Tag: interview

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.

The Spark: Watch Cannabis Inspire Rey Jaffet’s Massive ‘Strains of Humanity’ Mural

Art requires patience, passion, and talent—and when an artist brings cannabis into the mix, magical things can happen. Miami native Rey Jaffet is one muralist adept at incorporating cannabis and artistic creation. He showcases his magic on colossal canvases, filling the sides of buildings and structures with bold strokes and pops of color, evoking an array of emotions from those lucky enough to view his pieces up close. He’s also a dedicated consumer of cannabis, citing it as a consistent source of inspiration.


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Recently, Jaffet accepted a collaborative opportunity to design a mural on the side of upscale Seattle dispensary Diego Pellicer. His piece is not only magnetic in imagery, it also covers a space equal to the size of a 10-story building. Since beginning the piece on June 7, he’s contributed countless hours over the course of three weeks, working day and night on a piece that communicates a true love for our favorite plant. This fascinating mural, which represents cannabis’s effects and how they interact with the human experience, was just unveiled.

In his own words, Jaffet talks about the inspiration behind this monumental piece: “The whole theme behind the mural is really that we come from the same plant or planet and we all develop into different strains.” Watch the mural come together in the video below.

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How the Mural Happened

Rey was invited by Alejandro Canto, owner of Diego Pellicer, to inject his artistic vision into the Diego brand while staying true to his Miami roots. “Miami really is a hub for multiculturalism—I’m surrounded by so many cultures all the time and that really plays a huge role in my work,” says Jaffet. “The fact that Miami is based on the ‘grandeur’ feeling of everything … I would like to be in that spotlight: Being around success or people who would like to be there and finding your own passion and bringing it to your own work.”

Though far from home and that sizzling Miami heat, Rey finds himself among friends in Seattle, having known Canto for at least 13 years, “I’ve been friends with Alejandro for a very long time,” says Jaffet. “He’s a great guy. I’ve seen him develop as well as myself and it’s so interesting to see that correlation between us, too. We’re in completely different worlds; however, they’re colliding right now, and that’s amazing to me.”

(Courtesy of Raffi Jaffet)(Courtesy of Raffi Jaffet)

Still a young artist (he graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in 2013), Jaffet’s talent has landed him major gigs with Samsung, 7Up, and Vita Coco, just to name a few, and it was only a matter of time before his artistry spread to the cannabis realm. “I feel that [cannabis is] in an area where it needs some kind of renaissance—it needs some sort of big event or a huge piece of art to really start up the process for more artistic involvement in the cannabis community,” says Jaffet. “Cannabis can really be a strong point of creativity and influence.”

Diego Pellicer was happy to provide the space Rey needed to flex his creative muscles, and hiring Jaffet was a no-brainer for Canto. “I think Rey had the talent that was needed for such a project … this is a big mural,” Canto explained. “I think Rey—he has a passion for art, he doesn’t do it for the fame … we’re truly blessed to be able to have Rey come out here.”

(Courtesy of Raffi Jaffet)(Courtesy of Raffi Jaffet)

While he applies paint to canvas, particularly on huge works such as the Diego mural, Jaffet microdoses cannabis to keep him going and to give him a creative edge. He explains that certain strains have acted as powerful tools in his personal creations and professional pieces: “I’m a sativa guy … I can enjoy a good indica, but in terms of artwork and how I go about my work, sativa is definitely in that area—specifically Chocolate Thai and Narnia, those two happen to open up my mind and I get engaged with what I’m doing a whole lot more.”


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Jaffet’s mural is visible at Diego Pellicer in Seattle and is a must-see. “I think it’s truly beautiful how Rey understood the project and how he’s been able to piece this together,” says Canto. “It’s just one of those items that you truly have to … see it yourself to understand and take it in.” Stop by the store to pick up some quality products and check out Jaffet’s incredible cannabis mural. While you’re at it, give Rey a follow on Instagram, or see more of his creations through his website.

Dealing With Breast Cancer: How Cannabis Can Help Patients Cope

Breast cancer, according to the CDC, is the “most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity.” This disease is a concern for all genders, as the CDC highlights from its most recent available statistics (2013) that “230,815 women and 2,109 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer.”


Cannabis and Cancer

Two of my friends are currently at different stages of their breast cancer journey. Kristy Edwards was just diagnosed in early 2017 and is in currently the midst of her first round of chemotherapy. Nique Pichette, RN, MSN, has battled breast cancer twice and is now adjusting to life after cancer. I asked them to share their experiences about how cannabis has impacted their quality of life, both during and after treatment. If more patients are willing to be “out” about their experiences, we can build and present a greater body of knowledge to elected officials who can keep these stories of real people (and, specifically, real voters) in mind when shaping policies in the future.

