The Rise of the First Smoke of the Day Podcast

The popular weed podcast First Smoke of the Day recently put on a “Family Reunion” in Los Angeles, inviting supporters of the show and everyone who has appeared on it. Hundreds gathered, coming from all over California and all over the country, giving tangible evidence to the passionate community that has been built around the podcast.

The podcast is the work of its two hosts, Cody and Lance. When First Smoke of the Day first appeared in 2021 it was audio-only. That’s because the topic had to do with the real underground culture of growing and selling weed. The first guests were well-known on the underground scene but would never show their face.

From the start it was clear that the podcast was all about providing a platform for those in the cannabis industry to tell their stories.

Once the podcast turned the cameras on and began to feature big players in the weed game in California and beyond, its viewership skyrocketed. 2022 proved to be a year of massive growth for the pair. The show has so far featured interviews with high-profile brand owners including brands like Doja Exclusive, Insane, Fidel’s, Fiore, Ball Family Farms, Viola, B Eazy Buds, Cookies, the Backpack Boyz, Jungle Boys, Runtz, Connected, Sherbinskis, Alien Labs, Squintz, Blueprint, and many others. The show provides a who’s-who of California weed, plus national and international guests. 

With every new episode, there is hype and excitement online. Inside the weed industry, everyone wants to get their spot on First Smoke of the Day. To be a guest confers instant clout.

The show features Cody and Lance, two weed insiders, chopping it up with industry legends. Episodes usually run well over an hour and the unscripted conversation is allowed to flow without constraints. The result is a sense of spending time chatting and hearing stories from big players like Berner, Kenji Fujishima, Ryan Bartholomew, Ray Bama, and Juan Quesada. 

The Origins of First Smoke of the Day 

What would appear to be the podcast’s almost instant success was in fact a long process that began years earlier, when Cody and Lance became friends in their home state of Florida. Cody approached Lance when he saw that Lance had tried to enter the legal weed market in Colorado, but returned to Florida when he found only corruption and onerous expenses in the recreational market.

“I was just compelled by his drive and his passion, his calling,” Cody said of Lance. “That just spoke to me. And I love good weed. And I could see he had played with a lot, in his mind, he stopped believing in the dream at the time, I could see that. But I was like, I’m a dreamer. I just can’t help it,” Cody said. 

Around 2014 the two would regularly meet in the mornings and have conversations while enjoying Lance’s freshly-cured weed. 

“The whole time having that first smoke of the day, this goes back to even before we moved to LA, we’d have these five to six hour conversations that would lead into manifesting business and dreams. What are you trying to do? Talking through these motions that then become reality 10 years later, 15 years later,” Cody said. 

The two decided first to launch a clothing and lifestyle brand in Florida, which made them feel like a big fish in a small pond. They felt like they wanted to go somewhere where they were “celebrated, not just tolerated.” The lifestyle they were targeting with their brand made more sense in California. So, they moved. 

Lance was inspired by Cody’s vision and was ready to follow his lead. 

“There are two things we knew,” Lance said. “I knew for a fact, he’s a great businessman, and his branding and marketing is 100% on point. I knew I grew great weed. So, together we’re a good team,” Lance said. 

The two came to California around 2015 during the Prop 215 era of medicinal marijuana and started Blackleaf as a weed and clothing brand. They went all in with marketing and pushing their brand, making connections all throughout the industry. 

“The whole reason that First Smoke of the Day is popping right now is because we hit the sessions hard and started popping up on the scene and meeting everybody. Literally meeting everybody,” Cody said. 

They entered their weed into competitions like the Cannabis Cup, and got a great reception. 

“It turned out to be a real thing. We felt like we were really chasing legalization and we’re fucking putting out our own shit. He’s growing it, we worked with a few breeders, I don’t want to say to create a strain but put a few strains on the map,” Cody said. They had success with strains like Dirty Sprite and Fruity Pebbles. 

“We were just letting shit happen organically. I didn’t really plan for any of it,” Cody said. 

But with the coming of recreational legalization in 2018, Blackleaf began to struggle. Their grow operation was broken into more than once, at one point putting the two in a very dangerous situation. The competition in the industry was fierce. Cody thought about taking another direction in business, and handed Blackleaf off to Lance to maintain. 

“Our dream took a hit,” Lance said. “The dream that we had together.”

“You got to work through those hard times,” Cody said. “But we never crossed each other. We never betrayed each other, never fucked with each other. None of that,” he said. 

They kept their connection even through this particularly rocky period. 

“That’s what means a lot to me about our friendship is that like, we’ve been through a lot of shit. We’ve been through a lot of tests. And neither of us ever buckled. So, that’s really rare, in my opinion,” Cody said. 

It was 2018 when a “first draft” of a podcast between the two had a false start. They recorded a few episodes that they weren’t happy with, and then shelved it. 

But in 2020, Coronavirus changed things. Cody found himself stuck at home consuming all the online streaming content he could find. He realized there wasn’t enough content for the weed community. He started to hatch an idea for a podcast that would become First Smoke of the Day

“We came back around, and we went through COVID. And I know that changed a lot of things. And then I saw the need for media and the need for content,” Cody said. 

He became determined on the idea. 

“This is like my baby right here. This idea is probably one of the first times where I’m like, now, let me figure it out. Let me have the idea. Let me come off and let me create. Let’s see what I can do,” Cody said. 

He saw that there was an opportunity in the media landscape. 

“What there was out there for us is very little. I love it, though. Marijuana Mania. Shout out to Berner, I love that shit. Shout out to Strain Hunters. I love that. All those shows highly influenced me,” Cody said. 

He wanted it to be for insiders but also for a wide audience. 

“I didn’t want to make it a grow show. I didn’t want to make it a fucking hustle show. And I wanted to make it for the smokers. If you are on any level, if you smoke weed, you could fuck with our show, you’ll like it,” Cody said. 

He brought Lance back in to the picture. Between the two of them, they thought they could recreate the intense conversations they used to have as far back as Florida over the first smoke of the day, but with people that are actually in the weed scene. 

The two had a strong idea of creating community and connections through the podcast. 

“I told him, we have to just go into people’s stories, everyone loves a story. So, focus on the story. That’s the thing, everybody loves a story because you can relate, you can connect, you have that compatibility that you’re looking for. At the end of the day, people just want to connect, and they can only connect through a community of like-minded people,” Cody said. 

Once they created a platform for people in weed to tell their story, it seemed that everyone wanted their chance to appear on the show. After years of hustling in the industry, Cody and Lance had built up a reputation that was trustworthy. 

“They really fuck with us now. We put our stamp on shit. We take that shit serious. We can’t play games. My face card is 100 in the streets. It’s gold. So, I don’t waver on that shit for nothing. That means a lot to me. It’s been a lot of years now,” Cody said. 

For Lance, it’s an opportunity to give the spotlight to industry veterans. 

“We just want to shine a light on their journey and let people hear it because people don’t know what a lot of these guys or girls have been through to get where they are here. ‘Oh, he just started a weed brand.’ No, it’s like, 15 or 20 years or 30 years in the making, the guy had life in prison, wherever their journey started, it’s relatable to somebody,” Lance said. 

Cody says that a bond is formed when someone tells their story through conversation. 

“When people sit down in that seat and tell me their whole life story, it means a lot. You just gained a relationship with them because who do you know that meets for the first time that they tell each other their life story?” Cody said. 

“You feel it. You build a deep relationship and a deep respect. This comes with great responsibility, what we’re dealing with. People really rely on us to keep it real and remain that way. And we’re blessed too because, we get to keep good relationships because people trusted us. We trust them and it’s not to be broken,” Cody said. 

Cody realized that with the podcast, he could approach media content his own way, with a vision that he shared with Lance. Beyond that, he lets the episodes happen organically. 

“We don’t ever know. At eighty five episodes, I’m proud to say we didn’t premeditate any of those. It happens week by week, month by month, we just do the work. It’s been all organic. There’s no way you could really redo it this way or plan it this way,” Cody said. 

Finally by 2021 the two were back together, producing content and going fully forward in a fresh direction, yet harkening back to ideas that they percolated almost ten years prior. 

For the two, it was a moment of revelation. 

“We can do it our way,” Cody said. “I don’t have to just be another brand and try to chase the shops and do all that, because I was exhausted with that. And I was like, let me let me do this immediately, I will do content and hopefully it’ll work out because people fuck with it, then it could be big.” 

The Future of First Smoke of the Day 

Cody says that what First Smoke of the Day is and represents is still in its infancy. He and Lance plan to continue to build it up, broadening their scope, doing more international content, staging events, and building an online digital platform. 

“I know within a couple of years, there won’t be one place in this globe we couldn’t go to and get love from people who are doing this shit,” Cody said. “It just shows you how many people around the world are living this life too. And they needed a home. So, we are street family,” he said. 

Cody says he can’t help but feel that he’s just getting started. He’s pumped about the growth and success of the show over the past two years. 

“With all the shit I’ve been facing through this past year, I’m like, man, the growth is crazy and I feel unstoppable at this point. I’m at the point where I feel like, I got nothing to lose. I’m all in, this is it. I’m all in with this vision. The shit got to pop,” he said. 

“We got the wheels rolling, now it’s like to really start being able to hit the gas,” Cody said. 

While they’ve been applauded by industry greats, they are by no means done with what they started. They have much further to go, Cody says. 

“If people really knew like the struggle, this is by no means a success story right now, we’re still in the trenches, we’re digging, we’re marching,” Cody said.

At January’s Family Reunion event, Cody recieved tons of congratulations. He wasn’t ready to rest on his laurels. 

“I told everybody coming up to me saying congratulations, I told them, it’s a start. It’s a start. It’s a start. That’s where we’re at,” Cody said. 

Even the Family Reunion event is one that the guys see becoming a regular event. They see it growing beyond what was surely a successful night. 

“I think that by next year it will be really something special, it’d be something no one wants to miss if you are in this game. If you’re in the weed world, you’ll want to be there,” Cody said. 

Cody wants to expand the topics of the show to include other related content, bringing guests from the world of business or entertainment or sports. 

To that end, the crew is ramping up to post not one but three episodes a week, with a plan to eventually upload seven days a week. 

“That’s what will be a network. That consistency is just going to compound. Content is crazy,” Cody said. 

The community being built around the podcast is what Cody and Lance are most passionate about. By gathering people of a like mind, opportunities are created that, the guys say, could have broad impact. 

“There’ll be brands built, there’ll be collaborations done, there’ll be people partnering, there’ll be people funding other people’s stuff, there’s going to be real friendships and bonds made out of this community,” Cody said. “It’s going to shape the culture of cannabis, ultimately.” 

Financially, it’s a rough business. “But,” Cody says, “as long as we can create freely in the process, we’re winning. We won. We are paid. That’s the money.”

Cody has no doubts about the strength and resilience of the weed community that he’s a part of, that the show puts the spotlight on. 

