Tag: interview

Interview: ‘The Guy’ on Lemon Haze, Nostalgia, and Season 2 of High Maintenance

What an auspicious moment for the return of High Maintenance. Following the story of a New York City weed delivery guy—“The Guy”—peddling his illicit wares via bicycle, the show’s second season on HBO premieres January 19, 2018, arriving at a best-of-times, worst-of-times crossroads for cannabis culture. On New Year’s Day, California’s adult-use (read “recreational”) stores opened their doors for the first time, instantly creating the world’s largest legal retail cannabis market. Then, just three days later, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions struck back by rescinding the Cole Memo, which protected state-legal cannabis from interference by federal law enforcement.

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Rather than strike fear into the resistance, however, the Attorney General’s aggressive action has bred resolve. On January 10, Vermont stepped up to pass legalization through its legislature, and New Jersey has since announced a 100-day plan to do likewise—despite the ominous smoke signals that continue to emerge from Washington DC.

So what’s all that got to do with a TV show?

Well, perhaps in a few years I’ll be writing a think piece called Whither The Guy, because earlier this week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo jumped on the legalization bandwagon, announcing plans to begin studying cannabis legalization statewide. And if that leads to cannabis stores suddenly cropping up in the Big Apple like Starbucks, it’s hard to see how High Maintenance’s main character could ever hope to keep his delivery business afloat.

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Legalization, of course, is a many-splendored thing, and a black market in anything fosters injustice, corruption, and abuse. But all that said, as a transplanted New Yorker living in legal California, I do have to admit that one of the many reasons I love watching High Maintenance is for a warm and hazy feeling of how things used to be.

I called Manhattan home for close to ten years before moving to the West Coast, and during that time I ordered cannabis from any number of different delivery services. Not all the time—too expensive. But certainly whenever I wanted some herb right away and my regular guy wasn’t coming through. It was like the gig economy before that was a thing, only with a major difference: Order something via Postmates or GrubHub and you make the exchange at your apartment door, quickly and impersonally. But the weed guy (or gal) is someone you let inside. You two are in a benign conspiracy together from the jump—and therein lies the narrative brilliance of High Maintenance. The Guy is constantly intersecting with his customers in their most intimate spaces, often in unguarded, vulnerable moments.

The show debuted as an independently produced web series back in 2013, a labor of love co-created by Ben Sinclair (who plays The Guy) and Katja Blichfeld shortly after they married. They’ve since split romantically, but remain partners in writing and directing the series. They’re also both people who genuinely appreciate cannabis and credit it with serving as a creative inspiration. Of course, they’re always quick to point out that the show’s not about pot, it’s about people, and they’re not selling cannabis, they’re selling characters. But they get the cannabis stuff right, and with some new cannabis TV shows out there rushing into the new space with no cannabis cred whatsoever, that’s pretty commendable.

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In anticipation of the new season’s premiere, I spoke with Sinclair about cannabis as a jet lag cure, dealer nostalgia, side hustles, and Lemon Haze.

Leafly: Hey Ben, how’s it going?

Ben Sinclair: Good man, but I just got back from a trip to Asia and I’ve never experienced jet lag like this before. So feeling a little strange.            

Have you tried weed? I hear it works wonders for that.

You know, not surprisingly, I did try that. But I didn’t smoke for three weeks while I was on this trip, because in the Indonesian airport over the loudspeaker you frequently hear a voice just causally reminding you that traveling with marijuana is punishable by death. So the first time I smoked after I got back I got really stoned.

It felt good. It was almost worth taking that break just to get that stoned again. But it didn’t make me sleepy. It made me wide awake.

Cannabis culture has changed a lot since you started making High Maintenance five years ago. How is that reflected in the new season?

I think the changes in weed culture have really expanded the kinds of people my character can visit. Not because it’s legal in other states, but because it’s increasingly socially accepted everywhere. Legalization has also gotten me thinking more about the The Guy’s precarious position. If we’re lucky enough to keep making the show, at some point we’re going to have to address the way legalization affects his business.

We haven’t gotten into that up till now, because we like to keep the focus on the people who buy from him, their lives and stories, and not get caught up in the wheelings and dealings aspect. But this season we began to give some context for The Guy as a weed vendor and there’s a lot of room to keep playing with that down the line.

I feel a certain nostalgia has built up around The Guy, particularly for those of us watching while smoking weed we bought at a store. For all its criminality and imperfections, The Guy’s operation actually hearkens back to something kind of innocent.

It’s interesting you say that, because this season, for the first time, we go into The Guy’s apartment, and a lot of the things we put in there were chosen to evoke nostalgia. He’s got an old Nintendo system in there, a vinyl record player with big speakers, and like a papasan chair.

We designed his apartment to create a kind of throwback feeling and give the impression of someone who is resisting change. Or who is more comfortable doing things the old way. I think that’s reflective of a little personal story arc that we’ve been slowly depicting over the years, but also it is definitely related to what you just said. Part of the appeal of this character is a nostalgia for the way people have been buying and selling weed for a long time.

Do you share that nostalgia?

Now that I can patronize the stores while I’m in California, I do feel more in control as a customer there. But I still happily overpay for my weed service in New York, as a kind of donation back into the community from which I grabbed stories. I feel like it’s my duty and karmic imperative to keep supporting overpriced-mashed-baggie-of-weed culture.

People come up to me all the time and say, I used to sell weed, or I still sell weed, on the side, in a word-of-mouth way. It’s a side hustle that supports a lot of artists and other people trying to make ends meet. And all of the dealers and delivery services operate differently. There’s never an easy clear way to sign up and start ordering. In my opinion, that’s pretty cool. I like having to work to get something.

But if you look carefully at the Guy’s case of weed this season, it does appear more professional, with vacuum sealed, labeled buds ready for sale. So there is an acknowledgement that he’s trying to keep up. He’s even started offering vape pens as part of his inventory. There’s a whole episode about gentrification where vape pens serve as a symbol of that divide.

What’s your favorite strain right now and what does it cost via New York City delivery? Leafly has a huge strain database so I’ll link it up.

I actually use the Leafly app, so that’s very cool. Lemon Haze is what I’m liking right now. Good terps [laughs]. It costs $60 for an eighth that’s actually probably 2.8 grams. Sometimes you can buy two of those for $100.

‘Breeding Is an Art Form’: An Interview with Cannabis Cup Champion, Exotic Genetix

When it comes to quality cannabis, it all begins with a quality seed created by a breeder. In the last decade, Washington State’s Exotic Genetix has taken a strong hold on the cannabis breeding community. Most recently, Exotic Genetix won Best Indica for their strain Tina in addition to Best Hybrid for Cookies & Cream at the 2017 High Times SoCal Harvest Cannabis Cup. Having claimed numerous awards since their beginning in 2008, Exotic Genetix is widely recognized for their consistent quality. Other notable strains include Kimbo Kush, Trap Star, and Lemon Meringue. Leafly was given the opportunity to catch up with Exotic Genetix’s founder, Mike, and get a look into to what fuels their success and where they’re headed in the years to come.

