When I first moved to Venice, I lived on the same street as this guy with fabulous dreads, and just knew I wanted to be friends with him. I think I sold him some weed, but in any case, before I knew it, we had become great friends.
At the time, there was this little shop on the Venice boardwalk that sold pipes. “I could probably make those,” Chris told the proprietor. “Venice was still being Venice back then,” he remembers, so before too long, Chris had gotten the owner to agree to let him set up a glassblowing station in the shop.
This was the days before mass production, so today’s five dollar pipe probably cost around six times that. Not that he was in it for the money. “I just wanted to make artistic pieces.” So when the ability to churn pipes out quickly and inexpensively became possible, he remained committed to his one offs and his art.
These days, years later, the shop is long gone but he is even more into his glass blowing than ever. The pipes themselves are mind blowing. Unlike most commercial pipes, his don’t have flat bottoms, which clog easily and draw poorly. To prevent the pipes from tipping over, he started adding a glass marble to the design for stability. And then, because he’s been a lifelong fan of miniature trains, landscapes, and micro art, he started putting objects in the marble such as palm trees, sailboats, and sunsets.
These little worlds, which are even better when seen through one of the magnifying glasses he buys by the gross, are modern day equivalents of those ships in a bottle, and are almost too beautiful to use.
While most of the pipes are meant to be used, others, like the “suicidal pipe” with its blue and white skull belong on the shelf. For pieces like that, he always includes a one-hitter, so the buyer understands they are collectible.
His best collector, however, is himself. He is, to put it mildly, a borderline hoarder, and has a difficult time letting go of his favorite pieces. When the problem gets too bad, he forces himself to sell a few. “But there are some,” he laughs, “that you’d have to pry from my dead hand.”
(Glass pipes are not the only kind of pipes Chris is well known for. He was the singer of the late lamented metal band Funhouse and the more current, even harder to categorize Ginger Merkin, which blends elements of metal and country into a sound all its own. But that’s another story.)
The Los Angeles cannabis community is under fire. I say this with no sense of drama or pleasure. But a serious threat to our survival is being mounted and, making the situation even sadder, is that it’s being mounted from within our own community.
Under this amendment to Prop D, which was recently proposed to the government, everyone who does not own or work for one of the original Prop D dispensaries will have their licenses rescinded and forced to operate illegally, without the protection of the legal status we’ve fought so hard for. That doesn’t just include the almost 700 dispensaries who have had to purchase the same licenses and meet the same standards as these older stores, mind you. By the way, it also includes dispensaries, mom and pop edible companies, and growers.
This attempt to monopolize the Los Angeles cannabis market runs counter to the state laws, which showcase the need to protect the cannabis cottage industries, which they recognize as the backbone of our community. To make sure that doesn’t happen, a group of us have created the Los Angeles Citizens Task Force on Medical Cannabis Regulations. Expect updates as they happen and, hopefully, to get involved.
Earlier this month, I spent the day at the Abilities Expo, and I’m telling you, it was the most moving, inspirational day in all my days in cannabis. Three years ago, when my good friend, Leah, approached the organization about getting a booth, they turned her down. But this year, reflecting the changing attitudes, after being approached by Felicia Carbajal and Andrew Kuebbing of California Cannabis Advocates, approached them, they agreed to let them participate in the event.
The Expo itself is enormous, and we were just one booth in a giant convention hall, which reminded me how far we have come. The event caters to people with disabilities. Given the option to learn about medical marijuana, these people were starving for information, and bombarded us with questions from the moment the expo opened until the second it closed.
Most of the people we talked to were desperate to get off the prescription pills they were taking, and conservative enough to have never even considered cannabis as an option. We never got tired of telling them, “Lucky for you that you live in California” and seeing the hope on their faces.
Two days later,I had a tale of two cities moment. I had gone to the cannabis cup in San Bernadino the week before, but it had been rained out so I went back the next week. And my immediate reaction was how different from the Abilities Expo this was. Although it’s advertised as a medical cup, you had to look high and wide to find anything medical. Instead, it felt like I was at a pot swap meet, among people who were higher than kites, trying to get even higher.
It’s not that I have anything against that or regretted going -- I still saw old friends, and met some wonderful people and heart driven companies. Even so, it wasn’t like the thrill of spending the day working with Felicia and the California Cannabis Advocates, who do such an amazing job at educating people about the medicinal properties of marijuana and showing them how they can , reach out to local politicians.
That was why the power and inspiration of the Abilities Expo was so overwhelming, empowering, and inspiring. We are creating a community and we are affecting change. In retrospect, I guess it’s not surprising that I went home from the aptly named Abilities Expo feeling like we can do anything.
In my constant search for new information, I joined greenflowermedia.com, where I came across a symposium, and was immediately taken by this charming young guy in a slightly ill fitting suit and his hair pulled back in a pony tail. Completely misreading him, I thought he was going to talk about farming. Instead, to my delight and surprise, it turned out that he was Dr. Dustin Sulak.
