. When I'm on stage, it's clear as day. There's nothing else going on because I want I want a different type of control on stage.”
Off stage, however, it’s all about the devil’s lettuce. Carlos has some gummies as soon as he wakes up, right before lunch, and right before going to bed. So, all of his music is influenced by Mary Jane.
Beyond relaxation, creation and recreation, Carlos also conceives cannabis as a business nowadays.
“My bread and butter isn’t music: My bread and butter is taste and art,” he explains. “Music is one of the outlets that I exhibit my taste and display my art. Cannabis is another space. I only participate in places that I'm a consumer: I'm a consumer first, I'm an artist/consumer. All of the art that I consume is the art that I produce. I consider this part of my daily regimen, I live like this. I couldn't sell you something that I wouldn't buy myself; I wouldn't know how to. I'm not talented enough to tell you a lie that you would then believe.”
Consequently, a lot of thought, art and love went into the creation of the Lost Farm x SAINt JHN live resin edibles. “The art for me isn't just the construction of the face of the actual thing that you eat. It's the way it's unveiled, the packaging, the display of it, the emotionality of when you look at it on a shelf, all of that is an artistic expression for me… My art has utility. You can feel it, touch it, experience it, integrate it into your life. I like that. I think there's art in sneakers and water and food products and music. I think it's all around us and just the way we construct it in the way we curate it.”
Production And Productivity
Those anti-cannabis campaigns that left such a mark on Carlos argued that marijuana would make you lazy, a couch-locked unproductive member of society. And, while this conception has been largely debunked over the years, a lot of people still believe this to be the case.
Yet, at age 35, with a couple Grammy’s under his arm, collaborations with some of the largest stars in the music industry and a few albums under his belt, SAINt JHN is living proof of the opposite.
“What does cannabis have to do with my productivity?” – he asks. “Whoever you are, you were like that before you got to that space, before you took that substance, before you consumed that product. Consuming is conducive to what I'm creating, and that's where the magic is.”
As the conversation around stigma develops, Carlos spits scorching statements left and right. And they are all spot on. “I'm a little bit more informed now than I was before, so I'm so clear on cannabis being illicit because it was taboo... I know that now cannabis is an option because the world needs more revenue. So that tells me at the time that they made it an illicit product, it was because they weren't liberally interested in it. It's not that they're willing to introduce something harmful to us. It was never harmful to us.”
And he ends: “There's a control functionality of government, to control people the way they think, the way they create and the way they live. And part of that is making sure they don't have freedom of mind and freedom of thought. The sport of cannabis allows you to liberate ideas. I've discovered that in practice: the type of freedom that I reach when I eat an edible is very different from purely being on water and Gatorade. So I don't think I would make an argument for why they should legalize cannabis. I don't think I'd have to. I'd make an argument as to why it's a consideration now that they need more revenue. And it's clear that all the science shows that there's no issue with this.”
This article was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.
© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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