Tag: Pop Culture

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.


Sessions Rescinds Cole Memo, Which Protected State-Legal Cannabis From Feds

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.

5 Incredible EDM Albums to Listen to While High

EDM (short for electronic dance music) is often described as futuristic, grimy, technical, filthy, or heavy. Born in Europe in the 1990s, contemporary EDM encompasses a huge collection of sub-genres such as dubstep, riddim, techno, and trance—just to name a few. Its primal emphasis on drums and heavy use of bass make it a physical experience as much as an auditory one. For this reason, some sub-genres have been described as “future metal,” due to a technical styling and heavy sound that inspire high-energy dance and emotional release.


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Below, enjoy five excellent EDM albums with our recommended strains for a stimulating, cerebral, and emotional experience that will move with you from the inside out.

(mau5trap Recordings)

Strain Pairing Recommendation: Raspberry Kush

Mass Manipulation begins with a soothing, masculine voice urging you to focus on your breathing and allow hypnosis to loosen your entire body. “Relax,” the voice whispers before the music breaks and dives into dirty, technical dance beats. The result is an album that urges the listener to turn off their mind and feel their body with the upbeat, gritty music that tends to move it. The rest of Mass Manipulation follows a similar trajectory, expertly walking the line between meditative music and EDM. Rezz’s thick, hypnotic, futuristic sound pulls you in like quicksand, gently tugging you along and reminding you not to struggle—just relax.

Reflective Part 1 and Part 2 by Bassnectar

(Amorphous Music)

Strain Pairing Recommendation: Love Potion #1

Bassnectar has been releasing music for fourteen years and has steadily risen to the height of success in the EDM scene. Reflective is his latest, released in 2017. It reflects Bassnectar’s penchant for effortless yet complex and structured music that keeps the listener engaged while immersing her in a futuristic musical journey. The bass-heavy album balances spacey, techy sounds with hard, grimy, bold breaks for a guttural feeling that demands movement (whether it be dance or head thrashing). Reflective won’t disappoint as it builds a world around you and invites you deep, deep inside.


5 Modern Psychedelic Rock Albums to Listen to While High

(Kannibalen Records)

Strain Pairing Recommendation: Supernatural

The Die Young EP may only have five songs total, but Kai Wachi’s unique, distinctive sound and playful vibe makes it 20 minutes of solid, engaging EDM that will have you scouring his discography for more. Die Young isn’t afraid to explore feelings and sounds spanning whimsical melodies to gritty drops that can be felt deep in your bones. The album makes use of a variety of instruments in addition to its eclectic electronic beats, creating a complexity that will keep listeners guessing in the best way possible.

(666590 Records DK)

Strain Pairing Recommendation: Morning Glory

Open the Vault stands out with its lighthearted and spirited vibe. Ill-Esha’s distinct style of musical fusion is in full force as she creates a soundscape that delves into floaty, fanciful melodies and metallic, technical beats. The cherry on top is Ill-Esha’s own harmonic voice, as she sings atop certain tracks and reminds listeners of all the ways in which she stands out. Open the Vault’s eclectic rhythms, deep bass, and captivating melodies are like a cool drink of water mixed with mind-altering punch.


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Strain Pairing Recommendation: Dutch Haze

There The Vultures Will Gather begins with a spacey, transcendental medley of music and distant voices before plunging suddenly and mercilessly into heavy, gritty beats. “Helicopter Showdown” manages to blend these two elements simultaneously, casting airy, tinkling melodies on top of filthy, bass-heavy breaks. The result makes There The Vultures Will Gather wild, bold music capable of whisking anyone into an intergalactic dance frenzy.

2017: Was It Worth the High?

Welcome to “Is It Worth the High?”, where our writers see newly released movies, listen to the latest album drops, and try other experiences while high to determine whether they’re worth your time, money, and most importantly, your cannabis buzz. This week, Dante Jordan reflects back on a tumultuous year to determine whether 2017 was worth everyone’s high.

Products Enjoyed: Everything: blunts, joints, bowls, bongs, dabs, edibles—you get the point.

High Experienced (1-10): All. Of. It: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter—however high you got and wherever that high took you.

It’s easy to look back at 2017 and feel like it was one of the worst years ever. That’s because it was. Between all of the political chaos, natural disasters, and seemingly-monthly mass shootings, every memory of the year seems to bring pain. I mean, shit, the first thing we did as a nation was on January 20, 2017, when we named the host of The Apprentice the 45th President of the United States. That’s how you know everything was headed downhill.

We had the Charlottesville rally that led to the death of Heather Heyer. The same rally that Donald Trump defended by saying there were some good people within a mob of Nazis and white supremacists.


Lab Owner to Resign Over Alleged Ties to White Supremacist Groups

We had the travel ban, which was designed to prohibit an entire religion of people from entering our country for no statistically valid reason.

Combine all of that with the fact that we had the Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting, the Las Vegas shooting, the Ariana Grande concert bombing, Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Harvey, and 2017 feels like stab wound after stand wound.

So if you ask, “Was 2017 worth the high?”, you really have to take a look at its best moments and decide if they outweighed its worst moments.


