Tag: Events

7 Mandatory Vancouver Experiences for High Folks

From scenic vistas to culinary indulgences, Vancouver is blessed with an invigorating mix of natural features and human-made concoctions to delight those under the sensory-enhancing spell of cannabis. Numerous Vancouver attractions are known to everyone and their step-dancing monkey, but here are a few places and experiences that are a little under-the-radar, less touristy, and totally worthy of your attention.

Whytecliff Park

(Maxvis/iStock)

The clothing-optional Wreck Beach is the obvious, more accessible sea-and-sand mecca. Whytecliff Park, perched out in the northwestern suburb of West Vancouver, is much, much farther out there—but those who make the trek are rewarded with arresting seascapes and views of the islands of Howe Sound. With over 15 hectares to traverse, there are a few trails, rugged shorelines, picnic spots, rocky outcroppings, and pebbled beachfronts. Upon low tide, you can walk along a rock-strewn tombolo to the tiny Whyte Island while examining local inhabitants like starfish that call this lush marine sanctuary their home.

The Galley Patio and Grill

(Courtesy of The Galley Patio and Grill)

At this under-the-radar spot, you can feast upon unobstructed views of the waters and North Shore while chowing down on Jamaican jerk chicken burgers, Baja fish tacos, wild B.C. salmon salad, black bean and roasted squash tostada, local beer, and Canadian wine. It’s “cheap ’n’ cheerful” mode here, with casual patio seating and décor. As remote as it is out at the Jericho Beach Sailing Centre, be warned that the patio does draw a full deck on sunny days. Nonetheless, inside seating is available should Raincouver crash the party.

Outdoor and Indoor Yoga

(Courtesy of The Mat Collective)

There’s no shortage of yoga in the birthplace of Lululemon Athletica. Heck, there’s been all forms and variations imaginable here, including paddleboard yoga, aqua yoga, acrobatic yoga, cat yoga, bunny yoga, men’s yoga, and—yup—even beer yoga. While there aren’t any designated cannabis yoga classes, what’s stopping you? When the weather’s behaving, self-directed yogis can soak in the city’s natural setting as they practice anywhere from well-known spots like Kitsilano Beach or Queen Elizabeth Park to West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park or South Vancouver’s Riverfront Park on the banks of the Fraser River. Indoor options include local chain Yyoga (various locations), which offers a spectrum of classes spanning hot yoga and hatha to warm yin and meditation.

Foot Massage

(KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock)

As the city’s Asian Canadian population has grown, so have Asian cultural resources and businesses. Case in point: reflexology. While Westerners focus on bodywork for relaxation, Chinese massage traditions zero in on the feet, and any number of Chinese-run massage centres offer foot massage that will send the cannabis-enhanced on a mythic journey of emotional sensation. Although the interiors at some Big Feet locations are bare-bones, their rates are almost half of those at Western spas. For nicely appointed décor, check out Toe to Soul Relax Lounge (three locations). Newbies may find the experience ticklish or awkward but the experience can be quite sensational, even soleful. (Groan. I’m sorry.)

The Rio Theatre

(Courtesy of The Rio Theatre)

Commercial Drive is antithetical to its namesake, as its unique array of independent shops and eateries anchor a politically progressive, culturally diverse, queer-friendly neighbourhood. After an afternoon of browsing there, peace out at the Rio Theatre, just off the Drive. As one of the city’s last single-screen movie theatres, it serves up an eclectic array of films from cult hits and second-run flicks, and also hosts live events: burlesque, comedians, variety shows, musical acts, and lots more. Most importantly, the concession stand offers beer, wine, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

International Village Mall

(Courtesy of International Village Mall)

Vancouver has a wealth of surefire choices for sensory stimulation, from Science World and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre to the Richmond Night Market and the Pacific National Exhibition. But if you wanna go the David Lynchian route, head directly to International Village. Straddling Gastown and Chinatown, this itchy dreamscape of a mall offers an off-kilter, semi-awkward mix of hip draws, vacant storefronts, and quirky shops. For visual stimulation, there’s Japanese dollar store Yokoyaya 123 and nerd haven One Stop Shop Cards and Games. For tactile fun, there’s Catfe, an appointment-only café featuring cats up for adoption. Feeling munchy? Eateries vary from the casual, paleo Caveman Café to the sleek, new Black Lounge, or there’s the second-floor, Asian-oriented food court, with everything from Thai and Sri Lankan food to bubble tea. Wanna chill? The third-floor multiplex screens everything: blockbusters, arty fare, foreign flicks (Filipino romances, anyone?). It’s almost always empty, which gives you plenty of room to do your own thing.

