Episode 23 Bluegrass Podcast Transcript Caleb Chen "The Highest Critic"
[00:00:00.490] - Elijah
Welcome to the bluegrass podcast. Today we're talking with Caleb Chen of the highest critic. We're
going to be talking quality cannabis, cannabis reviews, and more.
[00:00:12.530] - Elijah
Do you want to talk a little bit about what you do with the highest Critic and some of your projects and
just how you got introduced to cannabis?
[00:00:21.650] - Caleb
Yeah, so the highest Critic is a cannabis website that I founded in 2018. It features a lot of reviews.
That's how most people might have heard of it before. But I'm going out to do interviews, press
releases, more general cannabis news, and really, cannabis education for the wider audience that's
out there, accessible via the internet, even if they're still under the prohibition. And kind of my
beginnings with cannabis, my first brush with cannabis was in 2010 when I first started smoking on 420. It was a life changing experience. Shortly after I stopped drinking alcohol. And you could say that cannabis has been my only vice since, but really, it's more that cannabis has been my medical choice since I've heard a lot of cannabis circles. All cannabis uses medicinal. Some people say, well, is it
medicinal? Is it wellness? Well, we can gripe on the words, but really, everyone has something that
everyone that's a regular cannabis user has something that they're targeting use for.
[00:01:52.690] - Elijah
Yeah, absolutely. And where did you first get the idea for starting something like The Highest Critic, or
kind of take that next step to where you're not just a consumer, but you want to do something in the
space as well?
[00:02:08.890] - Caleb
That transition was actually kind of long from 2010. I was in school, and I was under the prohibition
then. So really, just to get my own access to cannabis, I had to become, I guess what would be called
on the east coast, a pusher. And from that was how I started to get closer with the cannabis plant.
And from there, I distinctly recall every time I'd go to pick up my you know, the dealer would have like
two strains if that, and, you know, they'd give me two names. It probably looked the same, probably
not really looked at different. I'd be really skeptical if they actually were different. And I'd take
whatever names were given to me, and I'd go straight to google and I'd search them. I'd end up on
seed finder all buds or beesley or any of those sites that have the exact same copy about certain
strains and then no copy about any other strains. Every now and then I'd notice that the stuff that
actually seemed to match, there'd be, like, some pictures that match. There'd be some information
that matched. It would be likely not on leafly, likely not on one of those major sites.
[00:03:38.000] - Caleb
It'd likely actually be on an IC mag or roll it up or one of these other cannabis websites that people in
the industry might know and love that have. You could say they target a different audience a different
subset of the cannabis industry. And whether that's a more honest subset of the cannabis industry or
whether it's a more educated subset of the cannabis industry, you know, the information was more
accurate. And I guess in 2018, I left the corporate job that I was at working as a marketer, and I moved
into a van. And then within a month, I started the highest critic. And it was with the express purpose of
having a resource that was kind of in between those two, because there's a lot of people who aren't
going to dig. Through forum posts to find accurate information, but as long as it's there accessible on
Google at the end of the day I say this a lot, but the highest critic and websites in general are definitely
Google's bitch right now.
[00:04:45.370] - Elijah
And did you have any trepidation making that jump where you're going from this more standard, more
accepted marketing job and then you move into a van and did you tell anyone about this? What was
that process like of making that jump to doing that full time?
[00:05:03.310] - Caleb
I had a lot of support from my family during that time. My dad actually gifted me a copy of Nomad's
Land, like a year before this quote unquote sudden transition. So I actually was not very trepidacious
at all during that transition. And if anything, my previous work as a marketer, I was running several
blogs or new sites in the few years prior, and it really cemented in me, like, some free speech
absolutist principles and stuff like that. So even in terms of legal trepidation or any of that stuff, I