To commemorate the launch of his amazing website, www.healer.com, we were honored to speak with him and found him every bit as gracious and informative as he seemed online.
S: How has the medical establishment responded to your advocacy of medical marijuana, and has it gone as you’ve expected?
Dr. S: Medical professionals are often skeptical on the surface, but surprisingly easy to convert to interested and even excited about the possibility of cannabinoid medicine. Once they see their patients turning down refills of narcotics and other prescriptions, it catches their attention. And whenever I lecture on cannabinoid physiology at a medical conference, they quickly realize that cannabis holds potential solutions to some of our biggest challenges in medicine. I have had no problems with professional licensure, have been invited to give grand rounds in prestigious hospitals like the Lahey Clinic, and receive patient referrals from mainstream providers daily. I believe my profession has reached a critical mass in its understanding of the fallacy of marijuana’s stigma and the potential of medical cannabis.
S: How do I find a doctor who will help me integrate medical cannabis into a wellness/healing regimen?
Our three Integr8 Health clinics in New England specialize in that -- we have 15 providers and care for over 18,000 patients with real medical conditions. The Society of Cannabis Clinicians is another resource for finding a provider who works with cannabis as a medicine and goes far beyond simply providing certifications and turning patients loose to the advice of bud tenders and friends. Cannabis is such a versatile medicine and individual responses vary, so patients get best results when they’re followed by a provider that takes a holistic approach.
Since there seems to be a paucity of medical providers with the skills and knowledge required to use cannabis as part of healing plan, I’ve created a patient education website, Healer.com that empowers patients to find their optimal relationship with this healing herb.
S: Your position on dosages and tolerance is the most informative I’ve seen. Many people I know who use cannabis for chronic pain or PTSD in particular are using much higher amounts than you recommend. Is it better for these people to gradually wean themselves off the higher dosages or off their other medications so they’re not in pain during the period of adjustment or not?
Dr. S: After working with hundreds of patients who were using high doses yet experiencing diminished benefits, I developed the “Sensitization program,” a six-day protocol that helps patients reduce their dosages and improve their benefits. The average dose reduction is 50%. This means patients use less, save money, experience fewer side effects, and get more benefits after the six days.
Some people simply need higher doses of cannabis, and approximately 10% of the people who try the sensitization program don’t do better with the lower dose. But it’s important for people to try so they can learn what’s best for them.
S: If you can leave people with one piece of information they need to have, what would it be?
Cannabis is a safe, versatile, and effective solution to many of our most common healthcare challenges. It often succeeds where other medications fail. Cannabis has a tremendous capacity to relieve suffering, improve function, and promote health when used correctly. After decades of prohibition, the medical field is just beginning to learn how to properly use the herb, but we are learning quickly, and in doing so have discovered a communication system in the body that is a key to healing and longevity.
It was an honor and privilege to be at this years expo with California Cannabis Advocates.
Can't wait to be a part of this amazing event!
Check out my photo diary from weekend 1 of the High Times Cannabis Cup!
And because I’m not a doctor, don’t take this as a prescription. But I felt under the weather this week, cut a 500 mg brownie in quarters, ate one quarter every six or eight hours, washed it down with matzoh ball soup and spent two sleepy, restful, almost pleasant days getting through the worst of the “mehs.”.
When I wasn’t sleeping, I used the time to catch up on the nine movies that were nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. (I know, there are only eight, but that’s because Straight Outta Compton was robbed.). I sailed through Brooklyn, Room, The Big Short, and, my favorite so far, The Revenant. Leo, I have to say, you were absolutely brilliant.
Even without seeing the others, though. my real favorite is still Beyond the Sea, the movie Angelina Jolie directed and starred in with Brad Pitt. But that probably says more about me than the movie. I think they’re the best Hollywood couple of all. For all I care, they could pick their noses for two hours. I’d still watch, and I’d still love it.
Bear with me if this is old news, but a number of people have asked me to explain the basics of the marijuana plant, so they can make sense of the jargon. If it’s not, this one’s for you.
There are three basic components of marijuana. The first and probably most famous is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It is the main psychoactive component of the plant, which gets you high, but it also is a treasure trove with wide reaching medical benefits. Next is CBD, or more properly cannabidiol. It doesn’t get you high but also has all sorts of healing properties, of which we’re just beginning to understand.
The third major component of marijuana are the terpenes. They give the plant its particular flavor and smell. They are the least researched of the three, but preliminary studies suggest that the terpenes act synergistically with the other compounds in the plant and catalyze the interactions between the cannabinoids in the plant and the human.
Although there three are the most famous components of the plant, there are at least 480 others that we know about. At least 84 of these are cannabinoids, so they are not insignificant. Researchers are trying to isolate these individual elements to see how they work and how they can be extracted or manipulated for specific purposes.
