Reimagining cannabis-based events — for work, home, and play 

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On Super Bowl Sunday, while most of the country was watching the big game from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, Rochester couple Precious Brown and Brandi Hester-Harrell were among thousands of people just outside the arena making history of their own.

They were working at Consumption Park, a three-day celebration of cannabis and hip-hop billed as the first-ever experiential cannabis pop-up consumption lounge at a major sporting event.

The park featured cannabis vendors, infused foods, complimentary samples, and celebrity appearances, including former Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Brown, who, with her fiancée Hester-Harrell, founded EEWC, a cannabis hospitality and education company.

“I was excited, but also felt, ‘Wow, this is happening,’” Hester-Harrell said. “...I’m seeing this historical moment, and to be part of it was super cool.”


Founded in 2020, EEWC stands for “Entertaining and Elevating with Cannabis,” but it could just as easily stand for “Entertaining and Educating with Cannabis.” The business has two sides: planning and hosting cannabis-centered events and meals, and collaborating with community partners to educate people about the plant and the economic and job opportunities that come with its legalization.
click to enlarge Brandi Hester-Harrell. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Brandi Hester-Harrell.

“Rochester used to be a booming community, especially in the Black community,” Hester-Harrell said. “As a member of this community, it is my duty to tell you that there are jobs here, that there is opportunity here.”

Early projections of the cannabis market in New York put revenue in the billions by 2026, with tens of thousands of new jobs. There are already career fairs and networking events in every other industry, and EEWC jumped at the chance to fill the gap for cannabis. Brown’s professional background is in organization management, working for organizations like Xerox and Paychex. Hester-Harrell has two master’s degrees in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

“I have always been entertaining and elevating with cannabis,” Brown said. “Curating thoughtful, supportive experiences has always been my passion, and marrying event planning and cannabis was a natural thing for me. I get to take this thing I’ve been doing at home in secrecy, and share it with the world.”

Last year, EEWC hosted 13 events. I had the chance to join them for a sponsorship dinner before one educational symposium. Held at the Bogart Social Club in downtown Rochester, it was a night of fine dining, cannabis infusions, and connecting with members of the local cannabis community. I sampled vape cartridges, tried Weed Water from local business NOWAVE, and ate my heart out.

Now, EEWC is focusing on forming partnerships with community stakeholders. It has nine events planned, including educational roundtables, three cannabis science symposiums, and a 5k run/walk on July 8. The duo is also actively seeking a location for their Bud and Breakfast, a 420 spinoff on a Bed and Breakfast.


What is a cannabis event? It’s like asking what an alcohol event is. Some events are planned around it and celebrate it. Others simply have it as an option, an accoutrement. It can be any kind of event, really — professional, educational, or communal. They tend to be a blend of fun and sophistication.

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“Everything about cannabis is sophisticated. It always has been.” Brown said. “The plant itself is, and the community that consumes it has always been considered the cool kids. Why not create a safe sophisticated space where we can consume?

Zach Sarkis, founder, and operator of FLWR CITY Collective, sees consumption-based events as critical to changing perceptions of cannabis as the legal industry gets off the ground.

“There’s no better way to break the stigma than to curate safe, informative, and playful experiences around the plant,” Sarkis said.

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Last year, FLWR City hosted a statewide bud competition called the FLWR City Cup. In previous years, the competition centered around hemp flower, but the 2022 Cup included THC flower for the first time. Sarkis and his team held pop-up events around the state and the finale at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester. Attendees could browse cannabis vendors, sample products, and compete in a blunt rolling competition.

I was one of those attendees. Even though it was completely legal, it felt deliciously naughty. Watching 10 people sit around a table rolling their best joint was captivating, and I was envious of the judges who got to light each one.

Even though cannabis is now (mostly) legal, cannabis events can still feel clandestine. The thrill of lighting a joint inside, trying infused products, and learning about the plant doesn’t wear off quickly, even for someone like myself who spends most of her time talking, researching, and writing about weed.

The intended audience of these events goes beyond current members of the cannabis community, welcoming anyone who wants to know more about the plant.

“Cannabis is a plant that brings us together — it’s not about color, education, economic status, it is about a plant that is going to give access to funding and dismantling our harmful thoughts,” Hester-Harrell said.


As a stoner, I love lighting up inside and sharing a joint in a smoking circle. But cannabis events are about more than smoking together. They’re sophisticated, curated, thoughtful experiences. One could call them “boujee”
LaCarrie Byer certainly does. Byer, who goes by "Vee," started the V Experience, a Rochester company that hosts what she calls "Boujee Stoner" private parties centered around consumption, education, and selling cannabis-related products.
click to enlarge Precious Brown. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Precious Brown.

“A Boujeee Stoner event is classy, cute, and regal,” Vee said. “It doesn’t have to be tied to smoking. I want to open it up to people who are novices to the plant and interested in learning more, without being bombarded by smoke.”

What the future of cannabis events looks like depends on who you ask.

For Brown and Hester-Harrell, they are about education and community empowerment. For Sarkis, they are about celebrating cultivators and bringing people together. Vee sees them as a way to introduce people to “the true power of the plant.”

For me, I envision a group hotbox, where smokers can toke in peace without fear of someone calling the cops.

That’s the beauty of an entirely new industry — everyone gets to bring something to the table.

Brown sums it up this way: “This is the cannabis renaissance.”

Jessica Reilly is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to [email protected].
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