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If you’re going to build the “epicenter of the cannabis industry,” you better have an event to introduce it to the world. Enter the inaugural Green Street Festival, which takes place in Downtown Los Angeles on May 13-14. The organizers hope this will eventually become “the largest gathering of the cannabis community on the planet,” which is saying a lot, considering they’re the same group behind the ever-growing Hall of Flowers among many other things.
This isn’t just another mainstream weed convention or conference. The multi-day gathering features some of California’s leading cannabis brands plus L.A restaurants, guest speakers, live entertainment, and a general meeting of the minds. While this is a consumer event with several consumption lounges, no products will be sold on site. But there are deals with retail and delivery partners to get goods to enjoy before, during and after the festival.
At the center of it all is the Green Street Building, an eight-story, almost 70,000-square-foot home to the Green Street Agency — founded by Rama Mayo and Josh Shelton, with investor Gary Vaynerchuck as co-owner — plus cannabis brands, creatives, businesses, event spaces, and the Gusto Green restaurant. Some events will take place at neighboring venues, like the historic Majestic Theater two blocks away.
“Weed is the headliner of this festival,” Mayo said in an early announcement. “We’ve been to countless cannabis events across the country and we as attendees want to smoke weed with our friends and check in with the community, eat delicious food, and then be entertained…in that order.”
“People want to either be educated or entertained. We are going to do both,” Vaynerchuk added.
What you’ll find at the Green Street Festival
The kickoff VIP event on Friday includes a dinner hosted by Green Street partner Vaynerchuck and artist and freestyle rapper Harry Mack. The main event on Saturday takes place at the Green Street Building, both inside and out.
Along Hill Street, look for a food court and food trucks featuring dishes from Petit Peso, Yeastie Boy Bagels, and Afters Ice Cream, plus activations like a nail salon bar and pop-up tattoo parlor. Inside, Gusto Green and Uncle Paulie’s have a special menu planned at the ground floor restaurant, and the smoking-friendly rooftop will be open for the first time.
Image credit: Green Street
Consumption lounges will also be set up near the registration area on the ground floor and on the second-floor balcony. Organizers partnered with dispensaries and delivery providers including: MMD, Buddha Co., HYPERWOLF, People’s, Alpaca Club, Originals Los Angeles, Compassionate Caregivers, Downtown Patient Group, Haven, Jungle Boys. Menu items will be available at these locations and more leading up to, and during, the event.
Later that day, in addition to activities around the building, events at the Majestic include brand activations, DJs, panel discussions — including a keynote by Gary Vee himself — comedy, and live performances by Dam Funk, Harry Mack, and Juicy J. A smoking lounge will be set up outside the theater, as well, plus shuttles to get festival goers to and from the venues.
More than 50 cannabis brands will be showcased at the festival, including Asterisk, BLOOM, Boveda, Jungle Boys, Raw Garden, Hi-Fi Sessions, Loud + Clear, Dabwoods, Dispense App, Dutchie, Emerald Road, Fable, Headset, Hemper, Hempire, High Rise, and STIIIZY.
Behind the scenes
Mayo, who founded Green Street with Shelton in 2013 (Vaynerchuck came on board in 2017), jumped into the cannabis game early knowing it would blow up into the industry it has today.
Since then, the agency won ad awards for its work with some of the biggest brands, including Wonderbrett, Satori, Eaze, Dixie, and Post Malone’s weed brand Shaboink. Their Hall of Flowers event, which takes place twice a year, has become an industry darling for the commercial sector.
Taking over the nine-story building in DTLA’s Historic Core was part of a much bigger vision. The founders wanted to create a space that they didn’t see anywhere else, an incubator for retail, restaurants, brand showrooms, event and meeting spaces, buyer’s lounges, co-working suites — all 100 percent dedicated to the cannabis industry.
The pandemic put some of the plans on hold, but it’s roaring back now. With space for up to 60 tenants, around 30 currently call the building homebase, including content creator and Bong Appetit host Jason Pinsky; founder of Alternative Herbal Health Services Jason Beck; Hyperwolf delivery services; and brands like Asterisk and The Jungle Boys.
“We had the whole building rented out pre-COVID. The offices were rented by tiny companies. Now we have some of the biggest brands here,” Mayo says. “The industry is still evolving. We’re building this to protect the authenticity of cannabis, to give big and small brands equal space. We hope we can surrender it to the community, that these thought leaders can bring it into the future so it can have a life of its own. That’s the goal. ”
To him, L.A. as cannabis epicenter was a no-brainer. It’s the heartbeat of the entertainment world, trends, and the largest weed market in the world. Green Street had to be here.
“If we had this building in Long Beach or Riverside, that would be ok. But we really wanted something in the city of Los Angeles,” Mayo adds. “The fact that we’re doing it downtown next to the Apple store and Whole Foods says something. Even as an agency, we didn’t really work for brands outside of L.A. It was all very intentional to build here.”
Image credit: Green Street
Same for the festival, he says. It could be anywhere, but he really wants to show the city of Los Angeles what cannabis is and can be as an industry.
“Doing this in the heart of the city means we’ll have such a different amplification from attendees, the brands, celebrities, even political candidates,” Mayo adds. “It’s our first consumer event, which is a big change, but we really needed an event to connect with everyone.”