[Canniseur: This book is not just for newbies, but it’s also for those who are fairly experienced. There’s a plethora of information in the book as well as it being fun to look at. Enjoy.]
A lot of people labor under the impression that when something is cute, that thing is not worthy of serious regard. Terming art, literature or even people ‘cute’ can be a roundabout form of dismissal, a qualifier meant to soften some later blow: “Yes, it’s cute, but…”
Michelle Lhooq’s non-fiction book, titled “Weed: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned To Ask,” is undeniably cute. Its kelly green cover, decorated with pink and white doodles by illustrator Thu Tran, is a reliable indicator of the book’s tone and content in the best way possible. But just because Lhooq’s debut book is cute doesn’t mean it lacks substance. In fact, it’s veritably overflowing with information.
“Weed: Everything You Want to Know…” is divided into six sections: How It Works, How to Smoke, How to Make, How to Grow, How to Be and How to Score. Each of these sections contains a variety of inserts and asides, from straight how-tos like recipes and joint-rolling instructions to dispensary reviews, jokey illustrated lists and annotated diagrams explaining things like the inner workings of pipes and bongs.
Lhooq is a seasoned party journalist (yes, it’s a thing, and yes, it’s as cool as it sounds) who’s hosted “weed raves” on both coasts, and her bona fides as a writer and as a genuine head shine through in all 159 pages of this book. She’s a sharp, entertaining writer who manages to avoid condescending to her pool of presumably greener potheads-to-be. Although I found myself skimming some of the more basic sections, like the earlier ones describing various terpenes and cannabinoids, I found this book very readable — even as someone with an above-average cannabis knowledge base.
One of the things that really sets this book apart from potential peers is the steady stream of interviews — with figures both central and tangential to the modern world of weed — peppered throughout its various sections. Lhooq is a skillful interviewer and selected interesting people from all over the cannabis industry, from a recent Oaksterdam graduate to a “cannasexual” sex educator to a weed sommelier. These additional voices add depth and dimension to the book’s overall arch and neatly illustrate one of its primary theses: Enjoying cannabis should be a collective and collaborative experience.
While I wouldn’t necessarily give this book to a seasoned weed smoker or everyday dabber, I think it would make a great gift, especially for a friend who is looking to gain a hearty background on the modern weed scene but who’s less interested in the nitty gritty of cannabis, especially when it comes to global and national cannabis policy or the inner workings of cannabusiness. Not that those subjects feel like omissions — instead, they’d probably make the book feel flimsy and, soon, dated.
Instead, it’s got an “of-the-moment” vibe and a Cool Older Sister voice, both of which make it the kind of book I would have devoured as a teenager — right alongside other Urban-Outfitters-approved guides to fashion and pop culture. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
[Canniseur: Dab? A dance. Dabbing? A way to consume concentrated cannabis. The move part has been around for a long time. The consumption of concentrates has been around for a long time. For at least a few millennia it was called hashish. Now it’s called a lot of names. But it’s not the dance that matters to consumers.]
Think back, if you can, to a time where the world was quieter and calmer. Let your mind wander back to a bygone era, the sepia-toned past: 2015.
Barack Obama was president of the United States. “Uptown Funk,” Fetty Wap and Taylor Swift dominated the airwaves. And for a brief culture moment, when “dabbing” came up in conversation there was genuine confusion as to which dab was the topic of discussion — a cannabis concentrate or the viral dance move?
Concentrated cannabis has been around for thousands of years. It appeared first and foremost in the form of hashish, consumed in Hindu rituals in India and socially in the Middle East, particularly Egypt and Morocco, before making its way to Europe in the midst of colonialism. Basically, human beings have been eating or smoking concentrated cannabis almost as long as they’ve been eating or smoking cannabis flowers.
Cannabis concentrates as we know them, gooey and shiny and cannabinoid-rich, first hit the scene much more recently as extraction techniques advanced. The other kind of dab is also newer invention, with origins that are easier to distill. It’s an uncomplicated series of movements that amount to more of a gesture than a dance: tilt your head down while, in one motion, you bend one arm in front of your face and fully extend the other, angled both about 35 degrees upward with your hands karate-chop flat. This is the cannabis-free way to hit a dab.
