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High Country: Cannaclusive pens open letter to the cannabis industry

Cannabis has an inclusivity issue. Cannaclusive is trying to solve it.

Seeking to make the industry more diverse, Mary Pryor co-founded Cannaclusive in 2017 as an effort “to facilitate fair representation of minority cannabis consumers.” Inspired by the growing opportunities, yet disappointed by the diversity issues taking root in mainstream cannabis culture, Cannaclusive offers resources to challenge the “whitewashed weed industry” such as a free stock photography gallery dedicated to diversity and the InclusiveBase, a directory of people of color (POC) who are leaders within the cannabis community. 

Amid the racial crisis our country is currently facing, Cannaclusive was prompted to launch The Accountability List earlier this month. The multi-sourced database is complied by a trusted group of volunteers, who’ve donated thousands of hours so far to cull through public and private information. Entries for each of the 262 companies (and counting) include the number of black employees, whether they are POC-owned, how they addressed the killing of George Floyd and if they’ve made any relevant donations.

When I spoke with Pryor for this story, I asked her if there were currently any cannabis companies that were doing enough; her answer was bluntly, “No.”

The prohibition of the plant itself is rooted in racism. 

In a recent op-ed, Erik Altieri, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), explained, “Our decades-long prohibition of marijuana was founded upon racism and bigotry. Look no further than the sentiments of its architect, Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who declared: ‘(M)ost (marijuana consumers in the U.S.) are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. … (M)arijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes. … Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.’”

The criminalization of cannabis was (and is) fueled by discrimination. And despite the legalization of marijuana for adult-use in 2014, there is an immeasurable amount of work that must still be done. 

Arlene Pitterson, Cannaclusive’s director of partnerships added, “[Posting on] Instagram and Twitter is a simple out. At this point it’s performative. We’re asking people now, ‘What are you actually doing? What are your action items?’ If you’re going to make a donation or if you’re going to provide jobs for people of color, say that. If you’re just going to put up a black square, you’re going to be called out for that.”

The Accountability list is a “living, breathing document” that’s in stage one of three planned phases, ultimately giving a diversity report and score, while also highlighting businesses exceeding the challenge and those failing to meet Cannaclusive’s minimum standards. 

“We’re asking for people to see us. We’re still not being seen,” pleaded Pryor, who is also the chief marketing officer for Tonic CBD and Tricolla Farms. “If it’s not going to take Trayvon [Martin], Breonna [Taylor] and George Floyd to make a difference … if it’s not going to take black and brown people telling you that this isn’t right … that this industry is being gobbled up by white men who intentionally — and through documents and emails that we’re receiving — are making it hostile for people of color to exist in the cannabis industry, then it’s time to hold people accountable.”

Cannaclusive’s companion call-to-action is an open letter authored by Pryor and Cannaclusive’s collaborators addressed to the “Cannabis and Hemp Community.” In the more than 1,000 word text, Pryor asks companies to prioritize diversity through inclusion support, employment practices, reversing the impacts of the War on Drugs, and increasing Black, indigenous and POC leadership.

“This letter serves as a call to hold ourselves accountable to ensure a diverse and inclusive industry, as well as to be in active solidarity with communities harmed by the drug war as a means to end it and to reverse its impacts,” it begins. “According to the ACLU, 88% of cannabis arrests are for simple possession and according to NORML, Black people are up to 10x more likely to be arrested for cannabis. Based on this information, the cannabis community needs to recognize that the majority of folks harmed by the drug war are both patients and Black, which is why the industry needs to answer the above call in its entirety.”

The letter concludes, “As we explore next steps – towards progression for all – we recognize it is imperative we honor and respect the work required to promote inclusion and equity within corporate and startup entities. While there is a sense of urgency to address these much needed changes, we are aware there is an abundance of necessary education on, and unpacking of racism, sexism and the prejudicial nature of hiring and business culture, which exists in all industries.”