Exotic Genetix’s award-winning Tina in bud-form. (Trevor Hennings/Leafly)

Leafly: How did you find yourself breeding cannabis?

Exotic Genetix: I started out doing this for myself and friends about ten years ago. I made a few new strains and handed them out to friends, and they would bug me to make more new genetics. Before I knew it, I was making seeds for everybody.

I got into it because almost everything out there was junk. The cannabis clone market and low-grade genetics you’d find were insufficient–not to mention the bugs, pests, and diseases you’d find on the clones. That’s what got me started and gave me motivation. Back then, I wouldn’t say it was a passion, but now it is.

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Which strains are you most proud of? Do they express any traits you find yourself striving toward with other strains?

Exotic Genetix: There are a lot of strains I’m proud of. Early on, I would always focus on frost. Plenty of good strains have frost, but when we throw our twist on genetics or come out with new strains, they glisten and that is what we’ve strived for since day one.

“If you are going to take breeding seriously, it’s my belief that you should make something of your own first. It’s all about making it into your own art form.”

How do you look at breeding? Is there something you could compare it to?

Exotic Genetix: I look at breeding as an art form. I’m not the best out there, however I might be your favorite. People buy Picasso or Van Gogh paintings because of their fame, but there are great artists who aren’t famous and don’t cost as much. For these reasons, people go out and purchase those paintings because they like their style. It’s the same thing when breeding cannabis. People support us and stick with us because they like the product. Either they like your style or they don’t. It just depends on what you are into.

Tina, the award-winning indica strain, grows in the Exotic Genetix garden. (Trevor Hennings/Leafly)

As with all artists, there are opinions about how they created their art and its originality. What are your thoughts when it comes to “pollen chuckers” and the overflow of new genetics?

Exotic Genetix: We all start somewhere. If you want to produce seeds and chuck pollen, I say go for it. However, if you are going to take breeding seriously, it’s my belief that you should make something of your own first. Make your own male, make your own lineup. It’s all about making it into your own art form.

Once you’re an established breeder or seed bank, you can go out there and grab a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and try to put it into a different product. But it’s unfair to take something from Exotic and something from DNA Genetics and say, “I’m going to cross these two together and call this X,” and sell that under a new seed company name for a large profit. It’s an insult to the community.

“The largest influence for me would be the strong love and appreciation for cannabis in the community.”

Do you have any specific breeding stories you’d like to share?

Exotic Genetix: I went to Amsterdam about five years ago, and a friend of mine at Hortilab gave me some seeds that he had created with Karma that were never released. He said they were a cross of his Starbud x Karma’s Biker. It was such an amazing strain that I used it in my Tripple OG lineup. Then I took this special indica that had a great fuel smell, and I crossed that into the Triple OG lineup and came up with the strain called Tina.

She’s colorful, potent, high in THC, and smells like jet fuel. If you’re going for a Kush, this is the mother of all Kushes. All the hard work paid off because we won Best Indica with Tina at the 2017 High Times SoCal Harvest Cup.

Tina is an indica strain bred and grown by Exotic Genetix. (Trevor Hennings/Leafly)

What outside influences have affected how you run your business or breeding projects?

Exotic Genetix: I was always a fan of growing forums back in the old days. Looking at all the backyard growers, secretly working to get their genetics out there–it was inspiring to see what could be done. I never thought it would be like this nowadays. The largest influence for me would be the strong love and appreciation for cannabis in the community. No matter what forum or website it is, when you start to meet and talk to these people, you realize they’re just like you. You realize we’re all out here trying to do what we love and not get persecuted for it.

Has legalization changed anything about how you operate?

Exotic Genetix: 100%. We used to just run medical cannabis out of Washington before recreational cannabis came around. We would go from state-to-state and follow their medical rules, and would partner with farms to produce our seeds in different states. We still use these practices in legal medical states.

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However, in legal recreational states, it’s been a little tough because we’re confined by strict regulations; the only genetics we see in the recreational states are through licensed producers. In Washington State, we have Green & Gold Brands which exclusively runs our Exotic Genetix products. In California, we have another program based out of Long Beach so we can hit the California market strong right out of the gate. We’re just trying to follow the rules everywhere so we don’t get in trouble for doing what we love.

Cookies & Cream is bred and grown by Exotic Genetix, and it won 1st Place Hybrid at the 2017 SoCal Harvest Cup. (Trevor Hennings/Leafly)

Can you speak to the farming practices that you stand by?

Exotic Genetix: Washington State requires a list of any pesticides you used when you sell that packaged product in a retail store. It has to be disclosed. You’ll find that Exotic Genetix doesn’t use pesticides or products that are going to hurt you. If we do use anything, it would be organic and applied very early on so that doesn’t linger. Something with a short half-life.

There are natural, organic pesticides out there that aren’t harmful to humans. However, it’s important to remember there are also organic pesticides that have half-lives that aren’t good for you. But at this point, we anticipate that no pesticide use will be necessary. We believe if you have a clean environment, there’s no reason to need that stuff to begin with.

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Outdoor growing is a completely different scenario. That’s why they make organic, natural pesticides that aren’t bad for humans. No matter how talented of a grower you are, you can’t keep nature off of nature, so to speak. In a controlled indoor environment, you really have no excuse for pest issues.

Where do you see Exotic Genetix heading in next decade?

Exotic Genetix: I see Exotic Genetix becoming a household name. I want to be like a craft beer that you go and grab off the shelf. I want to be that consistent, top quality product that isn’t going to break the bank. I don’t want to be the guy that raises prices when the product is mediocre. I want to be the strong name that you know is a good price for a great product.

A Top Cannabis Lawyer on What Losing the Cole Memo Means

Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo, considered by many to be the founding document for legal cannabis, came as a major shock to the cannabis community. But that memo was just a memo—not a law.

“Today the shops are open, the dispensaries are open,” said Carlos Blumberg, a Nevada cannabis lawyer and the founder of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “There are state laws that allow them to be open, there are state laws that allow cards to be issued, there are state laws that allow for cultivation and edibles.”

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The same disparity between state and federal law that existed before the Cole memo was rescinded still exists, he noted, and the feds have the same authority to crack down on cannabis now that they did before. All the Cole memo did, he pointed out, was give guidance on ways to avoid that crackdown.

“You need to get to know the US attorney in your jurisdiction, which you should have done anyway!”

Hilary Bricken, cannabis attorney

“What we’ve had with the Cole memo was a certain amount of clarity as to what the federal government was looking for,” said Daniel Shortt, a Seattle attorney at the cannabis-centric firm Harris Bricken and founding member of the University of Washington law school’s Cannabis Law and Policy Project. Federal law on cannabis hasn’t changed significantly since the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, Shortt said, but he still cautioned that Sessions’ move wasn’t something to take lightly, legally speaking.

“For people who are advising these businesses or working with these businesses, it’s important to explain what’s happening here,” Shortt said. “This is a significant change. It’s important to make sure people are aware of the impact of the Cole memo.”