According to BET, the dance sprung out of the Atlanta hip hop scene around the same time the city began to spawn superstars like Young Thug and Quavo, Offset and Takeoff of rap trio Migos.
But the dab really found its way into the national spotlight during a series of contentious touchdown celebrations performed by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, according to Sports Illustrated.
Newton later told press his 16-year-old brother had encouraged him to include the move in his celebratory routine with a simple, soon-to-be iconic command: “Dab on ‘em folks.”
From there, the dab was vaulted into meme territory and became a pop culture punchline, often shorthand for victory and subsequent braggadocious behavior. Throw a crumpled piece of paper into a wastebasket and make it? Dab. Beat a friend at beer pong? Dab. Caught on camera at a sporting event or local newscast? Uh, yeah, definitely time to dab.
For certain sects of the populace — teens, rap fans, real heads, football fans and everyone in between — the identical wording was confusing. When a friend said they dabbed at a party or with their cousin over Thanksgiving, one follow-up question was basically inevitable: dabbing or dabbing, with some evocative hand motions thrown in for emphasis. Once that was cleared up, listeners could properly appreciate the rest of the anecdote, whether it be about a particularly lit playlist or a memorably hazy holiday dinner.
But as is the way with all cultural phenomena, especially culture phenomena lifted from black people and diffused into the mainstream (read: white) consciousness, the novelty of dabbing as a dance move was eventually wrung dry.
In this reporter’s opinion, the death knell of the dab as meme came when a congressman’s teenage son dabbed during his swearing-in ceremony, pissing off his family and then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in equal measure.
The dab itself is a masterclass in teenage disrespect, and it’s hard not to be a fan of anything that makes Paul Ryan upset. But the move made headlines and local news stations in a way that brought the dab as dance move to oversaturation in a way that even Hillary Clinton’s infamous “Ellen Show” dab could not (because it was eclipsed in our collective memory by “Pokémon go to the polls!” five months later). It was over. Dabbing was done.
Cannabis concentrates, on the other hand, are doing better than ever. Sure, the regulatory framework around them is varied and a little bit foggy, but from a numbers perspective, dabbing is hot: Researchers contend the global concentrate market could reach a value of over $13.78 billion in less than 10 years. That’s a lot of serious dabbing.
At the end of the day, the only competition between the dab and dabs was linguistic. In fact, one could even say the two practices share a symbolic tilt. They’re both flashy, dramatic and a little goofy — not a bad combo at all.
[Canniseur: It’s Pride Month! I love this list of LGBTQ movers and shakers. What is that you say? No lesbians made the list? This backs up the author’s claim that our industry still has plenty of work left to engage diversity.]
Members of the cannabis industry often tout their field as one of the most inclusive. The legal cannabis market is, after all, being constructed and furnished right before our very eyes — why wouldn’t it be diverse and accepting and progressive?
After all, given the medical marijuana movements close ties to the AIDS crisis (shout out to medical marijuana pioneers Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary!). But unfortunately, when something like the promise of an industry free from the ills of discrimination and patriarchy sounds too good to be true, that’s usually because it is.
Sure, the latest data shows that the cannabis industry employs more self-identified women than tech or agriculture, but men still retain most of the power positions at these businesses, holding titles like CEO or director more often than their female counterparts. From a racial justice perspective, most locations where cannabis is legal in the U.S. have been slow to implement equity measures, which means the rich (statistically speaking, old straight white men) get richer and the communities of color most likely to have been affected by cannabis prohibition get pushed to the side. And from the broadest standpoint, there’s the sad fact that most people in the cannabis industry aren’t making much money anyway.
But even if the world of legal weed isn’t quite the progressive capitalist utopia it’s sometimes cracked up to be, we can still push for a better industry, and there are some very exciting people in the space right now working to do just that. Here are a few members of the LGBTQ community making big waves in the cannabis business — support them if you get a chance, because their success creates even more room for their contemporaries.
Joshua Crossney is the founder and CEO of nonprofit jCanna, as well as the man behind the Cannabis Science Conference, an annual event that pools together cannabis industry experts. Crossney has focused his career on promoting research and education, but has also been open about his sexuality and promoting inclusion in the world of cannabis.