The Top 10 Cannabis Stories of 2017: Canada & Jeff Sessions Lead the List

2017’s Best Moments, in no particular order:

La La Land Got Punk’d by Moonlight

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Remember when La La Land thought it won the Oscar for Best Picture, but Moonlight hopped out the back with Ashton and stole the trophy? I do. That’s still one of the most stressful moments of television that I’ve ever witnessed. Literally the biggest moment of the biggest night, and it went terribly wrong. And I loved every moment of it. Moonlight 184% deserved that award.


Which 2016 Best Picture Movie Character Needed Cannabis the Most?

Beyonce Had Twins, Defeated Adultery

The world was so trash that Beyonce was forced to create two more children to give us hope, all while her husband was cheating and also making an album about cheating. We aren’t worthy, man. We aren’t worth Beyonce’s high.


7 Cannabis-Related Jay Z Lyrics We Can All Relate To

The Houston Astros Won the World Series

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Whether you’re an Astros fan or not, to see that team win its first World Series in franchise history and bring hope to a city that was just completely destroyed by Mother Nature’s wrath is one of the most special moments of the year. Houstonians needed and deserved that.


Let Timmy Smoke: It’s Time to Open Baseball’s Hidden Cannabis Culture

Meghan Markle Changed the Game

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it’d never happen. But they couldn’t stop destiny. American actress Meghan Markle, who’s half black, is engaged to Prince Harry and will soon become a member of the British royal family.

THAT’S RIGHT, INTERRACIAL ROYALTY IS ON THE WAY AND THERE’S NOTHING WHITE SUPREMACISTS CAN DO TO STOP IT, MY FRIENDS. Oh my goddd, they are SOOO mad about it, and they just have to eat that anger every morning for breakfast.


A European’s Take on Colorado’s Cannabis Market

Get Out Got Money

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$254 million dollars later, tell me Get Out wasn’t the best movie of all year so I can delete your contact information. Jordan Peele made a horror movie about racism where racism was the actual villain in human form, highlighting America’s biggest problem in an artistic way that’s never been done. It’s a classic; a cultural icon. “The Sunken Place” should be in the dictionary.


The 6 Best Documentaries to Watch While High

Music This Year Was *Kisses Fingers*

So many incredible albums dropped this year, and if you aren’t aware of them, peep my Smoke This, Play That column. There are hella albums in there. This year, SZA dropped a bomb on our heads that’ll probably sweep the awards. Drake gave us More Life, then popped up at Coachella a month later with Future. Kendrick Lamar gave us DAMN., arguably the best album of the year. Harry Styles shed the extra weight known as One Direction and came through with a bomb-ass rock album. Goldlink gave us “Crew,” the single best song of the year. Oliver, Alina Baraz, Majid; the list of great music that dropped this year could go on forever. The point is that it was there when we all needed much needed mood changes.


Smoke This, Play That Vol. 7: Xavier Omar, Tennyson, and Jaden Smith (Yes, Really)

Fiona the Hippo

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Look man, I don’t get it. The hippo does nothing for me, I’M NOT SORRY. But she does everything for literally every other human, so hey, if her birth and multiple updates of the year gave you peace, joy, and harmony, I’m extremely happy for you. Whatever gets you through the tough times.


We Get It, These Strains Make You Higher Than a Giraffe’s Genitals

Roy Moore’s Weak Ass Lost

Moore thought he was going to ride up to the polls on his weak-ass horse, cast his weak-ass vote, and walk away knowing that all of the Alabamians were going to have his back and do the same. BUT PSYCHE. Black people got that boy out of the paint and instead called Doug Jones’ number to get in the game. Is Jones the man for the job? Should we be praising his name? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: he can enter any mall in the United States at his will.


In This Alabama Church, Cannabis Is Part of a Spiritual Journey

Tomi Lahren, Sean Spicer, Bill O’Reilly, Omarosa Got Fired

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You know how they say you shouldn’t find joy in the losses of others? Yeah, fuck that. The day that Tomi Lahren got fired was Top 5 on Twitter. Same with Spicer, Bill O’Reilly, Omarosa, and any other terrible humans that got the boot this past year. And I took a blunt rip for every last one of them. Good riddance.


The Haymaker: Will Trump Fire Sessions by the Time You Finish This Headline?

Sexual Predators Are Being Removed at Rapid Speeds

It’s been a long time coming, and there’s still a lot more people out there that need to be outed, but the wave of women and men that are finally ready to speak out about the sexual harassment and assaults they’ve experienced at the hands of Hollywood/Entertainment’s Elite has been amazing. Harvey Weinstein took the L. Matt Lauer took the L. Kevin Spacey took the L. The list goes on.


Did Past Harassment Allegations Finally Catch Up To MPP’s Rob Kampia?

Martin Shkreli Went to Jail

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Martin Shkreli’s one of the worst humans ever with that doughy-as-hell smug face. He deserves to be sitting in jail, thinking about the potential 20+ years he’s facing for securities fraud. I can’t wait for the sentencing—might dip a blunt in wax for it.


5 Ways to Avoid Cannabis Stock Investment Scams

Larry King Vaped

He did though.

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Was It Worth the High? Well, there were a good amount of things to celebrate, but NAH, 2017 WAS NOT WORTH THE HIGH.




So let’s take 2017, throw it in a grinder, roll it up it, and smoke it away as we all prepare for a 2018 that’ll (hopefully) be wayyyyyy better. See you on the other side.