Pacific Spirit Park

(Tamas-V/iStock)

The majestic, internationally acclaimed Stanley Park gets all the glory and deservedly so. Alas, it’s a tourist magnet. To do as the Romans do, try Pacific Spirit Park, a 874-hectare nature preserve that separates the University of British Columbia at Point Grey from the rest of the city’s West Side. Here, you can immerse yourself in “forest bathing,” as the Japanese call it, as you trundle along the 73 kilometres of hiking trails and bog boardwalks enveloped by sprawling woods. With only occasional dog-walking residents, joggers, or horse-and-riders passing by, it’s a prime setting for communing with nature. Bonus: the park includes the aforementioned clothing-optional Wreck Beach.

A Professional Dominatrix Walks Into a Cannabis Investor Conference…

I walked into the ballroom of the downtown Toronto Marriott Hotel and looked around at the throng of people talking, laughing, and swapping business cards. It looked like any ordinary business conference—at least to me. Still, this was the first business conference I’d ever attended, so I didn’t have a lot to compare it to. I’m a professional dominatrix, and I’ve never had an office job in my life. So this was a completely new experience for me.

However, this was no ordinary business conference. This was the Arcview Group’s Investor Network Forum, a gathering of fledgling cannabis entrepreneurs who have come to make their pitches, in a Shark Tank-style environment, to angel investors looking for rising cannabis businesses. And I had come to showcase my new business: a cannabis sex lubricant called Velvet Swing.

Cannabis enthusiasts share many good traits with kink/sex enthusiasts. They know what they like, and they are not afraid to ask for it.

I first learned of the Arcview Group when Seattle cannabis company Tarukino invited me to join them at the conference and learn the fine art of pitching to investors. Tarukino was presenting their two cannabis-enhanced drinks, Happy Apple and Pearl 2.0, at the conference, and since I’ve partnered with them for the manufacture and distribution of Velvet Swing, they were game to take me along.

I can lace up my corset and swing a whip at a man I met only minutes before with perfect ease. But pitching my business to 200 sharp-eyed cannabis investors? My stomach fluttered at the thought. Still, a cannabis business requires a lot of cash to get going, and I would never have a better opportunity to learn how to get those kinds of funds. Getting people to give me money is something I’ve been reasonably good at so far, so I agreed.

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The day I arrived, I went down to the hotel’s convention center and walked around the room where booths were being assembled. Some offered things like accounting services or insurance specifically geared to the cannabis industry’s highly specialized needs. Others held unique devices like a robotic arm in a glass box that deftly trimmed (faux) buds of marijuana, and a “Lightlab Marijuana Analyzer,” a suitcase-sized tool for measuring cannabis potency.

A bud-trimming robot, on display at Arcview

It gave me a warm glow of pride to see my product there among them. There are not many personal lubes being offered for sale in the legal cannabis market. Topical marijuana products of any kind are dismissed by some as a small, not-wildly-profitable niche of the industry. But the people who think that have never met me, and they’ve definitely never tried Velvet Swing.

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My confidence flickered slightly, though, when I walked into the ballroom for the evening’s meet and greet. I’m completely comfortable talking to one person, or one hundred, about BDSM and sex, and I love talking to potential consumers of Velvet Swing. But I’m far less accustomed to pitching my three-months-old business to ruthless corporate tycoons. I don’t know all the latest business buzzwords, and I’m not especially good with numbers. I briefly considered ducking back out of the event and fleeing upstairs to my hotel room.

No, you came here to learn how to do this, Matisse. You are going to make some rookie errors, but if you talk to everyone in this room who will listen, at the end of it, you’ll know a lot more than you do now. So get going, lady. I made sure my freshly-printed Velvet Swing business cards were handy and waded into the chattering mix of people.

