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Curating Creativity

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It’s no secret that cannabis and creativity are a beautiful marriage, as many studies and anecdotal reports have suggested a correlation between the two. Artists, writers, musicians and other creators have been harnessing cannabis to tap into inspiration for their crafts. But now, with the advent of legal cannabis in many states, it’s finally possible for these creators to organize, assemble and combine cannabis and art creation with their local community.

Enter Denver, Colorado’s Lit on Lit, a unique artistic outlet where writers can combine the creative practice of writing with cannabis consumption. “Lit on Lit was started when the Suspect Press team paired up with Colorado Cannabis Tours and Puff, Pass & Paint,” said Amanda E.K., editor of Suspect Press in Denver and Lit On Lit teacher. Lit on Lit became a space where writers can combine their love of cannabis and the creative process, but still run ideas by each other instead of writing only in the comfort of their own homes. There, students can combine consumption with writing exercises to discuss and share ideas.

“As a writer, I’ve been using cannabis for years to aid in my creative focus and imagination expansion,” explained E.K. “I teach a weekly, drop-in writing class […] sans cannabis, and I wanted to explore the Lit on Lit class again with the combination of weed, which can be especially fun in a group setting where most people have never met before. Given the right ambiance (with my specially crafted Lit on Lit playlist as background music) and open-ended prompts for any level writer, the class can be a cathartic way to reawaken your right brain and boost your confidence in your abilities as a storyteller.”

Even more popular is combining cannabis with the process of visual art. Whether you’re a renowned artist or just dabbling for fun, anyone can try out a Puff, Pass & Paint class. The organization is currently active in 10 cities around the country in California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New York, Missouri and Illinois.

The cannabis-friendly art classes provided by Puff, Pass & Paint provide as much or as little instruction as students want. Students may choose to follow along with the instructor or completely branch off and explore their own creativity if they’re already experienced artists. Classes are all BYOC, or bring your own cannabis, and consumption and imagination are both highly encouraged.

“Creativity requires thinking outside of the box, letting your mind wander with confidence and wonder. I think that consuming cannabis helps to create that sort of open-minded environment.”

 

All the Puff, Pass & Paint instructors are local artists who come up with their own special classes as diverse and cooking, karate, pottery and nude art. As long as it fits under the artistic umbrella, it can be turned into a cannabis-friendly class.

“I think cannabis helps people enjoy the present moment and removes their fears of being ‘bad’ at being creative,” explained Heidi Keyes, president and founder of Puff, Pass & Paint. “A lot of our students haven’t made any sort of art since they were in grade school, so they’re worried about looking silly or failing. Puff, Pass & Paint is not about that. It’s about feeling free to be creative and also being free to consume our favorite plant, legally, in a safe space with other people who want to do the same thing. Cannabis has always helped me with my anxiety and also to dig into my own creativity, and I started Puff, Pass & Paint to help share that with other people.”

The class is set up for people who are at all levels of comfortability with both creating art and consuming cannabis. The idea is to focus as much or as little on the art as you want, while imbibing cannabis at your own pace. “Cannabis and artistic expression go hand-in-hand,” Keyes added. “Creativity requires thinking outside of the box, letting your mind wander with confidence and wonder. I think that consuming cannabis helps to create that sort of open-minded environment.”

So, next time you’re working on a story, painting, or doing another creative endeavor with the help of cannabis, get out there and find your community. There are folks waiting to hang out, smoke out and get creative.

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Fabled Filmmaker

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Kevin Smith is undoubtedly Jason Mewes’ true partner-in-crime, and the two have remained friends through thick and thin—both on and off the screen. Smith’s more recent film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, was released theatrically in the United States on Oct. 15, and he is currently working on the upcoming comedy horror anthology Killroy Was Here and writing the script for Clerks III, which he hopes to release soon. In addition, Smith is working on his Netflix original animated series Masters of the Universe: Revelation, a reboot of the classic 1983 TV show.