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says pardons for marijuana convictions can start in 90 days

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Monday that allows him to mass-pardon Coloradans with minor marijuana possession convictions, although he has not said exactly how the process will work.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 1424 on June 15, the last day of the 2020 legislative session. The bill aims to make the legal marijuana industry more accessible to people of color and those who were previously convicted on drug charges that wouldn’t be crimes now. It expands the social equity program for marijuana business licenses to Colorado residents who have been arrested or convicted on a marijuana offense, been subject to civil asset forfeiture from a marijuana offense, or lived in an area designated as high crime or economically disadvantaged.

“For decades now, the Black community has been disproportionately criminalized because of marijuana while others have profited,” said Rep. James Coleman, a Denver Democrat and bill sponsor. “We have needed to act on this injustice for decades.”

In a last-minute move, lawmakers agreed to add another component to the bill: giving the governor the power to mass-pardon Coloradans for convictions of marijuana possession of 2 ounces or less, rather than doing them on an individual basis. Longmont Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer added the amendment after the pandemic forced him to drop plans for a more extensive marijuana expungement bill.

Read the full story via The Denver Post.

High Country: How Prima is positioning to become the Patagonia of CBD

In the clean beauty and wellness category, companies use vague lingo like “all natural” and “non-toxic,” “vegan” and “cruelty free” on packaging, rarely going beyond the flimsy promise of their products being “green.” But Prima, an award-winning CBD brand, has just achieved the highest honor for sustainable and ethical business practices: the B Corporation (B Corp) Certification. 

The Santa Monica-based company has been in operation just over one year. Founded in August of 2018, Prima secured the largest seed round to-date in the consumer hemp marketplace six months later: $3.3 million from venture leaders Lerer Hippeau and Greycroft (with additional private institutional investors). Prima’s initial product lineup was released on June 5, 2019. Earning B Corp after only 12 months in market is a remarkable feat to reach, considering the meticulous accreditation process led by B Lab, the nonprofit on a global mission to use “business as a force for good.” 

“Prima stands clearly ahead as poised leaders of consciousness, credibility, responsibility, sustainability and transparency in the quickly developing CBD category,” said Lindsey Wilson, a senior associate in business development at B Lab. “Prima’s certification demonstrates their unyielding commitment to consciousness and mission work innovation, as they are setting a course for bold social and environmental action, which showcase their deepest beliefs and responsibilities for a more equitable, impactful and brighter future.”

There are more than 3,000 Certified B Corps — think Ben & Jerry’sDr. Bronner’s, Allbirds, Danone North America and Patagonia — spanning 150 industries and 70 countries. But Prima is one of just nine CBD companies to achieve such status. To receive B Corp Certification, Prima participated in the B Impact Assessment process, which evaluated Prima’s entire social and environmental performance, from its business model’s impact on workers, community, environment and customers to its supply chain, charitable giving and employee benefits.

“As one of the very first brands in the CBD industry to achieve this rigorous certification, we are setting a bold example of responsible business practices for this category in order to inspire a deeper and more meaningful approach to functional, preventative healthcare,” Prima founder and CEO Christopher Gavigan told me during a recent phone interview. “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that businesses are transparently accountable for the health of individuals, our environment and our collective well-being. As a socially and environmentally conscious Public Benefit Company, these are the essential principles that Prima was founded upon — now validated by our B Corp Certification.” 

For Gavigan, who co-founded The Honest Company (also a B Corp) and remains its “chief purpose officer,” doing business for the betterment of the world was instilled in his mindset early on; he worked for Patagonia in Southern California in the late 1990s, where founder Yvon Chouinard was one of his mentors. 

“Seeing the Patagonia platform not focused on profit, growth and velocity, but moreso on the ideals, values and principles of doing the right thing always — that lit me up,” he added. “The fact that you could build in the deepest DNA of a business, a moral compass, was very powerful and influential for me.”

Gavigan, joined by Laurel Angelica Myers (another alum of The Honest Company) and Jessica Assaf (a Harvard Business School grad and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree in 2020), Prima was co-founded on six principles of purpose: Beyond Clean, Climate Positive, Reduce Wisely, Source Responsibly, Give More and People First.

