When I first met Alice Moon at a Venice Beach launch for a cannabis tech startup, I found myself in somewhat of a confused awe, asking myself, who is this bubbly, trendy, cannabis socialite, who seemingly knows everyone and everything about weed? There she was, buzzing around the party, hitting joints, chatting with whoever crossed her path, sharing the experience on her Instagram Story and snapping photos, too — after all, with her bright pink lipstick, matching eye shadow and crocheted happy-face crop top under a weed-leaf military jacket, she was one of the best-dressed there.
I began following Moon on Instagram, getting to know her open, genial personality through her posts, until one day I reached out in order to get to the bottom of my question: Who is Alice Moon?
The self-dubbed entrepreneur, influencer and writer came to Los Angeles from New Orleans eight years ago, and without even a GED worked her way up from waitressing to budtending to launching a short-lived edible startup called Swallow, nominated best tech of 2017 by Dope Magazine. Moon calls Swallow both her greatest accomplishment and failure, a brilliant idea to help consumers find edibles that fit their dietary and pot preferences, but the tech behind the idea didn’t work smoothly. Nonetheless, the grand failure launched her as "the edible expert," earning her screen time on Viceland's Bong Appetit and mentions in media like High Times.
Her latest gig was co-hosting, alongside Sam Zartoshty, the California Cannabis Awards (CCAs) at L.A. Live on Friday, May 18, a project of the tech company WebJoint, who have adopted Moon as part of their team going forward.
But the truth of the matter is, Moon's role in L.A.'s cannabis space can't be pinned down to one specific thing. Her raison d'être is to educate people on cannabis and to end the stigma. "I've seen too many people have negative cannabis experiences because they've had too many edibles, so changing that has been a passion of mine for years," she says. "I want to teach people to consume safely and [at] low doses. Once people know how to use cannabis right, nine times out of 10, they fall in love with it."
She makes a point to go to every single weed event she can, with the intention to make face-to-face connections, which are more valuable than any number of Instagram followers. Moon learned that lesson the hard way when her former Instagram account boasting 13,000 followers, which she used to promote her weed jewelry business, was shut down in 2016; she's since rebuilt the new Alice Moon brand Instagram account up to almost 5,000. "I used to spend all day on Instagram, but now I just try to be organic and keep people in the loop about my life," she says.
The savvy influencer embodies both L.A. hustle and friendly, Southern charm. She wants to show that you can be a pro-weed working professional. "I work nonstop and used cannabis for years," Moon says. "It never slowed me down but actually enhanced my creativity."
The past few weeks, she's been promoting the CCAs, known as "the Oscars of Cannabis." The red-carpet awards ceremony, now an annual event, honors leaders from all over the cannabis industry, in categories including best dispensary, best lawyer, best cannabis brand and best CPA.
The ritzy Hollywood affair is meant to "take California's [cannabis] industry to the next level," says Chris Dell'Olio, co-founder and CEO of WebJoint. "We're setting a standard for our industry, showing that it's not this black-market thing anymore."
When Moon met the WebJoint team at an event in DTLA, she immediately pitched herself to host the awards. "She's dedicated to the industry and has a lot of passion," Dell'Olio says. Not to mention her vast Rolodex of valuable connections, a testament to the work she's already put in.
Indeed, Moon continues to champion her passion for cannabis even though she's currently on a tolerance break. It's been two months since she last consumed, after having figured out the two years of vomiting she's suffered through was due to cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, a rare, poorly understood condition caused by heavy cannabis use.
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"People knew me as the 'edible expert,' and now I can't consume," Moon says. "I freaking love weed, but this is something people need to know about because it is a real thing." People who aren't as passionate or educated about the plant could get sick and rep cannabis negatively if they don't have the right information, she says. "We need to educate the community about the reality, and it will be good, moving forward."
Acknowledging the drawbacks of cannabis only strengthens one's position to educate and advocate for it. "I really love helping the community and learning about everyone's strengths and weaknesses," Moon says.
Though sweet and gregarious, Moon isn't afraid to call out other cannabis industry players or brands for bullying or misrepresentation. Before she founded Swallow, Moon had an edible review blog, where she provided candid input on different brands, and even outed one of them for misrepresenting its THC content. "I was reviewing products honestly and being fair about it," she says. "I gained a lot of respect, and was not trying to tear a company down. That's when people started to pay attention to me."
And it's only snowballed from there. "By building all these connections, I'm able to plug people with what they need to help grow their businesses," she says. "We can get there quicker if we just help each other."