Breaking The Taboo

Jae Graham at her shop in Austin, TX.

Jae Graham at her shop in Austin, TX.


By: Natalie Stevens   

Photography by: Edgar Ramirez


Austin, Texas, has long been associated with hippy weed culture, but much of that world remains uncomfortable and largely inaccessible to marginalized folks. Think of your neighborhood head shop, and what do you see? Likely, older white dudes with a hard-on for “artisan” glass that looks like an acid trip, and who might stare you down when you try to ask any innocent questions about smoking weed. Now, imagine visiting those head shops as a young queer person of color, and trying to gain up the courage to purchase your first pipe, but having no idea where to start. Weed culture often makes those of us who are uninformed feel silly or embarrassed when we ask questions or show our inexperience.

MaryJae Smoke Culture jumped into the head shop scene just over a year ago, and they specifically chose to cater to anyone who feels slighted by the old social norms around smoking. The shop’s namesake and founder, Jae, shares her story via the MaryJae website. 

“Jae’s father, Larry Graham, is the inspiration behind MaryJae.” While he fought against cirrhosis of the liver and prostate cancer, the website says, “[marijuana] culture “prolonged his life, it brought Jae and her dad closer together, and it made their last days together sweeter.”

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Jae and her partner founded MaryJae Smoke Culture to share their love and knowledge for the marijuana-using community, and to create a safe space for people of color, queer people, and anyone who might feel marginalized by Austin’s stereotypical “hippy” scene. They also take care to carefully source their products from safe, high-quality, and often organic vendors.

A visit to MaryJae Smoke Culture can prove fun for anyone. They do have the classic head shop artisan glass (I recently spotted a ramen bowl pipe that was absolutely delightful), but their inventory boasts something for smokers and non-smokers alike. Most of my friends opt for their CBD oils and edibles, and others go for the organic rolling papers.

You can check out the shop on South Lamar next to a slew of other local vendors and eateries, and you can follow them on Instagram at @maryjaesmokeculture.

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Monica Valenzuela