Anyone who is familiar with the View Askewniverse knows that Smith adores the leafy green plant. Smith and Mewes recently collaborated with Caviar Gold’s Mike Brunson to create three strains: Snoogans, Snoochie Boochies and Berzerker. The strains are infused with 95 percent pure organic THC distillate and are rolled in kief for a product that resembles moon rocks. The strains are sold in pre-rolls or in 3.5 gram jars.

CULTURE recently snagged Smith at Herbarium, one of his personal favorite dispensaries in West Hollywood, California. In the wake of the nationwide vaping scare, Smith provided some insight about his thoughts on the epidemic, as entrepreneurship within the cannabis industry often overlaps with the vaping industry.

“Well what happened is the government said a couple days ago that ‘we’re taking vaping off the market’ and a lot of states are dropping it instantly like a hot rock, in such a way,” Smith explained. “There have been six to 10 deaths—which are heartbreaking—but the way they were like ‘we’ve got to get rid of this instantly,’ you’d think they know something that we don’t. Like that vaping causes vampirism or makes you turn into a werewolf. But instead they called it a public health hazard.”

“The only question that I have is, and I’m not a vaper myself, is that 10 people have died from vaping,” Smith added. “But how many people died from smoking a cigarette yesterday?  Where’s the public crisis for this? It just makes no sense.” Since speaking with Smith, there have been more incidents totally to a several dozen total vaping-related lung illness deaths—but as he said, it pales in comparison to cigarette deaths. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for 1,300 deaths per day worldwide. The real crisis, he explained, would be better suited to focus on the prevalence of cigarettes or one of the many deadly substances such as alcohol or opioids.

“. . . Ten people have died from vaping. But how many people died from smoking a cigarette yesterday? Where’s the public crisis for this? It just makes no sense.”

 

Smith has ventured into the cannabis industry multiple times before. Los Angeles, California-based Bud & Roses, for instance, sold two strains several years ago that were named after Smith’s outrageous comedy-horror film Tusk. His latest foray into the industry likely won’t be his last.

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The Cocktail Whisperer

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Photo courtesy Warren Bobrow.

It’s once again the season to be merry, and for a lot of adults, that means more cocktails at holiday parties and family gatherings. But some people would rather light up around the Christmas tree than drink alcohol and be subject to the inevitable after-effects. Those folks are in luck, because Warren Bobrow, a cannabis cocktail master, is here to make that tradition a thing of the past.

Bobrow has used his unmatched cannabis mixology know-how to write a book on the craft called Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations. He’s also a master menu-creator when it comes to infusions with cannabis. CULTURE chatted with the “Cocktail Whisperer” about how to keep things merry and bright this season with a little bit of liquid cheer.

 

How did you first get interested in mixology, specifically with cannabis?
I had experimented with mixing cannabis with craft spirits after visiting New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail in 2016. I had scheduled a book signing at the Pharmacy Museum for my third book of six, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails.

At the same time, the museum was holding an exhibit on cannabis in the early apothecary. My dream was hatched! As a master mixologist and cannabis smoker since the tender age of 12 and the eldest grandson of the owner/manufacturer of Geritol, my inspiration was at hand with several books on healing measures, such as my first book, Apothecary Cocktails. The only ingredient missing in that early cocktail book (2013) was cannabis. In the early apothecary, cannabis was probably the only ingredient that actually did anything!

 

What about cannabis cocktails do you think invites creativity and experimenting?
The feeling of the crossfade is the most intriguing thing. You just don’t get that euphoric feeling from CBD; that’s why I hardly work with it. I like the feeling that I get from THC. And I believe for the entourage effect to be most pronounced, you need THC and CBD—not just CBD. It’s a balance. Like life itself.

 

Tell us about your writing career—how did you start writing?

