Credit: Emma Soto
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  2. Active Stoners
  3. Big Business Runs Illinois Cannabis
  4. ‘Mamá, Solo Es Un Florero’
  5. Corredores que fuman cannabis
  6. The Rotation
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Once a month, Soul Full Chicago cafe on 18th Street locks its doors for a ticketed event titled Safety Meeting. The back of the cafe continues with business as usual—food and beverages can still be purchased and enjoyed. Meanwhile, scrapbookers from across Chicago come together in the front end of the shop to craft and color while smoking weed.

Safety Meeting is a haven for crafters who can bedazzle their notebooks, have a coffee, and blaze with their homies. Jackie Rodriguez, who conceptualized the event, greets attendees with free cannabis treats. But the event is also advertised as BYOW (or “bring your own weed”), so attendees can indulge however they prefer. . 

For the event, the cafe’s tables are covered with scissors, stickers, magazine clippings, and glue—just about anything and everything event-goers need to get busy. Some work on their personal planners, others collage, and some just decompress with coloring and stickering. 

Rodriguez, a twenty-seven-year-old Pilsen resident, began hosting the meetings last June. 

“In our everyday lives we don’t get the chance to be a little creative … and unplug a little bit,” Rodriguez said. The meetings are inspired by her own methods to combat stress. After work, she puts on her headphones, gets high, and makes collages. 

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Rodriguez holds a heart-shaped bong that an attendee brought. Most people at the Safety Meeting freely share their bongs, bowls, or joints with everyone in the room. The space is friendly and filled with stoners down to share and make new friends. Credit: Emma Soto

The bedazzling station is filled with gems, charms, and lots of super glue. I personalized and bedazzled a lighter, but many choose to customize compact mirrors, phone cases, and dab pens. The options are endless. Credit: Emma Soto

Attendees bring their personal magazine stashes to the table and pass them around, around with dab pens in rotation. Some have come to every single meeting since its inception. Credit: Emma Soto

“It was an open space to be creative and just chill out,” said Safety Meeting regular JD. “It’s been a nice third space.” 

JD has made an entire scrapbook over the span of all of the meetings.

Credit: Emma Soto

The majority of event-goers are Latinos and people of color. For Rodriguez, it was important to create a space in contrast to the usual predominantly white cannabis spaces.

“I know a lot of people that really like smoking weed and they’re on the South Side,” Rodriguez said. “I also want to give back to my community in that way: to make a space for people to just consume.”

Credit: Emma Soto

Rodriguez said the Safety Meeting is “code for time spent smoking weed when you are expected elsewhere. Most commonly at the workplace, behind a building, or in a car.” But like all good safety meetings, Rodriguez advocates for safe use of the plant. 

“There’s not enough talk about over consumption… it can be destructive,” she added. 

The Safety Meeting has sold out in under six hours for the past four months. Despite its growing popularity, Rodriguez keeps ticket prices at the affordable cost of $10. Her next meeting has already sold out and is scheduled for the upcoming 4/20 holiday.

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Emma Cecilia Soto is a Queer Mexican-American filmmaker and storyteller, focusing on visually presenting her community with truth and humor.

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