It is one of the great dilemmas of modern parenting, right up there with when to potty train and whether to allow screen time: how to hide your weed from your kids.
You don’t want the little ones to accidentally eat it, and you don’t want the older ones to steal it. If you’re a conscientious parent, you likely have a makeshift hiding spot in your sock drawer or on a high shelf in your closet. Wherever it is, I guarantee you, your 16-year-old knows about it.
Sharon Kevil, a designer in Milwaukee, has a more secure solution: furniture that’s explicitly designed to hide your stash. Her company Forti Goods sells bedside tables, coffee tables, credenzas, and cabinets with built-in locks that can be opened and closed via an app. Made in the Midwest of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, these are premium products, costing between $1,850 and $4,200. They’re meant for discerning adults who like to indulge, but have aged out of the life stage where a Jerry Garcia tapestry over the futon is the ultimate home decor. (And as Kevil points out, it’s not like weed is the only thing people want to keep stowed away in a bedside table.) “Cannabis has grown up and so have the people who are using it,” Kevil says. “Our furniture helps elevate the experience for modern parents.”
For Kevil, the seed of the idea sprouted after her toddler daughter got into what Kevil thought was a secret stash of Mike and Ike candy (the real thing, not the cannabis version). “At that point,” she says, “I realized I had to get more serious about locking stuff up.” And a lockbox, she says, wouldn’t cut it: “I don’t need someone wandering off with my box of cannabis.”
So she decided to develop a furniture line. If that sounds extreme, consider how much furniture is built around alcohol consumption. All the major furniture retailers sell bar carts and wine racks in countless permutations. But there is little to no furniture designed specifically for something that is fast becoming one of America’s favorite—and increasingly legal—pastimes. As of this year, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 35 states and recreational use in 15 states.
Kevil had worked in the furniture industry for more than a decade when she decided to strike out on her own. As a furniture designer for the department store Kohl’s, she visited factories abroad where she witnessed alarming labor conditions. On one visit, she walked through a factory floor where the fumes were so intense, she felt dizzy. She was wearing a mask, but none of the workers were. Another time, she visited a factory in Vietnam, where she noticed a worker on the assembly line didn’t have any shoes. “I saw people were being taken advantage of because they’re poor,” she says. “I didn’t like that. I needed to change what I was doing.”
After a brief stint working for a custom furniture maker, she founded Forti Goods this year in large part to fulfill a personal need for cannabis storage as a parent of a small child. “If I need it, probably other people do, too,” she says. But she also considered the needs of other adult cannabis users, such as people with medical conditions and the elderly. Cannabis use among people ages 65 and older has risen sharply over the past several years, as decriminalization measures sweep through the United States, and evidence mounts that cannabis is a safe and effective form of pain management.
In this way, the furniture is designed with accessibility in mind. Keys can be difficult for people with certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s, so Kevil settled on drawers with app-controlled locks. Tap anywhere on a line in the app to open and close the drawers. (If you have kids, make sure your phone is password protected!) A removable carbon filter, sourced from a North American manufacturer that makes carbon filters for throwing animals off the scent of human hunters, absorbs odor and only needs to be changed once a year.
As for the aesthetic: It’s deliberately understated, with many pieces that would look at home in a Room and Board catalog. Forti Goods also sells storage accessories, like boxes and trays, that fit inside the locking drawers. “We were looking for something that would be easy and look good in people’s homes,” Kevil says. “We didn’t want anything with a big cannabis leaf on it.”
The price point is expensive for people who are accustomed to stashing their nugs in a shoebox, but on par with other furniture that’s ethically made in the United States. Kevil hopes to eventually develop a line that’s slightly more affordable, so that more parents can enjoy a little adult recreation, guilt free. “There’s a movement for parents being unapologetic about responsible cannabis use,” she says. “We want to help promote that.”