Puff, Puff, Pass, Then Rage and Release with Thai Richards

Here’s how one community is changing the stigma around cannabis consumption one mile at a time.

Thai Richards

In Brooklyn, New York, cannabis culture is real. It’s really common, really accessible, and really fun to try. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma behind marijuana use that forces people to indulge as secret lovers instead of expressing public displays of affection. But thanks to a strong West Indian upbringing (fully emersed in weed culture), Thai Richards , founder of Rage and Release, doesn’t care about the stigma. He never has.

As a long-time athlete and distinguished cannabis coinsurer with a passion for weed and running, the Brooklyn athlete made it his mission to hit the pavement, one step at a time, and change communities’ views on marijuana use through education and exercise. Thai established Rage and Release in 2017, and he’s still committed to breaking the “stoner stigma.” But the club isn’t just about getting high; it’s about understanding how to maximize the feeling for your physical and mental benefit, especially when exercising.

So, if you’re one of those people who turns their nose up when they get a whiff of weed in the air (pretending not to enjoy the smell), walk a few miles in Thai’s shoes and understand stereotypes exist for a reason.

When did your relationship with weed begin?

For me, it was always there. I’ve always had a curiosity for it. Still, it wasn’t until I was a teenager [when] I was running cross country and playing basketball that I had the opportunity to actually indulge. That’s really how the relationship was built. [And] also in the hood, be in the Black community, you’re going to smell weed everywhere.

What were you so curious about?

My initial curiosity was what this little green plant is? Why is it herbs that everybody seems to want to smoke, and what is the vibe they’re on? When I started smoking and running, [I said, this shit’s amazing. Since I was 13 or 14 years old, I’ve never stopped smoking or being active. So, my relationship with cannabis has always been an active relationship. Whether it’s me running, hiking, or whatever, I’m engaged in smoking for sure.

Why running? How did it become your passion?

I was going to the summer camp in upstate New York [when I was younger]. They had a pretty good soccer [set-up], and when I was messing around with them, I found my passion for endurance. That’s when I realized, Oh, sh-t, I love running.

Did you run cross country and do sports in high school?

I’ve been running cross country and playing basketball since I was 11, but I’ve always been an athlete. My first sport was soccer. But think about it. It was an accident because soccer was something that we were playing growing up.

Were you ever nervous about smoking while playing sports in high school? Were you ever worried about drug tests or anything like that?

I was never nervous about that because, for me, at the time, I lived in a small town, and nobody was initially worried about it because most of the kids were already doing hard drugs. I didn’t think of it as a serious thing than what everybody was doing.

As you grew into an adult, when did you decide to combine your love for cannabis with exercise?

It’s something that I always want to do, and it’s something that I’ve still been doing. Always. I’m the guy that said, Let’s get high and run. Let’s get high and go here. Let’s get high, and f-cking do something.

What do you think about the negative connotation between cannabis consumption and sports?

I always hated the fact that cannabis had this stigma within sports. The fact that it just had this stigma on people. It’s just bullsh-t. That’s facts.

Is smoking something you have to do as soon as you wake up and then continue it throughout the day? Or is it just a workout thing?

I’m not gonna lie to you… I’m a big-time stoner. [But], to be honest, I don’t depend on it to make my day better or to set the mood or anything. It’s more so like when I’m ready to zone in or tap into something, I usually smoke. I need to pay attention to the details [and] I need to be as fluid as possible.

Say your pull a muscle or strain something when you’re working out. Do you think smoking helps with your recovery?

Um, no. I think [it’s] more so understanding that the educational aspect of [what] comes in handy, like topicals or capsules, because you want to heal it directly. When you’re smoking, it doesn’t necessarily get to the parts you need. I like to be as wise about my consumption as possible when it comes to whether or not I’m in pain or sore or anything like that.

What do you think happens when people don’t watch their consumption?

People’s first introductions to cannabis are critical. I realized how easy it is to become semi-hooked on cannabis. In high school, I was very fortunate to have good control over myself.

What are your favorite strains?

Blue Dream is No. 1 for me. After that, Haze. Then after that, I would have to say Maui Wowie. Pretty hard to find right now unless you’re in Colorado or something like that. I’m not gonna lie to you, it gets kind of hard to keep up with all these fricking strains.

When you’re smoking, what’s your preferred method of consumption?

I love smoking joints. I love smoking a good spliff. I’m not a big fan of vapes, but I definitely enjoy edibles. I love edibles, especially for long runs.

When it comes to running with Rage and Release, does everyone in the group smoke before you run?

Rage and Release: Founded in 2017 Thai Richards | Kenny White | Tammy Salazar-Andurand

We actually have a lot of non-smokers. But before COVID, we were very big on pre-run ciphers. We had many people who were coming for that because a runner’s high is no joke. We talk about the runner’s high—whether it be naturally induced or it be partially induced by cannabis—regardless of whether you’re sober or you had to run as high, it’s always going to kick in.

Can you describe the high?

To me, it’s like your body is already producing some of the chemicals that happen when you’re high. So why not indulge in it and enhance the experience?

COVID is stifling various clubs and organizations now, but you said Rage and Release will still be here when this is over. Where do you want Rage and Release to go?

We have our running community, and we have a supper club we launched [last] year. We’re designing clothes, and we’re getting ready to open up our [own] space. Our biggest goal is to open up a wellness space. We’re looking to heal people from the inside out. One of the things that we want to do is introduce all these different wellness techniques that are usually in all these upper echelon white neighborhoods and bring it to the hood.

What’s the most important thing to know when it comes to combining cannabis and exercise?

In this arena, which is cannabis, you want to know how to use it. You’re not going to understand unless you understand your body.

Photography: @mattdoylephoto