First Clinical Trial Of Cannabis For PTSD in Veterans Is Now Complete

After a decade of working on the first FDA-approved trial examining the effects of THC and CBD on the symptoms of PTSD in war veterans, a team of researchers has declared their clinical trial complete. The process, however, was not simple.

“We are proud to have persevered through these regulatory hurdles independently of hospitals, universities, or the VA system,” commented site principal investigator Dr. Sue Sisley in a press release.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) received approval from the U.S. Public Health Service to start the study back in 2014. Research began in January 2017 at Phoenix, Arizona’s Scottsdale Research Institute, and was slated to also take place at Johns Hopkins University, until the school dropped out of the experiment in March 2017.

The trial tested marijuana with varying cannabinoid makeups, experimenting with high-THC, high-CBD and equal THC-CBD (1:1) ratio cannabis. Subjects were able to use up to two grams per day during periods of self-dosing, which rotated with phases in which they were required to consume randomly assigned quantities of cannabis.

Brad Burge, a MAPS spokesperson, tells High Times about some of the challenges they had to overcome, which involved serious struggles recruiting vets needed for a robust study cohort.

“Because none of Arizona’s public university hospitals nor the VA were willing to assist with recruiting veterans for the study, enrollment was slower than expected,” says Burge. “So much that last fall, it looked as if we were going to have to end the study prematurely.”

Fortunately, a number of Arizona veteran groups stepped in to find the rest of the 76 subjects needed to make a scientifically viable study.

In terms of medical cannabis, when asked if the panorama of veterans’ rights had changed much in the decade since the study commenced, Burge only cited the VA’s policy clarification that vets on medical cannabis would not be denied health benefits as a positive development.

“Unfortunately the scene hasn’t changed much,” Burge says. “The VA continues to prohibit its health care providers from recommending medical cannabis or helping veterans obtain it, despite numerous state laws acknowledging its efficacy.”

The study’s completion comes at a time when the issue surrounding veterans and cannabis is becoming urgent. Previous research suggests that cannabis may be effective in treating trauma-related conditions, making it no surprise when a 2017 study found that one-in-five vets are already using the plant to treat a mental or physical condition. The same research also found that 82 percent of veterans are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis, with some of its most ardent supporters falling into the 60-plus age range.

But in many states, veterans find it difficult or impossible to access medical cannabis, which is not included in health care plans associated with federal vet hospitals. Though the VA’s policy clearly states that veterans may not be denied benefits due to marijuana use, VA doctors are not allowed to recommend medical cannabis, nor is its staff able to complete paperwork for veterans seeking acceptance in state medical marijuana programs.

MAPS has previously conducted research on the effects of MDMA on PTSD, finding in its results that the drug created “more joy” in patients with the condition.

In Illinois, PTSD is estimated to be present in 11 to 20 percent of all U.S.-Iraq War veterans. The condition was added to the list of medical marijuana qualifying conditions in 2016 and has become the most common factor cited by patients in the state’s medical marijuana program. In 2018 a total of 4,000 Illinois residents sought cannabis treatment for PTSD-related issues.

The post First Clinical Trial Of Cannabis For PTSD in Veterans Is Now Complete appeared first on High Times.


Knowledgeable Dabbing: A Guide To Our Favorite Quartz Bangers

There are several features that make a stellar quartz banger stand apart from the rest. These characteristics include functionality, durability, craftsmanship, and most importantly—flavor. Connoisseurs transitioned from titanium to quartz because the latter allows you to enjoy the flavors of the concentrate and get high as hell. Though titanium nail dabs got us stoned, but every dab tasted like hot oil and burned throats. With a proper quartz banger and quality concentrates, dabs should leave your mouth watering.

One thing to look for in a quality banger is how level the top is for perfect seals with carb caps. You can ensure the top is completely level by holding it upside down on a marble tabletop or completely flat surface, and blowing through the neck. If air is being blown back at you, it will have a perfect seal with a proper carb cap. You can test the seal of a carb cap by capping the banger, covering any holes in the cap, and blowing through the joint. If any air makes it out of the top, it means the seal is imperfect.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is bevels on the inner lip of the top, which creates the perfect seal with bubble caps. But one of the most important aspects to watch for when paying top dollar is the welding on necks and bottoms. You won’t be able to feel or see any creases or imperfections where the neck and bucket connect if it was handmade to perfection. The same goes for any attached bottoms like the opaques—perfect seals will have no ridges on the sidewalls.

Some American quartz makers save money and time by “cold sticking” the joint onto the bucket and calling it a day. Cold sticking is when a glass artist basically uses the flame as glue. The properties of quartz allow it to be stuck together instead of fused without snapping off easily. However, higher quality quartz makers use the flame to create a sturdier complete solid piece of quartz. In the cases of cold stuck joints, the seal won’t be as strong as a fully blown joint. A cold seal can be done in a couple of minutes, while properly binding a bucket to a joint can require up to 40 minutes of flameworking.

Another shortcut quartz makers use is imported joints. They still use American or German quartz buckets for heat retention and flavor, but import lower quality joints to save money. As long as those savings are passed onto the consumer, it isn’t the end of the world.

Cleanest Seals

As we mentioned above, bangers with a fully worked seal are one piece of quartz making them less vulnerable to snapping and breaking when compared to simpler cold seals. Not all seals are equal, however. A few quartz makers fully work and completely polish their joints for a seamless connection.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

Photo Courtesy of Toro Glass

Opaque Bottom JP Core Reactor by Toro Glass

Toro has been consistently making some of the most quality-controlled glass and quartz on the market today. The company is based in New York and they have several quartz nails including opaque and clear versions of the Grail, the Core Reactor, or the Terp Slurper for globbers (big dabbers). Since they started making bangers, they’ve been your favorite quartz makers favorite quartz maker. There are no “seconds” at Toro. Anything short of perfection is tossed into a quartz banger graveyard, never to be seen again. Many of their throw-aways look like they would pass the quality control test of the competition. After comparing Toro original bangers to others on the market, Toro consistently makes the most polished bangers in the game.

