Benzinga’s Inaugural 4/21 Gift Guide (Because 4/20 Was So Yesterday)
by Andre Bourque, Benzinga Contributor
April 21, 2023 2:17 PM | 24 min read
As urban legend has it, "420" originally served as a code word used by a group of 1970’s Northern California high school marijuana smokers who would meet in front of a nearby statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 p.m. to sesh.
Decades later, the expression has become a timeless beckoning for modern-day cannabis enthusiasts to whip out a Moxie vape, puff a PuffCo, light up a dog-walker, snap and share an obligatory Instagram or two, and log back into work.
But, 4:20 p.m. probably wasn’t when this ambitious crew of “Waldos,” as they were known, began actually smoking on anything back in 1971 when the tradition was said to have begun. These were pre-vape days, and commercial pre-rolls not being as ubiquitous back then as they are in California today, these fellas would have spent time rolling their own.
In a likely scenario, one guy rummages through the pockets of his brown, Lee corduroys, in search of a book of matches. Another, tardy, disheveled crew member with one strap broken on his Jansport backpack, comes frantically running to join in after the 4:20 mark. The designated pre-roller has no tray.
All this eats up time.
And realistically, in 1971, this collection of peaceful loiterers isn’t getting to the actual ingestion of any cannabis until 4:25, 4:26-ish at best.
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So maybe 4:21 is just as good as 4:20 once in a while.
If nothing else, it’s just a great day to publish an article about weed gifts without having to compete for eyeballs amongst a slew of other articles released on the same day about the same topic.
So we have it, I present to you on 4/21, cool products I’ve grown to like and appreciate over the past year, because 4/20 was so yesterday.
Note: Product prices and availability are constantly changing, so please check websites for the latest in information.
The Brockton MK2 by Parkdale Brass
Toronto-based Parkdale Brass is the purveyor of sophisticated, sleek, and 20th century inspired smoking pipes. The company is driven by the desire to pay homage to the style and quality of smokeware of the past, offering what are some of the most distinguished pipes on the smoking market.
Their flagship device, the head-turning Brockton MK2 (360-degree product view), combines ruggedness with elegance. Chrome plated, with sturdy fittings, and easy-to-clean, the Brockton is one of my favorite personal smoking devices. And I’m not alone in this sentiment.
At less than a hundred dollars ($80) at the time of this writing, The Brockton is a must-have in the realm of distinguished, yet affordable smoking.
Not too sweet, not too mild, Canna-Soothe cannabis-infused lozenges have a history dating back to 2005 with a product originally known as the Jolly-Lolly. Several years and product iterations later, paired with a corporate move from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, California, and Canna-Soothe is where it is today.
Akin to a Jolly Rancher, Canna-Sooth packs a whole lot of flavor in a small dose. The artisanal lozenges are chewy and offer the option of slow dissolving or biting into them, and are hand panned and coated in a process that keeps the pieces from sticking together. Each package contains 100 mg of THC, and each lozenge contains 5 mg of THC and less than 2 mg of CBD.
Session Goods & Skullcandy 4/20 Mashup
Award-winning Session Goods is a modern cannabis accessory company based in Los Angeles, California. The company stands distinct from others in crafting modern, chic-looking smoking accessories with a deliberately minimalist design for reasons offered in their recent blog post, “Simplicity Meets Functionality: Why Minimalist Bongs are Taking Over.”
A bong-carrying member of the original collection, Session Goods just released the Glow Designer Series II collection which has me envious. Inspired by the resurgence of Y2K style, the glow-in-the-dark series is the perfect companion to an outdoor festival, concert, or late-through-the-night rave. I’m hoping to get my glow on in time for the nostalgic ABBA + Bee Gees tribute concert I have tickets for later this summer (row 5, baby!).
The company teamed up with legacy headphone producer, Skullcandy for an indulgent mashup including Session’s new glowing glass pipe, and the latter’s limited-edition Grind HAZE True Wireless Earbuds inspired by the legendary Indica-dominant Purple Haze strain.
The earbuds give off a “buds in a jar” display-worthy look with a clear-color, smoked gray case. The “Haze” colorway features a silvery, sage green coloring with a luxuriant texture and is enhanced by Purple Haze strain-like accents and striking orange highlights.
Mari y Juana Beverages, Co.