The 5 Most Surprising Cannabis Stories of 2017

Nothing announces the end of a year like a countdown, so allow me to commence my list of the Top Five Most Surprising Cannabis Stories of 2017.

5. The Canadian mandate requiring citizens to store personal-use cannabis under lock and key. (Upside: the creation of thousands of jobs for private-residence lockbox inspectors?)

4. The old-school huffing and puffing of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who sought to revive a “War on Drugs” approach to cannabis but failed to rally anyone beyond the ghosts in his mind.

3. The fact that switching from flowery bong hits to concentrated dab hits will suddenly make the former taste like what comes out of a garbage truck’s exhaust pipe. (This is a personal news story and thus unlinkable, but it BLEW MY MIND.)

2. The multifaceted promise cannabis has shown in combatting the opioid epidemic

And at the top of the heap…

1. The abrupt evolution of Orrin Hatch, the longstanding Republican senator for Utah, who this fall punctuated his historic career of conservatism by coming out swinging for medical cannabis.

What inspired Hatch’s about-face? The same thing that’s inspired about-faces by so many reactionary holdouts: a friend.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” said Hatch while introducing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 in September. “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”

Bizarre overreliance on stoner allusions aside, the MEDS Act explicitly aims to “improve the process for conducting scientific research on marijuana as a safe and effective medical treatment,” from streamlining cannabis research to “requiring the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs.”


The Top 10 Cannabis Stories of 2017: Canada & Jeff Sessions Lead the List

This would be impressive from a lefty Democrat. From Hatch—who previously voted against decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis and fought states seeking to establish medical marijuana programs—it’s borderline amazing.

What inspired Hatch’s about-face? The same thing that’s inspired about-faces by so many reactionary holdouts: a friend.

Hatch spoke of his inspirational friend—a young constituent with severe epilepsy—while introducing the MEDS Act in September.

“The current treatment for his condition, with no guarantee of success, would be invasive brain surgery,” said Hatch. “Compounds found in marijuana could significantly mitigate the severity of my friend’s seizures and even help him lead a normal life. But current regulations prevent the development of any such treatment from going forward. So this young man is left to suffer.”

All of us in the pro-cannabis community need to make space for (and have patience with) late bloomers finally seeing the light.

With this proclamation, Orrin Hatch became the most prominent example yet of an ever-more-common type: the anti-cannabis human whose mind is changed by the experience of someone they know.

For the last, irrational holdouts against medical marijuana, such direct personal connection to an MMJ beneficiary is apparently the only instructor.

On one hand, this is annoying. Must one’s personal belongings be engulfed in flames before one understands the need for a fire department? Couldn’t any one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been improved through medical marijuana sufficed as an inspirational example for Hatch?


Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Locations in North America, Winter 2017

On the other hand, complaining about progress is a losing game, and all of us in the pro-cannabis community need to make space for (and have patience with) late bloomers finally seeing the light. They are a key component of the future of legal cannabis.

For now, let us bask in the inspirational words of Orrin Hatch, who wrapped his senate introduction of the MEDS Act by “[urging] my colleagues to join in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders. In a Washington at war with itself, I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties.”

The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops #3: Josse

The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops is a series of candid conversations with coffeeshop patrons about life, cannabis, and everything in between. In our third installment, Josse talks about writing poetry, reading Kerouac, and getting a tattoo of an Amsterdam zoo’s mascot on his forearm.

Name: Josse

Hometown: Amsterdam

Age: 18

Cannabis preference: Flower over hash; hat-tips to AK-47 and Super Lemon Haze.

Met at: Katsu

The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops | LeaflyJosse poses for a photo at Katsu coffeeshop in Amsterdam. (Karina Hof for Leafly)

Leafly: What are your hobbies?

Josse: Well, first, going to school is a big part. It’s not as much a hobby, but it’s a big part of your life anyways.

Oh, you’re reading Kerouac. How do you like it?

I like it so far. It’s for the English literature list. The way he writes is very cool because it’s America after the Second World War. It’s interesting, as a European, to see the view of Americans after the war because it was a bit heavier over here. We experienced more of it—everybody, not just the people in the war. I’m not too much into history. But I like it.

I also draw, I paint, I write, I write poems. 

Is there a particular theme you explore in poetry?

No, not really. It just depends on my mood. I try to stay current, not outdated, not be too pretentious. That’s the biggest part, I think: I don’t want to be too pretentious or anything. I cringe when I read very pretentious things.

Do you have a writer or a poet you really admire?

In the Netherlands, in the 50s, you had a group—De Vijftigers, “The Fifty-ers”—and they were experimental. They tried to build this whole thing, just without any rules, without any boundaries.

Is your family supportive about your smoking weed?

Of course, when you’re young, you try to hide it at first. You try to kind of be sneaky, but at a certain point, you’ll come home and your eyes are like fucking red [laughs].  You’re like, “Yeah, OK, I’m stoned.”

I have some friends and at their houses, we just sit there under the exhaust fan in the kitchen. That’s where most Dutch people smoke if they don’t want it to smell bad. We smoked a joint there with a friend’s parents. They are kind of hippie-ish, so they don’t mind. They come home from work, they roll a joint first, and they sit around and listen to some reggae music. That isn’t the relationship I have with my parents. And I really don’t mind. I don’t think I would be very comfortable with that. Til I was 15, I think, I was straightedge.

