Cannabis cotillion: Luxury cannabis brand Beboe debuts in S.F.

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As canna-business strategist Elise McRoberts walked across an animal skin rug and into the living room of a Pacific Heights home for the recent San Francisco launch of Beboe, an upscale cannabis brand from Los Angeles, she assumed she would see the usual faces on the marijuana circuit — growers, dispensary owners and cannabis chefs.

Instead, the party was a cross-pollination of the worlds of high society, Silicon Valley, politics, fashion and design: industrial designer Yves Béhar, former Mayor Willie Brown, who carried decriminalization bills in the state assembly in the 1970s, philanthropists Katie and Todd Traina, boutique owner Emily Holt, salon-booking service founder Melody McCloskey, sustainable development designer Reed Woodson, venture capitalist Joshua Kauffman, yoga veteran Zander Gladish and social entrepreneur Gwendolyn Floyd, among others.

“I’m used to going to cannabis parties where I know everyone in the room,” McRoberts said, “but I only know one person here. It’s most stylish and fabulous setting for a pot party I’ve ever stepped into — the type of party I’ve always wanted.”

That was just the way Beboe co-founders Clement Kwan and celebrity tattoo artist Scott Campbell had planned it. Kwan, a UC Davis grad who went on to work in luxury fashion (Dolce & Gabbana, Yoox), grew marijuana to pay his way through college. Campbell’s grandmother, Be Boe, fed his cancer-stricken mother pot brownies to assist with nausea during treatment.

Now that cannabis is recreationally legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, the two men see a niche for products that carry an air of respectability. Instead of sneaking out into a dark alley to smoke a dealer’s joint, Beboe clients inhale from a rose gold vaporizer pen or nibble pastilles (apple spice, 5 mg THC in each candy). The packaging, ornamented with line drawings by Campbell, shows an attention to detail that signifies “whoever made this is proud of it,” Campbell said. He also hopes the brand’s story — it was named after his grandmother and her compassionate act of baking — will instill customer trust.

Every party has a host, in this case, Zak Williams, son of the late Robin Williams, who took the stage to extoll the virtues of Beboe. “I’m proud to be here as an investor in Beboe, at the cannabis Cotillion,” he joked, a reference to both the upper crust society ritual and the debut of the new cannabis brand. “You know cannabis has arrived when it’s at a party in Pacific Heights.”

As waiters poured margaritas and Provencal rosé in a room with women who casually spend $1,000 on a pair of Gucci shoes and men $5,000 or more on a Brioni blazer, one guest observed that Beboe might, in fact, be too inexpensive to be considered a luxury brand.

Only a few openly sampled Beboe’s wares, laid on coffee tables next to chips and dips. The vape pen (disposable, $60 for 150 puffs), made with oil derived from two strains of cannabis grown in northern California (OG Kush and Sour Diesel), “manages to channel OG without being dank,” said Chronicle cannabis editor David Downs, exhaling a puff. McRoberts, a cannabis edibles contest judge, popped an apple-spice pastille (apple spice, 5 mg THC in each candy, 25 per tin, $25) in her mouth. “Delicious,” she said.

Béhar, known for the Jawbone Jambox and Sodastream Play, gave Beboe’s design concept a thumbs up: “It looks like it fits the person they’re trying to reach. It makes sense stylistically.”

Did it make sense to see former state assemblyman Rusty Areias, a principal at California Strategies, a public affairs and lobbying firm, at the party? Yes. He has worked for years on the regulation of cannabis, estimated to be a $6 billion cash crop in California, only $3 billion of it legal.

“Let’s legalize it and regulate it and bring it out of the shadows,” Areias said. “Does anyone really think this is going away? I doubt it.”

The party, with Mexican food by Nopalita restaurant, doubled as Kwan’s 40th birthday party. But it was the guests who received presents at this one. On the way out, social circuit veteran Sonya Molodetskaya’s eyebrows raised in surprise at the party favor — an orange paper sack with Beboe products inside. Smiling, she noted, “That’s definitely the most interesting gift bag I’ve ever seen.”

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