Price: $270.00

Pros: The Opaque Bottom Core Reactor combines elements from Toro’s original core reactor which we dubbed the best quartz banger in 2016 and the first opaque bottom which topped the list in 2017. The craftsmanship on this banger is unmatched in the current marketplace. The top is as flat as marble, the welds on the neck and opaque bottom are perfect with no sign of creases when looking at or touching the quartz. The cherry on top is the bevel on the inner lip of the top for better seals with bubble caps.

Opaque bottoms have nucleation sites that allow more vaporization to occur in a shorter period of time. It doesn’t retain heat for as long as clear quartz, however. Fortunately, this banger has a giant chunk of quartz at the center for all the additional heat retention you could need. For a while, the motto for low-temperature dabbers was “waste it to taste it.” But the Opaque Bottom Core Reactor allows you to taste your dab and finish it, too.

Cons: One of the most expensive bangers on the market but you get what you pay for and Toro has more affordable banger options as well like their clear or opaque bottom grails.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

Photo Courtesy of Eternal Quartz

Fat Bottom Banger V4 by Eternal Quartz

The V4 Eternal Quartz Flat Top comes with a thicker bottom than their previous versions. There’s also an opaque bottom version of the V4 with a whopping 6mm of quartz at the bottom!

Price: $159.00

Pros: The neck on the V4 and all other Eternal bangers are fully worked with no seams on the neck. There is nothing on the market that currently matches the quality at their price point. Eternal is out to make the thickest bottom in the game with 5mm on this model and 6mm at the base of their opaque V4 fat bottom. The added heat retention from the thicker base increases the window to drop an insert or dab at low-temperatures. Eternal offers one of the most polished bangers on the market at an unparalleled price point.

Cons: You’ll have to wait a little bit longer for things to cool off before dropping a dab or it’ll burn.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

Photo Courtesy of Grass Lab Glass

Opaque Flat Bottom by Grass Lab

Grass Lab Quartz operates out of Humboldt County, California, where they share a studio with renowned glass artists like Banjo and Bluegrass Glass. They have a few unique quartz banger designs and some of the best craftsmanship available on the market today.

Price: $180.00

Pros: The weld on the neck is immaculate. It’s on par with or better than most of the biggest names in Quartz. Not to mention, a seamless opaque bottom and the beveled top.

Cons: The opaque bottom and walls seem to have a noticeable difference in heat retention. For cold starts with an insert, you’ll have to go in hotter because the opaque bottom seems to lose heat faster than the walls.

Best Etched

The following quartz makers add a creative touch to their bangers to enhance the aesthetic of any custom or high-end dab rig.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

Photo Courtesy of Long Island Quartz

Flower of Life Long Island Quartz Banger

Long Island Quartz uses German quartz and leaves no stone unturned. Their bangers are built to last and perform with the option to have a design etched onto it at about the same price as most other high-end quartz bangers. Their custom quartz comes with a stand and glass so you can display it when you’re not ripping dabs.

Price: $199.99 ($99.99 for unetched)

Pros: The top is beveled for better seals with bubble caps and the bottom is rounded to make Q-tipping even easier. The 4mm thick base and 3mm thick walls provide extra heat retention. Long Island Quartz also forges their quartz into one piece with no sign of cold sealing at a lower price than any other American quartz maker.

You can have them etch a custom design of your choosing and the cherry on top has to be the matching custom stand that comes with every banger.

Cons: The bucket is large and bulky but this is a pro for anyone looking to drop big globs.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

Photo Courtesy of Quave CB

Tesselated Flat Top Club Banger by Quave

Quave is one of the most renowned glass artists in the glassblowing industry today and the most influential in quartz. He was the first to introduce the quartz club banger and now he’s adding his artistic touch to them.

Price: $220.00 ($170.00 for unetched)

Pros:  The new flat top gives users the flavor they’ve come to know and love from Quave Club Bangers with the option to use bubble caps. There is a bevel on top for perfect seals and etching on the bottom for you to get lost in after a few dabs.

Cons: Joints aren’t fully worked.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

Photo Courtesy of Evan Shore Bangers

Evan Shore Long Jawn Etched

Evan Shore is a Philadelphia-based glass artist making some of the best quartz nails on the market today. His original quartz banger design was the first to feature a billowed-out bottom design. Their original design was a slanted top but they now offer both options. They also added the taller “long jawn” banger to their roster in 2018. They give users several options when it comes to customization. From etching to their new “Truth Technique” that has yet to go on sale, Evan Shore brings a unique twist to the aesthetic of a quartz banger.

Price: $200.00

Pros: The new long jawn flat top design adds 5mm to the length of the bucket, making it possible to drop larger dabs with less risk of waste and a cleaner nail. Flat top and the beveled inner lip allow for perfect seals with bubble caps. The billow-bottom combined with the taller “long jawn” design allows you to spin your bubble cap like mad without getting any oil down the neck.

Cons: Not fully worked at the seal.

Most Innovative

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

@dabhanna/Instagram

OG Quartz

The next banger on our list deserved a category of its own. The OG Quartz banger was the first designed with cold start dabbing in mind. Cold starts are like reverse dabs. Instead of scorching your banger for a minute and waiting for it to cool down, you pre-load the extract into the bucket and place the cap on before torching the bottom for a few seconds. The result? Innovation in the form of a totally new approach to low-temperature dabbing.

Price: $160.00 (Cap Included)

Pros: Unlike cold start dabbing with a regular banger, you shouldn’t experience any burning. It took a lot of trial and error but the rounded bottom of the banger and thickened walls are the makings of the perfect cold start dab. You’ll have to use his carb cap for optimal function but it comes with the banger so you won’t have to stress an additional purchase.

To do a cold start dab with the OG Quartz banger, just load it up at the bottom of the bucket, or on the OG Quartz cap which doubles as a tool. With a Blazer Bigshot GT8000 torch, about five to eight seconds of heat should be enough for the first few hits of a flavorful low-temperature dab. From there, three to five-second additional bursts allow you to vaporize anything that was left behind. When done right, the flavor of a cold start dab with an OG Quartz banger is only rivaled by cold start insert drops.