“Although we talk about the inclusion in the industry, and it is very diverse, at the end of the day it is a predominantly white male-dominated industry,” Crossney said in an interview with High Times. “That is evolving and changing and we’re seeing a lot more involvement from different groups, but I think really embracing your true self and being who you are is really the best avenue to take with this.”
Nick Abell & Cameron Ray Rexroat
The entrepreneurs behind Just Another Jay, a cannabis lifestyle blog and marketing consulting business, are also partners who push for LGBTQ visibility in the cannabis industry and beyond.
“We were noticing we were only showcased in events such as Pride Month, but after that it was like we never existed,” Rexroat told Cannabis Now in a soon-to-be-published interview. “[Now], that is a huge driver in everything that we do. We need to break down not only the stigma, but also educate people about cannabis and highlight discrimination that’s going on within the industry.”
HollyWeed North Cannabis CEO Renee Gagnon has been outspoken about the importance of LGBTQ representation in the cannabis industry. Her bio on HollyWeed’s website notes that she is “both the first transgender publicly traded marijuana company CEO and the first female one.”
Gagnon says visibility is critical for marginalized groups, like members of the LGBTQ community, to get a fair shot at success in the realm of canna-business.
“Access to capital will always determine the racial and gender split at the top,” Gagnon told Leafly. “To be denied access to a fundamental thing like equality in the start of a new industry just pisses me off.”
Buck Angel & Leon Mostovoy
Buck Angel first gained prominence as an openly trans adult actor, and found himself draw to the cannabis business because of the plant’s close ties with LGBTQ history.
“The queer community, specifically gay men and the HIV/AIDS crisis, are why we even have legal cannabis today,” Angel told LGBTQ publication them. “Now, it’s going to become all white male corporate out there, and the queer community that’s been in on it forever and started this whole thing will be left out.”
Angel partnered with fellow activist and trans man Leon Mostovoy to create cannabis company Pride Wellness, which aims to “develop products focused on the medical ailments prevalent to people in the LGBT community,” according to its website.
[Editor’s Note: Educational cannabis ads seem appropriate as we move towards legalization. Think about the big pharma commercials with the last 10 seconds spent speed reading the side effects of the drugs.]
ABC and CBS both shot down cannabis ad spots before two of the year’s biggest televised events — but who’s afraid of a little pot on the small screen?
It’s no secret that across much of the country, cannabis is now available for retail purchase. More adults than ever before can now walk into dispensaries aimed either at recreational users or medical marijuana patients and walk out with legal bud (or tinctures, or gummies, or dabs, whatever).
But you wouldn’t know any of that from watching TV, because networks have recently nixed cannabis ads before some of 2019’s biggest televised events: Super Bowl LIII and the 91st Academy Awards.
In late January, reports emerged that CBS turned down an advertising spot from Acreage Holdings intended to promote the benefits of medical marijuana and urge viewers to support legalization. The somber, black and white public service announcement-style ad features patients recounting how they’ve used medical cannabis to treat a range of serious ailments. “It’s not just unfair, it’s cruel,” intones a mother who uses cannabis to treat her son’s seizures, speaking about marijuana prohibition.
Acreage Holdings told Bloomberg that it specifically “[positioned] the spot as a “call to political action ”rather than a pitch for its brand,” a unique standard for the cannabis industry.
And it seems the ad that California’s Lowell Farms wanted to air on local and national during the Oscars on Feb. 24, featuring some soft guitar music, craft farming and teen icon Bella Thorne having an uncharacteristically mild time with a few friends, was also rejected — this time by ABC.
It’s certainly worth noting how toothless the messaging behind both cannabis ads is. They’re obviously pro-pot, but medicine and sustainability aren’t exactly concepts you need to censor.
Why the Charade?
One can only assume this kind of prudish behavior will evaporate with federal legalization, though outrage over a relatively benign billboard in Connecticut indicates that no matter what, promoting pot is always going to rub some people the wrong way.
Sure, cannabis is still a Schedule I substance despite the stated preference of the American people, and the legislation behind where, when and how you can advertise for cannabis varies so much between states that it’s not surprising CBS and ABC are both unwilling to touch the content in the first place.
