2 Minutes With ... Kristen Yoder, Founder of Cynical Stoner & Bud for Blood
Kristen Yoder is an outspoken and trusted authority in the cannabis industry, known for calling out BS on her podcast The Cynical Stoner (formerly The CannaBS Detector). For over 18 years, her ability to cut through the noise and deliver expertise with blunt wit has led to speaking engagements, panel gigs and features in Vanity Fair, Forbes and USA Today. Also, Kristen was named one of MJ Venture Magazine's "40 Under 40 Rising Stars of Cannabis."
As founder of Cynical Stoner, a guerrilla education campaign disguised as an apparel brand, Yoder organizes cannabis fans and corporations to donate blood and lift communities.
We spent two minutes with Kristen to learn more about her background, creative inspirations and some recent work she's admired.
Kristen, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Prescott, Ariz., and Alaska. I moved to L.A. at 20 and have been in Venice Beach ever since.
How you first got interested in cannabis.
I started smoking weed in 8th grade. I got a job working at, and later managing, what became the first dispensary in L.A. in 2005. I was there five years, then learned to grow indoor/outdoor cannabis for two years, followed by product development and R&D. Eventually I handled operations management at one of the largest edibles companies in L.A. for three years, and then spent one year as a project manager for an analytical testing lab. That's where my first company name, Soil to the Oil, came from—because I’ve done it all from, soil to the oil!
One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.
Cynical Stoner is my fave project, minus the whole e-commerce side (hahah, sigh). I've got a gift for relatable snark and catchy one-liners. I bought that domain in 2008, and it was perfect for my merch brand. I joke, but it's kinda true. It only takes about six months to become a cynical stoner after working in cannabis. Once you join the ranks, I've got tees and hoodies speaking your truth and ready for purchase.
I like to call it a guerrilla education campaign because the T-shirts spark important conversations. It's like speaking truth to power without opening your mouth. Since childhood, I've always been a sucker for statement tees. I don't think I even have any T-shirts without messages on them.
A recent project you're proud of.
Bud for Blood is my magnum opus, my ikigai (reason for being). It transcends the industry but positions us to build bridges to many sectors. Some examples include: conventional medicine, local governments and politicians, the VA, and blood banks.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today, and how to approach it.
Sativa versus indica is the most difficult. We know it's false, but getting consumers to drop those beliefs is on par with losing their religion. Trust me, I know this intimately as someone teaching about terpenes since 2016. We have a lot of myths in our industry that need to die, but no standardization to kill them.
One thing about how the cannabis industry is evolving that you're excited about.
We are always evolving our scientific understanding and that's the most important aspect for us to properly utilize cannabis medically (which is the part that seems to get lost in the chase for legalization). Of course, we all would like regular banking accounts, but at what cost? Can you name a single prescription drug also sold recreationally? I have a feeling patients will become second/third priority to adult use, and that's a damn shame.
Someone else's work, in cannabis or beyond, that you admired lately.
Mike Crawford, podcast host of TheYoung Jerks. He's covering the corporate f*ckery behind MSOs and their union-busting efforts. It was a topic I wanted to cover, but burned out before I got there. Mike is like a dog with a bone, and he ain't giving it up! One of my fave taglines is the Washington Post's "Democracy Dies in Darkness."
That's what the media is for. That's what my podcast is for. That's what Mike's podcast is for. If we don't shine a light on the dark sh*t, we are going to have Amazon-level exploitation post legalization. And I for one didn't risk my freedom before legalization to see the industry sell out so fast. None of us did.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
Hidden Brain is an excellent podcast. One of my all time faves. Highly recommended! Any episode you choose will be good. I love the host.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Not much of a music listener, sadly. I don't know why, I just tend to listen to podcasts primarily. Recently, I've become re-obsessed with Shepard Fairey and his brand, Obey. I've always admired his idea behind phenomenology, and making an image well-known without actually mentioning it. He's the master at that. One of his sayings, "The Medium Is the Message" (coined in the '60s by Marshall McLuhan) really clicks with me. My brand approach is very similar. Honestly, I'd freaking die fulfilled if I got to meet him, or collab on a dope Bud for Blood design. From my words to the readers eyes, help me manifest destiny!