The amount of time you should torch depends on several variables like how much butane is in your torch and the consistency of the extract you’re smoking. Go hotter for THC-A and colder for solventless hash oil. If it burns, give it less heat next time. If you want more vapor, you can torch for a few more seconds when the clouds of vapor get lighter.

OG Quartz fully works his joints and buckets into one piece. Additionally, the top of the bucket and the cap are tapered to improve seals.

With OG Quartz’s design, you’ll be dabbing in seconds instead of minutes. Not to mention, saving a ton on butane and extending the durability of your banger by not torching it red hot before every dab.

Cons: Not available in shops. You’ll have to place your order on Instagram until the OGQ website is up and running.

Best Bangers for your Buck

We get that not everyone wants to spend over $100 on a piece that you may need to eventually replace. Fortunately, a few quartz makers have created affordable options that’ll provide about the same function as most of our best quartz bangers of 2018 without any additional finesse.

Best Quartz Bangers Of 2018

@dabhanna/Instagram

Cheapo by Fadespace

Fadespace has made a name for itself with affordable quartz and silicon carbide products for flavor-chasing dabbers. Their cheapo banger is the most affordable banger we could find with decent quality control. It gets the job done without breaking the bank.

Price: $60.00

Pros: One of the most affordable bangers with enough heat retention for small to medium sized dabs.

Cons: To save consumers money, Fadespace imports their joints and cold sticks them to the bucket.

Other Affordable Options

If you want something affordable but slightly higher in quality, we recommend an unetched Long Island Quartz banger or the Evanshore Titty Banger at $100 and Eternal 2nds at about $90.

Last Year’s Winner

10 Best Nails Of 2017

@hollyhoodbambam/Instagram

The Highly Educated quartz banger is the first to feature the opaque bottom design that appears throughout this year’s list. Holding it to light reveals tons of tiny pores or “nucleation sites.”

Price: $180.00

Pros: Nucleation sites assist with the physical separation of solid, liquid, and gas. The nucleation sites provide more surface area, allowing bubbles to form and rise faster. As a result, more vaporization can occur in a shorter amount of time without higher temperatures. With the Gavel, we were able to leave behind smaller puddles without sacrificing any of the flavors. For those looking for the best dab nail, this is something to consider.

Cons: The joint on last year’s best banger wasn’t fully worked and attaching an e-nail coil leaves the opaque isn’t recommended as the bottom is vulnerable to popping off.

The post Knowledgeable Dabbing: A Guide To Our Favorite Quartz Bangers appeared first on High Times.


The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

When the CHAMPS Winter Trade Show opens its doors on Feb. 27th, it will be the fifty-fifth mounted by CHAMPS and the fortieth staged in Las Vegas. Hundreds of businesses will be represented in a space that encompasses 245,000 square feet, the area of four and a half football fields.

The marketplace is booming and CHAMPS is proud to have backed the cannabis business community for two solid decades. No trade show is older and, certainly, no event associated with the use of cannabis can equal its rate of growth. In truth, CHAMPS is the unsung success story of our industry.

Of course, being “unsung” was a conscious business decision. Twenty years ago, Sherlock pipes, one-hitters, bongs, hand pipes and the like were as demonized as cannabis, courtesy of a 1994 Supreme Court decision (Posters ‘N’ Things, Ltd. v. United States), a ruling that still stands today. The Court rendered ceramic, metal and glass pipes—even rolling papers—all “drug paraphernalia.”

That made selling a bong problematic. In this uncertain atmosphere, Peter Gage and Jeff Hirschfeld founded CHAMPS.

The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Courtesy of CHAMPS

Back to the Beginning

The year was 1998. For a few years, paraphernalia companies had successfully showcased their merchandise at one of the largest wholesale trade shows in the nation. But that September, the rug was pulled out from under those vendors. U.S. Customs officials warned that trade show not to allow the purveyors of illegal pipes to purchase vendor booths.

Peter and Jeff had invested heavily in Gage Water Pipes, their own company. They had bought booths at the show for the company, but were abruptly closed out. Which brings to mind what Albert Einstein said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

“We reacted,” recalls Jeff. “Peter and I both had trade show experience. We saw the empty space that had been left behind. We got busy.”

The first show made its debut in February 1999 at the Gold Coast. It included just thirty-four 7’ x 8’ booths in a ballroom that comprised less than 4,000 square feet. The show was small, but they were heartened by the enthusiastic response of pipe sellers, especially the community of glass artists.

Back then, CHAMPS was known as the C.T.A. Show (Contemporary Tobacco Accessories). It may have been a disingenuous, but running a trade show that provided a business-to-business setting for paraphernalia manufacturers and head shop owners necessitated discretion. In other words, they hid in plain sight.

It was standard procedure for Jeff and Peter to decline coverage of the show by marijuana-themed publications. “You have to understand the level of paranoia,” Jeff says. “We didn’t want to be a target. It’s the way the manufacturers wanted it, the way head shops wanted it and the way we wanted it. Otherwise, vendors and buyers wouldn’t have come.”

Peter can laugh now. “Everyone’s booth featured signs that read ‘For Tobacco Use’ only. Everyone had to distance themselves from pot in order to do business.”

Still, the show thrived, moving on to convention centers. Significantly, its growth coincided with the rising popularity of glass smokeware. Although Bob Snodgrass, known as the “Godfather of Glass,” developed his techniques for glass pipe-making in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the mid-‘90s that these new instruments of pleasure emerged widely.

Glass smokeware was an instant sensation. The new pieces were unique and colorful, providing a singular smoking experience. Moreover, a colorful, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pipe became a personal keepsake. Glass transformed the paraphernalia marketplace.

“We’ve always backed the glass community and tried to promote high-end glass, as well as the artists themselves,” Peter says. “After twenty years, we’ve become a family.”

The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Courtesy of CHAMPS

Free Markets and the Feds

In the cannabis industry, the cultivators and the consumers are the two target markets. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the War on Drugs, the federal government has focused on arresting and prosecuting the two same groups.