Less than a year old when it won the award of first place winner of the 2022 High Times Cannabis Cup, SoCal “People’s Choice Edition” for infused beverages, Mari y Juana had done something special: tapped into a niche no one else was serving.
The Latin American market, long-standing consumers of cannabis, have long been underrepresented in terms of products tailored to their tastes, brands owned by those communities, and those serving those markets. Born on Cinco de Mayo 2022, Mari y Juana does all three.
I was first introduced to the brand at the 2022 Cannabis Drinks Expo, where Mari y Juana was noted as being one of a only a handful of successful infused beverage newcomers in a challenging industry segment. This, because when you know your consumer, a big part of the challenge goes away.
When the company launched with carefully crafted Piña, Tamarindo, Mandarin, and Guava varieties upon market entry, it knew to mimic the most popular Mexican soda drinks. With a cool, refreshing, not-too-sweet experience, and a mild, 10 mg THC high, the combination is perfect for the infused cannabis beverage consumer newbie and regular drinker, alike.
Mari y Juana introduced a 16-ounce, 50 mg THC canned version of their soft drink in guava, along with an innovative, lime, tomato, and chili drink cannabis infused powder additive in a unique michelada cup, in 2022. CEO, Daniel Torres told me the company’s plan is to continue the 16-ounce line in the other three flavor varieties in 2023, along with an energy drink slated to be called, “Perico Verde,” to drop in early summer.
Bud Box Personal Cannabis Storage Products
Created by decorated designer Anticio Duke, BudBox was built around the idea of creating quality products to serve medical cannabis users by protecting them from the stigma around marijuana. Because the stigma around medical marijuana exists even if a person simply smells it around you. The goal of BudBox is to try and help eliminate that.
The inspiration for BudBox came from a need to protect something that helped the company’s founder manage his health: medical cannabis. Using prescription pill containers and bags did nothing to protect them from damage, nor mask them from their distinct smell. After some trial and error, today’s BudBox products became a functional part of his world. In an attempt to help others who benefit from the plant, the company was born.
100% minority owned, BudBox products comply with the Compassionate Care Act in order to protect those who are authorized to obtain medical cannabis. With an alarming number of (POC) People of Color receiving convictions based on small amounts of marijuana, a percentage of the company’s proceeds are contributed to causes that reduce these numbers and provide resources to support and re-establish victims of the failed “War on Drugs.”
Stone Road Cannabis
I was first introduced to Stone Road Cannabis at the Hall of Flowers cannabis show last year. The Blueberry Diesel pre-rolls I was given yielded a smooth and tasty hit without an overwhelming burn. Stone Road joints some with five .7 g units per pack. All premium, sun-grown, Stone Road flower is sourced from their 57 acre, off-grid biodynamic farm in Nevada City, CA, giving it distinct purity.
While the company’s products are terrific and true to nature’s intent, the story of how Stone Road came to be is equally as fabulous.
Stone Road’s CEO, Lex Corwin, was a rambunctious child growing up, to say the least. So much, in fact, his dad sent him away to a farming school in rural Vermont in hopes to instill some much-needed discipline in young Lex at the time. There he learned everything from organic agriculture and farming, to sustainability, and the group lived off of the product of their yield.
Upon completion of his farming training, Lex returned home to New York, and ever the ambitious pot head, ordered cannabis seeds from Amsterdam and started growing a borderline unsmokeable cannabis crop on his neighbor’s property. Years passed, he moved between different states, and hopped between different industries before settling into cannabis as a profession in 2016.
Like most cannabis entrepreneurs, early years were fraught with lots of trial, error, loss, and even turmoil. Eventually, from its humble revenues of $350K in 2019, Stone Road had a monstrous break out year in 2020, growing 700%.
The company expanded into Oklahoma in 2020, Massachusetts in 2021, and Michigan in 2022. Stone Road will be expanding into New Mexico in 2023.
It’s noteworthy to mention, Stone Road has one of the industry’s most original and creative websites. In an about-face to the stale, predictable world of digital pot leaves, the company’s website is an ode fresh perspectives and minimalism, replete with animated wildlife, nature, and everything you might find along the path of a stone road.
Alive & Kicking Slim CBD Hemp Pre-Rolls
If you were fortunate enough to have lived through the 1980s, you may recall the hip, Scottish band Simple Minds who crafted a catchy song, “Alive and Kicking.” Modern, tight, and appealing.