I was initially a trained chef from dish sink on up. I have an incredibly deep knowledge of food journalism and writing. Clementine Paddleford was an early inspiration, as was Penelope Casas. I’ve always been comfortable writing in blogs, but never in the “real world.”

After losing my fresh pasta business in hurricane Hugo in 1989, I was forced by necessity to pay off my loans by working in a series of private banks for 20 years, all the while nurturing a career working in wine and spirits on my days off and as a private chef. But it was not fulfilling. I needed to write, but I didn’t know how.

I ended up taking some food writing classes, one at the New School with Andy Smith and the other at the then French Culinary Institute for Alan Richman. Alan said I would be making a big mistake by going back into banking. He was right!

 

How did you first start using cannabis, and how did it influence your life and creative process?
I was at a good old Grateful Dead show in 1972 at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. The cannabis may or may not have actually been cannabis. It might have been gerbil droppings for all I knew. But there was something in there that made me more relaxed than I had ever been. Our plant brought me relief of the pain of being Warren. It helped me focus and drill down into my own history.

 

What is your favorite strain or product, and what’s your favorite cannabis cocktail?
My favorite cannabis cocktail is the Mezzrole Cocktail, named for Mezz Mezzrow, a jazz-era musician, who not-so-coincidently was Louis Armstrong’s weed dealer in the ’20s and ’30s. A particularly well-rolled cannabis joint was known by the “Hep Cats” as a Mezzrole. A joint or a reefer might get you arrested if you asked the wrong person for one, like a policeman. But a Mezzrole was the hip codeword for reefer in the Jazz Era.

 “You just don’t get that euphoric feeling from CBD; that’s why I hardly work with it. I like the feeling that I get from THC. And I believe for the entourage effect to be most pronounced, you need THC and CBD—not just CBD. It’s a balance. Like life itself.”

 

What do you think the world of legalization will look like in five or 10 years? Do you think ordering a cannabis cocktail in a bar will ever become the norm?
I hope that the stigma dissipates somewhat along with legalization as it spreads around the country. Unfortunately, there are many preconceived notions about cannabis cocktails. Most importantly, “Will I get destroyed?”

That is a real possibility, but I suggest taking the Thai food approach. Never would you go to a Thai restaurant for the first time and order your food five star, Thai Hot.  It’s just not done; you’d be destroyed! Cannabis cocktails are the same. You want to start really slowly. They hit pretty fast, so less is definitely more. You can always add, never subtract.

But should you take too much, some CBD or a combination of peppercorns and lemon juice work just fine. Don’t be like those folks on VICELAND Live (I made them a THC/CBD cocktail with Barrell Bourbon and oven-caramelized blood orange juice)  who had way more than one per hour. Each drink was at least 100 milligrams of THC . . . They had several in the first 15 minutes or so . . . and then they went out on live TV. It was memorable.

Is there anything specific you want to announce, focus on, or highlight right now?
I’m doing a mocktail for TSO Sonoma in December, and I’m releasing a live-resin, ready-to-drink mocktail into the market shortly in California. Stay tuned! It’s unlike anything available with an onset time of just a few short minutes, and it’s delicious. My tried-and-true recipes. I’m always focusing on the sales of my book, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes/Noble, Indigo Books in Canada and most indie bookstores globally.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t be afraid of cannabis cocktails. They were making them over 100 years ago in pharmacies. They work for me with my glaucoma, and I hope they offer a non-confrontational approach to “taking your medicine.” At least no one would know that your Vietnamese iced coffee had both THC-infused, condensed milk and Rhum Agricole from Martinique in it.

 

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12 Days of Giving

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The nation’s cannabis industry is a tight-knit one, and it’s in full effect in many states. Various cannabis companies are consistently working together to improve laws, innovate and come together for philanthropic efforts. The industry generates a lot of revenue allowing the profitable companies to use their powers for good and give back from local to global levels. CULTURE highlights several companies for our 12 Days of Giving special that are focused on charity in the cannabis space. Compassion leads to healing, and it’s happening just in time for the holidays.

