Seedsman interviews Tyler Green – founder of ISMOKE, videomaker, activist, and researcher on everything related to cannabis. ISMOKE is a cannabis lifestyle and culture brand that aims to educate the masses on the benefits of cannabis and raise awareness of the failures of prohibition.
We have been wanting to catch up with Tyler for quite some time and sat down to ask him about his cannabis journey, what inspires him, and any tips he has for people starting up a cannabis blog or youtube channel.
So, what inspired you to start ISMOKE?
I was sick of the anti-cannabis propaganda I saw in newspapers and the stereotypes I saw on TV. I wanted to show that cannabis consumers come from all walks of life. So I had the idea to write and collaborate with others, and to publish our work in a magazine each month.
What were you doing before this, and had you always wanted to work in the cannabis industry?
Before ISMOKE I was finishing my degree, but I also spent half a decade working in an office, which I did not enjoy. The cannabis industry was something that always interested me. I’m continually amazed to this day how much this plant has to offer, so since I started working in the industry full-time I have never been happier.
How has is it been over the last 10 years since starting? What are the major changes you have seen?
The last decade has seen such a massive shift in the global perception of cannabis. It has, in my opinion, been legitimised, with many countries opting for medical and even recreational legalisation. Seeing how perceptions have changed in just the last few years in my own country has been really positive, and with the increased awareness comes increased pressure for full legalisation. I am hoping we see more of this moving forward.
What the most exciting thing going on in the cannabis culture in the UK right now? And in the world?
COVID aside, our cannabis events scene is up there as one of the most exciting things about UK cannabis culture. Nobody seems to care that it isn’t legal, and so around the country people throw proper events like it is! To someone new to the scene or community, this can be really eye-opening. There are no fights, no-one gets in a bad way, and I think overall they do a good job of normalising cannabis.
And the most exciting thing worldwide is perhaps the hope that we could be looking at a domino effect at some point, especially if the UN continues on the path to more sensible cannabis policy.
What are your short term and long-term ambitions?
In the short-term, it is growing the channel and reaching as many people as possible to help educate and inspire. Long-term, I would love to have my own cannabis strain brand because the thought of people getting high and enjoying something I’ve created fills me with joy!
What are the most important lessons about cannabis media that you have learned in the running of ISMOKE?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is the existence of ‘invisible barriers’ which are quirks of the online space which make it difficult to operate a legal cannabis business. One is filtering – a cannabis website might be blocked by some internet service providers, so will need to be accessed with a VPN. Another is a lack of advertising options available for brands in this industry. And you may also run into issues simply selling papers or bongs online, as card payment companies don’t seem to like being associated with this kind of business (sex toys are fine), so you could end up paying a lot more for a very basic service than most other shops, for example.
What advice would you give to somebody starting up their own cannabis blog or youtube channel?
Don’t expect it to be easy, but don’t be fearful either. I think because cannabis hasn’t been legalised here yet people sometimes wonder how – or why – I do what I do. This is a huge space and people are looking for information, so I think cannabis media is important at bridging the gap between the news and consumers to help them spot propaganda masquerading as genuine stories, and academic papers and consumers to help simplify the jargon and put things into context.
What is the feedback you get from the cannabis community about your work?
People seem to enjoy the videos I make, and I am thankful for all the kind words I get via YouTube comments. And from my strain reviews I have built a reputation which has landed me guest judge spots at 5 cannabis cups, which has been an incredible experience.
What difficulties have you encountered and how have you handled them?
Following on from above with the invisible barriers – this was particularly challenging starting out and even a bit demoralising to see content fall flat, not because of the content, but because people cannot access them easily. I overcame this by setting up on multiple platforms and growing ISMOKE organically to the point that people search for us online. Nowadays this just isn’t an issue wth our dedicated audience.
How do you think the UK is going to move forward with cannabis drug policy reform?
We are on the road to full legalisation. I think it is when, not if, legalisation will happen – and I’m hoping it is sooner rather than later. As well as a massive expansion in medical cannabis, so it is easily available for anyone with a qualifying condition, I envision a legal market sometime in the future, although here’s a prediction: There will be an initial potency cap, or Government-approved strains separate from what we are currently smoking. This will be an attempt to control the new market and won’t last long before it is seen as unmanageable and the cap is removed.
Do you see recreational cannabis use being legalised any time soon in the UK?
In the next 50 years – yes. In the next 20 years – I’m still very confident. Sometime within the next 10 years, I remain quite confident. In the next 5 years – I don’t know but remain hopeful. And in the next 2 years – I can see things relaxing further, with more medical patients, but doubt we will see recreational legalisation that quickly.
And finally lets talk about your cannabis consumption…..
When did you start consuming cannabis and why?
I started consuming when I was 16, but only regularly once I hit 18 and moved away from home. I quickly found I preferred it to alcohol, but that regardless, it helped me feel better after a heavy night. I have consumed it daily from this point (with the exception of one tolerance break in 2018). Cannabis helps me to the extent that I believe it enhances my life. I find it chills me out, relieves stress and social anxiety, and generally makes me a better person, increasing empathy (significantly, to the point I stopped eating meat) and mellowing the intense energy I sometimes feel.
How do you most like to consume cannabis now?
I love joints, but a glass bong is my go-to method of consumption. I like the efficiency and the water filtration.
Do you have a favourite strain and/or a favourite product?
A specific phenotype of Holy Grail Kush (OG #18 X Kosher Kush) grown in coco by B28 genetics, and nothing has topped this since I smoked it in 2016. It won the 2011 High Times Cup with a perfect score. Nothing comes close for me!
What do you look for in a cannabis strain?
I like to know the grower if possible, or who’s garden it has come from at least. I realise this is a luxury which few have who are not growers, but as I work with new strains every week I meet a lot of the right people. I like my smoke to be organic and free from PGRs. And I smoke a lot of no till / living soil cannabis which I think is creme de la creme in terms of reaching its terpene potential.
What puts a smile on your face each day?
Waking up and being part of this beautiful world, despite humanity’s flaws. I’m very into space and new tech, and a lot of cool stuff is happening right now. This is mirrored in the cannabis industry with innovative products released regularly, as well as all the new knowledge we are discovering about a plant which we have been using for millennia. What a time to be alive!