In February 2003, the Feds decided to take down the paraphernalia industry, launching Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter. Fifty-five people were busted for engaging in interstate commerce to transport illegal merchandise.

The raids shook up everyone. Attorney General John Ashcroft labeled paraphernalia manufacturers “no better than drug dealers.” Websites advertising glass pipes were taken down instantly and smokeshops cleared their shelves.

The raids also happened to be launched on the eve of the C.T.A Show. Nervous vendors canceled. The number of businesses scheduled to attend dropped from 180 to a mere 34. But Jeff and Peter opened the doors and got through the show without government harassment.

“We were on edge the whole time,” says Jeff. “But we stood by our people. We offered full refunds or full credits toward future shows. I remained confident that we’d continue and survive.”

Jeff and Peter pivoted away from tobacco and smoking and renamed the show. The C.T.A. trade show became C.H.A.M.P.S, an acronym for “Contemporary Handcrafted American Made Products Show.” The name highlights “America’s diversity of products and the creditable glass art industry,” Jeff says.

What remains funny—albeit sixteen years later—is Ashcroft’s boast about the raids’ success. He crowed: “We’ve taken decisive steps to dismantle the illegal drug paraphernalia industry.”

That would be news to—well—just about everyone. Today, ten states, plus Washington D.C, have legalized recreational marijuana. Thirteen states have decriminalized, but not legalized, and thirty-three have legalized medicinal use. Businesses that serve both consumers and cultivators have multiplied exponentially.

Not surprisingly, CHAMPS growth has been impressive. Plus, new features have been added to the event. In 2010, CHAMPS hosted the first Las Vegas Flameoff, with scores of artists squaring off. The Flameoff has evolved into the Glass Games with substantial cash prizes awarded in an array of categories. Also, at this show, CHAMPS is introducing CHAMPS Dispensary Plus, an entire division of booths dedicated to the demands of the burgeoning dispensary scene.

The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Courtesy of CHAMPS

An Expansion for CHAMPS

Las Vegas is CHAMPS’ home base, but the trade show now stages events in Denver, Chicago, Orlando, and Atlantic City, with plans for shows in Michigan and New England in the near future.

Is there a secret to CHAMPS’ success? Not really. Jeff insists: “We listen to the community. I like to think that I treat CHAMPS in the same way I treat my life and my family—with respect. We believe in what we do, we do it well and we get better with each show.”

Peter puts it more simply: “The buyers power the CHAMPS Show.”

The buyers at CHAMPS are very similar to the traders who traveled the ancient Silk Road, the merchants who transported the precious goods of artisans in faraway lands back to the civilizations who crave them. Like them, the buyers at CHAMPS have access to the very finest products of the retail cannabis industry. And they’ll travel back to their own hometowns to delight customers with new treasures wherever they do business. Best of all, the promise of legalization is legitimizing their commerce at last.

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Researchers Find Correlation between Recreational Weed Laws and Junk Food Sales

The munchies. Aka, the insatiable urge to consume large amounts of snacks when you’re high. It’s a staple of stoner folklore, despite the more complex and variegated relationship between cannabis consumption and appetite. Typically, scientists study that relationship by looking at how cannabinoids trigger “hunger hormones” that make your brain make you eat. But a pair of researchers at Georgia State University and the University of Connecticut are experimenting with a new way to measure the munchies. They’re counting how much high-calorie “junk food” people bought before their state legalized cannabis, and comparing it to how much they bought after. And the first round of results are in: the munchies are real.

The Munchies Are Real, Study Says

Studies on the relationship between cannabis and appetite have struggled to provide conclusive evidence for why getting high makes you want to snack. Endocrinologists have suggested that one of the effects of THC is the stimulation of hormones that send hunger signals to the brain. The principal hunger hormone is ghrelin. And researchers have found that cannabis consumption both increases ghrelin production and makes the brain more sensitive to it. That double dose, scientists think, is a major factor behind the munchies.

In other fields, scientists have looked for neuroscientific or behavioral explanations for why consuming cannabis makes people hungry. But despite all that attention, skepticism persists. Are the munchies just a myth?

To answer that question, researchers Michele Baggio and Alberto Chong set out to see if the munchies were a measurable phenomenon. If we’re not entirely sure what causes the munchies, maybe we can at least see to what extent it actually exists. To do that, they gathered retail scanner data from The Nielsen Company and marketing databases at the University of Chicago. This data shows them how much high-caloric food people are buying. Then, they looked at how the implementation of adult-use marijuana laws impacted that data.

People Are Buying More Ice Cream, Cookies, and Chips in Adult-Use States

To get the clearest picture possible of how legal weed impacts junk food consumption, researchers compared scanner and marketing data from counties located on both sides of the border of adult-use states. Then, they looked at what happened before and after legalization. If junk food purchases increased on both sides of the border, that meant legalization was less likely to have had an impact.

But that’s not what the datasets revealed. Instead, they showed that purchases of high-caloric food increased in weed-legal counties. But in non-legal, cross-border counties, they didn’t observe the same increase. Baggio and Chong’s study took a closer look at three foods: cookies, ice cream and chips. And their data shows that the munchies are real—and measurable. “Legalizing adult-use marijuana leads to an increase in sales of junk food,” the study concludes.

Specifically, the study found that in adult-use states, monthly sales of ice cream increased by 5 percent, cookies by 6 percent and chips by 6.6 percent. The study’s weakest data even supports the trend. At minimum, consumption of cookies, ice cream and chips increased by 4.1, 3.1 and 5.3 percent, respectively. And all of those increases map directly onto the timeline of implementing adult-use legalization.

Interestingly, as states’ adult-use programs went on, the increase in junk food purchasing tapered off slightly. But only for chips and ice cream. Cookies, the researchers found, had some staying power. Does this mean cookies are the cannabis consumer’s munchie of choice? Further studies, as ever, are needed.

