“We wanted to create something we’d buy ourselves.” – Jarell Wall, Gentleman Quinns Blunt Company
“It’s all about respect to the flower and the consumer,” says Jarell Wall, Co-Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Gentleman Quinns. The Colorado cannabis company produces unique, one-of-a-kind products at the intersection of where luxury, cannabis culture, and high-quality meet.
A Blunt Too Good to be Real?
Wall had been enjoying a successful career in television production in Atlanta, Georgia, when he had the opportunity to move to Colorado in 2015. Knowing that Colorado had a new growing cannabis industry, visions of blunts and pre-roll joints came to his mind, but when he took a part-time job in a dispensary, he soon saw that the joint product category certainly didn’t match his expectations.
“There wasn’t much creativity,” he observed, noting it was about “what’s cheap and fast.” He says that the influx of vertically-integrated companies in the market puts flower quality at risk in efforts to keep costs low. “They thought weed sold itself,” he notes.
At that same dispensary where he took what would become a fateful part-time job, he met Austin Pflumm and Colorado-native Gentleman Quinn. One evening, the three friends were ready to share a smoke, with Gentleman Quinn electing to take on the task of rolling. Head down, fingers moving fast, he got to work. Under the dark of night, when he looked up minutes later and produced his piece, Wall and Pflumm assumed he was playing a joke on them, with a tree twig or a gag joint because it certainly didn’t look like your regular run-of-the-mill joint. They laughed and quickly tossed it on the ground and put their hand out for the real joint.
When Gentleman Quinn retrieved what he produced off the ground, dusted it off, and began smoking it, what his friends recognized was that their friend had simply rolled a masterpiece in the beautiful blunt that smoked like a dream.
That is when Gentleman Quinns was born. As Pflumm took a pull of his friend’s perfectly rolled blunt, he exhaled and said “The name has to be The High Class Big Ass Blunt”. And that’s exactly what they sought to bring to Colorado’s cannabis consumers.
Honoring the History of the Blunt in Cannabis Culture
It’s believed that the blunt made its way into cannabis culture and history in the mid-1800s in the Caribbean, with several theories forming why Jamaica, in particular, had a penchant for cannabis rolled in cigar wrappers. These theories range from smoking devices like bongs, pipes, and even cigarette papers not being readily available to using the cigar wrapper as a method to mask the smell of cannabis smoke.
Around this time, cigar wrappers were starting to become manufactured in the United States. With an influx of immigrants from the Caribbean, the blunt made its way into American culture. It’s definitely no secret that these special bringers-of-the-blunt, among others, became the target of racialized stigmas and punishments when it came to cannabis, which forms the basis of why social equity is so important to the legal industry today.
“We wanted to create something we’d buy ourselves,” says Wall, “A centerpiece that would be part of normalization that could be displayed on a bookshelf or be a talking point.” Some people advised the trio that using the word “blunt” in their branding could bring a negative connotation towards cannabis’ heavily racialized past. The three eager business partners begged to differ.
“It was important that we keep the name because it is important to the culture of cannabis,” he acknowledged, “Some aspects of the previous culture aren’t going to be appealing to new folks. [The blunt] appeals to the people who have been smoking for a while.”
A Focus on a Quality Blunt Smoking Experience
To bring the concept of the blunt into Colorado’s emerging cannabis industry, the three co-founders of Gentleman Quinn’s Blunt Company went on a quest to match quality with shelf appeal, also recognizing their product needed to be compliant since you can’t sell cannabis and tobacco together in Colorado.
Wall, Pflumm, and Gentleman Quinn, now named the Lead Bluntador, searched far and wide for a tobacco- and nicotine-free paper that would replicate the cigar wrapper smoking experience, trying leaves of all kinds, and finally landing on the perfect hemp paper with no flavors or additives. “It’s important to taste the flower,” says Wall.
Each 2-gram High Class Big Ass Blunt is hand-rolled by Gentleman Quinn and his trained team, using the Lead Bluntador’s proprietary method, and only full flower bud (no trim) that has been hand-selected by the business partners after careful sourcing from Colorado’s finest growers. All flower is fully tested for pesticides, heavy metals, and any other impurities.
Before their placed into their wood-crafted packaging, the blunts are inspected by Gentleman Quinn, who ensures his method has been perfectly followed to guarantee the blunt won’t “canoe” or run. What results is an even and smooth pull that won’t scratch the throat or make you hack a lung.
Now eight years after that fateful night of three friends smoking the perfect blunt, Gentleman Quinn’s High Class Big Ass Blunt, and it’s 1.25-gram counterpart the High Class Mini Ass Blunt, is in 21 stores across Colorado, with plans to expand across Western states.
Proof of Concept as Key to Success
We asked Wall to share some insights for those within the BIPOCANN network, and those thinking of bringing a unique product to the cannabis industry.
He attributes much of the success of the High Class Big Ass Blunt to proof of concept, first using the dispensary the business partners met at as a focus group for the product’s appeal. “Get as many voices as possible to try it out,” he says, “See what the consumer feel is for the product in terms of pricing, and get them to try it and see if they like it.”
Another key is to never just assume you know what your ideal consumer likes. “You may think what you have is perfect, but no one wants to buy it,” he laughs.
Wall also notes that understanding the different cannabis stores and how they’re selling products is crucial, with store engagement being an important part of helping them share the appeal of your product to consumers. “What kinds of products are they selling? How can you help them sell your product?” He includes holding pop-up events, direct customer engagement, and educating budtenders as strategies that connect the cannabis producer to the consumer.
Hope With Recent Progress
The company received its license before the State of Colorado began implementing strategies aimed at helping social equity applicants find success in the cannabis industry. However, Wall often found that when he was at industry stakeholder meetings, he was often the only Black man in the room. “I saw that the industry had to have more diverse conversations and ownership,” he says.
Wall is a member of the State of Colorado’s Social Equity Advisory Committee within the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, and holds hope for the future of cannabis, believing his state, and the nation overall is going in a positive direction in terms of cannabis. He reminds us that it was just 2018 that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to take down the cannabis industry, and just recently, our current president became the first to make a declaration representing a possible positive step towards eventual federal legalization.
Wall recognizes that among the steps ahead, the industry experiences its fair share of steps back. “Since it’s federally illegal, there are still banking issues, normalization, and propaganda issues that push people to harm the industry,” Wall states of some of the anti-cannabis legislation we see across the nation. “A lot of work needs to be done to bring people along, and everything needs to be done incrementally, and it can’t be flipped overnight,” he says of federal legalization efforts.
He definitely feels that more assistance is necessary for social equity applicants in Colorado and across other states. In Colorado, for instance, even though more social equity applicants are getting licensed, there is now a shortage of properties zoned for cannabis retail, and lack of financing is a persistent issue for applicants. “There is also a cognitive thing where folks don’t want to get into the industry because they have been pushed aside due to prior issues,” he tells us.
He sees Colorado’s Cannabis Business Office’s efforts working directly with social equity applicants as a positive step, believing that the health of the Colorado economy hinges on the health of the cannabis industry. BIPOCANN is proud to be a part of these social equity initiatives in Colorado through a partnership that provides mentorships to social equity licensees.
Upon closing, Jarell Wall shares how our organization has helped him and Gentleman Quinn’s Blunt Company. “Seeing the work of BIPOCANN and Ernest has been so important,” he says, “I’m so appreciative of the networking and connecting of people within the industry.”
Join Gentleman Quinns as a member of BIPOCANN by learning more about our program here.