Another new product being pitched at Arcview

Here’s the best part of the story: I have never met a nicer, friendlier bunch of people in my life. Everyone I talked to—and I talked to a LOT of people—was delighted to listen to my pitch. How’d I manage that? I decided: if you can’t fix it, feature it. So I told each person I met that this was my first investor’s conference and asked them to give me tips on my individual pitch to them. People love to give advice to a beginner. By the end of the weekend, people were coming up to me and saying “Hey, I want to introduce you to some people. They want to hear about Velvet Swing!” I may be a rookie, but it felt like a win to me.

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Here’s the thing about selling a cannabis product: You are constrained by the fact that you cannot simply carry samples around and hand them out to people. It is less illegal for me to give someone a taste of my skills as a dominatrix than it is for me to squirt a little bit of Velvet Swing onto the back of their hand. Legal pot comes with a boatload of laws and regulations. Only a licensed pot shop can dispense pot products, no exceptions. So without the ability to actually demonstrate your product, you just have to be extra persuasive.

Here’s the thing about pitching a cannabis product: You can’t legally hand out samples, so you just have to be extra persuasive.

In this regard, I think pitching to people is a little like having sex: there are important points that you must make sure you touch on, but everyone likes it just a little bit differently. What I have found about talking to cannabis enthusiasts is that they share many good traits with kink/sex enthusiasts. They know what they like, and they are not afraid to ask for it. No one spent a lot of time shilly-shallying in what they wanted to know from me.

“Okay, but you can’t use it with latex, can you?” “Velvet Swing is revolutionary—it’s a water-based lube that’s safe to use with condoms. As far as I know, it is the only truly latex-safe cannabis lubricant in the world.”

“Pot lube huh? I tried that once—made a mess on the sheets and it smelled really skunky.” “I’ve tried products like that too. But Velvet Swing has a light, lotion-like texture, its non-staining, and it doesn’t smell like WEED.”

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Best question ever? A tiny sixtyish woman who asked me, somewhat sternly, “But…what does it DO?” “It makes women have longer, stronger, multiple orgasms,” I told her. She broke into a smile. “All right, you have my full attention. Tell me more.”

Did I get anyone to invest in Velvet Swing? Well, they say a lady never tells. But by that calculus, there are not many ladies in the world! Let’s just say it was very definitely worth overcoming my new-business-owner nerves. Money aside, Arcview was a great overall experience for me professionally—I learned a lot about how to pitch in a really short span of time. And I started doing the one essential thing in any industry: I began building personal connections with smart, successful people in my field.

As a late registrant for this event, I was spared the ordeal of pitching up on the main stage—this time. Am I rehearsing already to get up there at the next Arcview conference I attend? Yes I am. I can’t think of a better place to do it.

Seattle Drops Fine Against Hempfest

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle has dropped a $1,000 fine against the nonprofit organization that runs HempFest, the annual summer marijuana celebration.

The city accused Seattle Events, also known as HempFest Central, of operating a marijuana business without a license in a citation in June. The citation stemmed from a private party of about 75 people that the organization held at a home on April 20.

A city inspector said he observed attendees using marijuana. However, his declaration in support of the citation did not explain how the group had operated a marijuana business in violation of city law.

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HempFest attorney Fred Diamondstone contested the fine for that reason, among others, but the city kept prosecuting the case until late Tuesday, when the Department of Finance and Administrative Services dropped the citation after The Associated Press asked why HempFest had been fined.

“It’s a head-scratcher to us,” Seattle Events President Vivian McPeak said. “It’s a private gathering with a small amount of people. They’re all adults. They brought their own cannabis. We don’t sell marijuana or anything like that.”

Recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington state for people 21 and over. Under city law, a “marijuana business” is any person or entity that grows, processes, sells or transports marijuana for gain or which “allows for consumption on their premises.” The law defines “premises” as the site of a marijuana producer, processor or retailer.

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The finance department was dropping the citation after further review and consultation with prosecutors, spokeswoman Julie Moore said in an emailed statement.

“We do not have sufficient evidence that the location where the conduct occurred meets the definition of ‘premises’ as currently defined in the Seattle Municipal Code,” Moore wrote.

She added: “Consumption on any business premises is considered a felony under state law. As such, FAS inspectors keep abreast of any event for which consumption of marijuana is advertised as a feature of an event.”