To get a sense of that impact, Leafly consulted Hilary Bricken, also of Harris Bricken, who is one of the nation’s foremost experts on cannabis law. She spoke about about what the decision means and what the cannabis industry and its customers can do to protect themselves.

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Leafly: If you’re a business owner or a member of the industry, what should you do and what should you be concerned about?

Bricken: Well, number one, you shouldn’t panic. Number two, it’s business as usual. You stick to state-law compliance, you have a good relationship with your regulators, you pay your taxes. At the same time, you should not ignore this, and you need to get to know the US attorney in your jurisdiction, which you should have done anyway! And I don’t mean a meet-and-greet with tea and sandwiches. You need to find out what their prosecutorial record is and what they care about. Some of them have made their names on certain sectors of enforcement, and you need to know if they’re super drug-focused or not.

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Are there different concerns for medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis businesses?

In the 9th Circuit, certainly, because of the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment. We have good case law for the 9th Circuit that says [the federal government] can’t spend money to interfere with state-law-abiding medical cannabis operators. [Eds. note—states in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals are California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska.]

I wouldn’t put it past the DOJ to try their hand in federal court in some of these other circuits to get a different result. Because that [amendment] on its face does not say that operators are protected in any way.

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From an investment standpoint, do people stand to lose the money they’ve put into businesses?

You could see a really zealous prosecutor go from employees at the store or principals of the company to the investors to the ancillary businesses that support them in order to try to wrap it up in a big criminal ring. But it would totally depend on the US attorney. Some of them I don’t think are going to care at all. They’re seasoned pros and vets and they’re not going to do anything politically volatile. These other ones in more conservative places—like, for example, the Eastern District of Washington, with [former US Attorney] Michael Ormsby and the Kettle Falls Five—in a jurisdiction like that, yeah, you could stand to lose majorly.

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Would they be prosecuted under conspiracy law?

Aiding, abetting, conspiring to violate the Controlled Substances Act. White-collar crimes for money laundering. I think that’s what they would look at. And I say “zealous prosecutor” because those are not easy charges to bring. You’d really have to build that case and be totally dedicated.

So maybe if you’re an investor, you’re worried last?

I would say in the line for getting punched in the face, you’re not first. You’re certainly not last.

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What does this mean for people who just want to smoke and possess cannabis?

Y’know, technically, legally, if they’re in possession of it or consuming it, they too are involved in a federal crime. However, based on the recent past, it is highly unlikely that certain U.S. Attorneys would ever prioritize the prosecution of state-legal consumers. So, while prosecution is legally possible because of current federal laws, it’s still not very likely.

In California, numerous people are in the midst of the legal-cannabis licensing process. Would you, as a lawyer, encourage such people to continue participating in that process? Is it a smart move?

It’s funny, I never really give any advice about encouraging or not encouraging clients. My position is, “Can you sleep at night?” If you’re afraid and uncomfortable, you don’t need to be doing this. But if you can tolerate the risk, it may work for you. And you should proceed in the face of that risk, cautiously. It’s such a personal decision, whether you view this as being about civil liberties or a business opportunity or whatever.

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How much does the rescinding of the Cole memo increase that risk they’re taking?

Well, it depends on where they’re located. If I were in LA County, San Diego County, or Orange County, I would definitely be researching my US prosecutor in the Southern District. If I’m in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, maybe less so. Even then, like what happened with Harborside, they kind of got a rogue US attorney in the Northern District. So I would say the risk is definitely there. It’s always been there, but now it’s crystallized, in that your independent US prosecutor is completely in charge. So you have to know what they care about if you want to mitigate your risk.

What Are You Smoking? Bonus Episode: Emerald Cup Co-Founder Tim Blake

What Are You Smoking? features Leafly experts Jeremiah Wilhelm, Bailey Rahn, Will Hyde, and Brett Konen, as well as guests from all corners of the cannabis industry reviewing strains, test-firing products, offering up pro tips, and answering your toughest cannabis questions. Subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes!

Leafly Podcast

Bonus Episode: Emerald Cup Founder Tim Blake

In this episode: 

What Are You Smoking? will be back with brand new episodes in 2018. Until then, take a listen to host Will Hyde’s interview with Tim Blake, the founder and driving force behind California’s iconic Emerald Cup cannabis competition.

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Check back soon for new episodes, and if you just can’t wait, remember that you can also catch up on previous episodes of both What Are You Smoking? and The Roll-up on Leafly’s Podcasts page.

Strains & Products on This Episode:

Cherry Limeade
Gelato
KC 36

Download Past Episodes

Meet Your Show Hosts

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Jeremiah Wilhelm is a strain researcher and subject matter expert at Leafly. A former budtender, Jeremiah is the site’s reigning beard champion and self-proclaimed Office Garden Gnome.

Bailey-2048-copy1-240x240Bailey Rahn is an editor at Leafly specializing in cannabis strains and health. When she’s not at Leafly, you’ll likely find her smoking her way up a mountain or playing dress-up with her cats.

10859f1a857586f9ef11419f1635e517Will Hyde is a subject matter expert, strain specialist, and digital producer at Leafly. He spends his free time traveling and exploring creative outlets as a DJ, digital artist, and film producer.

b3fe573b22546969ff81691006d2a0c6Brett Konen is an editor at Leafly specializing in lifestyle content. She’s fascinated by parallels between alcohol and cannabis, and is very bad at writing while high.

About Our Music:

Music for “What Are You Smoking” is provided by Lusine. “Ticking Hands” is from his album Sensorimotor. “Two Dots” is from A Certain DistanceFor more about Lusine, check out Ghostly.com.

From Overstock.com to the Cannabiz: Stormy Simon’s Big Pivot

“I just jumped in.”

Stormy Simon

Stormy Simon has made a name for herself in business. She joined online retailer Overstock.com in 2001, when e-commerce was still in its early stages, and by 2015 had climbed to the position of president. Then she left her post and set her sights on the burgeoning world of legal cannabis. Armed with her experience and know-how, she’s jumped in feet first, consulting for cannabis companies and serving on the advisory board for CannaKids, which offers cannabis oils and tinctures for pediatric and adult patients.

Leafly chatted with Stormy about her decision to leave Overstock, what inspired her to get into cannabis, and what other projects she has up her sleeve.

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Leafly: What inspired you to join the cannabis industry?

Stormy Simon: It still sometimes makes me speechless. I was at Overstock for 15 years, and I’ve always been a supporter of medical marijuana and the civil rights to use it. I’ve always been a supporter of the plant, even growing up and being in Utah, which, there’s not a large group of you, but there is a group of you. And I had been in an industry that started while I was there. E-commerce, when I began at Overstock, people were still hoping that it could take off. It was such a vibrant, exciting industry. So as years go by, a decade and a half that I’m there, we developed an industry and now we’re living an industry and it’s adopted and accepted, but it was through that growth and development phase that was addicting to me.

(Courtesy of Stormy Simon)

You don’t really know what you’re going to do the next day. When I started at Overstock, we were advertising on AOL and Yahoo, before search engines were big, before Google, way before Facebook. We were founded eight years before Facebook and Twitter. So very different worlds to grow up through and live through.

