We talked to Hussle’s big brother Blacc Sam and sampled products from the grand opening of this highly-respected legacy operation.
The Marathon Collective’s new brick and mortar location has been in the making since 2010. Beloved rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle birthed the brand while pushing his Marathon mixtape over a decade ago. Now, his big brother Blacc Sam is seeing the vision to fruition three years after Hussle’s life was tragically taken.
TMC’s dispensary offers both recreational and medical products from West Coast heavy hitters like Cannabiotix, Backpack Boys, Alien Labs, Connected Cannabis, Stiiizy, and Rove, as well as their own Marathon strains. Leafly stopped by the grand opening on June 18 to sample the vibes and talk to Blacc Sam about the long journey to this new high point.
Keep reading for our First Toke review of The Marathon Collective dispensary including exclusive quotes, visuals, and products from TMC’s big debut.
Immaculate vibes and customer service
The Marathon team has always been ahead of the curve with their branding techniques. Using QR codes to unite their music and merch way back in 2018 is just one of many brilliant marketing moves that helped take Sam and Nip from selling illegally in their Crenshaw neighborhood to opening this massive TMC store in Canoga Park.
The Canoga Park location feels like a new peak for TMC’s movement. The top flight security intake is some of the best you will see at any dispensary. But once you’re inside, the family atmosphere takes over.
The wood-finished decor and marble counters are inviting, and the velvet ropes and ordering tablets keep traffic moving while staying easy on the eyes. My favorite touch was the artwork displaying Nipsey’s signature chains on a scale that weighs out to 2834.2 grams, or 100 ounces.
Even with an opening day madhouse, the staff was calm and courteous. We saw some budtenders walk customers through TMC’s wide menu while giving other shoppers space to browse. Rap star Casey Veggies stopped by, one of many customers and influencers who made it a point to support. The positivity that Hussle and Blacc Sam have spread via music and The Marathon Clothing store over the years was on full display at the new dispensary. But did the products live up to the high bar Nipsey and TMC’s team have set over the years?
Must-grab products from The Marathon Collective dispensary
“Nip always (was) a connoisseur of marijuana, wanting the best of the best,” Blacc Sam said. TMC’s selection lives up to that legacy with elite products for every type of smoker. Here are the items you have to grab if you make it to the TMC store in Canoga Park.
Marathon OG by The Marathon Cultivation
Marathon OG continues to be one of the best OG Kush offerings on the market. Snoop, Wiz, and B-Real all stamped it back when Nip first launched the strain. And it still hits like a heavyweight champ. Whether you want to get A buds or smalls, it’s the first thing you should ask for when you visit.
The Marathon Cultivation strains
If OG Kush isn’t your speed, try TMC’s new Crenshaw strain, or some fruitier options like Marathon’s Kiwi Strawberry Gelato, which Blacc Sam verified as “the best you’ll find.”
Sam’s confidence in The Marathon strains comes in part because he is willing to pay the highest price tag for products because, “whether it’s profitable or not,” they just want to provide the gas. They have over 20 flavors available now, including Sharkbite, Vanilla French Toast, and Blue Pomegranate Gelato.
$99 half onions (ounces)
The hundred-dollar onions caught my frugal eye. The bud still smokes better than most, and I can use the savings on a few top shelf strains and products, you dig?
Blu Money Exotics
Hoggy was a longtime collaborator with Nipsey Hussle, and he was even there when Nip came up with the idea for the Marathon OG strain. Now Hoggy is pushing his own Blu Money Exotics brand, which has strains like Blu Magic Tsunami and Jupiter available exclusively at TMC for about $70 per 3.5 grams.
Xeno by Alien Labs
The baller in me had to splurge on Alien Labs’ super hitter Xeno. This strain was a hit at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball in December and has continued to ring bells through 2022, making it well worth the high ticket to purchase.
