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UNDER THE FEMALE INFLUENCE
Creative Director & Design Samuel C. Long Executive Editor Jaime Lubin Editorial Neha Mulay Keyanah Nurse Elise Bortz Jessica Bern Editorial Staff Courtney Connolly Riley McGraw Hart Candice Lola Nikki Frias Rina Lokaj Cecilia Leigh Howard Social Justice James Litkett Shawanna Vaughn Arthur Rambert Contributors Sophia Bruun Allison Hagg Kymberly Byrnes Jan Roberts Nadya Rousseau Lacey Jaye Yannelli Tasnia Choudhury Maria Gabriela Alvarez Partners NoCo Hemp Expo Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition Founder/Publisher Ronit Pinto Cover Image Laganja Estranja © Robert Hayman
245 W 75th St New York, NY 10023 646.632.7711 email@example.com @hshoneypot @honeysucklemagazine
www.hshoneypot.com Dear Reader, The world today is not the same one we lived in when the seeds for this issue were sown. Now, facing perhaps the greatest crisis of our lifetime, we sit forced apart, enduring losses professional, personal, unimaginable due to the coronavirus. We seek connection and hope, and signs that all may yet be set right again. At Honey Pot and Honeysuckle, we experience the COVID-19 pandemic from deep in its heart. As one of our featured subjects, Barbara Koz Paley put it: “The silver lining of the Pandemic is that we can change the World! TOGETHER.” In the end, we believe the future is still ours to shape. Nowhere is that sentiment more evident than in the cannabis community, which historically has had to thrive amid impossible conditions. This issue addresses some of the most critical assets that cannabis has to offer – its inherent biological feminine nature and its lionhearted network of women. We kick off this issue with a Warhol-inspired pop art theme, for cheerful allowance. Our creative director, Sam C. Long, took incredible leaps and creative liberties, as he does, to bring you a stunning issue. Honey Pot dives deep into the question, “What Is Female?” Which our writer Keyanah Nurse explores with cover girl Laganja Estranja. Artist, activist and alum of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Laganja openly discusses identifying as female and all the shades in between. In our genre-defying centerfold, we feature two women. How could we pick just one? It is a female edition, after all. Our models, Dr. Jan Roberts and Jet Setting Jasmine - scientists and healthcare professionals close to and above 40 - discuss the stigmas in stripping down, the economy, parenting, and of course, their relationship to the plant. The feminine journey in cannabis is also a deeply personal one. For women of color, getting involved in this space means confronting stereotypes and statistics they’ve battled all their lives. As contributor Nikki Frias writes in our Black Pioneers piece, “The word pioneer is generally assimilated with synonyms like trailblazers and innovators, and within the cannabis industry, we can’t use those words without acknowledging black women.” Honey Pot traverses generations, ethnicities, economic backgrounds and beliefs, to the women who tinker between the delicate and herculean efforts in pushing a new industry forward. Girlfriends, friends, mothers and wives, they dedicate themselves to medical breakthroughs, fighting stigmas and business opportunities. Such as Sally Nichols, President of Bloom Farms, and Jamie Pearson, CEO of Bhang Corporation, who fight on multiple fronts of industry, advocacy, investment, and (in Pearson’s case) a family history with the plant that few can rival. 4/20/20 is a momentous day for us all, and one we will not likely forget for many reasons. Ronit Pinto, Publisher & The Honey Pot Team
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UNDER THE FEMALE INFLUENCE April 20, 2020 Special Edition
Girls Who Dab - 8 Ecosystem Thinking w Barbara Coz Paley - 14
A Conversation with Sally Nichols - 18 With a Bhang:
Jamie Pearson - 22
Weed The People: Ricki Lake - 26
Stoner Girls: A Herstory of Exploitation - 30 Cover Girl: Laganja Estranja UNDER THE FEMALE INFLUENCE - 36
Centerfolds: Dr. Jan Robert and Jet Setting Jasmine -
Black Pioneers - 58
Wanda James - 62
Gia Moron - 64
My Bud Vase -
Women on the Move: Scientists, Innovators and Legendary Creatures - 68 My Courtship of Cannabis: A native Perspective with Winona LaDuke - 96
Cannabis in the time of Corona - 98 Cannabis Astrology - 100
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S L R AB I G D O H W Kym B.
“nail” and inhaling the vapors. Some definitions of dabbing may scare people away from experimenting with this consumption method. Urban Dictionary, for example, warns that
Dabbing is NOT a Dance The first time my sister saw me dab, she thought I took something more than THC. When I called out that it was a dab, she smiled and immediately threw her arms up and said, “Oh, like the dance?” No sis, not the dance. “The Dab Dance” gets its name from the cannabis dabbing community. However, once the dance became famous in 2015 -long after the start of dabbing cannabis -- the origins of its name were lost to most people who started “dabbing” on the dancefloor. So really, WTF is a dab?! Simply put, it is a concentrated and potent dose of cannabis that one consumes by putting it on a hot 8
dabbing is “harsh” and will make you cry. While dabbing is not for everyone, this portrait of dabbing is extremely skewed. When consumed correctly and with quality product, dabbing is incredibly smooth. Dabbing can also be used medicinally. Personally, dabbing has relieved my anxiety, as well as menstrual symptoms of dull cramping and mood swings. If you are dabbing for medicinal use, you definitely won’t cry —except in relief. So let’s get the facts straight! Only proper education can break the stigma around dabbing. What do I need to dab? In order to dab, you’ll need a dab rig. A dab rig is a type of water bong made specifically to consume concentrates. You can retrofit your current water bong or get one of the many specialized rigs constructed for dabbing. Here’s a breakdown of all the pieces: Nail or Banger: the small container that, after being heated (and cooled slightly), holds the concentrate that will be consumed. Some nails are made of ceramic, quartz, or titanium, which is the most common.
Dome: the glass covering that is placed over the nail to trap the vapors but still allow for air flow. “Dome-less nails” don’t need a glass globe, but standard nails need something to keep the vapor from escaping. On the East Coast, we call the dome a “carb cap.” Torch: similar to a kitchen torch, a propane-fueled torch will heat the nail quicker. Dabber/Dab Tool: the glass, metal, or ceramic tool used to scoop and add the concentrate to the heated nail. Ok, now what? How exactly do I dab? Dabbing may seem scary at first, but it’s dope once you get the hang of it. When you apply the dab using the dabber tool to the heated nail, it creates the vapor which is inhaled through the rig. Because a dab is concentrated, a little (A DAB) goes a long way. Once the rig is set up and your dab is prepared on the dabber, you’re ready to sesh! Step 1: Turn on your torch and aim the flame directly at the nail. Heat the nail until it turns red. Turn off the torch and leave it to the side. Safety Warning: the nails and glass domes become extremely hot in the dabbing process. Take caution! Step 2: Allow titanium nails to cool for about 10 seconds and quartz nails for about 45-60 seconds. If the surface temperature is too hot, the oil will burn. Step 3: Using your dabber, apply the dab directly on the nail inside the dome. Inhale slowly and completely. Rotating the dabber tip on the nail will prevent wasting any of your nature’s nectar! Most rigs come with a carb cap which helps to keep the vapors hot with better air flow. Step 4: Exhale immediately and repeat only as needed. Do you wanna dab?
Not sure if dabbing is for you? I get it. You’re a “flower” girl. I was too for 20 years. But I didn’t lose the rich variety of flower when I started dabbing. Like flower, concentrates are strain-specific since they are extracted with terpenes. The extraction process gives each concentrate a unique look, taste, and feeling. For example, I’m obsessed with budder and crumble. I love the rich feeling of budder but also enjoy the taste of a citrus crumble. Need another reason? Consider this fact: A 2019 study from Forensic Science International found that over 75% of the THC in a dab makes it into the users’ lungs. By contrast, smoking cannabis in a joint or a bowl destroys about 75% of the THC before it can get into the user’s lungs. Moreover, most concentrates boast a THC content of between 60-90% whereas flower consumption is usually between 10-30%. What are some tips and tricks for novice dabbers? I recommend dabbing CBD concentrates first. Without the psychoactive effects, they are therapeutic and less intense. If the blowtorch is daunting, try Puffco Peak. A portable electronic smart rig, the Puffco Peak has a sexy compact design with a rechargeable electronic nail that has four heat settings. The removable ceramic bowl makes it a cinch to clean. In need of a quick dab? The Dr. Dabber is a portable, battery-powered dab rig. It’s sleek, convenient, and unassuming. It heats up quick and then boom —it’s back in my bag. Finally, my girlfriend Jacqui loves her nectar collector (a.k.a. dab straw or honey straw). It’s a mini version of a rig shaped like a pen, at about 7” long. You still need a torch so it’s less attractive to travel with (you cannot fly with a torch!), but it’s way more portable than a rig. Ladies, if you need relief and don’t want the harmful side effects of smoke inhalation, then get your ass out there and set up your rig! As I got older, the blunt smoke was getting to me. I’m a Pilates instructor and noticed that I started developing a smokers cough. I started dabbing to try a cleaner method of consumption. Women over 40 are one of the fastest growing demographics in cannabis www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 9
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consumption. It’s time that we expand our palates and start dabbing on and off the dancefloor.
For more information about KymB, visit cannabiswithkymb.com or follow @ cannabiswithkymb on Instagram
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www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 13 © Phil Blair @aphilseyeview
ECOSYTEM THINKING BARBARA KOZ PALEY, MASTER CONNECTOR OF CANNABIS PROS By Jaime Lubin and Ronit Pinto If you are in the cannabis space, you most likely know Barbara “Bobbi” Koz Paley. Bobbi is a Force. A force of nature, a force in cannabis, in the art world and in any group setting where you may find her. We at Honeysuckle’s Honey Pot have been blessed to know this Bobbi through the years. “Listen, we’re women in this space,” Bobbi says. “We need to have more women and more prominence and more power. More and more and more.” This is a statement that Bobbi, lifelong entrepreneur and current CEO of Art Assets, has confided during a long and beautifully adventurous night. Winding through downtown New York, we’ve followed her from a women’s wellness book release party to a café for dessert, then to a residential building where Art Assets, a consultancy that curates high-impact art installations in privately-owned public spaces, has one of its artists’ pieces on full display in the lobby. The huge mural-like work Paley shows us is mesmerizing, every inch filled with iridescent, intertwining female figures in a lush garden. It perfectly illustrates her point that women’s success comes from the fact that we think collaboratively. But this is how Bobbi lives – constantly on the move, searching for opportunities where she can connect people and empower other women in finding their driving purpose. Over the past five years she’s become one of the top investors in the cannabis industry, responsible for bringing many now-leading brands to wider markets and for creating the Arcview Group Women’s Investor Network (AWIN) with Jeanne Sullivan. Arcview, the world’s oldest and most prominent cannabis investors’ organization, has a history of supporting female entrepreneurs (the first to present on its stage was Jessica Billingsley of MJ Freeway/Akerna, who would go on to be the first woman CEO in cannabis to get her company listed on NASDAQ). However, there’s still much progress to be made, in Bobbi’s view. AWIN had its inaugural daylong retreat/think tank only just in fall 2019. “I care very much about having tremendously diverse industry,” Bobbi emphasizes. “Because if we have that, then we have something that’s for long-term. If we have
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the [same white older men] of the world, we’re going to be fucked, and we’ll never have the quality products that we need… It’s not a male, stale, pale world.” Paley has carried this ethos throughout her life, creating spaces for diversity to flourish long before her entré into legal cannabis. Growing up as the ever-curious, free-spirited daughter of a physicist whose inventions saved lives in World War II, she was inspired to stimulate forums for intellectual and cultural freedom in others. She curated art in South Africa during the apartheid era, defying the country’s laws to exhibit work by Zulu artists (eventually meeting Zulu Nation king Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi). At certain points she also helped smuggle a few anti-apartheid activists out of South Africa to freedom in other nations. She’s continued these practices at Art Assets with socially-conscious pop-ups that call attention to political, gender and racial issues through visual and performing art. Once, seeing a graffiti artist about to get arrested for defacing a subway poster, she promptly rescued him by telling the police she was his patron and that his action was in preparation for one of her shows. Art Assets later gave the artist an entire solo exhibition of his own. “I like to break the law when I don’t like the law,” she notes. “I use the establishment as my cloak in many ways.” Asked how she finds the courage to stand against society’s injustices, Bobbi replies, “I never thought about it as courage, I thought of it as something I could do that
made a difference… It’s very important for the girls in our life, for people to understand that we have this power, each of us, and for women, we need to bring it out.” Particularly, Bobbi believes women should explore that power in a regenerative business ecosystem, which she initially tested by forming the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University in 1993. Her success there provided the foundation for all her projects geared toward global economic sisterhood today. “Women have a different wiring in their brain,” Paley explains. “If you think of how the Internet is connectivity, that’s how women’s brains work. We’re responsible for our businesses, our employees, our [homes], our children, our lovers, our [spouses] – I think 92% of all dollars spent, women control. That’s a huge amount of money, responsibility, connectivity. And I think we run our businesses in very similar ways. So it’s not a competition with men, it’s an enhancement to the kind of businesses men have been running… Women are more leading-edge thinkers when it comes to the wellness world… My way is to gather the women, to create power groups, voice and interdependence in terms of investing in each other, working with each other, cross-pollination, speaking… The opportunity is that we get to know each other [and] expand our businesses together. So power goes every which way.” And in the way that women seem naturally to comprehend connectivity better than their male counterparts, so too do they instinctively recognize the wide-ranging applications of the cannabis plant. “Our market’s not a white guy in Union Square,” Paley reiterates. “Our market is 7 billion people around the world. And the opportunity for cannabis is to create high-quality, low-cost wellness tools for everybody in the world to have access to, to be able to purchase. That’s the goal… It’s a female plant. Female plants operate differently.” Bobbi admits she felt more confident investing in cannabis once she realized that cannabinoid products could improve her sleeping patterns and that her investigation into the science of the plant revealed “female” traits. “I trust women,” she sums up with a laugh. Uncharted territory though it is, the cannabis industry has proven especially fertile ground for women entrepreneurs and executives. According to Marijuana Business Daily’s national survey for 2019, women held 37 percent of senior-level positions in cannabis companies in the U.S., as opposed to the dismal 21 percent for companies across all other industries. Though Bobbi and many others remain adamant the figures should be higher to better reflect the general population, cannabis has at least fostered an environment for some great thinkers to bring us into the future.
Naming some of the women she sees as most dynamic in the space, Bobbi is quick to mention Giada Aguirre de Carcer, founder and CEO of New Frontier Data – “[She] has created a new category of blending technology and data” – and Constance Finley of the wellness product powerhouse Constance Therapeutics – “She’s an absolute leader in the product space… she has science, she has technology, and she has patents that are enforceable.” In an example of her cross-pollination at work, Bobbi is also helping coordinate business between Constance Therapeutics and Cannifloria, the cannabis products division of the thirty-year-old ecoproducts company Aromafloria, run by pharmacist and aromatherapist Sharon Christie. With new developments underway across the board, Paley has set her sights on engineering through cannabis a similar holistic model to her earlier successes through Art Assets. Over the past few months, she has begun cultivating operations and partnerships in the Berkshires that will transform the idyllic region into a booming tourist destination hub where “culture, cannabis, and nature” can be enjoyed together. Land throughout the area, home to old milling facilities, can be reworked into cannabis farms and processors; meanwhile, networking and community events will be curated at some of the most esteemed cultural institutions in the Northeast, including the renowned music venue Tanglewood (home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra), Jacob’s Pillow dance center (site of the oldest internationally-acclaimed dance festival in the U.S.), and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
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“I named my company Art Assets because I think of taking the assets that are around and putting them together to accomplish whatever it is I’m working on at that moment,” Bobbi comments. “So now it’s the Berkshires because I think that’s a real opportunity to monetize an area that needs economic development. It’s got gorgeous nature, it’s got great hospitality… so it’s taking all these assets and enabling the cannabis community to regenerate.” Collaborations through this concept have met with burgeoning success this past quarter. From high tea at Edith Wharton’s The Mount to an educational weekend at the historic estate Blantyre, featuring pop-ups from cannabis companies like MariMed and MyJane, it appears Bobbi’s vision is heralding our nation’s next evolution of “manifest destiny” – except this time, everyone prospers. But does the key to destiny truly lie in biology? Bobbi does believe women are born leaders, as long as we stay curious. “We’re not afraid to ask questions,” she asserts. “It’s that ecosystem thinking… The patriarchal system
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[is] unfolding as we speak, and it’s up to us to accelerate that process in one way or another… Just in our lifetime, there have been [a lot of] changes, right? And it’s important to understand that we made many of those changes and now we’re living them, and in living them, we can accelerate them. That’s what our power is.” Where there are women in leadership, studies are starting to show, the environments become more vertically integrated, more open, and more solution-oriented. Some of these women are storms, creating waves, ripples and tsunamis wherever they go. For where there are women like Bobbi Paley, offering courage and wisdom to inspire us, those environments are suddenly a paradise: Female figures of prominence, goals intertwined, greening the Earth anew toward an Eden of our own making.