Laying out (and upholding) stringent standards isn’t common for CBD companies — the industry overall is notorious for having a lack of transparency and efficacy — largely due to a lack in regulation by the FDA. According to a recent study conducted by Leafreport, 27% of leading CBD brand products don’t contain the dosages that they indicate in their labels.

“CBD or not, our hope and my vision is that more for-profit organizations pursue this type of mindset, this type of operation and this type of business model,” Myers shared with me. “I think that’s the only way we are going to create progress and change within the for-profit, private business sector. If this mentality isn’t part of how you make decisions as a business, you should be asking yourself, ‘Why not?’ And certainly within CBD, [Prima] wants to be a North Star for transparency and trust.”

The Prima portfolio includes 11 products with CBD-forward formulas developed by doctors that are clinically tested. Prima’s line of supplements, skincare and body care is available online and through retail partners including SephoraErewhon Market and Pharmaca.

“We started Prima to take CBD out of the shadow economy of cannabis and into the wellness industry in a meaningful way,” said Prima co-founder and chief education officer Jessica Assaf. “With over 30 years of collective experience in the natural product industry, we’re proud to be leading from the heart with [informative] content, best-in-class products and human support in order to evolve and sophisticate this industry with the highest standards and purpose.”

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: In Kitchen Toke’s new hemp honey, the bees do the infusing

If 2020 wasn’t 2020, culinary cannabis expert Joline Rivera would be readying for her launch at the buzziest venue of all — under the Grand Tasting Pavilion at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

But thanks to coronavirus causing the most anticipated event of the summer (or year, even) to cancel, Kitchen Toke Hemp Honey is instead making its debut here in High Country, where we’ve had the honor of sharing a recipe each season from the pages of her quarterly magazine.

Not having the prestigious platform to introduce a new food product — especially under what was to be an expanded track of CBD- focused programming — as planned is “still very sad” for the Kitchen Toke founder, but Rivera remains hopeful.

“Food & Wine is always important, but it’s so much bigger to me as a cannabis brand — the idea that we would get the nod, or the approval — having that alignment as a cannabis company that’s creating a food product of the quality they expect and being accepted into that environment is a big deal,” Rivera shared with me during a recent phone interview. “It really speaks to cannabis going mainstream.”

Rivera is confident that the momentum the cannabis category was gaining at the festival will pick up where it left off next summer and added, “(Coronavirus) is not going to be forever. It of course makes it challenging to launch a food product, but we had every intention of launching direct to consumer anyway.”

Kitchen Toke Hemp Honey, now available online ($80, kitchentokehoney.com), was forged from a partnership with Avner Ben Aharon and Ilan Ben Simon, the creators of Bee Fuse Technology and its resulting patented hemp and nectar blend. Sustainably produced at their farm three hours north of Los Angeles, resident honeybees are naturally attracted to the mixture, eating it as they would from any flowering plant.

Once the bees complete their work — a process which includes capping the honey with a beeswax- like substance for storage — the hemp honey is harvested and jarred. This ruby-tinged food melds with the honeybee’s belly enzymes, combining the nutritional and healing benefits of both honey and hemp.

“It’s nature at its best — mixed by bees, not humans,” Rivera explained. “Honey promotes neural health and helps wound healing. Plus, it’s antiviral and antibacterial. So then you marry that with what we absolutely know about CBD — relief from pain, inflammation, and stress — this honey could rival Manuka from a health food perspective.”

In place of Rivera and her team presenting this weekend, here are three Kitchen Toke Hemp Honey recipes to try at home. And cheers to the Food & Wine Classic in 2021, which’ll surely make gathering again next summer in person that much sweeter.

Brown Sugar and Honey Pita Chips with Almonds

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Kitchen Toke Hemp Honey
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 12 rounds pita bread, about 6- to 7-inches each
  • ½ cup toasted almond slices, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt, if desired

Instructions:

  • Combine oil, honey, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom and brush the mixture over one side of each pita round. Slice each pita into 6 wedges and arrange on sheet trays. Sprinkle lightly with almonds and salt, and bake at 400 F for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Monitor carefully to avoid burning the chips.

