Imagine a world where positivity and bliss flourish; a world with an abundance of the sweetest ganja and brightest, beaming faces. This is the world Madison Ortiz, better known as HappyTokes, has created for herself and like-minded individuals. Welcome to the HappyTokes Tribe…
After discovering this precious pocket of positivity in the ego-driven age of social media, our interest was instantly peaked to get to know the girl behind HappyTokes. We sat down with Madison to find out exactly what makes HappyTokes tick…
Marijuana.com: What is your relationship with the plant? Does cannabis have a medicinal value in your life?
Madison: I’m forever grateful for this plant and all the miracles it has graced myself and so many others with. My family doctor prescribed cannabis to me after struggling my entire youth with repetitive failed diagnoses and reactions to prescribed medications that left me in worse physical and mental states than I began. I’m so sensitive to pharmaceuticals; I’ve even experienced true “Prednisone Psychosis” after being on the medication for only a week and a half. I was left with a startling verbal stutter for two weeks following my emergency room visit that had my family fearing I would never speak the same again. Many long stories short … My body simply needs natural relief.
Marijuana was legally prescribed to me on behalf of my need to alleviate chronic nausea and stimulate an appetite, but cannabis helps me overcome so much more. The summary of my ailments and symptoms is a mouthful. But I’ve learned that lots of our struggles come disguised with masks that are really the same beasts; a perspective which has allowed me to connect deeply with, and conquer many struggles alongside my incredible community of Happy-Tokers.
Marijuana.com: How did you get started in this industry? What drew you in?
Madison: Everything I am, everything I’ve become, everything I hope to be, will always and forever be a natural progression of lessons I’ve learned and obstacles I’ve had the opportunity to overcome.
The younger me never imagined my professional career existing in the realm of cannabis, though this role feels ever-so-natural as my first experiences in activism were at a young age. At four years old, I stood beside my family in front of large crowds, political figures and famous faces as we quite publicly shared the intimate details of our existence as my younger brother Dakota overcame childhood cancer.
The cannabis industry chose me. The kind souls that I started to connect with as friends attempting to make sense of our often invisible struggles became “fans” as the audience expanded in mass, but truly they are not just a number of followers; they are real, talented, magical people and truly the best kind of real-life friends anyone could ever hope to have.
I owe my thanks to so many; I could list endlessly the people and companies who were key factors in my success and rapid growth in this industry early on.
Marijuana.com: What is your first cannabis memory?
Madison: It’s really important that people both in and outside of this industry understand that my earliest memories of cannabis were not in such positive light; and that’s absolutely okay. In the household I was raised in, the smell of “skunk” had a negative connotation; Marijuana was a “bad drug” and I was not to associate with people who used it. Hand in hand, my immediate family and I have overcome the negative stigma of this plant together.
Marijuana.com: What is the last cannabis product you spent money on?
Madison: The last few cannabis products I invested in were functional borosilicate glass rigs made by Jason Gordon (Live Free Designs). The first was a custom worked “Little Bastard,” the most recent was a mini (5.75 inch) “Wig Wag Therapy Little Bastard” that I placed a last-possible-second high bid for, in an exciting live online auction via Jason’s Instagram. Jason Gordon was Jason Lee’s apprentice and head production artist for Burn Gallery for 6+ years. I truly admire Jason’s ability to master the function on each of his masterpieces. I typically medicate with larger sized dabs of cannabis extract; the internal design of Jason’s rigs allow for large rips with no splash back.
Marijuana.com: Who are your role models?
Madison: I’m truly inspired by every magical soul I encounter. For list’s sake: Jim Henson, George Lucas, Dr. Seuss, Lisa Frank, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Hit Record on TV), David Bowie, Jane Maas, Shel Silverstein, my mother Laura Lee Ortiz and my father Max Ortiz.
Marijuana.com: How did you land on the name Happy Tokes?
Madison: The name HappyTokes came to me almost instantly upon my spark of an interest to interact with the cannabis community on social media. I was truly surprised to see the handle was unspoken for, as it came so naturally to my thought process. The intent was to share my previously closeted journey with medical cannabis as I had been legally medicating for at least 3 years before this alter-ego came about. I shared the icky details with a positive perspective many found refreshing and before long realized I was not just there to share, I was there to learn. In opening up about myself, new friends from all over the world flocked to share their stories too.
Marijuana.com: What does a day in the world of Happy Tokes look like?
