“As a professional surfer, partnering with Sunburn Cannabis signifies a transformative chapter in both surfing and cannabis cultures,” says Justin Quintal, with the enthusiasm of someone who’s not just riding waves but also making them.
Pro-surfer Justin Quintal, a name synonymous with mastery in longboarding, has embarked on a pioneering journey as the first surfer to be officially sponsored by a cannabis brand. His accolades, including being a 10x Vans Duct Tape Invitational Winner, 5x U.S Open Winner and the 2019 WSL World Champion, are clear evidence of his prowess. Beyond surfing, he’s also the entrepreneurial mind behind Black Rose MFG, his own board company.
His partnership with Sunburn Cannabis, a Florida weed brand, marks a notable intersection of athletic excellence and cannabis advocacy. The brand, under the stewardship of CEO and founder, Brady Cobb, carries a legacy rooted in the state’s cannabis history, with Cobb’s late father being a notable figure in the cannabis smuggling saga of the 1970s and 1980s.
A Long-Standing Personal Relationship With Cannabis
Quintal’s integration of Sunburn products into his surfing and workout routines signals a broader narrative unfolding in the sports world. But in order to understand the surfer’s relationship with the herb, we need to go back to his college years. “I was balancing graduating from college with my professional surf career/competitive goals. I was also working multiple jobs,” he shares.
My days were filled with project management and fieldwork for my family’s business and waiting tables at night and on weekends. The field work was physically demanding, as well as waiting tables and surfing and professionally competing as much as possible to stay on top of my game. At the time I could not afford to lose my scholarship either, so physically what I was doing was demanding, but also mentally there were times when I was a wreck.”
This period wasn’t just physically demanding; it was a mental marathon, too. Cannabis, for Quintal, was a vital tool in navigating these challenges. “Cannabis helped me reset and move from one thing to the next relatively seamlessly,” he reflects. “Fortunately now surfing is my profession and I get to do what I love every day. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but there are times when it is still extremely stressful, painful and exhausting and because of that my relationship with cannabis serves the same purpose. The difference is now I have a medicinal marijuana license prescribed by a doctor and the products and ability to use strain specifically have got much better.”
A significant chapter in Quintal’s life was marked by his father’s battle with cancer. He recounts, “In 2011 my father was diagnosed with a squamous cell tumor under his left cheek. They had to remove the tumor, part of his cheekbone, replace part of the bone with titanium and he had to undergo 60 treatments of radiation therapy. He was prescribed oxycontin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and a hydrocodone liquid – intended to relieve the pain in his throat from ulcers due to the radiation before eating. At the time I had recently purchased a Volcano Vaporizer, which I ended up giving to my father for his recovery. The vapor was a better alternative given his sensitivity from the radiation and ulcers in his throat and it helped alleviate pain, calm him and regain his appetite. My father was able to get by with using a fraction of the painkillers prescribed to him and was able to stop using them much earlier than prescribed.”
The experience was transformative, altering Quintal’s perspective on life and the cannabis’ role in it. Witnessing his father’s suffering and recovery, where cannabis played a critical role in pain management, had a profound impact on him: “To watch him suffer from so much pain, physically change and, despite complete exhaustion, work as hard as possible to keep the family business operating through it all. I can only imagine how much better and less painful his recovery process would have been if he (and so many other people suffering in this world) had access to better products through dispensaries – such as edibles, tinctures, vaporizers and the best strains of flower specifically for certain symptoms.”
Cannabis And Sports
As the conversation moves on the to realm of sports, Quintal touches on his fitness routine. He emphasizes the role of cannabis in promoting recovery and relaxation. “Overall, cannabis eases my anxiety and stress,” he explains. The surfer describes how he incorporates specific strains and products into his surfing regimen, enhancing his connection with the ocean and his own body.
“I primarily incorporate it into my recovery routine to promote physical relief, relaxation and a more restful sleep after a long day of surfing or an intense strength training workout,” he says. “Depending on the overall conditions and the type of surf experience I am trying to have, I also enjoy using specific strains and products before entering the water, typically a sativa or sativa leaning hybrid. This doesn’t mean I partake every time before surfing, but I do think there are times where it is complementary and helps me get out of my head and into my body and the moment.”