”This community is strong. I don’t think people realize how strong this community is. We’re all freedom fighters. We’ve all been through a lot of shit. Even if you just smoke weed you’ve been through a lot. When we come together, we’re strong enough not to be fucked with, we’re resourceful. We’ve got real motion out here, real power, for real and it’s high up, it’s much higher up than you think,” Cody said.

The post The Rise of the First Smoke of the Day Podcast appeared first on High Times.

100 Gecs Are On A Vibe

Dylan Brady and Laura Les are on the same wavelength. Despite existing in separate envi­ronments for most of their musical journeys, the experimental duo comprising 100 Gecs is able to stay connected through their music. As is the case for their second studio album 10,000 Gecs due out later this year, Brady and Les remain locked into a successful creative process that transcends space and distance.

When we connect over Zoom, Brady and Les are stationed in their own respective loca­tions, but it’s clear even through the screen that their rapport, humor, and ability to flow togeth­er remains as strong as ever. Their collaboration is a great joy and a key element to what fuels their musical partnership’s success.

High Times Magazine, September 2022 / Photo by Chris Maggio

High Times Magazine: Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, did you always know music was the path for each of you?

Laura Les: I always wanted it to be the path. I knew that it was going to be what I was going to do, but maybe not what I was going to be able to do, if that makes sense. I didn’t think I’d ever make any money doing it, so I was like, “Oh, well I’ll have to get a fucking job. A different thing. A job-type job.”

Dylan Brady: I found music a bit later. I was probably 18 when I was like, “I want to do this all the time forever.” I didn’t ever really think things that far down the line. Was just trying to make a bunch of tunes.

So you both enjoyed making music first and foremost and weren’t necessarily concerned with what would happen from that.

Brady: Definitely.

Les: We both enjoy making music for sure.

Was there a point then where the enjoyment of making music started to coalesce with the idea that, “this might be something more”?

Les: Well, there’s nothing more. It’s just somebody one day is like, “We’ll give you enough dollars to survive.” And you’re like, “Thank you. I guess I’m gonna quit my other job.” But there’s no more it can be if it’s already what you love, right?

So financial element aside, music is what you’d be doing despite another job in the periphery.

Les: I’d probably be working at the same fucking coffee shop, yeah [laughs]. I might be a manager by now.

Once music started to provide you with financial sustenance, was there a moment where you realized your music was in demand? As in, you realized perhaps what you were creating was becoming larger than what you initially set out to do?

Brady: It felt more gradual I suppose.

Les: I talk about this meeting all the time, when I met our manager now— Cody. Cody was only Dylan’s manager at the time, and after our album dropped, I went in to meet him. He was talking about all this stuff and getting going and whatnot because it was starting to get some steam, and I was like, “Do you think I can quit my other job from this?” And he was like, “Yeah, you can definitely quit your job.”

In terms of creative process, how do you go from ideating, to song, to printed track?

Les: One of us starts a song—Dylan mostly—and he’ll be like, “Yo, what do you think of this?”, and send a bounce. And I’ll be like, “Wow, would love to fuck with that a bit.” One of us will send it to the other, and the other one will work on it for a little bit. We have a Dropbox and we just kind of go back and forth.

Thankfully on our upcoming album, we’ve been able to be in the same place a lot, so that’s been nice. For the last album, we were in two different cities, and now we’re in the same city, so we can actually do stuff together, though usually when we link up to work, we end up fucking around anyway.

Is it a different experience when you are linking up versus sending files back and forth?

Les: Yeah, it’s way more fun. We watch stupid YouTube videos and listen to music mostly. We’ll hang out for like five hours and get one hour of work done.

Brady: Pretty good ratio.

Les: It’s a great ratio.

Does part of that ratio include cannabis consumption?

Brady: Cannabis is involved for me for sure.

Les: Well, there’s no weed in the Dropbox.

But is it part of your creative process?

Brady: Sometimes, yeah.

Les: Yeah, there’s definitely times where some weed smoking is happening.

Does it help you facilitate ideas? How does it aid?

Brady: Ehhhhhh, it does something. It makes me go crazy.

Les: [Laughs]

Crazy in what way?

Brady: You know, it’s different every time.

Les: Like really, really high.

Brady: [Laughs] It’s different every time.

Crazy thought spirals, crazy energy, crazy paranoia?

Brady: All three, a lot of it.

Les: I usually just get sleepy and paranoid and need to go to bed. Thankfully that hasn’t happened in a while.

Brady: Stuff like this: [holds up phone with art images]. Just doing some drawings over here. We’ll just sit in the studio and draw variations of this stuff.

Art by Dylan Brady

Les: We smoked weed on tour that one time and then we stole a bunch of snacks from the hotel we were staying at. They had that little convenience store by the front desk and we wanted to buy the snacks, but nobody was down there. It was so late at night and we were so fucking hungry and just wanted to go back to the room and eat and go to bed. We were waiting around being like, “Yoooo, is anyone here?” And were just like, “Fuck it.” I don’t remember the full grocery list, but I remember Pop-Tarts and chips and Diet Coke.

Brady: We were ringing that bell.

Les: Believe me we were ringing the bell.

Brady: Ding-ding-ding-da-ding-ding-da-ding-ding.

Les: That’s exactly what it sounded like.

Let’s go back to those renderings. Do you find that drawing helps create music?

Art by Dylan Brady

Brady: Yes. I would say anything can inform any kind of thing.

Les: Everything is everything.

Brady: You’re in the kitchen cooking pasta…

Les: And you see a frog on the floor.

Brady: You see a frog on the floor and you’re like [snaps fingers], “That’s a song.”

Les: You get a tooth removed, that’s a song.

Brady: You smoke the poison weed at the music festival in Germany. That’s a song.

So for you guys, song creation is being observant to what’s around you every single day.

Brady: That’s part of it I think.

Les: Yes, in a way. What’s around you, what’s happening. How you feel about it. The life you’re living. It’s true, I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.

When it comes to writing songs and making music, has that creative process typically always been conducted with you both in separate locations?

Les: We’re just two different people. When we were literally in two different cities we were living two different lives. We still do live two different lives I guess, but we’re much more connected now.

Brady: Also for the first go around, a lot of those songs were made in batches for the Minecraft shows. So it was like, “Let’s make a few songs.” We just know each other and trust each other so it’s pretty easy and good.

Les: We’re on a wavelength.

Brady: We’re on a vibe.

Les: We’re definitely on a vibe.

Brady: We’re vibing.

Les: Hard.

To the point where it’s more instinctual and you can creatively infer what the other is trying to do on certain things?

Les: Yeah, and also we’re working towards a pretty common goal. The things we’re writing about might be different but we’re both working towards the same thing. We have a common goal in mind.

Conceptually or in general?

Les: All of it.

Brady: I’d say we’re pretty tapped in on all the vibes.

Les: We speak a language that we can both understand that might not make sense to some people, but we both speak it very fluently.

Did it take time for that language to develop or was it present from the beginning?

Brady: It progressed naturally over our friendship. We’ve known each other 12 to 15 years.

Les: Before we were working on music, we were sharing music all of the time and talking about what we were feeling. We found a lot of common ground in stuff.

Being friends first and fostering the love of music together—how important is that in terms of creating a cool, safe space, and letting that wavelength develop into a cool, creative partnership?

Les: I feel like it’s necessary for an enjoyable creative partnership. And having an enjoyable creative partnership… I probably wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t. There’s an element of trust that comes with that that’s really important to what we do.

Brady: Trust and understanding.

One would then think your output is better than if that wasn’t the case.

Les: Totally. There’s no way it couldn’t be that.

Brady: I heard that Fleetwood Mac album was pretty tough to make though.

Les: Which one?

Brady: Rumors. They all had that love triangle and all hated each other or something.

Les: And they did smash that glass. Maybe that should be our thing for the next album. We have to get really mad at each other.

Brady: Super toxic.

Les: I don’t usually like to work with other people most of the time. I wouldn’t want to be in a band/ partnership or whatever with anyone but Dylan because of that. It just sounds so fucking excruciating to have to balance those dynamics, especially when shit goes south.

Unless you were to take “when shit goes south” and put it back into the music.

Brady: The music might be good, but you still wouldn’t be having fun.

Les: I feel like the whole “pain into music” thing is great except for when you’re actually doing it. Then you’re like, “Wow, this fucking sucks. I wish I wasn’t doing it like this. I wish there was another way I could be making this music.”

Brady: Like having a great time.

Les: Right, I would rather be having a great time with my friend Dylan Brady.

When I’m working by myself a lot of the times, I get so in my head and fucked up about, “The words are just not fucking right, they’re not coming,” and “This just isn’t working, like these chords don’t sound right.” Then I’ll talk to Dylan and in like 20 minutes he has me totally calmed down and I’m feeling great about it. Then I’m like, “OK, cool. We’re going to get this shit done no problem.” If I didn’t have that dynamic with him, I would never get anything done. I barely get anything done even with the dynamic.

What does he say or do that helps you rein it in and move forward?

Les: Something about the goatee [laughs]…

Brady: It’s definitely a great two-way street on that front of supporting each other’s ideas and avoiding the second-guessing rigmarole.

Second guessing brought on by our good friend cannabis?

Brady: Can’t be.

Les: Definitely not.

Brady: That’s happening either way for sure.

Art by Dylan Brady

Essentially you’re saying that creatively, you guys have a really cool yin and yang to each other’s processes.

Brady: Yeah, very fortunate for the situation that we’re in.

In terms of output from that situation, you have the new album coming out this fall?

Brady: It’s coming out this year for sure. Someone will know when it is and that isn’t us.

Les: It’s coming out. I swear to God we’re working on an album. [Laughs] I swear to God we’re working on one. Please don’t give up. I swear there’s an album.

Can you talk about the inspiration behind the upcoming record and what people can expect to experience with it?

Les: When you’re working on the songs, you don’t really think about it, but as we’ve been in the finishing process, it’s funny to look at it and see this is a bunch of different takes on different shit that’s happened since we put out the last album, just with our lives and shit.

Brady: Reflection.

Les: Yeah, it’s a lot of reflection on everything since the last album came out.

Tonally are there any “risks” you took? Or from a sound perspective, experimented with?

Brady: I got an eight-string guitar. Two banjos. Clarinet.

Les: Ukulele bass.

Brady: Massive speakers. All kinds of risks happening.

Les: I dunno if it’s “risks” so much as it’s us listening to different music and experimenting. You change over time, and so I feel like music has to change over time with you. You don’t think the same way about stuff forever and you also think about different things.

I think the music reflects different ways we were thinking about stuff and different music we were listening to. Some of it’s a little more raw in a way. Like we’re not Adele or anything, but you know what I mean? Raw. Sometimes you’re feeling raw. Sometimes you’re feeling like not like singing stupid words. So not all the songs are stupid words.