Yield:

  • Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Honey Rosemary Pecans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • ¼ cup Kitchen Toke Hemp Honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced

Instructions:

  • Melt butter with salt and pepper. Place pecans in bowl; add butter, honey and rosemary. Mix to coat evenly. Spread on baking sheet lined with parchment paper; bake at 325 F in preheated oven until toasted, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Yield:

  • Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Thyme and Lime Honey Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain
  • 1 ounce Kitchen Toke Hemp honey simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Ice, as needed
  • Club soda, as needed
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, to garnish
  • Lime slices, as needed

Instructions:

  • Combine gin, St-Germain, simple syrup and lime juice in a shaker filled with ice; shake well. Pour into a tall glass with ice and top with club soda. Roll thyme sprigs between your hands a few times to release the oils and garnish with lime slices. Makes 1 drink with enough honey simple syrup for about 7 more.
  • To make honey simple syrup: Simmer ½ cup water, remove from heat and add 10 sprigs fresh thyme and 2 long strips lime peel removed with a vegetable peeler. Stir in ½ cup honey until dissolved. Steep until cool; strain.

Yield: Makes 1 cocktail.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: Cookies comes to Colorado

Jai and Berner created arguably the most coveted marijuana strains in the world (and are both famous enough in the cannabis community to warrant one name). Now, they have expanded their Cookies empire from California to Colorado. 

Formerly known as Cookie Fam Genetics, the Bay Area-based cannabis company was first founded with the strain “Girl Scout Cookies.” With Jai as the growing and genetics expert and Berner as the rapper and entrepreneur, “Girl Scout Cookies” launched in medical dispensaries in California in 2010. Following a cease-and-desist order from the Girl Scouts of America, “Girl Scout” was dropped and Cookies was born.

That same year, the then up-and- coming Wiz Khalifa was performing in San Francisco and tapped Berner to find him the best weed in town.

According to a 2016 SFWeekly profile, “Berner somehow smuggled in a five-foot-tall plant of Cherry Pie, one of the Cookie Fam’s exclusive high-end strains. ‘We brought it on stage, and I gave it to (Wiz) as a gift on the bus,’ he says. ‘It went from there.’”

Khalifa started name dropping Cookies in his songs and appeared in a Berner music video, which took the company from its earliest days in a San Francisco garage to global growth. Today, Cookies is renowned for its in-house cultivation, rare strain varietals and eponymous clothing line (think Supreme, but for cannabis connoisseurs). It also operates five Cookies cannabis retail stores in California.

Through a licensing deal with Veritas Fine Cannabis, one of Colorado’s first wholesale cannabis producers, Cookies hit more than 50 dispensary shelves in May (available locally at Silverpeak and Roots Rx in Aspen, Roots Rx in Basalt and Tumbleweed in Carbondale).

“Colorado has a population of sophisticated and discerning consumers and we think they will respond well to the Cookies brand,” said Berner, founder and CEO of Cookies.

In just one month, the response has exceeded expectations with 12 total strains in rotation (a total of 20 will be released this year) that drop in dispensaries every Friday. Veritas Fine Cannabis confirmed that Cookies products have been selling out statewide daily, so it’s working on increasing its grow amounts in the coming months. 

Based in Denver, Veritas Fine Cannabis utilizes a proprietary style of cultivation — painstakingly planting, watering, staking, pruning, harvesting, trimming and packaging everything by hand.

The result is cannabis flower with one of the highest concentrations of terpenes on the market.

“We are very proud to be one of the only dispensaries in the area carrying the Cookies brand, which fits perfectly into our product offering,” said Silverpeak general manager Chase Corte. “We’ve had customers come from as far as Eagle to be a part of the Cookies movement.” 

Veritas Fine Cannabis director of sales and marketing Jonathan Spadafora added, “We have heard about people from Denver taking road trips to some of the further locations just to shop for different strains. It honestly blows my mind how quickly this has been adopted by Colorado.”

Just in time for summer celebrations, here are High Country’s top three Cookies strains to try and buy.