Inspectors have attended seven “cannabis-centric” events this year and issued citations at three of them, she said.

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But Diamondstone and Douglas Hiatt, another attorney who has worked with HempFest, said adults have a right to gather on private property and engage in an activity permitted by state law.

Inspectors showed up at a HempFest party in June and bought two memberships so they could check it out undercover, organizers said. They left after finding no violations, McPeak said.

HempFest , now in its 26th year, draws tens of thousands of people to the Seattle waterfront every summer. Many of them protest the federal government’s ban on the drug by smoking openly without interference from Seattle police. City officials, including Murray, former Mayor Mike McGinn and City Attorney Pete Holmes, a sponsor of Washington’s legal cannabis law, have spoken at the event.

This year’s HempFest is Aug. 18-20.

‘Little Amsterdam’ Event Series Bringing Red-Light Cannabis Café Life to DTLA (Video)

“There’s nothing else in LA like it … we promise.”

LA-based production studio Seven Ghosts is talking about their Little Amsterdam event series, whose first installment kicked off over the weekend at their ARQADE venue in downtown LA. The monthly events are aimed at bringing the red-light district of Amsterdam, complete with cannabis cafés, to the City of Angels.

Seven Ghosts specializes in events that incorporate various combinations of music, film, art, VR, fashion, dance, and cannabis, and the Little Amsterdam series is no different—in fact, it incorporates all of these things, including the company’s proprietary cannabis brand, JADE. Check out the video to see it for yourself.

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How did it get started? Ceven Grey, founder and CEO of Seven Ghosts, explains:

“We theme our events, put real heart and quality into them. At Little Amsterdam we want you to feel that you are in another time and place, ‘a green café in the red light district of Los Angeles.’ We have live bands, DJs, burlesque dancers, psychics, virtual reality, fire dancers, unique food selections, and lots of cool places to hang out in our venue … [it] is an immersive experience in itself.”

‘Little Amsterdam’ Event Series Brings <strong><a href=Marijuana Café and Coffeeshop Life to Los Angeles | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />(Leafly)

Grey says Little Amsterdam will reoccur monthly for as long as people are interested—and since the events and attendee numbers for ARQADE’s cannabis events in general are growing exponentially, expect to see many more monthly iterations, generally on the third or fourth Saturday of the month. “We love it and I think from the responses we are getting that everyone else is loving it too,” Grey continues. “In addition to the overall cannabis vibes … we think it’s awesome to give people a VR experience while high. It’s like opening a new dimension for people, there’s nothing else quite like it.”

‘Little Amsterdam’ Event Series Brings <strong><a href=Marijuana Café and Coffeeshop Life to Los Angeles | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />(Leafly)

To find out when the next event will take place, follow Seven Ghosts Productions and ARQADE Studios on Instagram. Oh yeah, and if you can’t make it, ARQADE is open as a cannabis-friendly café seven days a week. Yep, really.

5 Tips for High People Attending Food Festivals

From the Bite of Seattle to the Taste of Chicago to the Maine Lobster Fest, outdoor food festivals are a beloved American tradition. They are also heaven on earth for high people, who can indulge their munchies with an astonishing array of foods while enjoying ace people-watching and other entertainments.

This weekend’s Bite of Seattle, for example, features comestibles ranging from deep-fried mac n’ cheese to alligator on a stick, alongside performances from several dozen musical acts.

How do you make the most of being high at a bustling public food festival? Here are five tips.

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1. Get yourself high with an appetite-enhancing, spirit-lifting strain

Aiming for a munchie-boosting strain is a no-brainer for cannabis users headed to food fests, but just as important is finding a strain that bestows a relaxing euphoria, rather than a heady intensity. This will help users surf the sometimes-challenging realities of food fests—slowly roaming crowds, frightful Porta Potties—with a minimum of stress.

Fest-friendly strains recommended by the Leafly Testing Team: Cherry Kush, Blackberry Kush, and Skywalker.

2. Never say no to a sample

 Every vendor at a food fest is there to put their best foot forward, risking hundreds of cruddy Yelp reviews by offering samples of their goods for free to the roaming masses. Repay their generosity and bravery by always saying yes.