Did you put an X on your hand?

I was kinda into that, but grew out of it before I put any tattoos on myself. Now I have [shows tattoo on inner forearm].

That’s a unique tattoo: Artis de Partis, the mascot of Amsterdam’s zoo. What does it say?

“Butterflies are to look at.” It’s a little sign they put up in the butterfly house.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Lead image: Karina Hof for Leafly.

The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops: Yalçin

The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops is a series of candid conversations with coffeeshop patrons about life, cannabis, and everything in between. In our second installment, Yalçin talks music, Turkish medicine, and why he wishes his mother would try cannabis.

Hometown: Ankara, Turkey

Age: 49

Cannabis preference: Sativas, each day a different kind.

Met at: Katsu

The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops | LeaflyYalçin poses for a portrait at Katsu coffeeshop in Amsterdam. (Karina Hof for Leafly)

Leafly: What do you do?

Yalçin: I work at Café de Paris, where I’m a manager. I’m in charge of overseeing everything, but actually it’s more like a bunch of shit-chores [laughs]. As hobbies, I really enjoy smoking and playing music.

What kind of music?

My main instruments are guitar and drum—the rest I’m still learning, and have been working at it for about two years. I really love reggae, and I also play blues, jazz, everything.

What effect does smoking have on you?

It brings me peace, spirit-wise, body-wise, pain-wise. It makes me more sociable than selfish. If I don’t smoke, I’m more selfish. I need to fill my wallet. I need to fill everything. Smoking lets me be a different way.

When did you begin smoking?


Did something in particular prompt that?

I was hooked on alcohol, hard drugs, meat, sex, money, fame, blah, blah, blah. But weed helped rid me of all those things I was hooked on, and it left me feeling at peace. I got rid of so many addictions. Thanks to weed, I became vegan. I see weed as something very positive. Very positive. My mother sees medicine as very positive. She has a bag with 50 different brands of medicine in it. I have one: weed.

Has your mother tried it?

No, unfortunately [laughs]. My mother ought to try cannabis oil. But if I offer it, my family will be done with me. They’ll say, “Yeah, you’re a junkie; now you’re going to turn your mother into a junkie.” I say, my mother is already a medicine junkie—she has that bag. Hey, in Turkey, on one street, you have 20 pharmacies; same story on the next street, and the next. So each street doesn’t have a coffeeshop, but it does have medicine shops.

Is general use of cannabis legal in Turkey?

No, they’ll put you in jail. They’re hard as nails. Real nice. A lot of money is made from drugs in Turkey, though you can’t do them there. And so here I am, sitting comfortably at Katsu. I make cool music, I work at Café de Paris, and live in Amsterdam. And to top it off, I’m Kurdish.

This interview has been translated from Dutch, condensed, and lightly edited for clarity.

Lead image: Karina Hof for Leafly.

Smoke This, Play That Vol. 7: Xavier Omar, Tennyson, and Jaden Smith (Yes, Really)

Greetings, earthlings, and welcome to Smoke This, Play That Vol. 7, where talk about what new music has come out and which strains pair perfectly with those tunes. Get your ears ready ’cause boy oh boy, this month’s a good one.

Xavier Omar – Pink Lightning EP

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If you don’t know about Xavier Omar, you must be new here because I scream his praises every chance I get. He really is a name to look out for in the foreseeable future. Pink Lighting is a short EP about love and all the shit that goes with it. It gives off those strong “Baby, just be there for me” vibes that go perfectly with a nice joint session around 1:30 a.m.

Strain: Pink Panther

Pink strain for a pink album, right? Pink Panther is a sativa-dominant hybrid that’ll smack you in the face, but will still make you want to get up and move, just like this EP (even though it’s a late-night kind of album). A couple hits of PP and you’ll be sliding across the kitchen to “Runnin’ Round.”

Find Pink Panther Nearby


7 High-Energy Strains to Help You Get Active and Fight Fatigue

Jaden Smith – SYRE

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You’re laughing and I totally understand. Jaden Smith? Rapping? Yes. Jaden Smith rapping. He’s been making music for a while, but it seems he finally found his sound as SYRE is one of the most enjoyable projects to drop in all of 2017. One play of the first four songs, “B,” “L,” “U,” and “E,’ and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. SYRE is deep. It’s inspirational; reflective of a young man on a journey through this world, just searching for his place. Its embodies every single emotion that all of us feel on a daily basis as we try to figure out the meaning of life. Crazy that he’s so young, yet so in tune with “getting it.”

Strain: Sharksbreath

Sharksbreath is an indica-dominant hybrid that’ll hit you hard, but won’t necessarily put you down for the count. A few hits of it and you’ll feel a vast amount of pain relief and relaxation, but it’ll bring about the deep thoughts and feelings of introspection. Just like SYRE.

Find Sharksbreath Nearby


What Are the Best Cannabis Strains for Pain?

Tennyson – Uh Oh! EP

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All this time I thought Tennyson was just one dude, but it turns out they’re a brother/sister duo. Regardless, the Uh Oh! EP is such a musical journey of instrumentation mixed with a wild array of random vocals at random times. The only way to describe it is it’s an audio kaleidoscope. You get high and play this EP and suddenly you’re on a trip through a world you never even knew. Tennyson provides one of the most unique sounds and vibes out there today.

