This Cannabis Just Wants To Have Fun
Feature by Kate Ryan
May 23, 2019 · 7 min read

The ladies of Proper went deep over a LEUNE-fueled brunch, discussing vape flavors, pink taxes, and the pros and perils of gender-specific marketing.

When Nidhi Lucky Handa dug deep into Eaze's catalog, she noticed there were products designed to get you extremely high and products designed to treat your every ailment. But cannabis designed for casual, fun times? Not so much. With that gap in mind, she founded LEUNE, a cannabis brand everyone could enjoy without hesitation or pretense. Within a month of launching on Eaze, her Desert Gold and Cloud Berry all-in-one vapes became the best-selling vapes on the platform. Practically overnight, it became clear she’d struck a chord.

Obviously I wanted to try the products for myself, so I convinced a few of my coworkers to ditch their desks and join me for brunch to sample them. (Spoiler: it didn’t take much convincing.) On a sunny Friday morning in Los Angeles, the ladies of Proper gathered around almond croissants and lattes to try out LEUNE’s vapes and chat (read: vent) about how we’ve traditionally been marketed to as women.

I take a few deep pulls and have to restrain myself from inhaling the whole damn thing.

But on the morning of our laid-back get-together, I wake up late and scramble to find a suitable #brunchlife outfit. Then I realize one of my car’s tires is completely flat. Also I can’t find my camera. So, after abandoning my car and ransacking my apartment, I pack up my gear and call a Lyft—but not before taking a few hits of the Cloud Berry vape. My first impression of this peacock blue, berry-flavored vape? It’s light, tasty, and incredibly easy to suck down. I take a few deep pulls and have to restrain myself from inhaling the whole damn thing. 10 minutes later, I’m halfway through my Lyft ride and noticeably calmer. My conversation with the driver about weather is remarkably bearable. Between the barely-there head high and a soothing body buzz, I could see this vape being a good entrypoint for cannabis newcomers. As a low-dose user myself, I appreciate the fact I don’t feel a high so much as an absence of irritation.

“Here,” I say once I make it to brunch and find my coworkers. “Try this vape while I order a matcha.”

When I reconvene with my crew, bright green latte in hand, the first thing we discuss is packaging because, well, it’s the first thing you notice. Laura, who’s 32 and manages the ever-growing Proper Cannabis Committee, says she could see the whimsical, playful design piquing the interest of her friends. Siera, our 30-year-old social media manager, calls the pens “girly yet sophisticated.” Morgan, Proper’s 23-year-old copywriter, is similarly into the low-key femme aesthetic, which leads me to believe there’s some consensus here. These pens may not be directly marketed to women only (in fact, Handa claims they’re the only brand selling 50-50 male-female on Eaze), but it’s clear they have women in mind.

Cut the cutesy shit. I’m an adult.

“I think we’ve all seen the negatives of gendering products,” Handa told me over the phone a couple weeks ago. “As women, we pay a tax on so many things just because it’s in female packaging—whatever that means.” Oh, how aware I am of this silly yet expensive fact. Go to any pharmacy and you’ll find pink lotions, razors, and shampoos tend to cost more than blue lotions, razors, and shampoos. One 2010 Consumer Reports survey found women pay up to 50% more than men for the “female versions” of the same drugstore products. And in 2015, NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs calculated women typically fork over thousands of dollars more than men for similar goods over the course of a lifetime.

Weed is similar in the sense there seems to be a big disconnect between branding geared toward women and branding geared toward men. “From my vantage point, it felt like the brands were either hyper-masculinized with girls in bikinis on one end of the spectrum, while on the other end you had wellness brands,” Handa explained to me over the phone. As if men are only interested in getting as high as humanly possible and women are pious health nuts—or even worse, interested in aesthetics over efficacy.

When I bring up this point with the Proper ladies, I get a lot of mhmm's and head nodding. “Yeah, I’m not a fan of all the pink branding and poor font choices,” Siera says. “You can market to women and make it classier. I mean, you have to be 21 to smoke weed, so cut the cutesy shit. I’m an adult.”

“I feel like most cannabis brands have targeted a male audience, so it's refreshing to see cannabis brands creating products specifically for women,” Laura says. “That said, as this becomes the norm, brands will need to have substance beyond a millennial pink Instagram layout to make an impact.”

I agree that as more brands vie for female dollars, they’re going to have to work a lot harder to prove their worth. To that point, Laura adds, “With so many options as a cannabis consumer, I want to be informed about what sets a product apart from other brands before I try it. Ultimately, the quality of a product is what will keep me as a customer, not a snappy ad campaign.”

LEUNE’s vapes may look like they were designed with a pink tax in mind, but at $30 each, they’re actually some of the most affordable disposables on the market. You can attribute this paradox to the fact that Handa is a recreational cannabis consumer with a background in communications and brand-building. In other words, she knows what she wants as a consumer and how to make it happen as a businesswoman. Despite facing challenges as a woman doing something different in a male-dominated industry, Handa is supremely humble about her successes. When I asked her what advice she might give to aspiring entrepreneurs entering the cannabis space, she said, “I think the best road to success no matter what you’re doing is to stay in your lane. I know what I’m good at and what I’m not.”

As brunch winds down and everyone digs their car keys out of their bags, I decide to take advantage of the sunshine and walk home while talking to my friend on the phone. I puff on the Desert Gold vape and wax on about my new favorite Twitter conspiracy account, @birdsarentreal. I find the vapor to be a little harsh compared to the ultra-smooth Cloud Berry, but the head high is much more pronounced. I feel energized and uplifted, unfazed by the three-mile trek back to my apartment or the monster hill leading up to my block. When I get home and peel off my sweaty clothes, the lingering body buzz and overall sense of calm inspire me to settle into the couch and catch up on work. Editing educational content probably isn't the intended use case for Desert Gold, but that's what I do with the tail-end of my happy high. 

Most importantly for me and my lifestyle, these pens are flexible.

Full disclosure: I don’t think either of LEUNE’s pens will impress nostalgists looking for a traditional, stoney feeling or weed snobs looking for complex flavor profiles. But that’s kind of the whole point. The value comes from their ability to satisfy consumers who love dosist’s lineup of disposable vape pens but not the substantial cost. They’re approachable and highly unlikely to leave you glued to the couch, paranoid, or jittery. They’re designed in a way that doesn’t scream weed for people who love the herb but need to be discreet about it. 

But most importantly for me and my lifestyle, these pens are flexible. The Desert Gold could just as easily tag along on a night out with friends or a trip to the grocery store or a day at the beach. The Cloud Berry would be great for unwinding after a long week or surviving a long line at the DMV. I use weed to relieve aches and pains and facilitate truly out-there thoughts, but I also use weed to add a little levity to my everyday life. And if I can achieve that with thirty bucks, all the better.  

Photos by the one and only Kate Ryan. 

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LEUNECloud Berry Disposable


LEUNEDesert Gold Disposable