blackbird SESSIONS: Ben Grambergu
Taking full advantage of the bluebird day, Ben Grambergu hops in the car and directs us to Toxic Beach where we sit around a picnic table. The bay area local rolls up a blunt with CBD flowers, commenting that frosty and flavorful CBD strains are hard to come by when the demand for quality flowers isn’t there-- “you’re only thinking about one type of high, you haven’t really experienced all the plant has to offer if [high THC content is] all you’re going for.”
Ben draws a thoughtful parity between cannabis business and churches, “they’re both there for the same reason, and that’s to improve the neighborhood…they share patrons, they share ideals, and they also share the want and the will to make people better around them, give people some hope. And people get hope in a lot of different ways,” he adds, lighting up the blunt.
Surrounded by cannabis most his life, Ben isn’t shy to the subject. Raised in the Sacramento suburbs with familial influences of cultivation and media, he gravitated towards both. Like many of us, cannabis helped him fit in high school, “it was a great way to make friends, and it still is to this day,” he says, toasting the table with a gesture of the blunt, “it was also a great way for me to take care of myself and not have to ask my parents for allowance.”
After a decade of doing cannabis full time, he followed his heart into media and started working for the East Bay Express, where he discovered a passion for local, independent, family-owned newspaper. Just in the nick of time, he was part of the push that revived newsprint with cannabis advertising. A trusted liaison, Ben continues to bridge his networks, translating back and forth between a historically underground industry and the world of mass media. Last year, he decided to pursue another angle-- launching an independent ad agency “to help the real community, the real cannabis people put their roots down.” From the heart, his self-started agency aims to help build businesses, take care of community foundations, and prepare for the competition to come-- a dream he worked up the courage to realize.
“Progress in this industry comes from bold moves, people risking their personal freedom and risking their lives for what they believe in...and if it wasn’t for people putting their feet out there, and taking that risk, I don’t think we’d be at this bench today.”