This event was not easy to reach, but well worth the challenge. After turning off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, we drove uphill for seven miles of twists and turns before arriving safely at our destination. I gratefully passed my keys to the valet. Molly Peckler, cannabis matchmaker and CEO of Highly Devoted, carpooled with me and was equally happy to be out of the car and standing on solid ground. We trekked down the dirt path to check in and were each given a gift bag and a blindfold with a color-coded strip of paper. We climbed a flight of stone steps which led us to the venue, a beautiful house on a cliff that overlooked the ocean.
I felt transported to a sophisticated cannabis wonderland. Brand activations were laid out tastefully, and I quickly spotted a pyramid of Papa and Barkley topical balm. Further ahead was a fully stocked bud bar, skillfully managed by Andrew Mieure, owner of Top Shelf Budtending. Guests were invited to choose a Flow Kana strain from the menu and enjoy it in either a glass one hitter or in one of two VapeXhale devices on the bar. Andrew, clad in his signature suspenders, bowtie and black latex gloves, explained the flavor benefits of vaporizing and suggested we try the new favorite method of consumption. I let the first hit of Betsy, a sativa strain that tasted like pineapple, wash over my tongue. Welcome to Immersion 5.13—An Elevated Experience for the Senses.
Co-created by Katie Partlow of Little Face Events and Sasha Perelman and Anya Matusevich of Higher Beauty, this event was one of the most elegant, thoughtfully designed and perfectly executed experiences I’ve had during my time in the cannabis industry. The premise was that each of the five senses would be stimulated in a dynamic group experience. To keep things flowing, the attendees were divided up into five teams, each led by a Love Warrior, and given approximately twenty minutes to enjoy the interaction. After a brief introduction, groups split off and followed their Love Warriors to the first station. My group was one of the smaller ones, with only about 14 people.
Our first immersion was smell. In a small room off of the main living area of the house, there was a white bed in the middle of the room. We were directed to sit around the edges of the bed, facing out. Cindy Lu of Malibu Essential Oils instructed us to put on our blindfolds, explaining that we would be delighting our noses with three different oil blends. She noted that essential oils are one of the most effective ways of kicking on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the “rest and digest” system. Between the second and third oils, we were given an OG Kush bud from Lowell Farms and encouraged to crush it between our fingers to see if we noticed any particular scent profiles coming from the resin glands in the flower. My favorite part was doing “bong hits” of mint essential oils out of the palm of my hand. That was a new one for me.
We were given pre-rolls from Lowell Farms on our way out the door to our next station: touch. Outside were two rows of yoga mats, and facilitator Eva Huie instructed us to pick up a box of Papa and Barkley ReLeaf Balm and a small stiff bristle brush. We began with a full body scan, progressive relaxation meditation, and rubbed some Papa and Barkley balm anywhere we noticed discomfort. Eva then led us through a series of Qigong exercises, which culminated in moving our Qi energy through various meridians with the brush. It was invigorating!
For sound, talented musician Marco was set up in a small studio outside the main house. There were soft blankets and cushions all over the floor so guests could relax while enjoying a sound bath. Marco played gongs, singing bowls, rattles and even a few didgeridoos. Sound baths, especially when enhanced with cannabis, are a powerfully transformative experience. It’s a way to perceive energy that can be felt throughout the body. I felt myself travel through a series of emotional landscapes during the sound bath, and fully refreshed by its conclusion.
Feeling balanced, we walked outside and up another set of stairs for the sight portion. We were met by two activity tables—a vape bar from Bloom Farms where participants could sample one of several strains (including two high-CBD strains), and another table covered in canvas, featuring bowls filled with paint and brush-filled water cups. “Led by artist and healer Shirly Keren, we encourage you to tap into your higher self for this collective art manifestation,” explained Katie Partlow. Each person was instructed to draw an oracle deck card and paint what the card inspired—a process Shirly refers to as intuitive painting. I chose a card that said “Simplicity” and painted a yellow sun on a blue sky. Afterward, we were invited to share what we painted with the group.
After all of those sensory delights and a fair bit of mindful cannabis consumption, I was famished. Thankfully, it was time for the final immersion: taste. According to Katie, taste was intended to be “a mindful consumption experience. A collaboration of dynamic partners MBombo and Altered Plates, featuring Medicine Box. An amazing adventure for your palette. Delight your taste buds with explosions of flavors and textures.” This station did not disappoint! Participants had given dietary restrictions in advance, and once seated, were instructed to put on our blindfolds. Despite my extensive experience with blindfolds in the bedroom, a blindfolded meal was entirely new to me!
Chef Gladys Nyoth shared her vision and inspiration for the meal, and we began. The first course was a puff pastry, the second was a small bowl of rice topped with a peanut butter stew (do you know how challenging it is to eat a bowl of rice while blindfolded!?!), and the final course had an option of either oxtail or plantain topped with a spicy brown sauce. Between the second and third course was an optional mocktail infused with 2mg Medicine Box Sensual Healing tincture. Everything was delicious; bold flavors and subtle nuances in texture. The dining assistants were patient and encouraging as we felt around for the plates with our food, and there was a line for seconds after the meal was over.
Afterward attendees mingled, marveling at the complexity and sheer brilliance of the event. It was unforgettable. I would go so far as to call Immersion 5.13 the new gold standard for industry events. I asked Katie how she thought the event turned out, and she shared, “The event was a total success. I’m still glowing. I could not be more proud of the team of folks that were brought together to make Immersion 5.13 possible. My heart exploded from all the positive feedback we received. We could feel the excitement throughout the event. I love watching all the new events and activities around cannabis that didn’t exist so openly not too long ago. Being a part of the changing cannabis world is exciting and this event felt like something special in that way. Definitely expect more collaborations like Immersion 5.13 between Little Face and Higher Beauty, and hopefully more folks too!”
Other partner brands for this event included: Bloomfield Co, Art of Edibles, Plastic Palm Tree, Top Shelf Budtending, Flow Kana, Flowers on Flowers 420, Dank Canvas, Bloom Farms, Sprig Soda, and Green Republic.
Would you ever go to an immersive, sensory focused cannabis event? Have you ever heard of anything like this? Tell us in the comments!