Your favorite fictional character.
I've never been into fiction. I've always preferred nonfiction. Reality is twisted enough, why waste time absorbed in fantasies? This also is why I have a gnarly resting bitch face. Well that, and I sure do love to rest.
Someone worth following in social media.
Honestly, I loathe social media. I'm on it because I have to be. I refuse to give IG/FB any of my time since they actively punish our industry. I'm on IG, but I neglect it because I hate it. I've always loved LinkedIn, though when I'm busy, I'm not on it as much as I should be for work/engagement reasons. On LinkedIn, I really dig following Dustin Hoxworth and Greg Welch. Watching Dustin create a new weed magazine reminds me of how it must've felt in the early High Times days. It's cool to see him and his partners bring the community together.
I love Greg's posts because he calls it like it is, but in a respectful way. I burned out on leading a lot of important conversations on LinkedIn, but Greg carries that flame well. It's an important role, and he's got a good heart. A good heart is always key.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
I've always been a creative problem solver. Having been in nearly every sector, I can speak to and relate to nearly anyone in cannabis. Not to mention that, since I sound like 12 year old, I have the ability to say all kinds of negative things and people don't think I'm a Debbie Downer. That helped a lot when I was recording my podcast, The CannaBS Detector. I was worried people would think I was negative, but people said they thought I was just keeping it real. That's my goal. I'll always keep it real, because the trust of my peers is of the utmost importance. I've worked hard at gaining and maintaining the trust and respect of my peers and it's paying off now that I need my network to help Bud for Blood grow.
Your biggest weakness.
I'm way too transparent and honest. I've always spoken to people honestly, and sometimes I should just keep conversations basic because knowledge is power, and I give it away freely. I'm not cut out for capitalism.
Something people would find surprising about you.
If I wasn't such an open book, this would be easier to answer … I'm an openly addicted weed smoker. That's right, I said addicted. The fact that we think cannabis is somehow the only mind-altering substance to be NON-addictive is ridiculous. I struggle sometimes with my consumption, and so do A LOT of consumers; and denying this fact is unethical and isolating.
Here I called myself the BS detector of cannabis and even I didn't believe it was addictive. That was until I tried to quit and couldn't. And when I finally did, the withdrawals were incredibly surprising because cannabis isn't physically addictive, yet I could barely sleep or eat for a couple weeks.
We need to be more honest with ourselves. Everything is fallible. Anything can be abused. Denial for the sake of progress is unethical and not at all what we claim to be about.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Getting blood donor selfies!! Oh man, nothing better! Seeing my fellow stoner donors gives me a much needed dose of faith in humanity, or at least in cannabis-consuming humanity. They remind me why I love(d) this industry, because it gets pretty easy to forget about the community and the love after a decade-plus of the BS that comes along with it. Especially as a woman, and especially in Los Angeles. This market is cut-throat and flooded with dirty money. Hard to find the good apples on this tree. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
One thing that always makes you sad.
The news, and yet, I can't stop listening to it and reading it. It's like a horror show … I just can't stop watching. Except the horror show is the actual daily reality of being in America in 2023. The pandemic really blew away the the societal covers, and what lie beneath them is rotten. I cope by focusing on Bud for Blood. I don't know how others are coping, but I'm sending all of you hugs. All we have is each other!
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.
I absolutely love making my snarky clothes, and coming up with witty one-liners for companies. Cynical Stoner is my passion project, because I hate e-commerce too much to make it into something huge.
Bud for Blood is my life’s purpose, and I believe it's the way I was meant to make a real impact on humanity. I'm not here to live a quiet life. I'm here to make lasting impacts on humanity, and I'm finally on the path to doing so. I believe stoners can solve the blood shortage and I can't wait to have the opportunity to blow this up and prove it! I've got a 501(c)(3) in process, hoping to have it set up by end of year.