Brady: Some are frogs on the floor.

Les: There’s been a lot going on in the world and in our lives personally. It was a very natural thing, not like “We’re going to go for this thing this time.” It’s not like placing a bet or anything. It’s not that. It’s not like, “We’re going to put it all on red.”

Brady: We’re putting it all on banjo.

So it’s more where you’re both at individually in your lives and a product of the times.

Les: I mean, they’re connected, obviously. We live in the world, so [laughs]… We live in a society, you know? Sometimes you feel goofy and you write a song that’s a little bit goofy, and sometimes you’re feeling not goofy and you write a song that’s not so goofy. It all just makes sense.

And how do you decide what makes it to the album and what doesn’t?

Les: The best songs. I feel like it’s easy to be like one of those people who’s like, “This isn’t teeing the line with this ideal vibe or something. This isn’t ‘something’ enough.” Like, “This isn’t ‘sad’ enough to throw on my album.” We try to kill that as much as possible in the process, and a lot of that comes from how comfortable we are at reinforcing each other’s ideas.

Like that’s how I am by myself. When I’m by myself, I’m like, “Ahh, this line, it doesn’t fit right,” But when you have somebody there to counterbalance that, it’s much easier to just let whatever you’re feeling just be that. So it ends up a much more natural process in that way.

Art by Dylan Brady

Interview originally appeared in High Times September 2022 issue.

The post 100 Gecs Are On A Vibe appeared first on High Times.

Cash Only’s 420 Recs: Brett Heyman, Founder of Luxury Cannabis Line Edie Parker

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Like her cannabis company’s slogan, Brett Heyman is “here for a good time.” The founder of accessories brand Edie Parker — as well as its luxury cannabis arm, Flower by Edie Parker — has an infectious confidence and sense of humor that exudes “life of the party” energy. 

During a video interview, the brains behind one of the more stylish weed lines had me cracking up in earnest — a rare treat for an introductory chat over Zoom. Edie Parker has been described as the “Coco Chanel of Cannabis,” and that makes sense; Coco was funny on top of being fashionable, too. 

Heyman’s vibe made it very clear how a former fashion exec (she used to spearhead PR at Gucci, and previously worked at Dolce & Gabbana) could achieve the not-so-simple task of merging haute couture and cannabis under one seamless umbrella. The boss knows what she likes and what she wants, from her personal consumption preferences, to her thoughts on design and culture. Her convictions trickle into a cohesive vision, which in turn inspires good products and an exciting brand.

As such, Flower by Edie Parker offers a myriad of products, including tabletop lighters, sexy handmade ashtrays, flavored crush cones, wearable one-hitters, and premium flower (currently sold in Massachusetts and Illinois). Their releases sometimes remind me of Jonathan Adler’s tastefully absurd, drug-inspired decor — but more youthful and femme. In any case, Edie Parker ephemera is ideal for potheads and fashion enthusiasts alike. (They’re also charitable; peep The Edie Parker Foundation.)

In our interview below, Heyman sounds off on how her husband originally sparked her adult relationship with cannabis, explains how the couple does at-home R&D on their pipes, and speculates about the future ties between weed and fashion in NYC.

What was your first time smoking weed? 

Brett Heyman: I haven’t answered this in a while. It’s embarrassing, but I started smoking weed for a boy. I was in high school and I was a little bit afraid of drugs — I had very, very conservative parents. They had me thinking that cannabis was really bad, anything that was illegal was really bad. Certainly any other type of drug was really bad. And I was very into music. I played guitar, I loved the Dead. I loved all these things that made my parents very uncomfortable, so they were distrusting. 

I did a lot of ceramics in high school, and I won the pottery award, so I would come home with ceramic little mushroom things, little pottery pieces that I made. And my dad would always come in and like lift them up because he was always looking for drugs. And the irony is I didn’t do drugs.

And then I had not a boyfriend, but a best friend who I really liked. We were like Ross and Rachel — his words. But he smoked a lot of cannabis. And so I started smoking pot through him when I was in ninth grade. It definitely took me a while to figure out how to use weed in a way that worked for me. I’m still like this as an adult, where less is more for me. I like to have a little bit of cannabis a lot of the time, you know? I never like to be ripping a bong or dabbing. I don’t do any of that. So I have a very good relationship with cannabis now, but it took me a long time to figure it out. 

At what point do you think you fell in love with the plant? When it wasn’t just a rebellion or recreational thing?

I’m gonna sound like such an anti-feminist, but again for a boy [laughs]. A different boy, totally different boy, who’s my husband now. So I had a relationship with cannabis through high school and college, but again, it would be the kind of thing where I’d get really drunk — or I would do other substances — and then I’d smoke cannabis in order to go to bed.

It wasn’t until I lived in New York City that I truly got into cannabis, but it wasn’t immediate. What happened was I went on my first date with my now-husband. I had agreed to go to lunch with him. That day, I didn’t eat breakfast, I exercised in the morning, and then I had two martinis at lunch… and that was it; I never left his side. But after lunch, we decided to go home and watch Almost Famous. He had cannabis at home and I was like, “Oh, I haven’t smoked in a while. Great.” 

We used this ridiculously obnoxious pipe with a girl’s butt on it, which we still have. So I smoked with him and I think it was the first time where it was the right amount of weed. Maybe he had better stuff than I’d tried before. Anyway, it finally felt like having an adult relationship with cannabis. Not getting crazy, but just enjoying the plant in the way that I enjoy it now. So I think I fell in love with it then. We started dating when I was 26, so that’s the age I developed a real relationship with cannabis.

Brett Heyman, photo via Marijuana Venture

What’s your day-to-day use like now? Are you a nighttime smoker? Is it a medicinal tool?

I mean it’s not just medicinal for me; I really like the pleasure aspect, too. I like to smoke either a little bit or have a gummy before I go to bed. Those Wyld gummies are really good for sleep; I love those. But mostly, my relationship with cannabis is still the pleasure of it. So I really love combining sex and cannabis, especially when you’re married for a long time. You just need something to spice it up, and make it feel like, “Oh, this still feels good.” Just kidding [laughs]. We have a house in the country now, and we take a lot of walks. So we’ll smoke a little bit of cannabis and then I’m like, “The green is so beautiful, and it’s different every season!” My husband is my partner in all of that and he loves it. I think it’s really like a pleasure center for me, but I do use it for bed.

I wanted to ask you about the Edie Parker flower line. Do you have any current favorite strains?

The real, tough truth is that I don’t get a lot of Edie Parker all the time because we only sell it in Massachusetts and Illinois. So no, I don’t have a favorite Edie Parker strain, unfortunately. But I think our goal is to offer flower that inspires really consistent, good experiences — not just weed that will knock you off your chair. So things like THC percentages in the low 20s. As I said, I don’t like to be so stoned where I can’t see straight and have to lie down. So it’s about offering a consistent experience. Obviously, sometimes I want to feel headier or sometimes I want a body high, but both are options with the flower we sell. 

Do you have a preferred consumption method when you do use flower?

I like to smoke. Well, I like to smoke a joint, but just like a little bit — for me, one or two puffs of a joint is perfect. And that is my favorite consumption method. I’ve never talked about my husband so much in an interview, but we also have this really romantic tradition where our brand makes a lot of pipes, so we are always testing them. Very sweetly, he likes to fill up the pipe for me, light it, and then give me all the cool smoke after he takes the hot hit. That’s so thoughtful. No one ever did that for me before, but he always does it. He’s like, “Oh, let me hit it first, and then you just take all that beautiful, cool smoke.” So we do that a lot — R&D for our products, as a couple.

Of all the ancillary products that you make, which one do you personally use most? 

Um, I’m kind of lame. I’m not like a good joint roller, so I use the pipes a lot. But also, we have these cones that I think are great — and we just launched crush cones, which have a flavor profile. I like those and think it’s really nice to have something that’s functional and quick and New York-y. I like things to be quick and efficient, so I like the cones and use them. I like the pipes, obviously. I also love our tabletop lighters and have one in every room. They’re really pretty, there’s an ashtray built in, and they’re handmade. They’re labor-intensive products that last forever. They combine our heritage of being this handbag and accessory brand that went into cannabis. So products like this have that obvious marriage and compatibility. I just love these things.

Edie Parker one-hitter necklaces

Are there any brands out there that you think are kindred spirits to Edie Parker? Brands that you respect what they’re doing.

I mean, I respect everybody that’s doing it because it’s so hard for sure. But I love Pure Beauty and think they’re doing interesting things culturally. Their collaborators are interesting, their photographers are interesting. I think that’s amazing and I love that. And what I think we do is help with that conversation around the mainstream-ification of cannabis, like using collaborators from different industries — whether fashion or art — to just put a different spin on cannabis. Pure Beauty does that, too. 

I also like Houseplant. I think they’re doing an incredible job with accessories. They have very different aesthetics than us, but their stuff is amazing. Seth [Rogen] has really created something special and popular; it is amazing how their stuff sells out so quickly. I also really like 1906. I love a 2.5mg THC product, so I really like the THC pills they make.

I would say you’re one of the pioneers or trailblazers when it comes to combining fashion and cannabis in a high-level way. I’m curious if you think that type of synergy between fashion and cannabis will continue to either evolve or feel more omnipresent in the future.

Totally. But it’s a layered answer because a thousand percent I think it’ll happen more. First off, one of the reasons fashion is important is because it’s very much reflective of what’s happening at a specific time. Maybe we don’t always see it, but we do when we look back in the rearview mirror. So I think fashion is important in that way. And I think that what is happening now culturally, with social justice and criminal justice reform and all that… cannabis is what’s happening. So I think there will be more synergies with fashion because of that. 

I also think that New York will be transformative. I think there are so many fashion creatives working in New York. I think there are so many creatives, many whom I know personally, and they smoke a ton of cannabis. And now that New York has legalization, soon there will be a lot of people in fashion who dip a toe in the cannabis space, whether through collaborations or otherwise. I think that will absolutely happen. Culturally, these things will be synergistic and really important.

I’m noticing it myself. Like Laquan Smith had a fashion week party, and a delivery service I know was there giving out pre-rolls. That felt like something that would not have happened five years ago.

Totally, Laquan Smith, Brandon Blackwood, and others. These are people who are very public about their cannabis use. They’re giving out cannabis at events. They will definitely do cannabis collabs. They’ll partner with somebody and have a cannabis launch. So I think, yes, absolutely. I don’t think big brands like any LVMH brands will touch it for years, but I think it will absolutely continue to happen with the independent creators in New York.

Is there any activity that you like to do when you’re really high? Whether a particular hike, digging on Etsy, or going to a particular restaurant with your husband?

I don’t like to go to restaurants when I’m stoned. I like to watch TV in bed. I like to take walks in our backyard. We have lots of trees and pretty flowers in Connecticut, so I like to do that. As I said, I like to have sex while high. And then shopping while high is a real problem for me. It happens a lot, especially when I smoke to go to bed and then I sort of delay going to bed and instead buy a fuck ton of stuff online. I end up having to return so much. My penchant for shopping online while high can be problematic.