Biscotti and Gelato 41 pre-rolls by Connected Cannabis
Connected’s pre-rolls are highly-recommended for heavy tokers who are on the go. They will cost, but they’re clutch when you’re moving around and don’t have time or space to roll accordingly. Most companies throw their B-team buds into pre-rolls, but these Connected pre-rolls were as fresh and potent as their famously dank packs of flower.
Kiva 100mg edibles
These bad boys are another must-grab for under $25, with flavors and effects that include Wild Cherry Excite, Watermelon Lemonade Bliss, and Sour Orchard Peach Balance. Everybody loves Kiva, and with valid reasons. They taste great and hit reliably. TMC has the goods and at a great price. So cop up!
Nipsey’s legendary hustle lives on
Smokers Club founder Jonny Shipes helped break Nipsey as a national artist in the late 2000s. Shipes remembers the LA rapper “coming to New York City always wanting the best of the best weed, even back then when designer weed wasn’t a thing. Nipsey used to stay with the top-top-top flight (weed), that’s what we used to call it.”
Blacc Sam remembers Nip and his crew “used to hustle as much as they needed to hustle, just to get right, then come to the studio and spend as much time in the studio as possible.” But he didn’t just see weed as a side hustle to help launch his music career. Nipsey was planting the seeds that have now grown into The Marathon Cultivation and Collective.
According to Blacc Sam, Nip’s love affair with Kush started when a local supplier took a liking to him, and gave him the exclusive plug to his high grade Kush. “Since that time, Nip didn’t want nothing unless it was high echelon weed,” said Sam. “That Rolls Royce weed, as Hussle would call it. The best of the best.”
Long before TMC was licensed, Nip and Sam sold $5 sacks and hosted wake and bakes out of The Marathon Clothing shop, serving locals as well as Nip’s famous friends from across the country. The clothing store went from an abandoned parking lot to the heart of a bustling shopping center, which Hussle and his estate would go on to own and rent to other local businesses.
“Police used to pull up because we had lines 50-60 people early in the morning,” Sam said in the riveting documentary about the making of TMC’s cannabis venture. “Police pull up like what the fuck is going on? We’re scared that the police are gonna raid it. (But) the customers wouldn’t even leave. (They) would be like, ‘fuck the police…We ain’t getting out of line.’”
The brothers would go on to cultivate and brand the Marathon OG strain, since OG Kush was Nip’s favorite weed to smoke. They elevated their game by partnering with The Cure Company and building relationships with the West’s best growers.
“We asked him to promote having people come to our store (and) within three days he had a line down the block,” remembers Cure Company CEO Patrick Stad, who says Hussle was an early adaptor to licensing in cannabis. “Once I realized how much effect he had in the local market, I was really interested in doing business with him,” Stad said.
The Marathon continues
The TMC documentary shows the behind the scenes of how this dispensary came to fruition. In it, Blacc Sam insists that everyone take a look back at how much work Nip put into his vision before he passed. Sam also emphasized how big a role cannabis played in helping his brother bring his dreams to reality.
After many failed negotiations, the TMC team bought their California retailer license from an operator in Conoga Park known as Caña Farms. Next came a year-and-a-half hunt for handpicked genetics, which is why every time you stop by the TMC store or roll up some Marathon OG, you can feel the dedication to the craft in the air. “It’s got Bro’s DNA on it, Marathon DNA” Sam said in the TMC doc.
From creating his own strain in the streets and branding it as Marathon OG, to trailblazing licensing deals years ahead of the game, Nipsey’s rich legacy as a cannabis advocate and influencer lives on through The Marathon Collective dispensary and The Marathon Cultivation brand. Stopping by should be on the bucket list of every weed lover, music fan, and entrepreneur who continues to be inspired by the great life and work of Ermias Asghedom, aka Nipsey Hussle.
My final score for the TMC dispensary experience and products? Perfect ten.
Visit The Marathon Collective dispensary in Canoga Park
Pull up in person at 257011 Canoga Ave, Canoga Park, CA.
Call ahead at (818) 591-5899.
Open from 6am-10pm every day