MERRY JANE met the acclaimed musician on a weed bus because it cruised round San Francisco’s Pleasure Parade. There, Lewis opened up about her dad’s historical past with Jack Herer, tarot playing cards, and her favourite pressure.

Lead photograph by Autumn De Wilde, courtesy of the artist

It’s a heat afternoon in San Francisco and Jenny Lewis is dancing on the roof of a bus.

As a musician, she often has the advantage of a stage — one thing she’s seen loads of currently as she continues to tour behind her critically-acclaimed fourth album, On the Line. Arriving 5 years after her final report — and 18 years after her former band Rilo Kiley’s debut LP — Lewis’ newest is sort of probably her strongest effort but, molding the sounds of sunny California into an insightful examination of heartbreak and loss. Plus, she acquired Ringo Starr to put down the drums for the album’s lead single, “Heads Gonna Roll.”

This may all be cause sufficient for Lewis to need to shake a tail feather or two, however right this moment, the supply of her celebration is San Francisco’s annual Pleasure Parade.

Perched atop a bus sponsored by vaporizer maker PAX, Lewis is right here to assist town in honoring its legacy of LGBTQ+ activists. She’s relaxed within the second, her auburn hair spilling throughout the shoulders of a royal blue crewneck because the bass begins to bubble on a speaker blasting “Sissy That Stroll” by RuPaul.

“Sure, I put on my very own tour merch,” Lewis says once we first meet, pointing to the heart of her sweatshirt the place an embroidered cranium carrying a flower crown is smoking a joint.

Shot by Shaun Pictures

Although Lewis might make a behavior of recurrently carrying the stuff she sells on tour, her selection of apparel is very becoming for a dialog centered on cannabis.

“I’ve had a perspective on cannabis since I used to be five-years-old, not 5 years in the past,” Lewis says later as we navigate our means via the sidewalks of downtown San Francisco within the aftermath of the parade. With the dancing portion of the day full, it’s time to speak about pot — and the musician’s newfound function within the authorized business. 

Fortunately, Jenny Lewis has some tales to inform. Raised in Southern California, she discovered of cannabis at an early age due to her father, Eddie Gordon, who was an early marijuana advocate in addition to a profession musician. Often, Lewis’ mother and father would ship her to be taken care of by a person colloquially generally known as the Emperor of Hemp.

“My people would drop me off at Jack Herer’s headshop once they did not have a babysitter,” she says, “so I form of grew up across the tradition.”

For these in want of a fast reminder, Jack Herer isn’t simply an omnipresent flower pressure. It’s named in honor of the cannabis reform activist who wrote the groundbreaking pot guidebook, The Emperor Wears No Garments. The truth is, Lewis says her father contributed to the textual content and is thanked on the finish of the ebook, although the gesture finally fell barely wanting excellent.

“They misspelled his title,” Lewis laughs.


Shot by Shaun Pictures

Though Lewis didn’t see a lot of her father whereas rising up, she recollects watching him play his harmonica at pot rallies for NORML, the nationwide cannabis advocacy group.

“I grew up probably not figuring out him very nicely,” Lewis says of her father, “however he would pop into city to play a NORML pot rally. I’d exit with all my buddies and see my dad [perform].”

The previous days of cannabis activism, which Lewis likens to a secret society, are actually lengthy gone. Of their place is a quickly increasing market, one which has different industries operating to hitch the social gathering because the potential energy and earnings of regulated cannabis turn out to be ever extra obvious.

“I suppose we’re on the cusp of this new time,” she observes. “It feels lots just like the Wild West or instantly afterward, the place there’s this bizarre, unknown alternative. It feels very American not directly. Being right here in San Francisco and seeing the Hearst constructing and fascinated by the Gold Rush and simply that complete factor within the context of the weed motion… it is attention-grabbing.”

Throughout our stroll, we go by Moe Inexperienced’s. Thought to be one among San Francisco’s extra upscale, lavish dispensaries, the area is spectacular, and even has its personal consumption lounge. Moe Inexperienced’s can also be a becoming instance of the astonishing leap ahead cannabis has made simply inside Lewis’ lifetime. We watch as clients search pockets and purses for IDs and as others depart with prized purchases in hand.

It could be not possible to encapsulate the whole thing of the business in a single enterprise, however standing earlier than the big, glistening entrance window of Moe Inexperienced’s, it’s virtually as if you possibly can see the whole thing of the blood, sweat, and tears that led to this THC-infused zeitgeist mirrored again at you. Lewis watches via the thick pane of glass, observing the shop in motion.

“My father handed away in 2010, earlier than this complete factor took off,” she says. “I actually want he might’ve seen what his work did.”


Shot by Shaun Pictures

As Lewis explains, her father and Herer had been fairly shut. The work they had been doing — providing themselves as public faces for an activist motion involved with an unlawful substance — risked excessive penalties. Although the prices had been doubtlessly excessive, Lewis says she will be able to additionally perceive the enchantment of getting collectively for pot rallies.