 

Bloom Farms

Bloom Farms, a cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD company, is committed to helping solve the problem of food insecurity in the states that the company operates in, year after year, by partnering with local food banks. Bloom Farms proudly announced in November that it served its two-millionth meal as a direct result of its 1-1 meal program, which launched in December of 2015. For every Bloom Farms product sold, the company donates one meal to a local food bank in California or Nevada. Michael Ray, founder and CEO of Bloom Farms told CULTURE that the 1-1 program is part of the company’s infrastructure. “We are seeing firsthand the lightbulb go off for some people when they realize they can contribute to real change simply through purchasing decisions that have some kind of social giveback, and we think it raises their expectations for what companies across all industries should be doing,” Ray said. Bloom Farms encourages donations to local food banks nationwide. Visit bloomfarms.com to sign up as a volunteer, and purchase Bloom Farms products in stores to contribute to the 1-1 meal program.

 

Cannabis Doing Good Awards

Other ways the cannabis industry is feeling the effects of do-gooders is by celebrating them in an event that supports even more organizations. The 2019 Cannabis Doing Good Awards was a gala that supported Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and was a celebration of cannabis companies’ charitable movements. Courtney Mathis, CEO and co-founder of Cannabis Doing Good told CULTURE, “When we set out to create the awards, one of our primary goals was to give consumers, patients and other businesses a way to identify impactful product or partners in our industry. I think we’ve done that and given folks a fun, accessible way to celebrate the good our industry is doing. We are thrilled to have our first-year awards go out to Sana Packaging, Last Prisoner Project and Lightshade. These companies and the people behind them absolutely uphold our core value—that serving people, planet and communities is a privileged opportunity, unique to this industry, to deploy economic, political and social change-making. Businesses for good are no longer the future, they are the right now.” Cannabis Doing Good is inspiring social responsibility in the cannabis industry and encouraging companies to give back. Visit cannabisdoinggood.com to view upcoming events where just your ticket purchase gives back.

“We are seeing firsthand the lightbulb go off for some people when they realize they can contribute to real change simply through purchasing decisions that have some kind of social giveback, and we think it raises their expectations for what companies across all industries should be doing.”

 

CBD Daily

Unfortunately, there is a large population of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness (IEH) in the U.S., but companies like CBD Daily are working hard to provide assistance to those in need. CBD Daily makes a line of CBD-infused body, skin and hair care products, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Get Together Foundation (GTF), which provides aid in the forms of housing, food, clothing and music to IEH. CBD Daily is a love child from Earthly Body, which is a parent company to several different brands, all of which donate proceeds to various associated charities. Kevin and Mare Wachs saw a need for naturally-derived products that were safe and effective for everyone to use and also envisioned an opportunity generate funds to help those less fortunate. This led them to create Earthly Body, GTF and CBD Daily. CBD Daily products are made from hemp-based CBD and don’t contain any THC, so they can be purchased online and delivered nationwide. Earthly Body is a company that was designed to give 100 percent of its donations to appropriated charities. Visit cbddailyproducts.com to purchase with the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting people who need help.

 

Elixinol

Elixinol is a hemp-derived CBD company with a vision to positively give back on a global level by donating a portion of every purchase to a nonprofit organization, giving the buyer the choice of which organization to donate to. When you make an online purchase, you choose from one of the listed nonprofits to benefit from the portion of your sale. Currently on that list are: The Realm of Caring, Wounded Warrior Project, Autism One, Vote Hemp, American Brain Tumor Association and The Cancer Cure Foundation. Elixinol is driven by a team of visionaries who advocate for natural health and believe in teamwork, which makes their dream of giving back work so well. The company’s 7 Pillars of Success guidelines highlight its sincere cause to give back worldwide and promote good health. Nationwide, consumers can give back simply by purchasing products at elixinol.com.