In the stale, predictable world of hemp pre-rolls, the brand Alive & Kicking has done well in distinguishing itself similarly: Modern, tight, and appealing. Catering to an unattended market--the Virginia Slims of hemp consumer, A&K’s Slim CBD Hemp Cigarette Pre-Rolls are ideal for the smoker who “never finishes the whole thing,” “doesn’t like passing it around,” or “is trying to quit tobacco.”
From the gophers on the packaging, to the narrow, chiseled packaging, Alive & Kicking has been called “sexy,” and, “perfect,” by people I’ve shared them with.
With A&K’s Slim CBD Hemp pre-rolls, “Stay until your love is alive and kicking.”
Cannalean Infused Syrups
Cannabis-infused syrups make a lot of sense for both manufacturers and consumers, alike. For manufacturers, they’re easier to produce and ship than wholly manufactured beverages that weigh more, take up more space, and require special shipping and distribution considerations. For consumers, they make for a handy way to add a jolt of THC or CBD to water or a beverage and carry around in your pocket.
Unfortunately, most cannabis-infused syrups taste like overpowering, comically flavored, concentrated Kool-Aid, formulated to settle at the bottom of your container and live as an unwelcome, lasting goop. I have tried countless brands that taste and behave the same way and marvel at how they remain on the market.
But when in Las Vegas, the experience can be different.
Cannalean, a Vegas-based, wholly minority-owned (African-American) company, produces award-winning syrups that are gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and organic and offered in five different flavors, including watermelon, grape, peach, strawberry, and blackberry. Each 100 mg bottle contains 20 capfuls of syrup, yielding roughly 5 mg of THC each and 100 mg total.
I was first introduced to Cannalean syrups while enjoying a delightful blackberry THC-infused mocktail at the stellar 2022 Hush House MJ Biz Con party hosted by the event producers at Hush Chicago. Tart, as it should be, not sweet. True to color (not leaving a purple dye mark on my tongue), and exceptional in smooth flavor, Cannalean mixes well, is truly water soluble, and doesn’t settle to the bottom of a glass like other syrups.
Great people, quality ingredients, and solid product, Cannalean looks to expand to California in 2023 and we welcome them to it.
Venterra Farms and High Fidelity powered by Farming First
With over two-hundred years of family farming under its belt, Farming First is a sustainably grown, Central California cannabis company that, in addition to developing their own brands, are providers of white-label, co-packing, and brand partnerships. While premium cannabis can be in short supply for long stretches of the year, Farming First has positioned itself with rolling harvests so that its partners can rely on a constant source of high-quality material at value.
Part of the company’s appeal is its deep commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable growing practices, including the use of solar power and upcycled water. Farming First’s portfolio of brands includes High Fidelity and Venterra Farms, which feature a high quality lineup of whole flower, pre-rolls and vapes.
Apples & Bananas Strain by Venterra Farms
Apples & Bananas is a cross between Blue Power, Grand Daddy Purple and Platinum Cookies. The hybrid strain by Venterra Farms registers in at a whopping 31% THC. Sweet notes of fruits pair perfectly with the gassy undertones of this exotic strain containing dominant terpene myrcene, followed by pinene.
Gelonade Pre-Rolls by High Fidelity
Gelonade pre-rolls by High Fidelity make for a nice daytime smoke that will energize and motivate you to get things done. They’re a full one gram each, however, so have a lot to do. High Fidelity’s rendition of the cherished Gelonade strain, a sativa, and cross between Lemon Tree and Gelato 41, has a gassy, grassy, tart limon-esque tendency to it.
Each pack includes seven pre-rolls, totaling a quarter ounce of whole flower, individually wrapped, in a resealable bag. Priced at $32 at the time of this publishing, this pack of seven made for a very affordable, and well-received contribution to a pre-4/20 party I attended in San Diego.
PuffCo Hot Knife
The PuffCo Hot Knife is one of those devices you wonder why another prominent dab device manufacturer didn’t introduce earlier it’s so convenient and integral. PuffCo did, and as one user wrote, they’re the “Apple of dab devices,” so it’s one of the best.