Strain: Durban Poison

Durban Poison is a sativa that makes for a good daytime strain, despite the name sounding like it’ll destroy your life. Not only will it have you up and energetic, you’ll be feeling mighty productive and ready for whatever. Combine that with how fun the Uh Oh! EP sounds and you’ve got a perfect marriage of cannabis and tunes.

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Get Busy With Your Bud: How to Be Productive While High

Miguel – War & Leisure

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THE BEST ALBUM ON THIS HERE LIST. War & Leisure is Miguel’s fourth studio album, and boy oh boy, it is a vibe. From start to finish, it’ll make you feel like the sexiest person alive. You’ll want to throw all your clothes away and bask in all of your glory. One listen and you’ll be like “Wow, it turns out Prince didn’t die after all.” Definitely get high before/while listening to this, because the way you feel will take you on a spiritual trip through all of your emotions. Whew. Such a great album.

Strain: Pineapple Express

“War & Leisure” is a feel-good album that will inspire you to get up and create something beautiful, whether it’s a painting or a baby. You need a strain that’ll give you energetic vibes to match this album’s sound. That’s where Pineapple Express comes into play. Light it up, play “Pineapple Skies,” and let everything you feel guide you into the light.

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The Foreign Exchange – Hide&Seek

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I have no clue who they are or how I found them, but I’m glad I did, and you should be, too. The Foreign Exchange is a duo comprised of rapper Phonte and Dutch producer Nicolay. Their sound is so special and so fun, and feels so good. It’ll make you want to light a joint and go dance around the block without a care in the world. Picture if the perfect Electronic album had sex with the perfect R&B album, and the baby came out already knowing how to sing and dance. Hide&Seek has a plethora of great tracks that sound like some real Miami Vice-type shit: that music that you vibe out to under a pink glow while wearing all white. I can’t wait to boogie to this joint.

Strain: Super Silver Haze

Super Silver Haze is a sativa that will have you feeling up and ready for life, even though it provides a heavy body high. If you’re stressed out or just have a lot of things going on in your head, this is the perfect strain to mellow you out. That’s why it goes so well with this album, because Hide&Seek will have you feeling super carefree and happy. A few hits of Super Silver Haze and Hide&Seek will flow right past your eardrums and all the way down into your soul.

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And as always, here’s your playlist of Smoke This, Play That Vol. 7 to ride out to at your leisure.

A New Generation Opens Up About the ‘Grass’ in Bluegrass

David Grisman & Uncle Jerry

As it turns out, many of the original members of the Grateful Dead were also in the New Riders of The Purple Sage, including Jerry Garcia. In 1964, Garcia met Grisman at a bluegrass festival on the East coast and the two struck up a friendship. Garcia revealed his deep love of Bill Monroe, the banjo, and eventually asked Grisman to lay down some mandolin tracks on the Dead’s iconic American Beauty.

Garcia, left, and Grisman: ‘Just play music.’

In about 1973, a few years after playing together in New Riders and on American Beauty, Grisman and Garcia started the straight-ahead bluegrass group, Old and in the Way.

“Jerry could go to David’s house and know that the only thing he was going to be partaking in would be marijuana because that’s all David did,” said Craig Miller, David Grisman’s long-time manager. “So, he could come over and know he’d have relaxed atmosphere. No gawkers, no nothing. They’d have a nice relaxing time and just play music.”

Bluegrass Moves Into Newgrass

Thus, the Folk Revival becomes the locus where hippies are introduced to bluegrass, but also where bluegrass musicians find their place in the folk and hippie world. Players like Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, and David Grisman, major beacons of the second generation of bluegrass, began to meld traditional bluegrass with the psychedelia of the day.

Their “New Grass” collectives, like New Grass Revival and New Riders of the Purple Sage, experimented with the tradition’s rules by using some electric instruments, more harmonic complexity, and less rural-focused lyrical content. They also threw out the suit-and-tie look, grew out their hair, and appeared much more casual on stage.

The song “Panama Red”, released by the New Riders, is a good example. The song is a fairly standard-sounding bluegrass number, but with a story thick in metaphor about popular sativa strain. In it, Peter Rowan croons, “The judge don’t know when Red’s in town/He keeps well-hidden underground/But everybody’s acting lazy/Falling out and hangin’ ‘round.” And in place of the typical album cover of a bluegrass band dressed in suits, is a picture of a cartoon character holding a smoking blunt.


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The Origins of Jamgrass

With their experimentation and proximity to the Grateful Dead, these groups also planted the seeds of another form in the progressive bluegrass niche, jamgrass. Jamgrass experiments with the bluegrass tradition in a different way than other iterations of “progressive bluegrass.” Where New Grass stays fairly close to the tradition, jamgrass cuts classic bluegrass with funk grooves, rock n’ roll, and extended sections of improvisation, as well as the drug-friendly concert culture of the jam band world.

When Grisman and Garcia played together, two crowds met at the stage: Grisman’s bluegrass fans and Garcia’s Deadhead spinners.