You don’t have to eat the whole thing—preserving stomach space is important, and less-than-glorious samples should go directly in the trash—but pretty much everything at a food festival is worth biting once, especially when you’re baked and ready to Experience Flavor. (Vegetarian/vegan/celiac restrictions apply.)

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3. Be adventurous

For certain cannabis users, being high can create cravings for the familiar. This urge should be fought at food fests, where you’ll find plenty of familiar foods alongside plenty of unfamiliar foods. Why have a hamburger when you can have an elk burger? Why eat a regular Snickers when you can eat a deep-fried Snickers?

Now is the time to venture outside your comfort zone and aim for delights you can’t get anywhere else, even if it requires antacids and morning-after, stomach-calming bong hits. That said…

4. Don’t eat the entirety of anything you don’t absolutely love

 Your stomach space is limited, and consuming the entirety of something you don’t totally enjoy just because you paid for it is a lose-lose situation: You fill your precious stomach with meh, and eating the whole thing doesn’t make it cost less.

All decent humans are wary of wasting food, but food fests demand amnesty from this ideal.

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5. Be prepared to avert your eyes

A common component of highness is a heightened sensitivity to visual stimuli—this is why watching Koyaanisqatsi while high is delightful, while watching infomercials about abused animals while high is torture.

At a food fest, high attendees will find a vast array of things to gawk at, and not all of them are conducive to happiness. Among the potential bad-trip imagery: humans chewing food, ant-covered corn cobs lying in the grass, and human feet in flip-flops stepping on a dropped piles of soba noodles.

When things get hairy, look at the sky. Isn’t it beautiful?

The High Score: E3 Video Game Teasers That Have Us Readying Our Pipes

Welcome to The High Score, where we explore the creative, immersive intersections of cannabis and gaming through reviews, product pairings, and more. Check out more installments of The High Score series here.


This week, video game developers both large-scale and small gathered in Los Angeles for E3 2017, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, where they shared exciting projects currently in the works for video game enthusiasts worldwide.

E3 for gamers can be compared to Christmas morning for a 7-year-old; it can be the best or most disappointing day of the year depending on what gets unwrapped. Like when game developer Bethesda hands you an Elder Scrolls VI-shaped box, but inside is just paid mods and yet another version of Skyrim. Or when your sibling with the Playstation gets God of War, Day’s Gone, and Horizon: Zero Dawn…and you get Cuphead (which, to be fair, looks like one of the better Xbox exclusives).

Sure, there were a few lumps of coal in the E3 stocking this year, but there were also some real bangers. Which games have us loading a bowl in restless anticipation?

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Super Mario Odyssey 

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Console: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: October 2017

I’ll Be Smoking: Amnesia Haze, to achieve the weird, psychedelic euphoria this game deserves.

Nintendo was the undisputed champ of this year’s E3, dishing out major titles and nostalgic teasers that have everyone’s inner child screaming with delight. Cue Super Mario Odyssey, a game that harks back to the era when Super Mario 64 ruled our adolescent lives. But while the 3D platformer of yesteryear stayed well within the lines of what to expect in the world of Mario, Odyssey looks to be of a more vivid, actively hallucinating imagination as Mario possesses anything’s soul with the power of his hat.

You can be whoever or whatever you want. A T-Rex? Just give him your hat! A business man? You can be him, too. A taxi cab? Sure. Why not. Whatever you need to be to save Princess Peach again. The sky seems to be the limit.

Based on the trailer, I can’t tell if this game takes place in New York, Jurassic Park, Mexico, or a boat in the sky, but one thing I do know: I can’t WAIT to be stoned exploring it all with my sentient hat friend, “Cappy.”

Anthem 

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Console: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC

Release Date: Fall 2018

I’ll Be Smoking: Kosher Kush, to slow down my sloppy, anxious trigger finger.

Anthem, you guys.

In this shared-world RPG, you’re a mechanical bumblebee-human that jetpacks around a rainforest with all your friends. Y’all are leaping off cliffs, flying through ruins, diving underwater among bioluminescent orbs, singing songs over headsets, and generally enjoying the stunning atmospheres lit by soft beams of light squeezing through green canopies. What a great day.