And as cannabis, as this industry has been developing and medicinal research is being done and the grassroots effort that is happening in different communities—50 states, 50 different ways they can do it, 50 laws, all the restrictions, everything that everybody has to do in order to move this plant. And being in Utah, Colorado is not far away, so it was close enough that I was following it and it seemed real and I started getting interested, and somewhat passionate about what the states were doing with their laws and what it could really mean.

You know, I love Overstock with every inch of my being but I’d realized, going from a temp to president, that there is a time when it’s OK to move on. It wasn’t something that I had to do another 15 years to make it real or to validate it, and I felt like it was time for me to move on, for the company to move on without me.

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The cannabis industry and what it was doing, whether it was inspiration or curiosity or just a passion that I’ve had my entire life, I’m not really sure which piece of that triggered me to go. I think collectively, my boys being all moved out and bought homes, I’d been a single mom forever, and so that added pressure of taking care of the kids kind of slipped away, and it felt like it was OK for me to take a chance to explore something a little selfishly and just jump in. Without a lot of context and without a lot of insight into what it was really going to be like. I just jumped in first.

Do you see parallels between Overstock and your new cannabis venture?

When I first jumped into cannabis, I took a job as a consultant at a grow in Colorado with two medical dispensaries, so I spent six months with the plant, walking through this amazing facility. This beautiful plant was everywhere I went. I planted a couple of plants, got to follow their life cycle and everything that they went through—from cloning, to replanting, to measuring—the whole life cycle gave me huge insight into what the industry looks like. So at that point I did realize that I didn’t feel like me touching the plant or doing retail was something I wanted to invest long-term in, personally. But I did just get an amazing education there in a short time, which just catapulted me into knowledge which I’ll always be grateful for. And then, through that, meeting these people like David Dinenberg with Kind [Financial] and Tracy Ryan with CannaKids that are really dedicated to paving the way. CannaKids is named because her daughter, her nonprofit, Saving Sophie, is all about cannabis research because it’s helped her daughter so much so she created a brand. And David Dinenberg, really wanting to take on the banking complications and restrictions that we have, so they are two visionaries and they are doing something that can’t be easy and I’m attracted to that.

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I really like the hurdles, I want to be there to help them through the hurdles and learning along the way, but actually, doing it in favor of the industry’s goals that are risky and complicated, that most people don’t want to touch, the stuff that people don’t want to go in and fight for. A consumer brand of cannabis that is for children—that’s a big fight! So I feel really lucky to have found and been able to get involved with two people who look at one of the most complicated hurdles in the industry and each say, OK, I’ll do what I can to take it on. I love that. Taking it on their shoulders to be at the forefront.

Are there any cannabis companies that you’ve been looking at for inspiration?

I find them all inspiring right now, I really do. That sounds so cliché, but because they’re so new and so agile in what they’re doing and their ability just to adjust and create while everybody’s in the full marathon.

High Times is a brand that we all grew up with. So they’ve really over 40, 45 years, they’ve hung in there and they’ve stood alone for a long time, and so I guess I do look at them and keep an eye on them just because they’re so historic and such a timeline to the movement that started so long ago.

Overall I think any company that’s standing anywhere, if they have a booth even to give it a shot and get in? There’s a piece of success with that, right out of the gate. Because you’re trying and you’re doing it. It’s so fascinating and exciting and addicting! What’s going to happen next?

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I saw that you have your own line of jewelry. Can you tell me about Moonatic?

I got sidetracked from doing this, but I have a jewelry line called Moon and Moods bracelet line and collection that represents each moon phase. “Moonatic” [which rhymes with lunatic] is a term that I trademarked. I consider myself a “moonatic”—I love the moon, I love the phases, love when my energy is a certain way when I learn “Oh, it’s a new moon, no wonder I’m doing that.” I’ve loved that my whole life and I would, as a child, I remember learning that the moon controlled high tide of an ocean and I thought, ‘My goodness, we’re 60% water, what is it doing to me? There’s no way it’s controlling the tides and not doing anything to my body.” So, a few years ago, I bought Moonatic, trademarked it, and have a dream that it becomes a place where women who follow their passions, whether that be retail or other services, but a place we can all gather and create a community and a marketplace that the Moonatic lifestyle is celebrated.

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Do you think there’s any overlap between Moonatic and the cannabis crowd?

There could be a cannabis crossover. There are plenty of women in the cannabis industry who would like a community of women to join forces. You place your three products next to my three products and then there are six products and then we’re no longer standing alone. We’d really like to figure out a way to make this a community where the people who do the products are the ones who get the richest.

What are you trying to accomplish in the cannabis industry? What are your goals?

I’m so bad at goals. I love the idea of just showing up and being open to what the world might bring next. Cannabis is so new and I know there are some skills I have that I can bring to the industry. I can see them sitting in many different arenas—e-commerce, brand-building, so many different things, even logistics—but as far as the goal, I hope that I continue to find and create relationships with people who have a bit of the passion in mind still. People think the green rush is just so full of money, it’s not! It’s full of really struggling entrepreneurs who are trying to make it, trying to do something with it. And so the green rush right now, I look at it as just full of passion. It’s all about this passion and that’s the green. People are ready. And hopefully the money follows for them.

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I could see myself wanting to do all of it, and it really is so unique so I can’t set goals because I’m surprised every day at what I learn or from someone I meet or somebody that’s figured something else out or found a little niche that they’re working on. I’m just so intrigued and inspired by them. I can see myself wanting to do all of it. So I’ve been really afraid of setting goals when I’m open to learning from everyone.

There’s not a conversation I don’t have that someone just opens my eyes about one thing, whether it’s a sickness or a state or an injustice or all of our forefathers in this industry who sit in prison today. You learn so much about what it is and the history and why we are where we are. The goal is to join a group of people that hopefully, collectively, we can make it happen.

The Bellyak: How a Highdea Became an Actual Invention

The first time Adam Masters smoked cannabis was on the water. Having kayaked for the last 25 years of his life, Masters has practically grown up on a water boat, so it comes as no surprise that his first toke happened while afloat.

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With a background like that, it’s easy to see how the Bellyak was born. Part kayak, part immersive water experience, the Bellyak is the latest invention in watersports—but what is it exactly?

“It’s a kayak you ride on your belly!” says Masters in his thick North Carolina accent; his enthusiasm for his product is infectious. Beyond that, it’s a highdea turned patented invention that proves high dreams really do come true.

A Product for the Adventurous Stoner

The Bellyak is kayak-like in design, except the user lies prone with their legs outstretched behind them and their arms in the water to propel themselves forward. Unlike a boogie board, where one’s legs are in the water, or a kayak where you must sit above the water, the Bellyak cradles the user and offers an entirely new perspective of being one with the river. “It feels like flying,” says Masters. “You’re feeling the current across your whole body, you have a lot of feedback from the river, lake, or whatever you’re in. You’re not sitting in a boat, feeling it on your bottom, or standing on a paddle board feeling it through your feet, you’re feeling it through your whole body. It gives you a lot of sensory input.”