Nique Pichette left, Kristy Edwards, right.Nique Pichette left, Kristy Edwards, right.

How did you find out you had breast cancer?

Kristy Edwards: I was laying in bed reading naked (as everyone should!), and I was mindlessly caressing my breast when I felt a lump. I didn’t get too concerned because I am 38 years old. Months later, I went in and had it biopsied, [and it was] stage 2 breast cancer—invasive ductal carcinoma. I was so close to not needing chemo and radiation, but unfortunately I do.

How has cannabis impacted your life since beginning treatment?

Nique Pichette: I did not use cannabis until my second battle with breast cancer in 2013. I had reached survivor status on November 14, 2011, 18 months before. I saw a picture of my son and I and I looked emaciated. As a nurse, and a Director of Nursing Operations at the time, I was petrified of losing my license. But I had lost my children to my eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa in 2005.  I was not going down that path again. So I contacted my biggest advocate, Steven Placek, and my journey with cannabis as medicine began.


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During treatment I was able to sleep at night. My appetite improved and the GI effects of chemotherapy that felt like cement running through my intestines were improved. After treatment, I started to learn as much as I could, both as a patient and a nurse, about cannabis as medicine. I had to learn the effectiveness for the symptoms I was trying to manage. [To get better educated], I’ve worked in a dispensary [and] have taught at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in Natick, MA. I received my cannabis nurse competency in 2015, and I developed the Cannabis Nurse Navigator Position to help patients navigate their way through the medical system while using medical marijuana.

Edwards: My experience with cannabis since starting chemo has been incredibly positive. I use a combination of ingestion methods: edibles, dabbing, transdermal patches, and vape pens. I prefer hybrid strains, and I find that [cannabis] helped ease my bone pain and keep my appetite going. It also helped me go to sleep when I was feeling that bone pain.

Another side effect was mental—cannabis helped me with the anxiety I felt about the diagnosis, and it helped me compartmentalize what I was going through without all of the emotion attached. I found that edibles were most helpful when I was in “the suck” of the first week. I took about 40mg of edibles to blast myself into oblivion. My favorite is a brand called Infused Creations. I supplement as needed with my Jetty Extracts vape pen—I use it every night to help me calm my thoughts and sleep. I’ve also been using a 1:1 transdermal patch from Nature Nurse because I’ve heard that CBD helps with stopping cancer growth, plus the patch helps with overall body pain.


Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?

I have fully embraced medicating myself through this ordeal, especially on a mental level. Cannabis helps me feel normal. My friends and family are all supportive of cannabis use as well, and it’s actually changing some of their minds about it. I feel like I’m becoming a huge advocate for the awesomeness of weed and am no longer afraid of talking about it. I can just say “I HAVE CANCER, DUH,” which seems to make people more compassionate.

Were your doctors supportive of you using cannabis?

Edwards: My doctor is supportive of my cannabis use. I told her I was going to be a heavy user and she said she was fine with it, because she knew it would help with appetite.

Pichette: My doctors at Dana Faber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, would not write for my authorization, but they did not deny me my rights to obtaining my medical marijuana card in a legal state. I knew it was just a matter of time, and in 2016 I attended a conference at Harvard University in Boston, in which Dr. Raphael Mechoulam was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for his half-century research on cannabis.


Rick Doblin of MAPS Talks Medical Cannabis Trials and a Possible Legalization Timeline

What advice or insights do you have for other newly diagnosed patients?

Edwards: For newly diagnosed patients, be open-minded about cannabis. It can truly help you in so many facets—both mentally and physically. Don’t be afraid of it. Experiment with your favorite strains; I personally love a body high.

Pichette: I would tell a newly diagnosed patient to embrace the journey. Getting angry [or] living in denial, worry, and fear will just add to the negative energy the cancer cells have from within.  Remember that everyone’s journey is personal. It is not for family, friends, and medical professionals to judge a patient’s plan of care. Until you personally hear the words “You have cancer,” you cannot truly understand the answer to this question.


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We want to hear more stories of how cannabis can help cope with the myriad effects of cancer. If you’d like to, please share your own story in the comments below.