Photo © Barbara Coz Paley
Diane Lee Schliep founder of Canna Superior and Schliep Properties A California Real Estate Investor/ Broker, Cannapreneur and an Advocate for Women-Entrepreneurship Diane Schliep, the creator of Canna Superior, grew up active in Southern California participating in sports such as surfing, skiing and horseback riding. After years as a professional horse trainer, Diane injured her spine which was made worse by a failed back surgery. Having her mobility limited, Diane chose to switch gears and got her license in real estate. She successfully started her own business specializing in luxury coastal properties called Schliep Properties with the mission statement of, “Helping the community through supporting local entrepreneurs”. However, running her own business became complicated by issues from the previous spinal surgery which caused extreme physical and emotional discomfort. To make matters worse an underlying autoimmune disease called Psoriatic Arthritis was triggered. “For the next 15 years I would grab for pain pills and other narcotics which was only a temporary fix and made matters worse. Over-time I developed stomach issues, emotional issues and more pain”. As an entrepreneur, Diane did not want to give up, nor did she want to continue to rely on pharmaceuticals. She decided to create a natural, holistic pain reliever.Based on her research, Diane believed that she could develop an analgesic topical with CBD and other vegan organic compounds. The goal was to distract from the pain as well as calm the mind in the hopes to help reduce the need for narcotic pain medicine. Diane was thrilled when it began to work remarkably well and she began to share her wonderful CBD infused discovery with her family and friends. Now making the Canna Superior products available to the world at www.CannaSuperior.com, her new mission is to help pain sufferers rely less on drugs and to tackle pain naturally. Canna Superior accomplishes this by disrupting the neurological pain receptors in the body. It is now known for its trademarked trans-dermal formula that specializes in pain relief. Also sport and medical professionals have become advocates for these unique formulas, to excel physically and benefit from quicker recovery to injurys and workouts. The Original Joint Balm and the New Roll Away product control discomfort, increase mood stabilization and greatly helps pain sufferers around the world.
tell joint pain to take a hike
805.639.0042 | firstname.lastname@example.org | cannasuperior.com
MADE IN USA
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A Conversation with Sally Nichols By Neha Mulay
Sally Nichols, the President of Sales and Distribution at Bloom Farms, is a vibrant, compassionate, and keyed-in entrepreneur. She spoke to Honey Pot about the personal challenges she has faced, as well as her commitment to social responsibility, women, and her team. NEHA MULAY: You often say that your career is focused on creating things from scratch. You’ve done this with early Internet tech companies, with K-Swiss, and now in the cannabis space. Where do you start when you’re creating a brand? What have been the biggest challenges so far in your experience of brand-building within cannabis? SALLY NICHOLS: The difference between a product company and a brand is the level of passion, the message, and what you are hoping to convey through the company and the product. There are close to 1500 cannabis product companies in the space, but very few of them have articulated a brand proposition, a commitment to the consumer, or to the community around them. They are not necessarily pulling people into a belief system around a life or around the product. Whenever I look to start something from scratch, there is usually a belief system or a call to action associated with it that defines the difference between a brand and a product, and it is why people take Bloom Farms off the shelves. NM: Bloom was one of the brands invited to be part of this fall’s landmark Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference. Do you see Bloom as a luxury brand, and what is your opinion on the evolution of the luxury category in cannabis? What would you like to see as the next phase of Bloom products? SN: I definitely consider Bloom a luxury brand at an accessible price. Cannabis is still a price-sensitive market. As long as the illicit market exists, we are still very much tied to price. I believe we are firmly a luxury brand…because we have always had a commitment to style and Photos © Bloom Farms
grace and packaging, we have always treated our consumer with the utmost respect and delivered them with the highest quality product that we could. Our hardware is beautiful…I think we are the only cannabis brand that has been highlighted in Architectural Digest as an “exquisite product!” NM: What advice would you give to cannabis consumers who are confused by the legalities and health scares surrounding the industry? SL: Buy from legal retailers, ask to see their licenses and know what you are buying. That remains the biggest barrier for the industry growing and it also remains the biggest barrier to the consumer. I think the consumer has to push the state to enforce regulations. In California, voters went to the polls and they voted to create a legal market. Consumers should be pushing their politicians to enforce the legal market. The second thing they should do is just vote with their dollars, right down to retail. NM: Can you elaborate on these programs and some of the other measures you’re taking for Bloom to have a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) impact? What results are you seeing in the local community? SL: I think there is something fundamentally different about Bloom Farms. It is one thing to create a program, it is quite another to live change as an ethos and as a company. At least half of our employees are women and at the director level, almost all of them are women. Many at the director level have been brought into the company at entry level and we matured them into director level positions. There is a deeper level of authenticity in that kind of glass ceiling approach because we are not going out and bringing people in. We are rewarding the women that have been there, delivering consistently for years and we are giving them a shot at growth. Back in 2015, we picked Culver City and we honed down on that area as a small community where we could change people’s mind about cannabis, and we could bring economy to the area. Every single thing that we bought and used to build that facility was coming from a mom and
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pop shop in Culver City. We were taking the money that we were making from cannabis and we were pouring it back into the local community. Finding jurisdictions that would let us operate as a cannabis company was hard enough, pouring money back into those economies was even harder. NM: You have talked about the challenges of working in a largely unregulated and rapidly shifting industry. How does your business model keep up with this perpetual evolution? SL: Ultimately there are two pieces to it, it is the people that you hire and it’s the processes that you implement. I think we have done a pretty solid job of hiring people who are comfortable working in rapidly changing environments— individuals that are nimble, have grit, and are comfortable working with change. Second thing is tied to our infrastructure and our processes. The very first thing that I did when I came into Bloom Farms is build a digital distribution infrastructure where all of our inventory was individually catalogued, scanned, and stored in a database. Having a tremendous amount of data on our products enables a nimble business. The third thing is that we have really devoured the regulations, torn them apart and started answering and complying with all of those mandates well in advance. Bloom as a company has committed to promoting women in leadership, and throughout your career you have been a true champion of women leading businesses across all sectors. You’ve co-founded GirlVentures, which backs four women-led startups and promotes inclusion at high levels of business. What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs and leaders? I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life. I’m dyslexic and
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I was raised at a time when people didn’t understand what dyslexia was. As a young kid with dyslexia and very little awareness of what that means, you develop all these new ways of getting from A to Z and therefore you wire your brain to be an out of the box thinker that can solve classic problems in a non-traditional way. My advice to women would be to learn the language of money. Learn how money makes money. Ultimately, if you are a businessperson, you are taking an investor’s money and it is your job to “magically” turn it into more money. It will change the way they sell, the way they pitch, even the way that they think about their own business idea. NM: How, in general, do you think women can best support each other in career strategies, goals, and professional networking? Where do we need to improve? SN: Recently, I was invited to join this organization called Chief. It is a YPO for women only and the goal is to sit down in a cross-disciplinary fashion and to help women problem solve issues. I would suggest that women create more of those organizations on a local level. Leverage your friends and be comfortable being vulnerable and be open to criticism. Sometimes women are each other’s worst enemies out of jealousy, out of fear. Always be open to evolving and rethinking your idea. Make a commitment to shed any jealousy, fear, and worry that you have around supporting other women.
Add corona comments here?
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By Tasnia Choudhury
Jamie Pearson answers my phone call while mid-sentence with her children. She’s well versed in the management technique every multitasking mother employs, she can tend to more than one person with the same sentences. “You know how it is with kids,” Pearson says after a pause, during which the bustle of her 19 and 20 year old kids quiet and her voice sharpens into focus. We begin our conversation and she speaks with an ease reminiscent of catching up with an old friend, not one of the first female presidents of a publicly-traded, globally-distributed, OG cannabis company. She is currently in Absarokee, Montana —a town of 800 in the Stillwater Valley of the Rocky Mountains— on her father’s ranch, spending time with her family in the wake of winter holiday celebrations. Her dad’s relationship with cannabis became unforeseen bookends to her own journey with the plant. “I wasn’t a fan of cannabis growing up, but I am a big fan of my dad.” She grew up on his farm where he was a cannabis farmer and lifelong user, planting just four plants a year to sustain his own consumption but never to sell. In the haze of Reagan’s War on Drugs, Jamie herself was never a user but faced the stigma of her father’s choices at her small town high school with a graduating class of just 24 students. She recalls an incident in which her high school boyfriend ended their relationship because his parents did not approve of her father’s pro cannabis lifestyle. An entrepreneur in his own right, Mr. Pearson owned a disaster restoration company, renovating houses plagued by floods and fires. His neighbors still refused to see him beyond the rose of the joint he lit up after playing country music set in cowboy bars. Pearson, who felt the sting of her community’s ignorance, was already a rebel of her own making. She confronted her own biases against cannabis after an unfortunate vomiting episode at a wedding where only a joint offered by her nephew helped her recover. Then again when the mother of a high school friend 22 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
was suffering Stage 4 colorectal cancer, Pearson saw that the patient was only able to eat again post chemo and radiation therapy because of pot brownies. “Those two things helped me realize, holy smokes, I’d been so judgmental. And then I looked at my dad and thought, ‘That motherfucker knew the whole time.’” This moment of clarity then evolved into a career that culminated in her role as CEO of Bhang Corporation, a cannabis company en route to being one of the most trusted in the United States. Bhang specializes in cannabis infused chocolates, but also offers other products such as beet shots, vape cartridges, spray, and capsules. Pearson was entrenched in the real estate business prior to this role, owning a property management company and several rentals in Brazil, Ecuador and the United States. Her sizeable real estate portfolio speaks to her skills as a negotiator, financier, and powerhouse leader in business. The bridge to cannabis was her first cousin Muggs, from the notorious California hip hop group Cypress Hill, who had previously collaborated on real estate investments with Pearson for 15 years. In 1993, Saturday Night Live graciously presented Cypress Hill with their first lifetime ban from the show after Muggs famously lit a spliff on stage to cap their performance. “Yo, New York City, they said I couldn’t light my joint, you know what I’m saying? Well, we ain’t goin’ out like that!” was the sermon heard through the city at a time when weed was not embraced in the churches of entertainment as they are today. The former CEO of Bhang, Scott J Van Rixel, was a fan of Cypress Hill and resonated with the group’s desire to create a collaborative product with multi-state distribution rather than just have them be the face of a shallow partnership. “We ain’t goin’ out like that!”. All the pieces were in place. Celebrity. Corporation. And Pearson, their champion in every sense of the title. The machine was able to successfully create and sell an edible chocolate product. The cannabis industry is a difficult one to break into. First, there are special interests of Tobacco and Big Pharma protected by our government that
ry Disrupted with a Bhang™ ultimately delay necessary legislation for cannabis companies to prosper. Second, female representation still egregiously lags. According to a Bloomberg News article published in July of 2019, “Among the 20 most valuable publicly traded cannabis companies in the U.S. and Canada, there are only two female chief executive officers and not a single chief financial officer.” Yet, Jamie Pearson treads tactically and ferociously. “Bhang is different because we are quick and nimble. We have a light Cap X model. I don’t have big roads. I don’t have big retail shops. I don’t have big overhead. We’ve kept it that way on purpose so it’s easy for us to get down to bare bones and stay in business.” With this conservative business model, Pearson was then able to imbue her success with social consciousness. Calling herself “annoying,” with the same irony as feminists calling themselves “nasty woman,” post Trump’s misogynistic tirade, Pearson describes the constant anxiety she faces confronting boards of “Pale, male and stale” executives that make decisions for an entire industry. “I know being a woman is affecting everything I do.” Her prowess in navigating these spaces began when she was a standout high school and college basketball point
guard and had to prove her worth every time she stepped on the court for a pickup game with men. A politically gendered play by play ensues: “First, the guys treat you like you’re a special flower and they won’t touch you. Then, if you’re any good, an ankle breaker, you make a move on them, you score on them and, oh, shit, it’s on. After, they’ve got to save face. So, he gets a little bit rough with you and you gotta hold your own because they are pushing you a little harder. They’re going to elbow you a little bit because they’re mad and don’t want you there. You work harder than some of the other guys on the court. Only after they’ve watched me play do they want me on their team.” The call to play is on a haunting repeat for Pearson. Yet, she assumes her position every time, shoulders down and poised. “When I was asked to be on the board, I said I would not be on the board unless I had a person of color beside me.” From her podium as a HighTimes Female 50 Award recipient, she calls for awareness and action. The silver lining of the still prohibition era of the cannabis industry is that there is a unique opportunity for women and people of color to dictate the development on their own terms. She highlights the pillars of this progress;
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mentorship, diversity and the understanding that social justice and business exists in a symbiotic relationship. The executive team at Bhang is almost entirely made up of women. “I will mentor or work with anybody but what you have to do is provide value.” To be an asset is to be a great mentee and to add value is to actively seek out the niche in the industry where your skills fit. Go to networking events. Reach out to industry leaders and titans. Research. With these simple and deliberate exercises of power in her orbit, Pearson has slowly become a solar center of female empowerment, an inclusive gravity to those circling. “This experience has me walking a parallel with my father decades later. If people like him hadn’t been so brave to Reagan’s face, I wouldn’t even know how delayed this industry would be now.” Bhang has just started. With hopeful edible distribution licenses projected in Nevada, Florida and Canada for 2020, Pearson continues the rebellion into the new millennium. “We lead with courage, conviction and are changing the course of American business.”
Bud photos by: Martin Henderson
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Photos © Bhang Corporation
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RICKI LAKE: Her most recent documentary Weed the People, produced FAMILY VALUES AND NEW ADVENTURES by Lake and directed by Epstein, follows five families’ WITH WEED THE PEOPLE journeys to treat their children’s cancer with medical By Nadya Rousseau cannabis. The film, as Lake would explain to me, is a way to memorialize Evans, as his advocacy for the plant “Hey, Nadya, it’s Ricki!” exclaimed the voice on the was the key catalyst for the making of the project. other end of the phone. I don’t think I had heard someone sound that genuinely excited to speak to me in a In our under twenty-five-minute phone conversation while. Either I need to get a new circle of friends, or to discuss the documentary, I could immediately pick Ricki Lake is really this nice. up how immensely sensitive, awake, and in tune with the world, Lake was. It’s her mission to expose just how The latter statement, of course, was the reality. Ricki life-giving cannabis can be for sick people--specifically and I were going to chat about her latest documenchildren. tary film Weed the People, which exposes the myriad benefits of medical cannabis for pediatric cancer “We really need to be deprogrammed about this plant patients, and how the profiled families risk financial and I think it’s a great start that this movie is a real tool and political stability to heal their children. for people to break it down for, you know, the smallest of people suffering, the small Obviously, I couldn’t start the conbabies that are not looking to get high. They’re looking to get better. vo without mentioning how much I They’re looking to feel better,” Lake adored her in Hairspray and was a mastated. jor Ricki fan in the 1990s. Really, what 90’s kid wasn’t a In 2018, 3.3% of the Califorfan? I, like many other Millennials who grew up in the 1990s, renia population was comprised of medical cannabis patients. That’s call flipping on daytime TV to Ricki approximately 1,200,000 people who Lake--her eponymous talk show which was on the air for eleven seasons. Unwere able to treat their illness with a like some of the other shows of that era, plant still classified as a Schedule 1 Lake chose to shed light on progressive t o p illegal substance by the federal government. ics (including LGBT issues, gender issues, and race) Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia curthrough frank exploratory discussion versus sensation- rently have passed laws generally legalizing marijuana alizing them. in some capacity. Still, medical patients cannot travel from a legal state, like California, to a non-legal state, Fast-forward fifteen years, and Lake not only has had like Texas by plane without risking possible criminalyet another talk show, an Emmy, a few TV cameos, ap- ization. pearances on shows like Dancing with the Stars, and The Masked Singer under her belt, but also a growing docu- Weed the People’s concept arrived back in 2012 when mentary film career. With her producing partner and Lake received a powerful tweet from a fan--not realizlongtime friend, filmmaker Abby Epstein, Lake has ing it would completely shift the course of her life. reinvented herself as a storyteller behind the camera, investigating impactful stories for wellness and social “She was a fan of mine from Dancing with the Stars and change such as her 2008 documentary The Business of was going through chemotherapy and very sick from Being Born (all about modern childbirth processes and the medicine, and I can’t explain why, but both my husalternatives). band and I took it upon ourselves to move her and her family into our home in California which was a legal In that time, Lake also has experienced devastating state. They lived in the Midwest and we went on this loss--her ex-husband, Christian Evans, whom she had journey of trying to find integrative care for her, includremained close with after their 2015 divorce, tragically ing cannabis.” took his own life in 2017. Evans had been experimenting with medical cannaAll Photos © Weed the People / Mangurama and Bobb Films
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bis to treat a variety of issues ranging from anxiety to ways.” chronic pain to migraines to depression. (He continued to struggle and, despite their divorce in 2015, Lake Many of the families were also conservative, coming would stay with Evans through 2016 and continue re- from very religious backgrounds. searching the benefits of CBD and medical cannabis.) “It’s really interesting ‘cause most of the families that They both hoped that the young girl may enjoy the ben- we followed were also extremely religious, you know. eficial properties of cannabis and other therapies just as And so that was just also by chance... I believe it’s a biEvans had, so they took a leap of faith and invited her partisan issue. You know all people on both sides of the aisle get sick with these diseases. I think the film is super into their home. powerful as watching these families and these children “It was me talking to my friend Abby, my partner who suffering. It breaks it all down.” lives in New York, and just saying to her ‘You’re not Lake and Epstein are passionate about how they bring going to believe the latest chapter of my life. I have such sensitive issues to large audiences. The choice this child and her family with me. We’re going to to focus on pediatric cancer, was, in large part Epsee a doctor. I chartered a jet. We’re taking her up stein’s--knowing how touched audiences would be. to Mendocino to meet this doctor Courtney.’ And And for Lake, it remains an eternal connection she was like, ‘Wait a minute, I think this could t o Evans. be our next film.’” The child and her family did not actually end up in Weed the People, however. She did not have pediatric cancer, she suffered from a genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis 1. “We got her everything in place; we got the medicine, and she never actually took it; then that family decided to not be part of the film, but that was the start of it.” It goes without saying that any good parent who has a very sick child will go to any lengths to get him/her/ them well. Lake, a mother of two, takes this to heart. “It’s unfathomable to me that we are denying these people access to something that actually can help them. It can’t hurt them. It can’t kill them. It’s nontoxic. You can’t overdose. I mean, why this isn’t the go-to medicine for so many different ailments is really beyond me.”
“Every piece of frame of this film has been meaningful. It’s my husband’s essence and his legacy,” Lake emphasized. “It’s like a sign that he is present, he is aware, he is overseeing and guiding this project. Seeing the culmination of six years of making the film, and you know, to present it in DC, where we get a congressional screening at the Capitol building, is major.” With The Business of Being Born, they looked at how childbirth has become commoditized in America to the detriment of new mothers. Much like the issue with medical cannabis, the theme of “profit over people” hangs in the air.
