(Mary Jean "Watermelon" Dunsdon" will be a panelist at the Georgia Straight's upcoming event, Grassroots: An Expo for the Cannabis Curious on April 7 and 8, 2018. Get your tickets now.)
She’s a business owner, a fierce naturist, and a baker extraordinaire: Watermelon, also known as Mary Jean Dundson, has been a fixture of Vancouver’s underground marijuana scene for nearly 20 years.
On the day I meet Watermelon at Wreck Beach to talk the best of pot, she happens to be celebrating a milestone that some might rather forget. “It’s my arrestiversary!” she says—but not before stripping down. “Fifteen years ago today was the first time I got arrested for selling pot cookies,” she says, grinning.
Later that evening, she’d host a celebratory dinner party with her friends, where, naturally, everything on the table would be infused with weed.
While her days of selling cookies at the beach are (mostly) behind her (“I’m trying this semiretirement thing out”) Watermelon continues to operate the Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour, where she sells more than 50 kinds of imported licorice, chocolates, and more. The self-proclaimed weed diva also hosts a YouTube channel, where she posts recipes for things like cannabis quiche, no-frownie pot brownies, and “weedish” meatballs.
With that, here are Watermelon’s picks for our stoner’s guide to the best of Vancouver.
Best place to smoke a joint
“Hands down, Wreck Beach! It’s definitely the best place to smoke pot, although coming in at a close second would be on my couch at home. I think that’s probably true for a lot of Vancouverites.”
B.C. Pain Society
2908 Commercial Drive
“Weeds might be my favourite because the only reason there are dispensaries in this town and the only reason marijuana is even being considered for legalization is because of long-time activists like Don Brier. The B.C. Pain Society on Commercial with the vending machines is another good one. For variety and innovation, I’d have to pick them.”
Best place to go when you've got the munchies
Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour
1002 Commercial Drive
2781 Commercial Drive
“If I had the munchies, I’d go straight to the licorice parlour. People always ask me, ‘How’d you get the weed in the licorice?’ but it’s just licorice. It’s a good place to come after you’ve gone to your dispensary. Bandidas is always great too.”
Best place to go for baking ingredients
East End Food Co-op
1034 Commercial Drive
“For chocolate chips, oatmeal, and the rest of it, I love the East End Food Co-op. I’ve always gone there and I always will.”
Best 4/20 event
“The event that Dana Larsen put on at Sunset Beach this year. It’s my favourite in that the city had to say all sorts of bad stuff about it because they are so threatened by the fact that marijuana lobbyists can get 100,000 people to an unsanctioned event in the city. Italian Days sees 80,000 people, and it’s marketed and sanctioned by the city. I love what it stands for: it’s civil disobedience, the fact that it’s been going for 30 years, and the fact that every year, it continues, because it’s what the people of this city want.”
Best activity when you're baked
“Sex, hula-hooping, running—I love doing anything physical. I love to smoke a big fat joint and run 10 kilometres, it’s one of my most favourite things to do. I also love to bake when I’m high. My first cooking show was called Baked and Baking.”
Best head shop for pretty glassware
109 West Cordova Street
“Puff probably has the best selection. My friend also has a place called Ignite, which is pretty wonderful. For the most part, though, I’m an old-fashioned joint smoker.”
Best hemp clothing line
1310 East Hastings Street
“Hemp HoodLamb makes these off-the-charts beautiful winter jackets. Fifteen years ago, an American company got ahold of me and said, ‘We love your work, we make hemp bikinis, can we send you one?’ I just threw it out last year. It was the greatest bikini ever. I’ve Googled them and I can’t find them anywhere.”
Best bands to listen to under the influence
“Anything by Dire Straits or Bob Marley. I can be pretty old-fashioned, too, and I love Louis Armstrong. Listening to that voice sing ‘Hello, Dolly!’ I just get happy.”
Favourite infused foods to make
“My favourite thing I’ve ever made is B.C. baked salmon. Essentially, I use the fat from the salmon to convert the cannabis in the oven. It seems like such a wonderful recipe for Vancouver; it’s so West Coast, because we’re known for our salmon, and we’re known for our weed. Weed’s an herb, like marjoram or thyme, but we love to separate it from the team. It’s so delicious, it tastes like it’s supposed to be on salmon. Only myself and the gods knew this, up until I cooked it a few years ago.”
Favourite Vancouver activist
“In terms of character and creativity, David Malmo-Levine. He practically wrote a history book on marijuana for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould; it was called ‘Protecting the Poor and the Young From Prohibition’. He’s been able to do this with a lot of pizzazz and without any financial backing.
“He’s gone to jail for the cause, and every year, he pens new articles. He also opened up a dispensary called Stressed and Depressed, which is hilarious. Dana Larsen, Marc and Jodie Emery, Don Brier, and Rielle Capler are also at the top of that list.”
Favourite way to get high
“Eating it, hands down. I make an amazing marijuana rum ball, but I call them rum resin balls instead of rum raisin. Just before I eat one, I say, ‘Let’s get ready to RUM-BALL!’ ”
Best advice from a fellow stoner
“When it comes to edibles, less is more.”
Watermelon, a.k.a. Mary Jean Dundson, will speak at the International Cannabis Business Conference, which takes place on October 13 and 14 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.