Rick Doblin of MAPS Talks Medical Cannabis Trials and a Possible Legalization Timeline

There may be no one in America who cares more deeply about the end of cannabis prohibition than Dr. Rick Doblin. Since 1986, he has been executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit running FDA-approved clinical trials to study the medical efficacy of Schedule I controlled substances such as cannabis and MDMA.

Due to the remarkable success of their Phase II studies, MAPS recently received FDA approval to conduct large-scale, Phase III clinical trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MAPS has also received FDA approval to study the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in treating symptoms of PTSD. Gaining government approval for these studies is no easy task—the process is expensive and time-consuming, especially for federally illegal substances.


Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In the US, research on the efficacy of medical marijuana has moved even more slowly than clinical research on other controlled substances, such as MDMA. The reasons for this stems from the monopoly that the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has had on the production of research-grade medical marijuana in the US. As the executive director of MAPS for over 30 years, few people have as much experience navigating the bureaucratic nightmare of US drug law than Rick Doblin.

We caught up with Dr. Doblin to discuss MAPS-funded clinical trials for PTSD, NIDA, the Trump administration, and what the timeline for the end of federal cannabis prohibition might look like.

“Research should be about science over politics, especially when it comes to easing human suffering.”

Rick Doblin, Founder and executive director of MAPS

Leafly: How long has MAPS been trying to research medical cannabis?

Rick Doblin: We tried to do work with marijuana back in 1991, and it took me an entire year to find anyone who wanted to do research on it. Nobody wanted to do it because marijuana was monopolized by NIDA and they made it very difficult to get permission to do research looking at benefits–it was okay if you wanted to look at harms.

Did you have any success trying to do medical marijuana research in the 1990s?

Donald Abrams was the doctor who agreed to try to do research. We wanted to study the potential benefit of medical marijuana to stimulate appetite in HIV patients with wasting syndrome, where appetite loss is a huge problem that can cause death. In 1992, he tried to do the research but NIDA refused to provide the marijuana. It was very frustrating.


Cannabis and HIV/AIDS

After 1996, when California and Arizona passed medical marijuana, NIDA was aware that part of the argument for wanting to pass medical marijuana laws was that there was no way through the FDA. It was blocked, politically. NIDA then said to Dr. Abrams, if they gave him a million dollars to do a study, would he change the study so it only looked at the risks of marijuana as opposed to the benefits. They wanted us to exclude HIV patients with wasting syndrome. We just decided to say yes, since it would be somewhere to start.

After finally getting approval to move forward, what happened next?

It took us seven years of unsuccessful efforts trying to buy ten grams of marijuana from NIDA, which they didn’t sell us, and the firm we were working with gave up.

After going through such a frustrating experience, how did your strategy evolve for getting government approval for medical cannabis research?

It was very important to me to try to open research with marijuana because I want to establish the principle that research should be about science over politics, especially when it comes to easing human suffering. We had had success doing that with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD and the FDA agreed. But with marijuana–as long as the repression of marijuana research was still taking place, I felt that things could turn negative when it comes to psychedelics. So, in addition to finding a way to move forward with marijuana politically, we had to think, which kind of patient population, which kind of condition is likely to gather political support to overcome all this resistance? That led to marijuana for PTSD.


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MAPS has been approved to study the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis to treat symptoms of PTSD. How might medical cannabis be useful as a PTSD treatment?

Marijuana is very helpful for PTSD, but it’s mainly helpful in the sense of treating symptoms. Usually it’s not a cure. One of the big things about PTSD is that people have intrusive thoughts and nightmares. Marijuana can help people sleep through the night, and if you can get good sleep, that’s one of the fundamental healing properties of getting over PTSD. It’s been seven years just trying to get this study approved, so we’re excited to finally move forward.

Last August, the DEA announced its intention to end the NIDA monopoly by granting licensing to additional growers to provide medical cannabis for research. How is this going to affect research?

If there’s one thing I’d like you to emphasize to your readers, it’s that the battle is not won yet, even though the DEA agreed to end the NIDA monopoly. That was announced under the Obama administration. The DEA has not issued any licenses for anyone to grow other than Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly at the University of Mississippi. We have to put political pressure on this NIDA monopoly, because that’s what’s keeping marijuana from being approved as an FDA-approved medicine.

“I think there’s a chance that by 2024 or 2028 that we will have full marijuana legalization.”

Rick Doblin

The other key point there is, at this moment, the FDA is our main ally. They’re not pro-marijuana or pro-psychedelics. They’re pro-science over politics and they want to address human suffering. They said–at the meeting back in 1992, actually–that it would be an open door for research on psychedelics, marijuana, and Schedule I substances, but they had to be held at the same standards that the FDA uses for Big Pharma to study any other drug. We said we will accept that challenge, because at least that’s a fair process.


