California Sober

It’s always interesting chasing the origin of a trend. Usually it starts with someone people want to listen to and for me that person is John Fowler. The founder of Supreme Cannabis Company, which was sold to Canopy Growth in April for $435-million, Fowler was a popular early cannabis executive because he was one of the few in the space who actually smoked weed. “It would always surprise me how shocked people would be in my own cannabis community when I’d step outside from some investor dinner where everyone was drinking alcohol to go outside and smoke a joint,” says Fowler, who today is president of Muskoka Grown and Big Concentrates, craft cannabis and live rosin companies for anyone curious about other big lifestyle trends. “I don’t drink alcohol, I consume cannabis and when some discover that, it actually makes them angry. I feel like—considering what I do—that shouldn’t be as surprising as it is.”
Image courtesy of Universal Music
Smoking weed and not drinking alcohol is known as “Cali Sober,” and once you know about it, you realize how widespread it’s become. In Hollywood, the performer Demi Lovato, has a hit song called Cali Sober, and though they use the term to explain “moderate alcohol and cannabis consumption,” Lovato posed on Instagram with their bong on 4/20.
Lovato said: "I don't think that this journey of moderation is a one-size fits all solution for everybody."
I don't think that this journey of moderation is a one-size fits all solution for everybody.
Alison Gordon, founder of 48North
Alison Gordon is another cannabis pioneer and the extremely popular founder of 48North, which was recently sold to HEXO for $50-million. Gordon is Cali Sober and has been for years and, over a joint but no whisky, she’s hilarious when describing why she abstains from booze. “I hate when people are drunk. I hate that gross uninhibited weirdness—I love you, I love you, I love you!—it gives me the heebie-jeebies,” says Gordon, who now runs Other People’s Pot and gets agitated when the same people who make no bones about hitting the liquor store in front of their children are suddenly squeamish when she wants to pick up some pre-rolls on a family outing. “I grew up with pot being illegal, but this generation is educated, thank God,” says Gordon, who says she’s not even tempted to have a craft beer or wine.
“I’m not an alcoholic,” says Gordon. “I straight-up just don’t drink booze.”
Marc Wayne, founder of Bedrocan
The founder of Tokyo Smoke is Cali Sober. So is the founder of Agripharm, which was acquired by Mettrum in 2014. According to Marc Wayne, a founder of the medical cannabis company Bedrocan Canada, which was acquired by Canopy when it was still known as Tweed in the days before recreational cannabis and the election of Justin Trudeau, cannabis is much easier on your body and mind than alcohol—especially if you are a daily user.
“Cannabis is also just much more efficient than alcohol—would you rather take a few inhalations of good bud or wait and drink four beers to get a buzz?” says Wayne, a huge basketball fan, who traveled to Oakland to see the Raptors win their first championship in franchise history. During the game, Wayne, slightly stoned, felt no temptation to drink beer but rather hydrate with water. “I am not afraid to say many of my life’s key drivers are enhanced with cannabis including focus, stamina and creativity,” says Wayne, who recently launched SW21 to help scale early stage start-ups in health, education and clean tech. “I didn’t know Cali Sober was a trend, I just know it’s been something that’s worked for me for my entire life.”
John Fowler, founder of Supreme
John Aird says the same thing. The founder of Olli Edibles and a long-time cannabis bigwig—he worked with Aphria on their international expansion and is currently CEO of Hoshi International—smoked a joint recently with kind magazine at a safe social distance. We also had a cannabis drink and took an Olli. Aird, who was never much of a drinker, says he quit alcohol after the birth of his first child. “I’m not a great morning person anyways and definitely didn’t like being hungover, looking after a newborn,” he says, adding that after a night out drinking, he’d always conclude his evening with a bedtime joint. The weed, on top of the alcohol, however, gave him the spins. He had to make a decision. “I’ve always smoked pot,” says Aird, “If I had to make a choice, it’s not much of a decision at all.” Aird hasn’t had a drink since then.
During the boom, boom, boom days of cannabis, John Fowler would dine out with boozing investment bankers and hold an ace up his sleeve from his financiers: the next day, the pot smoker was the only one who remembered everything that was said.
“I never thought smoking pot would make me stand out as a pot executive, it’s just one of those upside down things about cannabis that we all lived through,” he says. “I don’t hold anything against drinkers, not at all. I just know, for me, cannabis works.”