PANCAKES

 Cookies Pancakes
Courtesy Cookies

Original breeder: Cookies x Seed Junky Genetics 
Genetics: Kush Mints 11 x London Pound Cake 75 
Aroma: Blueberry pancakes
Flavor: Buttery, sweet berries

LEMON PEPPER

Cookies Lemon Pepper
Courtesy Cookies

Original breeder: Lemonade
Genetics: Lemon Cooler x Sirius Lemon Pebbles 
Aroma: Sharp, peppery lemon
Flavor: Sweet lemon inhale with a spicy exhale 
Experience: An energetic and uplifting high

GEORGIA PIE

Cookies Georgia Pie
Courtesy Cookies

Original breeder: Seed Junky Genetics 
Genetics: Gelatti x Kush Mint 11 
Aroma: Peach cobbler
Flavor: Savory baked fruit
Experience: A strong full body and head high

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: Marijuana legalization and the fight for racial justice

On May 25, George Floyd was killed on camera by officers affiliated with the Minneapolis Police Department. As were many Americans, we were shocked and disheartened by this tragic and needless loss of life.

As the events of the past few days have unfolded, it is clear that America is in the midst of a long overdue reckoning with itself. Since 1619, when the first ships arrived on the coast of Virginia with enslaved Africans in chains, our country has long had to struggle to address the inequality and structural racism embedded within our public institutions — particularly within the criminal justice system.

From slavery and the Civil War, to the battles to end Jim Crow laws, to the marches for civil rights, to the protests against mass incarceration, to the Black Lives Matter movement, each generation of Americans has stepped up to take action to fight to end racial injustice.

As protests continue to take place across our nation, more Americans are beginning to publicly demand action from their local, state and federal leaders to end the policies and practices that promote, enable and drive systemic racial injustice. In these conversations about policy solutions, many will include in their demands an ending to the war on drugs — or, at a minimum, an ending to marijuana criminalization. But while ending cannabis prohibition is both important and necessary, we must also recognize that doing so is but a single piece of a much larger puzzle.

Will legalizing marijuana reform alone solve the problem of racial injustice? No.

Is ending cannabis prohibition going to fix all of America’s social ills? No.

After we legalize adult-cannabis use, will we see an end to discriminatory policing against communities of color and other marginalized groups? No.

Will ending marijuana prohibition be a small step toward the greater goal of promoting justice? Without a doubt, yes.

And the majority of Americans agree.

Our decades-long prohibition of marijuana was founded upon racism and bigotry. Look no further than the sentiments of its architect, Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who declared: “(M)ost (marijuana consumers in the U.S.) are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. … (M)arijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes. … Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

These racial biases were later exploited by the Nixon administration when it ramped up the drug war in 1970 and declared cannabis to be “public enemy No. 1.” As former Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman later acknowledged: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Today, the modern era of marijuana prohibition continues to be disproportionately applied. Annually, over 650,000 Americans are arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet, according to an analysis of these arrests released earlier this year by the ACLU, “In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.”

Of course, marijuana prohibition isn’t the sole cause of America’s racial inequities, nor is it the sole reason why certain members of the police continue to engage in racially aggressive policing and misconduct. But its criminalization is one of the tools commonly used to justify and perpetuate these injustices.

For example, marijuana enforcement was the pretext in the fatal law enforcement shooting of another Minnesotian just a few years before George Floyd’s murder: Philando Castile. The officer in this case alleged that he feared for his life simply because he believed that Mr. Castille had been smoking marijuana.

Even in those jurisdictions where adult-use cannabis is legal, we know that there still remains much work to be done to address continuing racial inequities. For instance, African Americans and Latinos continue to disproportionately be targeted for traffic stops in Colorado and Washington even after legalization.

Then there is the question of the cannabis industry itself. We advocates need to continue to push for inclusion and equity within this space. We must not ignore the reality that while a handful of venture capitalists are now engaging in licensed cannabis sales in systems that largely exclude minority ownership while millions of others — most of them young, poor and people of color — continue to face arrest and incarceration for engaging in much of the same behavior.