In the documentary, viewers can see how pure love drives the parents to cast former beliefs about medical cannabis aside to pursue its medicinal benefits for their ailing children.
“With The Business of Being Born the same thing, why is normal birth being taken away from women unbeknownst to them because of reasons that are not necessarily in their best interest? That was the start of that film and it’s the same kind of thing; it’s like it’s about exposing this this this system and asking the question and giving people the information so they can make an informed choice.”
“We wanted early on to focus on children and then we narrowed it and I think part of it was the children that came to us. It wasn’t like we did a casting search for these families. They sort of fell into our lap in different
When I asked Lake what it’s like working with Epstein (they have a third documentary, Sweetening the Pill, coming out soon), she didn’t hesitate one second with her response.
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“I mean, it’s the best work partnership I’ve ever had in my life. We’ve never had a disagreement. I trust her implicitly.” As the films’ executive producer, Lake wrangles all the funding (she funded The Business of Being Born entirely on her own), while Epstein does all of the direction, filming and editing. Together, they collaborate on the ideas and subject matter of the films. “It’s a true collaboration.” Sweetening the Pill will be the duo’s third project together, and just as provocative as the prior two. The documentary will be looking at the history of the birth control pill in an effort to provide women needed the information to make informed decisions about their sexual health. “I’m so glad you’re doing this,” I told Lake, “because I myself am on a birth control scare. I thought I had a blood clot and I went to the hospital but [it] scared me and then I just said no more.”. Even though Lake is a global celebrity with a multimillion-dollar net-worth, somehow, speaking to her about these sensitive subjects felt like speaking to the type of friend you go to seeking maternal advice. “In a weird way, I think that’s like a bless- i n g in disguise. I’m sorry you had to go through that, but honestly, I was on hormonal birth control for decades and I didn’t know the side effects I was feeling,” Lake asserted. She also made it clear that this documentary’s intention is not to scare women away from the pill or other forms of birth control by any means, but to ensure that women know all of the potential side effects, for better and for worse. Aside from her film work, Lake’s recent appearance on FOX’s The Masked Singer offered unexpected catharsis in the wake of grief over Evans’s passing. “It [The Masked Singer] was a really silly opportunity that came my way. And again I guess I feel like because I do these like legitimate documentary films, I can do a little bit of fluff,” commented Lake. “I got to dress as a raven and be in disguise and just sing my heart out Photo: Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, executive producer and director of Weed the People.
and also pay homage to my beloved. It’s silly and then I get to do, you know, screenings in Washington DC with senators and it’s just my life. It is definitely never boring, right?” 21st Century women are wearing more hats and assuming more roles than ever before (myself included). In the cannabis space, women are some of the key innovators. While working on and promoting Weed the People, Lake has had the opportunity to encounter many such women. “In making the film I’m meeting so many badass women in the cannabis space. And yes there needs to be more but there are like awesome pioneers and just look at the women in our film Mara Gordon and Bonnie Goldstein. They are heroes and they are. I mean just the work that they do is so [important] I feel… I have just goose- bumps all over me talking about it and I’m meeting so many women, because I’m invited to all these conferences. I’m meeting tons of women that are doing great things in the space. So I’m hopeful. I love being one of them.” Lake has been a woman who’s pushed barriers on and behind the camera for decades now. I asked how her evolving roles have contributed to her personal growth. “Oh my gosh. I mean it’s just like I’ve really gotten better with age. I mean even through trauma, through loss, through amazing accolades and I really like all of it. It’s been this journey that’s been hard and beautiful and you know my oldest son just graduated from college. My youngest is going off to college in the fall. You know, I’m 50 years old. I’m in a beautiful new relationship with a beautiful man; I never thought I’d have that again.” For Lake, maternal instincts reign supreme---both on the screen, behind it, and in personal life. “I feel like I found my voice by making these smaller projects that stemmed from my own experience and then my also my own curiosity. And yeah I guess I am I’m someone who’s curious I’m someone who’s really compassionate I care about people at large and I feel like this is where I am best at making a difference.” www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 29
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STONER GIRLS: A history of Exploitation By Riley McGraw Hart Sex sells; everybody knows it. American corporations have used feminine sex appeal to attract customers for decades, enabling misogyny and the objectification of women to run rampant in Western society. Massive substance corporations in the U.S. have historically used various spins on sexist tropes to seduce the general public, like the pinup and Budweiser Girl of the tobacco and alcohol industries. Such tactics have begun to poison the cannabis space with the “stoner girl” stereotype as the federal legalization of marijuana slowly but surely approaches. Now, the strategy is being transformed to fit the rising cannabis community, shaping gender roles and expectations both within the world of cannabis marketing —and outside it. The tobacco industry of the 1950s famously endorsed the trope of the pinup girl. Busting out of their blouses, the featured women enticed potential consumers with their pouty and sensuous lips, just as they draped and fawned around businessmen suitors. Often, the advertisements included captions that mocked female intelligence. This cancer stick is sexy, the tobacco companies not so subtly said. If she’s smoking then she wants to screw you, they implied. Such a marketing strategy capitalized on a chauvinistic outlook that regarded women as nymphomaniacs who were endlessly sexually available. Obviously, that is false and suffice to say that the majority of these mid-century tabacco advertisements were basically posters for rape culture. One brand, Winchester, publicly boasted that “no woman ever says no to [our cigarettes].” Referring to second-hand smoke, the company Tipalet urged their male consumers to “blow it in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.” But that’s not even the worst of it: Tiparillo cigarettes endorsed a promotion featuring a heterosexual couple having what appears to be an “enlightening” conversation about gender roles. It’s an example of a patriarchal industry at its finest, “allowing” women to have dreams outside of the kitchen. The caption is smugly nauseating in tenfold, reading:
Yes, times have changed. And you can blame us. Pro football players go to hairdressers. Curvaceous young women are jockeys. Co-ed dorms are a part of education. The list is a mile long, and the head of it is Tiaprillo. . . . with its trim shape, comfortable size, clean tip. And as smart looking as it is, Tiparillo is smart smoking, too. With flavor you can enjoy without inhaling. Maybe you ought to start something. Start smoking Tiparillo. . . . before a lady offers you one. Tiparillo: Maybe we started something.” The alcohol industry is another culprit in utilizing sexualized imagery of women as a primary component in marketing and media strategies. Most famously, perhaps, is the Budweiser Girl who gained prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the term is now listed on Urban Dictionary as describing someone who “has a hot body, but [is] really ugly,” the Budweiser Girl was originally imagined and depicted as a young and nubile woman, clean-cut yet sexually provocative. Historically, she was the house maker and sex-toy who needed a man to explain and manage the world for her. Akin to Big Tobacco, the alcohol industry also profited from pinup style marketing techniques, stock full of condescension, mockery, and objectification. In the decades following the retirement of the pinup girl aesthetic, the alcohol industry increasingly pushed into ribald and risqué territory. The carnal tactics so grossly manipulated by the tobacco and alcohol industries have been copied and
“It began about 10 years ago when we asked, ‘Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a lady?’ A lot’s happened since then. Today, a gentleman not only offers a Tiparillo to a lady, but the lady is taking up the offer. www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 31
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molded to fit the cannabis community both in print and online. Dan Bilzerian’s lingerie models selling e-cigarettes and THC on billboards all over California is a perfect example of such tactics. Additionally, Bilzerian has been spotted internationally traveling with his barely dressed “babes” and hosting infamous vaping parties. At one such event, an eerily reminiscent picture of a vintage Winchester cigarette advertisement was taken of Bilzarian and his “babes.” Both depict a flock of young women draping themselves around a strong businessman, looking ready for a good time. Does history repeat itself or do things verily change? In 2020, marketing on social media through blogs and platforms like Instagram or Pinterest play an integral role in the cannabis market. So too does social media perpetuate the image of the sexually available “stoner girl.” Thousands of cannabis companies use these sites for publicity by posting pictures of women, almost always in booty-shorts, bikinis, or lingerie. One such example is Cannafornia, a CBD company founded by Southern Florida native Paul King. Their sub-Instagram page @cannaforniagirlz features young women modeling small bathing-suits and posing with the brand items. Alternatively, private Instagram models are paid to promote products in compromising outfits or positions. On the one hand, it offers the girls an element of control over their work and depiction of their bodies. Such work can even be empowering. On the other, it can be nearly impossible to keep misogyny and potential manipulation of the imagery at bay. As thematters.group poignantly points out, there’s been a “misguided presumption that marijuana culture is primarily a male-centric party scene. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the owners of those brands seem unimaginably tone-deaf to what is happening in their industry and the cultural shift in the society at large…. 20% of cannabis business owners are women, that 36% of executives in the space are women, that 63% of heads of testing labs are women. Women are increasingly the entrepreneurs and consumers in the cannabis market. But despite this fact, some brands continue to behave as if their market consisted of stereotypical hormonal cis-gender bros who won’t buy a thing unless they affix a pinup girl somewhere on there.” Thematters.group also conducted research on the line between sexy and sexist in cannabis advertising. The results show that 7% more men found suggestive imagery in the promotion of recreational cannabis more appealing than women. Vice versa, 12% more women than men found the practice “extremely unappealing.” Jane West, the co-founder of Women Grow declared that “in the not-so-distant-future, women are
going to become the dominant purchasers of cannabis products,” since according to Wikileaf, women hold 70-80% of the general purchasing power. Boiled down, objectifying women to sell substances is not only bigoted and archaic but straight up brainless. Why alienate the future majority of both the industry leaders and consumers with misogynistic advertising? The stereotypes of female sexual availability that saturate cannabis marketing have also influenced attitudes outside of the advertising industry. THC as a female aphrodisiac has gained public traction, and major publications have released articles on the subject. For example, Forbes reported a study surrounding sex and marijuana that was conducted around solely women. Another study published at the beginning of 2017 divulged by Insider Magazine, “found that 68% of women who used cannabis before sex reported finding it more pleasurable.” It’s interesting to note that cannabis’s influence on the male libido wasn’t statistically indicated or discussed. The driving idea, of course, is that women are infamously “hard to please” sexually or otherwise. Even if consent hasn’t been verbally communicated, women who smoke cannabis are apparently ready and willing to have sex. Unfortunately, the majority of articles on the subject generate a tone (likely unintentionally) that conveys sexual availability in “stoner girls.” Decades of marketing and media have already prepped the marijuana community for such a stereotype. The tropes that are perpetuated by these tactics have even begun to influence how women navigate the cannabis community in the real world. An everyday marijuana consumer to whom I’ll refer as Zee, a young woman who wishes to remain anonymous for personal and professional reasons, hopes she isn’t viewed by others as a “stoner girl.” Zee doesn’t “think a drug should define who someone is, or how people interact with them.” I asked Zee if she’d experienced negative sexual attention in the marijuana space and if she believed it was a result of the marketing tropes that muddy the nubile hemp industry. Zee revealed, “[male] dealers [from the street] will try to have sex with me in exchange for a lower price on weed. In general, they’ll try to get me to stay and smoke with them. They can get really handsy, you know? But like, we’re not friends. . . . I don’t get why none of them can keep it professional; they’re supposed to be my dealer.” Zee, who is a survivor of sexual assault and uses street marijuana to self-medicate as she isn’t able to obtain a legal card, has been smoking since she was in high school. She commented, “Now that I look back, I realwww.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 33
ize there were some times where I’d get high on weed with boys that I liked. . . . . They’d smoke me up, none of it was my weed. Now I know better, and I think they were doing it to make me more susceptible to hooking up. Or at least, I guess that’s what they were trying to do. It sucks because they were my friends, too.” Such lack of social boundaries and respect reminds me of the time-old insult that men audaciously created: women are only for sex; women are less intelligent and/or weaker than men. Today, instead of the “women can’t open bottles on their own,” mockery from the height of the Budweiser Girl era, society has circled back around to the parallel quip, “girls can’t roll a blunt” or “girls can’t rip bong.” In honor of International Women’s Day in 2019, Budweiser revisited and edited past advertisements that objectified women in an effort to modernize their company policies and direction. The imagery in question placed wives in sexualized, subservient positions to their male counterparts. Budweiser is among kings in a notoriously misogynistic industry. Yet even they can recognize—and more importantly—alter their behavior. Thus, it easily follows that the rising misogyny in the cannabis community can be nipped in the bud. That a burgeoning industry has already succumbed to the endorsement of tactics which dehumanize and demean women is simply heartbreaking, especially within the resounding echoes of the #MeToo era. I hoped our society could doubtlessly, genuinely, see change by now. Sarah Hanlon, a Toronto based cannabis advocate and media expert for the Digi-mag Lift&Co told The Bluntness Magazine, “I used to think the cannabis industry could stand out on its own and be different. [I thought] it could be ‘better’ than other industries because cannabis can be healing and because it felt like we were kind of starting fresh.” Like Hanlon, I want to believe that a new era of respectful media and treatment is feasible. I’m equally disappointed and enraged that such an environment has yet to be solidified. It’s evident that substance industries in America are a prime element to focus improvement upon. American culture shouldn’t be recycling patriarchal emblems in the surging cannabis space. We should reframe our question from how can we use the representation of women to how should we represent women in all their complexity? Today’s society knows better than yesterday’s. We should strive to reach equilibrium in the cannabis industry’s marketing and media, nascent as it is, which means abandoning the misogynist appeal. A great example of positively portraying a “stoner girl” in selling cannabis paraphernalia is the brand LiveStoner. Their Stoner Chick Collection sells 34 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
cannabis themed products without stooping to dowdy sexualization. Their clothing is chic and cute without being scanty, unlike so many other brands and their accessories lack derogatory slurs altogether. Neither does their site throw objectifying imagery down the viewer’s throat. Deferential portrayal of men and women is a lot more simple than society makes it out to be. The core factor that’s required is superbly uncomplicated at that. It’s the same concept as one plus one does not equal three. . . . substance use plus femininity does not automatically equal sex. Misogyny is not a marketing strategy— there are undeniably other ways to appeal to people.