 

Last Prisoner Project

The Last Prisoner Project (LPP), founded by Harborside’s Steve DeAngelo, is a diversely-run nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting those who have been negatively affected by the “War on Drugs.” The nonprofit group raises money to benefit their efforts. Earlier in 2019, nearly $30,000 was collected to benefit the LPP from a swanky dinner party featuring a famous chef and a few Hollywood names. In addition, the efforts from LPP’s partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led efforts to create equity and re-introduction into the cannabis industry for those who are low-income, people of color and have had their lives derailed by minor drug charges. LPP and ACLU host forums to educate local townspeople how to restore justice in the cannabis space now that legalization and decriminalizion are sweeping the country causing some crimes to be no longer illegal. In addition to providing education, the LPP is providing assistance with donations to help those affected by the “War on Drugs” get back onto their feet. The LPP took home the Change Maker Award at the 2019 Cannabis Doing Good Awards. Donate at lastprisonerproject.org.

 

Lightshade 

Lightshade, a Colorado dispensary chain, is taking care of those who need a little extra help this holiday season and all year long. For this season of giving “Lightshade [will] sponsor nine families with young children through Colorado Homeless Families and integrate all of our employees in shopping for, wrapping presents and presenting to the recipients,” Lisa Gee, director of marketing and CSR for Lightshade told CULTURE. Lightshade regularly donates clothing, toiletries and food to Aurora’s homeless population, and once a year, the company hosts Aurora Warms the Night, where Lightshade provides a shower trailer complete with actual restrooms. Lightshade collects warm clothing during its The Season of Giving Campaign. Also, when temperatures drop below 20 degrees, Lightshade funds hotel rooms for the homeless. Also noted by Gee are the monthly donations to The Gathering Place, a day shelter for women, children and LGBTQ people in Denver. In 2019, Lightshade provided 3,492 hours of volunteer work, donated more than $120,000 in in-kind donations and nine percent in financial donations. Lightshade won the Good Neighbor Award at the 2019 Cannabis Doing Good Awards. You can support this notable company by simply shopping at its stores and contributing when Lightshade holds food and clothing drives at its various storefronts.

 

MagicalButter

MagicalButter is a DIY-botanical extractor, designed for making cannabis butters or oils right at home. Every year in December, the Florida-based MagicalButter team comes together and chooses a charitable cause for its Cheers to Goodness! program. In 2016, Puerto Rico legalized medical cannabis, which began the uprising of its cannabis industry. In 2017, Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the island and destroyed the building of processing facilities, equipment, greenhouses and storefronts. This was a major setback for their medical cannabis patients. For its 2018 Cheers to Goodness! program, MagicalButter chose to show Puerto Rico some love. Garyn Angel, CEO and founder told CULTURE, “As you are well aware, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. MagicalButter couldn’t stand by and watch. We immediately wanted to help and flew down to the island many times in the storm’s aftermath with much-needed supplies. Beyond the basics, [we] donated 420 MagicalButter machines directly to medical cannabis patients. Together we win.” Support MagicalButter’s Cheers to Goodness! program this year by purchasing your own Magical Butter maker at magicalbutter.com.

“[…] We have made an impact by creating bridges of trust between cannabis and non-cannabis organizations, which have been difficult to navigate because not every organization wants to accept cannabis dollars or be associated with cannabis companies.”

Sana Packaging

It’s no secret that the cannabis industry, like so many others generates a lot of one-time use waste. Contributing to the Earth’s well-being all year long is necessary for a healthy planet. Sana Packaging is dedicated to creating sustainable and compliant packaging for the cannabis industry. Founded by college buddies James Eichner and Ron Basak-Smith, Sana provides an alternative to plastics and a desire to drive business in the U.S. “Localization is incredibly important as our goal is to create cannabis packaging for a circular economy. As we expand globally, our goal will be to localize our supply chains and manufacturing in different regions where we have a strong presence,” Eichner explained. Sana Packaging products are made from U.S. sourced hemp and reclaimed ocean plastics from Oceanworks, a California company that deals in reclaimed and recycled ocean plastics on a global level. Not only does the company care about the environment, it cares about contributing to cannabis advocacy and reform. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy benefit from Sana’s donations. Sana won the Love Your Planet award at the 2019 Cannabis Doing Good Awards. Visit sanapackaging.com to learn more about a better alternative to traditional plastic.