What about something you like to watch when you’re stoned? You mentioned The Real Housewives before, but what city?

Okay, great, thank you for asking that specific question. I need to watch that show if I’m too high because it calms me down like nothing else. I find Housewives very comforting. I don’t like the weird, Jesus-y Republican cities. So I don’t like OC. I don’t like Dallas. But I love Beverly Hills, New York, Atlanta, Potomac, and New Jersey.

I love The Real Housewives because the show makes me laugh. I make this joke that there are no roles for women in Hollywood over 40 other than the Housewives. This is where all these women go to work and die at a certain age. And they’re just so unaware of the joke. They take themselves so seriously, and I find that to be a trainwreck that I cannot stop watching. I think feeling compelled to watch it all the time is a real waste and I will never get those hours back, but I love it.

What do you like to listen to when stoned?

Definitely music, not so much podcasts. I have a problem where I feel like music stopped being good after the mid-90s. I’m having a big Mr. Mister resurgence, which is very weird. It’s a little bit like my high shopping where I’ll hear a song, it will remind me of a whole genre that I haven’t listened to in a while, and then I’ll do a deep download and have a whole ’80s or ‘90s-era dance party by myself. I am a real secret singer by myself, too. So anything that I can sing at the top of my lungs. So I’m listening to Annie Lennox again, as well as music that I can dance and sing to alone. That makes me very happy.

What do you like to read when high? Any books, magazines, or particular writers?

I read articles in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, but it takes me days. I’m a slow reader. I just bought the new David Sedaris essay book and I’m obsessed with him. So anything humorous like that. If I’m high at night and I’m not shopping, I’ll read something like that to go to bed. I like to read the news. It’s a tug of war with myself because I get sad reading the news and it makes it hard to get out of bed after, but I feel that I have to be informed and confront what’s happening. So I read a lot of news.

My last question is if you could have a dream blunt sesh with anyone alive or dead, who would be at your pot party?

Who do I like? I like a humorist. So I feel like someone like David Sedaris would be fun, although I don’t know how fun he would be when high. Who do I admire? Maybe someone like John Lennon, who I’d just like to meet. Also, John Waters, Jesus, and Chris Hemsworth (but only as Thor).

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What Does Dr. Julian Somers Actually Believe?

What does Dr. Julian Somers actually believe? Dr. Julian Somers is a researcher and professor in the mental health and addiction field in British Columbia, Canada. He is currently a professor at Simon Fraser University and serves as the Research Director of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Program. In addition to his research, Julian has received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions to the field of mental health, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Applied Public […]

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From the Archives: Return of the Lady Dealer (1975)

Many people met their first lady dealer in High Times #1, when we interviewed “Lynne,” a young New York City artist whose frank statements on dope, dealing and sexism caused a flurry of letters to the editor and, apparently, considerable controversy in households and dealing pads across the country.

Then, a year-and-a-half ago, a lady dealer seemed like an unusual creature. Now, the women’s liberation movement has fostered a new force on the dope marketing scene: a growing army of lady dealers. Able to move through all levels of society and across borders at the donning of a skirt, lady dealers are gaining new independence from a business once dominated by men—and more and more women are dealing with other women.

A woman can deal dope as well as the next guy, it seems, and her clientele has been readied by years of “consciousness raising.” Lynne is a veteran of all this, and like many other lady dealers, she is gradually coming into her own. Dealing allows her to do things and see things that would otherwise have been off limits. To a young woman who wants financial independence, dealing has the lure of quick money, good weed and incredible freedom.

Despite the controversy of our last interview, we invited Lynne back into the pages of High Times to talk once again about her life and the phenomenon of the lady dealer.

High Times: How is your life different now from a year ago?

Lynne: Well, last year I was still spinning from my split-up with a man. Since then I’ve become much more confident and secure about being on my own. I’m living in a new place, a totally anonymous apartment building uptown. I’ve changed my name. But I’m still doing the same thing—dealing.

On the same level?

Strangely enough, yes. For a while I was dealing five, ten, and twenty pound lots. Then the supply dried up, and now I’m back to dealing singles and fives. And, of course, ounces to those people I choose to bother with. My friends.

Any hassles with the police?

Not directly. I was working for an association that got busted, but I wasn’t there the night the raid came down. So I was safe.

What do you mean by an association?

This was a warehouse where assorted dealers would come and either buy or sell. Sort of a commodities exchange. I was a broker.

What did your duties entail?

Taking orders, filling them, counting the money, recording the transaction, and the usual social amenities that any broker has to go through with a client.

Did you like working for the association?

I loved it. I’ve never seen so much dope, of all kinds, in my life. And as an employee, I was able to get it at a substantial discount.

Did you encounter sex discrimination in your work for the association?

Generally speaking, no. The association itself treated men and women as equally as they could. Some of the people we dealt with were pretty fucked up, though.

For example?

One time I went to deliver a sample to a dealer. He took it but refused to consummate the deal with me, because he said he didn’t deal with women. I went back and told the chairman of the association, and he called up the dude and told him that we wouldn’t deal with anyone on that basis and that he’d have to deal with association women or be cut off. The dude quickly changed his mind.

It sounds like the association was pretty powerful.

Not really. They were relatively small—even their weights were small—but they were well organized. It was a business of the future. It was fun working with them.

What happened to them?

After the raid, which was brought down by an accident of some type, the association dissolved.

How has the dope supply been lately?

It’s been harder and harder to get. Sometimes the price jumps a hundred dollars a pound in one day! I can’t get weight any more, even though I have excellent connections. But I’ve learned not to judge my success by the amount of weight I move. The amount of money I’m making is the real index of success, and the time and hassle it takes. I’m much more pleasure-oriented now instead of success-oriented.

Why’s that?

Because I think now I have more security, more confidence in my ability to survive. Knowing, really knowing and accepting that my survival is covered. I can lay back and reevaluate my scene.

What has this meant in your case?

For one thing, I’ve cut off a lot of people who were annoyances to me. People who had psychological problems that surfaced in the way they dealt with me. You know, picky people, people who tried to cut corners, pull little ripoffs, people who didn’t pay their debts—I consider this kind of behavior a manifestation of psychological problems.

Another way that I have changed my scene is that I don’t let dealing dominate my life the way it used to. People used to call me at all hours of the day and night. I waited and kept other people waiting for hours—there were constant phone calls back and forth about availabilities, prices, descriptions, delivery arrangements and so on. Now, I refuse to even talk on the phone. People come over, bring money, do a transaction on the spot. If I tell them to come over, then I have the stuff. If I don’t call them, they’re instructed not to bother me unless they have something to sell. As you might imagine, it’s sort of a seller’s market, so I can get away with this. Which is good, because before, my whole life was built around dealing. Now I deal only in the mid-evening, and never on weekends. I find that I move much more dope in the long run at much greater profit, with minimum hassle, no incriminating phone calls. I have now put dealing in proper perspective—it’s an important part of my life, but not all pervasive. I spend a lot more money on myself, rather than reinvesting it in “the business,” and I try to plan ahead to have nothing but a good time.

Do you think women have been feeling this dope shortage more than men?

Well, it’s probably true that women have had less dope to deal and smoke lately than men, but men feel the pinch more. They need it to boost their egos and to treat their girls.

Are women doing anything to alleviate the shortage?

In my own case, I have arranged with several other women to score weed for me and transport it back here to the city. One of them sits on the source of supply, another one does the courier service, and I do the selling.

I also understand that you’re putting a smuggling trip together.

I’m trying. I’ve hired a captain, and crew who have a boat, and I picked up a connection in Jamaica. All we’re waiting for now is all the pieces to line up.

If it works out, maybe we can do an interview with a lady smuggler.

Either that or a lady inmate.

Do you think there are more women dealers now than two years ago?



The same reason there are more women working in all other areas, plus one additional reason. Women are locked out of many conventional jobs. Many women are forced to work far below their natural level, but in dealing, you can go as far as you’re able.

Are you saying there’s no sexism in dealing?

Of course not. In fact, dealing is one of the last preserves of machodom. The fact that it’s a crime puts so many guys on a Bogart trip, and after all it is the, you know, underworld—the dealing scene is never entirely free of plain violent human misfits that really need all that secrecy and sense of danger. But women can deal to other women, you know. And there are many, many dealers who are glad to buy and sell with anybody who has good weed at good prices. The outlaw nature of the business makes us all outlaws together, and there is a camaraderie that transcends, for the moment, the sexist conditioning we’re all given. It’s nice.

Have you encountered any violence in the last year?

No physical violence, although plenty of mental violence.

What do you mean by mental violence?

Oh, I guess I mean people who do cruel things that are just as unjust, destructive and intense as a smack in the mouth, like being ripped off in the middle of the night for dope.

How do you deal with violence? What would you do if someone tried to rape you in the middle of a deal?

What would you do?

It’s never happened to me.

Me either. I think I’d throw up.

Do you have any way of protecting yourself? Karate? A gun?

No, the only thing I would use would be something incapacitating but nonviolent. I have a can of mace I carry in my purse. I’ve never had to use it. Any scene that looks like trouble. I get away from it. There are too many safe and honest scenes to bother with fucked up people.

Do you ever deal anything besides smoke?

No. I like cocaine, and I do it occasionally, but I won’t deal it. The people into it are usually pretty heavy, and so are the laws, the cops and the judges. I don’t need it, so I don’t take any risk I don’t have to.

How about other kinds of dope?

Mushrooms occasionally. I used to deal speed very heavily in the mid-Sixties, but no more. No. I’m a weed dealer.

Do you think dealers smoke better weed than the public?

There’s no question about it. The dealers are by definition closer to the source of supply, and there’s an extremely limited supply of the very best smoke, and it’s so expensive that few people other than dealers can afford it. Little of the connoisseur-level stuff gets to the public. I know that I smoke much better stuff than my nondealer friends, unless they bought it from me. On the other hand, my main connection probably smokes better stuff than I do.

Has it been harder to get where you are because you’re a woman?

For sure, but it’s not nearly as rough in dealing as it is in the art world. It’s much better, now that I have some capital, than it was a year ago, when I needed credit fronted. I still see men getting better deals than me, and getting preference in choice and so on, but smart businessmen don’t fuck with me.

Do women deal differently than men?

Yes. I think they’re into accuracy more. They live more by the code, because they have no protection except their honesty.

Haven’t you ever heard of lady dealers who were into violence?

I’ve heard of instances of women taking on violence, but never of women initiating it. The only time I personally know of a lady involved in violence, it was an offshoot of a deal her old man had made.

Do you think marijuana causes violence?

