Folio first featured Ellie K in its pages in one of the earliest installments of “Folio Weed,” nigh on four years ago. Our first interview, way back in August 2018, took place at Starbucks. At the time, she was in the first year of her YouTube channel, which deals specifically with cannabis products made and sold in Northeast Florida. She only had a few hundred subscribers at the time, and her goal was to get that number above 1,000, thus opening the door to AdSense loot.
Today, Ellie’s channel, Florida Cannabis Reviews, has over 8,000 subscribers and 71 videos at press time. Two of those videos have eclipsed 100,000 views, and one of them has over 200,000 views; that’s impressive stuff from a fully independent, one-woman creative team. “Honestly, I was not expecting those videos to take off and do as well as they did,” she said. “I put about equal effort into all of my videos, so I hope for the best with each one. I didn’t think there was anything different about those two, but it was a happy accident.”
Most outlets that review cannabis products (like this column, for example) are always open to getting samples and trying new products, so one might assume the region’s most prolific reviewer would be basically dialed-in to the dispensaries, through a sponsorship deal of some kind. That’s not the case with Ellie, who generally buys all her own products, and usually only talks about the ones that she actually likes. “For the most part, I’m just a normal person going into the dispensaries,” she said.
Unlike most people in this field, Ellie never gives the impression that she’s trying to get anyone’s attention. The cannabis industry is kinda like craft beer in that self-promotion is essential to the rapid growth of the industry. But she’s not some crazy stoner doing thicc boy dab hits designed to trigger your mom or some pushy, proselytizing industry rep humble-bragging about their gear. Her videos stem more from genuine interest in the product than any real desire to advance her personal brand. She’s very straightforward, almost reportorial in tone; she could just as easily be talking about records, young adult novels, vintage fasteners or artisan tea bags. This could be pastiche but probably not.
Florida’s cannabis market continues to grow, with new users and new businesses joining the chat on a weekly basis, which is good news for people like us. “The numbers for [medical marijuana] card holders do continue to grow, but at the same time, some of that growth has slowed, compared to 2018,” she said. The failure of legalization efforts in 2020 and 2022 has certainly taken a bit of the edge off, but current trends have no plateau currently in sight. “Somehow there is a disconnect between wanting this to be passed and actually getting there,” she said, “because we have seen these petitions fail to pan out. But I don’t really know what the answer is to fixing that. I’m really not sure.”
Most of Ellie’s videos run between five and 10 minutes, but some can run well over 20 minutes. You could probably watch every video on the channel in the course of one weekend, but their brevity belies the work put in. The amount of time and effort that each requires is generally impossible to tell, just from looking at them, and that is by design. As far as work-flow goes, “It really depends on the video,” she said. “I’ve made videos, from start to finish, that took one day, and I’ve made videos that took over a week.” At this point in the conversation, her cat yowls, maybe jealous of all the time it spends alone while Ellie is on the computer. “There’s a lot of research that goes into it, and the editing takes up a lot of time.”
There are so many new brands, new products, new retailers, all the time, but this far into the game, is there really anything actually new at this point, or are we just playing new variations on old themes here? “I feel like it’s the latter,” said Ellie. “I think we’re at the point where we’ve found the majority of products that are going to be popular right now. I’m not really seeing a whole lot that’s really brand new or innovative.”
That said, there is no shortage of impressive gimmicks out there. We all have our favorites, and so does Ellie. “One product that I’ve tried recently that was interesting was the dissolvable powder from Cannabist,” she said. “It’s a drinkable product, and it’s made with cannabis-infused sugar.”
As one might expect, this kind of content is heavy on engagement, and feedback for the St. Augustine native has been resoundingly positive. There is so much of this material out there, and we’ll be shining the spotlight on other regional creators in the weeks and months ahead.