“For years and years and people would come backstage or people will throw pot on the stage,” said Miller. “They know what the scene is. But when David and Jerry started working together we had a problem. People were coming to the shows because of the association with Jerry and not because of David’s music. There were two types of people coming to the shows. There were David’s fans and there were ‘the spinners,’ the people who spin around and make a lot of noise and are not listening to anything. There were a ton of acid heads, but eventually that sort of petered out and we were left with the potheads.”

In the modern bluegrass era, progressive bluegrass and its “potheads” have grown into a large and lucrative wing of the genre. Experimental bluegrass bands like Yonder Mountain String Band and String Cheese Incident have been popular enough to hook novice bluegrass listeners, and Colorado’s cannabis-friendly Telluride Bluegrass Festival has become a craze of people searching for acoustic music and the neo-hippie festival experience.

A recent article on CBCNews reported that “Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado lets people bring in their own pot but asks them to smoke it on the outskirts.” A Telluride Festival spokesperson told Colorado Public Radio that they expected close to 12,000 attendees at their 2016 festival. The Colorado Tourism Board estimated the total economic impact of the festival at around $34.7 million, making it one of the largest and most lucrative bluegrass festivals in the country


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In Appalachia, It’s Another Story

Cannabis has yet to see this sort of widespread acceptance in bluegrass’s birthplace of Appalachia, despite the potential economic benefits a legalized crop could bring to one of the poorest regions in the United States. (To say nothing of the area’s intricate network of underground marijuana growers.) As Business Insider reported, “estimates of the value of Appalachia’s marijuana crop run into more than $1 billion dollars each year.”

A similar article in the Washington Post implied that cannabis industry jobs could replace coal jobs, stating, “the marijuana industry will create upward of a quarter of a million jobs in the United States, more than manufacturing is expected to create.”

“The farther south you get or in the Bible Belt,” said Craig Miller, they more the locals “think that if you take one hit of joy you’re going to be on heroin in 24 hours.”

“But if you look at the history of medicine,” Miller added, “before the prohibition of pot they were putting THC tinctures into” common pain remedies.

Strummers May Be Patients Too

Many bluegrass musicians also use cannabis as medicine, whether legal or not, arguing that it’s safer than drinking. There are legends about older artists like John Hartford using cannabis during the last cancer-ridden years of his life. The new generation, including Kamel, Miller, Groopman, and 25-year-old bluegrass star Billy Strings, praise cannabis for helping their health and music in a variety of ways.

How so? There’s near-universal agreement that it helps them wind down and sleep while on tour. Even more importantly, they point out its ability to make them focus more deeply on the music, relax during more challenging songs, and enhance creativity for songwriting.


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I’m Getting in Tune

Recently, even Dave Grisman came out about his use of cannabis and its influence on his newly released song, “Cinderella’s Fella,” with Tommy Emmanuel.

“‘Cinderella’s Fella’ was written after sampling a fine strain of weed grown by my late friend Jerome Schwartz in Petaluma,” Grisman said. “He called it ‘Cinderella’ and thus I became her ‘fella’ after inspiration took hold in the form of this airy dawg/jazz waltz.”

If I smoke a little bit, I’m like ‘Where’s my guitar?’

Billy Strings

“The psychoactive effects can put you more in tune with what’s going on, and musically, with the rhythms and faster songs,” said Kamel.

“You know if I smoke a little bit, I’m like Where’s my guitar?” said Strings, “Today I’ll smoke and then I’ll just grab my guitar and sit and play. Not to say I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t smoke, but it definitely it always makes me want to pick up my guitar.”

Perhaps bluegrass’s attitudes towards cannabis will shift with the rise of this younger generation. Strings is a perfect example. It’s nothing for him to talk about weed, publically smoke it, or play cannabis-friendly festivals and events like the MI Medical Country Fair Cannabis Cup in Michigan. In fact, sharing his experience with it is, for him, just a form of more honest self-expression as an artist.

Strings has incorporated cannabis into his brand in a way that few other bluegrass artists have. It sometimes makes him nervous, he admits, but “it’s been a part of the process of writing every song I’ve written,” he said.

High Style: Inside Stylist Cary Tauben’s Creative Wonderland

It’s the end of a long day. You get home, change into your comfy clothes, order a pizza, and crack the first of a series of beers that’ll help you maximize your relaxation. Meanwhile, for fashion stylist, creative consultant, and sometime-magazine editor Cary Tauben, evening is the time for cannabis, and not just any cannabis: he prefers sativa-dominant strains that get his tired brain moving again.

“With cannabis, my mind starts to go off,” says Tauben. “I get all these amazing creative ideas.”

“When I come home and I’m organizing for a shoot, with cannabis my mind starts to go off,” explains Tauben. “I get all these amazing creative ideas. I use cannabis as more of a creative outlet. It boosts my creativity and gives me interesting ideas—‘Oh my god, I have to think about a hat, I have to think about a shoe.’ It just gets my mind moving.”

In motion is how you want to picture Tauben. He’s been driving his life forward since barely out of high school, having begun his career at 20 and become fashion editor of Dressed to Kill magazine at 21.

Today, he’s a stylist who prides himself on making his sets feel great—which he makes seem very easy. Welcoming Leafly at the lush Westmount Victorian townhouse he shares with his partner, Tauben is friendly, gregarious, and very easy to talk with.