Trump FDA, US Attorney Moves Could Shift Cannabis Landscape

How worried are you about the Trump administration reversing some of the gains that we have made with respect to legal cannabis?

President Trump has said that he’s all about preventing American jobs from moving overseas. Well, we’re taking the entire legal marijuana industry and moving it offshore because of our policies. For example, GW Pharmaceuticals is the largest medical marijuana company in the world–it’s in England. They now have a $2 billion market cap, meaning the stock is worth $2 billion. That’s a company that could have just as easily been in the United States. So, the fact that legitimate, good paying jobs with taxable income–these are arguments we can be using if there is a government crackdown. Now is the time, while the policies are being set, to put a lot of pressure on the Trump administration to not crack down on marijuana.


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Now that the Trump administration is in power, how will that affect the timeline for federal legalization of cannabis–or at least re-scheduling it? Or are things completely unpredictable now?

Things are somewhat unpredictable, but I’d like to point out that there were nine states where medical marijuana and legal adult-use marijuana was on the ballot. In six of those nine states, marijuana got more votes than Trump. The Republicans are supposedly big supporters of states’ rights. Whether or not they’ll block marijuana in legal states is unclear, but it would be quite unpopular for them to do that.

Let’s assume there won’t be a crackdown. What’s the timeline looking like for federal legalization, in your opinion?

You’ll get different answers on this depending on who you talk to, but medical marijuana initiatives do much better in presidential election years. That’s when more young people come out to vote, and more people are interested in the election. My guess is that in 2020, we will have additional medical marijuana and legalized adult-use states. So, I think there’s a chance that by 2024 or 2028 that we will have full marijuana legalization. That would be my guess. You’re going to need more states on board before you can convince their members of Congress to vote for federal legalization.

To learn more about MAPS and their FDA-approved clinical trials for PTSD, visit www.maps.org.

‘This Trail Was Blazed by Patients’: An Interview With Cannabis Advocate Montel Williams

TV personality Montel Williams recently appeared at the Viridian Cannabis Investment Series, hosted by Viridian Capital Advisors at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, in New York City. Here, the actor and motivational speaker gave a keynote on cannabis and its medical uses, as well as his personal experience fighting multiple sclerosis (MS) and how cannabis helped him, not only in his struggle with pain, but also in his battle with opioid addiction.

Williams first got involved with cannabis 17 years ago, about a year after being diagnosed with MS. Ever since, he’s been vocal about his use of cannabis as a treatment, and has over time become an advocate for the medical cannabis cause. “It’s all about the patients,” he told me again and again during our conversation in an attempt to make sure every reader understands and remembers.


Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Treatment

Leafly: Tell us about your history with cannabis.

 Williams: Cannabis isn’t something new. It has all of a sudden become this burgeoning industry where people have jumped on board and gotten into because they see an incredible financial opportunity.

However, I want to make sure that those who are getting into this [industry] understand that this trail was blazed by patients; I repeat, patients. You go back to 2001, 2002, 2003 or 2004…The federal government was knocking down doors, dragging people out of their homes in wheelchairs, putting handcuffs on them, sending people away to jail for five, six, 10, 15 years, just because they were using marijuana medically.


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Now, it’s 2017, and we have a whole group of people who want to get into this industry, but they are leaving the patients on the battlefield, because right now everybody’s all excited about the opportunity to make a lot of money on recreational marijuana. But let’s remember this started because of patients.

I think that this industry needs to understands that, even though it’s okay to move forward and attempt to have adult usage or a recreational platform, the main objective is to have people creating, processing, developing, and marketing cannabis products for patients, and not for the recreational user only.


Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana by State

Don’t you think that a double-bottom-line approach is possible? One that takes into account both profitability, as well as medical, societal, and social benefits? 

Williams: For 17 years that’s all I’ve been talking about and trying to impress upon this industry. I’m glad I have an opportunity today to talk to people who are about to get into this, because I think many of them don’t understand the history of cannabis; they just see this as a green opportunity to make money.

But my point is: make all you want, but don’t leave us patients out!

When you talk about social and societal benefits, most people are talking about an opportunity for adults to use cannabis recreationally. I mean, in the end they’re really not talking about the social impact, for example, on the fact that we are the world’s largest consumer of opioids and we have been for the last 20 years. Now we know for a fact that we have an alternative that is truly something that should be scheduled as a Schedule II drug, because it does no harm.


