Before arriving in New York, I knew particular industries would dominate others in terms of popularity and particular trends. My thoughts were obviously that fashion, the foodie scene, art, and design, etc., would be the forefront, which yes they are, however, I was surprised to find that one industry has created an entirely new and diverse culture and community throughout New York City. This industry being hemp, aka weed, aka cannabis. (Shocked? So was I!)
When people first hear the word cannabis or weed or hemp, some may instantly think of it in a negative light. Which I totally get! Takes you back to those teenage days when you'd buy a joint from who knows where and smoke it with your friends sneakily in someone's car to experience the ultimate "high" only to then feel paranoid, get the munchies, feel sick, pass out and have an overall not so great experience. Nowadays, people are more educated in knowing what else this plant can do, other than just getting you high. Since being in New York I have noticed an entirely new and positive light being shed on this industry.
Now I am no expert within this field, but just from walking the streets of this incredibly crazy city, this growing culture around hemp intrigued me. The first few things I noticed were the smell of joints fill the streets, people chatting about weed in a totally different tone, chemists and health stores have signs in the windows saying, "We sell CBD here," and lastly ENTIRE shops dedicated to hemp on almost every block. I'd be searching the streets for cute vintage stores and almost every time I'd end up looking in a funky hemp store instead.
One morning after devouring a delicious brunch at one of my favourite Aussie cafes here in New York, Two Hands on Mott Street, I ventured outside and what did I see across the street?! A gorgeous little store called Hemp Garden. So of course, I went in! This place was the most adorable store. It was quaint, funky and smelt delicious. So, what do they sell here? EVERYTHING hemp related you could possibly think of, from skin creams to vapes, to pre-rolled joints, to lollies, to pet products, to oils, to actual hemp flower - you name it!
I was instantly interested to know more about this plant and store, so being the outgoing Aussie gal that I am, I started chatting to the great dude working there, his name was Marco. The first thing I wanted to clear up with him was, what the heck is hemp and CBD?
“Hemp is the cannabis plant which is the same plant as marijuana, however, the cannabinoid content is flipped on its head. THC and CBD are the two cannabinoids that everybody talks about. THC is what gets you really stoned, which is what happens when you smoke marijuana, and CBD is what gets you that relaxing, anti-anxiety, pain relief effect when you consume it."
Hemp Garden was designed to change the way hemp is viewed and educate people on the benefits of the plant.
“Our job and what we have taken upon ourselves is to build trust in the hemp market, make sure people know what they’re buying, create a space where you can have an open conversation about cannabis in a friendly non-judgemental environment and figure out how hemp can help you,” says Marco.
Hemp Garden opened its first New York City store in July 2018. Fast forward only a short nine months and they now have five stores in New York. This proves how quickly the hemp market and culture is growing throughout the city. New York has now shifted the cannabis community from being viewed as the classic "stoner" culture and has become a part of the health and well-being scene.
"The hemp culture and community in New York is definitely going to continue to grow and become even more popular than it already is. The cannabis industry is viewed in a more holistic way here. I have recently seen advertised CBD massages, CBD yoga, CBD facials, etc. which just proves that hemp is being viewed and treated as a plant for well-being, rather than just a drug that gets you high," Marco says.
The thing is, I knew hemp was becoming a big deal but New York City is on another level in terms of the access they have to many different types of products that can benefit people in so many ways. Most of which I believe are still illegal in Australia, so to see it booming here the way it is, is crazy.
For me, health and well-being is something I am super interested in and passionate about, so to see this plant creating a new and diverse culture throughout the world’s most incredible city, is truly amazing and makes me want to know more about it. Keep your eyes peeled on this insanely interesting industry because I have no doubts that this same culture and community that I have experienced here in New York City will be seen throughout Australia very, very soon.