Although she started judging High Times Cannabis Cups in Amsterdam more than a decade ago, Elise McRoberts didn’t technically join the cannabis industry until 2017. Prior to that she was working in fashion and then transitioned to handling marketing and strategy in California’s entertainment industry, working with the music-tech business Nugs.net and award-winning musician Mickey Hart, among others.
“The lightbulb just went off for me one day and I just knew that I was meant to do this cannabis work,” McRoberts says. “I literally moved from Chicago to California so that I could be a patient instead of a criminal.”
Her prior experience in cannabis, fashion and marketing had already earned her a reputation as an influencer, brand builder, curator and event producer and she parlayed those skills to strike out on her own, launching Hashinista in 2021. Her company’s offerings parallel her resumé with a consumer-facing lifestyle brand connected to her content, events and the products and partners she champions, as well as a B2B side as a consulting and production company specializing in brand strategy, marketing, communications, public relations and events.
“I’ve built my career and brand by only working with the best and it’s my aim to use my Hashinista brand and platform to continue to champion the quality operators producing craft products for real connoisseurs,” McRoberts says. “It was never about money for me, but rather about championing, fighting for and preserving the culture and changing people’s minds so that the plant can ultimately be free.”
You were a cannabis judge in the earliest mentions of you I’ve seen in the media –When did you first join the industry and what led you to that decision?
Indeed I was actually a High Times Cannabis Cup Judge- Amsterdam, 2012- before I officially worked in the industry. In fact it was after years of judging Cannabis Cups for High Times- building knowledge and relationships- that I started lightly working with brands in the medical era; and then in 2016 after Prop 64 passed, I went full time in the industry as CMO for a newly licensed legacy SF vertical. I had been working in the entertainment industry doing marketing and strategy for artists, management and music tech companies, like nugs.net and Mickey Hart. Previously I had worked in fashion and hospitality, so I’ve always tried to work in areas where I have deep passion. The lightbulb just went off for me one day and I just knew that I was meant to do this cannabis work. I felt I had a lot I could offer the industry, while also being a powerful force and voice for the movement. It was never about money for me, but rather about championing, fighting for and preserving the culture and changing people’s minds so that the plant can ultimately be free. I was mad once I learned the real history of the war on drugs; and I was ready to use my platform to tell the world the truth about this magical plant- which I should mention changed my life when I started using it for depression and anxiety. I literally moved from Chicago to California so that I could be patient instead of a criminal. The more openly I spoke about my cannabis use, the more people came to me with their questions and stories. And oh how many beautiful stories I was told about this magical plant- and they just fueled my work even more. No matter what startup I was working with or what product(s) I was launching, I knew my work mattered and was actually helping people, and thus the greater good. I wanted to use my talents to help more people heal and feel good, and then it became about wanting to help the legacy, craft, small and minority operators survive. I’ve always chosen to only work with legacy operators who have a true connection to the plant and therefore grow and/or make the highest quality medicine (products). These are the people upon whose backs this industry was built, and I am blessed to have landed just hours from the Emerald Triangle- where the best weed in the world grows. It’s been my honor to work with and for these legends and these are the people I will continue to champion.
What would you like to change or add to the industry?
Oh man, I will get hated on for this answer, but I would like to see the removal of large corporations/MSO’s. Maybe not all have to go, but the amount of large scale bad operators putting out crap product is a BIG PROBLEM. On top of that, we’ve all read the stories of these companies treating employees poorly, including some actual deaths on the job, refusing to allow unions to form, the overuse of remediation and supplying toxic, harmful product as medicine to the legal market- I’d like all that to go. We’ve been overtaxed and over regulated while over flooded with green rushers touting unrealistic completely false predictions, crashing the price in the “legal” and traditional market, creating a beyond competitive situation where it’s impossible to run a sustainably profitable business. We need the safe banking, the removal of 280e, protections, grants and funding for legacy, equity, craft and minority operators. We need complete deschedulization and interstate commerce. Most of all we need every cannabis prisoner released and record cleared. If a company is operating and operators have livelihood thanks to cannabis, I’d like to see those companies giving back and doing the work to right the wrongs of the war on drugs. The fight is far from over.
What’s is the biggest milestone you’ve hit so far?
I’m truly honored to make this list! It was really exciting to see Hashinista mentioned in Forbes last year after one of my 1st pop-ups. I have many moments of which I am proud- literally every event I’ve produced is a new milestone- from my NorCal CannaCuisine Gala in 2017 which hosted Steve DeAngelo and other thought leaders for multi course infused dinner and formal event with live music and cannabis served in all forms; to my 215 Benefit Event concept (’20) which was a launch party for Doc Green’s where we included other legacy brands and raised funds Sweatleaf Collective (a compassion non-profit program), I’m also proud of my High Society event with Emily Post and Nikki Lastretto; but really, all my events. Being a judge for the Emerald Cup on the Soleventless category (’22 & ’23), speaking at SXSW (’17), giving keynote presentations- Cannabis Branding (’21) & Cannabis Events (’23), producing Frenchy Cannoli’s private memorial service and helping Madame Cannoli with the Frenchy Dreams of Hashish documentary premiere event SF (’22), Launching Doc Green’s in 2019 at The Emerald Cup and bringing a rebranded legacy line to the new legal market, having Doc Green’s WIN THE EMERALD CUP for Soleventless vapes and place in the top 10 for Live Rosin (’22), working with Oaksterdam for the Event of the Decade at the Fox Oakland (’22), collaborating with Steve Parish (Grateful Dead), speaking in Barcelona during Spannabis Week on the Women in Cannabis Panel (’22 & ’23), judging the Terp Tower Invitational in Barcelona (’19), acting as guide for and co-hosting content with JoJo Simmons and his 3isFor Team at The Emerald Cup Harvest Ball, speaking at Cannadelic Miami (’22 & ’23), and this 4/20 it was my first time celebrating at the famed Hippie Hill in SF- I was one of the on camera hosts to help share that story with the world and what an honor that was- plus I’ll never forget smoking a joint on stage and looking at the huge crowd while Tone! Toni! Tony! played.:)
What should our readers (mainly operators and business owners) know about Hashinista?
Hashinista is many things- on the consumer facing side Hashinista is a lifestyle brand demonstrated through my content, events and the products/partners I champion. On the B2B side, it’s a woman owned consulting and production company specializing in brand strategy, marketing, communications/PR and of course events & experiences. The word itself mashing up cannabis and fashion- people can expect a focus on style and aesthetics alongside commitment to quality and craft. I’ve built my career and brand by only working with the best and it’s my aim to use my Hashinista brand and platform to continue to champion the quality operators producing craft products for real connoisseurs. That said though, Hashinista also curates safe spaces for the canna-curious to learn and explore and is a trusted source of knowledge on all things cannabis.
Hashinista can be a fractional CMO, party planner, product judge, brand designer, stylist and curator and so much more-
Whether looking for a top-tier force of an executive to help a company achieve its goals, or just a cool older sister to advise you on what weed to get, think of Hashinista.