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So, again, I’m excited about the fact that there are so many people eager to get involved in the industry. Nonetheless, I would hope that they would look at it as an opportunity to be involved and able to move the science forward, so that, as long as we are doing things for one group [recreational users], we ensure that we do the right things for the main group [patients].

This is why I decided to get involved in this industry and created Lenitiv Laboratories, my full-spectrum cannabis company, which produces cannabis oils using 100 percent supercritical CO2 extractions with a two-stage distillation and a single-stage wash to treat conditions like MS and Crohn’s disease.

(Read more about Lenitiv Labs and its story here.)

Leafly: You mentioned the opioid epidemic. Can you explain how cannabinoids may help opioid addicts?

Williams: So we know that there is a physical addiction to opioids, but to date, there is no science anywhere on this planet that can show or prove a physical addiction to cannabinoids.

Interestingly, it has now been proven, in study after study after study, that cannabinoids are a good transitional drug for people who have been opioid-addicted.
We also know research [that’s] been done over the last 15 years has validated that cannabinoids are a good transitional drug for PTSD; not just warfare PTSD, but any kind of PTSD.


How Cannabis Could Turn the Opioid Epidemic Around

So, at Lenitiv Labs, we’re working on a spectrum that allows the patient to titrate themselves, understanding what their own modality is, but giving them options so that they don’t have to start off immediately taking something that’s going to whack them out. We can start them off slowly, and let them build up and figure out what their resistance levels are.

Which are the challenges you face, being that cannabis is illegal on a federal level?

Williams: Right now, I think the biggest challenge this entire industry is going to face is the fact that, whether we like it or not, we should liken ourselves to the hyperbaric technology industry.

Hyperbarics is a medication, but it’s one of the only non-FDA sanctioned. I mean, they are FDA approved, but they’re not FDA sanctioned; they’re not government controlled, and they police themselves as an industry.


Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Our biggest problem is going to be how we get all these people who are so desperate to line their pockets with green to understand that we all have to collectively come together as a movement before we can think about enriching ourselves individually, because as we act as individuals, you’ll see how the federal government approaches that over a couple next couple months.

We need to come together. That’s the hardest thing that needs to happen; the rest of it simple. I have no issues right now. Every single place we [Lenitiv Labs] have walked into and shown our products to, they’ve asked us to deliver our product.

This company has been in existence for seven months and we are about to have product in three different states in less than 90 days. We already have a product on the shelves right now in California, so I’m not having an issue that way. I would rather work at us all coming together, policing ourselves, so we understand that we can keep the fed off our backs.

Buds and Bass: An Interview With Dim Mak’s MORTEN

Hailing from Denmark, renowned DJ Morten Breum–who goes by MORTEN–began his interest in music at the age of 14. By 19 he was climbing the national stage, rising to quickly become one of Scandinavia’s most popular performers. With a sound that was described by Billboard as “progressive house and dubstep,” he released his debut album in 2009, Drop!, which climbed the charts and went platinum in Denmark.

From there he released several hit singles that have gained international attention, and he’s continued to bring a unique sound to the scene. Now living in Los Angeles, MORTEN’s latest single in collaboration with Borgeous, titled “Hold Up,” is a cannabis-themed anthem.

Leafly: What brought you to LA and what would you say is the biggest difference between the music scene in Los Angeles and in Denmark?

MORTEN: I came to Los Angeles five years ago with the purpose of being able to focus on my music and build its presence in the international market. Being in LA also enabled me to become more involved as an artist and bettered my producing and artistry overall.

The biggest difference between being in the States and in Denmark is that Denmark focuses pretty much solely on the domestic music market, while LA offers the international market; the bigger picture.


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Would you say that the cultural scene of Los Angeles helped influence your latest cannabis-inspired track, “Hold Up”?

MORTEN: Absolutely. The cultural scene here in LA is super inspired by West Coast urban music, and to this day samples the sounds of the 90s, making the musical influence here very prominent. It truly resonates with the culture and general vibe here.

How long has cannabis been a creative aid for your artistic process? Did cannabis inspire any changes to the sound of your music at all?

MORTEN: It’s always been a very big part of studio sessions and shows, and it’s always played a big role in my musical life as well as being a creative aid to the process.


Does Cannabis Help or Hinder Creativity?

What are the elements in your life that inspire the music you make?

MORTEN: There are plenty of things that inspire me in my life. Emotions, feelings, dreams, experiences…it all has an effect. I definitely am very inspired being in the music atmosphere and attending festivals. It really is something else to see people connect to the music so freely.