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Hemp Food Company Blocked from Boosting Business on Facebook

In the flush of federal hemp legalization, the Flores family turned to the hemp seed—a plant-based source of omega 3’s, omega 6’s, essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron, vitamin E, and amino acids. Why not, they thought, nutritionally beef up masa with it? In quick order, the Flores family had developed a hemp seed pizza crust and two kinds of tamales. Last July, they began to sell the products at three locations of their Tucson restaurant chain El Charro Café, eventually developing their retail line Hola Hemp.

Photos of the tamal, paired with a hearty salsa verde and side salad, dotted with cilantro leaves, were social media worthy. But the dish was halted in its quest to break the internet.

Last week, Facebook—repeatedly—declined to host the Flores’ ads alerting the neighbors to the existence of Hola Hemp.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Raul Flores contacted the publication after spending “all weekend” trying to get in contact with technical support, or anyone at the company who still needed an update on federal hemp policy, on the rejection of his ad.

“For some reason, Facebook is very behind the times or sadly misinformed,” Flores commented. “You can get a Facebook page for hate group or to manipulate elections … but they are not allowing us to do a boost for Hola Hemp and their argument is that we are promoting a controlled substance.” Facebook had not responded to the Star’s request for comment either at the time of its article’s publication.

In October, ahead of Canada’s then-pending federal legalization, Facebook announced that it would be changing its policies on cannabis on the site. “When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ pages that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results,” a spokesperson commented to MarketWatch at the time.

Facebook continues to report black market cannabis sales to law enforcement and the site’s relationship to the cannabis industry continues to be largely hands-off when it comes to Canadian and US State-legal advertisements. The company points to its policy on recreational drugs as explanation, rather than state or federal prohibition on cannabis use. The company is joined by other social media companies like Google and Twitter in this no-cannabis-ad stance, though sites like Pinterest have policies that explicitly state CBD and hemp products may be promoted on the site.

Over-the-counter drugs and alcohol are present on Facebook, which places the responsibility for legal compliance on booze on companies and distributors, who are able to target their ads based on geographic area and user age group; “Make sure to follow local laws and target your ads appropriately”, reads the company’s policy on alcohol advertisements.

Hemp, however, is hardly a recreational drug. In addition to becoming a legal, if tightly regulated crop with the passage of the new US Farm Bill in December, it is decidedly non-psychoactive and often lauded for its high nutritional value. Current clinical trials are investigating its effects on hypertension or high blood pressure.

So why isn’t the Hola Hemp tamale on Facebook’s menu?

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Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Mike Raus, long time Kentucky resident and founder of Kentucky Bluegrass Cannabis, is advocating for his state and fellow citizens to come together and legalize medical cannabis.

Given the severity of Kentucky’s opioid crisis, low-ranking education system, and deficit in the state’s pension plan legislative reform isn’t just needed– it’s required. House Bill 136 takes a step in that direction. Raus, along with a group he refers to as his “dream team,” believe medical marijuana is the crop that could move Kentucky from a state of crisis to a position of national leadership.

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Cannabis is currently illegal in Kentucky, although former Governor Steve Beshear signed a law in 2014 permitting patients to use non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) derivatives with a physician’s recommendation. The law did not include provisions to legally produce or sell CBD, however. Raus’s initiative seeks to give Kentuckians access to cannabis to treat illness and addiction.

Legalizing Medicinal Cannabis in Response to Kentucky’s Opiate Crisis

At double the national rate, Kentucky is ranked fifth in the United States for opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2016, there were 989 opioid-related fatalities in the region. The following year, U.S. News reported an 11.5 percent increase in that number. Since 2012, overdose deaths related to heroin have increased from 143 to 311, while deaths related to synthetic opioids have increased from 70 to 465.

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, physicians of Kentucky prescribed 97 opiate prescriptions for every 100 patients in 2015 – well above the national average of 70 prescriptions.

Along with medical marijuana supporters around the world, Raus believes that cannabis could be a pathway out of the opiate crisis. The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine published a study in the summer of 2018 reporting that states with legal medical marijuana had up to 25 percent less opioid deaths compared to states where the plant is not medically legal.

“There seems to be this growing national awareness that there is some sort of a benefit, a medical benefit, in certain forms of treatment from this drug,” said Former House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg). “Kentucky needs to be ready to move forward with a responsible piece of legislation.”

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Shutterstock

Raus and fellow HB 136 supporters understand the importance of giving the medical community the freedom to use medical marijuana as part of the optimal treatment for patients with chronic diseases and medical conditions. The goal of House Bill 136 is to allow doctors to refer patients to cannabis as an alternative to opiates– its slogan has become “let your doctor decide.”

Opioid death rates are higher than ever, so it’s no wonder the state is hesitant to legalize a plant that’s seen as a “gateway drug.” That said, Raus and his team drafted the bill in exquisite detail to ensure both law enforcement and the community would be comfortable with the legalization of medical cannabis. Raus assures those in opposition to HB 136 that the bill has specific language to prevent the misuse of medical marijuana.

“You’re not going to be able to get a recommendation or a prescription for medical marijuana unless you can show that you have a history of seeing that particular doctor,” said Raus. “You can’t just stub your toe and get a prescription from a random doctor.”

Legal Cannabis Promises Economic Benefits

Raus believes giving Kentuckians freedom to medicinally use cannabis will impact financial matters in the state. Growing up around a manufacturing business, Raus understands that growing and manufacturing cannabis products could give Kentucky a substantial economic boost. He believes legalizing medical marijuana has the potential to create a $100 million industry in the state.

As reported by Frontline, years of risky investments by Kentucky Retirement Systems and underfunding by politicians resistant to tax increases, Kentucky’s public pension plan went from fully funded in 2000 to becoming one of the worst-funded plans in the country.

Governor Matt Bevin says the reality is even worse than the reported $37-plus billion in unfunded liabilities. Unfortunately, the pension program isn’t the only area Kentucky is falling short for their citizens. Education Week’s Quality Counts 2018 report shows that Kentucky is ranked the 18th lowest in the nation for education spending.

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Courtesy of CDC

Raus says he’d like to see the tax revenue from the medical marijuana industry be utilized to revitalize the state’s pension and education programs. “Cannabis isn’t the cash cow everyone thinks it is,” says Raus, although believing that cannabis will generate income the state desperately needs.