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This sensory experience is one of the reasons Masters thinks the Bellyak is so well-suited for the adventurous stoner—who doesn’t like to feel at one with their surroundings after a dab or doobie?

“You’re very much immersed in nature,” he explains. “The [Bellyak] becomes like an interface between you and the water. [It’s not] this separate clunky thing that you have to figure out how to navigate; very quickly it becomes part of the experience. I think that’s why, for me, it’s such a fun experience when using cannabis.”

However, that’s not the only connection the Bellyak has with cannabis, and Masters is ready to tell the real story of just how the Bellyak was invented.

High in a Hurricane: How the Bellyak Came About

(Courtesy of Bellyak)

“I was living by a little lake in South Carolina,” Masters recalls, “and on that particular day I was super stoned because a buddy of mine had grown some strong weed. It was during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and the water had come up and it was raging …  I remember being like, I have got to get down that creek!”

There was just one problem: The creek had rhododendrons growing all around it, and with the water so high, the flower bushes were overhanging too much for Masters to sit up in his kayak or use his paddle. Thanks to the creative boost of the cannabis, though, he came up with a solution: Just lie prone.

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“In my state of self-induced THC [intoxication],” Masters chuckles, “I laid on top of my kayak, put hand paddles on, and I shot down this creek like a rocket while laying prone. The experience was exhilarating.”

Thus, the idea for the Bellyak was born.

From Highdea to Prototype

Creative and innovative ideas while stoned are nothing new—cannabis has a way of feeding the flame of creativity—but it’s probably fair to say that most stoned revelations are met with momentary bursts of excitement and murmurings of agreement from friends before fading into memory (or forgetfulness).

But as Masters glided down that river, experiencing the water in a brand new way, he knew he couldn’t let this go. He went to his father with the idea, and the two of them set to work to create his first prototype from the bones of an old kayak. Over the next few years, Masters continued to tweak and develop his prototype—again, and again, and again.

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“I’ve always been a super active stoner,” says Masters. “I can’t stand to smoke and sit still … I want to create things and do things. So [developing the Bellyak] was the perfect application because not only was I taking the inspiration from being stoned, but I was doing a task.”

Five years after he created the first Bellyak, a friend who struggled to master kayaking gave his prototype a shot, and after seeing how much fun he had, Masters knew he needed to bring the Bellyak to the world.

From Prototype to Patented Product

(Courtesy of Bellyak)

Today, Masters has successfully launched the Bellyak to the public and has several models available for purchase from select retailers or on his website. He says getting one is as easy as lighting up and logging on, and you can expect to receive your Bellyak in just a few days. For cannabis enthusiasts, Masters recommends the Frequency model, which comes with a watertight hatch perfect for storing your herb.

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The Bellyak can be used on rivers, lakes, and in the ocean for some gentle surfing. Although it’s also suitable for intense white-water rafting, Masters recommends elevated users stick to the smoother waters, saying those environments are what makes the Bellyak such a perfect pursuit to pair with cannabis.

“The experience is so exhilarating … being stoned and paddling with your hands in the water, there’s nothing scary about it, you know?” Masters asserts. “So it’s the perfect combination, the perfect environment to be stoned in.”

Have a highdea you’d love to turn into a product? Share it in the comments!

‘No Significant Issues’ With Legalization, Says Colorado Health Official

On Monday morning, CBC radio host Matt Rainnie interviewed Dr. Larry Wolk, Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health, for Rainnie’s daily Prince Edward Island show “Island Morning.”

Like all Canadian provinces, PEI is working to establish its own rules for the sale and consumption of cannabis, which is expected to operate under full federal legality by the summer of 2018. Provincial officials have discussed the possibility of province-run retail shops, as Ontario is doing, but have yet to take decisive action on the question.

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Like many Canadians, Rainnie’s “Island Morning” listeners have a lot of questions and fears about legalization. Wolk, who has been Colorado’s Chief Medical Officer throughout the state’s three-year adult-use era, was happy to answer questions and clear up myths about Colorado’s experience.

Here at Leafly, we found Wolk’s interview to uncommonly rational, calm, clear-headed, and evidence-based. So we transcribed it, edited it lightly for grammatical clarity, and present it here in order to spread his observations and experience.

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CBC: What have you seen since recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado?
Dr. Larry Wolk: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issue as a result of legalization. I think a lot of people think when you legalize you are going from zero to some high-use number, but they forget that even when marijuana is not legal, one in four adults and one in five kids are probably using on a somewhat regular basis. What we’ve found since legalization is that those numbers haven’t really changed.”

What was your concern heading into recreational cannabis legalization?
“I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers.

Going in, ‘there was a concern’ about increased underage use. ‘We haven’t seen that pan out.’

Larry Wolk, Chief Medical Officer, Colorado Dept. of Public Health

“We just haven’t seen that pan out. We have seen a little bit more calls to the poison control center, but maybe parents of children are a little bit more forthcoming—now that it’s legalized—to make those calls.

“More people are going to the emergency room for marijuana visits, but most of those people are actually from out-of-state. They are tourists coming to ski, or coming to take advantage of all that Colorado has to offer. I say ‘all’ now because we have certainly seen an increase in tourists who partake and end up in the emergency room, or end up hospitalized, because they’re not as familiar with the products or education programs that we have around the state, which warn people and educate people about those products.”

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The legal age in Colorado is 21, right?
“It is 21 for the retail, or the recreational marijuana. It is 18 for the medical program, which we have had for about 15 years now.”

What is the right age to legally consume cannabis? Is it 21?
“That is an interesting question. I have talked to different people in different Canadian provinces about that, because I think biologically the correct age should be 25. But practically speaking, we know a lot of young adults are already using marijuana. If we want to capture that use, for a lot of reasons, we can do surveillance, we can do education, even capture the tax revenue and go ahead and have those programs in place for enforcement, then practically speaking 21 is the appropriate age. I think 19 maybe could be a little too young because of developing-brain issues, but if that is the legal drinking age, and you already have a high prevalence—I don’t know your prevalence here, but it may make sense to align it with the drinking age.”

What do you think about selling cannabis in liquor stores?
“I think it is a bad idea, because the co-use of marijuana and liquor is a bad idea. Marijuana in itself [can cause impairment.] Alcohol in itself can cause impairment. [When they’re consumed together] those effects are just not additive; they are exponentially increased when somebody chooses to co-use both substances. Selling both from the same establishment…is just not something we would support.” 

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What about drugged driving?
“We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI’s since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here. We have seen an increase in marijuana-positive blood tests amongst drivers involved in fatal car accidents. But, blood test is not a good moniker for impairment. We can’t tell if those drivers were impaired. They could have used marijuana a month ago and those metabolites could be still showing up in their blood stream. The other thing is, it is easier to test for alcohol in a roadside test. Many police officers will tell you their protocol is to test for alcohol first, and if they are positive for alcohol, they stop testing at that point. So it is hard to get a sense for how much marijuana is impacting DUI’s.”