Why do you believe cannabis goes hand in hand with creativity for so many artists?

MORTEN: Cannabis allows you to focus in on one thing: opening up the availability to tune into those specific emotions and creative realms. Smoking truly helps open your mind and creates innovative ideas.


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Do you have a vision for the future of cannabis?

MORTEN: I think cannabis should be legal all over the world. Yes, it should be restricted around kids, but I think it should be legal everywhere to be able to blaze up. It’s completely natural.

Do you have any favorite strains or products?

MORTEN: My favorite strain when I used to smoke would have to be OG Kush. I also tended to smoke strains that were reminiscent of [tobacco] flavors since, being from Europe, everyone smokes and cigarettes are a huge part of European culture.

Dead & Company&rsquo;s Oteil Burbridge Talks Cannabis, Music, and Creativity

There are some things that just belong together: earth and seeds, love and joy, sun and surf… cannabis and music. One may even say that cannabis culture blossomed hand in hand with music scenes and continues to do so today. There’s no denying the connection, and so it comes as no surprise that many musicians today have found a place in the cannabis industry, even developing unique strains that bear their name.


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One such artist is Oteil Burbridge, bassist of Dead & Company and former member of The Allman Brothers and Aquarium Rescue Unit. Last year, in conjunction with the Denver-based grower Groundswell, Burbridge released his own custom strain, aptly dubbed Oteil’s Egyptian Kush–or OEK for short. I sat down with Burbridge to discuss his custom strain and how cannabis interconnects with his world of music and creativity.

Leafly: How did you get involved in developing this strain?

Oteil Burbridge: The founder of Groundswell, Rodney Coquia, I knew from a long time ago when I used to play with the Aquarium Rescue Unit. After I got the Dead & Co gig, Rodney asked, ‘What do you think about having a line of weed with your name on it?’ I could hardly believe it was something we were even talking about.

How did you decide what you wanted the strain to be like?

I told Rodney I love fruit flavors–I like hints of fruit in beer, blueberry or cranberry. Rodney suggested cherry, and I love cherry. Then I told him I wanted it to be up because I like to play, so I don’t want to be put to sleep. It’s not the nighttime go-to-bed [strain]; it’s for when I’m practicing or writing.


Does Cannabis Help or Hinder Creativity?

OEK is two strains blended together. One is called Alien OG and the other is OG Kush. It’s a hybrid that is indica leaning. The whole name for its parent strain is Cherry Alien OG Kush. When I heard that I said, perfect! I love all of those things.

Deadheads are known to be a pretty eclectic crowd. Have you noticed a difference in vibe when it comes to the Dead & Co audience, as opposed to other projects? If so, can you try to put the feeling into words?

I will say that Deadheads are way more open to things that are unfamiliar. In fact, they seek it out. They have an explorer’s mentality about music and life.

I just watched an interview with a very young Branford Marsalis about his experiences with the Grateful Dead. He said they were one of the only bands where the crowd payed close attention to the opening bands, bought his other records, and started showing up at his concerts. That’s really saying something!

In your experience, how intertwined is cannabis culture with music culture?

Well for one thing, at least in rock-and-roll, jazz, and funk, I’m pretty sure just about everyone’s favorite songs were written under the influence of cannabis and maybe a few other things. But I don’t think that you can’t write great music without it. It’s a convenience as far as getting into a different head space. Personally, it’s always made me hear new music in my head and want to play as soon as it kicks in.


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I’ve heard you talk a bit before about the almost “psychic” connection that happens between musicians sharing a stage. Would you explain that concept a bit and how it feels to be in the midst of it?

If you play improvisational music for long enough, and you play with the same group of people long enough, you sort of mentally merge with each other to a certain extent.

There is also something that feels mystical about it when groups of people totally unrelated to each other achieve it. You learn each other’s tendencies by osmosis somehow. It happened with Bill Kreutzmann, Scott Murawski, and myself on the first day we met. We were all taken by surprise. Chemistry is chemistry. I feel bad for people who have a palpable and undeniable musical chemistry with people that they have grown to intensely dislike. It’s a cruel cosmic joke.

What does cannabis mean to you personally and how does it influence you creatively?

[Using cannabis] coincided with me learning to play the bass, so cannabis and bass have always been connected in a way and still [are fore me]. To this day if I smoke, I hear music going through my head. I remember one time I heard this classical piece playing like a radio in my head; it was not anything that I’d heard before. It was really weird, and I wish I could have transcribed it. But I did enjoy just sitting there and listening to it. That was a really intense experience.