(Laughter) Only in bed. Have you ever noticed how much sexuality there is in pot smoking? You know, two men passing a cigarette back and forth, their hands touching, sucking on the joint, staring at each other. It’s a very sensual situation, and I think one of the reasons dope smoking is popular is that it creates a sensual setting that is socially acceptable. Men can get into each other in a human way without being called queers. In dealing, gay people seem to be very accepted, for example.

It’s a form of oral gratification.

Right. I consider it pure pleasure to smoke good weed, and it enables me to get down with both men and women.

Are you bisexual?

Not yet.

Did that interview with you in High Times have much effect on your life?

Very few of my friends knew it was me, so it had no effect in that manner. I mean, I could have been a minor celebrity if I had wanted to be uncool, but I plan to stay in business, and people who do that don’t advertise, at least not under their real names. But it had a definite effect on me. I think seeing myself in print made what I was doing more real and therefore more satisfying and easier to get a grip on. I’ve learned a lot from High Times in the last year, too. I appreciate the fact that High Times seems to be trying to address itself to women as well as men.

Would you want your children to be dealers?

If I had children, I wouldn’t object, but I think that marijuana will be legal by then. Other things may not be legal, and I hope my children will do what they consider moral rather than what the laws dictate. I do.

Are you opposed to the social system as it now exists?

Definitely. And dealing shows my opposition. I feel that as long as I’m opposing the system, I might as well be getting paid for it. In dealing I can do that, but I’d do it for nothing if that’s what it took to spread marijuana around. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to say that marijuana is good for society, but I certainly feel that the suppression of marijuana is bad for society.

High Times Magazine, Dec/Jan 1975

Read the full issue here.

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How Hip-Hop Icons Naughty By Nature Blazed Past the Sleepers

Vincent “Vin Rock” Brown and Keir Lamont Gist—known professionally as DJ KayGee—are two of the most recognizable names in hip-hop. Along with founding Naughty By Nature group member Anthony Criss aka “Treach,” the rappers are thought of as legends in the hip-hop community—a role they hope to continue by both creating new music and paying it forward to the next generation of artists.

Vin and KayGee have now formed another group called Illtown Sluggaz, one which will feature DJ and Producer Slugga—a bear and mascot in the vein of a deadmau5 character. The Sluggaz are part group, part record label and part artist management development platform, with new music to be released and a new Slugga Music Concert Series kicking off March 25th at The Wellmont Theater in New Jersey. The concert series aims to give up-and-coming artists a chance to share the stage with veteran performers in a way to help them grow organically. 

When we connect over Zoom, Vin and KayGee are eager to discuss their almost 40 years of music industry experience, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 19 Naughty III album and smash hit “Hip Hop Hooray,” the role of cannabis in their creative process, and how they used hate from the “sleepers” to fuel their decorated career in music.

High Times: Growing up in New Jersey, was music always the path?

DJ KayGee: Growing up, it was really the early days of hip-hop and the culture. Just seeing everybody around the way, listening to the music, seeing the graffiti—all the things associated with the scene. And then finally, for me, it was seeing the movie Wild Style. That’s what really made me say, “Oh, I want to try to get into that culture.”

High Times: What about the movie specifically did it for you?

DJ KayGee: It was Grandmaster Flash DJing on the turntables in there. When I saw that in the movie, I said, “I have to try that.”

Vin Rock: For me, I’m the youngest of seven—five sisters, one brother—and my brother used to play the drums all of the time. He’d play Heat Wave, Kool & The Gang, Con Funk Shun on the record player and then would try and drum exactly how the drummers were drumming on the records. He’d get frustrated and kick and throw his drums all over the place because he couldn’t get it exactly right.

Fast forward to the Gladys Knight & the Pips music video “Save the Overtime (For Me).” I believe they had the New York City Breakers in there and I saw the guy do the backspin and was like, “Oh my goodness, that’s incredible.” I had a guy—Mark Young, we called him ‘Loco’—who lived on my block and always used to listen or have access to the underground mixtapes and “battle” tapes of all the live hip-hop performances that were in New York City.

I remember hearing Doug E. Fresh beatboxing and sounding like he had rocks in his mouth. I was like, “Wow, that stuff sounds crazy. How does he do that?” I spent a good part of my youth trying to get that Doug E. Fresh sound in my mouth—until I finally got it. That’s what did it for me.

High Times: Once your interest in music was established, how did Naughty By Nature’s formation take shape?

Vin Rock: All three of us [Vin, KayGee, and Treach] were from the same hometown of East Orange, New Jersey, though KayGee and I lived closer together. I lived on 15th Street, he lived on 18th Street. So if you did the math, we were three blocks away from each other, and Treach lived across the way.

There was a train track and you had to go under the trestle, and there were housing projects Little City and Kuzuri. Treach lived over on that side. Kay and I always knew each other and I used to breakdance with his neighbor—a guy named Terry Peppers—who lived directly across the street from Kay. So I was a breakdancer and beatboxer, and after I finished breakdancing with Terry, I would hear Kay DJing on his sun porch. I’d go across the street to Kay, beatbox for him while he DJd.

KayGee is a year older than Treach and I and he was a senior in high school and wanted to participate in his senior talent show. We needed an MC, so I told Kay there’s this guy in my health class who always rhymes to me. Every other day he’s coming with another rhyme while I beatbox—and that was Treach. I brought him over to Kay and we kind of formed the group from there.

At that first talent show, we didn’t even have a name for the group, we were just doing a routine. At the beginning of the routine, Kay scratched in a Beastie Boys “It’s the new style” lyric, and after the show—the show went well—we recapped how it was a great show and how the intro really worked. We were like, “Why don’t we call ourselves The New Style?” That’s when we first really gelled as our first group being The New Style.

High Times: What was the first inclination where you felt the group could actually be something?

DJ KayGee: After we had the initial performance for the senior talent show, we started doing local talent shows and clubs and we started winning them. As we were winning the talent shows—originally they had it where the crowd would judge them—they changed the rules because we kept winning and winning. Other people and other artists started complaining that New Style comes with their built-in audience, that’s why they’re winning. They’re coming with their blocks. So, they started bringing in celebrities and other different people to judge the shows instead of the crowd, and that’s actually when we first met Biz Markie, Cool V and guys like The 45 King and Flavor Unit. Once we started winning those talent shows, we felt like we had something.

High Times: And it sounds like the talent shows also brought you onto the scene where you were able to meet your contemporaries like Biz.

DJ KayGee: And they’re starting to see us and be like, “Wow, those guys are good.”

Vin Rock: It was a process because we weren’t recording at that moment, we were just live performers. We knew we had a group and we saw what was happening with hip-hop, but then it got to the point where we were like, “We can take it seriously and start recording,” and that’s when we thought we could actually have a recording career and evolve beyond just performing locally.

One thing led to another and we met our guy—Mike C—who was a local MC already signed to the old Sugar Hill label. He introduced us to Sylvia Robinson and Joey Robinson, Jr. from Sugar Hill Records and that’s when we started to take ourselves seriously as far as recording artists. We began recording under the name The New Style, and once we had our demo together, we presented it to them and they signed us under The New Style for our first album.

Sugar Hill Records at that time—of course they had Melly Mel, Grandmaster Flash, all of the legendary music—but they were at the tail end of their run. It was almost like signing with Death Row after Death Row was over. Sugar Hill Records ended up changing their name to Bon Ami Records—which was part of a settlement of a lawsuit they had with MCA—and so our album just sat on the shelf and never did anything. But we believed in ourselves and we knew we had more to give, so that was that pivotal moment where we were like we’re not going to give up. We pursued Mark The 45 King and Queen Latifah from The Flavor Unit because they were our contemporaries right in our own backyard. We wanted to get down with The Flavor Unit and began auditioning for them, threw a party for ourselves and invited Flavor Unit over, and then once Flavor Unit signed us to Flavor Unit Management, we changed our name to Naughty By Nature. That was the moment we were like, “Now we really have to go for it.”

High Times: And you didn’t let the business stuff discourage you from pursuing what you knew you had.

DJ KayGee: While we were with Bon Ami, we did a whole album, and we thought we did okay with it. It was the beginning stages—and like Vin said—we had never been in the studio. We weren’t fully, fully developed yet but we did think we had something to start off with. People were starting to say “You guys have something, you guys have something.”

We felt like we sort of got the short end of the stick coming out under Bon Ami, but at the same time, we learned how to get better and where to record. Within that process, we started paying for the studio time ourselves and started really developing what you hear—and what you heard—as Naughty By Nature. That’s when we started working on “O.P.P.” and all of those records while still doing talent shows and getting better and better. Not only did we feel we had perfected how to perform live, we had started to come into our own in the studio as well.

After we were feeling zoned in after that first album—Naughty By Nature—that’s when we did the whole thing with The Flavor Unit and threw our own party and met with them. At that point, we had “O.P.P.” and knew we had a bomb with it and knew that once we had some better people with us, we’d be able to break through. We were rocking crowds without a record, so if we took the whole thing and put it together, put it on wax, and then did what we could do with a record that people knew, we would be unstoppable. We just needed to get the politics to kick us through the door, and Flavor Unit was the politics.

Vin Rock: I would say one of the biggest catalysts for us back then were—they call them “haters” today—but back in the day, they’d call them “sleepers,” the people who were sleeping on you—the doubters. I remember when we had the twelve-inch single as The New Style called “Scuffin’ Those Knees,” then we had the album which we put up in a local sandwich shop—Sandwiches Unlimited. We were just coming out of high school and we were the hometown heroes, but the album never really broke through, so a lot of people were like, “Nah, they didn’t make it, they’ll never make it.” That really pissed us off and made us be like, “You know what? We really have to prove to these haters that we can make it.”

High Times: You took that sleep, took that hate, and turned it into something positive that ended up being a success.

DJ KayGee: Definitely. We were starting to hone in and perfect it all. At that point, it was just like, “We really love this.” There’s no turning back. Once you start doing it, you start creating and enjoying it. It came from just being a part-time hobby to being something that became a profession that we took really seriously.

High Times: And by taking it seriously, you were simply taking your live crowd-rocking abilities and recording them in a way that more people could consume.

DJ KayGee: That’s why when you hear the records we’ve made they’ve always been call-and-response or party-driven records. We come from that era and that style of artists. Period. We had to rock crowds and win people over without a record.

High Times: Which is different from how it’s done today.

DJ KayGee: They don’t do that anymore. People just put records out and then they throw you on the stage after. There is no honing of the skills, taking your losses. We got “booed” plenty of times coming up. We’ve been through all of that. A lot of these [new] guys—and it’s not their fault—it’s just music has changed now.

Vin Rock: As a matter of fact, last night we all went over to DaDa’s birthday party and guess who was there? Big Stan, yo. He’s the promoter who booked us at Red Alert’s birthday party when we were The New Style—just before we transitioned to Naughty By Nature.

