Browsing: Opinion

Wanda JamesCourtesy of Wanda James

For legal cannabis to spread across the country, people need to speak up in more ways than with Facebook comments and on Gallup polls. Lucky for cannabis users, Wanda James can be loud enough for all of us. The pot entrepreneur and activist was the first black woman to open a dispensary in Colorado, and was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 2017 Cannabis Business Awards for her role in the commercial rise of the plant.

But even with all her success in pushing cannabis forward, James still has an ax to grind with state regulators and corporate interests. She’s frequently at government hearings speaking up for consumers’ rights, social consumption and fair pot policy, and is a regular presence at public demonstrations criticizing law enforcement or elected officials for anti-cannabis actions. Westword recently caught up with James to see what she’s been up to.

patrice-3002Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Like it or not, Denver is quickly becoming a city of transplants. Patrice Ingham wasn’t born very far away, originally hailing from Wyoming before eventually ending up in Denver — but she took pit stops in New York and Washington, D.C., along the way. Now the 27-year-old is switching careers as she finds her connection to the city, and she’s using cannabis to help the transition.

michael-2371Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

One young man struggling with alcoholism and a variety of mental pains believes that the plant is key to overcoming his demons and health issues, yet his family hasn’t been as embracing. As Michael Cavin continues to coax loved ones into accepting the cannabis use he feels is essential to a good quality of life, he’s also realizing how much more of his story is left to be written.

budtenderCourtesy of Scott Yoss

Legal cannabis has produced dozens of unique jobs, yet the face of the industry has always been the budtender. For those consumers who already know what they want, the budtender may simply be a middleman — but for the inexperienced, budtenders are modern sherpas, here to guide us through a new world of strains, vaporizers and other cutting-edge ways to enjoy cannabis.

Not every budtender is so willing to educate customers, but don’t tell that to Scott Yoss. A nine-year veteran of Colorado’s cannabis industry, Yoss uses his vast cultivation and dispensary experience to consult with customers at the Clinic on Colfax. Casual but bluntly honest (his advice on Durban Poison and certain OG cuts has changed my own consumption habits), Yoss chatted with Westword about his favorite strains, annoying customer questions and more.

claudia-1246Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Denver has seen no shortage of transplants, but not all of them feel at home right away. Freelance artist Claudia Campero moved here from Juárez, Mexico, and is still finding her groove in the Mile High as she searches for connections to her culture and heritage. To help her feel comfortable while exploring, Campero uses cannabis.

full melt hashWilliam Breathes

As the author of Cannabis for Chronic Pain, Boulder-based Dr. Rav Ivker is among the country’s best-known and most respected advocates on behalf of medical marijuana. But he’s wary about weed consumption in a number of circumstances, warns that pot addiction is real, and is so against the consumption of powerful concentrates that he supports banning them.

marijuana.billboard.pesky.hangoverPhoto courtesy of the RAND Corporation

The National Association of Cannabis Businesses’ draft guidelines to establish a country-wide advertising standard for the marijuana industry was the subject of a months-long comment period and is expected to be finalized this summer. Doug Fischer, chief legal officer for the NACB, believes such a criterion is needed as soon as possible, even though cannabis remains illegal on a federal level.

In his words, “The time to do this is now.”

anonymous-8468Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Although cannabis is legally sold in Colorado, that doesn’t mean everyone can use it freely. Some people, whether because of their families, jobs or religions, still have to hide their pot consumption — but that doesn’t stop them from toking up. This young scientist, who uses cannabis to curb her anxiety, used the plant to help her calm down before one of the biggest days of her life: her wedding day.

Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov, spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Ade Raphael was diagnosed with cancer shortly after moving to Denver, but the transgender female didn’t let intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions hamper her creativity. Using cannabis to help treat the fatigue, nausea and pain brought on by chemotherapy, Raphael has overcome long odds to survive a disease that attacks one’s ability to breathe, speak and hear.

reefers.cup.marijuana.edible.largeWestword file photo

Amid questions about whether marijuana ads make kids more likely to use pot, the National Association of Cannabis Businesses has created proposed labeling and marketing guidelines. The deadline for feedback on this “National Advertising Standard,” on view below, is today, June 8. But an expert from Colorado, where sponsoring highways is among the only promotional platforms open to marijuana businesses, worries that some of the limits it puts in place are overly severe.

“There’s a very fine line to walk,” says Taylor West, senior communications director at COHNNABIS, a cannabis marketing agency. “You want to demonstrate that you are very committed to responsible practices, but you also need to be careful not to be almost punitive to the industry in an attempt to demonstrate that responsibility.”

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