Kentucky’s economy has heavily relied on the coal industry. But as this industry declines, Raus notes it’s important for Kentucky to find new industries to develop and support the state in need. Kentucky’s famous attorney and author Gatewood Galbraith shared this vision back in 1990 when he argued in favor of Hemp agriculture.

“If Kentucky is going to survive … they’re going to have to reach back and grab a plant that our granddaddies used to grow by the thousands of acres,” said Galbraith.

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Kentucky notably produces the best hemp, tobacco, and bourbon in the country. “The soil here is ripe for cannabis,” Raus said. And it’s because of the rich soil that Raus believes the cannabis industry could easily take over and become one of the state’s largest industries– second only to bourbon. Raus sees massive potential in producing the highest quality crop, as he believes it will allow Kentucky to become an industry leader in the nation.

Raus envisions Kentucky producing gourmet strains and eventually exporting these special crops to other states for sale. This would prevent the overproduction of crop, such as in Nevada or Oregon, where production far exceeds the cannabis consumption of its residents.

Raus feels optimistic that HB 136 will pass despite the six-year battle to successfully advance any “pot politics” through the House. With the Attorney General a supporter of the bill and a 72 percent public approval rating, the bill just needs to make its way through the opponents.

“One doesn’t have to be pro-cannabis to be pro alleviating pain and suffering,” said Raus. “We are simply asking lawmakers to have enough compassion to give those in pain an important medicine that can make their lives better, and in some cases, actually save their lives. We are asking lawmakers to CARE.”

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Michael Raus (Courtesy of Michael Raus)

Raus called out HB 136’s largest opponents, Senator Ralph Alvarado, Senator Robert Stivers, Senator Damon Thayer, and Senator David Osborne. Raus also mentioned the CBD and hemp industry as current opponents of medical marijuana in Kentucky. Owners with high investments in hemp and CBD, like Senator Alvarado, are against the bill seeing it as a threat to the corner of the market they have now.

Kentucky’s positioned at the epicenter of the nation’s opioid crisis, it’s billions of dollars in debt, and the state is ranked near the bottom in regards to education. All of this has left Raus frustrated with the state government. Because of these stats, Raus has become an advocate fighting for even the most basic progress.

“This is really a phenomenal opportunity for the state of Kentucky,” said Raus. “Why it is dragging its feet… I just… embarrassed – I am embarrassed.”

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Patients Educating Doctors: Talking to Your Physician About Using Cannabis

California was the first state to allow cannabis use as medicine in 1996, but for years the common belief was it was all smoke and mirrors—an excuse to get high.

Without acceptance from the U.S. Government that cannabis really is medicinal, there are no Department of Health Services pamphlets on cannabis as remedy in doctors’ office waiting rooms; with mainstream media unable to dive into the anecdotal stories as truth.

Nevertheless, the plant has prevailed, with the anecdotal stories of healing traveling via word of mouth only, globally, every time someone is helped.

This writer’s own doctor, oncologist, and surgeon were each enlightened as she discovered for herself the healing powers of the plant. Her doctor learned after the first night she ingested cannabis oil for breast cancer, no longer needing pharmaceuticals for several serious ailments; her oncologist learned as she lay there, boob lubed, with part of the mass she initially presented with gone from the Ultra-sound image; her surgeon learned after sharing with him her only medication before and after surgery was cannabis; her dentist learned when she shunned pain killers for a surgical procedure.

Some doctors will listen, eager to learn; some still cling to beliefs based on decades of misinformation.

Swapping Surgery for a Plant

Dr. David Allen is a surgeon who crossed over into the cannabis space after teaching himself about the benefits of the plant. Frustrated at the lack of knowledge from his fellow doctors on this seemingly miraculous plant, and bitter he never learned of it in medical school, he started calling universities across the country asking if the Endocannabinoid System (eCS), that supports plant-based compounds within the body, was on any curriculum.

“After querying 157 medical schools across the country, I found that just 13 percent said the eCS is merely mentioned,” Dr. Allen lamented. “It is disheartening for me to realize that most of the surgeries I’ve performed during my career were not necessary—and that cannabis could have turned many conditions around, with no invasive and costly procedures. That’s criminal.”

California cannabis patient turned activist, Vanessa Adams, shared her effort to educate a nurse while being prepped for surgery.

“The nurse asked what kind of vitamins I was taking,” Adams explained. “So, I told her, that because my vitamins act as a blood thinner for a heart condition, I’m choosing to eat them naturally by juicing, steaming, eating raw fruits and vegetables – to which she asked how many milligrams was in that vitamin I take – totally missing the point. I then asked if she ever juiced produce, but she hadn’t a clue.”

The nurse then asked if she was taking an anti-inflammatory, to which she shared she uses cannabis and CBD from hemp to quell inflammation.

“Without flinching, she asked how much drugs I smoked!” Vanessa laughed. “I then attempted to educate her – knowing full well she wouldn’t have gotten this information from nursing school. I told her that cannabis is not a drug, it’s a medicinal plant – I let her know that it’s safer than pharmaceuticals, to which she then ignored my effort to educate by deducting that I ‘just smoke pot.’”

Vanessa persisted, letting the nurse know that smoking is just one delivery of beneficial compounds from the plant, and she also ingests in various ways, to no avail. The nurse then wanted to order a blood test due to her “drug use,” even though labs for the procedure had already been done days prior.

“She was concerned that I ‘smoke drugs for medicine,’ and no matter what I said wasn’t going to change her mind,” she added. “I also told her that I was concerned about her lack of education on the medicinal properties of cannabis, especially since so many states were legal now. But it didn’t matter – she was just against it, and as I left the exam room she called out to me, ‘don’t do drugs!’”

Evangelizing Cannabis

The true definition of evangelizing is Biblical, with the intent of converting people to Christianity, but where cannabis is concerned, advocates evangelize every time they speak the truth of the plant – from our mouths to their ears. Even if they don’t believe, they’ve heard the words.