We’re from New Jersey, and back then, it was all about the five boroughs of New York City and they were so possessive of hip-hop. If you weren’t from the five boroughs, don’t even think about coming into New York saying you’re a rapper because you are literally uninvited.

Because of KayGee’s older brother, he had a relationship with this guy Stan, who was a big promoter back then. Stan had thrown DJ Red Alert’s birthday party and the who’s who of hip-hop was there: KRS-One, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Tribe Called Quest—you name them, they were there. And [Stan] gave us a shot as being Jersey artists coming into New York City for Red Alert’s birthday party. Well, we get in the venue, I grab the mic and say,  “What’s up, y’all. Jersey’s in the house! They booed us endlessly. We couldn’t get through our routine, we played the first record and they booed booed booed booed booed. We had to just stop the show and step off. The weirdest thing about it was that it was winter time. When we drove into New York City, the roads were clear. After we got booed, we went outside and there was three feet of snow. We had the longest ride back to Jersey. 

High Times: An experience like that teaches you something.

Vin Rock: Oh it taught us everything. At that point, it was not only our peers and high school mates who were doubting us—although we had a healthy support system and had a lot of people rocking with us—it was those one or two comments like “Ah, you’re crap” or whatever that make you feel like they’re screwing you over. We had the hometown that we had to prove to that we could break through, and then we went into New York City knowing we were outcasts and knowing New York City wasn’t checking for any Jersey rappers. We may as well have been from Alabama back then. When we went to New York and got booed, it just lit that fire under us and we were like, “Nah, man. We’re really going to get these guys.”

We called them sleepers and made songs like “Thankx for Sleepwalking,” and as we evolved into Naughty By Nature, we made bedsheets and pillow cases so people could “sleep” on us literally [laughs].

High Times: And profit off their snoozing.

Vin Rock: On our second album, we had the inserts there for Naughty By Nature merchandise. Tommy Boy Records had the inserts and we literally sold the bedsheets in the cassettes and CDs back then. In the “Hip Hop Hooray” video, there’s a scene where Treach is in bed and he pulls the sheet over and it’s Naughty By Nature bed sheets. We definitely monetized it.

Courtesy Naughty By Nature

High Times: In terms of “Hip Hop Hooray,” it’s now the 30th anniversary of the track and the album 19 Naughty III. What went into the track and album at that time?

DJ KayGee: Number one, it was the second album and a lot of people—and I’m sure even Tommy Boy—probably weren’t sure what they had in us yet. Everybody was always worried about the “sophomore jinx,” like is it a one album or one record fluke. Can you really get through, or is it a one-hit-wonder thing.

We were out touring and touring and touring—”O.P.P.”, “Uptown Anthem,” “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”—we had all of those records, so we were on tour for like a year and a half straight. Tommy Boy was telling Flavor Unit, “The guys need to get in and get a new record. We need to capitalize off the success of the first album. What’s up?” So we were working but we didn’t really feel any pressure. Like I said, we felt like we knew what we were doing. We knew what we were doing and we were just gonna do what we do. We weren’t going to be stuck or try to be something that we weren’t, we were just going to make our records. And that’s what we did.

Even going into “Hip Hop Hooray,” we didn’t approach it trying to make a big record or trying to do anything. It was just another track, another chorus, another idea. Once it was done we knew we had another monster, but it was just like, “Hey, we’re going to work our records.” And even with that, we knew we had a good record but never even handed the record in.

We went up to KMEL in the Bay Area and were doing a radio show for their Summer Jam and were just like, “Yo, let’s test this record out.” We performed the record there and that’s where the whole hands up “Hey, Ho” came from. Treach just started [moving his arms on stage] and the crowd started doing it. So we were like okay, that’s going to carry over.

People went so crazy that the program director called Tommy Boy the next morning and said, “There’s this record that Naughty By Nature performed last night. If you don’t send that to me now, we’re going to play the live version on the radio.” Tommy Boy was calling in to Shakim [Compere] like, “What is going on? What record are they talking about?” And were like, “Oh, that’s ‘Hip Hop Hooray.’ We just have to mix and finish it. We just tried it out out there and it was dope so, yeah, we’ll get it to you soon.”

Vin Rock: Another thing that was so genius about the record “Hip Hop Hooray” was that although we were from Jersey, although we were ostracized coming up, and although New York City didn’t accept us, once we finally broke through and began to get idolized after the first album, we started to win over the New York guys and New York peers. The first single off the second album—”Hip Hop Hooray”—it gave props to hip-hop, and I think it was genius what Treach did.

Instead of being bitter like, “Yeah, look at us now, we’re the shit, blah blah blah,” the song gave props to hip-hop. We shouted out all of our forefathers and that’s what it was—giving props to everyone who came before us, which is why I say to this day that “Hip Hop Hooray” is the ultimate ode to hip-hop.

Even right now as we’re celebrating fifty years in hip-hop, no better record sums up fifty years in hip-hop for me than “Hip Hop Hooray.” It represents inclusion, gives props to the forefathers, and is the ultimate party record.

High Times: Did you know ahead of time that Spike Lee was going to direct the music video?

DJ KayGee: We were just sitting around or something and somebody was like, “What do you think of Spike Lee directing this?” We were just like, “That would be dope.”

Vin Rock: We had rhythm then, so all eyes were on us—and although Tommy Boy was indie—they were a small, strong machine. So they were reaching out, and I’m sure they reached out to Spike Lee. He saw the energy Naughty was kicking out there and we definitely made that happen.

With Spike being from Brooklyn and us being from Jersey, we actually shot in both cities. We shot in Brooklyn, we shot in Jersey, and then we had the cameo list. From Run-D.M.C., Queen Latifah, Monie Love to D-Nice, Eazy-E—you name it.

Funny enough, 2Pac was there on the set, but for some reason he did not make the cut. In the crowd scenes though, 2Pac was there.

DJ KayGee: Yeah, there’s a picture of him standing on the circle thing or whatever.

Vin Rock: I think Pac was just so young in the game [at that time] that he wasn’t really on the map yet. That’s probably a Spike edit, but I’m sure Spike has that raw footage. We’ll have to break into those 40 Acres and a Mule vaults and get that. It would have been dope to do a remix video with that original footage and use edits and cuts that were never in the original video.

DJ KayGee: And a lot of people were at that video.You talk to a lot of our counterparts and they’ll say they were at that video.

High Times: So it was more of a “Who’s Who” event as much as it was a music video for you guys.

Vin Rock: Exactly. It was a party, man. That’s what I remember. I remember it being a party, I remember all of the chicks being around. We were like twenty-three back then.

High Times: In terms of parties, what role did cannabis play in your music creation process and in your personal lives?

Vin Rock: We grew up in the streets, and not to incriminate ourselves, we were street kids. So selling weed was part of coming up. 

DJ KayGee: That was the weed era.

Vin Rock: Especially in the eighties, man. Late eighties.

Vin Rock: Shit, even the mid-eighties. I remember being the stash man when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. Again, I’m the youngest of seven, so there’s a huge age gap. My oldest sister is now sixty-five years old and I’m fifty-two. So with five sisters, Colt 45, playing backgammon, and spades—I’m the youngest guy sitting around. Sipping beer and smoking weed—I picked that up as a thirteen/fourteen year old.

Creatively and musically, one of the most famous lines on one of our records is on “Uptown Anthem.” It starts off with: Hey you could smoke a spliff / On a cliff / But there’s still no mountain hiiiiiigh enough / Or wide enough to touch. It starts off with weed.

We came with “O.P.P.”, then we had “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” and then the song “Uptown Anthem” was the single off the Juice soundtrack, which they eventually attached to the first album, but the first bar has to do with weed.

Treach and I are the weed smokers of the group. Kay just sold it [laughs], but it’s always played a role in our creative process.

DJ KayGee: I couldn’t get high on my own supply.

High Times: Did you sell it to Vin and Treach?

DJ KayGee: Absolutely [laughs]. But then it got to the point where I started giving it to them.

Vin Rock: I remember at one point when I was selling, I used to pick up from Kay and then sell our weed in the park and stuff like that. So Kay was the plug back in the day.

DJ KayGee: A little bit of weed never hurt anybody. It’s legal now, but it never hurt anybody.

High Times: Creatively, how did it help you?

Vin Rock: Definitely when you’re performing. You relax, you get in the mood. The combination of weed and some alcohol is all we ever did. It just sets the tone for you to go out and rock the crowd.

Even in the creative process, you could be sober writing rhymes, writing lyrics, coming up with ideas—and then when you want to relax a little more and you blaze a little bit—it gives you a different mindset and you’ll think of things you didn’t necessarily think of when you were sober. After you sober up, you can go back to the material you developed when you were fucking blazed up. It’s a good balance. You come up with what you need to record.

High Times: Another tool in the toolbox.

Vin Rock: Exactly. It’s like another dimension.

Follow @naughtybynature4ever, @unclevinrock, @kaygeebn and check out the 30th anniversary of 19 Naughty III dropping everywhere 2/24.

The post How Hip-Hop Icons Naughty By Nature Blazed Past the Sleepers appeared first on High Times.

Will the FDA Regulate CBD?

Will the FDA regulate CBD? It’s a question on many minds as the FDA commissioner is to appear before the U.S. House Oversight Committee. Chairman of the Committee, James Comer, wants details on CBD. He said: “It’s not just their lack of action with respect to CBD and other types of hemp. It’s their inaction regarding a lot of areas of their jurisdiction … We’ve got an agency here that has a big budget, they have a lot of employees, […]

The post Will the FDA Regulate CBD? appeared first on Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana | News.

From the Archives: Norman Mailer on Pot (2004)

By Richard Stratton

Thirty years ago, when High Times was in its infancy, I did a long interview with Norman Mailer that was published in two parts in Rolling Stone magazine. Mailer and I first met in Provincetown, MA, in the winter of 1970 and have been close friends ever since. At one time we owned property together in Maine, which was put up as collateral for bail when I got busted for smuggling marijuana in the early ’80s. The Feds were all over the connection between Mailer and me; he testified for the defense at the trial of my partner in Toronto, Rosie Rowbotham, who ended up doing over 20 years for importing hashish. Mailer later testified at my trials in Maine and New York. The government became convinced that he was some sort of hippie godfather to the sprawling marijuana trafficking organization Rowbotham and I ran, along the lines of Timothy Leary’s figurehead status with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love conspiracy out of Laguna Beach, CA.

But Mailer was more a friend of the cause than a co-conspirator. He certainly had what to an assistant United States attorney might qualify as “guilty knowledge.” He knew what I was up to. I remember standing with him on the balcony of his Brooklyn Heights apartment one night, looking out at the glittering behemoths of the Lower Manhattan financial district, then down at the containers stacked on the Brooklyn docks below like mini-skyscrapers and telling him, “Right down there, Norman, in those containers, there’s seven million dollars’ worth of Lebanese hash. All I have to do is get it out of there without getting busted.” The novelist in him was intrigued, but the criminal in him would always remain subservient to the artist. The government put tremendous pressure on me to give them Mailer, as though he were some trophy I could trade for my own culpability. They were star-fucking: John DeLorean had been busted in a set-up coke case; Mailer’s head would have looked good mounted on some government prosecutor’s wall.

