More than 300 cannabis enthusiasts sampled, networked and giggled their way through HelloMD’s sold-out Cannabis and Comedy event, held Thursday, Oct. 5, at The Midway, an indoor-outdoor party venue in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.
The event, called Laughter Haven, was the third and largest of the community gatherings sponsored by HelloMD, a digital health and wellness platform for the cannabis community. On HelloMD, patients can connect with a physician to get a medical cannabis recommendation over live video, and access information on marijuana products and dispensaries as well as advice on marijuana’s medicinal efficacy.
The guests then enjoyed 90 minutes of stand-up comedy by three local comics—Mike E. Winfield, Carlos Rodriguez and Steph Garcia—bringing the relaxed crowd into non-stop laughter.
“People often say laughter is the best medicine, and when we laugh it’s proven to be beneficial to overall health and well-being. Bringing together an event with the top brands in cannabis and a comedy event seemed like a natural pairing,” said HelloMD co-founder Pamela Hadfield.
“Our goal is to support our partner brands by exposing them to new patients and to help raise awareness among patients as to who the brands are and what they do,” added Hadfield, who started HelloMD with her husband Mark.
Hadfield said the October event was a “tremendous success” with almost triple the attendance of the company’s two earlier community gatherings. “We had requests up until the day before for brands that wanted to participate,” she said. Tickets sold out in advance, she added.
“We’ve been holding events to bring our community together to share in a unique experience while promoting cannabis as a tool for health and wellness,” explained Hadfield.
“HelloMD promotes the connection between body, mind and soul, and we feel our events explore and bring together these different facets,” she added.
Mike E. Winfield, a star on Netflix’s “Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo” and on the eighth season of NBC’s “The Office,” said the “energy of the crowd made it a wonderful place” to perform. “It was just so much fun,” he added.
Winfield, who’s based in Sacramento, said this was his first opportunity to perform at a cannabis event, and “I certainly hope there will be more in the future,” he said. “My wife and I went home with a bagful of goodies, and we intend to dabble with them and remember the fun we had that night.”
Comic Steph Garcia, also from Sacramento, said she was thrilled to be invited to HelloMD’s event, “because I’m a huge advocate of the healing properties of cannabis.”
“The mood of the crowd was awesome from beginning to end. There was lots of hugging and laughter. I just had so much fun.”
Garcia pointed out that an audience who’s enjoyed cannabis instead of alcohol makes for a “different and better experience” for performers. “People who are drunk can be really awful” during and after the show, she said.
In the days following the event, HelloMD asked a handful of guests and vendors for comments on the gathering.
Cannabis attorney Daniel Dellafose, who regularly attends industry events, said, “The event was great. All the vendors were really knowledgeable, and the comedy show was funny. All three comedians did an excellent job at keeping the crowd laughing.”
Dellafose, who has a solo private practice focusing on cannabis compliance, said he was in the second cohort at the bayarealegalincubator.org and is “happy to be working in the cannabis industry.”
Chris Schroeder (right) with his Somatik team.
Entrepreneur Chris Schroeder, founder of cannabis coffee company Somatik, Inc., said the event “was a perfect evening of cannabis exploration and social mixing. The Midway always makes for a beautiful venue, but the combination of craft vendors, great guests and comedy made it a night to remember.”
Schroeder added that the event “was a great chance to introduce Somatik and our cold brew coffee to many new people, which is the first step in changing the conversation around cannabis and helping to reduce stigma and elevate the wellness benefits. This was our first Hello MD event, and I have a feeling we're going to be doing many more.”
Schroeder, a Bay Area native, says he’s been working for local mission-driven companies his entire career. “I started Somatik because I wanted to elevate and normalize cannabis use. Our first product, coffee, is something so many people already have a relationship with; it was a great way to help demystify the experience. The name ‘Somatik’ comes from a Greek term promoting the balance of mind and body, which is something I think cannabis is fantastic in achieving.”
As for future events, HelloMD’s Hadfield said the company may sponsor a pop-up later in the year. Specific plans for 2018 will depend on the upcoming rules and regulations governing events in California, following passage of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational, or adult use, cannabis.
“Stay tuned for announcements,” Hadfield said.
Companies represented at the HelloMD Laughter Haven event include: Cannaderm; Dunlevie; Emerald Alchemy; Flow Kana; Guild Extracts; Kiva Confections; Marley Natural; Satori Chocolates; Sava; Somatik; Sprig; Vape Exhale; and The Venice Cookie Company.