Wealth Culture

Bong Appetit's Pinsky Is Crowned Mainstream Marijuana King

Updated on
  • With the Cannabis World Congress in town, a party buzz unfolds
  • Spotted: Sour Diesel and edibles experts, High Times editor

On the rooftop deck of the Delancey Thursday evening, guests traded vape pens and Napa-worthy tasting notes while others lit up joints on the sidewalk, respecting the Lower East Side club’s no-smoking policy.

Jason Pinsky, Adam Dunn and Chloe Villano

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

These were no average pot smokers. On the sidewalk, Jason Pinsky, the cannabis producer for the Viceland show "Bong Appetit," and partner in Fette Sau, a barbecue restaurant in Williamsburg, was soon to be crowned the King of Mainstream Marijuana. There, too, was his crowner, Chloe Villano, the founder of the Cannabis Business Awards; Adam Dunn, an expert on the Sour Diesel strain and instructor at Clover Leaf University; and Danny Danko, an editor and writer at High Times magazine.

Welcome to the nightlife scene stemming from the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition, a three-day affair at the Javits Center in Manhattan with exhibitors like HempMeds and HempTech and keynote speakers including Republican presidential adviser Roger Stone, Reverend Al Sharpton and Jesse Ventura, the former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler turned marijuana legalization advocate.

Michael Zaytsev and Todd Hinden

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

As more states legalize cannabis in some form, the numbers of investors, entrepreneurs, industry conventions and parties are on the rise. While the Bloomberg Intelligence Global Cannabis Index has dropped about 40 percent from its February high, pot-related companies raised more than $734 million between Jan. 1 and April 21, an almost sevenfold increase from $108 million in the same period last year, according to a report from New Frontier Data and Viridian Capital.

Though President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions oppose legalizing marijuana, public support for legalization rose to 60 percent in 2016, according to pollster Gallup.

Jason Pinsky on the Delancey’s roof deck

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

At the party, some guests said the most important aspect of making pot legal is justice for people of color, who are disproportionately incarcerated on marijuana-related charges. Pinsky, 43, said he’s an activist for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and has told lawmakers in Albany his story of using cannabis extracts to wean himself off opiates, which he used for 14 years to manage chronic pain after two surgeries.

Having judged his first High Times Cannabis Cup in 1994, he’s seen an evolution in weed culture.

"My son has no concept of marijuana and the drug war," Pinsky said of his 10-year-old. "He knows cannabis as a medicine to help his dad get off pain meds. He’s growing up in a world where weed is an ingredient in our pantry that we cook with."

Vanessa Lavorato on Pinsky’s lap as she roasts

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Pinsky has shot 31 episodes of "Bong Appetit" over the last 9 months, working behind the scenes as culinary cannabis experts such as Vanessa Lavorato, founder of Marigold Sweets in Los Angeles, orchestrate sophisticated meals on camera.

"Bong Appetit is 70 percent food, 20 percent weed and 10 percent weed science and chemistry," Pinsky said. "I’ve done a bunch of activism in New York state but working on Bong Appetit and talking directly to the people globally is the best form of activism that I could be doing."

Once the Fette Sau sandwiches had run out, it was time for Pinsky’s honoring as the pot king. It took the form of a roast, with Pinsky’s mom on hand as various speakers teased him -- for his monthly bill at Peter Luger’s, his habit of rubbing hash oil in his mustache (“he thinks it makes him look more attractive,” said Danko) and so on.

Seibo Shen and Chloe Villano

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Among the winners of the glitter snow globe containing a cannabis leaf were Tuatara Capital, which invests in the legal cannabis industry, including Willie Nelson’s brand, Willie’s Reserve; High NY, a cannabis community, accepted by onetime JPMorgan analyst Michael Zaytsev and Todd Hinden; and VapeXHale, with its founder and chief executive officer Seibo Shen, vape pen in hand.

"If anyone wants to use one, come look for me tonight," Shen said.

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