How difficult is cannabis enforcement?
“In Colorado, we do not allow public consumption. Yet you will go to places or be in particular areas in the state and you will know it is being consumed publicly. Which makes it that much more difficult if someone is consuming an edible or a vapor product, because it makes it much less easy to detect.

I think law enforcement has a tough job. On the one had there is some relief they don’t have to bring people in, or charge folks with misdemeanors as the result of using marijuana. On the other side there is some angst over people maybe taking advantage of the system here.

This is one of the ways I think Canada will have the advantage over the United States. We are doing it state by state, so we have a grey area problem. People can grow marijuana legally, and then move it out the back door—take it and sell it in states where it is not legal.

If we had a national legalization similar to what Canada is doing, it would make the black or grey market far less active, [because there would no longer be such high] demand in neighboring states.”

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How important is education about cannabis?
“Very important. We have some pretty strong numbers showing that people recognize the statewide campaigns that we have developed. With that then, maybe there is a [growing] recognition among adults about how to follow the laws, and how to store it safely to keep it away from kids.

It appears that teenagers make decisions to consume marijuana for reasons other than legalization—like they do with other risk behaviors. [In Colorado], we had a statewide campaign targeted at teens. They don’t want to hear about it affecting their developing brains. They don’t want to hear about how it impacts what’s next. So, the campaign is all about how using marijuana may impact your ability to graduate high school, impact getting your driver’s license, [make it more difficult to] maintain a relationship or get a job. The numbers look very good in terms of the impact of the campaign.

For adults, we have a much lighter campaign than we started with. One of the mistakes we made early on is, we tried to use a campaign with life-size lab rat cages, saying ‘Don’t be a lab rat.’ That portrayed jail cages, and we ended up alienating the population we were trying to educate and help. So we had to completely scrap that idea and work on something that was more appealing, something likely users would listen to rather than immediately shut off.”

Do we know if cannabis legalization is leading to higher uses of hard drugs?
“We are not seeing those kinds of increases. We are certainly seeing an increase in heroin-related deaths, but those are similar to the national increases, so [our heroin-related death rate] is not out of line with the national rate of increase. I think we have yet to answer the question of whether or not legalizing marijuana helps reduce the consumption of those harder, more addictive drugs, or acts as a gateway. The jury is still out.”

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Cheech Marin Chats Cannabis, Chicano Art, and Which Actor Is ‘The Oddest F*cking Guy’

One of the first comedians to be open about his marijuana use, Cheech Marin has been on the front lines of comedy and cannabis since he first rose to prominence as one half of the iconic stoner duo Cheech & Chong. He’s a staple of Americana who bridged the divide between mainstream entertainment and the cannabis realm throughout his successful career.

Leafly got a chance to chat with the legend himself about his new line of cannabis products, the most interesting person he’s smoked with, his favorite on-set movie experience, and more.

“I smoke not only for the high, but for the taste.”

Cheech Marin

Leafly: Did you have any idea that cannabis would be so instrumental in your career when you first started your journey?

Cheech Marin: When I first started my journey? I was trying to figure out how to get back to my apartment [laughs]. It’s been a lifelong, enlightening journey. I had no idea there was a career [in cannabis], but if there was a career open at that time, I’d have joined that program because everybody was doing it. It was all we talked about.

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What’s your preferred method of consumption these days? 

I have a pipe company, so I like pipes. I like the taste of bud. I smoke not only for the high, but for the taste.

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What strains will be included in your new cannabis product line?

What kind of strains? God, I have them written down, but it will change over the course of time. We are curators, but no matter what it is, it’s always gonna be good.

So it will always be the best?

It’s not always gonna be the best, but it will always be good. Because who’s to say who’s the best? But our strains will always be good. And that’s all a stoner can ask for, right?

[His manager, Lisa Marcus, interjects.] “The idea is that Cheech would personally curate the strains at that moment. So a strain that might be great for November could change in January.”

Marin: Yes, it is under my curatorial province. But it will always be good!

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You have your own line of mezcal. Do you like your mezcal smoky, funky, or both?

Tres Papalote! “Three Kites,” because there’s three different alcoholic expressions in our line. It’s really good! All mezcals are smoky to one degree or another. [They vary in] just what kind of [smokiness] and what kind of concentration you’ve got, and from what agave plant [the mezcal] comes from.

Holding a glass of Tres Papalote mezcal. (Courtesy of Cheech Marin)

Do you have any strains that go with your mezcal?

Not yet, but I’m working on it. I’m going to do extensive field research!

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Tommy Chong also has a line of cannabis products. Did you two compare notes or share perspectives on what it’s like to create and launch your respective products? 

Not really. We both have our own interpretation of it and we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, everybody does well.

You recently released a memoir about your life. What inspired you to sit down and write your life story?

Well, I was getting old and close to the end there, and I could see the dimming of the light at the end of the tunnel. No, they offered me a deal. I wanted to have a task and sit down and develop a kind of style, and this is the style I developed–this biography kind of telling.

What was your writing process like?

I get up in the morning and write. Have a cup of coffee, go read the newspaper. Just write. Maybe until about 12:00 or 1:00, three or four hours, and then I’m done. I have a certain energy band when I’m on a project because every day you don’t do it, you get out of shape and lose the intensity of your train of thought.

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You’re quite the collector of Chicano art. What drew you to this art movement?

“We used to get high together and drink and every once in awhile, we’d go out and take some acid. He was my good friend. I really miss him.”

Cheech Marin, reflecting back on Timothy Leary, his favorite smoke buddy.

Oh, some guy owed me money [laughs]. No, I’ve always been interested in art from an early age. I’d go to the library and take out all the art books, and I taught myself about art. I started getting more interested in contemporary art, going to galleries in LA, and that’s when I discovered the Chicano painters there. They’d already been out there for a while, you know, but it was fresh for me and I recognized right away that these are some good painters, because I’d seen good painting all my life and so I started collecting them. It changes your perspective, and sometimes you need your perspective changed. It’s all about being in a state of being.

Showing off “Tirando Rollo,” artwork by Gaspar Enriquez. (Courtesy of Cheech Marin)

Can you tell us about any upcoming film projects you’re working on?

Oh yeah, I’ve got new movie I just finished [The War With Grandpa]. I hope it turns out good. It’s got Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, myself, and Uma Thurman.

Wow, that’s a great cast.

I know, right?! Are you kidding, I get to work with Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken. Christopher Walken is just the oddest fucking guy. He’s a funny guy.

What’s been your favorite film project throughout your storied career?

My favorite film project? Oh man, maybe Tin Cup. I had a great time on that movie. I mean, not that I didn’t have a good time on all the movies. Especially the old ones, like Born in East L.A. But yeah, Tin Cup. We sat on golf courses and at strip bars. How can you go wrong?

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Who would you say is the most interesting person you’ve ever smoked with?

Oh man, that’s a really interesting question. ‘Cause I used to get high with Einstein all the time*. No, but probably Timothy Leary.

He was a really good friend of mine. We used to get high together and drink and every once in awhile, we’d go out and take some acid. Yeah, he was my good friend. I really miss him.

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Do you have any advice for someone who’s new to cannabis?

