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Critics' Choice

 Interview by Michelle Santosuosso

Who is Mr. Sherbinski, and why are so many music artists singing his praises?

He’s a bit of a legend in the cannabis world, known for his cultivation expertise and for having founded the premium cannabis brand SHERBINSKIS out of San Francisco. The brand produced one of the most celebrated buds in modern-day marijuana history: the Gelato strain.  It’s been a cult favorite among musicians for the last decade, memorialized in the lyrics, beats and vibes of John Mayer, Migos, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Uzi Vert, just to name a few.  Now, with a Fairfax Blvd. storefront coming in 2019 and a full new product line launching 11/15, he wanted to chat about being among the first cannabis brands to showcase at hip-hop lifestyle showcase Complex Con. But his wires must have gotten crossed when he reached out to HITS’ Michelle S instead… stoner!

You were one of the first cannabis brands ever to exhibit at Complex Con. How did that come about, and what was your goal with the exposure?
I feel that we’ve been pushing the envelope and I think that everybody on my team has the same vision. The way streetwear is so popular, like Supreme—we’re all fans of Supreme—it seems they’ve been able to build by keeping things exclusive and hype. That’s really what this is. With Complex Con it’s about letting people know, “We’re here; this is what we’re about.”

We’re a lifestyle brand. But we’re a licensed company in the California cannabis business and there are guidelines we have to abide by. In the Complex event, we told them there would be no sales and no on-site consumption. We want to follow the rules and make sure we represent our brand, and also Complex Con, the right way. I want every smart entrepreneur who uses and smokes cannabis but doesn’t want to be associated with these old-school kind of dirty bong, dirty room kind of feel that many people associate with it. I want them to realize that cannabis is high-class. Some of the smartest, most creative people in the world are cannabis users, and I want to represent those people. When they come and see my brand, I want them to feel like, “Yes. This is tasteful; it resonates with me.” I think that’s the lane we’re on right now.

So many artists namecheck your custom strains. John Mayer wrote an entire album about it. Famous Dex, Migos and Travis Scott have all given notable shout-outs. How did you get the music community so involved?
Early on, when I started, I was working with Cookie Fam in the Bay Area, you had artists like E-40, B Legit and other old-school Bay Area artists rapping about cookies. You’re hearing it in the songs because the connection was, when they go in the studio, they want to be able to smoke something that we call “tapping in.” That universal energy the dopest music comes from. When I told you I smoked that and it touched a part of my soul I’ve never felt touched before—that’s real talk. 

When we show up, Sherbinskis World White Glove, we don’t bring pounds of weed to the studio. We’ll come by and give an ounce—this is a me-to-you gift. People respect it. You see a lot of these companies giving away loads. To me, that was never my approach because I wanted that genuine connection with the artist. Going back years, rappers and even going back to jazz music, these artists would smoke a joint back in the '30s and '40s. That was an association with cannabis before it was legal. Cannabis has always been part of creating that experience.

Some of the smartest, most creative people in the world are cannabis users, and I want to represent those people.

We were growing at this dope vibe after [1996’s passage of medical marijuana legalization initiative] Prop 215; people were working together collectively and legally. We started posting our pictures on Instagram and no one really saw weed that looked like that. It was the way we were taking the pictures, the quality of them. We started pushing every time we posted: #CookieFam. #Berner415, #Sherbinksi415. Berner went up to 600k followers within the first year of Instagram.

We never marketed it; we never even had a logo. Our whole brand was really our bag. We called it the “turkey bag swag” because we’d come through and you’d be in the studio. It could be Chris Brown in the studio. He’d pull up in a Lamborghini... women... he’s just fly. He’s the guy. He’d pull out his bag, then we’d pull up and we’d pull out our bag and it was just like, “Holy shit.” They don’t give a shit about the cars; they don’t give a shit about the girls; they want the best weed. If you have the best weed, you have that turkey bag swag. Through that, rappers are freestyling about their life, culture, what’s around them. What are they talking about? The strain of Gelato. Because it’s one of the coolest things in their life.

We fast-forward to people like Migos and Young Dolph, who actually named his entire mixtape Gelato. It’s integrated into our culture in a way that, to me, is spiritual. It humbles me because it’s why I dedicated my life to this plant, because truly it transcends our understanding. We have receptors in our body that are only there for cannabinoids. We have a connection with cannabis that is integrated into our DNA. That’s the facts.