Pubdate: Wed, 22 Apr 2015
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2015 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


Pot Tech Company Flow Kana Discovers High Consumer Demand for 
Knowledge, Community, and Elite Heirloom Bud.

Finally, a tea party worth voting for. High-end medical 
cannabis-tasting parties are now a thing in the Bay Area, and they 
aren't the informal, low-key stoner gatherings of yore.

On Friday, April 10, the farm-to-door pot app company Flow Kana sold 
out its $80-per-head "Swami Select Tasting Party." The smash-hit 
event in San Francisco attracted several dozen professionals - 
coders, lawyers, and marketers, who showed up in cocktail attire, 
noshed on catered kabobs, and drank Mendocino Brewing Company ales. 
As the sun set, pot industry gurus schooled the crowd on how to 
analyze quality bud. Then, attendees took a six-strain tour of the 
Emerald Triangle - the epicenter of American pot - sampling Sour 
Strawberry, Lemon Ogre, Ogre Berry, Sativa Dream, Orange Turbo, and Cuvee.

"It's a dream come true," said Casey O'Neill, a second-generation pot 
farmer and owner of HappyDay Farms. "It's really representative of 
how far we've come as a culture. I mean, being stuck in the hills, 
hiding under the bushes, to being able to have a party in the San 
Francisco hills in a fancy house overlooking the water. That for me 
is tremendously invigorating."

Posh, commercial pot tastings are long overdue. About 84 percent of 
Americans now support medical access to the botanical, and California 
has a mature, nineteen-year-old, $2 billion medical pot industry. The 
event was perfectly legal under state law, as everyone there was a 
member of the Flow Kana collective - a new Bay Area tech startup that 
uses a web application to power farm-to-door pot deliveries.

Started in March, Flow Kana combines the pot industry contacts and 
expertise of Hayward's Nicholas Smilgys (formerly at SPARC) with the 
serial tech entrepreneur skills of Michael Steinmetz Mishkin, a 
resident of San Francisco's North Beach district. Qualified patients 
join Flow Kana via smartphone, peruse the online menu, select their 
bud of choice, and receive a delivery within an hour.

The founders see the start-up as a fusion of the direct-to-consumer 
and farm-to-table movements. Flow Kana gives patients a chance to 
vote with their dollar for top-shelf bud. It's mostly high-end, $50 
per eighth-ounce, artisanal appellations of heirloom strains that are 
grown organically, under full sun, and verified by the independent 
organization Clean Green.

Flow Kana works with leading Emerald Triangle farmers who are eager 
to brand their wares and grab marketshare. Veteran growers Swami 
Chaitanya and Nikki Lastreto proved the perfect launch partners. The 
duo is pushing new "Swami Select" heirloom strains, and a tasting 
seemed the perfect venue. Plus, the two had access to a chic, modern 
Potrero Hills home. Flow Kana expanded on Chaitanya and Lastreto's 
idea, adding another grower, HappyDay Farms, booking catering, and 
sending ticket sale invites to Flow Kana members.

Mishkin said consumers seriously crave this type of event. More 
people read the company's email newsletter than ever before, he said. 
"This event was a revolutionary thing for us."

After a brief reception and a 15-minute tasting lesson from Chaitanya 
and Lastreto - who are also Emerald Cup judges who've smoked an 
estimated 3,000 strains in the past decade - guests floated through 
the tasting booths, learning about the buds, smelling unlit joints, 
and taking a puff or two off a joint or bong. Downtempo house music 
and reggae kept the event mellow. Every half-hour, Lastreto rang a 
small silver bell, announcing the availability of a new strain to 
taste. After six bell rings, guests re-sampled any flowers they 
preferred, and bought direct from Swami Select or HappyDay Farms.

The four-hour tasting flew by in a surreal, mirthful whirl. "This is 
great, man," said O'Neill. "It's like, normal, capable, thinking, 
conscious adults having a good time. I guarantee you there won't be 
any fights."

There wasn't. Flow Kana announced another tasting for May.

For more on the tasting, including photos and pro tips on picking out 
flowers, check out the Legalization Nation blog this week on our website.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom