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Dr. Dina Delivers the Goods

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Who is the woman who got Snoop Dogg smoking cannabis legally? And who inspired the character Nancy Botwin from the Showtime series Weeds (though she didn’t approve)? Her name is Dina Browner, but she’s affectionately known by her patients as Dr. Dina. Dr. Dina, while she is not an actual medical doctor, she earned her nickname when she started Los Angeles’ first cannabis collective. More recently she began consulting for up-and-coming cannabis businesses, as well as for cannabis-themed TV shows. Shows like Sons of Anarchy and the most recently released Netflix Original Series Disjointed have both benefited from Dr. Dina’s expertise. CULTURE spoke with Dr. Dina about her career in cannabis and what it’s like working with Hollywood power players like director Chuck Lorre and actress Kathy Bates.

“ . . . I saw my friend who had cancer, unable to hold down his pills because he was so nauseous and couldn’t take his chemo. After taking a couple puffs of this joint, his demeanor changed completely.”

What convinced you of cannabis as a viable medical treatment?

I think it’s when you see it with your own eyes. I’m one of those people who [was] like, “Sure there’s anecdotal evidence of it?” I didn’t believe it at first. I remember when it first passed [in California] in 1996, I heard a doctor talking about how medical marijuana had benefits. And I remember rolling my eyes like “Yeah right, people just wanna get stoned” Then I saw my friend who had cancer, and was unable to hold down his pills because he was so nauseous and couldn’t take his chemo. After taking a couple puffs of this joint, his demeanor changed completely. He went from his face being sallow and so pale, to having a little bit of color back in his skin. And he stopped dry heaving, and his stomach started growling and was able to eat. He actually kept the food down, which was the first time he’d eaten in two weeks. When I saw that I went, “Oh my god, it’s true!”

My grandmother had passed away from cancer. And I always wanted to help her. I was so young, I think I was 13 when she passed away. I remember sitting in the waiting room at the hospital thinking, “I wish I had a superpower, I wish I could heal her,” and [cannabis] made me feel like I had that superpower, and I needed to embrace it.

What’s it like working with Chuck Lorre and Kathy Bates? Do they consume cannabis in real life?

When Chuck walks into a room, he demands your attention. He’s so smart, the way he sees things. He sees it in a way that we don’t see things, because his brain operates on sitcom, sitcom, sitcom. It’s just so interesting to watch him work. I find that so fascinating. Here’s a guy, who is the most successful executive producers of a TV show ever. Of today’s age, he’s like the Norman Lear. Chuck is very famous for being sober. He’s been sober for a long time, and he’s a big advocate of being responsible. So he’s sober, and I’m very proud of him for that, but he is willing to embrace a show about cannabis. So, it just goes to show you that cannabis is stepping out of the shadows, and it is being seen as a medicine, which is really cool.

And then we have Kathy, who has very openly said she is a fan of cannabis and has been “practicing” even more since she took the role of Ruth. But she is the cutest thing ever. She carries her little vape pen around with her, and she announced on set that she uses her own vape pen, she likes to bring her own to work. She is so talented. Watching her work, it’s like, this is Misery. When she first came to work, everyone was terrified of her. And she plays it up. When she walks in, she’s real straight-faced and looks like she’s gonna kill you. Then after a second she breaks and smiles and gives you this big hug, and you’re like “Oh my God!” But she is just a boss. She is so classy. She is old Hollywood.

www.DrDina420.com

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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.

 

cocktailwhisperer.com

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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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