There is no doubt that our national discussion over matters of race and policing will continue long after these public protests have ceased. NORML believes that calls for cannabis legalization need to be an important part of this emerging discussion — but only a part. Black and brown lives matter and we owe it to our country and to ourselves to take tangible steps toward dismantling many of the power structures that perpetuate injustice. Marijuana prohibition is simply one of them.

We are at a crossroads in this country and it is time for all of us to march as allies in the fight for racial justice and equality. It is important during this process for those of us not from these marginalized communities to truly listen to those who are facing this oppression and support them in this struggle. Let us take this moment in time to pledge to put in the work necessary in order to make America the better and more just nation that we know it can be.

Erik Altieri is executive director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Columnist Katie Shapiro will be back next week. 

High Country: Introducing Antedotum, Aspen’s own luxury CBD skincare company

Since my colleague Maddie Vincent first introduced Snowmass Sun readers to Karina Marconi in March, much has changed for the locally based founder of Antedotum — a newly formed luxury CBD skincare company. Marconi, who soft- launched the line this winter, has not only reorganized her team, but also reformulated and repackaged Antedotum’s two hero products, officially re-released on Mother’s Day.

Co-founded with her husband Christopher Marconi, the couple has fittingly created the Dynamic Duo: an Elixir Firming Serum with a Vital Face Oil — each infused with 500 milligrams of CBD oil (extracted from certified- organic, full-spectrum hemp) with a proprietary blend of pure ingredients handpicked to help battle common skin issues from inflammation and dryness to dark spots and wrinkles.

Relaunching amid a global pandemic hasn’t been without challenges. The pair had to find bottling alternatives beyond China and learned that prospective retailers like Neiman Marcus are filing for bankruptcy. But the Marconis — also parents to Nico, 12 and Havana, 7 — have found that working together while staying at home has been wildly productive.
“Seeing Karina in her happy place is everything for me,” Christopher told me during a socially distant interview at their home in Snowmass. “And working on Antedotum has become my happy place, too.”

With decades of experience in luxury cosmetics, including an executive role at Chanel Beauty, Karina started Antedotum as her “third baby.” Christopher, whose career in finance spans mergers and acquisitions to managing turnarounds, saw a promising response to what his wife had created, committing to the company as chairman while Karina serves as CEO.

“I wanted to build a brand that truly helps people, that gives more than it takes and supports others in living a better life,” Karina shared. “I’m a lifelong skincare aficionada and over the past few years, have incorporated CBD into my personal wellness ritual. I realized that there was an opportunity in the market to create a best-in-class CBD skincare line, so started working meticulously with scientists to create remedies that can easily be incorporated into any routine and are formulated with optimal potency.”

Late last year, the Marconis applied to CanopyBoulder — one of the cannabis industry’s leading business accelerators and  venture capital funds. Antedotum was one of 10 startups selected out of a pool of about 400 companies for the Winter 2020 Cohort, which began in January. Weekly road trips to the Front Range for in-person pitch sessions and business seminars turned virtual for the final month of the program, with a Zoom celebration upon completion in April.

“The market for luxury CBD products is wide open and ripe for a brand like Antedotum,” said CanopyBoulder co-founder and CEO Patrick Rea. “Karina and Christopher have developed an incredibly efficacious product that their customers rave about. We are excited to support their entrepreneurial journey.”

With CanopyBoulder’s backing, Antedotum was able to bring on a full-time director of sales and marketing — Shenna Jean, a leader in the Aspen wellness communitywho recently relocated to Denver to facilitate faster brand growth — with the goal of expanding nationally into luxury cosmetic retailers from Sephora to Credo.

The Marconis plan to unveil additional products later this year and will also remain deeply rooted in the local community — to which they credit as having “the most sophisticated consumers” who helped build the brand in sharing feedback throughout the process — while developing wellness workshops, spa partnerships and retailer events.

Christopher called the CanopyBoulder program “pivotal” and added, “It provided us with tremendous industry knowledge on the benefits of CBD, what it takes to succeed as a new brand in an ever-changing marketplace and connected us with amazing resources that can help us scale Antedotum to the next level.”

