Santiago Rodríguez Tarditi is a jack of all trades. With an academic background in Political Science, the Colombian-born writer has experience as a journalist, blogger, editor, publisher, environmental activist and even cannabis author. Rodríguez Tarditi also has a new eco-conscious CBD product line called Intu, which he formed with his wife less than two years ago.
Rodríguez Tarditi recently took time from Mexico City via Zoom for an interview with High There to discuss how cannabis is both ritualistic and spiritual, the political undertones of cannabis policy in Colombia, Mexico and the U.S., the impact of the drug cartels and the War on Drugs. He also chatted with us about his CBD company and his book on cannabis, called High on Design: The New Cannabis Culture.
Santiago Rodríguez Tarditi is High on Design
“My book came out two years ago, and since then, so much has changed in the industry,” he said. “It may need to have a revised edition in the future. The general objective was to tell the story of what cannabis is today and what cannabis can be in the future. It’s meant to inspire consumers, activists, musicians, business owners, artists and entrepreneurs to be driven by this new design and aesthetic that we’re used to.
“Normalization of consumption is the first step,” Rodríguez Tarditi continued. “Once we get to the point where bongs are no longer seen as dirty glass pipes for hippies, but pieces of intricate glass art, once we start to reconsider the plant, and its use, we reconsider the consumer. In this book, I wanted to showcase these new consumers as well as the many cannabis entrepreneurs who wanted to be represented as the industry grows and diversifies.”
Rodríguez Tarditi said his book displays some of the cannabis industry’s finest and most creative companies, individuals and organizations. “I know there are tons of others, but a few special ones to take notice of are Defonce edibles, Old Pal, which has a very classic old school vibe, Laundry Day, which makes some very unique and creative smoking accessories. Also Session Goods, and Gravlabs make these amazing designer bongs, bubblers and glass pieces.
“Then, there’s dispensaries like Serra that really showcase a true boutique style. Plus, I covered Broccoli Magazine, an international cannabis publication that reinvented the way the media can cover cannabis with an exciting new wave of cannabis content.”
Rodríguez Tarditi the Activist
Rodríguez Tarditi said that his work as an environmental activist and consultant for such organizations as Parley for the Oceans and The Oxygen Project, among many others, has allowed him to travel. He’s worked in cities such as London, Berlin, Miami, Milan, Bogota, but it was in 2017 when he moved to Los Angeles that he emerged himself in the cannabis industry.
“It was at this time that I really began to grasp the industry and the possibilities of legalization. Coming from Colombia, a country hit hard by the War on Drugs, I saw the cannabis industry in California become a reference point,” he said. “What if we could have legalization like this or similar in Colombia and countries like Mexico?”
Currently in Mexico City, Rodríguez Tariditi said he hopes that the country will allow for full cannabis legalization within the next year. “Right now in Mexico, you can carry five grams for personal use with no legal repercussions if you are an adult,” he said. “But you need a medical permit or medical ID to carry between five and 28 grams for medical personal use. There are also many permits to grow and study the plant, but a lot of it is very bureaucratic. I think this is because of the country’s history and current events, plus the influence of the drug cartels. They want to ensure everyone on the cannabis side is following the rules to minimize trafficking of cannabis by the cartels.”
But, when it comes to his home country of Colombia, though commercial sales of cannabis are still illegal, personal possession and personal cultivation and use are decriminalized. Due to this, Rodríguez Tarditi has dabbled in cultivating. “I’ve grown a couple of plants here and there, because in Colombia they have a law that the Supreme Court of the Country decided it was legal for adult citizens to grow up to 20 plants for personal use. But many Colombian citizens are unaware, and the police there still raid people’s gardens and destroy their crops. It’s totally unjust. But the increase of awareness needs to happen, because it’s part of our rights as citizens of Colombia.”
Stigma and Spirit
Rodríguez Tarditi hopes to put to an end all the negative connotations, stigmatization and stereotypes people have of cannabis consumers and highlight the plant’s positive, beneficial properties. “I first tried cannabis at age 15, and it has been part of my lifestyle ever since,” he said. “At certain times it has been a lot more intense, while at others it’s been on the sideline, but it’s always a constant in my life, in a positive way.”
