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While you may recognize Kimmy Tan as a talented tattoo artist based in the City of Angels, she’s best known for building a platform on YouTube. Tan began creating videos for YouTube during the height of MySpace, sharing makeup and hair tutorials with her fans. However, over the years Tan’s channel developed a new focus and she became known, not for her colorful locks, but for her cannabis-related content. Despite working on one of the most conservative platforms within today’s social media landscape, Tan creates content that not only shows the fun of cannabis but highlights the medical benefits of the plant. We sat down with the cannabis queen of YouTube to discuss her most popular videos, her favorite strains, and why she chose THC over pharmaceutical drugs to cope with depression.

Photo by Peter Roessler

Photo by Peter Roessler

When did you first pursue tattooing as a career and what was your apprenticeship like at the time?

I started pursuing tattooing as a career in 2013 and my apprenticeship was tough. Before I’d started my apprenticeship, I’d heard many terrible things like, “You’re not going to be doing any tattoo” or, “You’re going to be the shop bitch.” But I was so obsessed with wanting to learn how to tattoo that I didn’t even care. I was at the shop for 12 hours a day, every single day, and my main job at that time was getting people food, watching, withstanding their jokes, and being hazed into the shop. I grew a lot of tough skin because of that experience and learned a lot that helped my career further down the line.

What made you decide to start a YouTube channel and what was the original direction of your channel?

I first started making YouTube videos a long time ago for makeup and hair tutorials. I was really big on MySpace back in the day and people were asking me how I did my hair, so instead of typing it out every time, I made a video. And to put a video onto your MySpace page, you needed to have a YouTube channel. That video of me doing my crazy, emo hair went viral back in 2007 but I took a break from it until getting back into it in 2015. And now, I’m so grateful that I’m able to grow a following from being myself on my YouTube channel.

Do you experience challenges as a cannabis content creator on a conservative platform such as YouTube?

It’s not easy to have any video related to cannabis be out there and please everyone, but I feel that if I try to highlight the positive benefits of cannabis then I can help open people’s minds and show them that using cannabis doesn’t make you a bad person. Cannabis is actually the drive to a lot of successful people. So, of course, I’ve gotten some blowback, but I’m never harming anyone or myself, so what someone else thinks of me is none of my business.

Your “100 Hits of Weed” video is the most popular video on your channel. What went into creating that video and where did you come up with the idea?

Around the time that I came up with this idea, a lot of people were doing 100 counts of nail polish or 100 layers of mascara. I wanted to come up with a similar idea that I would think was funny and other people would think was funny, but that also would be completely safe and possibly educational. It was so much fun to push my limits and it wasn’t as scary as people thought it was because cannabis is so harmless. One of the things that I was trying to prove with that video was that you can take 100 hits of it and still be fine. You can’t really do that with anything else — if you take 100 shots you’ll die, if you take 100 Tylenol you’ll die. Afterward, I expected to go straight to sleep but I got really hungry and met up with Brian at Burger King. “Pokémon Go” was huge at the time, so we went out and played that after, it was really fun. That was a lot of cannabis to ingest so it kind of felt like the first time I’d ever smoked weed.

What are your favorite strains and why?

I love OG Kush, there’s something about it that makes it irreplaceable. The flavor is so unique and because it’s an indica dominant hybrid, you’re not completely glued to the couch and your brain is still functioning. As a creative, I like a strain that can still let me work and not make me want to sit on the couch all day. I know there are a lot of strains out there and no matter how many I try, I’ll always go back to OG Kush.

How long have you been smoking and does weed have any medical significance to you?

I started using cannabis as a medication when I was 20 or 21. That was when I moved to San Francisco and I had access to all of these dispensaries. Before that, I was on a lot of antidepressants and I was actually diagnosed incorrectly by doctors, so they gave me way more than I should have been on. These medications made me feel like a zombie; I couldn’t create, and I felt like a walking potato. So someone suggested that a lot of people use cannabis to help with their depression and anxiety. I started using it a little bit at night to help me sleep and it really worked. I woke up feeling refreshed and I could go to school or work without having to worry about every single thing. It’s really helped me a lot and it’s one of the only medications out there with zero blowbacks, other than water or music. And I’m able to stop smoking weed for a few weeks, whereas with medication, if I didn’t take it for a few days, I’d feel a physical difference. So I’m so glad that I’ve switched over to cannabis. I’ve become so much more comfortable and confident with myself since having to depend on pharmaceutical drugs.