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Under the Female Influence: Laganja Estranja on Gender, Cannabis, and Art By: Keyanah Nurse If you look closely at the emblem of artist Laganja Estranja —which depicts a perfectly manicured hand with acrylic nails pinching an imaginary blunt— you can see the confluence of two important forces in society: femininity and cannabis. Like the mesmerizing Laganja herself, the emblem is a symbolic representation of being under the female influence, of accepting an invitation of sorts to consider how femininity, and the myriad of ways it shows up in the world, influences our collective experience with the plant. As an artist, cannabis activist, and recently heralded as one of the “most powerful drag queens in America” by New York Magazine, Laganja Estranja unapologetically exists at the intersection of femininity and cannabis. Take a look at any of her visually stunning photographs. The sultry intensity of her gaze, paired with the silky smoke tendrils of a fat blunt are sure to entice any onlooker. She does not shy away from her innate charisma, sex appeal, and power. But Laganja’s ubiquitous presence and hypersexuality serve a political purpose. Precisely because of the hypervisibility of drag —after all, it is quite literally the art of the exaggerated and spectacular performance of gender —Laganja has All photography, makeup and@hshoneypot styling Robet Hayman 38 www.hshoneypot.com
used her platform to educate her audiences on the medicinal importance of cannabis. Through public education events such as legalization talks from Ireland to San Francisco, to producing “socially conscious club anthems” that highlight discriminatory drug laws and racial profiling, she never misses an opportunity to open a discussion, and perhaps pass around a blunt or two while doing so. Before Laganja rose to notoriety, principally as a contestant on season 6 of the hit TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race, she existed as Jay Jackson. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Jackson later moved to California in order to pursue a degree in dance and choreography from the California Institute of the Arts. A testament to her artistic and academic excellence, Jackson became a U.S. Presidential Scholar during her tenure at Booker T. Washington HSPVA. When she attended CalArts, however, cannabis became critical to Jackson’s health. After sustaining a back injury, Jackson used cannabis to medicate, an experience that would eventually inspire the namesake of her drag queen persona, Laganja Estranja. According to Laganja, cannabis completely transformed and enhanced her quality of life. After having been “lied to about [cannabis] for so long,” —no doubt a result of American society’s fear mongering and punitive approach to drug use — her medicinal introduction to the plant led to a more holistic life, one
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that has ultimately made her happier and healthier. A cannabis acolyte of sorts for cannabis, Laganja buoyantly explained that it “enhances...my creativity when I’m doing my makeup, my stamina when I’m dancing... for me, this really is my medicine. That is why I chose to be Laganja Estranja. This medicine changed my life.” Although some would pin her as the literal embodiment of the plant, it is but one part of her overall identity. She identifies “first and foremost as an artist” and given the sheer volume of her projects, content, and collaborations, it’s impossible to believe otherwise. This year alone, she has an impressive range of upcoming projects, including a new album titled Highconic (set to release on July 10th for Dab Day) and a new episodic YouTube series entitled Muse Me, which offers a behindthe-scenes look at the creation of her photographs by visual artist Robert Hayman. Additionally, she will also continue growing her WeedTube channel, broadening the content around cannabis consumption that YouTube, as a result of its strict policies, does not currently allow. Cannabis is a vehicle for Laganja: through it, she initiates and disseminates transformative and provocative art throughout the world. “I want to create art that is amazing and that people love on its own,” she wistfully highlighted, “but that will also have this message of cannabis and acceptance.” Art, therefore, always serves a simple purpose for Laganja: to make the world and the people in it better. In some senses, Jackson and Laganja exist as two distinct sides of the same coin -- separate, yet also bound together. As a nonbinary individual that sometimes presents as masculine and inhabits a range of pronouns (including she/her/hers), Jackson nevertheless makes clear the limits of her experience of femininity: “When I speak about women, or about my experience as a woman,” she told Honey Pot, “it’s just that, it’s an experience. It’s not a fully realized living life.” Such limits are undoubtedly an important caveat to keep in mind. Jackson herself noted that Laganja, as a hypervisible expression of femininity, is not the primary way that Jackson navigates the world. After all, the wigs, contour, lashes, and bustiers can all be taken off at the end of the day. However, just as femininity is a “fully realized living life,” it can also be an expression, an experience, a performance. Indeed, all gender expressions are precisely that — stylized and socially recognized performances 40 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
that may or may not align with some facet of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Although someone’s choice to wear stilettos or fake lashes may only encompass a fraction of their sense of self, our society has coded, or defined, such stylistic choices as “feminine.” Stepping out into the world styled as such, even if temporarily, thus gives one particular insight into how gender, and in this case femininity, organizes our society. In that vein, Jackson’s performance as Laganja highlights how gender operates within the rapidly developing cannabis industry in the United States. While discussions of social equity and gender parity are common enough throughout the industry, we have yet to realize that simply inviting more people of color or more women to the table is not enough. We cannot ask women of color or queer folk to leave their race or their sexuality outside of the boardroom, just because it may disrupt white heteronormative values. For example, when Jackson dresses as Laganja and attends cannabis events, her experience has been drastically different from attending events within the broader entertainment industry. Why? As she explained “when a woman is hot, it makes people uncomfortable...maybe my character hasn’t done so well in the cannabis industry because maybe if I was more clown-like, or a caricature of a stoner girl with long, floppy hair…[but] no, I’m a hot, sexy, and powerful woman running a cannabis business.” Given the historical trends of big tobacco and alcohol, the oversexualization of femininity in the cannabis industry is nothing new. But what Laganja identifies here is a pervasive double standard not only in cannabis, but in society generally: when someone inhabits their femininity as a point of sexual agency, it is threatening, even alienating. But when they do so as a point of sexual objectification? Well, that’s just good marketing. “Sometimes being in drag for me feels like being a superwoman…[but] in the cannabis industry, it’s the complete opposite,” she explained, “I’m being looked at negatively and people are like ‘Why is that there?’ And notice I say ‘that’ because...in the cannabis industry, it’s very rare that someone is going to ask me my pronouns.” This double standard of sexual agency versus sexual objectification also contextualizes some of the homophobia that Laganja has experienced and denounced within the cannabis industry. So too are homophobia and sexism forever joined: separate in who may experience them, yet also bound together by a patriarchical society that only lets white heterosexual men express their sexwww.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 41
uality without consequence. By all measures, we have quite some time before this state of affairs changes. Although Laganja has successfully partnered with some cannabis brands, she questions why her major partnerships have been largely with women. In 2019, Laganja partnered with Roxanne Dennant, founder of FRUIT SLABS, a company making cannabis infused, vegan, real-fruit squares, in order to create a one-of-a-kind flavor for the brand’s 2019 PRIDE collection. Laganja has also partnered with Alexandra (Allie) Butler, the founder of The Hepburns to create a prerolled joint called “LAHepburns.” Although Laganja described these collaborations as “empowering” and a true testament to women’s commitment to supporting each other, she nevertheless asked “Where are all the men at?” Men in the cannabis industry rarely engage her with serious business opportunities. Even among cannabis media outlets, including two appearances in High Times and her historic cover of Dope Magazine as the first LGBTQ+ advocate to appear on a cannabis publication’s cover, all of the coverage of Laganja has been done by women. Despite her challenges within the cannabis industry, Laganja is confident that her visibility, and more importantly her art, will necessarily propel the conversation around authentic inclusivity in cannabis forward. Her own artistic inspiration comes from the likes of Missy Elliott, a woman who married a daring aesthetic with the celebration of the black female body. Elliott has something to say with her art, and Laganja approaches her craft no differently. “When you have people’s attention -- do you have something to say?” she challenged us to consider, “What do you have to offer? I always knew [that message] would be cannabis based for me.” There is, of course, no replacement for the activism and advocacy of changing cannabis legislation and policy. Laganja herself noted that she admired those who have the skillset, time, and dedication for grassroots political organizing and advocacy. But using a significant platform -- such as the one Laganja has cultivated for nearly a decade -- is also an equally important endeavor in the continued struggle for full federal legalization of cannabis in the United States. Art has the power to change mindsets and attitudes, which in turn can change policy. As she poignantly remarked “Cannabis...has allowed me to meet a lot of open minded people who are willing to grow and change and learn....If you can accept a loud, crazy pot smoking drag queen, then you should be able to accept women, nonbinary people, [and] people of color.” 42 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
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When Ronit Pinto (Honey Pot’s founder) asked me to be Honey Pot’s centerfold model, I was thrilled. The idea for this centerfold developed out of a conversation that Ronit and I had on New Hemp Times about women becoming invisible as we age. Although I have accomplished and overcome much in my life, I still deal with feelings of discomfort and inadequacy. It is difficult for me to accept praise. As a psychotherapist, I know that I’m not alone and many people also struggle from this kind of thinking. I am keenly aware of how my inner critic is my worst enemy and how it holds me back more than anything else. As a woman of a certain age, I wanted to explore that sense of vulnerability, especially as it relates to my body and sexuality. I wanted to start a conversation around every woman’s power, something she has no matter her age, body type, or general wear and tear from birthing and feeding children. But I didn’t realize just how much the choice to pose for the centerfold would impact me. I am grateful to be a 51-year-old woman who has worked through trauma, abuse, harassment, and personal and professional devastation. Eventually, I transcended all of those issues and I now have the honor of using my position to help other women. My work is about empowering people to be the best version of themselves. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I dedicate a significant amount of my work to showing how cannabis, if used properly, can relieve certain mental health symptoms. To me, doing this centerfold was about owning all of my power (including my sexuality), while reminding readers that women are vibrant and worthy of so much, no matter their age. Despite my excitement to break the mold, I wasn’t expecting to meet my own demons. The day of the shoot was such an exciting time. I was thrilled to be made up with hair and makeup. I felt special and pretty. It felt like a dream come true for my teenage self. I’ve always struggled with my insecurities and my body especially. But nothing could prepare me for the onslaught of my inner critic. As a clinician, I know that cannabis can lower one’s defense mechanisms. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to pretend to smoke and kept doing so gleefully until my anxiety and that inner critic appeared screaming her words of destruction. “You’re fat. Your cellulite is showing. Look at the stretchmarks- blame those on your youngest!” The inner critic was permeating my intoxicated brain, winning its game of self-hatred. I have struggled with this voice most of my life, so I know the destruction it can cause. This voice was created out of trauma, fear, uncertainty, pain, and the need for survival. That day, I felt the panic of being vulnerable, exposed. I was afraid of being judged. What would people REALLY think of me when they saw me in this magazine? Fortunately, because of my work with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, my own personal growth, and my friends’ feedback, I was able to address and reframe those negative thoughts. I know that inner critic is never helpful and only causes problems. Once I realized that destructive pattern, it was able to avert the damage and move forward with helpful thoughts. It was easy to reconnect to the purpose of this decision and feel relief from the anguish spread by the inner critical voice. By the end of the day, we ventured out to the fire escape to finish the last round of photos. Covered in only a white bedsheet, I somehow managed to gather groups of onlookers. And as Sam, Honey Pot’s Creative Director, was finishing, I thought to myself, “Fuck it! Who gives a shit! Have fun!” Thanks to the music, the vibes, and working through those fearful thoughts, I felt a power that I’d lacked in a long time. I felt strong, decisive, and fierce— just like a Virago. Then the sheet came down and the shutter began clicking away.
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Becoming Dr. Virago noun 1: a loud overbearing woman : TERMAGANT 2: a woman of great stature, strength, and courage Courtesy of Merriam-Webster
Photo: Sam C. Long @samuelclemenslong MUA Arielle Toelke @four.rabbit Shot on location in NYC www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 45 w/ My Bud Vase @mybudvase
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Centerfold II Sex Work Covid-19 and Cannabis: A Woman’s View JASMINE:
By Candice Lola As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, the Small Business Association (SBA) is offering a welcome solution. Small businesses, classified as U.S. business owners employing fewer than 500 people, sole proprietors, and independent contractors, can thankfully apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. While a wide array of business owners can expect relief, the loan uses language that pointedly leaves out people who work in the sex or cannabis industry. These businesses are legally operating in the United States, subject to the same taxes as other business owners, and help to stimulate the economy. So why can’t they receive aid? What makes them less worthy of help than their counterparts? For the answers to these frustrating questions, we decided to ask an expert. As a sex worker, a fetish trainer, and an advocate for safe cannabis use, Jasmine of JetSettingJasmine.com can personally attest to the unfairness of this measure. She has been gracious enough to lend us her insights. HONEY POT: What is your relationship with Cannabis and CBD? You’ve talked about using CBD products to reduce sexual anxiety. Can you elaborate on that?
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As a young person, I certainly engaged in cannabis for recreation. But as I have matured and learned more about the plant, I am more inclined to be attracted to the plant for its therapeituc properties. I’ve also learned ways to utilize it concerning my work as a fetish trainer, a sex educator, and a psychotherapist. I have used CBD as an option for my clients [as] a way of treating anxiety, depression and chronic illness. I have to be incredibly mindful of the legalities according to what state or country the client is in and have to consider their access to the appropriate guidance on selecting a product that works best for them/their particular need. I have worked with clients using CBD products such as massage oils or even infused lube… [Using] something like a CBD massage oil, just doing the massage itself, is relaxing the body, extending foreplay, and creating a connection between partners. I am interested in how we can further help our clients select products that are the best fit for what they need [and] in them using proper dosing. HONEY POT: Like those working in the cannabis space, sex workers are unable to apply for emergency aid, loans and funding during COVID_19. How has this impacted you and what parallels do you see in terms of stigma and overall? JASMINE: I have some really strong feelings about this. Professionals in the sex industry adhere to legal businesss practices and pay taxes. We stimulate the economy by spending, and also
Photo: Mumbi Muturi, Kenya
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Photo: Keenan Chapman, Atlanta
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Photo: Tarrice Love, NYC
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by having products that people can consume. So when I think about things such as the emergency aid loans and funding and stimulus packages being allocated to citizens [who] are taxpayers, but are not sex workers or cannabis professionals, it does show how policymakers and decision-makers in this country value us as citizens. While I can understand how recreation can be considered as non-essential, the workers themselves have the same needs and rights as their neighbors. We are in a worldwide crisis; yet certain policies are written in a way that suggests that people who work in these spaces do not require or deserve the same level of protection, aid, and resources. So my tax dollars are equal, but my needs as a human aren’t? This is incredibly frustrating. Sex workers specifically have been incorrectly painted as people who make money underhandedly, who don’t pay taxes, or don’t operate from the same professional standards as other businesses. This is not true, but policies like this prepetuate this type of stigma.. I am a taxpaying citizen, but I cannot see my tax dollars benefit my business or my family in a crisis. I feel especially strongly for those of us who run legitimate businesses on all fronts in the cannabis, CBD, and sex work industries. Our businesses, who pour into our communities financially, are struggling right now and yet are unable to receive the same level of support as our counterparts.
choose to do. Safety first. It’s so important when we talk about the use of CBD and of cannabis that we don’t forget about risk and consequences that can occur in families without neglecting the benefits that come when we have aides like CBD and THC to treat chronic physical and mental illnesses.
Jet Setting Jasmine Jetsettingjasmine.com Rotalfetishxxx.com @jetsettingjasmine Twitter : @jetsetjasmine
HONEY POT: As a mother, how do you approach cannabis and CBD for yourself and your children? JASMINE: The conversation around cannabis specifically has changed in my household as cannabis has become increasingly more legal througout the country. I have never felt that cannabis was a bad thing, but have always held a stance around the importance of decision making surrouding the use of mood altering substances. I think it is important as parents that we don’t just throw the words “illegal” and “bad” together like they mean the same thing. We have to discuss substances in the context of personal, professional and societal consequences. My children are growing up in a culture where abusing [legal] overthe-counter medication is common enough to raise concern. I make sure they know that the legality of the substance doesn’t necessarily make it safe or unsafe. We talk about how CBD and THC use has had an impact from both the beneficial aspect to the intended and uninteded consequences. My stance has always been that you do not do anything with consequences that you cannot get yourself out of and begin exploration with a conversation with us [parents]. We’ve been successful with this to date and it is because we feel comfortable operating in the grey area. We support the use of CBD and from a health and wellness perspective. We do essential oils and CBD rubs first, and then graduate to things like a tincture of CBD. Our attitude is always the least to most intrusive aide, not the other way around. It is my conviction that you make sure that your family’s needs are met before you enter an altered state. Make sure that you can manage any risk or consequences that are associated with the use of cannabis or CBD. By no means am I in a position to tell people what they should and should not do with their body. However, I feel that I can support people in making the safest decision around altering their mood state if that’s what they
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black pioneers by: Nikki Frias Before the “War on Drugs” during Nixon’s reign and Reagan’s campaign of “Just say no’, cannabis was used as a utility for entrepreneurs. Unfortunately with its negative connotations towards racial identity and systemic oppression, black and brown communities have been the most unrepresented pioneers in the cannabis space. Since the era of its inception with Louis Armstrong’s “vipers” and the mix of cannabis with jazz, to the political fight that is still going on today, history makes little to no mention of what black women were doing during these times. The rise of cannabis, from its influence in New Orleans to its migration up North, entailed speakeasies, music and “jazz cigarettes” in the 1930s. A pre-Harry Anslinger’s tirade of defeating all that is cannabis had the Harlem Renaissance and the beginning of the fight for equal rights. The Great Depression seemed like an opportunity to expand the cannabis industry, (textiles in hemp and its medicinal use) but unfortunately began negative rhetoric linking race, crime, and violence. Not only did black women have to fight for their seat at the table, but they also had to deal with the beginning (and unfortunate present-day) incorrect stigmas aligned with race and opportunity. The post-Anslinger world was filled with racism, criminalization for a very bleak future for women and minorities. In a time when an eighth meant life in prison and a beneficial drug was classified as a Schedule l, the progression of cannabis and women of color became marginalized. It’s after the embrace of the Civil Rights Movements, the feminist era, and Woodstock in the 1960s and 1970s, the lines between legality and racial individuality became the push needed for change. Smoking pot was cool, and iconic actresses like Pam Grier and Diahann Carroll symbolized a new face for black women. Fast forward from the 1990s to today, between the rise of cannabis in hip-hop, like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, to fashion and tech; black women are dominating in every industry. The conversation of privilege, mass incarceration and inclusion is now at the top of everyone’s agenda, and while it’s a slow start...it’s still a start. Women are now being embraced for the things that made them different. What a time to be alive when a top black mogul on the Forbes billionaire list is an open cannabis user; intertwining the gap between a suppressed gender and race.
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Unfortunately even to this day, through history and the impact black women have made within the world of cannabis has been minimal. Stories of these badass women picketing, rallying and making progress against oppression have been overshadowed with legalities and politics. Today black ownership is up and especially with women capitalizing on beauty, health and dispensary ownership. According to 2017 data from Marijuana Business Daily, women account for 25% and Black ownership in cannabis hovers at 4.3%. The new pioneers are now found in owners like Dr. Rachel Knox & Dr. Jessica Knox of The Canna MDs, Shanita Penny of Budding Solutions, Safon Floyd, Kali Wilder and Sirita Wright of Estrohaze, and Andrea Unsworth of Stash Twist, to name a few. These new black-owned, female speared businesses are taking advantage of the 45 billion dollar industry and are continuously growing. The more availability and access to the industry through laws and education will only promote the expansion of these minority owners. Taking the keys and lessons learned from an unspoken personal history are now assets to creating generational wealth for decades to come. In the cannabis space, women of color represent longevity and triumph between mass incarcerations and negative media rhetoric in this industry. Before its legalization, exploitation and capitalistic society the cannabis space now holds, it once was used as a tool to feed homes, support families and an opportunity for business. From a historical perspective, in a male dominant society, women as a whole and specifically of color are the minority. The word pioneer is generally assimilated with synonyms like trailblazers and innovators, and within the cannabis industry, we can’t use those words without acknowledging black women.
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by: Candice Peterson
Being impressive is nothing new to The WeedHead founder, Desheeda Dawson. Besides becoming the first black-led company owner to be featured in a Times Square digital billboard ad, Dawson is also an award-winning executive strategist, an impassioned cannabis advocate, and an author of a top-selling workbook. Her book entitled How to Succeed in the Green Rush intends to instruct and inspire entrepreneurs and contractors who are interested in the burgeoning cannabis industry. Her comprehensive background perfectly positions her to foresee trends in the marketplace; she has worked at the senior executive level for Victoria’s Secret, Target and the United Way and has garnered nearly 20 years of experience with brand marketing and strategic marketing. She is also a scientist and holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton in molecular biology. Dawson was introduced to cannabis by her mother, who was suffering from breast cancer. It seemed to be the only thing that quieted her pain. “Anything she had (used) prior to chemo exacerbated it,” Dawson says. Even after her recovery, Dawson’s mother became a lifelong user of cannabis, even inviting Dawson to partake with her. There was only one issue. Dawson was an executive at Target and Minnesota was not a medical marijuana state. But when Dawson did smoke, she noticed that she coped better with the stress of corporate America and a sick mother. “…over time it became a big staple in our household.” Dawson remained a closet cannabis user for years until one day, while being offered a promotion; a light bulb went off in her head. She thought about “how much effort I had put into my corporate positions and not necessarily seeing the benefit back. I had given, you know, nearly billions of dollars of extra business and I didn’t see 1 percent of that.” Soon after Dawson moved to Arizona, where medical marijuana was legal and began to do for that industry what she had done for industry giants before. Her new focus grew into a brand, a book, and cannabis advocacy. Dawson currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Minorities for Medical Marijuana and one of the co-founders for the Cannabis Education Advocacy Symposium & Expo. In these positions, she fights for further education and diversity in the cannabis industry. To put it simply and in her own words, “ People should, as adults, have to right to use it however they want to.” Taboo be damned, Dawson’s objective to make the use of cannabis in everyday life normal and accessible. Sirita Wright Sirita Wright is one of many black women working to create more diversity within the cannabis industry. Her company Estrohaze is run by herself and co-founders Kali Wilder and Safron Floyd. Together they are working to partake in the “Green Rush”, a term applied to the growth and spread of marijuana business in the United States and Canada. Her company works to make room for other women of color to learn about the cannabis industry and the unlimited opportunities it offers. Wright had her first experience with cannabis at age 14 when she and her friends decided to skip school. Her first joint was unimpressive, “I don’t recall any real effects,” she reports. Wright is brazen in the face of the cannabis taboo. “I am unapologetic. Cannabis is saving lives, creating jobs and a huge opportunity for people of color to attain generational wealth.” This kind of brass is necessary when breaking into any burgeoning industry, let alone one with so much fraught history. It isn’t for the faint of heart. 60 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
Owning a small business allows Wiseman to have face-to-face interactions with her customers, granting her a peek into how her product affects their lives. She has had the opportunity to see cannabis ease pain, anxiety, and even ailments that her clients face. Observing these experiences showed Wiseman that the cannabis industry was not only economically attractive but powerful as well. “I really understood the level of impact I could make on someone’s life through Mary and Main.”