When I went to prison in 1982, Mailer became—after my mother—my most loyal visitor and correspondent. And when I was released in 1990, I stayed in his Brooklyn Heights apartment while the Mailer family summered in Provincetown. I’ve known Mailer’s youngest son, John Buffalo, since he was born and turned to him when I needed someone to act in my stead here at the magazine while I finished work on the TV show I produced for Showtime.

But, as with my criminal enterprise, Mailer has no financial stake in the outcome of the High Times mini-media-conglomerate conspiracy. He’s an interested observer and adviser.

All this by way of saying there’s real history here, so much so that there was never any pretense at making this a typical interview; it’s more like a master speaking to an apprentice about what he has learned. I’d read Mailer extensively before I met him. His writing, in essays such as “The White Negro” and “General Marijuana,” his nonfiction The Armies of the Night and The Executioner’s Song, and the novels The Naked and the Dead, An American Dream, Why Are We in Vietnam? and Ancient Evenings, to mention just a few Mailer works, have reshaped post-World War II American literature. Mailer’s whole notion of the existential hipster living in the crucible of his orgasm probably contributed as much to my fascination with the outlaw life as the cannabis plant itself.

I’ve smoked pot with Mailer on a number of occasions and have always been impressed with where it took him: to the outermost reaches of the universe and back to the murky depths of the human psyche. But I had never really sat with him and got his thoughts on pot until we met, almost 30 years to the day of that first interview, and I asked him to expound on his views of the plant that became the inspiration for this magazine.

Norman Mailer: Looking back on pot—is it 30 years since I smoked?—by the ’70s I began to feel it was costing me too much. We’ll get to what I got out of it and what I didn’t get out of it—but by the ’80s, I just smoked occasionally. And I don’t think I’ve had a toke—and this is neither to brag nor apologize—in 10 years. But I look back on it as one of the profoundest parts of my life. It did me a lot of good and a lot of harm.

What I’d like to do today is talk about these dimensions of pot. People who smoke marijuana all the time are, as far as I’m concerned, fundamentalists. Their one belief is that pot is good, pot takes care of everything—it’s their gospel. I think they’re about as limited—if you want to get brutal about it—as fundamentalists. Fundamentalists can’t think; they can only refer to the Gospels. Pot people can’t recognize that something as good as that might have something very bad connected to it—which is not to do with the law, but what it does to you. That’s what I’d like to talk about. The plus and minus.

The other thing I’d like to talk about is the cultural phenomenon of pot. That is rarely gone into. Instead, people are always taking sides—pot’s good, pot’s bad; pot should be outlawed, pot should be decriminalized—there’s always this legalistic approach. But I think marijuana had a profound cultural effect upon America, and I wouldn’t mind seeing this magazine exploring all that pot did to the American mentality—good and bad.

Richard Stratton: Marijuana is already a huge cultural phenomenon. In the 30 years High Times has been around, pot has gone from a marginal anomaly in our society to something that’s almost mainstream.

Mailer: Yeah, only not mainstream yet. Too many attitudes have settled in on pot, and there’s too much dead-ass in the thinking of pot smokers now. Some 30 years ago when it was all new, we really felt we were adventurers—let’s say 40 years ago—we really felt we were on the edge of startling and incredible revelations. You’d have perceptions that I still use to this day—that’s part of the good. When I first began smoking, I was a typical liberal, a radical rationalist. I never believed in a Higher Power. I still dislike those two words—Higher Power. I didn’t believe that God was there. I couldn’t explain anything, because when you’re an atheist, you’re living without a boat on an island in the Pacific that’s surrounded by water: There’s nowhere to go.

It’s hard enough to believe in God, but to assume there is no God, no prime force—how can you begin to explain anything that way?

I was a socialist, more radical than most liberals, but I was altogether a rationalist. I was also at the point of getting into one or another kind of terminal disease, because my life was wrong. My liver was lousy and I wasn’t even drinking a lot. My personal life was not happy and I was congested, constricted. I couldn’t have been tighter. Then pot hit.

In the beginning, I remember that pot used to irritate the hell out of me, because nothing would happen when I smoked.

I’ve noticed that intellectuals with highly developed minds usually have trouble turning on. The mental structure is so developed, so ratiocinative. So many minefields have been built up to protect the intellect from pot, which is seen as the disrupter, the enemy. The first few times I smoked, I just got tired, dull and irritated. I was angry that nothing had happened. It went on like that for perhaps a year. Three, four, five times I smoked, and each occasion was a blank.

Then one night in Mexico I got into a crazy sexual scene with two women. We were smoking an awful lot of pot. Then one of the women went home and the other went to sleep and I felt ill and got up and vomited. I’d never vomited like that in my life. It was exactly as if I was having an orgasm of convulsive vomiting. Spasmodically, I was throwing off a ton of anxiety. I’ve never had anything like that since and I wouldn’t want to. Not again. Pretty powerful convulsive experience.

Afterward, I rinsed my mouth out, went downstairs to where my then wife was sleeping on one couch, and I lay down on the other and stayed there. Then it hit—how that pot hit! I don’t know if it ever hit any harder. It was incredible: I was able to change the face of my wife into anyone I wanted. It went on before my eyes. I could play all sorts of games in my mind. Whole scenarios. It went on for hours. When it was over, I knew that I was going to try this again.

A couple of days later, I was out in the car listening to the radio. Some jazz came on. I’d been listening to jazz for years, but it had never meant all that much to me. Now, with the powers pot offered, simple things became complex; complex things clarified themselves. These musicians were offering the inner content of their experience to me. Later, when I wrote about it, I would say that jazz is the music of orgasm. Because that was what it seemed to me. These very talented, charged-up players full of their joys and twists and kinks—God, they had as many as I did—were looking for the musical equivalent of an orgasm. They would take a song, play the melody, then go into variations on it, until they got themselves into a tighter and tighter situation with the take-off on the melody.

I can’t speak musically, but I can tell what was going on in that odyssey. They were saying: This is very, very hard to get out, it’s full of knots—but I’m going to do it. And they’d climb a tower of music looking to reach the gates at the top and break through. It wasn’t automatic; very often they failed. They’d go on and on, try more variations, then more. But often they couldn’t solve the problem they’d set themselves musically, whatever that problem was. And sometimes, occasionally, they would break through. Then it was incredible, for they would emerge with you into a happy land just listening to music. Other times they’d stop with a little flair, a sign-off, as if to say: That’s it, I give up. All that was what I heard while high, and I loved it. I became a jazz buff.

Over the next couple of years, I went often to the Five Spot, the Village Vanguard, the Jazz Gallery. I’d hear the greats: Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Coltrane, Miles Davis. Those were incredibly heady years, listening to those guys for hours on pot, or without it, because once pot had broken into my metallic mental structure, it had cracked the vise, you might say, that closed me off from music. I had become such a lover of pot that I broke up with a few friends who wouldn’t smoke it. At the end of a long road—10 years down that road—I committed a felony while on pot.

That didn’t stop me, but I did smoke a little less as the years went on.

I’m a writer: The most important single element in my life, other than my family, has been my writing. So as a writer, I always had to ask: Is this good for my writing? And I began to look at pot through that lens. It wasn’t all bad for editing—it was crazy. I’d have three or four bad ideas and one good one, but at the same time I was learning a lot about the sounds of language. Before, I’d been someone who wrote for the sense of what I was saying, and now I began to write for the sound of what I was writing.

Stratton: Like a jazz musician.

Mailer: Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but to a degree, yes. I’d look for the rhythm of the long sentence rather than the intellectual impact, which often proved to be more powerful when it came out of the rhythm. So occasionally the editing was excellent. But it was impossible to write new stuff on pot.

The experience was too intense. On pot, I would have the illusion that you need say no more than “I love you” and all of love would be there. Obviously, that was not enough.

Stratton: Let’s talk about the detrimental aspects of pot, how you feel it worked against you.

Mailer: Well, the main thing was that I was mortgaging time, mortgaging my future. Because I’d have brilliant insights while on pot but could hardly remember any of them later. My handwriting would even break down. Then three-quarters of the insights were lost to scribbles. Whenever I had a tremendous take on pot, I was good for very little over the next 48 hours.

But if you’re a novelist, you have to work every day. There are no easy stretches. You do the work. Marijuana was terrible for that. So I had longer and longer periods where I wouldn’t go near pot—it would get me too far off my novelistic tracks. When it hit, three or four chapters of my next book would come into my head at once. That would often be a disaster. The happiest moment you can have when writing is when a sense of the truth comes in at the point of your pen. It just feels true. As you are writing! Such a moment is most certainly one of the reasons you write. But if I received similar truths via pot, I was no longer stretching my mind by my work as a novelist.

In fact, with the noticeable exception of Hunter Thompson, who has broken—bless him—has broken every fucking rule there is for ingesting alien substances…indeed, there’s nobody remotely equal to Hunter—I don’t know how he does it. I have great admiration for his constitution and the fact that he can be such a good writer with all the crap he takes into himself. Unbelievable, unbelievable—but no other writer I know can do it.

Stratton: So you believe that, if you were to smoke some good pot right now, you’d let your mind go—and you might see the rest of the book in your head, but you might not have the impetus to sit down and write it?

Mailer: That’s right. One mustn’t talk about one’s book. For instance, I’m doing one now where I haven’t even told my wife what it’s about. She’s guessed—she’s a very smart lady, so she’s guessed—but the thing is, I know that to talk about this book would be so much more stimulating and easy and agreeable than to write it that I’d end up talking to people about what a marvelous book I could have done. I believe pot does that in a far grander way—it’s the difference between watching a movie on a dinky little TV set and going to a state-of-the-art cinema.

Stratton: Most of the writing I’m doing these days is screenwriting. And because of the nature of the material I’m working on, I usually have a detailed outline. I know where I’m going, I’ve already seen the movie in my head. So when I write, after having smoked some pot, I find that what it does for me is I can just sit back and watch the scene play out in my mind. And I don’t have to worry about getting lost, because I’ve got the structure of the screenplay holding me in check.

Mailer: I can see that would work for screenplays, but in a novel you’ve got to do it all.

Stratton: What about sex on pot?