The undeniably worst part about enjoying concentrates is dealing with the gunky, sticky residue clinging on to your dab tools and bangers. With the electronic, heated, PuffCo Hot Knife dab tool, loading your concentrates, rosin, shatter, or wax is as simple as a poke and a slide.
Merely press the button to heat the ceramic tip of the knife, dip it into your concentrate and watch it slide right off into your banger in around three or so seconds. Efficient and clean, the device takes a mere 30 minutes to charge via USB-C and averages up to 50 users per charge.
I love using it, and I’m hardly alone.
Humboldt Family Farms
Humboldt Family Farms offers some of the world's finest cannabis from the legendary Humboldt County, California. The company’s mission is in working together with the best regional farmers to bring sustainably grown, artisanal and hand-crafted flower, pre-rolls, and vapes to consumers, offering a taste of the legendary Humboldt experience. Humboldt Family Farms makes its products available to buy directly from independent farmers, without the middleman.
One of those great products is The Original Train Wreck vape cartridge. This flavor-rich beauty features ocimene, one of the rarest terpenes in cannabis, known for delivering floral and fruity undertones. I’m able to draw from it on my multi-temperature setting Vessel Compass vaping battery, and at each temperature, the rich, potent oil burns just as smoothly and consistently as the last.
The folks at HFF recommend enjoying this vivacious vape strain along with various activities, including: “Organizing Everything. Dancing, Karaoke, Cycling, Yard Work, Social Mixers, Writing, Cooking, Hiking. Making Art.” They should, however, include skateboarding, as the company has taken a sensible evolution into a lifestyle brand, now offering a set of polished, attractive, top-of-the line skateboards.
MIGHTY+ Vaporizer by Storz & Bickel
Storz + Bickel is most widely known for its original vaping device, the Volcano Classic. Vaping aficionados will largely agree the Volcano helped set the bar for the purest of cannabis vaporizing, delivering the epitome of a smooth, unadulterated hit.
I liken my original Volcano to the “Volkswagen Beetle” of vaping devices--classic, long-lasting, and inimitable. But the Volcano is monstrous, so the folks at Storz + Bickel went to work at developing something portable that would deliver similar quality and experience.
Upon its original release in 2014, The battery-powered MIGHTY impressed users with its patented combination of full hot air convection heating and additional conduction, designed to ensure efficient vaporization from the very first draw.
Released in September of 2021, the MIGHTY+ includes a plethora of new features and iterative improvements, making the device even more powerful and practical than its predecessor. With a new ceramic coated filling chamber, rapid heating in approximately 60-seconds, a USB-C charging socket, supercharge function delivering an 80% charge in approx. 40 minutes, and Improved housing, the MIGHTY+ is a truly second generation product that earns its accolades.
The new device provides impressive, clean hits and can clear a chamber in about four to five draws. A look at the MIGHTY+ user reviews lends testament to why Storz & Bickel continue to be definitive leaders in the vaporizer space.
Dedication OG Legacy Smalls by Respect My Region
There’s only one grassroots publication that covers both the music and cannabis industries from an authentic feet-on-the-ground purview, paired with a connoisseur's palette. From its humble beginnings as a Northwest United States regional publication, to the national one it is today, Respect My Region has given readers legions of write-ups on things like current events, product reviews, and even the best places to buy weed in Washington, DC.
In October 2022, the company launched its first cannabis product line, “RMR Legacy Smalls,” in California with two strains, Dedication OG and Gelato Octane. Each launch of RMR Legacy Smalls products features seven-grams of premium indoor grown cannabis flower cultivated by award-winning legacy cannabis cultivators.
As of February 2023, additional strains have been released as part of the RMR Legacy Smalls product line across California in notable retail partnerships. On top of Dedication OG, the RMR team added in sweet-smelling Orange Triangle Cookies, an earthy, gassy OG Kush, a sour, peppery JS-11, a delicious, and potent RS-11, Grape Gas, GMO Garlic Cookies, and some LBC OG Cookies.
RMR Legacy Smalls are expanding to Washington state in May of 2023.
Lost Farm White Russian Chews by Kiva Confections
Kiva Confections, most widely known for its chocolates, made an impressive entry into the fruit chews space with their strain-specific THC infusions and delicious flavors like watermelon, cherry lime, and key lime, that weren’t too sweet. Their latest to the Lost Farms collection, the White Russian Chews, are infused with the globally recognized White Widow strain.