Regina Nelson earned her Phd with a focus on cannabis as medicine, penning many papers and books on the Endocannabinoid System, including “Time for the Talk, Talking to Your Doctor or Patient about Medical Cannabis.”

A patient herself, Nelson opened the eCS Therapy Center in Colorado helping many via Peer Educators, for lack of medical professionals being educated on the subject – even though they are safe from persecution for prescribing cannabis.

In the book she writes, “Preparing for a conversation about cannabis with your doctor will help guide the exchange and assure that you’ve been heard and understood. Being prepared also assures that you are speaking from a factual, not an emotional point-of-view. Focused discussions are more apt to engage your physician in a meaningful way.”

Nelson’s check list to prepare a patient to talk to their doctor includes, making a list of your qualifying conditions (varies State to State); describing the side effects of prescription medication you currently use and concerns about long-term use; and providing educational literature to back up your points. Nelson also advises the patient be prepared to take notes on the doctor’s questions, concerns, or advice.

Sharing the effects and successful outcomes of your cannabis use in treating ailments is also important; including delivery methods and dosing protocol.

“Letting your doctor know how important this is to you, and asking for their support is key,” Nelson writes. “Remember, it’s your physician’s job to provide or find the best advice possible, so you can make good decisions about your health. If your doctor resists, it might be time to find a new doctor.”

With an estimated two million registered cannabis patients in the U.S., and more being helped every day, it’s time to educate our medical professionals from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Who knows, your doctor might thank you – as mine did.

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Man Arrested in North Carolina for Weed Turns Out to be Fugitive Murder Suspect

A man arrested on marijuana charges by law enforcement officers in North Carolina on Saturday turned out to be a fugitive from California wanted for murder, according to media reports. Boren Lay, 25, was arrested by agents with state Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) at the El Barracho, a bar licensed by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in Winston-Salem.

The agents had been conducting an investigation at the bar when they discovered cannabis. After obtaining a warrant to search the establishment for drugs, agents confiscated more than 11 pounds of marijuana and 842 vials of THC oil. Lay and two other men, Sovath Yern, 30, one of the owners of El Borracho, and Sovann Yern, 31, who are both of Massachusetts. Police say that they have confirmed that all three men are members of the Southern California street gang known as the Asian Boyz.

After his arrest, Lay reportedly concealed his identity from police for almost nine hours. When he finally revealed his true name, officers discovered that Lay is wanted for a murder that was committed in California in July 2013. Bryan House, ALE branch head, said that officers with the agency have to be prepared to act on any violations that they discover.

“Through the course of a normal investigation, ALE special agents never know who they could potentially encounter,” said House. “As highly trained professionals, ALE special agents’ primary job is to investigate any criminal behavior associated with an ABC licensed establishment and arrest those responsible.”

Facing Multiple Charges

The men arrested have been charged with multiple crimes including trafficking marijuana by possession,  trafficking marijuana by transport, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana, maintaining a building for controlled substances, possession of drug paraphernalia, and allowing violations of the controlled substances act to occur on the licensed premises.  El Barracho could also be penalized by the ABC with fines or a license suspension or revocation.

Bail was set at $100,000 for Lay on the drug charges but denied for the murder charge. Bail of a $50,000 secured bond was set for both Sovath and Sovann Yern.

A detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that while deputies had not been actively looking for Lay, his arrest is “extremely important.” Lay has been wanted by the LASD as a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Timothy Teapaco. According to witnesses, Lay had been arguing with Teapaco in a parking lot, when he allegedly shot him. Reports say that Teapaco had allegedly been in the gang Tiny Rascals, but became “inactive” after he and his girlfriend had a child together.

Lay is expected to be extradited to California within the next two weeks for a court arraignment in Bellflower, California.

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New Jersey Mayor Who Banned Weed in His Town Revealed to be Paid Lobbyist

Stephen Reid is the mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. In December 2017, under Mayor Reid’s leadership, Point Pleasant became the first New Jersey city to preemptively ban any cannabis industry operations, should the state legalize them. The Point Pleasant Beach ban kicked off a statewide trend, leading to more than 10 percent of all New Jersey towns, representing nearly every county, passing resolutions restricting, banning or opposing cannabis industry operations and adult-use legalization.

Today, the total number of towns that have opted out has topped 60, and Mayor Reid continues to be a leading voice in the effort to oppose marijuana reform — in fact, he gets paid to do so. Thanks to the investigative efforts of blogger Patrick Duff, we now know that Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid is on the payroll of an influential anti-marijuana lobbying group.

Mayor of First New Jersey Town to Ban Weed Is on the Payroll of an Anti-Cannabis Lobby

In late November 2018, New Jersey lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate voted to advance an adult-use bill, marking the first official legislative action on the issue since pro-legalization Gov. Phil Murphy assumed office in 2018. But since their 2016 takeover of the New Jersey legislature, Democrats have expanded qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatments, licensed more dispensaries and centered criminal justice reform.

At the same time, opposition to the adult-use industry dug in, and a groundswell of anti-cannabis advocacy prompted a number of cities to opt out of any legal-weed future. Point Pleasant Beach mayor Stephen Reid has been at the heart of that movement. After making his city the first to ban the retail cannabis industry in late 2017, Reid has traveled around the state advising other towns to join Point Pleasant’s policy of prohibition.

But since at least May 2018, Reid has been pushing prohibition on the payroll of the prominent anti-marijuana lobby group New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy. Now, that connection and its potential conflict of interest are the subject of a lawsuit filed against Point Pleasant Beach.

Mayor Reid isn’t just on NJ RAMP’s payroll. Since May 2018, he has been the group’s executive director. Blogger Patrick Duff revealed the connection after suing Point Pleasant Beach himself, to obtain records of Reid’s emails with the group. Reid has himself never been upfront about his connection with RAMP. In fact, he failed to properly register his lobbying activity on behalf of RAMP with the state until October, five months after taking the job.