“Aside from being a stylist, I’m also known for just being a very positive, happy person and making sure everyone feels comfortable at all times, whether it’s on set or at a party,” he explains.

An Easygoing Nice Guy in an Industry of Egos

It takes panache to turn being an easygoing nice guy into a career in an industry full of egos, but Tauben makes it sound as though nothing could be more natural. He can mention in passing that he’s partied with Kate Moss and it sounds not like a brag but essential information. If you’ve seen footage of him dancing on a yacht with lusciously thonged plus-sized model Ashley Graham, you can tell how comfortable he makes people.

“Stylists take care of the model. You could have a great outfit on, but if you don’t feel confident, it doesn’t really work. Confidence is key.”

On set, he says, he wants above all to keep models happy, to the point that he becomes a mother figure. Do they need a coffee, or a water? Are they overworked and need a break? Tauben takes it on himself to ask in order to keep the shoot comfortable.

“Stylists take care of the model. We kind of make sure everything flows properly,” says Tauben. “The job of a stylist in fashion is one of the most crucial parts, because if what you bring to set doesn’t work, the whole shoot can fall apart. It’s about making sure that the client is comfortable and also that the model is comfortable and that they feel good. You could have a great outfit on, but if you don’t feel confident, it doesn’t really work. Confidence is key.”


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Confidence is also one of Tauben’s guiding principles. His understated charm is built on a wellspring of ease in the world that goes back decades.

“I’ve always dressed extravagantly, even when I was a kid. I had bracelets up to here,” Tauben recalls with a smile. “When I wore heels starting when I was like 17, 18, I would get stared at on the street, but it wasn’t because I wanted to get stared at. It was the way that I was able to express myself and feel confident. I wear heels sometimes because I feel powerful and I feel tall. Or I wear really, really long hair because it just gives me this extra power and that’s how I’m able to express myself and bring that confidence. From an early age, I was always confident. So I kind of brought that into my styling and into trying to help my clients find that confidence as well.”

The Kid with Fashion-Show Dreams

Long before he started at Bialik, one of Montreal’s private Jewish high schools, he was hungry for a very specific experience he knew the school offered. When he was in sixth grade, friends a year older participated in the school’s fashion show, and his path forward was set.

“I always wanted to be in the fashion show,” he says. “There were [student] producers who would produce the show, and they would go to all the showrooms here and get clothes and they would wear the clothes and dance in the clothes—and that was the fashion show,” he recalls. “I always thought it was super cool.”

“I’ve always dressed extravagantly, even when I was a kid,” says Tauben. “It was the way to express myself and feel confident.”

The specialized high school also demanded a heavy course-load, with Yiddish and Jewish History courses on top of the already-mandatory English and French. But Tauben was happy to take it on, especially because the school prepared him for the fashion industry.

“I ended up being a producer and I loved it,” he recalls. “I got to know the industry a little bit in Montreal because I got to go to all these showrooms and I didn’t know that showrooms even existed. Now, I go to these showrooms to borrow clothes for my photo shoots. So it was kind of a stepping stone.”

Tauben credits his parents, above all, for encouraging him to believe he could do as much as he’s done. They were always open with him and happy to let him dress however he wanted, while never forcing him to participate in extracurriculars he didn’t feel at ease with.


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“With my father, I remember at family dinners, if I ever said anything negative, my dad was like ‘I never want to hear no. I only want to hear positives,’” he recalls. “I think that kind of helped me be a positive person. I’m not a big complainer. I’m rarely in a bad mood. I really value my parents for that.”

His father was also open to cannabis, being a longtime hash smoker. When Tauben was an older teenager and his parents would go away for weekends, he and his brother found cannabis was a natural way to accentuate a good time. As Tauben grew up, he also discovered the value cannabis held in boosting his already remarkable creativity.

Into the Legal Future

This means, above all, that he’s more than ready for legal recreational cannabis to come to Quebec. On recent trips to Seattle and Las Vegas, he marveled at the friendly openness of the American recreational markets. Although Quebec as a whole has become more conservative when it comes to cannabis, Tauben is convinced that Montreal will remain cannabis-positive.

“Look at the tam-tams,” he says, citing the decades-old Sunday-afternoon institution. “It’s a place where people go on Sundays to smoke cannabis and play drums and dance around, and sure, there are police there, and they obviously smell cannabis, but it doesn’t matter. It’s something that everyone knows about. You know cannabis users go there every Sunday.”

Tauben is already thinking about how recreational cannabis is going to change the culture, and fashion.

Acknowledging that living in Quebec likely means having to wait a little bit longer for retail-ready cannabis—especially while labels get translated into French—Tauben is nonetheless already thinking about how recreational cannabis is going to change the culture, and fashion.

As mainstream acceptance of cannabis continues to grow, “I’ll probably have some really interesting, more fashion-y paraphernalia,” he says, noting that he’s already developed a collection of cannabis-themed handbags, clothing, and accessories. That, too, is a sign of changing times for Tauben himself.


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“Maybe 5, 6 years ago, when I had anything with weed leaves on it, it wasn’t something that I wanted to wear because I didn’t want clients to associate cannabis with me and think like, ‘Oh my God, this guy is a big stoner.’ It’s always been a stigma, but now it’s becoming more trendy and people are seeing the business end of it. I’m not as shy with it now. I’m also an established stylist now too, so it’s kind of like, I do what I do and that’s it.”

