Features // March 19, 2021 // Ben Berkowitz

Clubhouse and Cannabis: A Space for Conversation

Clubhouse and Cannabis: A Space for Conversation
The hot new audio chat app Clubhouse is rising in popularity everyday, with two million plus users currently. As of now, it's invite only. The more you use it, the more invites you get, and the more access you can share and moderate. The app's allure is so strong that people are buying and selling invites on Ebay. You can start your own room on Clubhouse, or join an existing one. The opportunities to connect and talk are limitless. For weed folk, it feels like the next big thing—this is a place on social media to talk about cannabis without fear of being deleted or blocked. 

The Anti Twitter?

 Of course, when Tesla guru Elon Musk or Oprah starts a room, it becomes a 5k user listing party within seconds. But fame and notoriety only go so far here because Clubhouse is a casual atmosphere. The absence of likes and comments is liberating. The lack of content censorship is ideal for important conversations about cannabis.  Whether we need a new app devoid of cannabis bias and censorship remains to be seen. When all forms of cannabis are fully federally decriminalized, it’s likely the constant, arbitrary censorship of all things weed on the other platforms like Facebook and Instagram will subsist. But in the here and now, Clubhouse seems to be welcoming of weed, and also a lot more equitable. I've read some stories about bad actors, but my experience on the app has been productive and incredibly natural. Even some of the arguments and heated moments I have listened to have been real conversation, not just swapping bile. And unlike other social media apps, there are no legal limitations for users to have frank and unadulterated conversations about cannabis and psychedelics, since it's all live and audio-only. There are no posts to delete. Every user is a “creator”, the Clubhouse team’s preferred term for their users who initiate conversations and start groups.

A Space for Sharing Cannabis Knowledge

In following with their ethos on community conversation, their co-founder and CEO Paul Davison has said he wants the app to grow a little more slowly then most other social media apps. He wants it to be for everyone eventually, but to ensure that the experience for a large group is the same as it is for the smaller scale test group, the team is building it carefully. Anything to prevent it from becoming deluded and corrupt, as many of us can agree happened to apps like Facebook. (Twitter is currently working on its own version of Clubhouse.)  In the cannabis world, there's a need for business and marketing spaces, and there's also a need for opportunities to talk and share. Openly. Legally. Equitably. Jumping into Clubhouse rooms, listening, chatting, sometimes joining in with no agenda and just talking, feels like being at a big party with a variety of conversations and vibes happening in concert with each other. In a room for cannabis enthusiasts, a hemp grower hosting the discussion referred to a troll that had been bullying and deriding several people, interrupting and being inappropriate. The host blocked and reported the offender —but what struck me was how they described their behavior as “not the Clubhouse vibe.” That gives me hope. The idea that the norm can be civil, that abusive and awful words and behavior are abhorrent, and not the status quo. In the age of social media this may be idealistic, but I don’t think it's impossible. Clubhouse can hold all of us to a higher standard.

Clubhouse Connects Us

Clubhouse has a chance to uplift its users, and for those of us joining in, all the credit or the blame will be on us. As we move toward a better era of digital connection, Clubhouse has created more nuance, with less competitive and degrading ‘likes” and comments. There will be verbal abuse, no doubt, just like IRL society, but it seems like the team is taking steps to limit abuse, and manage the app so we can have the freedom to talk without censorship.  In our culture, new is everything. Our obsession with constantly updating everything in our lives is daunting — but even after Clubhouse is no longer the hot new thing, I think it may become a necessity. In a time when we are so stifled between Covid restrictions and the economic challenges of surviving a pandemic, Clubhouse connects us without dehumanizing us into pages, brands and memes. Anything that allows us to be our true selves is worth a try at this point in human history. Clubhouse seems to have insight into where we need to be in the future.