309-306-1095 lauryn@cannabislegalizationnews.com

Blazing in Washington with Chicagoland native Justin “Rehabbing Fish” Cohen

I met Justin three years ago through the cannabis subreddit r/Seaents. Justin was promoting an upcoming show with local Tacoma rap duo Off The Dome (O.T.D) that included a bus ride that picked up at certain locations so you could safely consume cannabis while on your way to the show, an event along the way to an event.

Justin Holding Nutty and his book held by the Author of Nutty
Justin Holding Nutty and his book held by the Author of Nutty at Seattle Hempfest

The Cannabis Grind

CLN: You came to Washington after cannabis became recreationally legal, is that what drew you out here?

JC: I came to Seattle in January of 2016 after the folding of a three-year project revolved around poker and cryptocurrency. The last year of the project I crossed paths with over a dozen cannabis industry influencers in Southern California and the prospect of a cannabis-related project was planted in my head.

The fact cannabis was recreationally legal was a factor in my move to Seattle. After living in California with the freedom to consume, moving to a state with easy cannabis access was a major requirement.

CLN: You have a tourism blogging/writing/publishing background, what’s your media focus here in Washington?

JC: My first commercial project in 2010 revolved around an independent print travel guide publication on the beautiful country of Colombia. When I first came to Seattle, I wanted to utilize my skills in travel media and launched a travel site that had a cannabis information section.

While attending the 2016 Seattle Hempfest, I was lucky to make multiple solid connections both in the cannabis and music industries that are still among my closest allies with my current event productions.

I decided in late 2016 to focus on developing a cannabis media company and BlazingSeattle.com was launched in early 2017.

In 2018, the project evolved into BlazingWashington.com and continued to cover local events and in time started to host bus events to rap shows and other small cannabis events.

In late October of this year, I launched the in-store newspaper The Blazing Times. This paper will publish monthly starting in January and already has opened many doors that were once closed. The Blazing Times is a platform that has already given me a broader range of latitude with marketing, events, human resources, and business movement.

CLN: As social media and most major outlets continue to ban cannabis advertising, cannabis media is more important than ever to guide and inform the culture especially since DOPE (Owned by High Times) has closed its Seattle Offices. How do you see yourself fitting into Washington’s fragmented publication and media game?

JC: I’m not going to lie, I’m still a little stunned at the turn of events with print culture publications in the state of Washington. Just three years ago there were three solid magazines with NW Leaf, Dope and Culture.

The new king NW Leaf is the last standing as Culture is produced from out-of-state and lost its local connection. Dope is now rumored to becoming a quarterly magazine based out of L.A., which in my opinion will be the final dagger into what was once beyond an iconic brand.

Regardless of the outcome, the impact of Dope on Washington is legendary, including the magazine and the people behind the brand, from David Tran to the rest of the staff. The Dope crew has done top-notch work during their tenure as the leader of Washington culture publications.

The number two spot is wide open and the only two players are The Blazing Times and The Weekly Weedly out of Tacoma, the latter being news orientated, non-culture newspaper. I plan to take the opportunity to secure the second position. I’d say I need at least six-monthly editions in the bag and a stronger event presence before I can be the true holder of the second spot, so there is a lot of work to be done. 

CLN: Can you tell us more about your cannabis and music events?

JC: I’m holding seshes throughout Washington with the next one on December 14th in Olympia. My goal is one event a month throughout the Puget Sound and also dip into Oregon. I held an event in January at the NW Cannabis Club in Portland and it was an incredible experience and looking forward to coming back down for multiple events.

Ticketed music events have become an important part of what I do. The goal to step up to a 1200 capacity show with a mid-level star or huge throwback name artist has been set for March at an iconic Seattle venue. A mini Washington tour is also in the works and I would love to throw shows in Chicago with local artists.

Twista and OTD

CLN: You co-promoted a show with Chicago legend Twista, how was that experience?

JC: The Twista/O.T.D show was the first event music event that I had a piece of the action. I put up a good chunk of the money and O.T.D did the heavy lifting and sold out an epic show. I’d love to work with Twista again, he can draw large crowds and is a unique talent. The fact the legend is from Chicago makes it even better.

CLN: You are from Illinois, how do you feel about the upcoming legalization of cannabis in Illinois and do you have any plans for a media project in your home state?

JC: I’m completely giddy with the upcoming legalization of cannabis in Illinois. Unlike Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Michigan, the state of Illinois doesn’t have a deep history of cannabis culture or a highly developed industry to destroy, so the pain will be a lot less than other states.

I think the jobs created are a benefit for many communities and for a state that has so many fiscal issues, it’s a good step in the right direction. At the same time, I don’t have much faith in any government, and they will probably muck it up in time, but I’m excited to see how the Illinois integration shakes out.

I have future plans for national expansion and I’d love to launch a paper out of Chicago. It would be the prime location for a Midwest presence with culture-rich Michigan so close. I’m sure there are a ton of publishers already hovering over Illinois and by the time I get there a handful of decent publications will be found in stores. Competition in publishing is not always a bad thing and it’s a new dream of mine to own an Illinois cannabis publication and looking forward to trips back home to make it a reality.

CLN: What’s your media outlets and social media presence?

JC: The launch edition of The Blazing Times can be currently found in 40 stores in Washington. BlazingWashington.com is currently updated a few times a month and will be used for press releases and other content at a higher rate in the future. The best daily source of updates is @blazingwashington on Instagram. I can be contacted at jcohen@blazingwashington.com for media and business inquiries.

We would like to thank Justin for his time and wish him continued success with The Blazing Times and future shows.






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