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Zen, Five Questions, and the Art of Elise McRoberts

Zen, Five Questions, and the Art of Elise McRoberts

If there ever was a harder working person in the “show business” of ultra-high-end craft cannabis, I don’t know who they are… Because Elise McRoberts is everywhere and all at once, it seems. I want to know her handler because I need this social scheduler in my life… Tongue in cheek, of course, I don’t think I could keep up with her. Elise is an entrepreneur, a connoisseur of the finest family farm, outdoor-grown cannabis, intuitive, intellectual, kind, and generous with her time. I’m happy and deeply proud to call her my friend. We share many things, as you will discover through the time we shared in this interview. It’s pretty succinct. Divorce, being blamed for being a “stoner”- “you’ll end up never accomplishing anything in life,” I’ve heard it all and her experience resonates with me. I too grew up with Yorkshire Terriers, ratters, they would wander off and seek their intuition, rooting out rodents in our horse barn.
I’ll never forget them because they have such personalities. Elise would know. Anyone who has owned a Yorkshire would understand. They’re more akin to cats, in my opinion. Anyhow, Elise is a free spirit and driven to succeed in the life of a dreamer.

I’m glad we had the chance to dig a little deeper than that wild-looking girl with the hula hoop at the Emerald Cup or seen at a mansion/pool party in Palm Springs during the Hall of Flowers. She’s everywhere at once- and I wish her the very best in her quest. (for the holy grail? Nah… Just to be herself and happy…)

Photo credit: Elise McRoberts

Warren Bobrow: Please tell me about yourself. Tell me about your “Hash” nickname. What was the inspiration?  I love your Yorkshire terrier. What is his/her name?  Part of your persona is this puppy- I love it!

Elise McRoberts: My name is Elise Frances McRoberts. Hashinista is my umbrella company- one part consulting firm + event production company, one part lifestyle, media, and education brand, and in a way, my alter ego and/or persona. I came up with it back in 2019 because 1, I am always making up different weed mashup words, titles, puns, and 2, while fashion’s always been a passion of mine, my hash obsession was newer, growing and getting quite intense. At that time, I was the CMO of Berkeley legacy company Doc Green’s- building our new brand and preparing to launch our all new solventless line. I was learning as much as I could about the (live) rosin revolution and emerging solventless scene while doing extensive market research and R&D aka sampling every product, brand, and cultivar I could get my paws on- and I was hungry for the knowledge and terps like the Wolf. I believe(d) in order to be a great CMO and successful in my role I needed to be an expert on our products, process, category, “competition” and consumers. I truly LOVED consuming and learning about live rosin. My livelihood depended on it, as did the brand and company’s success, so Hash quite literally ruled everything around me. Fashion simply was/is an essential part of me. So, I came up with Hashionista- a (pretty obvious) spin-off Fashionista- and threw it in my Instagram bio. For my Birthday that year, 3 of my friends surprised me with a custom sign- HASHINISTA in big, bold neon pink- out of nowhere! I did not ask for this- it chose me. That night HASHINISTA was born. It was the moment I saw it all lit up that I knew it would be more than a word.

Ms. Axlrose, my Teacup Yorkshire Terrier, aka Tiny Wolf, Tiny Prancer, Axilla Ninja Rose, and Axl Left Eye Rose (since she lost her eye in 2016 after a fight with an Australian Shepard named Izzy- you should see the other dog;), has been my trusted co-pilot on the adventure of life since 2009. She’s now approaching 13 years old in September (she’s a Virgo like me;) and has traveled the world with me from Chicago to Berlin and Costa Rica and, of course, all over the U.S. I have pictures of her wearing a judge badge from my 1st High Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam in 2012. Ms. Axlrose has been to more cannabis events than many humans, but I stopped bringing her to events as I’m usually too busy to focus on her and she’s old enough to enjoy staying home in The Wolf Den aka Hashinista HQ.

WB: Where are you from? Where do you live now? What kind of stigmas did you face growing up? Did you smoke cannabis before your friends? Do any of them work in weed?

EMR: I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and ultimately hail from Chicago, IL. My parents divorced when I was three years old- partially directly as a result of the drug war. When I was young, my mother taught me that “pot was for losers” and made you “lazy and dumb,” while citing my father’s refusal to stop growing it in the attic as one of the main reasons for their separation. For the record, she doesn’t believe this now and hasn’t for quite some time. I don’t blame my mother for thinking this way- this was the 80’s- the height of Reagan-era anti-cannabis propaganda – that’s what most everyone believed, and she was terrified of losing her kids. So, while I was not raised with the California hippie mindset that I have always embodied- it is in my blood as my Father was an outlaw in his own right. I came to appreciate that once I was awakened and understood how the whole War on Drugs was a bunch of b.s., but as a teenager I was not super into weed. I experimented with it but didn’t like how it made me feel- which I now attribute to whatever I was smoking not being high quality. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, while I was living in Chicago- that cannabis truly changed my life. I had been struggling with healing my trauma, was a recovering bulimic, suffering manic depression and, at times, crippling anxiety- all of this led to me attempting to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs and thus destructive, addict-like behavior. I had completed treatment, gotten clean, and went off antidepressants, but then still struggled day-to-day with mood swings, low energy, and downward emotional spirals – it seemed like nothing helped. I wasn’t motivated to do anything and was often melancholy, until I began smoking weed. I can now look back and pinpoint that it was really when I gained access to “Cali’s finest,” when I was sampling the various packs from Humboldt of “that good good from NorCal,” that I found my connection to cannabis. Suddenly I was inspired and motivated. I would go on long bike rides around the city, and I felt pure joy. I was finally, for the first time, able to think beyond the bad record on repeat in my brain. I actually remember going to my mother and explaining “I know it sounds crazy, but this plant has made me feel better than anything else. And I want to move to California so I can use it as a patient and not live in fear as a criminal here in Chicago.” That’s a major part of why I moved to San Francisco for the first time back in 2011.