Lawsuit Targets Point Pleasant Beach Mayor’s Connection with Anti-Cannabis Lobby

As mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, Stephen Reid banned the cannabis industry before he began receiving checks from NJ RAMP. But in his public statements about marijuana policy after May 2018, Reid has never fully disclosed he was receiving compensation from the anti-cannabis group.

And that compensation is substantial. Being mayor of Point Pleasant Beach pays just $6,500 annually. NJ RAMP has been paying Mayor Reid $3,000 monthly since May. Duff’s lawsuit against the city alleges Reid improperly mixed his work as RAMP executive director with his duties as mayor. Duff called the mayor’s undisclosed lobbying efforts “the ultimate misuse of office.”

Reid acknowledges that he didn’t properly register his lobbying activities with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. But he denies any conflict of interest. “I don’t see it as a conflict; I see it as a complement,” Reid told NJ.com. Reid then doubled down on his denial, accusing the marijuana industry of coming after him.

New Jersey law may be on Reid’s side. According to the director of the state’s election commission, Joseph Donohue, the agency has no specific laws preventing local government officials from working as lobbyists.

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High Folks: Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our newest bi-weekly column, High Folks: the cannabis-infused version of Humans of New York, in which we take an intimate look at people’s relationships with our most beloved plant. The connection between humans and cannabis is primal, dynamic, and profound. But it’s something that’s increasingly overlooked in the new age of weed. So in an effort to combat the superficiality of cannabis in the social media-age, High Times is proud to present to you a collection of work that highlights one of life’s most beautiful gifts: connection.

In the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Port Richmond, Jessica Wolfert (26) is a Renaissance woman fusing the realms of glass-blowing and cannabis into her body positivity project Lady Pipes. The glass smoking pipes are an ode to Wolfert’s younger self: a suburban girl from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who once struggled with social anxiety and body image issues.

“When my social anxiety was at its worst I was terrified of being judged,” Wolfert tells High Times. “I wanted to physically disappear, and I think that negatively affected the way I viewed and treated my body.”

Always thinking about what she was doing with her hands, her word choice, and breathing pattern made it painfully difficult for Wolfert to interact in social settings. It wasn’t until her first semester at Temple University’s Tyler College in 2010 that she decided to face her social anxiety disorder.

She smoked cannabis recreationally three or four times with some classmates when she realized it eased the overwhelming social discomfort.

Philadelphia Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 6.8 percent of the U.S. population suffers from social anxiety disorder (SAD), and there have been studies suggesting that cannabis is the cause of  SAD. But a 2015 report shows that patients dealing with social anxiety disorder experienced greatly improved moods after consuming cannabis.

“I felt peaceful and euphoric,” she says. “I was laughing and joking with my friends and not thinking about all of the stupid little insecurities I had. It was very freeing. It took some effort to follow conversation but I realized that If I could do that while I was high then I could learn to do it [while being] sober as well.”

Wolfert is grateful that cannabis helped her deal with her social anxiety, but she also recognizes she wouldn’t have been as focused on her art without it. “I had trouble connecting with people socially, so art became a way for me to connect without going too far out of my comfort zone.”

Finding peace within her comfort zone and body prompted Wolfert to create Lady Pipes, an artistic glass project aimed at rewriting beauty’s narrow narrative.

“When I looked around at my friends, including myself, I didn’t know anybody who didn’t struggle with body image issues,” Wolfert tells High Times. “Pretty much everybody I know does. Even women you think are the societal ideal don’t feel good enough, and that’s pretty crazy to me. So I thought to myself that I wanted to depict a greater spectrum of beauty because when you see your own body represented in art and you see people commenting and calling it beautiful, it’s really empowering.”

Philadelphia Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert

Wolfert completed her first Lady Pipe in April of 2018.

But in 2017,  prior to the inception of this project, Wolfert met Terasina Bonanini (32) an art director and curator for Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia. Bonanini says Wolfert’s relationship with glass grew tremendously while working at the gallery.

“Challenged by the skill level of what was being showcased in the gallery, [Wolfert] worked hard to develop her technique as a glass blower and broaden her perspective of what glass is ‘supposed to be,’” says Bonanini.

On Valentine’s Day of 2017, Wolfert’s sculpture “Skeleton Siren Presented on a White Dinner Plate” debuted at Impossible Standards, a show curated by Bonanini.  

“It was beautiful and delicate,” Bonanini tells High Times. “The presentation made you think, ‘why a dinner plate?’ She explained it represented the temptation to achieve an ‘ideal’ body through harmful and dangerous means.”

Wolfert believes life imitates art. But she also explains that media conditions people to have a dangerously one-sided view of beauty.

“If we can show the world that beauty is diverse then we can change the way we experience our bodies and the way that we experience life,” Wolfert says. “It’s changing the way that I experience my own body for sure.”

Wolfert plans to get some of her friends to model for her as she continues to make more Lady Pipes.

Philadelphia Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert

Jessica Hintchey (27) a friend of Wolfert’s since 2014, is excited about the future of Lady Pipes because it gives different women permission to feel beautiful and validated by having a Lady Pipe shaped like them.

“Body image and diet culture are something that [Wolfert] and I have always struggled with,” says Hintchey. “And fitting that ideal, what always ends up being European beauty standards of a thin body and small features, and the whole social determination of beauty. Wrapped up in that is also [Wolfert’s] relationship with cannabis because of anxiety, her use of cannabis to calm her anxiety and her anxiety regarding her body image in a rotating diet culture. I think Lady Pipes is helping [Wolfert] figure out her relationship to her own body, what the ideal body type is and how to navigate that in a healthy way.”

Through the Lady Pipes project, Wolfert reminds us how synonymous cannabis legalization and women’s liberation are because, as a country, we’re being forced to rethink what makes women feel good, loved, accepted, and respected in a place that has a one dimensional perspective of beauty.

Thus, Lady Pipes is an ode to understanding that we all develop through continued acts of faith and self-love.

“It takes a lot of confidence to go against the grain so to speak,” she says. “That includes looking different from the accepted ideal…”  

Working as an entrepreneur, Wolfert plans to continue taking Lady Pipe commissions and building upon her work as a glass blower and ceramics artist.

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