Madison: This past year has been beyond incredible. I travel often for promotional purposes; and occasionally for pleasure. It’s been wild meeting so many real people from this community – to be greeted with such energy and gratitude is the most amazing feeling. The love this community shares is indescribable.
When I’m not traveling I’m filling loads of happy mail, interacting on Instagram, strategizing, writing, illustrating, seshing with my dude and our friends.
I have worked for Culture Magazine since October 2015 – photographing and writing strain concentrate and edible reviews, in addition to patient/advocate/artist highlight pieces and nationally distributed news articles. It’s been a really awesome way to legitimize my profession in this industry in physical realm; to hand a magazine to my parents month after month with my work in it is a great feeling!
Marijuana.com: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the marijuana movement right now?
Madison: There are so many issues within this movement that are crucially important. I’m personally really passionate about general cannabis communication and education. The struggle with this plant from the very beginning started when I didn’t know how to talk to my parents about the relief I felt from inhaling the vapor from a plant with such a negative perception.
Additionally, once prescribed, many patients are given a prescription but are given little guidance through purchasing of proper medication, tools to medicate with, and consumption rituals. Many years ago, I walked into my first dispensary with a small notebook and lots of questions, though it wasn’t until just a few years ago when I finally felt like I was beginning to understand the right questions to ask! I can only imagine how frustrating that must be for other patients.
I strive to normalize the visual of my medication ritual; I mainly find relief with extracted cannabis. It looked scary to handle a torch and “fancy glass” at first, so I only smoked flower. Aware that combusted plant material wasn’t doing me any favors, I started to see that SMOKING cannabis was only a bandaid, temporary relief masking symptoms. I limited myself in the relief I was able to receive because I didn’t understand or feared the tools I had access to. Every patient deserves to empower themselves with the knowledge of what their body’s cannabinoid system is and the benefits of varied consumption methods.
Marijuana.com: Do you have any big goals on your radar right now? Anything you’d like to accomplish by the end of 2016?
Madison: At the end of the year last year, I put together a scavenger hunt on Instagram that navigated hundreds of participants through 25+ instagram accounts over the course of a weekend. Users were given verbal and visual clues which directed them to dig and engage with old posts on pages of brands and artists featured, where they would eventually discover the answer to their clue. In the end, @LynSweetArt was the first person to send a completed list with all the correct answers and won a prize package worth over $2200 retail. A plethora of runner-up prizes were also given away. The purpose of the scavenger hunt was to not just reward followers for their engagement, but set examples for proper navigation and interaction techniques. I received many thank-you’s post hunt, from participants who “learned how to use instagram properly” because of the structure of my “game”.
In regards to my goal for the end of this upcoming year? Bigger and better. It would be so exciting for me to get more contributors and more participants. My reward is simply seeing how much fun everyone has. It’s truly a magical and enlightening experience.
Early Feb, 2016 I began to release sets of characters in vinyl sticker form. HappyLeaf, the main character of the series, is accompanied by many enchanting and enlightened friends. My community began collecting and sharing photos with these stickers before knowing that my ultimate goal for the creation of these characters is to include them in a book. The story is fun and educational, but even more exciting… it’s collaborative. There are so many incredibly talented souls in my community, so I’ve left much room in the structure of the layout for visual contributions. I’m still in the stage of launching characters and allowing people to bond with them.
Marijuana.com: Is there anything else you want the world to know about Madison Ortiz?
- I have many “alter-egos”… For the right project, you might be able to hire me to glue fur to my face. 😉 See my “teddy” (which walked in a fashion show at Cobo Hall, Detroit), bunny, panda, etc… on @Cambio_ . It’s not a mask. It’s flexible to my facial movements. 🐰🐼
Madison has built an impressive HappyTokes empire and inspired countless individuals to jump into the ganjapreneur lifestyle. Madison’s essence has attracted the best in the biz, many companies jumping at the opportunity to be represented by HappyTokes. Currently, Madison works closely with Cannasmack, a high-quality lip balm made with hydrating hemp oil. Together, they have developed a limited-edition collaborate of peach-flavored lip balms and a variety of HappyTokes-inspired merch. Madison’s relationship with an array of other businesses, such as Magical Butter, Futurola, and Third Eye Pinecones, grant her “Happy-Tokers” special deals and discounts with the use of promo code “HappyTokes”. While Madison is selective about the companies she features, she’s always open for collaborations with brands and artists that share her vision and outlook on the medicinal herb.
Follow Madison and her Happy Tokes Tribe on all these social media platforms…
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