 

The Sublime Foundation

The cannabis industry has an apparent disconnect between people who need cannabis and those are actually able to access it. The Sublime Foundation is a subgroup of Sublime Canna, a cannabis product company in California. The foundation was created to promote philanthropic programs to help medical cannabis patients gain access to the meds they need to feel better. The Sublime Foundation strives to create equity and good health in the cannabis workplace in hopes that those efforts will assist its goals of helping people get back on track, whether it be in the workplace or healing with cannabis. In addition, The Sublime Foundation supports those whose lives have been negatively affected by the “War on Drugs” by encouraging social equality in the workforce. The Sublime Foundation’s vision proudly states, “We envision a cannabis company that promotes the physical, mental and financial well-being of underserved communities worldwide.” Reach out to The Sublime Foundation to donate, or if someone you know could benefit from these services, visit sublimefoundation.com.

 

Tokeativity®

Tokeativity® is a nonprofit, global women’s social club that supports a few different women empowerment programs. Founders Lisa Snyder and Samantha Montanaro told CULTURE that Tokeativity® donates to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Warrior Sisters and Women Leaders in Cannabis. “We focus on organizations that will have the largest impact on women in our local communities,” the founders said. Tokeativity® also hosts a scholarship program in addition to the retreats it hosts several times a year. “Access and lack of funds is one of the biggest barriers for women to pursue personal and professional growth. The biggest impacts we have seen have been low income and minority women being able to access connections and resources through our Tokeativity® global network. Additionally, we have made an impact by creating bridges of trust between cannabis and non-cannabis organizations, which have been difficult to navigate because not every organization wants to accept cannabis dollars or be associated with cannabis companies,” the founders said. Visit tokeativity.com to acquire more information on how to get involved with the group or start your own chapter.

 

Veterans For Cannabis

Sick from the prescription meds given for PTSD or pain, U.S. veterans are requesting better access to clean, affordable, medical cannabis. Veterans For Cannabis (VCF) has created a system that benefits veterans’ needs. VFC teamed up with Medical Genomics and Potent LTD to create a three-step approach for cannabis for veterans. The goals are as follows: 1) Consistent, good quality CBD oil with specific dosing guidelines and a way to track progress through the VFC foundation, 2) Working to create consistent, DNA sequenced certified cannabis strains in stores in states with medical cannabis so veterans can be sure they are getting the same exact product every time, and 3) Getting VFC-certified cannabis in dispensaries in states with recreational cannabis that will be sold at a lower cost for veterans. There is an epidemic with the quality of health among veterans in this country. The accidental overdose death rate from prescription drugs is higher in veterans than any other social group, and the VFC’s website reports that 22 veterans die by suicide per day. There are a variety of cannabis for veteran projects circulating the country. Look into how you can assist our nation’s heroes this holiday season by donating at vfcusa.com.

 

Weed for Good

Weed for Good is a nonprofit organization that contributes its time to helping chronically or terminally ill patients who can’t afford cannabis medication in California. Cannabis products can be pricey, and no matter how much they might improve one’s health, many can’t afford to use them regularly enough to benefit from the relief. Weed for Good provides free or low-cost medical cannabis to those in need with donations from local cannabis companies and business partnerships with local organizations, hospitals and clinics. The organization also relies on cash donations from its community, and it benefits from licensed volunteers donating their time. Head to weedforgood.org to donate, volunteer or request services. Because of current federal laws, Weed For Good can’t offer its services to anyone not in California, but it does run throughout the entire state.

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