Ultimately, pretending cannabis is not available to anyone over the age of 21 in California, Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Vermont, Nevada, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Massachusetts and Washington state by wrapping up any potential advertisement in yards of red tape is pointless and disingenuous. And declining cannabis ad dollars feels like an unwise business move, given that some estimates project the industry will be worth nearly $50 billion within the next decade. Until then, all of this begs the question: What does a cannabis company have to do to get some screen time? If you can’t show people growing it, smoking it or talking about its benefits, what’s left?
But just as pushback against legalization hasn’t deterred big business investments in the industry, ad-related pushback hasn’t stopped the likes of Spike Jonze from dipping his toes into the cannabis ad game with a “short film” for MedMen centered around normalizing cannabis.
Ironically, that ad has yet to air on television either because despite what some companies would like you to believe, we’ve still got a ways to go before cannabis is considered as normal or family friendly as bikini-clad models chowing down on fast food. We just aren’t there yet, and legislation is more likely to change that than any commercial, no matter how slick and well-intentioned.
[Editor’s Note: This poll shows, for the third year in a row, the majority of people favor legal weed. Moving forward, we have to remember drug war reparations.]
In a turn of events that should shock approximately nobody reading this article, recent polling shows that the majority of Californians are happy with the wake of adult-use cannabis legalization, and the rest of the country seems to want what they’re having because two-thirds of American citizens now favor federal measures to legalize pot. Man, doesn’t it feel great to be right?
In a poll from Quinnipiac University released Feb. 6, 54 percent of California voters said that marijuana legalization has been good for their state, with only 31 percent of respondents holding the opposite opinion. Young people, men and Democrats were most positive post-legalization: 70 percent of respondents ages 18-34 were happy with legalization, as were 59 percent of men and 61 percent of Democrats. Least pleased were Republicans (a mere 31 percent thought legalization was a good thing) and voters over the age of 65, only 38 percent of whom expressed approval for California’s adult-use revolution.
The Californian Case Study
These numbers seem to gel with what we already know about the broader national consensus on marijuana legalization. According to a Gallup poll from Oct. 2018, 66 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. The group noted that not only was this “another new high” in American approval of legal pot, it was the third year in a row that record was broken.
In an arguably all-too-rare bipartisan turn, a majority of both Republicans and Democrats support legalization, with 53 percent of Republicans in favor of the policy and a whopping 75 percent of Democrats on board as well.
The feedback from these nationwide numbers has already been made apparent in the presidential campaigns of several politicians vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination, most notably Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris. Booker made a point to mention the end of marijuana prohibition as a priority of his when he announced his campaign earlier this month, and Harris caught flack recently for her mixed record on the issue, no matter how gung-ho on cannabis she says she is in the present.
Based on Gallup’s results, it seems not only will all serious Democratic presidential candidates have to address marijuana legalization — if they’re smart, they’ll listen to the people and support the end of prohibition.
Beyond Legal Bud
But something that Quinnipiac University’s February poll addressed that neither every presidential candidate nor every state with legalization laws in place has fully reckoned with: What should become of marijuana-related criminal records once legalization is enacted?
California voters, for their part, spoke out strongly in favor of erasing criminal records for marijuana possession. Per a press release from California’s NORML chapter, “there is almost no gender gap” when it comes to supporting the erasure of such records, and support for the measure was spread “strongly across all regions of California and all age groups.” In total, 64 percent of respondents said they supported erasing marijuana possession records, with only 28 percent opposing.
“This poll shows that California voters are happy with marijuana legalization in the state, and moreover don’t want to see people punished for possessing pot,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, in a press release. “The dire consequences opponents warned of before voters approved Prop. 64 in 2016 to legalize the recreational use and sale of cannabis haven’t materialized, and instead, the state is starting to see the benefits of a regulated market.”
Unfortunately, as every marijuana enthusiast knows, just because something is popular doesn’t mean the government is going to be smart or empathetic enough to make it happen, especially when minorities are the ones disproportionately shouldering the burden of cannabis prohibition.
But with a few politicians already promising drug war reparations, and many others quickly falling in line with whatever they think will make them stand out in the veritable sea of centrists and pseudo-progressives looking to unseat Trump, hopes should be higher than ever for some positive changes in the realm of federal cannabis legalization.