A Shared Love For Florida
Choosing to partner with Sunburn Cannabis was a decision deeply rooted in Quintal’s Floridian identity. “Sunburn is a brand for Floridians by Floridians,” he says. This partnership reflects his commitment to excellence and responsible use of cannabis. He speaks highly of Sunburn’s product quality, particularly their smokeless alternatives, which align with his preferences and lifestyle.
“I feel they have the highest quality products and although I love smoking flower in the traditional way, they have great smokeless alternatives between their selection of edibles, tinctures and vaporizers, especially the live rosin products.”
And he adds, ” With this partnership, we hope to normalize cannabis use as a natural extension of the surfing lifestyle, while fostering a community that embraces authenticity, freedom and the healing powers of nature.”
Quintal’s roots in Florida intertwine with the story of Sunburn’s founder, Brady Cobb, whose late father was a cannabis smuggler in the 70s and 80s. “I grew up listening to similar stories,” Quintal says, acknowledging the shared history of surfing and cannabis. He sees these intertwined histories as foundational to both the surfing culture and the ethos of Sunburn.
“These are the legends that built the foundation of professional surfing and the modern surf industry, like it or not these tales bleed into and permeate many of the brands and leagues that we know now in surfing albeit they are much more legitimate these days. I do not see the story of the origins of professional surfing and the surf industry as all that different from the roots of Sunburn. No tree can grow without its roots. I think in many cases brands with a rich history can be just as or more successful moving forward by embracing their heritage and celebrating the culture of their industry, which is something Sunburn does well.”
A Psychedelic Experience With Duane Allman?
On the subject of psychedelic experiences, Quintal expresses a deep connection to his hometown’s musical heritage, specifically the Allman Brothers. “Their sound, style, story and philosophy have always been a driving force for me,” he shares, revealing a wish to have shared such an experience with Duane Allman.
“If I could have a psychedelic experience with someone who has passed it would probably be with the Allman Brothers, specifically Duane Allman if I could only choose one. The band is originally from my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. Their sound, style, story and philosophy have always been a driving force for me. Duane passed too soon, it would be amazing to see what other contributions to the world he would have made if he had stuck around longer. It would be so cool to have that type of experience with him, just to watch him play music and listen to what he might have to say.
Repairing Past Wrongs
Quintal speaks passionately about the need for societal and policy changes regarding cannabis, especially in light of the War on Drugs. By raising public consciousness and building momentum for change, we can advocate for more sensible drug policies,” he asserts, emphasizing the importance of education and awareness in fostering a more equitable society.
“We, as part of the cannabis industry, have a duty to push for reforms that undo the damage of the War on Drugs. It’s about educating the public, advocating for sensible policies and ensuring that our progress benefits all, especially those historically marginalized.”
Reflecting on his pioneering role in the surfing-cannabis partnership, Quintal is determined to reshape perceptions. “Cannabis consumption doesn’t define a person’s work ethic or ambition,” he states, hoping to normalize cannabis use among athletes and in society at large.
Quintal’s methodical approach to using Sunburn’s products focuses on recovery and rest. He details his evening routine, which includes live rosin edibles and vaporizers. “In the evenings, I usually unwind with a 10mg live rosin edible gummy, favoring indica strains for their relaxing effects. On restless nights, a live rosin vaporizer or traditional flower smoking helps me find the calm needed for restorative sleep.”
His advice to athletes who are curious about cannabis is grounded in personal experience and a belief in the natural benefits of the plant: “For athletes curious about cannabis, I recommend starting with low dosages and consulting with medical professionals. Getting a medical card and exploring dispensaries, especially Sunburn, can be a good starting point. It’s about finding what works for you and embracing it for a better quality of life.”
Looking to the future, Quintal hopes for a more open relationship between professional sports and cannabis. “Attitudes surrounding cannabis use amongst athletes and in major professional sports leagues are changing,” he notes, advocating for evolved policies in professional surfing leagues.
“I envision a future where policies in professional surfing leagues evolve to recognize the nuanced role of cannabis. It’s time our regulations reflect the changing perceptions and the integral role of cannabis in our culture and wellbeing.”
As our conversation winds down, Quintal’s message to other athletes is clear: “Everyone is unique and I think it is important to listen to your body and approach cannabis use responsibly.” His journey from a stressed college student to a world champion surfer and now a pioneering figure in the intersection of cannabis and sports is a testament to personal evolution, societal change and the enduring power of resilience and adaptability.