Trailblazers – Q&A with Tokyo Smoke


Tokyo Smoke is the coffee shop we’ve been dreaming of. Their impeccable commitment to high quality design drives their entire operation, and the flagship store in Toronto promises to be an emotive experience for both cannabis and coffee lovers alike. In a recent article, co-founder Alan Gertner said, “Tokyo Smoke wasn’t to be a Bob Marley-inspired head shop, or one of the many illegal dispensaries, but instead a home to the creative class. It’s not about the prototypical stoner, we want to build a brand for the contemporary urban citizen—it’s clean and elegant, which signals quality and transformation.” 

To find out more, we chatted to Josh Lyon, Head of Marketing & Partnerships while he’s been on tour visiting Portland, Seattle and Denver in the lead up to the launch of Tokyo Smoke’s new series of strains, and a brand new location opening in Seattle.


Q. What can people expect when they visit Tokyo Smoke?

JL – No matter the Tokyo Smoke location, people can expect a delightful and immersive experience. Each location has beautifully roasted coffee beans, a selection of the finest Cannabis paraphernalia and Tokyo Smoke merchandise as well as a special section unique to the location. They can also expect a group of interesting and friendly regulars eager to chat and meet new people.



Q. We’ve heard about the many curious and unusual ‘artefacts’ on display – what are some of your favourites?

That’s tough to say! I’m a big fan of the discontinued architectural lego sets that we have on display. The old medicinal Cannabis merchandise we have is also fantastic. To see where the industry was to where it is now and where it’s going provides such fantastic perspective on the Cannabis movement.

Little Book of Marijuana

Q. Can you tell us about the special strains you are developing? 

Currently, there is no real stratification in the Cannabis space and it’s also lacking a common nomenclature. Our Cannabis will be sold in 4 strains, ‘Go’, ‘Relax’, ‘Relief’, ‘Balance’. Go – energizing Sativa; Relax – calming Indica; Relief – soothing CBD; Balance – consistently crossed Sativa/Indica hybrid. These particular strains have been refined over the past 20 years. Tokyo Smoke will offer a consistent, quality, beautiful experience in the Cannabis space. We are educating consumers through known verticals like coffee and clothing. So, someone can have an energizing ‘Go’ espresso, an experience that will showcase what ‘Go’ means in the Cannabis space.


Q. How has Tokyo Smoke been received by the local community?

We have been very lucky to be embraced by the community, both locally around the shop and those interested in the Cannabis space. The shop is often filled with neighbourhood residents including families, cyclists, people taking their dog for a walk or just those looking for a great cup of coffee. As well, we frequently get Cannabis enthusiasts both new and old, looking through our merchandise or just wanting to have a conversation about the industry and the exciting times ahead.



Q. What advice would you give to other cannabis entrepreneurs, who are hoping to appeal to the creative class?

Recognize that Cannabis itself isn’t the lifestyle, rather it’s a modern lifestyle that includes Cannabis.


Q. What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this brand new, contemporary cannabis industry?

There’s so much! First off, the energy and enthusiasm that the industry has right now is infectious. There’s a genuine feeling of optimism and excitement that is palpable industry-wide. As well, the people and organizations that we get to connect with are truly a pleasure. People are passionate, creative and, for the most part, always looking for ways to further the Cannabis revolution together. For us personally, it’s incredibly gratifying talking to Cannabis users who say they feel at home in our shops and with our products. Understanding that we’re tapping into something meaningful and authentic let’s us know that the space we’re carving out within the industry is one that is both needed and desired.


Q. Do you have a particular favourite strain/product/ritual that you enjoy?

The amazing thing about Cannabis is that it’s so multi-faceted and the experiences can be tailored to your unique needs. For me personally, I can never stop my mind from racing. Tokyo Smoke ‘Relax’, a soothing Indica, before bed allows me to unwind from a long day as well as sleep soundly through the night. I really cherish that little bit of time away from work and the race that is my day to day life.



All images courtesy of Tokyo SmokeInstagram | Facebook

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