I’m working on some new stuff right now. When I vape and just get down in the rabbit hole, I’m finding a bunch of stuff. It’s an interesting creative period right now.

Why do you think cannabis is so popular among creative people of all types?

That I can’t really answer. Different people like different things. My wife Jess is extremely creative and she doesn’t like it at all! Also people go through different stages in their lives. Some people like to take a break for a while and then return to it later.


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Other than legalization, what would you say has been the biggest change, cannabis scene-wise, between your days with Aquarium Rescue Unit and now?

I think people have felt the same way about cannabis for millennia, but in the last 100 years it was stigmatized on purpose by our government for racist and corporate reasons. Of course, modern science applied to cannabis culture has greatly improved the taste, aroma, and variety of buzzes! God bless our American growers. For me personally, it’s just nice to not feel like a criminal anymore for something that is so obviously not criminal.

Chatting with Chef Dave Hadley: Chopped Winner and Cannabis Connoisseur

Originally from New Jersey, 24-year-old Dave Hadley moved to Colorado to pursue his culinary dreams and experience life in both the cannabis and restaurant worlds. He’s an advocate for cannabis legalization, as well as a talented chef constantly creating delicious dishes. In addition to serving as sous chef at Denver restaurant The Preservery, Hadley helped found a side business called Craft Concentrates through which he created cannabis-infused edibles lines before turning his attention back to The Preservery. He continues to create bespoke cannabis-infused meals for friends and events in his spare time. His recent victory on the popular Food Network show Chopped marked the first time a cannabis chef was featured on the show.

We had the opportunity to talk with Hadley about his recent experience on Chopped, where he sees cannabis’s place in the culinary arts, and the inspiration that goes into his flavorful food. Here’s what he had to say.

Leafly: How or where do you pull inspiration for the dishes you create?

David Hadley: The inspiration I pull for my dishes is from my mother’s Indian background. No one in my area has experience in Southern Indian flavor — most people associate with Northern Indian food when they think of the usual Indian plates — and that’s not popular here in Denver. My dad is from St. Vincent [in the Caribbean] and my mom is from Kerala [in Southern India] so I have two ethnic parts where I get my food inspiration from, and I try to produce that for people out here. I make it pretty home-style but fancy looking at the same time.

What’s nice about Denver is that it gives young people the opportunity to really do something they feel they could pursue. I moved to Denver four years ago — almost five years — and it’s been nothing but what I thought it would be. It’s gotten me to a point where now I’m able to produce something I’m proud of — like homey food that my mom would make for me, that I can now make for the public.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

Since you became a chef, what have been your most memorable moments when cooking?

Actually, my most memorable moment in cooking is from when I was a kid. My grandma used to live with me and she came straight from India. She had this thing where she would fry a whole fish in the house and my mom and dad would get so upset at her because it would just smell up the whole house.

I just remember having her ideas and learning how to cook with her — that has to be my most memorable moment cooking before becoming a chef.

But as a chef now, doing the whole Chopped experience and having that as a fun thing to look back on is particularly memorable. Especially right now, because I’m looking forward to doing a lot of other things and that was just a fun start to my career. I think the experience really helps in building something else, and also shows young people — like people my age — that we can do something about what we believe in. I think that’s where my mind’s at, whether its teaching kids how to cook or doing what I do with marijuana.

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience in the edibles world and the edibles company you used to work for?

I was working for a company called Craft Concentrates out here in Colorado. Me and a bunch of my friends started this company. We went through everything legally, even pulling in certain equipment or standards that I had never even heard of in order to get the company running.

When I broke from the restaurant industry for about a year I kind of helped out my friends in building this company from the bottom. There were about thirteen of us that started and now there are over 90 employees that work two different grows. One is located down in Pueblo, CO and the other is in Denver. We also have a facility that does our own hash extraction.

While I was helping develop this company, I also helped create some edible lines that are no longer on the market. I eventually left the company to open up my own actual restaurant and had to let go of the edibles lines. I still have connections with cannabis infusion — I still do fine dining [events] where people pay for medicated meals, but I no longer work within Craft Concentrates.

However, I am looking forward to talking to a couple of people looking to have cannabis chefs participate in cannabis tours, classes, or catering companies. But for right now, I’m just doing what I do best and that’s cook real food that’s not medicated while also educating people on how that could be a possible culinary path.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

Are there certain strains you prefer to cook with when creating your edibles or infused meals?