Wright is also a writer who is passionate about women of color building generational wealth. While writing for Black Enterprise Magazine she urges readers to investigate the possibilities of the proposed $44 billion coming into the cannabis market by 2020. She has also interviewed the likes of singer/songwriter Ryan Leslie, the CEO of Slack Steward Butterfield, and covered the red carpet for Black Girls Rock. She is also an onair personality, having appeared on The Breakfast Club on three different occasions. Every time she had the privilege of appearing on a platform she advocates for women of color and financial literacy. The cannabis industry provides a unique opportunity for Wright to combine her many talents. Thanks to her efforts the cannabis industry has room for more racial diversity, more female representation, and more chances for new entrepreneurs to change their financial situations, possibly for generations to come. Hope Wiseman
Wiseman is also one of the co-founders of Compassionate Herbal Alternatives (CHA). This incredible organization targets those who have been incarcerated or otherwise negatively affected by America’s “war on drugs”, and trains them to land an entry-level position in a licensed Maryland cannabis facility. It goes a step further to monitor the progress of these individuals inside these facilities to ensure upward mobility. Her passion and business know-how have been major assets in helping her and her business partners establish themselves as a brand. It wasn’t easy, with Wiseman’s age working against her in professional spaces. “I feel like I’m a triple minority because I’m a woman, a minority and I’m only 25. When I walk into a room by myself and I’m representing our company, they immediately don’t take me seriously. Most of the time I have to prove myself.” Wiseman has also shared the community spaces don’t understand the project. Members of the city council are nervous about associating with it. But despite these challenges Mary and Main surges forward, becoming successful in Capitol Heights, Maryland and looking to open more locations nationwide. Through accessibility and education, Wiseman hopes to end the taboo against marijuana and invite more people to harness its power to heal.
Former investment banker, dancer for the Atlanta Falcons, and reality show personality Hope Wiseman is no stranger to excellence. Opening her cannabis dispensary Mary and Main at the age of 25 makes her the youngest African American woman in the country to own one. This is a smart move by any standard, but Wiseman was especially attracted to the economic growth the cannabis business is making. “ I remember watching CNBC and they were talking about how quickly the cannabis industry was growing. I had never seen an industry grow at double-digit rates consistently and the projections continue for years to come.” Wiseman saw a chance to jump in at the ground level and took it without hesitation. www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 61
WANDA JAMES’ SECRET SUPER POWER By Maria Alvarez The Women Grow Leadership Summit: a liberating and empowering forum established by the largest national network for women entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry. Held in Washington, D.C. for the first time after years in the Southwest and West Coast, it was clear the Divine Feminine spirit harnessed the room. A group of strong women all leaving their mark in their industry and sharing their inner power with each other; a collaborative exchange. Surrounded by this energy, Honey Pot sat down to speak with Simply Pure founder and keynote speaker Wanda James--the truth is that she has learned to listen to the universe. As the first black dispensary owner in the United States, James is a legendary figure in cannabis (one recently inducted into Marijuana Business Daily’s Hall of Fame for her pioneering advocacy, entrepreneurship, and commitment to breaking stigmas across all levels of the space). Her path has been marked by a specific mix of the spiritual and pragmatic realism (both necessary in harnessing your energy, enacting change, and receiving results). A former Navy lieutenant with a past corporate career, James’s connection with the spiritual realm comes as a surprise. Further mystifying at first glance: the role of her spiritual connection in her tangible success as an entrepreneur and activist. Our conversation reveals the core of James’ evolution in the cannabis space, bridging vast disparities in an industry that has largely decided to ignore them. For James, speaking up is the starting point for this enormous build. Speaking up is, in fact, her superpower, the means by which she has harnessed her inner strength and shared it with the world. However, James engages not in the practice of simply raising her voice, but also in saying what needs to be said; what the universe begs us to say. “Have you ever had those times where there’s a part of you that says--you have a voice inside of your 62 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
head that says--“just say it?” she begins. “I don’t know what it may be, but something... on a topic that might be controversial or it might not be well-[vetted], but you keep getting this feeling inside of you that says “do it, say it’’’. It is that nudge by the universe, so often ignored for social propriety, that the entrepreneur explains will become the spark for a greater movement of recognition, mutual support, and change. One example of this being her transparency towards the economic realities of small business owners in the industry faced against giant hedge-fund backed companies. A larger example: her work towards legalizing and decriminalizing weed, mainly focusing on reducing the racial disparity in the industry. Social justice has always been Wanda James’s guiding force and one of the main reasons she chose to break into the industry. The obvious issue at hand is the i n c re d i bl y pervasive racial inequity in
the industry and the lack of federal laws and regulations to rid it of this institutionalized imbalance found particularly in law enforcement practices. As reported by the Washington Post in 2013, in some states black men are eight times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than white men. James’s business Simply Pure is more than a dispensary that promotes the benefits of this miracle plant; it is a force for change in an emerging industry now being overrun by large corporations focused on the bottom line. As a businesswoman, Wanda James treads with a grounded realism that reveals the path for change from the universe. “I’m not surprised that the rich white guys aren’t thinking about it. I wish that they would, but I do understand human nature and if it doesn’t affect you, you don’t think about it.” The problem is not the capitalistic focus on an expanding market, but the effects this focus brings to the cannabis industry. The problem lies, as James explains, in the fact that “this industry has been built on the backs of black and brown people going to prison for the last hundred years; it’s been built on the backs of negative marketing that has allowed for the destruction of black and brown and poor communities; it’s allowed law enforcement to go into your home and tear it apart, it’s allowed law enforcement to arrest you in your
home or kill you.” This situation, however, also shows us one of the solutions to these problems: a change in policy. For James, the necessary change in policy is most easily found in licensing and she proposes a specific amount of licenses only be granted by states to companies that can prove 51% minority, women, or veteran-owned spaces in their C-suite, middle management, or board of directors. “We need to ensure that no state is giving all of its licenses to hedge fund-backed companies that have 48 licenses or 102 licenses….” But there’s an obstacle to overcome here, she points out: “As long as it doesn’t cost them any real money, then there’s no real reason for them to diversify and there’s no way to force a company that’s making billions of dollars to diversify unless we hit them at the licensing level”. The policy change in licensing lies in the power of elected officials and the ability of supporters of decriminalization and social justice to make themselves heard, which according to James is actually the biggest challenge of all. “The naysayers call the senators, the naysayers call the council people, the naysayers probably call the president. We don’t do that, the people that are being healed from this plant….We need to be a more vocal majority.” A continuum in the practice of saying what the universe is begging you to say. For Wanda James, this is also a personal statement of intent: “I hope to continue to be a voice in this industry, to always help find women the positions that they need to have to continue to grow in this industry. I hope to blow the doors off of allowing people of color to be a part of this industry, especially those who have done time for non-violent drug offenses because their lives have been destroyed for something I do every day.” It is through her voice that Wanda James has and will continue to emerge as an innovator, moving it forward day by day by saying not what she’s supposed to, but what her innermost voice needs her to speak aloud and so many others to hear.
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RISING UP GIA MORÓN ON PROGRESS AND WOMEN GROW By Jessica Bern When Gia Morón came to Women Grow (WG) in 2015, she counted only five people of color in the room. Today, WG is recognized as the preeminent national networking organization for women in cannabis, and Morón, an award-winning communications executive, has graduated from being its New York City market leader to its President. Along with WG’s Chair and CEO Dr. Chanda Macias, Morón has changed the professional landscape for women of color. Cannabis “was the beginning of an awakening for all women to see what opportunities there were for them,” she says. Still, much greater work lies ahead. HONEY POT: What boundaries does Women Grow seek to break down? GIA:MORÓN: I love the people I’m meeting and unlike any of the past generations of my family, I get to be part of the development of a brand new industry. Sadly, women haven’t had a voice in the development of any of the industries that we see operating today, which is why this work is so exciting. Here [Chanda and I] are, two women of color, leading a company [where] we are here for all women. The hope [is that] at some point we don’t have to talk about inclusion of women and WOC… [that instead] we are naturally, consistently operating in an inclusive, diverse industry. That we still have to push for inclusion tells me we have more work to do. I want to see all women lead and win at whatever level they consider success. Women Grow itself has become more diverse, and kudos to all who have worked to make that happen… I believe we have to have more women of color in this industry. We no longer want to hear how cannabis companies claim to need more women and then do nothing. We want to see women and WOC at every level; in the C-suite, on boards, in managerial and 64 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
entrepreneurial roles. If you see all men [on your team], then you need to diversify. If these men are having a hard time finding talented women, let us be that helpful resource! WG [functions] as the gateway to connect phenomenal people in and out of this industry. HONEY POT: You’ve actively partnered with faith-based communities for educational events, especially Emmanuel Baptist Church, Brooklyn’s largest Black parish. What’s resulted from this outreach? This industry faces resistance from faith-based communities because we, as a society, have been taught cannabis is [a] Schedule I drug and is bad for you. Leaders of faith and various organizations have passed on that message [even] as legalization is happening… In the black community, the church is the core of that same message. [However], black churches have seen how much it’s impacted their congregations, because men and women of color have gone to jail for it. As legalization spreads, we see more people from other cultures and backgrounds getting involved, but [some] black and brown folks still resist. The reason for that, partly, is because black church leaders refuse to change the message. [WG has] never told a reverend or pastor to consider the positive side of the cannabis industry. Instead, we explain what we’re doing and the differences being made… Many of us who come from impacted communities want to open the door and suggest, “Hey, maybe you’ll be interested in what you’re hearing and want to join us.” Our overall goal is to connect with women and POC who aren’t receiving the information. Our market leader in Philadelphia, Laurel Freedman, is Jewish. She had a “Faith in Cannabis” event at her local temple [with] multiple religious leaders... The idea is to share knowledge and [create] a safe space, providing information and answers. HONEY POT: In addition to barriers in the legal industry, many POC have been victimized by laws surrounding illegal cannabis. Do you believe they are owed reparations? Industries have been built on the backs of black people, and there are yet to be any type of repara-
tions. There might never be… The government owes blacks a fair entry point [to cannabis] and equity... It’s unfair not to have a social equity component to this industry and to avoid addressing the social injustice. A pathway needs to be created so that black people who began this journey behind the starting line are now given a way in. If black and brown people aren’t part of this growth, that’s crazy. It’s wrong and it must change. HONEY POT: What does the future hold for Women Grow? My hope is to create bigger, better opportunities for women [through] partnerships both inside and outside this industry, [and] mainstream conversations that
don’t just focus on gender or color. WG has rebranded the way we share information [with our] Signature Education Webinar (SEW), [where we] plant a seed of education towards growth. One area we didn’t address properly was disabilities. After an event, a woman in a wheelchair came up to me and pointed out… how we can be inclusive of this class of people, the right terminology to use, and how we can make it easier to participate in the cannabis industry. Women with disabilities in cannabis matter. We always want to be held accountable so we can make learning accessible to all communities.
Photo © Women Grow
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IT’S A VASE, IT’S A BONG! By Keyanah Nurse and Lacey Jaye Yannelli Doreen Sullivan, owner and creator of MY BUD VASE, is an amazing female “canna-preneur” unwilling to take no for an answer. With over thirty years of product development experience, she knew what it would take to make awe-inspiring and trend-setting products that spoke to everyone. My Bud Vase thus offers beautiful, yet functional bongs that can grace your shelf or coffee table and be the centerpiece of your next soiree. With pieces this lovely, you can smoke anywhere you’re comfortable and not have to worry about hiding it when you’re done. My Bud Vase launched in April of 2016, and in just three short years, the company now boasts both domestic and international distribution. What started small with only a few different designs, has turned into a busy line with new and exciting products. Since each of Sullivan’s pieces is made to look like vases or decanters, she offers a wide array of water pipes that no other artist can. She also does not limit herself to a singular medium and is always looking for new and exciting ways to create beautiful pieces. Nothing is off limits! You’ll find the bongs-turned-artworks trending on Instagram and Facebook with some of your favorite influencers. My Bud Vase offers something for nearly every style, and if you don’t see something you love yet, just wait! Creating pieces that serve as functional art are great ways to start the conversation about cannabis and acceptance of a cannabis lifestyle. The issue of whether marijuana is for recreational use or medical use in this day and age is irrelevant. The conversation that moralizes the typical cannabis smoker, however, is very relevant. The products in Doreen’s line change the perception of a typical cannabis consumer from a stereotypical “burnout” to the truth—that it’s your mom, sister, aunt and maybe even your grandmother! By making smoking aesthetically pleasing, My Bud Vase reduces the stigma, making the conversation easier. To that effect, Sullivan proudly explained “People have told me that my parents are finally comfortable with talking about cannabis after seeing your products.” 66 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
It didn’t take long for Sullivan to realize the difficulties of finding start-up capital for My Bud Vase, a product line that caters to women and femmes. A mark of ingenuity, Sullivan’s bong designs center femininity: from aesthetic to the ability to use it with a full set of long nails, Sullivan paid careful attention to even the smallest details, which makes her product line unlike any other on the market. However, such daring and thoughtful design is not without its consequences: many individuals, particularly cisgendered heterosexual men, may not gravitate towards such products. They may not see themselves as part of My Bud Vase’s target demographic. The challenge of finding investors is a painstaking process even at the best of times, but when there’s an incorrect assumption about the gendered limitations of your product it becomes seemingly impossible. But not for Sullivan. It took a hell of a lot of sacrifice and determination, but she was able to make the money to produce her line on her own dime! She took every door that had been slammed in her face, and used it to build her own ladder to the top of the cannabis marketplace! As a result, Sullivan encourages all female “cannaprenuers” and as she relayed to the Honey Pot team: “trust your intuition and do everything on your own dime.” Currently, Doreen is working on a new piece that is based on the African goddess of the living ocean, Yemoja. An orisha, or deity, from the West African Yoruba tradition, Yemoja is best known for her motherly, protective spirit, an energy that inspired Sullivan to design a piece in her liking. Resembling a mermaid tail, the piece will also feature authentic West African cowrie shells, which were historically used as currency throughout the region and symbolically represent the fertility and wealth of Yemoja. As Sullivan has shown, cannabis consumption can be beautiful, sexy, sophisticated, and elegant. Her team at My Bud Vase is well poised to continue their success, targeting major company milestones such as designing and manufacturing 10,000 new My Bud Vases, expanding both inventory and company personnel, developing a new lifestyle parent brand called “My Bud Life,” and finally, self-funding all these endeavors. But her biggest accomplishment? Truly realizing that she has crafted a useful, impactful and inspiring product in the female consumption category of the cannabis industry.
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SCIENTISTS By: Jamie Lubin “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy,” said Marie Curie when she accepted her Nobel Prizes at the turn of the twentieth century. Over one hundred years later, her spiritual successors find a lot to battle in the cannabis industry, as legal limits on research still pose problems. However, the opportunities for women in STEM are exploding, and the green frontiers of the magical plant are the most exciting Wonderland of all. Here are the Alices, the marvelous minds, spearheading the discoveries about to change our world as we know it. Curie and her daughters would be proud. JUNE CHIN Dr. Junella “June” Chin remains one of the most fascinating medical practitioners in the cannabis space today. Her focus is integrative medicine, an area which exam-
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ines health and wellness holistically and allows for alternative treatments such as cannabis to be worked into patients’ routines alongside traditional methods (pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy, etc). “Medical cannabis is not a silver bullet,” Chin says, but she has devoted her career to helping patients gain access to the plant after experiencing for herself the tremendous healing power of CBD. As a teenager growing up in the Bronx, Chin was diagnosed with the debilitating spinal disease ankylosis spondylitis and suffered from chronic pain to the point that she could barely stand while doing her rounds in medical school. An attending physician suggested she try cannabis oil, which completely transformed Chin’s life. She was able to manage her chronic pain and decided to practice first in California, which had legalized medical marijuana in 1996; over a decade later, she returned to New York once the state’s cannabis regulations became more open and exploratory. Currently the Chief Medical Advisor for the acclaimed online medical cannabis news source CannabisMD, New York’s Artemis CBD retail shop, the award-winning luxury CBD brand Saint Jane Beauty, and the renowned 1:1 brand Bloom Farms in addition to treating countless patients on both coasts, Chin is always in high demand for her expertise. She speaks at numerous international conferences and her work is featured on outlets including NBC’s Today Show, the New York Times, HuffPost, and more. Her book Cannabis & CBD for Health & Wellness, co-written with Ellementa founder and tech pioneer Aliza Sherman, was published in June 2019 to help mass audiences understand the basics of healthy living through cannabinoid regimens. We’ll take this doc’s advice any time! Photo © Rachel Hinman
THE KNOX FAMILY An entire family of MDs is changing the game on medical cannabis through integrative care. The amazing “Knox Docs,” as they are often called, are the founders of American Cannabinoid Clinics, an organization that educates patients on evidence-based cannabinoid treatment and aims to provide them with access to the best possible healthcare while simultaneously doing groundbreaking research that pushes further into the plant’s wellness capabilities than ever before. Dr. Janice Knox, matriarch of the family, had 35 years’ experience as an anesthesiologist when she was initially approached about writing prescriptions for medical cannabis. She realized she knew nothing about the plant as medicine, and delved into intense research of the human endocannabinoid system to uncover the truth. Opening the first American Cannabinoid Clinic in Portland, Oregon, Janice soon convinced her husband David, an emergency room physician for 38 years, to join her. As their daughters Rachel and Jessica completed dual-degree medical and MBA programs from Tufts University (with undergraduate degrees from Tufts and Harvard respectively), they too saw the value of the clinics, which had begun expanding from the original Portland location. It wasn’t long before Rachel and Jessica started working with their parents. Their scientific findings on the endocannabinoid system have been particularly significant to the Black community, in terms of both access to proper healthcare and in providing incredible role models. (Janice still recalls how few doctors of color were in the field when she did her residency at the University of Washington.) Today the Knox Docs are nationally renowned, speaking and sharing their research at conferences throughout the country. They are currently fundraising for Advent Academy, a formal education platform by which they can train other medical professionals in working with patients’ endocannabinoid systems. “I think of this entire industry as a do-over,” Rachel says. “Are we investing in the technologies for hemp [and higher-THC applications]? Are we thinking about how we can use that plant to help our ecosystem and improve our health that way? To me… it is all integrative.” And, Janice adds, it’s up to the women to lead this revolution. “Take your place,” she exhorts, “take your place.”