Cannabis enthusiasts who appreciate White Widow love that it allows them to unwind and relax while still maintaining a sense of mental awareness. A fitting and perfect complement to Kiva’s product, a timed homage to the 25th anniversary of the 1998 cult classic film, The Big Lebowski.
White Russian Chews feature sweet, creamy Irish coffee flavors that are tied together with subtle notes of White Widow live resin, a hybrid boasting dank earth and spicy herbal notes. White Russian chews feature strain-specific, plant-based 10mg THC infused with 100% live resin for a distinctively full spectrum, true-to-the-plant-high.
If you’re looking for a sleek looking, easy to use and clean portable dab rig under $200, the Lookah Unicorn fits the bill. I came across the product earlier this year. The unit goes for hours on a single USB charge. As an added feature, you can exhale through the device and the smoke will travel through the base of the device for a cool, unique effect.
User reviews have the quality and usability of the Lookah Unicorn squarely competing with the industry’s most widely known portable dab rigs.
Veritas Cannabis & Chris Bohlin Glass Tray
Colorado-based, Veritas Fine Cannabis, listed by Cannabis Business Times as #5 in their “2023 Best Companies to Work For” category ranking, prides itself on being a “people, process, product” company (the kind Marcus Lemonis loves).
A scroll through the company’s website offers a detailed, video-accompanied description of each stage in their meticulous cultivation and manufacturing processes, from mothers, clones, and vegetation, through flowering and harvesting, into the drying, curing, and trimming stages, all the way into packaging. You only put forth that level of transparency when you’re really confident about your product, and with Veritas’ Premium 1/8th Jars, there’s reason to be.
I was first introduced to the brand at 2022’s MJ Biz Con and distinctly recall the overwhelming whiff of blissful fruit when Veritas president Jon Spadafora cracked open an eighth jar in the middle of the press room at the time. I was able to sneak a puff with my newly procured DaVinci IQ2 vaporizer, and the hybrid strain was smooth, the terpenes, pronounced. The same is true for today’s vast library of Veritas Strains.
What’s fine cannabis without fine accessories? The most recent addition to Veritas’ accessories line up offer joint rollers and pipe packers a luxurious tray designed by Denver local artist, Chris Bohlin.
HEMPER Subscription Boxes
Cannabis subscription box companies have come and gone, but few remain. The challenge initially, for some, was trying to remain compliant with sometimes evolving laws on what could, and could not, be transported by mail. THC-containing intimacy products and related subscription boxes come to mind, for example.
Then there’s the challenge of being consistently able to produce compelling enough products, delivery after delivery, to remain interesting enough for people to maintain their subscriptions. I don’t know about you, but send me a rad looking, shiny topped, mushroom bong with a bunch of quality, branded cleaning materials for a great price, and I’m not going anywhere.
And that’s exactly what HEMPER does.
The subscription company offers subscribers one of three plans based on personal preferences. Glass enthusiasts get glass, not rolling accessories, those are for the blunt and pre-rollers. Subscribers choose the frequency of deliveries, get ten or more cool, new products each time valued at at least $125 or more, and it’s a smokin’ deal (pricing depends on variables selected).
Meanwhile, brands get great exposure to new audiences on a mass scale. HEMPER made it cannabis and hemp related subscribing work.
Shorties Strain-Specific Mini Pre-Rolls
While countless cannabis brands try to be several different things to appeal to different audiences, Shorties does one thing, for one purpose, and does it well. The strain-specific mini pre-roll manufacturer doesn’t produce bags of weed, paired with a new line of rosin, with some legacy pre-rolls in between, instead, Shorties makes ready-to-go and ready-to-smoke pre-rolls in a tin small enough to slip into your pocket.
Certainly, Arizona based Shorties isn’t the only mini pre-roll game in the state, but what makes them unique is in the pure, unadulterated experience they are selling: An assortment or pure strains, mild enough to let you enjoy throughout the day. If you’re looking for a hard-hitting, cross-bred strain to take you out and tuck you into bed, Shorties aren’t the prescription. With pure strains, moderate THC-levels, and cornucopia of extreme flavors, Shorties are designed for pure, lucid enjoyment. And with their small size, Shorties .35g minis make sharing in a smoke sesh “as easy as keeping to yourself.”