Talking Pre-Rolls with Lobo Cannagar's Eduardo Whittington

eddie mobile
Lobo Cannagar

“Often times, we think we have to change for the world. But the world can change to you," Eduardo Whittington—co-founder of Lobo Cannagar—reflects to me between milky hits of his brand's proprietary pre-rolls.

For a lot of consistent smokers, there’s long been a stigma around the pre-roll. Since legalization has begun to escalate nationwide, most dispensaries have treated pre-rolls as the chicken nuggets of weed, comprised of the leftover bits and pieces not deserving of premier billing. But Lobo Cannagars is changing the perception of pre-rolls, promoting them to a position as an elite tool in the regular smokers’ arsenal. I had the opportunity to catch up with Eduardo to hear about the inception of the brand and the ethos driving him forward to this day.

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Lobo

Eduardo's Genesis

Prior to starting Lobo, Eduardo worked for a long time with a little brand called PuffCo—if you've heard of it. He was the third employee ever hired there, and helped them to build out their creative structure as the brand’s Creative Director for over 3 years. He got the gig in 2014 after attending a cannabis event for 4/20. Growing up in New Jersey—a place that highly criminalized weed until recently—Eduardo wasn’t used to seeing such a positive culture around the drug. “It blew my mind,” he tells me, adding: “I saw some shit I couldn’t unsee.” 

“I saw cops telling me how good it is for business to sell weed,” Eduardo recalls to me, summarizing that the trip and events “definitely gave me the confidence to go home and quit my job.” This trip was the jumping off point of his career in cannabis, where a friend referred him to Roger Volodarsky, who was in the middle of getting his vape company off the ground.

“Roger from Puffco really was the Morpheus that freed me and showed me a whole other way to live life,” Eduardo tells me; he's deeply grateful to Roger and Puffco throughout our conversation in his reflection on how he got into the space.

Lobo Cannagar

“I thought pre rolls sucked,” Eduardo chuckles to me as he begins to tell the story of starting Lobo. But the realization soon emerged: “If I can just make pre rolls as I good as I roll them, this is a solid business.” Lobo is essentially Eduardo's love letter to cannabis, driven by his commitment to sharing the plant with people and a love of gift giving. He founded the brand in 2018 with his business partner Aaron Raskin, "the back of house brains behind the operation," Eduardo explains.

Who doesn’t like bomb weed rolled up ready to smoke?

- Eduardo Whittington

“I really look at this as a cannabis experience company, where I get to share my enthusiasm for this plant and elevate people’s day to day,” he explains to me before exhaling a hit of one of the brand’s signature joints.

“My goal is to put out the best product propionate to the market, with a real focus on story,” he tells me, after explaining how Lobo is now sold in 4 US states (Oregon, Arizona, Michigan, California) and nationally in Canada. He draws a comparison to the wine industry when describing how he thinks about Lobo’s products.

As the industry matures, we care less about how much alcohol the wine has, and more about the grape’s journey.

- Eduardo Whittington

Lobo now operates under a franchise model. Eduardo brings on a manfucaturing partner in the various states he’s operating in and gives them the tools to create a pre-roll structure. Regulations are very different from market to market; Canada’s government, for example, actively oversees the distribution of weed in their territories.

One of the most interesting things about Eduardo's franchise model is the innovative way he produces the tools necessary to the craft. “I’m a big fan of disruptive technologies,” he tells me, going on to explain how he’s integrated 3D printing into his process. “I use a 3D printer to create all the jigs and tooling we use to roll pre-rolls,” he tells me, adding that it helps with supply chain restrictions and allows him to focus on pre-rolls as the product, rather than pre-roll tools. 70% of the tools he supplies his manufacturers with are 3D printed, and they’re all made of hemp plastic. 

The Products

So many of the products sold by Lobo are manifestations of ideas from Eduardo's mind and history as a smoker. They have the field kit, which is essentially a “deconstructed pre roll box,” that allows the buyer to customize their smoking experience.

He also mentions the Presidentes, large 2 gram pre-rolled blunts for when you have to really sit down and smoke. They have a glass tip and are hash-infused; ”It’s the perfect blunt for when you need a blunt.”

“It’s the product that, when I was in high school, the thought of it existing would blow my mind,” he chuckles to me. So many of the products are creations based on his teenage smoking years and a lifelong commitment to cannabis.

If you’re lucky, you get to do what you did as a kid, but at scale.

- Eduardo Whittington

I got a chance to indulge in Lobo’s pack of minis, a collection of 7 half gram joints infused with hash. “I smoke damn near a pack of minis a day,” Eduardo tells me, demonstrating again that he is selling a product he is personally passionate about.

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Lobo

They also produce a myriad of other lifestyle products, and Eduardo prioritizes the aesthetic of their packaging. “You learn a lot from the booze and perfume industry,” he notes, adding that he is essentially “using old school marketing tactics with good efficacy.”

The Future

When we turn to the future, one of Eduardo's life long dreams is to be able to sell weed legally in NJ and NYC, the areas in which he was raised. Growing up steeped in heavy criminalization of the drug, getting to change perceptions and tangible outcomes of smoking in the place he hails from would be an unbelievable culmination of an already impressive career.

“My goal is to continue our eastern expansion and end up in New Jersey or New York,” he tells me, elaborating: “I just want to sell weed where I grew up, the right way. And really have my business be a springboard for other creative people to enter the space. Because I really do believe in passing it forward.”

Eduardo is such a wealth of insight and retrospection throughout our conversation. From landing kickflips between hits of our shared J to reflections on the state of web3 and future markets, hanging out with Eddie is dynamic and immensely fulfilling.

If smoking a Lobo product replicates even a fraction of the experience of hanging with the man himself, run—don't walk—to the nearest dispensary.

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