Photo © American Cannabinoid Clinics
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DR. CHANDA MACIAS While earning her PhD in Cellular Biology from Howard University, Chanda Macias expressed to one of her professors that she’d like to study the effects of cannabis on health. At the time, the professor dismissed her request by stating, in effect, that cannabis was far too risky an area for a Black scientist to investigate. However, Macias knew she was on the trail of something big. After a career in biomedical research that led to breakthroughs in understanding the mechanism of prostate cancer metastasis to bone; oral care solutions and treatment options at Colgate-Palmolive Company; and becoming the Director of STEM Education at Howard’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences, she eventually circled back to what had first captured her attention. In 2015, Macias (or “Dr. Chanda,” as she is colloquially known) founded the National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC) in Washington, D.C., which was at the time only the second medical cannabis dispensary in the United States to be owned by a Black woman. Through NHHC, Dr. Chanda promotes education on ailment strain alignment, which pairs particular strains of cannabis to specific types of illnesses and pain for more effective treatment. Since joining the cannabis industry, Dr. Chanda has grown to be one of the most influential women in the space: She became the first Black CEO and Chair of Women Grow, the nation’s leading networking organization for professional women in cannabis, in 2018 and works tirelessly toward common-sense federal legislation reform as Vice Chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable Board. Most recently, Macias has helped form significant bedrock for Louisiana’s cannabis industry, by creating Ilera Holistic Healthcare in New Orleans as a sister organization to NHHC and establishing a partnership with The Southern University and A&M College, Louisiana’s oldest historically black university, for a groundbreaking hemp-derived CBD line. The university, which had begun collaborating with Ilera on a cannabis research program, earned an unprecedented milestone victory as the first HBCU to launch its own CBD product line - the brainchild of Dr. Chanda, who told Forbes, “As an alum of an HBCU, Howard University, I am truly humbled and proud to be part of this historic moment.” It’s clear that Dr. Chanda’s story is coming full-circle, though perhaps her greatest landmarks on our scientific understanding have yet to be known. But when she takes the risk, it’s a pretty safe bet the outcome is for humanity’s benefit.
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Championing Medical Marijuana By Neha Mulay Elizabeth Cramer Ernst is the founder of Hamptons Medi-Spa and one of the most notable medical cannabis practitioners on the East Coast. Hamptons Medi-Spa is a telemedicine site and service which grew out of Elizabeth’s passion helping her patients obtain access to medical marijuana. In 2014, Ernst’s mother suffered a spinal cord injury. Due to her subsequent mobility issues, she struggled to receive appropriate care. In 2016, Ernst’s broke her ribs, for which she was prescribed morphine and percocet. She realized the issues around controlled substances and prescription medication. The combination of these events further fueled Ernst’s dedication to accessible and alternative forms of care. On the 30th of November 2016, nurse practitioners were allowed to start writing prescriptions for cannabis. Elizabeth obtained her license on the 1st of December which marked the official commencement of Hamptons Medi Spa. Today, she has treated thousands of medical patients, including some amazing cases with children with rare conditions. Medical marijuana is slowly gaining traction on the local as well as the global level. The UK approved cannabis-based medication in November, 2019. New York state approves medical marijuana for certain, specific conditions. According to Elizabeth, having access to a card provides tremendous freedom for doctors and relief for patients who may suffer from chronic conditions. Additionally, Ernst also assists patients in discontinuing their reliance on addictive prescription medications such as opiates, pain meds as well as other psych meds. Currently, Ernst uses medical marijuana for the treatment of several conditions including chronic pain, PTSD, patients with seizures, cancer as well as conditions such as OCD and anxiety. Many of her patients are children and infants.
cacy. Ernst believes that with time, the use of medical marijuana will become increasingly normalized. In addition to her work with patients, Elizabeth is also involved in research and advocacy. In 2015, Elizabeth successfully sued the State of Florida in Federal court in the case of Cramer et al vs. Agency for Health Care Administration which effectively broadened the scope of supplies and services available to patients at home through the Medicaid program. One of Ernst’s ongoing projects for NYU, on which she’s collaborating with a neonatologist, focuses on studying cannabis use in babies during birth injury. Additionally, many of her insights on the uses of medical marijuana come from anecdotal evidence and her work with patients. Many teens and adolescents benefit from medical cannabis as it takes them off the street and allows them to deal with their anxiety in a non-impairing way. Elizabeth is currently working to create a program in Jamaica to assist with healthcare and medical marijuna over there. She leads a team of clinicians and candidates who have worked on numerous research projects with Canadian companies. The end goal is to provide pediatricians with as much research as possible to legitimize their prescriptions. In doing so, Elizabeth’s specific interest is milligrams and specifically the search for a daily dosage that can be extrapolated depending on the specifics of the medical case. Ernst is also the founder of Hemp in the Hamptons, a body care company specializing in hemp-infused products; the idea for the new entity emerged when Elizabeth developed a skin cream of her own creation. The cream received fantastic reviews and patients have used it for a variety of issues such as shingles, for neuropathy, sunburn, muscles of course and pain.
Expanding Hemp in the Hamptons is one of Ernst’s goals for 2020. She aims to make it more available and accessible, both online and in a future brick-and-mortar shop where consumers may purchase their products in person. In the age of coronavirus that may have to In May 2019, the federal appeals court reinstated a wait, but the indefatigable medical expert continues landmark decision that decided that Cannabis’s Sched- to consult with patients all over the country, another ule 1 classification posed a problem to the health of of our healthcare heroines. Could cannabis help with paritnets. While the medical community still holds COVID-19’s respiratory symptoms? The research is reservations against the use of medical marijuana still ongoing, but where Elizabeth Cramer Ernst goes, however, Ernst believes that many practitioners could the best of care is sure to follow. be convinced through additional research and advo72 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
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WOMEN on the move
From social media to broadcast comedy, community events to marketing bonanzas, the new avenues for expression in cannabis are growing to encompass every aspect of modern life. What makes an “influencer”? Is it a special passion that imbues her platform, a cleverness in how she communicates directly to her audience, a keen understanding of the play between image and text? The women here have all these talents and more, but they also share an undying love for the plant and a commitment to help others. Like, share, and subscribe if you wish, but implement their teachings in 3D too - these advocates are the real deal. MARY JANE GIBSON The lady, the legend, the voice: Mary Jane Gibson (and yes, that is her real name) may be one of the most fascinating artists on the cannabis scene today. An award-winning actress, she is best known in her advocacy of the plant for her groundbreaking work as High Times’ former culture and entertainment editor; her frequent cannabis-centric columns for Rolling Stone, Leafly, and Dope Magazine among others; and especially her role as co-host and co-creator of the popular podcast Weed + Grub with Emmy-nominated comedian Mike Glazer. Gibson’s eclectic knowledge and one-of-a-kind takes on the cannabis scene, from tracking legalization efforts to infused food to celebrity interviews with the likes of Margaret Cho, Charlie Sheen, and Melissa Etheridge, along with her charismatic personality, have made her “one of the 15 most powerful women in the weed industry,” according to Complex. Even in times of crisis, Gibson maintains her unique humor and optimism - hey, she’s a Newfoundlander; it’s in the blood - and so her dulcet tones in any situation give off a high all their own. CAIT CURLEY “Fighting for the plant and a healthy planet has become my life,” says hemp educator Cait Curley. “I really do eat, breathe, and sleep advocacy and education.” The passionate activist practices what she preaches, having uprooted her life completely in 2016 when she moved from New York to Colorado to devote herself entirely to advocacy for the cannabis and hemp industries. Through her savvy command of media, marketing, and stunning imagery, Curley is able to communicate to a mass audience the importance of hemp to our daily lives. She educates the public on everything from hempcrete and consumer products (hemp clothing, hemp guitars) to key moments in history and the latest business developments. You can often find Curley helming social media and other advocacy efforts for events hosted by We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA), the organization behind NoCo Hemp Expo, the world’s largest industrial hemp conference, and the Southern Hemp Expo, the premier hemp trade show in the Southeast. Curley has also been a major activist in the fight against Facebook’s censorship of hemp-related posts, and has been spotlighted in publications such as Forbes and Ministry of Hemp as one of the space’s most innovative influencers. To which we say, you grow, girl! 74 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
Photo: Kristine Condon
ZOE WILDER Media maven and PR goddess Zoe Wilder is renowned for her revelatory approach to content in the realms of cannabis, psychedelics, wellness, tech, music, art, wine and spirits. Over the past 18 years, she has worked with clients comprising the top talent, thought leaders, and companies across diverse industries, bringing particular light to cannabis organizations with significant impact for the public good such as The Last Prisoner Project, Belushi’s Farm, Eco Firma Farms (the first wind-powered cannabis farm in the United States) and more. A master at combining emerging markets with powerful narratives, Wilder has been a dedicated cannabis activist from a young age - she recalled in a recent Forbes interview how she used to tear down D.A.R.E. posters at school in the name of protecting the plant - and merges her advocacy with insightful perspectives on the industry for publications like Rolling Stone and HuffPost. Wilder’s expertise is not only sought and acclaimed by tastemakers from around the globe; her imprint both in and outside the cannabis industry has resulted in her repeatedly being listed as one of the most influential women in cannabis, including a spot on High Times’s prestigious “100 Women in High Places” issue. STORMY SIMON In 2016, Stormy Simon shocked the business world by abruptly departing Overstock.com, where she had been for 15 years and risen to international prominence as its President, for the cannabis industry. But what seems on the surface like a radical twist was only natural for Simon, who has been a self-described “green advocate” all her life and embraced cannabis wholeheartedly as a way to improve our planet, our health, and all aspects of humanity. During her award-winning tenure at Overstock, Simon grew the company’s revenue from $20 million to $2 billion, and upon entering the cannabis space immediately devoted her time and energy to advising numerous women-run cannabis businesses. She is also a longtime advisory board member for CannaKids, a parent-friendly cannabis oil company that helps patients coping with cancer and other diseases. Additionally, Simon began serving on High Times’s Board of Directors in 2017, before being tapped in January 2020 as the company’s first female CEO. Legendary for her eloquence and compassion, Simon recently explained her commitment to cannabis to Forbes: “The idea of being a part of the end of a needless prohibition in our lifetime is an honor... it’s insane to me that people (mainly white people, and I will soon be one of them) are making money off the sale of marijuana while people (many of them colored) are incarcerated… One of my passions is to remind citizens, the industry and our government, the sacrifices that have been made to have access to a healing plant. While it’s www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 75
Photo © Amber Lokatys and shot on Aster Farms
a beautiful plant, the sacrifices and punishments that have been served to get us here have many ugly tales. My soul boils when I think of the amount of injustice and inequality we have served to people over this plant. It should never be forgotten.”
ing space in fire-ravaged Lake County, CA, while the December 2019 Winter Solstice celebration provided over a week of venues for entertainment and advocacy where local artists and cannabis entrepreneurs could expand their audience reach. Swatosh has long been active in the natural space as the founder of Heartbeet Juicery, a popular cold-pressed juice kitchen and delivery service, and in the arts as creative director, producer and curator for organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art, Soho House, and The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. She believes that “we can use cannabis as a conduit for a larger conversation, reevaluating our relationships with ourselves, our community and the planet through education, advocacy and immersive purpose driven experiences.” SOLONJE BURNETT Culture Curator Solonje Burnett serves her community in every way as an event producer, artist, consultant, and political activist. It is her mission to give underrepresented communities a seat at the table within the cannabis industry and by extension all global business. With Danniel Swatosh, Burnett is a co-founder of Humble Bloom, where her production and storytelling talents enable events, education
DANNIEL SWATOSH Self-described “cannavist and manifestor” Danniel Swatosh is the co-founder of Humble Bloom, a creative collective that promotes education in the cannabis community through events and narrative experiences. With her business partner Solonje Burnett, Swatosh has made Humble Bloom an invaluable resource for those looking for equitable, fair and regenerative opportunities within the community. Their signature events combine spiritual exercise and love of the plant with action-oriented programs that empower participants to make a difference; for example, Fall 2019’s Field Trip created a healPhoto Solonje: Helena de Bragança 76 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
and opportunity to merge for the public good. Never missing a chance to speak out for equality, Solonje has been called “resolute in [her] resistance of the corporate takeover and commercialization of the industry, and [sees] diversity and inclusivity in cannabis as a stepping stone to healing systemic oppression and injustice.” As a private consultant to businesses and organizations, she also creates innovative workplace designs and programs to implement diversity and inclusivity. A member of the Equity First Alliance Steering Committee, Burnett was recognized as one of 15 Women to Watch in the CBD Industry in Marie Claire and Culture Magazine’s Five Cannabis Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2019, with features in publications and podcasts including Vogue, VICE, WGSN, Cheddar, Women & Weed, Miss Grass, Maria and Jane, Supermaker and more. LESLIE HOFFMAN Leslie Hoffman is a pioneer in sustainability. Based on Shelter Island, NY and Asheville, NC, she spent ten years as a carpenter and green builder before
becoming Executive Director of the award-winning Earth Pledge Foundation. At Earth Pledge, Hoffman spearheaded six core initiatives including Green Roofs, Farm to Table, Waste=Fuel, and Future Fashion. Hoffman has been an advocate in the cannabis space since 1995, supporting drug reform policy through philanthropy. She was a partner in the hemp fashion company IZM before its purchase by Woody Harrelson; has been involved in NJ-based vertical farming operations since 2015; and became one of the first participants in NC’s Hemp Pilot Program in 2017.Today with her partner Scott Brinkley, Hoffman is the founder of the Asheville Hemp Project (AHP), a farm-based hemp company that uses organic and regenerative practices and modern manufacturing standards to deliver cannabis and CBD products that are safe, natural, and effective. AHP’s tagline “Take a Moment: Look Inward, Look Outward, Look Homeward,” invokes Thomas Wolfe’s classic novel Look Homeward, Angel set in Asheville and the company’s CBD products provide a needed aid in these stressful times.
