Tag Archives: Cannabis

Book Review: ‘How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High’ by David Bienenstock

The Finer Points of Cannabis. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

The Finer Points of Cannabis. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

As a Seattle native, I have had a front row seat to the recent sea change we have seen with cannabis. But, even in this fabled region, you can experience two steps forward and one step back. All you need to do is see how the current state regulations have forced medical marijuana dispensaries out in favor of the more tax revenue to be had from retail marijuana shops. But these are still exciting times for an extraordinarily beneficial plant that has been so terribly maligned. A perfect guide for the times is the newly released book, “How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High,” by David Bienenstock, published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

"How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High" by David Bienenstock

“How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” by David Bienenstock

David Bienenstock is your uniquely qualified host. He is the former West Coast editor of High Times magazine and now a journalist and video host/producer at VICE, where he writes the Weed Eater column and produces a video series called Bong Appetit. He is the guy who will share a joint with you and, as the conversation rolls along, will segue into some history, some science, and some sage advice. The idea here is to show some respect for the plant and yourself. Bienenstock does a great job of balancing his content so it is not too light and yet easy to digest. A book like this can’t help but be a call to action moving along at a good, steady, and stirring pace.

What all the cannabis shops have done is not only bring a plant out from the cold. The shops have welcomed back numerous people who had given up ever again having reliable and trusted access. Many people are coming back who have not gotten high in many years, or who never did in the first place. So, a book like this truly serves any age. Bienenstock, like a good journalist, makes no assumptions on your experience or level or knowledge while, at the same, keeps advancing. If you don’t know the difference between indica and sativa, Bienenstock has got you covered. If you’d like a handy overview of cannabis chemistry, well, keep on reading.

The beauty of the book is that Bienenstock’s good sense for storytelling wins out every time. In tune with his reader, Bienenstock presents a dazzling array of facts, heart-felt observations, and a humanity that should melt the heart of many a naysayer. Mostly, it’s a book there to provide a helping hand in appreciating cannabis. But, as Bienenstock joyfully sings to us, it’s also about a state of mind, dude! The goal is not to necessarily smoke each and every day. The goal is to savor those times when you do. And strive to tap into that bliss the rest of the time. That’s about as highbrow and proper as it gets.

“How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” is a 288-page paperback, also available as an e-book. For more details, visit Penguin Random House right here.

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Filed under Cannabis, David Bienenstock, High Times, Journalism, Marijuana, Penguin Random House, VICE

Joshua Boulet at Exterminator City, Push/Pull Gallery, Seattle

As any card-carrying local artist and cartoonist should do, I went down to check out the indie comic show Exterminator City, part of Push/Pull Studio & Gallery here in the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. Exterminator City is put together by Push/Pull member, Seth Goodkind, who is a local cartoonist and published illustrator.

Exterminator-City-comics

Plenty of stellar talent including Allen Gladfelter, Adam Lynn, Megan Noel, Noel Franklin, Scott Faulkner, and Eli Tripoli, to name a few. Coming off the heels of my awesome time at Hempfest last weekend, it was perfect timing to meet up with Joshua Boulet. He’s a fine example of how cannabis and comics mix quite well. In this video interview, Joshua is kind enough to share his sketchbook. BTW, I picked up his “Draw Occupy Wall Street” which I will review in a future post!

"I MET TOMMY CHONG!" by Joshua Boulet

“I MET TOMMY CHONG!” by Joshua Boulet

Here at Comics Grinder, we’ll keep exploring the interconnections between comics and cannabis as well as cannabis in general from time to time. You could say that both comics and cannabis remain somewhat misunderstood by the general public while also receiving a general thumbs up. That said, we can tackle both subjects thoughtfully and respectfully one post at a time.

Push-Pull-Gallery-Kickstarter-2015

Now, let’s focus on the venue for this comics event. Exterminator City was made possible by the Push/Pull Gallery. My heart goes out to them as both an artist and a curator. For many years, I curated art shows at Glo’s Diner with an emphasis on fringe art, specifically alternative comics. Well, Pull/Pull is ready to take things to a new level as they move toward a permanent home. With your help, Push/Pull will achieve its goal through its Kickstarter campaign, which closes on September 4, 2015, that you can visit right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comic Arts Festivals, Comics, Comix, Exterminator City, Independent Comics, Indie, Joshua Boulet, mini-comics, Minicomics, Push/Pull Studio & Gallery, Seattle, Underground Comics

Seattle Hempfest 2015: Community, Activism, Music, and Vaping

If you want an inspiring call to action, then listen to Stephanie Viskovich, a longtime cannabis activist who has formed The Viper’s Club, a political action committee with the goal of entirely decriminalizing cannabis in the United States. The eloquence and passion of Ms. Viskovich was appreciated by her audience at this year’s Hempfest in Seattle made up from all walks of life, young and old. Hempfest took place this year from August 14th through 16th at Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks.