That information will expand our knowledge, which is a good thing. But as we’ve seen with supplementation, isolating a micro or phytonutrient may be valuable, but often is no substitute for consuming the whole food in its natural, balanced state. So, while I’m all for as much research into plant genetics as we can muster, I still believe that whole plant medicine is the real frontier. I’m admittedly not a scientist, but when given the choice, I’m going to gravitate towards the most natural option. At the end of the day, it’s just the way I roll.
My one overriding passion when it comes to cannabis is whole plant medicine and the potential it has to impart, enhance, and protect our health and well being. It’s something we will be talking about at length, but for starters, I’d like to give credit to Rick Simpson. He’s a true pioneer who has been treating cancer and other illnesses with his high grade Rick Simpson cannabis oil (RSO) for two decades.
He recommends making the oil with an old school methodology that makes tinctures from weed and grain alcohol.The tinctures end up approximating 90% pure THC, are reputed to have a wide range of therapeutic effects, and are universally recognized as the gold standard of medicinal oil.
He’s long been vocal about the benefits of his oil, so, as word of his success spread throughout the media and the Internet, big pharma took notice. They came knocking at his door with suitcases of cash and lots of promises. But Simpson, true to his nature, knew they were more interested in profit margins than healing and responded, as he always has, by putting every trade secret and bit of information he had on the web, free to anyone who wants it.
Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of his philosophy is whole plant medicine. Rick Simpson oil doesn’t just use buds or leaves, but uses the entire plant, including leaves, stems, buds, and roots. That in particular sings to me. In fact, it sings to me every single morning of every single day, when I take mine. So, Rick Simpson, as far as I’m concerned, you are a true patron saint of whole plant medicine. And for that, I thank you.
To investigate Rick Simpson and get instructions on how to make and use the oil, go to www.phoenixtears.ca/. It’s the only official Rick Simpson website. Although many people use is name without asking, he is unaffiliated with any other website or organization, including the Phoenix Tears Foundation.
So there I was, grabbing lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Tacos per Favor, when for no reason at all, I looked at the TV on the wall and couldn’t believe that there was Dr. Oz, talking intelligently and positively about medical cannabis. I was so tickled, because this was the shout out to the mainstream I’ve been waiting for. And who better than Dr. Oz, who middle America watches and trusts, to do it? So, Dr. Oz, thank you.
Check it out...
My idea of a perfect San Francisco day is: eating, shopping, walking until you’re hungry, and eating again. So when I got up there, fresh from the Emerald Cup, I began at my favorite bakery, Tartine. It’s in my favorite neighborhood, the Mission. As you walk up, all you can smell is butter, which always brings me joy.
And it doesn’t even matter what you order, because they take such pride in their work that everything is amazing. For the record, me and my buddies attacked a Croque Madame (a piece of toast, ham, bechamel sauce, and an egg with melted Gruyere cheese), bread pudding, a pan au chocolat (chocolate croissant) and huge mugs of lattes and made from scratch hot chocolate.
From there, it became a madcap free-for-all of eating and mad shopping at the Mission’s small boutiques like Therapy, and lunch at Truly Mediterranean, a hole in the wall for their delectable falafel deluxe, a vegan sandwich on toasted lavash bread -- the best falafel ever.
Although I’m not a seafood person, Olivia and Michael really love it so at the end of the day, we went to Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry Building. Under a gorgeous clear sky, we talked about -- what else -- all the stuff we bought and all the stuff we ate. As I said, a perfect day.
I usually feel a disconnect in crowds, cups or conventions, but I felt that this year’s Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa was an absolute mission. In terms of legalization, regulation, and the growth of the industry, it’s prime time in California. So I gathered all my beautiful, strong ladies together and went as a group, determined to help unify the northern and southern parts of the state.
As anyone who’s lived in either part of the state knows, our community has long been plagued by the stereotypes we have of each other. It’s the classic divide of mountain people vs. flash, grit vs. glamour, soul vs. money. Which was all well and good way back when, but there’s no more time for us and them. With the challenges coming our way, we need to blend the Californias into one powerhouse group.
That hope became one step closer when we founded a brand new organization, the CGA (the California Growers Association). It plans on being a voice for the small farmers and artisanal and independent businesses so that we can pass sensible legislation, and promote and protect the benefits of this beautiful plant. I know it’s still early, but I think this is a big step in making sure we have a place besides big pharma and the deep pockets that have moved into the cannabis business.
To top it off, the Emerald Cup itself was a surprise. It was pretty inspiring to see all the efforts being made to education and to panels, and to meet so many great people from Northern California. Unlike the Southern California events I’ve been to recently, which concentrate, pardon the pun, on dab culture, the Emerald Cup was an old school celebration of flower.
That sings to my heart and, true to the goal of the trip, makes me feel that we can indeed carve out a place for ourselves in this emerging new world. And that is a very good thing.