…Until an enormous mechanical Trojan horse-robot charges in carting in a chest full of laser-spitting enemies. Here’s where I pause the game, take a huge rip of the heaviest indica I can reach, and try to hit something–anything–with my little virtual bullets. I’m not huge on first-person shooters, but I’ve subjected myself to worse for breathtaking open-world environments that you can immerse yourself in alone or with a buddy.

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Rocket League

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Console: Nintendo Switch (just announced), Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac

Release Date: Winter 2017

I’ll Be Smoking: Chocolope, to enhance focus and to generate more creative insults for my enemies.

If Mario Kart and FIFA had a baby. That’s Rocket League described in a nutshell. The premise is simple: you’re a little car trying to bash a ball into a goal. The fun of it all comes from the chaos, the mayhem, the defiance of gravity, and cursing at your friends.

Rocket League has been around for a couple years now, but the announcement that it’ll soon be released on the portable Nintendo Switch came as a pleasant surprise to those of us who want to take the game with us wherever we go.

God of War

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Console: Playstation 4

Release Date: Early 2018

I’ll Be Smoking: Thor’s Hammer, to sharpen reflexes and because Norse stuff.

God of War has been around over a decade and has traditionally been set in the world of Greek mythology. But Sony presents a different God of War this year–a game with two feet firmly set in the snowpack of Norse mythology. Here, you’ll recognize deities like Thor, Odin, Loki, and creatures like giants and the World Serpent, Jormungandr.

Despite taking place in an era of Viking brutality, the fourth God of War shows a different side of the perma-aggro Kratos we all know. “This game is about Kratos teaching his son how to be a god, and his son teaching Kratos how to be human again,” explains the game’s Creative Director, Cory Barlog.

With its breakaway from the static of the previous three God of War games–and also its step into the surreal mythology of Scandinavian antiquity–I easily have not been this excited about game since Skyrim, Breath of the Wild, and Witcher III.

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Transference 

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Console: Playstation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift; Non-VR available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC

Release Date: Spring 2018

I’ll Be Smoking: Green Crack, for its mind-melting properties that will make this game as nightmarish as it deserves to be.

Elijah Wood has been up to all kinds of shenanigans since his days of gallivanting around Middle Earth as little Frodo Baggins. Apparently when he isn’t acting or DJing on the weekends, Wood is developing virtual reality games that could easily appear on an episode of Black Mirror (actually…didn’t it?)

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The game is called Transference–developed in collaboration with Ubisoft–and though the trailer leaves us with far more questions than answers, we know that it takes place in the mind of another person. In other words, you are entering a VR world of someone else’s memories, traumas, and thoughts, which is all made possible through uploaded neurological “data.”

I don’t know if I’m excited for or terrified of this game, but traversing the mind of another using immersive virtual reality is a concept I can’t help but be totally intrigued by, especially when you consider its uses beyond entertainment. Could virtual exploration of a traumatized mind eventually change the world of psychology and medicine?

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps

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Console: Xbox One, Windows

Release Date: TBD

I’ll Be Smoking: Northern Lights, for dreamy euphoric effects that ease you into full immersion.

Introduced at E3 with live piano performed by the game’s musical composer, Ori and the Will of the Wisps may have been Microsoft’s most visually stunning reveal of the expo.

With graphics that look painted with magical luminous paints and a soundtrack probably sung by a choir of ghosts, Ori is begging to be paired with your favorite cannabis strain. Its fantastical characters, dreamy landscapes with light leaks, and heartstring-tugging plot entertain all the senses, and I cannot wait for the next rainy day spent with tea, blankets, and Ori. 

What E3 reveals got you most excited (or disappointed)? Let’s talk it out in the comments section.

San Diego Cannabis Festival Will Keep Trying After Venue Loss

A San Diego-area cannabis festival billed as the county’s largest-ever medical marijuana expo is in jeopardy after board members for the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds voted to throw out the contract with event organizers.

The Goodlife Festival, scheduled for Sept. 23, was set to feature live music, gourmet cooking demonstrations, and seminars on the health benefits of cannabis. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week that while fairground officials acknowledged the event’s medical focus, they said the setup felt a little too much like a party.

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“It may be [limited] to medical marijuana, but it has quite a bit of recreational feel to it,” said Russ Penniman, the president of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the state agency that runs the fairgrounds.