New to cannabis? Don’t pay retail.

[His manager jumps in.] “Cheech! You’ll put us out of business!”

Marin, laughing: No, buy as much as you can. Because you never know. You never know. And it’ll always be good.

*Writer’s note: He did not actually smoke with Albert Einstein. Einstein died in 1955. (But he really got me with that one.)

She’s Got a Golden Ticket: Meet One of the Five Licensed Cannabis Producers for New York

Hillary Peckham is just 25 years old, but she is already the Chief Operations Officer for Etain, LLC, the only woman-owned, family-run medical marijuana registered organization in New York.

Etain was awarded one of just five coveted licenses to produce medical cannabis in New York. The license includes a 22,000-square-foot cultivation and processing facility and four dispensary locations across the state, in Kingston, Albany, Syracuse, and Yonkers.

(Courtesy of Hillary Peckham)

Since opening doors in January 2016, Etain watched the medical cannabis program in New York grow from just 51 patients to more than 31,000. With the addition of chronic pain as a qualifying condition, the program will only continue to expand and has inspired at least one new product from the dispensary.

Leafly got a chance to chat with Ms. Peckham to hear more about the state of the company, what its plans are for the future, and how the regulations in New York compare to the rest of the country.

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Leafly: What inspired you to join the cannabis industry?

“I still remain very grateful for this opportunity to make an impact on people’s lives, as a woman in business, and to show the world that we can be successful.”

Hillary Peckham, Chief Operations Officer for Etain, LLC

Hillary Peckham: Well, the motivation behind it was really from my mom. [She] was a caretaker for my grandma, who was diagnosed with ALS, and my mother was her caretaker through to the end of her life. We saw how end-of-life care can be mismanaged. [My grandmother] was put on a lot of medications that had a lot of different side effects, and at one point her doctor recommended that she get medical marijuana somewhere. [It wasn’t] legal in New York, and we had no idea how to find it for her and it wasn’t something she was interested in, but that kind of sparked my mother doing a lot of research about the industry and the benefits of having her patients. It was all her idea, so I latched onto it. I was very passionate about it.

My sister is a horticultural therapist, and I wanted to do music therapy, so healing and wellness is something that we’ve been interested in. My mother and I started to build a team and apply in New York because right around that time was when the [medical marijuana legalization] bill was passed. It’s been very exciting and a lot of fun.

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How did you feel when you found out that Etain had been chosen as a registered organization?

I was really grateful. We have worked really hard and I felt really confident in our team. I still remain very grateful for this opportunity to make an impact on people’s lives, as a woman in business, and to show the world that we can be successful.

What’s it like working so closely with your family?

It’s, uh, [laughs] it’s mostly fun. It is a lot of time with my family. Almost all of them are, in some capacity, working with Etain, so we spend a lot of time together. We make it a lot of fun and try to delegate tasks and make sure that everybody feels like they’re doing something that they can succeed with. I don’t think I could have done this without them, and I really feel like it’s given us an advantage in a lot of ways. We’re all committed to the same goals, and we don’t mind working extra hours and putting in the extra time because we’re just doing it with our whole family. We really get to stay true to our vision and what we want to accomplish with Etain, and we don’t have to worry about outside investments or other ownership.

The biggest challenge we faced when we were getting up and running was we were given about five months to build a facility, grow our plants, fill out our dispensaries, get everything tested, get our products tested and open our doors, and I genuinely don’t think I could have done it with anybody else. So, like, Christmas Day, we were hand-filling capsules, doing everything in the lab together to try to make sure that patients had products for our opening day. I think it’s a really great team that we have within our family.

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As a women-owned company, have you experienced more positive or negative reactions, particularly from within the cannabis community?

Well, within the cannabis community, the first experience we had was with Women Grow and Jazmin Hupp–I love them! We went to their first Women Grow meeting as part of the New York team. Originally, when we went to go apply, my mom was like “We’ve got to find a women’s group in cannabis,” and I was like, “Mom, it’s a new age, everything is legal, we’re not going to need that.” But then we found Women Grow and it’s been hugely helpful, and they are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met in my life. They always were very positive and optimistic and a source of inspiration for us. Through them, I’ve always felt supported, like they’re my cheerleaders, and I’m always grateful for that.

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Have you struggled to adhere to the guidelines in New York?

One of the reasons that we actually applied in New York was that we felt what was lacking in a lot of other states is regulation and making sure that you have a standardized product and consumer protection. That’s something we really got behind, with the Compassionate Care Act and the regulations that were in place. It is difficult at times–there’s a lot that changes, and you always have to be on your feet.

That’s just kind of the world of marijuana. It’s something where the end product that is getting to the patient is some of the highest quality in the nation, and the consumer protection that it brings and the consistency, I think, is unparalleled. I support the mission of New York and we’ve always made sure that compliance is a top priority for us, so we haven’t found it to be a huge hurdle.

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Do you think New York will ever legalize cannabis for adult use?

I don’t know! I’m always looking at the news. I know they’re definitely trying to make advancements along to help the medical program, so we’ll see where that goes. I would definitely be open to it, but I don’t see it happening in the immediate future.

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Does Etain have any plans to expand to any other markets?

Yeah, so, actually, this is very exciting: we should be open by Q1 in 2018 in California. We’re just doing oil production; we won’t have a cultivation facility or a dispensary, we’ll just be making concentrates. It’s a completely different model than New York, where we do everything because it is vertically-integrated, but we’re very excited about it, to be able to expand.

What is Etain’s most popular cannabis product?

One of the things that Etain likes to focus on is making sure that it offers very health-conscious products. Something that separates us from everybody else in the New York market is that our vaporizers don’t have any additives in them, so it’s just pure cannabis oil. And we’re the only ones in New York that actually has vaporizers that are just pure cannabis oil. Most of them are diluted with other additives like PEG oil or propylene glycol, and we feel that if you’re going to use a vaporizer, it should just have cannabis in it so you don’t have to deal with any of the side effects.

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Our most popular product is probably our high-THC vaporizer called Forte. Most patients like the flavor that it has and are really supportive of the health-conscious idea where you’re only inhaling what you need to–just the medicine.

Dulce is our high-CBD vaporizer. I’m a music major so we used music terms–”dulce” is soft and sweet, “forte” is strong and bold. We actually just released our fourth product this week; it’s called Mezzo, and that one is a 2:1 THC to CBD ratio.

Meet the Woman Throwing the Coolest Cannabis Parties in California

Katie Partlow’s cannabis parties have been called the best in California—and with California home to the deepest-seated cannabis culture in the world, these just may be the best cannabis events on Earth.

Through her events company LITTLE FACE, Partlow focuses on full, curated immersion of all five senses and a true search for exactly what makes us tick when we’re high. Forget the sorts of activities you’d enjoy at a cocktail party or a festival—we want entirely different experiences with cannabinoids in our system.