More than anything, cannabis is for Tauben an inspiration, and a tool that helps him draw on an already abundant imagination. “If you use it safely and recreationally and you’re not out of your mind, it’s something that enhances a vibe or enhances the moment. It’s something that should be looked at as positive.”

Smoke This, Watch That: Movie and TV Picks for December 2017

This is the December 2017 edition of Smoke This, Watch That, where we talk about what to get to high and watch. But before we get to the watchin’, let’s talk about the strains we’re smokin’.

Strains to Enjoy

Golden Goat

Leafly Golden Goat hybrid <strong>cannabis</strong> strain

Golden Goat’s a high-THC strain that’ll have you feeling nice and comfortable during a little movie sesh. A few hits of this and you’ll feel a burst of energy that will keep you awake and ready for anything you cue up.

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Sour Kush

Leafly Sour Kush hybrid <strong>cannabis</strong> strain

Sour Kush is a sativa-dominant hybrid, but don’t let the smooth taste fool you: the indica vibe will still hit your soul after a few bong snaps of it. It’ll have you feeling happy and goofy, which is nice for at least one movie on this list.

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Blackberry Bubble

Leafly Blackberry Bubble indica <strong>cannabis</strong> strain

Blackberry Bubble is an indica-dominant strain that won’t take you out of commission too early, but will still hit you with the body high that’ll leave you feeling nice and comfortable on the couch. But just know that a few hits too many of this and you will pass right on out.

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What to Watch in December 2017

Mudbound (2017)

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Genre: Drama (movie)

Platform: Netflix

Mudbound is a movie about two families in racist-ass Mississippi that both live below the poverty line. Their stories become entangled after each family has a son return from war. Those sons become friends, and boy oh boy, that’s where the problems REALLY start. This one’s tough on the soul, so make sure you’re prepared for the heavy feeling of sadness that comes with watching it.

Ripped (2017)

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Genre: Comedy (movie)

Platform: Netflix

Ripped is a movie about two friends who get stoned on G13 and fall into a cannabis-induced coma for 30 years, ultimately waking up and having absolutely no clue what’s going on in the world. They find out cannabis is now legal and plot on how to start a cannabis-themed restaurant with their famous infused chili. It’s downright hilarious.


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Bushwick (2017)

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Genre: Action/Adventure (movie)

Platform: Netflix

Bushwick stars Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow as an unlikely pair of citizens who team up for survival after martial law is declared in New York. It’s a fun watch because there’s non-stop action and bullets galore, which will keep your attention all the way until the end when the movie gets a bit lazy. Still, it’s a short watch and very much worth your time if you’re looking for some stoned entertainment.

21 (2008)

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Genre: Crime (movie)

Platform: Netflix

21 is a movie about a college kid who needs a quick come-up on a lot of money to be able to pay his Harvard tuition. He teams up with a group of other students who have mastered the art of counting cards in blackjack, and together they use their powers to run game on Las Vegas casinos. Everything’s all good until they get caught, and that’s when this movie goes BONKERS. If you’ve never seen this, make sure to watch. It’s a fun one.


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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

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Genre: Documentary (movie)

Platform: Netflix

If you’ve been keeping up with Jim Carrey’s transformation into a ball of deep quotes and black matter over the past year, you’ll definitely want to watch this. It gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how deep his method acting goes, and how bizarre the filming of Man on the Moon was. Jim got so deep into character that he legit became Andy Kaufman for a while, and man…it’s all a bit creepy, while also being extremely brilliant.

420: The Documentary (2013)

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Genre: Documentary (movie)

Platform: Hulu

This documentary is about everything cannabis: the war on drugs; the origins of 420, legalization, dispensary raids that still happen after legalization, and today’s politics and overall view of the industry. It’s very enlightening, and also kind of funny, because it’s told through the eyes, ears, and mouths of some millennials. Get stoned and watch if you don’t know anything about cannabis other than that in some states you can now walk into stores and buy it like a bag of Ruffles.


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Deep Web (2015)

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Genre: Documentary (movie)

Platform: Amazon Prime Instant Video

This is the most interesting watch of anything on this list. Deep Web is a documentary about the invention of Silk Road, an online black market for drugs and all sorts of stuff that existed in the deepest parts of the web. It’s also about the life and trial of Ross William Ulbricht, the founder of the website who was convicted of not only many drug-related crimes, but also a few murder-related charges that landed him behind bars for the rest of his life at the tender age of 30. The only issue with all of that is that he may or may have been framed. Give it a watch. It’ll have you sitting in silence for about 12 minutes afterwards.

The Punisher (2017-present)

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Genre: Action/Adventure (TV)

Platform: Netflix

The Punisher is a Marvel superhero show starring Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, a marine-turned-vigilante who’s willing to turn NYC upside down in order to find answers about the deaths of his wife and kid. He’s completely unsure about how his family died, and by unsure, I mean he thinks it may have been him that pulled the trigger, but he can’t remember. All he knows is that someone out there does know and he’ll stop at nothing until he finds out who. The show is really, really, really good, especially when you get into the second half of the episodes. Treat yourself to this one. You will not regret it.