Others expressed concerns that the expo could violate federal cannabis laws.

“I don’t get a good warm feeling that you’re going to comply with federal law,” board member Stephen Shewmaker said before the vote.

The board left open the possibility that the event promoter, Lawrence Bame of Westward Expos, could rework the contract and apply again. According to the Union-Tribune report, Bame said he’d do so “at the first opportunity.”

“I would be happy to try to work this out,” he said.

Fairgrounds officials had initially approved the contract with no public discussion. But once word of the festival got out, the Union-Tribune reports, “a small uproar began” among locals. Tuesday’s meeting was scheduled in response to the community’s concerns.

“This festival is normalizing the use of marijuana and sending the wrong message to the public.”

Nancy Logan, Encinitas resident

If the festival does go forward, one thing’s for certain: On-site consumption will be prohibited. Board members said consumption of THC products would run afoul of federal law. It’s not clear whether other cannabis-focused activities, such as infused cooking classes, would offend the board’s sensibilities.

If hand-wringing over violating federal law seem out of place in the country’s largest legal cannabis market, welcome to California. Attitudes toward legalization vary radically across the state, and the upscale beach towns around San Diego tend to be wary of cannabis.

Solana Beach resident Peggy Walker told board members that the cannabis festival would be a “slap in the face” to Del Mar and Solana Beach, nearby cities that have banned dispensaries and commercial cultivation.

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In a letter to the board asking it to scuttle the Goodlife contract, Encinitas resident Nancy Logan wrote: “This festival is normalizing the use of marijuana and sending the wrong message to the public.”

California is already home to some of the cannabis industry’s largest conferences and festivals, many of which allow consumption in designated patient-only areas. The Emerald Cup, held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Northern California, and the Cannabis Cup, held at the National Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino, both permit on-site consumption.

Some other cannabis festivals, however, have run into obstacles similar to what Goodlife now faces. Earlier this year, organizers of the Las Vegas Cup were forced to scale down the event from a full-fledged cannabis fair to a cannabis-free industry event over concerns about federal law. Even topical lotions were required to be THC-free. And last year, High Times magazine’s flagship event, the US Cannabis Cup, relocated to California after multiple clashes with county governments in Colorado.

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Compared to alcohol-focused celebrations, organizers and hosts of cannabis festivals say they tend to be relatively relaxed, low-hassle events.

“The only real challenge we have experienced is with the event patrons parking in the local neighborhoods,” Rebecca Bartling, CEO of the Event Center at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, which has hosted the Emerald Cup for several years, wrote in a letter to the Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO.

“A side benefit, but not insignificant, is the economic benefit the Emerald Cup has made to our community,” Bartling wrote. “During the three day run the hotels in Santa Rosa are booked and restaurants are very busy.”

3 Highlights from the MAPS 2017 Psychedelic Science Conference

On April 21, over 3,000 people swarmed the Marriott Hotel in Oakland to attend the third international conference held by MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies), a 5-day conference beyond most imaginations. “[MAPS] is a non-profit research and educational organization that I started in 1986,” Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS, told Leafly. “The best way to understand it is as a non-profit pharmaceutical company focused on developing psychedelics and marijuana into FDA-approved prescription medicines.”

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With over 40 countries represented by its attendants, the crowd at Psychedelic Science 2017 was a mixed bag of appearances and experiences. Clean-cut clinical types, curious dreadlocked psychonauts, and everything in between mingled in rows of chairs. Beneath the high ceilings of conference halls typically reserved for business gatherings and trade shows, presentations on LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, and cannabis projected onto enormous screens. Without the winds of cannabis legalization at our backs, this scene would look utterly surreal. In a way, it still did.

Scanning the day’s schedule, attendees found lectures with titles like Treating Alcohol-Related Disorders with Ayahuasca; Principles of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD; and Injustice, Intersectional Trauma, and Psychedelics. After hours, guests could meet up for cannabis-assisted meditation or yoga, film screenings, or relaxed networking – and for some guests, a sunset cruise in the San Francisco Bay.

Here, we gathered to explore the healing potential of plant and psychedelic medicines, whose true natures are so often barred from popular knowledge by taboo. For anyone fascinated by the inner workings of the mind, the weekend was an intellectual playground. And in case you missed it, here’s the highlight reel. You can also check out recordings of the presentations, which MAPS has generously shared on their YouTube channel.