WB: What are you working on right now? For whom? Doing what?  What are your six and twelve month goals? What kind of obstacles have you faced in your path?

EMR: I just wrapped up helping Kimberly Hooks aka Madame Cannoli with the World Premiere Event of the Frenchy Dreams of Hashish Documentary which was Sunday July 10th (7.10) in San Francisco. That was such an honor and lots of fun to reunite with so many old friends of the community in celebration of Frenchy’s Legacy and the small farmers of The Emerald Triangle we all love. I have been working with MyHi since last September as an advisor and their Director of Growth. I absolutely love the product and believe it to be one of the best and most innovative that I’ve come across in my near 10 year tenure of judging Cannabis Cups. Before I became the Hashinista, I was a long time edibles judge, so I will always be particular and passionate about that segment. I’m also super proud to work with and rep the Terp Hogz + The Original Z and Heritage Hash Co. Since I left my CMO role with Doc Green’s last year, I’ve tried to focus on building out Hashinista more, both as a consultancy firm and lifestyle brand, which has required much patience and perseverance, especially as a self-funded solopreneur living in the Bay Area. Our industry is on the verge of collapse (for craft producers and small farmers) and I’m witnessing many friends and colleagues struggling, downsizing, merging and/or closing their businesses. It’s been heartbreaking, stressful and definitely led to some existential crisis and soul searching. I was never in this business for money. I am in this industry because I love the plant, people, and culture. I believe in the plant’s power to help and heal the planet. I (aim to) only work with like-minded operators- the legacy, craft, and small businesses who also love the plant and community- and those are companies who need to fight for their survival right now. My goal is for Hashinista to be a force in that movement- by collaborating with the small farmers, hashmakers, craft producers, and the women, minority and equity-owned brands, I can use my platform to tell their story and help consumers connect with the person/people behind their cannabis. Hashinista is also here to fill the brutally empty void of female-focused products within the concentrate space. In an effort to destigmatize dabbing and normalize concentrate consumption overall, a huge part of the Hashinista brand plan is centered around education for beginners, women, and seniors- the generally overlooked demographics. My goal is to have cannabis product(s) in the market in California within six months and accessories/fashion items within 12 months.

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Photo credit: Elise McRoberts

WB: What is your favorite food? Do you cook? If so, who taught you? Do you have a favorite restaurant? If so, where? What kind of food? What is your favorite-get high and eat food?  Indoor or outdoor grown cannabis? Do you have a mentor? Who?

EMR: I’ll be honest and admit I could eat pizza every day, but I am also hyper health conscious, plant-based, and eating vegan 80% of the time. Nowadays, I identify as a flexitarian. So, I love vegan meals as much as I love sushi and seafood. I had been meat free for over 12 years and just recently started dabbling in eating animal protein again. I do not cook often but like to think I am quite good at following a recipe and putting my own twist on it. My mother married an Italian, and they’re both outstanding cooks with an arsenal of old family recipes. They, along with my little brother, are always cooking up a storm so I love being home for the holidays with my family in Chicago. It’s very hard for me to pick a favorite restaurant, but it was Cala in San Francisco, before the pandemic took it out. In Marin, some of my go-to’s are Sol Food, Burmatown, and Hog Island.  I just had the pleasure of dining at the James Beard Winner (Best New Restaurant)- Owamni by The Sioux Chef in Minneapolis, where they only use indigenous ingredients. That was a very delicious and thought-provoking dinner! I gravitate towards sun grown cannabis from The Emerald Triangle and Solventless Live Rosin made from sun-grown, but really mainly I care about the quality, cleanliness, and care with which the flower was cultivated, and hash was made. I don’t have one mentor, but rather a few people whom I am grateful for their advice, guidance, and insight. I am always making new connections and enjoy finding more accomplished people from whom I can learn.

WB: What is your passion?

EMR: I am super passionate about cannabis, plant medicine and psychedelics, fashion (obviously;) as well as music and dance. (Hula) Hoopdance is my creative outlet that I’ve been doing since 2010. In 2019 I began fire hooping (first lighting up at Burning Man). I have danced on stage with Thievery Corporation and Outkast, and performed with a small art collective here in Marin- the Poisn Ivy Circus. Dance is so special to me. It’s extremely therapeutic plus great exercise, a true moving meditation, and possibly the only time I can fully turn off my brain. It’s such a completely free feeling to just be with the music and my hoop, and of course, I smoke or dab before, likely had an edible and/or infused beverage too, all of which help with achieving and maintaining flow state, and it’s simply the most awesome feeling. On top of all that, it’s a time when I tap into my divine feminine energy and power, expressing my authentic gift, which can feel like a defiant statement and protest in a world that tries to control women and our bodies. I am always trying to/wishing that I could carve out more time to dance. It’s my dream someday to have a cannabis consumption dance club, so people can drop in to get lit and fit with the Hashinista.