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INVESTORS, INNOVATORS & CANNABIS LEGENDS
We’ve all heard the statistics about women in business - that just barely a third of cannabis companies have women at executive levels, that only a shocking two percent of pitches from female entrepreneurs receive venture capital funding in a given year. While the appalling gaps in gender parity remain a fact, there are those working with all their power to change things for the better. Meet our superheroines: Hailing from diverse backgrounds, building brands across all aspects of the industry, and reinvesting their resources into making success more accessible for other women, these titans are a force to be reckoned with. You don’t need to be a numbers genius to profit from their examples. Jeanne M. Sullivan There can be no discussion of women in cannabis without mentioning Jeanne M. Sullivan. A true industry pioneer with over 25 years of experience as a venture capital investor, Sullivan is renowned for her fierce and infectious enthusiasm. Her familiar rallying cry to fellow investors to “Get your PhD in cannabis!” has led to millions upon millions of dollars raised across all areas in the space. A co-founder of a successful tech investment firm in New York City, Sullivan claims she is “on a mission to fund and fuel women CEOs (and a few good men).” She serves on the Board of Trustees of ASTIA, an organization that invests in women-founded companies in tech and life sciences. Particularly known in the last several years in cannabis for her achievements as an investor, advisor, connector and keynote speaker, Jeanne is now building investment platforms for The Arcview Group. She is a passionate advocate for legalization and regulation in the industry, and is a key leader in Arcview’s recently-announced Member Managed Fund, that was created by Viridian Capital. In high demand as an industry speaker, Sullivan also served for many years on the board of the New York Venture Capital Association and the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School, and currently serves as an Athena Fellow at Barnard College’s Athena Leadership Center. Honored by the New York Hall of Science for her work inspiring women and girls in the science and technology sectors, Jeanne now serves on their Board of Trustees.The New York Angels honored Jeanne with an OPEL (Outstanding Professionals for Entrepreneurial Leadership) award; Sullivan has truly laid the foundation for scores of others to succeed in uncharted territories. Forbes has cited her as “one of the women VCs changing the world – grooming the next generation of female entrepreneurs and Business Insider honored Sullivan as a “rising star in Cannabis”. Every encounter with Sullivan is a lesson in the power of imagination. Here’s what Jeanne claims as her best achievement: Breaking ground in new sectors and inspiring others to follow - their tech fund was early to invest in leading cloud-based computing software and e-Commerce companies and Jeanne Sullivan finds it thrilling to be an early student and investor in the complex cannabis sector - aiming to remove the stigma of the plant, source great business owners, and support women and diversity in the sector. www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 79
Codie Sanchez “Negotiate like a girl, because you can get what you want. You will handsdown never get what you don’t ask for.” This quote from Codie Sanchez’s personal website perfectly encapsulates her approach to business and life. Now Managing Director and Partner at Entourage Effect Capital (EEC, formerly Cresco Capital), a leading cannabis investment firm, Sanchez is one of the foremost figures shaping the industry for women and minorities. Formerly an award-winning journalist, she switched to finance so she could empower people making a difference in more direct ways. After managing mutual funds at Goldman Sachs and consulting for Facebook, Apple, and others, she turned her passion for healing full-force toward cannabis. As of November 2019, EEC has invested more than $100 million across 40-plus cannabis companies, and Sanchez has recently joined the board of the prestigious Arcview Group, where she will be spearheading efforts to foster more opportunities for diverse leadership in the space. Tahira Rehmatullah Consistently named as one of the most powerful women in cannabis by media including Fortune, Forbes, and Complex, Tahira Rehmatullah subtly drives the sector into the future. As president of T3 Ventures, a strategy consulting and advisory firm geared toward early stage companies and investment funds, she is known for her commitment to women and minorities succeeding in the space. Her forward-thinking leadership has been put to use throughout the industry, from her time as General Manager of Marley Natural, where she developed, launched and led product lines that came to define the iconic cannabis brand; to being Managing Director of investment firm Hypur Ventures; to her instrumental position as Chief Financial Officer of MTech Acquisition Corp., the first U.S.-listed Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) focused on ancillary cannabis businesses. In 2019, Rehmatullah worked hand-in-hand with MJ Freeway co-founder/CEO Jessica Billingsley to complete a unique industry transaction, when MTech and MJ Freeway merged to become Akerna, a cannabis tech company listed on the NASDAQ. Rehmatullah now serves on Akerna’s board of directors, one of the few women to sit on the board of a public cannabis company. It’s easy to see why Business Insider early on deemed the award-winning entrepreneur a “rising star” cannabis investor; her holistic approach also encourages others to shine. Nancy Whiteman Edibles queen Nancy Whiteman has moved mountains as CEO of Wana Brands. The Cornell-educated executive owned a successful marketing firm before making the move to cannabis in 2010, which certainly helped her and her team to quickly solidify the company’s place as the country’s number-one bestselling edibles brand. Under her direction, Wana has more units and dollars sold than any other edibles brand, and consistently leads the industry in quality, consistency, and potency; products are currently available in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Illinois, Florida, and Michigan, with expectations to enter 80 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
California, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and internationally in Canada by the end of 2020. Whiteman emphasizes Wana’s mission to “enhance your life,” an ethos reflected in the company’s strong commitment to corporate social responsibility. They currently operate numerous initiatives that address issues of homelessness, domestic violence, and equitable access to healthcare. Additionally, Whiteman has a laundry list of achievements to her credit, being heralded as “The Queen of Legal Weed” by Inc Magazine and “the Martha Stewart of edibles” by Entrepreneur, developing Wana into one of the best places to work in cannabis according to mg Magazine, and delivering one of the first keynote addresses at South by Southwest’s inaugural official Cannabis Business track in 2019. Listed at Number Three on Cannabis Business Executive’s 2019 Power Women in Cannabis and as one of only six women named to High Times 100 this spring, Whiteman’s legacy in the space is secure and ever expanding. We can’t wait to see where she goes next. Cassandra Farrington She may have stepped down as the CEO of Marijuana Business Daily in December, but as co-founder and de facto captain of the leading cannabis B2B media source since 2011, Cassandra Farrington has arguably done more to change the course of the industry than anyone in the past decade. Not only did the former Citigroup executive and her business partner develop a platform for international business news in the legal cannabis space, providing a critical need for the burgeoning sector, but they also created the Marijuana Business Conference in 2012. Known as MJBizCon, it has become the world’s largest international cannabis industry conference, renowned for introducing new companies and innovations in its expo (as well as being the initial networking connection for countless other professional ventures). The 2019 show was the biggest MJBizCon yet, with over 1300 exhibitors drawing in 31,523 attendees from more than 75 countries. Meanwhile Farrington, who has been dubbed “High Priestess of Marijuana Business Intelligence” by Inc. Magazine, will continue her extraordinary work in the space as Chair of MJBizDaily’s Board. She has always been recognized as an agent of change in promoting women in leadership roles; on the subject of how to fight sexism in the cannabis industry she told us: “The best way to combat it is to continue to establish, support, and encourage female entrepreneurship. Because things change when women are indeed at every single level, in every single company, engaged in every conversation, and empowered to respond, ‘Dude, did you just say that?’” No one will ever have the last word on Cassandra Farrington, and we eagerly anticipate her next moves. Kim Rivers “Holy shit – she’s a force,” a top cannabis industry expert has said regarding Kim Rivers’s impact on the space. As CEO of Trulieve, Florida’s first and largest medical cannabis company which has now grown to one of the nation’s most profitable brands in the sector, Rivers holds an unrivaled power. In the position, she presided over the creation of Trulieve’s dispensary network in Florida, which counts 43 locations in the state to date, led a successful effort to raise capital by coordinating to sell Trulieve shares on the Canadian Stock Exchange, negotiated impressive acquisition licenses in California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and continues to direct cultivation, processing, and marketing strategies. “Our rapid expansion is due in large part to our focus on delivering a consistently high patient and customer experience. This focus drives everything from our breadth of high-quality cannabis products to the knowledgeable and accessible Trulieve employees in our dispensaries. It’s our ever-expanding base of loyal customers and our dedicated employees that have helped Trulieve develop www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 81
the blueprint for a successful and profitable cannabis company,” Rivers said. Her background as an attorney, in which she specialized in mergers, acquisitions, and securities for large companies, has perfectly prepared Rivers to rise to the top in the Wild West environment of legal cannabis. During 2019 her name headed nearly every major industry listing, from Cannabis Business Executive’s Power Women of Cannabis to MJBizCon’s Trailblazing Women to High Times’s prestigious Female 50, a selection of the most influential women in the field. “As a female leader in the cannabis industry, I strongly believe in championing the need for more diversity across the market. I’m proud to be a pioneer in, but even more so, to be setting an example for young women nationwide that no career path is off-limits. The cannabis industry serves a wonderfully diverse community, but we still need to make major strides in ensuring that leadership reflects that diversity,” said Rivers. Jessica Billingsley A passion for rock climbing has evolved into an apt metaphor for Jessica Billingsley’s life: She takes risks, she scales walls against impossible odds, and she leads her teams to the summits with the most fascinating mix of responsibility, humility, enthusiasm and aplomb. Therefore it’s no surprise that the CEO and co-founder of Akerna, a full seed-to-sale cannabis technology company, is such a pioneering figure. Billingsley is the first female CEO of a cannabis company to have her business traded on NASDAQ , and Akerna itself is the first compliance technology firm in the space to be listed on the exchange. Other landmark feats: Being the initiators of an enterprise resource planning product specifically for cannabis called MJ Platform, which is offered through the company’s MJ Freeway entity, and being the first business of its kind to expand internationally. Akerna’s international portfolio includes 14 countries and the company has tracked $17 billion in worldwide client sales. Additional members of the Akerna family include LEAF Data Systems, supporting state government cannabis program operations; solo, integrated tagging and tracking technology for consumers and brands on a wide variety of platforms; and Canadian platform Ample Organics, a recently-announced acquisition. Billingsley has become one of the most sought-after executives in both cannabis and tech; she has been named to Fortune’s Most Promising Female Entrepreneurs, Inc. Magazine’s 100 Female Founders, Entrepreneur’s 100 Powerful Women, High Times’s Female 50, and many more accolades. Still, ever the good steward of others, Billingsley keeps her eyes on the broader horizon. She’s observed that the percentage of women in tech is currently lower than it was 25 years ago, warning in a recent comment to Forbes: “We are going in the wrong direction. We as a society – not just women – need to be thoughtful about how we progress again.” Thank goodness we have her example to show that with the right ingenuity and powers of foresight, we can indeed reach the peaks. 82 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
Dr. Dina She’s not really a doctor, but she has been played on TV. Dina Browner, dubbed “Dr. Dina” by Snoop Dogg for her expertise in medical cannabis, is one of the great pioneers of the modern cannabis movement – and the inspiration for Nancy Botwin, the main character on Showtime’s hit Weeds. Browner’s advocacy in the space is legendary; Snoop Dogg, her longtime friend and business associate, gave her the “honorary doctorate” to celebrate her work in providing safe access to medical cannabis following the passage of California’s Compassionate Use Act in 1996. Numerous celebrities and dignitaries have approached Browner for her medical knowledge to grant them access to the best medical cannabinoids, and she has advised countless dispensaries and businesses on compliance and regulation in her home state of California, working closely with the cities of West Hollywood and Los Angeles, and nationally. Browner is the co-owner of the award-winning Alternative Herbal Health Services in West Hollywood (AHHSWEHO), the oldest continually operating dispensary in the United States. AHHSWEHO was the first dispensary in California to sell adult-use cannabis under the new laws in 2018, and the business inspired Ruth’s Alternative Caring on the Netflix series Disjointed, for which Browner consulted. Among her many achievements, Browner has been immortalized in the Hash Marijuana and Hemp Museum (Barcelona and Amsterdam) exhibit on women who changed the cannabis industry. Kimberly Kovacs At the top of 2020, Kimberly “Kim” Kovacs became the first to take on The Arcview Group’s newly created role of President. Her appointment is a highly strategic and fortunate one for Arcview; the preeminent investment group will be able to draw on Kovacs’s nearly 20 years of success in venture capitalism and angel investment. Kovacs has had a long history of experience in California-based businesses focusing on tech and women-owned startups; in the cannabis space, she is perhaps best known for founding MyJane, an online curated cannabis experience specifically for women. MyJane’s popularity led to an acquisition by the cannabis business solutions giant Manifest 7 in 2019. Additionally, Kovacs is the managing director of Arroyo Ventures, a firm that empowers high-level investors and entrepreneurs to connect, with a special interest in promoting women-led entities and projects that strengthen local economies. Affiliated with several other companies in which Kovacs has taken a managerial role, including Golden Seeds (an investment firm in early-stage women-owned businesses) and TechCoast Angels (California’s leading source for startup funding), Arroyo has been vastly able to increase the growth capital potential of the startups that come under its wing. Now that she’ll be spearheading similar growth for Arcview, it’s clear Kovacs is thrilled about the new horizons ahead. “For me to lead this group and all it does to build a positive, healthy and diverse investment environment for cannabis is the perfect next step,” Kovacs told BusinessWire shortly after her appointment was announced. “We’re at a pivotal time in the cannabis industry, and I look forward to leading Arcview members through the www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 83
ELEVATED ELEGANCE: CANNABIS-INSPIRED KIND FINE JEWELRY By Allison Hagg Shella Eckhouse is a confident woman who can reassure you and inspire you to radiate your own badassery. With over 20 years of business experience as a graduate gemologist crafting the finest quality jewelry, Eckhouse knows what she’s doing. Her most recent collection, fittingly named Kind Fine, is a diverse line with “pieces for every outfit,” from tasteful studs to a blingy diamond cannabis flower pendant to a cheeky 420 necklace. The collection elevates the plant to a new level of class. Each piece is crafted with care and finesse right in the heart of NYC. “I work in the diamond district and all pieces are crafted right there,” Eckhouse says. Of the pieces in her collection, she enthuses, “I love them all, they’re all my babies.” On top of this, Kind Fine has partnered with the nonprofit organization Patients Out of Time, which works to educate healthcare professionals and the public at large about the medical benefits of cannabis. Patients Out of Time receives a percentage of the proceeds from each Kind Fine piece sold that Eckhouse has designed for their partnership. This means you can now advocate for cannabis, support a good cause, and look fabulous while doing it. “Being an advocate and being active in the cannabis community is something I hope to keep doing,” Eckhouse emphatically states. Patients Out of Time is a cause particularly close to home. “My mother died a few years ago of cancer and she used cannabis medicinally, which helped her tremendously,” Eckhouse says. “I just feel like if cannabis helps you at the end of your life, it should be acceptable.” Although she concedes that her cannabis-inspired collection is still societally taboo enough to be considered “edgy,” Eckhouse is hopeful for the immediate future. “The climate has changed and is evolving constantly. All people should be wearing their passions… I think 2020 will be a great year for cannabis and the plant, whether it be hemp for paper, CBD for anxiety, whatever.” With women like Eckhouse taking a leading role in the increasingly powerful cannabis industry, there is indeed a lot to look forward to. Photo Shella Eckhouse, founder of Kind Fine Jewelry © Phil Blair @aphilseyeview 84 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
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Hot off the Presses: Media Champions The business of information has never been so crucial as in the world of cannabis. Where major media moguls once conspired to take the plant down (we’re looking at you, William Randolph Hearst!), in the twenty-first century new voices have emerged, ready to shout the truth from the rooftops. In cannabis there is life, love, freedom. It should be normalized, because it is. These valiant wordsmith warriors have brought landmark cultural touchstones to the cannabis community. From filmmakers to attorneys, designers to activists, here are the media mavens we’ll listen to any day.
States for critical evaluatory information on edibles products. Its sister magazine, the first and only publication of its kind dedicated to edibles, topicals, tinctures and vapes, debuted in 2013 in California, Colorado, and Washington, eventually expanding nationwide. “You can’t just put a toe in, you have to dive in and learn about the plant,” Le Grand asserts. “Learn everything you can and then share that knowledge, because at the
B. LE GRAND At age sixteen, B. Le Grand took the unusual step of buying herself a ticket out of paradise, leaving her native Hawaii for San Francisco and a life of adventure in media and advertising. She started her own web design and marketing firm, Designs By Bo, which she operates to this day, and was the Creative Director and Editor in Chief at Runway Magazine from 2011 to 2012 among other unique experiences. However, Le Grand also knew she had a calling that would involve her passion for cannabis, one that evolved into her now nationally-renowned Edibles List and Edibles Magazine. Edibles List began in 2010 as a submission form to collect data on all businesses and vendors selling legal edibles; it has become the number-one source in the United ©88Paul Tracy Photography www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
end of the day we are all working toward the same goal.” She practices what she preaches with gusto; Le Grand’s loyal staff describe her as “fearless,” “compassionate,” “hardworking,” “business savvy,” and a genuine fighter all in equal measure. Not only that, but away from the magazine she’s also a bonafide rock star: As lead singer, guitarist, and keyboardist for her Los Angeles-based band Le Grand, this keen-minded entrepreneur is grooving on every melody life has to offer. We dig the sound. ELANA FRANKEL Sometimes what seem like cruel twists of fate become perfect op-
© Manuel Rodriguez women pioneering the cannabis industry. Women & Weed has unveiled three absorbing issues so far, gathering such a potent following that this March Simon & Schuster released Frankel’s booklength iteration, in which she anthologized essays from numerous women involved in the canna-business and those who could personally testify to ways in which the plant has changed their lives. Elana’s vision is the gift that keeps on giving; her ideas can only take us higher. KRISTIN JORDAN
portunities for success. Entrepreneur Elana Frankel found this out the hard way when an accident left her with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). “One minute I was chatting with girlfriends,” she recalls, “the next, I was having a CAT scan.” The TBI initially left her bedridden and having difficulty communicating, only for treatment with CBD oil to open a whole new world. As she healed, Frankel was inspired to reach others who could benefit from CBD, and she developed Indigo & Haze,
a brand of infused bath and body care products designed for “the high thread-count hippie.” CBD sugar cube scrubs, teas both drinkable and for the tub, and an irresistible hemp-based body lotion are among the most popular items; Indigo & Haze has become a cherished favorite for those in the know. But by 2018, Frankel wanted more - drawing on her long background in publishing and creative marketing, she developed a biannual magazine that would explore the unique role of www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 89
Mannada comes from the Korean language, meaning “to meet” or “to gather.” Hard to do in modern times, but Kristin Jordan, founder of the event series which bears that name, knew the power of congregation in spreading the crucial information and social bonding that the cannabis community sorely needed. Over her past decade of involvement in New York’s cannabis movement (and eventually the national and international industries), Jordan has been a major force in bringing people together. An attorney and real estate expert, she was a founding member and the first Executive Director of the Cannabis Cultural Association, a nonprofit that works to provide resources for marginalized communities in the space, and proudly focuses Mannada on producing events that highlight professional networking groups who have historically been overlooked, such as roundtables for Latinx and Asian entrepreneurs. Jordan particularly wants to encourage Asian representation in the cannabis industry, as she feels many more stories from that community and those like her with Asian heritage can add a richer understanding to the history and future of cannabis. Kristin’s sister venture to Mannada, The Maze, is a national event guide to cannabis meetups and seminars with listings for major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta. Among Mannada’s landmark events are the Cannabis Law Summit and the Cannabis Media Summit, the latter being the first of its kind in the sector to center on journalists and broadcasters. According to Jordan, the role of media in shaping the future of the cannabis industry is significant because these story-
tellers control the narrative that goes out to the widest audiences. Today, as Director of Real Estate at Acreage Holdings, the largest multi-state cannabis operator in the U.S., Jordan is busier than ever in helping others create their own spaces for cannabis stories. She’s been named one of 2020’s most influential movers and shakers in the industry, and we know that, through virtual conferencing or in-person get-togethers, we can rely on Kristin Jordan to continue pushing us all to join in harmony. CHRISTINA DEGIOVANNI “The pen is mightier than the sword” has become Christina DeGiovanni’s motto over the years,
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© Dean Sofer
and boy, does she have the experience to back it up. As founder and CEO of Emerald Media Group, DeGiovanni has crafted publications and media channels that explore cannabis as part of the larger fabric of culture and lifestyle elements; her signature outlet, Emerald Magazine, speaks to women interested in products and information to enhance their health, wellness, and all-around quality of life. But before the green goddess could approach a friendlier, lighthearted side of the plant, she was thrust into darkness. From a young age, DeGiovanni was a cannabis consumer and advocate; upon graduating from high school, she pursued a journalism major at Humboldt State University in California, choosing the in-
stitution because of its location in the heart of cannabis cultivation country (“the Emerald Triangle”). While in college, Christina was dating a cannabis cultivator and one night in 2012 their home was raided by federal agents. Jailed for the evening and besieged for months by asset seizure, complicated court cases, and obstacles galore, she decided to start a magazine to share the truth about the good that the plant can do - and the stories of those unfairly impacted by legislation and stigmas on all fronts. Today Emerald is recognized as a powerful source of wisdom for consumers looking to bridge cannabis with their more mainstream passions, and DeGiovanni herself is heralded as a champion of other women in the space, regularly working with organizations that provide capital to women-owned startups and constantly making herself available to give advice to other female entrepreneurs. “I want people from all walks of life to learn about cannabis and to embrace it,” she has said. “There is no standard… anymore. It’s everyone from senior citizens to millennials [and beyond].” Ever the ultimate in California cool, even though she’s relocated to the East Coast, DeGiovanni is the canna-big sister you’ve always wanted. ANJA CHARBONNEAU Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, Anja Charbonneau has made her creative mark in Portland, Oregon for the past several years - first as an award-winning photographer and art director for Kinfolk Magazine, and since 2017 as the Editor in Chief and Creative Director of Broccoli. Billed as “a magazine created by and for
women who love cannabis,” Broccoli emerged with a distinctive focus on art and visual imagery tied to the plant. Its alluring designs, conceived by an all-female staff, separated it immediately from other cannabis media, as well as the publication’s commitment to print. Charbonneau sees Broccoli continuing to innovate, even as the cannabis industry changes, by normalizing the plant in the context of art and culture, and by further developing an international appeal for readers. “We ship to over 40 countries now,” she explained in a recent interview with Coveteur. “We’re trying to make sure that our content makes sense to people who live in Japan or... Germany, and isn’t totally focused on what’s happening in the U.S.” The global perspective, the elegant artistry, and the fact that issues are available for free all contribute to Broccoli growing into an increasingly household name
(at least among cannabis lovers). Public educational events, such as those with designer Rachel Comey and art installations at MoMA PS1 in New York, have also helped Charbonneau connect her loves of the plant, the visual, and encouraging people to learn. She worries about the misinformation spread so easily about cannabis and CBD, but truly believes in the industry’s ability to thrive. And her optimism goes for print media as well. “I think people can find ways to reach niche audiences and do it in a way that’s affordable for the reader,” she commented. “We believe that all consumable media, music, film, should be free, and in a way, there are really important reasons why it should be free, so that everyone can afford to access it, but then it doesn’t make a business out of it. We have to try to balance those two things.” Amen, sister.
