As pride month has (technically) come to an end, the time has come once again for us to watch big businesses “de-rainbow” their logos, discontinue their pride-themed products, and, slowly but surely, fade back into hetero-normalcy.
In this era of performative allyship and rainbow-washing, it can be difficult to discern good from bad when it comes to consumerism. But for all the cannabis lovers reading, we’ll make it easy. Sava is the only queer-owned, women-owned, and Latinx-owned cannabis delivery company serving the greater Bay Area, and they’re here to transform the cannabis industry bud by bud.
I got to sit down via zoom with CEO and founder Andrea Brooks last week to talk about all things cannabis, pride, and Sava. Like any good conversation, it traveled on its own from topic to topic and depth to depth, but let’s start at the beginning.
Brooks is a bubbly and proud queer woman who is passionate about redefining how people view cannabis. She entered the world of cannabis after a debilitating injury left her with systemic nerve damage and chronic pains, for which doctors prescribed her everything under the sun except cannabis. After crossing paths with an old friend who was a grower and gaining a very personalized education on cannabis, Brooks’ life did a complete 180.
She went from a life of consulting, traveling, and non-profit work to being told she may never work again, to months later finding herself completely weaned off all her prescribed medications and back on her feet thanks to cannabis.
This life-changing experience made her think, “why didn’t I think to come to cannabis sooner?” And, instead of letting the thought pass, she actually sat down and examined those reasons: she never had that personalized touch, she never understood how to use the plant for medical needs, which products fit her best, and she never knew where her dollars were going with cannabis companies.
Roll all those reasons into one and you get Sava, Brooks’ progressive, content-driven, e-commerce cannabis delivery platform.
“I felt like there was an opportunity for a very different type of shopping experience.”
As Brooks dove deeper and deeper into the cannabis industry alongside her partner and Co-Founder, Amanda Denz, her passion for the plant intertwined with her identity and her passion for LGBTQ rights. Seeing as cannabis and the queer community have been tied together for decades (especially in the Bay Area), this intersection was not only inevitable but extremely important.
Let me give you a (very) quick history lesson…
It’s no secret that the initial push for legalizing medicinal marijuana started in San Francisco back in the ’80s, as the AIDs epidemic exploded across the country. SF was progressive in addressing the issue, and members of the LGBTQ community lead the charge. They were the not-so-silent voices behind the passing of Proposition P and Prop 215, which permits the use of medical marijuana in the state of California.
“The trailblazers who brought cannabis into first medical and now recreational use come from the gay community here in the Bay Area,” Brooks says. For her, it is extremely important that this history is still centered and discussed so that it is not forgotten. However, this is only one side of that history.
The criminalization of marijuana has affected LGBTQ and BIPOC communities disproportionately, to put it extremely lightly.
Like I said before, it is no secret that our legal system heavily targets minority groups. And no, that’s not an opinion. LGBTQ people are 2.25 times more likely to be arrested than straight people, and African Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana than white people (despite both ethnicities consuming marijuana at about the same rate).
Brooks’ passion for these social justice issues is embedded into every aspect of Sava. Not only do she and Denz make it easy for customers to search for the brands they want to support (woman-owned, BIPOC owned, queer-owned, sustainable…), they host monthly “givebacks” during which they donate portions of their proceeds to BIPOC-run non-profits working towards expungement.
“It’s very important to me, who I am in this industry and who the company is to step up in that way,” Brooks says. “I would love to see other retailers step up as actively as we do.”
Now you might be thinking, how else is Sava stepping up? What else are they doing to support BIPOC and LGBTQ communities?
I’m glad you asked. Since its inception, Sava has been sending out detailed emails to their customers that highlight each of their brand partners. These emails give customers a personal look into why Sava’s queer, female, and BIPOC partners created their companies and what they are all about, a type of visibility you can’t find anywhere else. Brooks explains how she wanted to make it as easy as possible for customers to get to know the companies they are giving their money to.
Sava is continuously committed to supporting queer and BIPOC communities by providing their partners the visibility and platform they need to grow, as well as donating to a multitude of non-profit orgs through their monthly giveback program. This year, they partnered with the SF Aids Foundation which resulted in a donation of $1,300 for their programs supporting Latino clients, Black clients, Trans clients, and those aging with HIV.
Needless to say, rainbow-washing is not in Sava’s vocabulary. If anything, you’ll only see it on their blog as a “what we don’t do” post. They are the opposite of those large companies who slap a rainbow over their logo while openly donating money to anti-transgender bills or anti-LGBTQ politicians (cough cough, CVS).
When you’re looking for your next cannabis fix, make sure you keep in mind that every dollar you spend makes a difference for small, start-up businesses. “You have the ability to choose what type of business you support with every single purchase you make,” Brooks says.
Looking beyond cannabis, I urge you to take the time to research the companies you’re giving money to, figure out where your dollars are going and decide if that’s really where you want them. It took me just two clicks to find out that some of the biggest brands I’ve given money to sent that money straight to anti-LGBTQ bills and politicians.
And, just in case that research wears you out, don’t hesitate to check out Sava’s website to get to know cannabis, and yourself, a little bit better. Whether you smoke every day or never at all, Sava’s goal is to show you that cannabis is far more than the “lazy stoner stereotype” it’s painted out to be. It can be used for energy, focus, relaxation, pain relief, and even productivity if you only know the right way to use it for you. Sava can help with that.
So go check Sava out, figure out where your dollars are really going, and support female, BIPOC, and queer-owned companies every day, not just during the month of June. Come on people, it’s not that hard.
// You can shop Sava on their website; getsava.com, and find them on Instagram @getsava. Photography by Jennifer Skog.