How Oakland marijuana maven Salwa Ibrahim is helping Outside Lands go green
By Aidin Vaziri
When the promoters of Outside Lands decided to introduce Grass Lands, a new area dedicated to the exploration and education of cannabis products at this year’s festival, they turned to Salwa Ibrahim.
Last year, the 33-year-old co-founder of Blüm dispensary in Oakland established Highland Events with the intention of bringing a marijuana-themed activation to the annual concert in Golden Gate Park, similar to specialty spaces at the San Francisco festival like Wine Lands, Beer Lands and Cocktail Magic.
She just had to wait for the law to catch up.
Recreational marijuana became legal in California Jan. 1, making the state the biggest legal marijuana marketplace in the U.S. But Outside Lands attendees won’t be able to purchase or indulge in any of the products showcased in the 21-and-older area, due to a series of convoluted state and local laws around use at festivals.
Grass Lands, which will be south of the Polo Field, will instead offer an education center, confectionery, lemonade stand, flower shop and farmers’ market, among other cannabis-themed amenities. And, yes, there will be a Smell Wall, too, where concertgoers can sample scents from different strains of marijuana.
Ibrahim and her team also put together a showcase of goods from prominent cannabis companies, including Cookies, Flow Kana, Ona.Life, Kiva Confections, CannaCraft, Pax, Lemonnade, True Terpenes, Mesh Brands, Plus, Emerald Exchange, Barbary Coast and Sunday Goods.
She spoke to The Chronicle about what to expect from Grass Lands.
Q: What does it mean for you to be able to introduce a comprehensive cannabis experience like this at a major U.S. music festival?
A: Music festivals are one of the major crossroads left in meshing cannabis and music in a formal way. We noticed that it has been difficult for some people to wrap their minds around what cannabis legalization in California means. Ultimately, the state has determined that cannabis should be treated like alcohol, and in the same fashion that alcohol is a major component of concerts, we believe that cannabis provides an alternative and could enhance festivalgoers’ experiences.
Q: How did you approach Outside Lands, and why did you feel like it would be a good fit?
A: For decades, cannabis has inspired the arts and music, and music festivals have helped spread what has become the legal cannabis movement. That’s why we felt this was the perfect setting to celebrate and explore music and legal cannabis together.
The laws governing cannabis continue to evolve for the better and we look forward to seeing the responsible sale and use of cannabis become as commonplace as having a beer at the ballgame or a glass of wine at a show.
Q: What do you hope attendees get from visiting Grass Lands?
A: We hope that guests will get a taste of what the cannabis industry has in store for the future. We have curated an immersive experience where attendees can interact with brands and cannabis companies. Attendees will learn everything from how terpenes smell and interact with the body; to the difference between cannabis oil extracts and flowers; to information on how to get cannabis products delivered safely and legally to your front door.
Q: How would you encourage someone who is not familiar, and maybe a little intimidated, by cannabis to leave the music behind and make a detour into Grass Lands?
A: There is no better place to have some fun exploring cannabis than our interactive and informational activation. No peer pressure.