There’s definitely certain terpene profiles I’m associating myself with, like linalool and all those peppery, woodsy terpenes. We use those in Colorado or extract them separately. Also, I have a Lifesaver strain here that I use a lot of, as well as LA Confidential (my absolute favorite strain to cook with and smoke with) and Super Lemon Haze which are two strains that have great terpene profiles. The other one I use is HP-13 [a mix of Hash Plant and G-13] just because it produces the ugliest nugs ever, but it has some of the most pungent, hard-hitting flavor.

Any changes you’re looking forward to seeing for cannabis in 2017? Or cannabis in the culinary world?

In Colorado, cannabis is fun, easy, and accessible. There’s certain companies out here doing it real for edible game. Shum-Met Bars are now legal out here and they do some pretty good edibles, also Incredibles does some nice edibles that are in stores, but I’ve always been a fan of just doing it myself.

I also have a close friend who helped me do the edibles in the beginning at Craft Concentrates, and now he’s on his own doing a catering company. He makes rice crispy treats and simple things people like — you can find him on Instagram @thedankchef, but what I do is totally different and I think it’s taking it to the next level. There’s a chef named Hosea Rosenberg that has done this before and he’s been on Top Chef. He does a lot of weed dinners out in Denver and now he’s associated with it since he has that background.

I was able to be a part of [cannabis] and learn some things and use it in everyday food or parties. I’m able to do infused dishes ranging from my own Indian-inspired cuisine [to] ice creams and salsas. There’s also a company called Simply Pure, and they’ve been out in Denver for the longest time. The owner’s name is Scott Durrah … He does restaurant work and also owns the dispensary — he’s a first name lookout for weed chefs. He’s someone I always looked up to as a personality kind of guy, one of those people I had looked up to when I was younger. Being involved in the restaurant scene where you’re getting judged by big foodie publications and being involved in the whole weed thing on a different platform has been awesome. It’s cool being a part of both scenes.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

Was there any controversy over your appearing as a professional cannabis chef on Chopped?

I honestly wouldn’t consider myself a professional cannabis chef; but, I would say I am a professional chef that uses cannabis to teach people, and I use it in an educational way. Like, what the benefits are and how they can be infused in not only a straight “infusion” way, but also looking at terpenes to help enhance the food and [provide] different smells.

Food is all about your senses, and I think what weed does is either play with them or [enhance them]. So food is what makes [cannabis] fun recreationally or even medically. Food is so important and goes hand-in-hand when it comes to the marijuana scene in general.

What did your family think about your appearance on Chopped and you representing the cannabis world?

My mom and dad are real cool with it — they still have their days, but it is what it is. It’s not for everybody, and people just need to be educated. I think that is what I got out of it. My little cousin saw some nugs on TV and my aunt probably had to say something to him; but, at the end of the day it happened and it was a positive experience.

I’m sure there was some negativity online and people commenting on how I’m just a stoner or smoke weed all day or even that I only won because I’m the first person on the Food Network to get on Chopped as an infused chef. But I’m still working hard to advocate for it and have a positive influence on both sides of the restaurant and weed industries.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

What is your favorite edible on the market right now?

Can I say two? The edible I have with me right now, in my house, is Shum-Met Bars. I have two banana pudding Shum-Met bars. Incredibles is really good too! I’ve always respected their ideas because they do it right. No matter what, this weed industry is so topsy-turvy and doing it the right way is the best way. Incredibles has always done it the right way. Those are the people I support who have great products.

Do you think your experience with edibles and learning about terpene profiles helped you win your episode of Chopped?

Chopped was more of an instinct game. I think working with marijuana helps just because I know the use of it, but working with weed in particular didn’t really help me win. I think being part of an ethnic family and having ethnic ingredients that people haven’t really seen before is what got me to win. Honestly, I don’t think it had much to do with me and the weed – they tried to play that up as me being lazy or just a stoner. I believe that my food was bomb without the dishes having that ingredient.

I want to tell people that you can use marijuana while also being somebody at the end of the day … [somebody] like myself can talk to younger people that are looking into the industry to develop their ideas or be a point of reference.

At the end of the day I’m not here to say, “Hey fuck you, I did it, I made something.” Instead, I’m trying to show people that they don’t know how much money Denver makes off weed and how much it helps education in schools because of the taxes pulled from recreational marijuana … that’s what I went on Chopped for. Not to show people, “Hey I can cook and do it with weed,” but to have the conversation and make it come to the forefront.

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.