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Photo © Sam. C. Long
RONIT PINTO We couldn’t make this list without Honey Pot’s very own Boss Lady! Visionary extraordinaire, Ronit Pinto’s background of filmmaking and journalism came together in Detroit, where she merged her interests in grit, extremism and intellectual curiosity, to form Honeysuckle, a cultural publication with high visual impact. Dedicated to exploation, timely topics and personal expression, Honeysuckle encompasses deep dives into everything from environmental advocacy to social taboos, art, spirituality and beyond. As cannabis became an in-
creasing area of concentration, Pinto took the opportunity to turn a small opportunity into an historic moment: For the past few New Years Eve’s she would create a showcase of cannabis brands on Times Square billboards, for the first time ever. The campaign, featuring fifteen leading companies including Dasheeda Dawson’s The WeedHead (the first cannabis brand run by an African-American to be spotlighted on a billboard), changed eighty years of New York advertising policy and sparked a host of new marketing alternatives to open for cannabis businesses. Social justice has always been a core theme, earning Honeysuckle two Citation Awards from the New York State As-
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sembly (Assemblywoman Inez Dickens of Harlem) and State Senator Brian Benjamin for progressive reporting. Identified by such outlets as The Bluntness as one of the “badass women leading the charge in cannabis innovations,” while continuing her filmmaking and other creative projects, Pinto embodies the very source of hope and courage she wants audiences and writers to express in her platform. Her openhearted ethereal nature invites us all to learn something new about ourselves and our world. “If the world feels too small, make it bigger.” Amen!
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By Winona LaDuke She’s an amazing plant. You can learn a lot from a plant. For the past four years I’ve been hanging out with cannabis plants. I have a bit of a maternal streak which seems to translate well to animals and plants (children, I am not so sure), and I’ve been growing cannabis. That’s the plant’s name. We all say industrial hemp so that we are not demonized, and people don’t think I have a big marijuana farm out there by Osage. There’s apparently some “stigma” attached to cannabis. So, let me just say it loud and proud. I’m a cannabis grower. Here are my thoughts four years into growing under a Minnesota state permit. The plant is not a slave, she’s an amazing teacher, and we got this, we just gotta figure it out. The Farm Bill opened the floodgates for “industrial hemp”, meaning a plant which will produce seed, flower, and stalk, and comes in less than 3% THC. Minnesota issued seven permits in 2015; 550 in 2019. People acted like it was the gold rush. Just like the spooners and diggers, they all jumped in. As far as “hemp,” it appears that everyone planted as much CBD cannabis as they could, and they are sitting on it. There was this idea that everyone was going to make a million bucks off a plant. Well, that’s not going to happen. There are some people who may lose their farms in Kentucky, where they plowed up entire farms and put them into cannabis. That’s particularly ironic, because Senator Mitch McConnell, the architect of the industrial hemp component in the Farm Bill, really could have helped his team out a bit more. It’s like responsible cannabis farming, about the amount and intent. Farming and love and sex. Treat the plant well, and she will respond. The plant takes love and understanding. When I plant seeds, I develop a relationship with them. What it says on the packet is not what it says in your soil, or in the weather over the upcoming months. It’s sort of like a date, do some chit chat, see how you like each other and decide if you are going to hang out. I swear to the Goddess that there are a whole bunch of guys who don’t want to date, they just want to plant with their big seed drills, harvest with their big combines, and get out of there. Think about farming and love and sex. You may not have the moves for this plant, buddy. 96 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
My Co Some advice from me, the Anishinaabe farmer: Learn how to treat her right. I grow two kinds of cannabis: fiber hemp and CBD cannabis varieties. I’m really careful that the female plants who are producing special magical medicines don’t meet up with any pollen from the males. That’s some life-changing stuff. The flowers are female. Go figure. The hemp field across the road has males. I keep everyone separate. We study varieties best for our region. Minnesota used to have eleven hemp mills, and I just want to see them come back. Those fields are both male and female, but let me just share something with you – the strongest plants for fiber processing are female. They are well-sexed females. They’ve had a wonderful time hanging out with the men and the pollen and they’ve made some great seeds and robust stalks. They don’t like their feet wet either. That’s one of the good things about hemp – it doesn’t take too much water, one of the many reasons it’s a superior textile to cotton. Add to that, the word cannabis is also the root word for canvas. Hemp has the ability to transform the textile and materials economy. Female plants make all that magic, with of course a Images courtesy of Winona LaDuke
urtship of Cannabis lot of good sex. Male plants are some groovy guys too. That’s despite the fact they look all withered in the field, after having sex with thousands of females. They’ve had a good life. They also make pollen, and if you have a clean field, no pesticides, all full of plants having sex, you can make some bees and pollinators happy too. What’s wrong with that? Now what we need is to work together to actualize the renaissance of hemp. Minnesota and North Dakota both have some good hemp research projects, but the medicinal marijuana program is limited. That should really be opened up. Prohibition will end soon, 11 states have legalized, and then there’s all of Canada. We might want to loosen up here in the North Country. The White Earth Reservation should look at this future for our people – from medical to textiles, she is a plant which most people want to grow. Our tribal members are very interested in cannabis. The hold-up is processing. Seventy years as an illegal plant means that we are behind in processing. And, if we are going to rebuild an American economy, which produces goods, instead of buying them from China, we are going to need to figure out cannabis, together. We can’t use slave labor, and we cannot use a bunch of toxins on the fields. The plant doesn’t need any chemicals, it just needs love and good soil. Cannabis can change our world. Treat her with respect, and she will be there for us. Court her well. -A version of this essay was originally published on Winona’s Hemp News. Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned environmentalist, economist, tribal elder, Water Protector, Harvard graduate, former candidate for Vice President of the United States, entrepreneur and hemp farmer. Winona also is owner of Winona’s Hemp and the founder of the Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute and Honor the Earth. www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot 97
CORONAVIRUS AND CANNABIS: LIFE UNDER A GLOBAL PANDEMIC every imaginable way, from manufacturing and distribution to cannabis events and tourism. The bright spot is that sales are robust as people stock up on product to self-isolate with. I’m making a ton of infused recipes with my Weed+Grub co-host Mike Glazer — we’re getting through quarantine together with plenty of weed, while we record fun eps to entertain ourselves. We’re the Quaranteam.” ZOE WILDER, publicist and founder, Zoe Wilder PR: “The obvious is that experiential is shifting to online. Otherwise, for the industry as a whole, there’s no onesize-fits-all approach when factoring market dynamics across an industry with such varied phases of growth and regulation at the state and local levels. One thing is certain: the legacy of this industry is rooted in community, strength, and resolve.” JAMIE PEARSON, CEO, Bhang Corporation:
As COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, ravages the globe, it’s become impossible to find anyone who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. Schools shift to online, as do businesses (unless they close entirely). Citizens everywhere are confined to quarantine. Loved ones are lost in unbearable ways. And yet for the cannabis industry, glimmers of hope remain. In many states with legal medical programs, dispensaries have been declared essential businesses. Still others are finding new channels to reach their audiences during the crisis, and countless people are pitching in to help where they can. We asked some of our interviewees for this issue, top experts in their fields, to comment on how COVID-19 is changing the industry.
Requiring ‘non-essential’ businesses to close, while necessary to keep the virus from spreading, will have the unintended consequence of forcing many business owners to shut their doors for good. According to the American Payroll Association, 74% of all American employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck with no money in savings. That is scary. Those people aren’t working and they won’t be paying rent or mortgages. They won’t be making car payments. They won’t be putting money into the economy in any form. That ripple effect will cause landlords to miss payments. Banks will be repossessing cars and foreclosing on houses. Giving a reprieve on foreclosures in April is asinine. Those payments were missed 120 days ago. The relief will need about 6-10 months to play out before we know what is really necessary. The aid and stimulus packages are critical to basic survival for the majority of our population. Knowing 74% of workers are one paycheck from bankruptcy and based on historical precedent, I expect the rich to benefit the most from stimulus dollars and poor communities to be utterly devastated. Unless the government puts significant dollars into the hands of our citizens directly, this outcome is unavoidable.
MARY JANE GIBSON, writer, actress, and co-host of Weed + Grub podcast: “The coronavirus is disrupting the cannabis industry in
I’m incredibly grateful to be in the cannabis industry. In the industry, we know cannabis is recession-proof and [Monday 3/15/2020] being the highest sales day
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in the history of legal markets (including any 4/20) was no surprise to any of us. The market will recover when this blows over, just like we watched the market recover from the crash in 2008 and from the Great Depression. My parents always taught me in times of severe economic trouble there are a few things you should always have in plentiful supply (besides basic provisions.) Those things are precious metals, alcohol, guns and ammo, and cannabis. Check, check, check and check!
IN MEMORIAM: CHARLOTTE FIGI The cannabis industry lost one of its youngest icons to COVID-19 on April 8, 2020. Charlotte Figi, a Colorado resident, became the face of the CBD movement at five years old when her parents discovered that the cannabinoid oil helped treat her seizures and symptoms from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy with which she had been diagnosed as a baby. Wheelchair-bound and on a feeding tube, Charlotte had not responded well to any other treatment until her parents reached the hemp grower Joel Stanley, who cultivated a special CBD oil for her use. After a week on CBD, miracles occurred: Charlotte could be taken off the feeding tube, her seizures cut down dramatically, and she was soon able to walk and talk. The story made national news, influencing CNN’s chief medical correspondent
Dr. Sanjay Gupta to change his mind and advocate for CBD as treatment for epilepsy. In 2011, Stanley and his family founded Charlotte’s Web CBD, named after the extract he bred for the young patient. Today Charlotte’s Web (CW) is the leading CBD producer in the United States, and the initial strain that changed Charlotte’s life has treated thousands of patients. This young woman’s survival ensured that the entire world would begin to see cannabis as the medicine it is. Her death, at age thirteen due to complications from coronavirus, is noted as one of the darkest days the cannabis community has yet faced. The Stanley brothers paid tribute to her with the following statement: “Charlotte was ten feet tall and carried the world on her shoulders. Inspiring is a lacking word, as are courageous and vivacious and strong and beautiful. She was divine. She grew, cultivated by a community, protected by love, demanding that the world witness her suffering so that they might find a solution. She rose every day, awakening others with her courage, and with that smile that infected your spirit at the cellular level. Her story built communities, her need built hope, and her legacy will continue to build harmony. She was a light that lit the world.”
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CANNABIS ASTROLOGY By Jaime Lubin
It’s 2020 – say hello to a new decade with recently-developed genetics. What’s your star strain? ARIES – Sour Girl Surprised, Aries? You’re used to charging full steam ahead, but 2020 is going to be a year of learning balance and patience. This perfectly measured hybrid, 50 percent indica and 50 percent sativa, reflects the exact tightrope act you’ll need to walk. Uplifting, creativity-inducing, with a thrilling high that also leaves you nearly too relaxed to do much but smile. Give yourself a break, dear Ram. It’s time for self-care. TAURUS – Vanilla Frosting Ideal for the reliable Taurus, this “4” year is all about building foundations. Prepare to be very popular, just like the current “It Strain” of Vanilla Frosting. The descendant of Gelato is a sweet dessert strain that’s indica-dominant and heavy on THC. Soothing but straight to business in its potency, there’s no better match for the Bull. You know what you want; be bold. GEMINI – Cherry Punch Can you have the best of both worlds? With this hybrid strain, weighty yet productive, the changeable Gemini gets a happy hint of stability minus the risk of boredom. You’ll set your own pace this year, so you’ll need all the elements that a Purple Punch descendant like this offers – fruity yet skunky, alleviating anxiety while inspiring activity: That’s what we call the cherry on top. CANCER – WhoOody Like Jerry Colonna searching for the invisible man (points if you get that ancient reference), the Crab will need to be ever-hopeful in 2020. Stay open and mellow, because the changes are coming rapidly. The hidden gem WhoOody, an amazing indica with a gentle touch for full-body pain relief, can help you keep alert and adaptable. Whoo-hoo for all that’s new! LEO – Z-Cube Indulge and enjoy, O Ruler of Beasts – your new year’s journey will be as vibrant as your own epic personality. Kick it off with this one-of-a-kind award-winning strain, a rare indica-leaning hybrid descended from Zkittlez that produces truly mind-blowing effects. Superstars deserve “power cannabis” (though watch your dosing carefully)… and if you’re not a star yet, the spotlight will soon beckon. VIRGO – Eleven Roses The Virgin might just be deflowered this year. Be careful of too many impulsive decisions in 2020, as you’ll want to take some huge out-of-character risks. Similarly, the delicate-sounding Eleven Roses has an earthiness and long-lasting psychoactive effects that belie its innocent name. You’ll be tempered (or tempted) by this indica-dominant hybrid. Perhaps its rhapsodic relief will help you look before you leap. 100 www.hshoneypot.com @hshoneypot
LIBRA – Blue Widow Are you merrily on your way to nowhere in particular? This year will be one for the Scales to decompress and have carefree quality time with friends and family. The best companion: Blue Widow, a Blueberry-White Widow hybrid that’s excellent for stimulating sweet dreams and utter calm. And you’ll definitely want this lady along to put the “chill” back into your flirty Netflix nights, ‘cause stress-free dates make for lasting relationships. The Widow’s got game, y’all. SCORPIO – Wonder Woman Liberate your life in the new year by carrying your inner Lasso of Truth. The super-sativa-dominant strain (though she can produce an indica variant) is known for inducing productivity. That’s exactly what the Scorpion must be in 2020; you’ll learn new skills, mentor others, and have the opportunity to take that trip you’ve planned forever. So pack a little Amazon magic in your invisible plane, good for treating pain, nausea, and other ailments hours on end. You’ll need it if you’re going to save the world! SAGITTARIUS – Margaret Cho-G Just like your fellow Archer, comedienne Margaret Cho, this OG hybrid that bears her name will send you to euphoric heights. It’s a fantastic way to kick off 2020, Sagittarius, because this year is all about letting go. Release the tension and frustration, let the blend of sweet and sour take you to its laughing place, and lean in to the new friend groups Fate is wending your way. CAPRICORN – Ms. Universe I know what you’re thinking: A sativa-dominant hybrid for the Sea-Goat? But yes. Your somewhat cranky default outlook is about to get a boost as perky as a pageant contestant. 2020 is your year, Capricorn, full of luck and love. Meditate on the simmering scents from the Ms. Universe strain; its notes of pineapple, caramel, and vanilla combine to ease away all pain. A little tranquility goes a long way. AQUARIUS – Khaleesi Kush The Water-Bearer is being reborn at the top of the new decade, so you can take inspiration from the Mother of Dragons in reinventing yourself. Like the mysterious, charismatic Daenerys Targaryen, this indica-dominant hybrid has a touch of sweetness but pure passion inside. So do you, Aquarius. Fly into creativity, achieve your dreams; people will take notice and up your fortunes will rise. (Just don’t date your relatives, okay?) PISCES – Nina Lemone In 2020, this Fish has wings. You’ll be elevated by all the excitement this year provides, including major life changes. New businesses? Babies? Skydiving? Bring ‘em all on! With this rare sativa-dominant hybrid, named for your iconic fellow Pisces Nina Simone, bright and spicy effects can easily treat fatigue. You’ll be “feeling good” and energized in a jiffy, ready for any adventure.
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