As one of the company’s early testers, I’m assured that Antedotum is well on its way with a perfect pair of products that has  simplified my own beauty routine and restored my sensitive skin from the harsh effects of living in High Country.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro

High Country: Add cannabis-inspired wanderlust to your walls with Goldleaf’s travel series

With summer travel plans in jeopardy and more time at home staring at your walls than ever, adding new artwork is one way to find a fresh perspective. Enter Goldleaf, a boutique printing company for the cannabis community known for its thoughtfully designed patient journals, recipe cards, grow planners and graphic prints.

Founder Charles McElroy has unveiled Goldleaf’s debut “Cannabis Travel Art Print Series” — a collaboration with award-winning artists Nicholas Moegly, Eugenia Mello and John Vogl — to showcase the myriad of cannabis attributes, microclimates, grow styles and cultures within the United States.

McElroy commissioned each designer to visualize their own take on five regions: Colorado for its embrace of technological innovation; Oregon for its removal of barriers to entry for individual growers; Northern California for its environmentally-sensitive cannabis production methods; and Southern California for its inclusive industry practices and promotion of social justice within the cannabis space. 

“I was really inspired by the vintage lithographic style travel prints that were popular in the early to middle 20th century,” McElroy shared with me via email. “Being a Cincinnati native, I would frequent the Taft Museum of Art, which has an amazing permanent collection of this type of work [most of the lithographic prints from the late 1800s to mid-1900s were produced in Cincinnati]. I wanted to find artists who were accomplished in this style and could not only make something beautiful, but integrate cannabis in a subtle and tasteful way.”

Still based in Cincinnati, McElroy founded Goldleaf in 2016, “with a goal to normalize the subject of cannabis, and create helpful tools for people who wanted to better understand the plant,” he said.

After stepping away from an organic clothing company he helped create, McElroy maintained his minimalistic aesthetic — influenced by Danish modern design — and translated it to cannabis. 

“I had never seen anything in cannabis associated with that sort of look. I thought that by presenting our work in a way that married design and mature content, it would make the topic [of cannabis] more accessible to people who might have reservations,” added McElroy. “The subject can be polarizing, especially in places like the Midwest, so presenting our work with a science-forward voice and digestible design principles was a disarming way to highlight the world of cannabis.”

Each edition is printed on uncoated, Forest Stewardship Council-certified archival paper and is available in two sizes (18 x 24” and 24 x 36”) with the option of adding on handmade Goldleaf hanging rails in walnut or maple. Goldleaf has also created four limited-edition, signed versions that are being donated to the Last Prisoner Project for auction, while 10% of all “Cannabis Travel Art Print Series” proceeds go to the nonprofit organization, which fights cannabis criminal injustice.

Also a longtime cannabis activist vocal for veteran access to medical cannabis, McElroy first learned about the history of marijuana in high school, admittedly “trying it a few years later” during his time studying engineering technology at Ohio University. He has since dedicated thousands of volunteer hours to organizations from Ohio NORML to the Marijuana Policy Project

“My work with those organizations was modest and entry level, and I remember feeling frustrated that I couldn’t do more. It took some time, but I eventually found a way I could uniquely help move the needle in a positive direction. That was Goldleaf,” said McElroy.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro

High Country: Nugs.net’s Brad Serling is saving the music one couch tour at a time

When Belly Up Aspen announced the postponement of Bob Weir and Wolf Bros’ three-night run on March 12, ticketholders held out hope that coming together in October would be a reality. But in the weeks that followed, more Colorado concert cancellations were made official — from Dead & Company at Folsom Field in Boulder to Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver to Widespread Panic at Red Rocks in Morrison — making the only thing I had left to look forward to in 2020 a long shot. 

On April 30, the Belly Up box office shared a message from Weir and his bandmates directly: “Out of an abundance of caution we are cancelling the remaining Bob Weir and Wolf Bros tour dates for the remainder of 2020.” The statement concluded, “In the meantime, be good to yourselves — and to each other. Help a neighbor. Find a way to pay it forward. We are all in this together. Let there be songs to fill the air. See y’all soon.”