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1. Medical Breakthroughs and Hope for PTSD

Setting the tone for the conference was a series of presentations on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for patients with treatment-resistant PTSD. Having recently completed their Phase II pilot study, MAPS was given approval by the FDA to proceed with Phase III trials, the final step before MDMA becomes a prescription drug for use under strict medical guidance in clinical settings. Astonishingly, 83% of study participants no longer met the criteria of a PTSD diagnosis following two months of treatment, in which MDMA was administered just twice. Compare that to psychotherapy alone – about 20% – and it’s clear that we have an important breakthrough in psychiatric medicine here.

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“I love my life. The medicine’s lessons are forever tattooed on the cells of my body,” said one participant, reflecting on her healing experience during a panel presentation. Looking next to the study’s therapists sitting nearby, she finished with a cracking voice, “With all my heart, I bow to you in gratitude.”

A day later, in the same room, three researchers – Philippe Lucas, Sue Sisley, and Zach Walsh – would present on their studies of cannabis and PTSD. Though less curative and more useful as a tool for symptom control, cannabis is giving PTSD patients back their lives as well, especially as it reduces the intake of harmful and addicting prescription medications.

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2. Community, Social Justice, and Taking a Look Around the Room

“The silencing of indigenous people is happening today. It’s happening at this conference.” That’s what panelist LisaNa Redbear had said in a forum just before we all filed into a small conference room for a workshop called White Allies and Anti-Racist Practices in the Psychedelic Community.

Chairs lined the room’s perimeter. We’d be meeting for an hour to discuss with each other the role of race in research of psychedelic and plant medicines. There was an overwhelming white majority in the room, but I hadn’t really noticed – not yet, at least.

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The forum facilitators started us off with an exercise. In our hands were ten marbles, and we were asked to put one on the floor in response to various prompts: “Put a marble down if the color of your skin has never made you feel uneasy when pulled over by police. Put a marble down if you’ve never felt discriminated against in a job interview because of your skin color.”

Marbles rolled out of white hands around the room, but about five questions in, we heard a voice from the back corner of the room. “Excuse me, can we switch this up?” said one of the only black women in the room, tears in her eyes, palm full of marbles. “I understand what this exercise is meant to show people, but for me, this is torture.”

This comment accomplished what no exercise could. Thinking back to what LisaNa had said, it dawned on me that the conference’s keynote speakers were indeed overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male – perhaps not out of discrimination, but a problem running in the veins of an inherently racist drug war; of course participation by minorities in the psychedelic community and research is met with fear of repercussion and prosecution. The importance of this fact cannot be forgotten as we seek to build an industry of diversity and inclusivity.

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3. Spirituality and the Exploration of Consciousness

Inextricably tied to mind-expanding plants and sacred medicines are experiences of mysticism. This spiritual aspect of psychedelic medicines can provide a kind of existential therapy, especially for those enduring the trauma of terminal illness and end-of-life anxiety. These spiritual experiences, often referred to as “catalysts,” can be immensely powerful tools of healing.

Though these types of intense trips are most commonly associated with potent psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD, even cannabis has the power to catalyze healing in the right setting.

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I first experienced the glorious combination of cannabis and guided meditation a year ago with Daniel McQueen of Medicinal Mindfulness, so when I saw a similar opportunity on the MAPS schedule, I hurried over to the 21st floor of the Marriott where Sōtō Zen teacher Vanja Palmers would be leading a silent meditation followed by a sound bath. Outside, we gathered in the largest smoking circle I’ve ever seen and passed around joints in silence.

Back inside were singing bowls, gongs, drums, sitars, and some obscure instrument that looked like a giant tambourine. At least sixty of us laid down quietly and waited for the sound to wash over. It began with quiet tones humming from the bowls then escalated to fearful crashing of the gongs, before finally erupting into the melodious singing of sitars. Here among the sounds, the sensations, and silent friends, peace was on tap.


Want more coverage from the conference? Look forward to more on cannabis, PTSD, political hurdles, and more in upcoming Leafly features. In the meantime, don’t miss these cannabis speakers from the conference!

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