Mailer: Sex on pot was fabulous. That was the big element. I realized I hadn’t known anything about sex until I was able to enjoy it on pot. Then again, after a few years, I began to see some of the negative aspects. Once, speaking at Rice High School—I had a friend, a priest named Pete Jacobs, who’d invited me to speak there; it’s a Catholic high school run by the Christian Brothers in Manhattan, and it’s a school well respected by a lot of Irish working class all around New York, Staten Island, Queens, because they give you a very good, tough education there. The Christian Brothers are tough. But Pete told me, “Say what you want to say. These kids will be right on top of it.” They were. They weren’t passive students at all. One of them asked me, “How do you feel about marijuana and sex?” And I gave him this answer: You can be out with a girl, have sex with her for the first time on pot and it might be fabulous—you and the girl go very far out. Then two days later you hear that the girl was killed in an automobile accident and you say, “Too bad. Such a sweet little chick.” You hardly feel more than that. The action had exhausted your emotions. On pot, you can have a romance that normally would take three to six months to develop being telescoped into one big fuck. But over one night, there’s no loyalty or allegiance to it because you haven’t paid the price. About that time, I realized that fucking on pot was crazy because you’d feel things you never felt before, but on the other hand, you really didn’t attach that much loyalty to the woman. Your feelings of love were not for the woman, but for the idea of love. It was insufficiently connected to the real woman.

It bounced off her reality rather than drawing you toward it. Other times, you could indeed get into the reality of the woman and even see something hard and cold and cruel in her depths, or something so beautiful you didn’t want to go too near it because you knew you were a lousy son of a bitch and you’d ruin it.

One way or another, I found that pot intensified my attitudes toward love, but it also left me detached. It was a peculiar business. So there came a point where I began to think: Who gave us pot? Was it God or the devil? Because by now, I was my own species of a religious man. I believed in an existential God who was doing the best that He or She could do.

God was out there as the Creator, but God was not all powerful or all wise. God was an artistic general, if you will—a very creative and wonderful general—better than any general who ever lived. By far. But even so, generals finally can’t take care of all their troops. And the notion of people praying all the time—begging for God to watch over them, take care of them—so conflicted with what I felt. I felt that God cannot be all good and all powerful. Not both. Because if He’s all good, He is certainly not all powerful. There’s no way to explain the horrors of history, including the mid-century horrors of the last century, if He is all good. Whereas if God is a great creator—not necessarily the lord of all the universe, but let’s say the lord of our part of the universe, our Creator—then God, on a grander scale, bears the same relationship to us that a parent does to a child. No parent is all wise, all powerful and all good. The parent is doing the best that he or she can do. And very often it doesn’t turn out well. That made sense to me. I could see our relation to God: God needs us as much as we need God. And to me, that was exciting, because now it wasn’t a slavish relationship anymore. It made sense.

Stratton: You feel marijuana helped you discover this existential God?

Mailer: No question. That was part of the great trip. But I began to brood on a line that I’d written long before I’d smoked marijuana, a line from The Deer Park. The director who was my main character was having all sorts of insights and revelations while dead drunk, but then said to himself, “Why is my mind so alive when I’m too drunk to do anything about it?” That came back to haunt me. Because I thought: Pot is giving me so much, but I’m not doing my work. I don’t get near enough to the visions and insights I’m having on pot. So is it a gift of God—pot? Or does it come from the devil? Is this the nearest the devil comes to being godlike? It seemed there were three possibilities there: One could well be that marijuana was a gift of God and, if so, must not be abused. Or was it an instrument of the devil? Or were God and the devil both present when we smoked? Maybe God needed us to become more illumined? After all, one of my favorite notions is that organized religion could well be one of the great creations of the devil. How better to drive people away from God than to give them a notion of the Almighty that doesn’t fit the facts? So, I do come back to this notion that maybe God and the devil are obliged willynilly to collaborate here. Each thinks that they can benefit from pot: God can give you the insights and the devil will reap the exhaustions and the debilities. Because I think pot debilitates people. I’ve noticed over and over that people who smoke pot all the time generally do very little with their lives. I’ve always liked booze because I felt: It’s a vice, but I know exactly what I’m paying for. You hurt your head in the beginning and your knees in the end, when you get arthritis. But at least you know how you’re paying for the fun. Pot’s spookier. Pot gives so much more than booze on the one hand—but on the other, never quite presents the bill.

Stratton: I’m not sure that’s true of everyone who smokes pot.

Mailer: I’m sure it’s not.

Stratton: A lot of people are motivated by pot. I am, for one.

Mailer: What do you mean, “motivated”?

Stratton: I mean that it doesn’t debilitate me. I don’t want to sit around and do nothing when I’m high. I get inspired, energized.

I don’t subscribe to the theory of the antimotivational syndrome. If anything, when I’m straight, I’m often too hyper and too left-brain-oriented. I go off on tangents and I don’t stop to look around and try to find a deeper meaning in what I’m doing. Marijuana will slow me down and allow me to connect with the mood of what’s going on around me. And that, in turn, inspires me to go further into what I’m trying to do.

Mailer: I ended a few romances over the years because when I got on pot I couldn’t stop talking. And finally I remember one girl who said, “Did you come to fuck or to knit?”


Stratton: That’s one of the interesting things about marijuana—how it affects everyone differently. It seems to enhance and intensify whatever’s going on in the person at any given moment. Let’s say that we were going to do some stretching right now and we did it straight. We’d be like, “Oh, man, this hurts. This is an ordeal.”

Now if we smoke a little pot and then stretch, it would feel good and put us more in touch with our bodies and the deeper sensations of the activity.

Mailer: I learned more about my body and reflex and grace, even, such as I have—whatever limited physical grace I have, I got it through pot showing me where my body, or how my body, was feeling at any given moment. Here, I can agree with you. Dancing—I could always dance on pot. Not much of a dancer otherwise, but on pot, I could dance. There’s no question it liberated me. All of these good things were there. All the same, when it comes to the legalization of pot, I get dubious. Pot would be taken over by media culture. It would be classified and categorized. It would lose that wonderful little funky edge that once it had—that sensation of being on the edge of the criminal. All the same, the corporate bastards who run most of America will not legalize it in a hurry. Pot is still a great danger to them. Because what they fear is that too many people would no longer give a damn about the corporation—they’d have their minds on other things than working for the Big Empty. To the suits, that makes pot a deadly drug. The corporation has a bad enough conscience buried deep inside to fear, despite their strength, every type of psychic alteration that they haven’t developed themselves.

High Times Magazine, Nov./Dec. 2004

Read the full issue here.

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Hemp Wraps Are NOT Blunts

Brands, stop lying to cannabis consumers.

Adam: As a cannabis consumer for over two decades I’ve seen many marketing ploys to attract customers to buy products. From catchy trendy names to fancy colorful packaging, I’ve seen it all. But what really irks me are the liars. Lying to a customer for a buck is the lowest of lows. Which brings me to the pre-roll section of your favorite shop. Hemp Wraps are NOT Blunts.

Jon: For those uninformed, Blunts are a consumer favorite way to smoke. It’s basically a big joint wrapped in a tobacco leaf – be it a Dutch Master, Backwood, Brothers Broadleaf, or Grabba. Not only does tobacco provide an additional head high (especially to those not usually smoking tobacco), but blunts are typically much bigger than your average joint. For a heavy consumer it’s become a preference, and they’re great for group smoking.

A: I’m not sure if people still use a dictionary or know what one is. A dictionary is a book of reference that we used to use to look up the definition of a word. What words mean. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of a blunt is: “a hollowed-out cigar filled with marijuana.” A cigar is, according to the dictionary: “a small roll of tobacco leaf for smoking.” Where is hemp in all of this? Exactly. Hemp wraps are not blunts. Hemp wraps are hemp wraps. You don’t call joints blunts and you don’t call blunts joints. So why do they call hemp wraps blunts? Buzzwords. People are attracted to trending terms.

J: To be fair, hemp wraps are filling a need on the rec market because due to hasty legislation tobacco can not be paired with cannabis in the legal retail environment. That’s right, they legalized while directly writing out a subset of the market. Seems like a common story with the rush to rec. So while it’s a buzzword, it’s also because those brands can’t legally sell blunts in stores. The trap though…

A: Still, Using buzzwords to attract the pre-educated is not right. And the negative stigma blunt smokers get is appalling. From being ridiculed at seshes, getting told that it’s “unhealthy smoke” to “you are wasting weed rolling it in a blunt.” Throughout history and in most cultures cannabis gets mixed with tobacco and/or herbs. Amsterdam coffee shops offer you a free blend of herbs to mix with cannabis. You can smell the spliffs in the air in Barcelona coffee shops, the Middle East mixes it with hash. USA seems to be the only country that frowns on mixing cannabis with other plants. 

J: I think it’s deeper than just cannabis with that though. We know tobacco kills people. I think that’s probably why they wrote the legislation that way. But it does ignore age-old habits. Europeans would never allow this, but the powers that be probably think they’re both protecting consumers and the activists don’t want to be associated with big tobacco – understandably.

A: So why use the term blunt for a “healthier” option? Hemp wrap companies and pre-roll brands need to recognize that they have been lying this whole time and are selling HEMP wraps and not blunts. Here’s an idea, hemp Joints.

J: I don’t know that we can call them joints either though. It’s trying to be a cigar. It’s bigger than your typical joint. Maybe a hemp cannon?

A: According to the dictionary, it defines a joint as “a marijuana cigarette.” Obviously the term marijuana cigarette won’t be accepted by the community even though cigarettes are defined as “a slender roll of cut tobacco enclosed in paper and meant to be smoked; also: a similar roll of another substance (such as marijuana).”

I understand certain words are more appealing than others in terms of marketing and selling but is it right to lie to a consumer and change the definition of what a word means? 

J: While that’s kind of arguing semantics, I do see what you’re saying. Rec consumers are looking to fill the gap left by the tobacco ban in the rec market; they’re just a little overzealous right now. They’re discounting the ‘why’ of blunts to fill the markets needs, but as with the rest of the industry there’s still plenty of room for improvement!

A: As a proud blunt smoker who enjoys the mixing of the masculine energy of the tobacco plant with the feminine energy of the cannabis plant, I do not appreciate culture vultures and other brands using the term blunt for there midsy-ass pre-rolls. 

J: You’re on the money there. I’d go so far as to say MOST of the available pre-rolls on the market aren’t coming close to providing the optimal experience – this is a lot of times just creating a bigger mess with excess cuttings they’re desperate to monetize.

A: All I’m saying is the next time someone offers you a hit of a blunt make sure it’s a tobacco blunt and if it’s not, kindly correct them and let them know it’s a hemp wrap. They’re not smoking what they think they are. Let’s start spreading correct information and using the proper terms for our community.

J: As with much of the industry – using misnomers isn’t helping any of us. Being accurate in your claims will lead to a healthier and happier industry for us all!

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Legal Cannabis Banking in the US

Legal cannabis banking in the United States is still an open question, even after the midterms. Cannabis legalization became a reality in two more states last week, with Maryland and Missouri joining the ranks as the newly legal states. Nearly half of Americans now live in a legal cannabis jurisdiction. This a significant step from fifteen years ago, when no state had legal cannabis. (And only a handful permitted medical exemptions.) But what about the push for federal legalization? And […]

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