Finding authentic sources of cannabis history online can be like finding a lighter when you need it most… Painfully difficult. Thankfully, one YouTuber is preserving weed history one post at a time.
For previous generations, books like Jack Herer’s Emperor Wears No Clothes or Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s Marihuana Reconsidered were the rare sources to learn about the history and science of the cannabis plant. For the modern era, Luc Carlin, founder of High Design, is informing a new generation of plant lovers with his cannabis docuseries High Design and LMC YouTube channel.
Launched in 2019, Carlin now has more than 2,000,000 views on his High Design series, which features documentaries about weed powerhouses like Cookies and Compound Genetics. Carlin’s mission is to provide education on the history of cannabis culture and the business strategies behind the most well-known legacy-to-legal brands in the culture today.
The Seattle native’s successful execution of that goal has taken him around the world as his audience continues to grow to new heights, including recently to New York City and Colombia.
Here’s how LMC blew up by digging into the hidden gems and underground trends that define today’s legal industry.
Seeds of High Design were planted during the pandemic
Just before the pandemic set in, Carlin had started making “breakdowns” of videos that analyzed “different marketing strategies, different businesses, events, and news,” he told Leafly.
“I worked in Seattle’s medical dispensaries when I was in high school. It was the Wild West Days in Seattle. It was like what’s happening in New York right now, and I was very fortunate to be able to participate in all that,” Carlin added. As the industry grew, he saw a need for education that was both thorough, and true to cannabis culture’s roots.
Taking the game to a new level
According to Carlin, some of the best performing episodes of his YouTube series were based on Leafly’s features on Runtz’ Yung LB, GUMBO’s Luka Brazi, and the legendary Branson. “We need more real game spread in weed which is why I love what Leafly is doing with their 28 Grams of Game series,” Carlin says in one of his videos.
Likewise, the Leafly team has sourced High Design’s research and coverage to help inform readers about the industry’s underground phenomenons, including Berner, Jungle Boys, and Backpack Boyz.
The smooth cadence and soothing nature of Carlin’s voice also seems to retain viewers’ attention. Today, YouTube subscribers continue to binge his rich archive of weed history videos that are suitable for both experts and novices.
LMC on building a bud brand from the ground up
Carlin, who is three years deep into his High Design journey, has grown increasingly fascinated with branding. In 2015, the creator observed Washington’s medical market evolve as brands struggled to compete with more established weed companies in the market. Carlin became convinced that a strong personal brand could stand tall against Goliath competitors in a saturated market.
“I had a lot of friends in the Washington medical market who lost everything because of legalization. They just did not have the money to transfer over to the adult-use side once it took off, or deal with all the slotting fees at dispensaries.”
In 2018, Carlin took his passion for creative storytelling to his Director of Marketing role at CannaGenesis, a I-502 Tier 3 cannabis producer-processor in Washington before branching off to launch High Design independently. As Carlin built his channel, he resolved to upload three videos per day, a strategy which ultimately helped him complete nearly 1,000 videos by the end of that year.
Deep in the weeds
Not many canna-journalists can boast 16 hours worth of interviews with industry leaders like Jungle Boys co-founder Ivan and others who break down what it took to take their brands from legacy to legal. These insights gleaned directly from the people who influenced cannabis culture before legalization are important for those venturing into the business of regulated dispensaries. High Design’s videos also preserve and distill history for the next generation of operators.
Carlin told Leafly, “Now, I use my LMC YouTube channel to help educate people in those situations—people who operate in the legacy market that are trying to figure out a way to succeed against multi-billion dollar corporations.”
In an industry that has been illegal for decades, Carlin feels that it’s his responsibility to shine a light on the true origins of operators, information that has typically only been provided on a need-to-know basis by those deeply involved in the community.
Staying true to the culture
High Design also goes the extra mile to search for the most accurate accounts of cannabis of history, with Carlin revising and re-uploading videos to clear up any disputed facts. In creating a feature on Branson, NYC’s most famous legacy player, Carlin learned the significance of what can happen when you get the story wrong. After Carlin initially posted the Branson docuseries episode, he got an outpouring of feedback, some good, some critical.
Instead of lashing back in defense, Carlin took the constructive criticism and remade the video. This time, he got the chance to interview Branson himself after his children contacted Carlin directly.
LMC quickly republished a more detailed video, the New York Rapper’s Cannabis Plug Since the 1990s : BRANSON, which has collected more than 260k views as of this article’s publication.
The overwhelming results prove that a more accurate version of Branson’s story makes a stronger impact. More recent comments on the video show gratitude instead of criticism.
From Carlin’s perspective, “There are probably hundreds of thousands of people from NY who have tried Branson’s weed and experienced the story I am telling. You want to tell those stories where a large number of people were a part of that moment in history.”
With millions of eyes and ears tuning into the LMC YouTube channel, Carlin holds the cards for the future of cannabis media. Truth is, the streets have always set the trends. No matter how much legalization continues to ramp up across the nation, legacy brands like Branson’s remain rooted in the hearts and minds of the cannabis community.
“If you’re trying to win in this game, you have to be really, really educated on cannabis. You have to be really, really smart. And you need to have quick resolve with information. The best way to do that is to analyze people, to observe them. The ones that are doing well. And see how you can learn from them and add to your own arsenal of tactics and strategies to succeed. So my guiding light really is to help the little guy win by providing information.”