“Within the ‘70s and ‘80s,” she notes, “there was lots of concern. However it was additionally a solution to discover your individuals.” 

All through her profession — which started when Lewis was a toddler actor however formally pivoted to music with the discharge of Rilo Kiley’s 2001 debut, Take Offs and Landings — Lewis has by no means shied away from incorporating her pursuits into her work. Her songs usually acknowledge her affinity for cannabis (in addition to a handful of psychedelics, i.e. her 2008 report Acid Tongue), which in flip may very well be interpreted as a delicate try to acknowledge the activism of her father, Herer, and quite a few others.

In 2014, she launched a limited-edition wine together with her third album, The Voyager. Earlier this 12 months, she partnered with Santa Barbara’s Glass Home Farms on a tin of Bitter Diesel pre-rolls that featured artwork commissioned for On the Line.  Dubbed “Rabbit Gap,” the discharge shares its title with the closing monitor of the album. Lewis says the Alice in Wonderland metaphor is completely suited to function the title for her pre-roll collaboration.

“I do not suppose happening the rabbit gap is unhealthy,” she muses. “I believe a sativa can help you in your artistic path. You may tunnel out on one thing. It is extra of an upbeat, artistic factor.”

Lewis emphasizes that this isn’t “her” pressure — nor an official Jenny Lewis-branded pot firm although she teases that she may launch a pressure of her personal sooner or later within the not-so-distant future. As a substitute, her pre-rolls function a low-THC, sun-grown Bitter Diesel hybrid from Glass Home Farms, who has made them out there at choose dispensaries all through Los Angeles. 

The paintings on the packaging comes courtesy of her frequent collaborator, Sina Grace — a Los Angeles illustrator and shut good friend to Lewis. The truth is, Grace designed an whole tarot deck with Lewis that gives a visible counterpart to every of On the Line’s eleven tracks.

“I suppose I do know extra about witchy issues now,” replies Lewis enigmatically when requested what impressed her to fee the artwork, which embrace pictures like Lewis holding a white dove and one among a pink rotary telephone with daggers in it.

General, the vibe of the pre-rolls leans in direction of the psychedelic, from Grace’s tarot paintings to the backstory of the pressure, the seeds of which may apparently be traced to a Grateful Lifeless live performance from 1991.


Nevertheless, in terms of what Lewis prefers to smoke, she’s not maintaining any secrets and techniques.

“I am actually taken with weed that does not fucking lay you in your fucking ass,” she says. “I just like the low THC stuff that is artistic and never too sturdy. The stuff that does not make individuals go out.”

The times of Lewis getting “I’m an asshole” scrawled throughout her brow in a stoned daze are apparently now behind her. Right now, the 43-year-old musician is extra taken with a lighter contact in terms of cannabis. Fortunate for her, the business is poised to rise to the problem, as low-dose merchandise proceed to hit the market.

Lewis additionally has success to thank in terms of the venues she’s been enjoying in assist of her new report. 

“I’ve actually lucked out,” she says of her previous few excursions, noting how completely the Pueblo deco” design of the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque or the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, with its daring blues and pinks, matched together with her present tour aesthetic. 

Performing in a shimmering silver catsuit, Lewis’s On the Line stage design contains retro telephones that glow blue and pink and a piano custom-painted in pastels and adorned with a goblet from the famed Madonna Inn in California. (“It has tequila in it too,” Lewis confides. “Just a bit bit.”) It’s kitsch juxtaposed with splendor every time she hits a classic venue, and the symbiosis fits her completely.

Maybe that’s what cannabis wants proper now: a little bit of symbiosis in terms of the individuals, cultures, and even profiteers who all champion the plant in some form or kind. 

We preserve making an attempt to determine how pot ought to match into every little thing. We argue about zoning for dispensaries and which legislative departments ought to oversee the business. We debate whether or not insurance coverage corporations ought to cowl the price and the way all of the tax cash being collected must be spent. We struggle concerning the still-ongoing Battle on Medication and how one can greatest handle the historic damages sparked by prohibition. Sure, pot has taken a central function in mainstream discourse, however the background behind it has but to be stuffed in.

As Lewis sees it, discovering a backdrop that displays who you might be could make all of the distinction. It could be a worn flag at a yard NORML rally, a t-shirt at a Pleasure Parade, a live performance venue that enhances the stage design, or a putting neon signal beckoning clients to a brand new dispensary. It’s about discovering what matches, whatever the topic at hand.

“That is when you realize you are on the appropriate path,” Lewis says, “when the rainbow matches the room.”

For tour dates, go to “Rabbit Gap” is out there in restricted portions at choose Los Angeles dispensaries

Comply with Zack Ruskin on Twitter