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Women & the Weed Revolution: Berkeley Poole of Tokyo Smoke

It’s no secret: Canadian cannabis culture has changed drastically over the last few years. Legalization is expected by next summer, and Torontonians get to bask in some of the coolest dispensaries in the country. What’s more? There are even formal award ceremonies (!!!) to celebrate everything and everyone that has to do with cannabis – and they’re happening this week.

On Thursday November 30th, the Canadian Cannabis Awards and Lift Co. are taking place at the Carlu. Now in its fourth year, the CCAs honour the best and most innovative products and people in Canadian cannabis.

We wanted to chat with some of the women at the helm of cannabis culture and find out what’s behind the progress of this exciting and enigmatic industry. For this installment, we spoke with Berkeley Poole, Creative Director for Tokyo Smoke.

SDTC: What sets Tokyo Smoke apart from other coffee shops?

BP: Tokyo Smoke as a brand, as a physical space, really challenges people’s perception of cannabis. When people think of cannabis and a retail space, the association is of headshops and the “cafés” in Amsterdam. Conversely, when you step into our stores, it’s a really lovely, welcoming vibe. You’re surrounded by beautiful smoking accessories (which look like design objects), people are chatting and working, and the space itself is very design-forward.

I think it can be somewhat disorienting for people because none of the stereotypical markers of a cannabis experience are there.

What can people expect from visiting one of your locations?

To be welcomed into a beautiful, chill space where they can find thoughtfully designed cannabis accessories, or to hang out and work or meet friends. It’s really fun seeing people interact with the space for the first time. To be in such a design-forward environment that’s welcoming and relaxed and sells all these chic smoking accessories – it really challenges your perception of cannabis and consumption. I mean, who said we had to abandon aesthetics and culture in pursuit of getting stoned?

What’s your top-selling item?

The genius pipes sell super well. This pipe is very contemporary and minimal in the design, and it pulls super smooth. Our retail staff would tell you about the dimpled metal inside the pipe, which filters and cools the smoke so the experience is more akin to a vape or bong. I fuck with it because it’s easy to clean and I don’t get that super-bait smoker’s cough afterwards. Ha!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your position as Creative Director for Tokyo Smoke?

Having the opportunity to meet and work with so many open-minded and passionate people. Whether they are makers, people from tech, or bringing their skills from a vastly different industry – people entering the cannabis space are here because they’re super passionate about what they do and they’re excited by all the progress and change.

Being a designer and creative, I’m inspired when I’m surrounded by people who share the same level of enthusiasm and dedication in what they do.

What does your own journey with cannabis look like? Has your view of it shifted over the years?

Often, when I think about cannabis, I think about the similarities and differences between smoking and alcohol consumption. For me, alcohol is to grease the wheels in uncomfortable social situations (which, when you’re human, is almost all social gatherings). With consuming cannabis, your guard comes down a little and you really vibe and connect with people in a more fundamental and meaningful way. 

I’m excited about this experience opening up to a larger audience with legalization coming about in Canada, and more recreation markets opening up internationally. We’re now seeing more people open up about their relationships with cannabis. With more education on the plant properties, consumption methods, etc., this experience, which is intangible and significant, can reach a lot more people.

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