Broccoli: A magazine for cannabis lovers run entirely by women
Step inside the editor-in-chief's apartment
Anja Charbonneau smoked a joint before we showed up at her door.
The early afternoon sun cast pale light through her apartment in Portland, as she stood in the kitchen cutting flowers and chatting about what a surreal few months it’s been, including coverage in Broadly and Vogue. She offers up a slice of leftover lemon cake from her friend’s birthday party, and in the next breath, introduces her cat Poochie, who saunters into the room as slow as a yawn.
“If you’re lucky she’ll barf on you. She tends to do that when new people come over,” she says.
As the former creative director of Kinfolk, Anja knows the power of aesthetic and design to tell a story. Broccoli Magazine is a free 80-page publication run entirely by women that explores cannabis through art, culture, and fashion – and what a time to tell it. The world of cannabis publications are currently run primarily by men, with garish visuals and product-heavy copy, for men.
“I can show you what I mean,” she says, walking to her bookshelf to grab a stack of flimsy magazines that look like something you would find in your teenage boyfriend’s basement. “It was obvious that there was a need for a platform where women can talk about weed. And by making [Broccoli Mag] beautiful and comfortable for someone else’s environment, new people will see the floral arrangement on the cover and might not even notice the pot leaves.”
There’s something about the way Anja is sitting with us on her couch—so simple and nonchalant—that it becomes our favourite moment of the interview. It’s when we realized that we were surrounded by everything that Broccoli Magazine is, like we’d been hermetically sealed inside the pages. The flowers she cut earlier sit on the table while music by Japanese composer Midori Takada—featured in the first issue—plays all around us. Most of the magazine was shot in the ten square feet of her living room where we’re sitting; the occasional click of the camera in the background is the only reminder that we're not just three friends catching up.
“I smoked before you got here to calm my nerves because I was like, ‘these people are coming to my home to take pictures and interview me!” she says, “but this is so comfortable.”
A month earlier, we had decided to take the trip to Portland on a whim. I walked into our living room in Vancouver on a Thursday morning in October and said to Chloe: “I had a dream last night and I think we should go meet Anja instead of interviewing her over the phone.”
Plus, we had just decided on the name for our travel itineraries: Choose Your Own Adventure; and were in the middle of finishing the layout and design from our trips to Toronto and New York.
“How about one for Portland?” I asked.
Now here we are, flipping through the pages of Broccoli Magazine with the women who created it. And she’s right, it does feel comfortable.
“It’s a sensory experience,” she says, sitting on the floor with the magazine open on the table. “It’s about making cannabis a star in the constellation and not the whole picture.”
She flips to a page titled 'wax poetic.'
“See those?” she says, pointing to a cluster of candles sitting on a shelf, the exact same ones on the page in front of us. “One of our editors found this woman in Mexico who is a sixth generation candle maker. She dips the wax in warm water and shapes them with her fingers. It’s just so cool because they are tied to meaningful ceremonies or rituals, and she got to explain the story behind them in the magazine.”
Then she flips to another page.
“Wait!” Chloe says, putting her finger down. In small black letters at the top, it reads: Choose Your Own Adventure.
We take it as a small nudge from the universe that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.
Anja turns to another page featuring hand-blown glass pipes shaped like fruit, and then stands up to grab a bowl from the shelf nearby. We instantly recognize what’s in it. “The banana is accounted for, but you can have any other pipe that you’d like.”
By the time we leave Anja’s apartment, she has also gifted us a candle from the candle maker in Mexico. A small piece of the magazine that now sits in our home to remind us of hers.