Hempfest is a great tradition here in Seattle dating back to 1991. There has been change but there’s still a long road ahead. It is less than three years since the passing of I-502 and the so-called “legalization” of recreational cannabis. But, as Ms. Viskovich points out, you can still be charged if you are found to have more than an ounce in your possession.

"Echo," by Jaume Plensa, the latest addition to the SAM sculpture garden, resides over Hempfest.

“Echo,” by Jaume Plensa, the latest addition to the SAM sculpture garden, resides over Hempfest.

It is still a long road ahead to fully ending the prohibition of cannabis in the United States. Seattle Hempfest provides a vital role of educating the public and spurring them on to action with a peace-loving gathering that is part state fair, a music festival, and an old-fashioned BYOC cannabis garden. There is so much to cover on the subject of cannabis. Where to begin? The profound health benefits of CBD? How about the fact that our military veterans are still having trouble with obtaining medical cannabis? The list grows long very quickly. For this feature, I am doing my best to touch on various aspects of cannabis and highlight some exciting items.

New ways of engaging with cannabis are taking root. For a younger generation, there are more options. Some are happy to keep it old school with dry herbs. For others, it’s oils and waxes, cannabis in a more concentrated form. Walk down among the vendors and you’ll find various rigs for dabbing. There is the intense monster, The MiniNail, from Full Tilt Technologies. Or maybe you prefer something more sleek and high tech like The Prodigy from Spry.

The Atlas vaporizer from Vuber Technologies at Seattle Hempfest 2015

The Atlas vaporizer from Vuber Technologies at Seattle Hempfest 2015

And then there’s the vapes! The popularity of vape pens, portable pen-like vaporizers, is undeniable. The Oxford Dictionary selected “vape” as its Word of the Year in 2014. Among the vape pen vendors at Hempfest this year, one that stands out is local company, Vuber Technologies. I had the opportunity to try out their Atlas vape, for wax and oil concentrates, and it totally works like a dream: very easy to use and it produces quality vape.

The vapors from the Vuber Atlas are light, smooth, and robust. A little goes a long way so all it takes it just a “dab” of wax applied near the coils. The Atlas has a dual-titanium coil heating element wrapped around a ceramic core that provides a flavorful experience. The battery is a sturdy 900 mAh solid-state. The Atlas comes with an additional atomizer, a mount for your pen, a container for wax, and a dabber. For an additional price, you can add a globe atomizer.

Tommy Chong at Seattle Hempfest 2015

Tommy Chong at Seattle Hempfest 2015

Wander around some more and KASHI hemp clothing will catch your eye. Or maybe Gogo Pipes. Or how about meeting legendary comedic talent and activist Tommy Chong. And, once at Hempfest, you’ll also want to join the cannabis community in a significant way by getting the Leafly app. It’s true that one part of Hempfest is a trade show but it’s put together with plenty of authenticity. And it’s easy to take for granted all these various interests gathered together in a safe and supportive environment.

Plenty of music to enjoy at Hempfest, for sure. From the mellow acoustics of Jessica Domingo to the headbanging heavy metal of Jahai, there is a lineup here that holds its own with Bumbershoot. Seriously, Bumbershoot, the granddaddy of music festivals, would not turn its back on any of the performers at Hempfest.

Seattle Hempfest 2015

Seattle Hempfest 2015

I end this feature where I began with thoughts on the road ahead. When Stephanie Viskovich invited her audience to visit the booth of legendary cannabis advocate Ed Rosenthal, I had to go over and pay a visit. I got Ed to autograph a card. And I promised to spread the word about The Viper’s Club. If you would like to help decriminalize cannabis, visit The Viper’s Club website right here. And, if you’re in Seattle, be sure to attend Canna Comedy Night all in support of The Viper’s Club at Laughs Comedy Spot on September 27th. Details are right here.

As Stephanie Viskovich states, the issue of cannabis comes down to a human rights issue. That simple fact is resonating with people all the more in the U.S. and around the world. So, if you’re new to all this, or if you have considered attending, be sure to visit Hempfest next year as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. Keep in mind that Hempfest costs over $1 million dollars a year to produce. Be sure to donate at the event and through annual memberships. Visit our friends at Seattle Hempfest right here.

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Filed under Cannabis, Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana, Seattle, Seattle Hempfest, Stephanie Viskovich, Trends, Vape Pens, Vapes, Vuber Technologies

DVD Review: EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION

Evergreen-The-Road-to-Legalization

“A compelling, provocative and enlightening glimpse into the complex and sometimes contrary world of cannabis legalization in the United States. All of the controversy, infighting and emotion that is inherent in democracy is included in this fast moving example of what it takes to exact reform under the iron fist of pot prohibition. Any serious reformer, cannabis enthusiast or student of history will want to take the time to view this historic time capsule of a film.” – Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest

Seattle’s annual Hempfest is this weekend, August 14 thru 16. It’s an exciting time for Hempfest as history continues to be made on the road to one day fully bringing to an end the prohibition of cannabis in the United States. With that in mind, there’s a great documentary on the initiative that made recreational marijuana legal in Washington state.

EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION is an essential documentary on the tangled road to legalized recreational marijuana in Washington state. We follow the key players and get an in depth look at the campaign for, and against, Washington Initiative 502 (I-502) “on marijuana reform,” an initiative to the Washington State Legislature, which appeared on the November 2012 general ballot.

Keep in mind that medical marijuana is a different issue. There are 23 states in the U.S. that have legalized it starting with California in 1996. Washington state legalized it in 1998. The distinction is all the more significant given that the push to legalize recreational marijuana would end up threatening the position of medical marijuana. This is where the conflict arises among folks who would seem to be on the same side. A great focus for the opposition to I-502 was its nearly zero tolerance provision regarding driving under the influence of marijuana. This placed medical marijuana users in a no-win situation no matter how well they might argue against it.

This is a lesson in politics as much as marijuana. In order to make this initiative palatable to the average voter, the creators of I-502 believed that sacrifices and compromises had to be offered up. What the documentary makes clear in various segments is that the I-502 machine was geared to be the best possible chance to pass reform. This means victories by increments. And it also means making a case that will appeal to the widest audience.

Now with the stage set, there are three main figures that keep this political drama interestng. On the I-502 side, we have two charismatic leaders: Alison Holcomb who represents the legal work behind crafting the intiative; and Rick Steves who helps the campaign by taking from his capital as a well-known travel expert and allows himself to be the face of I-502. If the opposition had a face, it was definitely that of John McKay, a longtime advocate of medical marijuana.

We find Mckay is a somewhat disagreeable personality but consistent and quite reasonable. What he has is an authentic connection to the subject. Both Holcomb and Steves make no bones about not being cannabis users. Only in a documentary like this do you have the luxury of being able to scrutinize that disconnect. In one segment, we see Steves playing to a conservative crowd in Eastern Washington. He caters to their prejudices by saying in a mocking way, “Hey, if I want to hit my bong and stare at the fireplace for the next three hours, that’s my right.” This gets hearty applause. The damage continues to be done in regards to any real education on marijuana. However, a number of vital votes may have been won that night.

We see Holcomb in another segment in a similar mocking way suggesting she should create a marijuana leaf design on the top of her latte. If she knew anything about marijuana, she would have been able to speak to marijuana’s sativa strain being a great alternative to caffeine. No, instead, the lattes she regularly consumes are quad shots with considerably jittery results as opposed to the clean and non-jittery high of cannabis.

And so it goes, we find that the I-502 supporters are not there to fully embrace weed. But that is, oddly enough, perhaps all for the best to get things done. The motivation for change is simple and compelling: the tragic number of people in jail for simply possessing small amounts of marijuana. And these numbers are significantly African-American. I-502 would prove to be a less than perfect solution. But, after it won voter approval, it immediately helped in changing how we make criminals, and ruin the lives, of many people. Prior to the effective date for the new referendum, 220 marijuana cases were dismissed in King and Pierce counties. No one can argue with that kind of progress. However, the imperfections and compromises of I-502 will lead to the end of medical marijuana dispensaries by 2016. Not a small price to pay for the sake of progress.

How do you stand on the issue of marijuana? This documentary will help in getting a better sense of the legal fight still ahead. For now, we can take some solace on progress being made. I will provide you with coverage of this year’s Seattle Hempfest. So, come back for that and a whole lot more. After viewing this documentary, it adds to the enthusiasm to witness and be part of the social change all around us here in Seattle.

EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION is available now on DVD with plenty of bonus material including a resource guide for helping support the fight for marijuana’s legitimacy. Go to the official website right here.

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Filed under Cannabis, Marijuana, politics, pop culture, Seattle, Seattle Hempfest

Seattle Focus: Dockside Cannabis and Marijuana in the Marketplace

dockside-cannabis-recreational-marijuana-seattle.jpg

A really interesting thing is going on right under many folks’ noses. Whatever your views on marijuana, it is undeniable that history is being made as a huge shift is gaining momentum. The notion that someday marijuana will be on par with alcohol in the marketplace is working its way into reality. Just consider Dockside Cannabis, a very attractive and professional new retail store for recreational marijuana. Located in Shoreline, a suburban area north of Seattle, the store had its grand opening on December 6, 2014, with a whole new way of doing business and bringing about a whole new way of seeing marijuana as something as familiar and relaxing as a glass of wine at the end of the day.

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Filed under Dockside Cannabis, Marijuana, pop culture, Seattle, Travel, Trends