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Partlow has been obsessed with throwing themed parties since she was young—in fact, she once sold cannabis to her school’s basketball team to raise money to throw a birthday party. Bit by bit, cannabis and events have comingled to form the incredibly cool career path she’s following today. Yet few people could have gone from throwing their first public cannabis event at the beginning of 2016 to being one of the best cannabis party planners in the world a year and a half later. I chatted with Partlow to learn how she got her start, exactly what inspires her, what’s still problematic about cannabis parties, and what hot-ticket events she’s working on next.

Leafly: Rolling Stone called your last event the best pot party in California. What got you started throwing events?

Meet Katie Partlow, the Girl Throwing the Coolest <strong><a href=Marijuana Parties in California | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />An art installation in progress is seen in the Think Tank Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, CA Sunday, August 13, 2017. The Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ art show opens on the 19th. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

KP: I started taking event planning seriously while I was in college. Throwing cannabis-infused events is something I had always dreamt of doing. When I moved to LA to throw events, I immersed myself in the cannabis industry, working as a budtender, trimmer, joint roller, and cultivator.

What I found in the cannabis event scene in LA really disappointed me: Unaffordable events made for out-of-touch wealthy people, or events centered around bro culture with younger male audiences bent on over-consuming dabs and trading “bud porn.” … Two years ago, I started Little Face as a way to make [my] dream come to life.

Tell me about the upcoming Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ art exhibition and event series hitting LA on August 19th, and which events you’ll be involved in.

Meet Katie Partlow, the Girl Throwing the Coolest <strong><a href=Marijuana Parties in California | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />Artist Ash Santos paints the names of all the artists in the Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ art show on the wall of the Think Tank Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, CA Sunday, August 14, 2017. The show opens on the 19th and features various interactive installations. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ is ‘a month of art and events about Los Angeles, and all the stereotypes that come from it – especially the true ones. It’s a reflection on classic Best Coast culture from the ’84 Olympics to the Kings/Lakers rivalry, the period when we grew up with our city, and all the great and terrible things that happened in between.’ It opens August 19th and runs ‘til September 23rd. I am hosting or co-hosting three shows:

Brunchies (August 20th; 11 a.m.–3 p.m.): After the madness of [DSWC’s] opening night, many of us will want to wake and bake with the homies. So we asked West Coast legends Roscoe’s Chicken + Waffles to hook it up. They’re taking over our secret diner for a one-day-only event focusing on West Coast hip-hop, lowbrow art, and chicken and waffles [complete with] weed mimosas [and] prerolls.

Comedy, Cake + Cannabis (August 22; 7–10 p.m.): Taste California’s best edibles, elixirs, and extracts while laughing out loud to hilarious stand-up comedians. Come early, stay late, enjoy the art gallery before the show, and stick around for cake afterwards in the 50s diner!

Cannabis Cabaret (September 1; 9 p.m.–1 a.m.): An immersive performance cannabis speakeasy, co-produced with Higher Beauty. Pairing Los Angeles’ most explosive performers including the best in burlesque, drag, puppetry and more. I grew up a dance performer—ballet, Latin, and burlesque—and I always thought it would be great to host a Prohibition-themed burlesque show, with cannabis being served.

I want everyone to attend all of my events and feel like, ‘Wow, I have never experienced this before, but I’ve always wanted to.’

At all my events, the focus is around art and community. I am excited to bring the cannabis community into a space filled with artwork, and for the artists and community to get to know all the new cannabis products. I focus on the things I know and love best—food, performance, and laughing.

You told me that your cannabis cabaret event will be the largest you’ve ever done. How long does it take to put something like that together?

Meet Katie Partlow, the Girl Throwing the Coolest <strong><a href=Marijuana Parties in California | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />The Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ art show opens on August 19th and features various interactive installations. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

I feel like I have been planning my whole life for Cannabis Cabaret! It has been floating around my mind for years. At first, venues and dispensaries wouldn’t quite understand what I meant by “curated weed event” and they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. Can you blame them? It takes some explaining, but once you build trust with venues, they keep calling you back. Now that I have a solid network and team of folks behind me, it usually takes just a few weeks for full planning, marketing, and execution. It takes community support to really make all this happen … and I’m thrilled to be collaborating with the dream team again.

What’s different about throwing cannabis parties as opposed to, say, a cocktail party?

Meet Katie Partlow, the Girl Throwing the Coolest Marijuana Parties in California | LeaflyAn in-progress, DMV themed room at the Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ art show in the Think Tank Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, CA Sunday, August 13, 2017. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

I consider it a huge privilege and responsibility to introduce people to cannabis products. This is an exciting time, there is weed in every single thing you can think of, so I vet out the brands, see who takes the time to get their flowers lab tested, etc. I curate the brands, food, and entertainment solely on whether or not I would consume it and like it.

It’s important to me, whether it’s someone’s first bite or million-and-first bite of a pot brownie, that everyone has a great experience.

I am extremely mindful of the space and environment, whether or not it’s a good space for someone who is ‘medicated.’ Would it be a place I would like to be if I was stoned? If the answer is yes, I proceed.

You can overdo it with weed, so I like to encourage folks to microdose. You can always take more, you can’t take less. I don’t want anyone to feel awkward. I want to create a community where people feel safe and like they can be themselves. No judgment if you are new at this, this is what the place is for.

What’s your relationship to cannabis? Do you have a favorite means of consumption?

Meet Katie Partlow, the Girl Throwing the Coolest Marijuana Parties in California | LeaflyKatie Partlow, Director of Social Experiments at Little Face events, pauses for a portrait in the 420 Lounge while preparing for the opening of the Drinkin’ Smokin’ & West Coastin’ art show at the Think Tank Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, CA Sunday, August 13, 2017. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

My relationship to cannabis? We are in a committed relationship. I really enjoy it all. When I want to be social, I usually stick to joints or make infused drinks. If I’m at a movie, I will usually take a small bite of a gummy candy to relax my body. I use topicals for sore muscles. For strains, I usually follow with my nose – I tend to like citrus-smelling sativas and sweet, pungent indicas.

Obviously the ability to throw cannabis parties is a privilege, and many others don’t have the same privilege. How do you hope to address this type of inequality through your events?

I left Washington, DC with many friends (myself included) who had been arrested for simple possession of marijuana and who suffered from the war on drugs. Either legal fees, probation, or jail time. When I arrived in LA, smoking outdoors felt funny at first.

California feels like a bubble, where people are forgetting about all the other people in other states who are still getting arrested, losing their jobs, losing their livelihoods due to the criminalization of cannabis. [I] remind people not to forget about those that were or still are in jail for marijuana. It’s hard for me to really “celebrate legalization” until the War on Weed is officially, federally over.

At my events, I welcome organizations and groups who are fighting for drug reform and racial justice—to join Little Face in celebration, but to raise awareness and funds to continue to support those who are and who have been negatively impacted by the War on Weed. One of the great things about the cannabis community is that it is truly diverse. All ages, races, colors, and creeds use cannabis so I think if we can all stick together, we can really smoke this legalization thing over the top!

Little Face is committed to building an inclusive space within the cannabis community, to education and research making us all better consumers, and to promoting likeminded artists and activists to grow the future we dream of. If you are interested in getting involved, performing, or attending, please connect with me: katie@littleface.events.