Between the pink inflatable dancer emblazoned with “love” on its torso and the smell of joints in the air, High-Minded Events’ second annual Higher Love Pride Month Kick Off event was not hard to find Wednesday. Hosted at Palmhouse, an unassuming yet elegant and expansive venue located in Evanston on the dividing line between the suburb and the city of Chicago, Higher Love brought cannabis and festivity to the people, all with the green light from the law.
The Higher Love event was “an interactive experience designed to spotlight brands, discover new opportunities, and network with likeminded canna-seurs.” Many familiar dispensary and cultivator brands were in attendance, with staff providing samples via a unique loophole that High-Minded Events founder Phil Cooper explained in the following paragraph.
Event designers locate private cannabis-friendly venues and provide a shopping list of products that hosts can purchase from dispensaries. Attendees don’t pay for cannabis, but rather tickets to enter an environment where cannabis is freely offered for on-site consumption. Since there is no rule against an adult sharing legally-bought cannabis products with other adults, Higher Love was able to proceed fully sanctioned.
As such, the Aeriz booth featured live resin dabs out of the lung-challenging Stunden gravity bong and flower vapor hits via the VapeXHale with a water attachment. Triple Seven and Seed & Strain also utilized the VapeXHale too, as well as the Bello device to fill cups of sippable cartridge vapor.
Though the vaping technology was a highlight of the outdoor area, inside were sample-doling brand installations for 1906 drops, Good News gummies, and Miss Grass prerolls, a recent women-owned addition to Ascend’s Illinois portfolio.
Cooper started High-Minded Events in response to the alcohol-dominated corporate event scene, where he felt excluded and unable to enjoy his recreational substance of choice openly and honestly. Higher Love, on the other hand, brought together a diverse community of cannabis industry professionals, artists, drag fans, and more to enjoy an evening of celebration and unabashed indulgence.
Aiming to accommodate a range of tastes, beverage options included infused mocktails, local beers from Temperance, and low-dose Cann drinks in a variety of flavors. Food was provided by Palmhouse’s next-door neighbor, The Peckish Pig, and consisted of pulled pork sliders, thick-cut fries with basil aioli, avocado shooters with pita and crudite, and decadent caramel brownie bites topped with gold leaf for dessert. Both flatware and serving trays were compostable, with dedicated compost receptacles sponsored by Seed & Strain alongside trash and recycling dotted throughout the space.
Roughly halfway through the evening, Higher Love’s main entertainment kicked off with performances from Chicago drag royalty. Denali Foxx was joined on stage by Maison Couleé members Kenzie, Khloe, and Bambi Banks, three drag daughters of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars season five winner Shea Couleé. As pop remixes pulsed, the queens flaunted their sensational looks and plucked dollar bills from outstretched arms.
From the curation of a safe space for expression and cannabis consumption to the emphasis on bringing POC-owned businesses to the foreground, empowerment was at the heart of High-Minded Events’s mission for Higher Love, with proceeds benefiting the Brave Space Alliance, an LGBTQ+ resource center in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
The only thing more abundant at the event than THC and glitter was merch. Dab mats, lighters, grinders, beer koozies, and, of course, plenty of stickers poured into the Aeriz tote I received at the entrance.
As I walked in, I tried my hand at “Seshpardy,” a quiz game inspired by no copyrighted game show in particular with categories like “Star Buds” and “Words Ending in -ene.” Confident in my terps, I picked the latter category for the highest point value and was humbled after answering incorrectly, but walked away having learned about caryophyllene’s purported potential to aid with osteoporosis and high cholesterol.
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