Rodríguez Tarditi said that to him, cannabis use is synonymous with honoring the natural world. “To me the plant is spiritual, it’s a way to honor nature, it’s like a daily ritual. Some people wake up in the morning and have the habit of drinking coffee, and that is kind of how I use cannabis,” he said.
“For me personally, it’s a ritual, mostly in the afternoons to wind down, and it’s just a moment to connect nature and connect with the moment and with the whole process of rolling a joining or packing a bowl. The thoughts and feelings that ensue are mystical. It’s allowed me to dig deep into my intellectual, spiritual, philosophical, ethical and moral standards. I consider it to be a sacred tool that has been provided by nature that has been consumed for thousands of years; and if consumed and practiced ceremonially, in the right way, I believe that it can help to open your mind and elevate your spirit.”
With this positive mindset centering around the cannabis plant, and of course his work with environmental rights organizations, Rodríguez Tarditi said his new CBD venture with his wife – called Intu – is not just another CBD brand focused only on sales. “We like to connect and put good intentions into the products we believe in natural medicine and holistic healing,” he said.
Intu is run by Rodríguez Tarditi and his wife Valeria, and offers full spectrum CBD oils as well as joints made with pure CBD flower. All the CBD used is hemp derived and non-GMO, pesticide-free, and eco-responsible. “All of the hemp we use for our CBD is sun grown and farmed on the West Coast,” Rodriguez Tarditi said. “We did add some terpenes to the oil, since most pure CBD has a very bad bitter taste so we developed our own formula which has a minty citrus taste.”
The company’s core values are providing a high quality product but also focusing on sustainability and being eco-friendly. “To minimize our plastic waste we created a bottle with a cork lid that is sealed with vegan wax,” Rodríguez Tarditi said. “It’s all part of the mindful experience for my wife and I to hand-make artisanal products like these.”
Another popular item Intu carries that is better for the environment through waste reduction are reusable, rechargeable lighters. “Every year, thousands and thousands of plastic lighters end up in our streets and eventually in the oceans, in the U.S. alone,” Rodriguez Tarditi said. “We hope this helps to reduce this waste even if it is a small number.”
Looking to the Industry’s Future
Though some might not see a connection, cultivation of the cannabis plant is good for the environment and Rodríguez Tarditi said there are real life examples of this. “As far as I know, Chernobyl in Ukraine has planted a lot of hemp plants around the site,” he said. “This is because hemp plants have been shown to filter out the poison and radiation in the soil, and minimize the damage from the soil toxicity. Plus, as any cannabis farmer will tell you, the plants suck up carbon dioxide from the air, which can help with climate change. Cannabis is a miracle plant when you think about it really.”
Rodriguez Tarditi said that he sees the future of cannabis as unlimited in its potential when it comes to consumer trends and financial markets. “The future of cannabis is evolving fast, and we’re seeing it everywhere in the United States and all over the world from South America to Europe. Of course there will be problems and bumps along the way. I see the problem in California of people not buying from legal dispensaries and switching to the illicit market, is a sign that perhaps, the industry grew too much without considering the consumers.”
More cannabis education would be ideal, according to Rodriguez Tarditi. “The cannabis industry needs to work on building bridges with cultural movements. I would love to see cannabis having more of a presence in the arts, music, tourism, fashion and more. There should be places in major, major cities where consumers can go and use cannabis, learn about it, create art, watch films, read books, listen to music and just open their minds… these types of establishments will allow for [destigmatization] of the plant.”
For his personal future, aside from running Intu with his wife, Rodriguez Tarditi said he wants to report on the issue of cannabis in Mexico as a writer for the rest of the world. “That is why I am here to show people that we can legalize cannabis in this country.”
“Eventually, as it all gets worked out it is going to set standards for other countries to implement their own legalization as well,” he said. “I am happy to be here writing about it and contributing to the process. “