For live music lovers, filling the air (and our time) with songs during quarantine has been made all the better thanks to Nugs.net — the leading livestream company for jam bands, and provider of pay-per-view concerts and professional live recordings for classic rockers including Metallica, Pearl Jam, Wilco and Bruce Springsteen.

Founded by Brad Serling in 1993, the subscription-based multi- media platform is experiencing its busiest two months of business ever with a 670% spike in traffic and a conversion rate of 54% from free 30- day trial users to paid subscribers.

Eight weeks ago, Serling, who’s also the host of SirusXM’s “Weekly Live Stash” on the Jam On channel, got a call from Phish’s manager asking, “What do you think we should do?”

“I said, ‘Well, we should do a weekly video series.’ That’s how this all started. And then the next day, I got a call from Metallica saying, ‘What do you think we should do?’ Then the Dead called, so it became clear that we should just make it a nightly thing and give each band their own night,” Serling shared with me during a recent phone interview. “Now we’re at the point where we’re doubling up on most nights.”

And the majority of the coronavirus content is completely free, stream-able on band Facebook pages via the Nugs.net and Nugs.tv websites, YouTube channel and mobile app. Serling admitted that from a business perspective, he’s surprised by the sizes of the audiences Nugs.net has commanded.

“I’ve been doing livestreams for 25 years, even before Nugs.net was a company,” said Serling. “I’m amazed as a fan of how good the feeling is when you know that there’s thousands of other fans at that very same moment watching a concert — especially when it’s not live or I’m playing a show from 10 years ago. It’s amazing. It feels good.”

Serling gets input from band managers and archivists to curate which shows to program each week — often presented with a nonprofit partner attached, depending on band affiliations (i.e. MusiCares FoundationRex Foundation and The WaterWheel Foundation). So far, Nugs.net has raised more than $500,000 through its coronavirus concert livestreams alone. 
“I think there’s been this shift now to reality setting in — first it was an initial state of shock and really just uncertainty,” added Serling. “Nobody knowing what was going on … I think what surprised me is how in the last week or two … at least nationally, if not globally, there’s now this acceptance (in the music industry) of, ‘Okay, this is the world we’re in.’”

While Serling doesn’t have an end date set for Nugs.net’s free weekly series, he is in active discussions with artists to start producing virtual tours — filmed in-studio with no audience or at a partner venue — that would mimic a traditional travel schedule with geo-fencing enabled to sell tickets within each city.

According to Variety  “Nugs. net has cameras and equipment installed at eight major venues in the U.S., including New York’s Sony Music Hall and the Fillmore in San Francisco, that can be activated with the flip of a switch, and the company can ship equipment virtually anywhere a gig could be played. Once the venues are determined to be safe for artists to perform with a small crew, the company plans to broadcast concerts from them, albeit without an audience.”

“There’s no rule book to go by here,” explained Serling. “Everybody’s making it up as they go along and trying to make lemonade out of lemons as best we can. I’m now on Zoom calls from the minute I wake up until the [nightly] livestream starts, so honestly, watching what we’re broadcasting has been a huge stress relief for me personally. Sharing these shows has definitely been a beacon of light in a world that needs light.”

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro

High Country: Take a psychedelic adventure in Netflix’s new star-studded documentary

“I don’t think psychedelics are the answers to the world’s problems,” Sting shares in the trailer for the new Netflix documentary Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics. “But they could be a start.”

The film, out on May 11, dives into the history of psychedelics and celebrates their cultural impact while pondering hallucinogens’ powerful role in treating mental health. A star-studded cast of actors, comedians and musicians includes Ad-Rock, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Kruetzmann, Natasha Lyonne and Sarah Silverman recounting their own personal experiences with acid, mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca. Nick Offerman narrates, playing a mad scientist, while many of the celebrity trips are reenacted in comedic scripted scenes with trippy animation scattered throughout. 

Made over the course of a decade by Emmy winner Donick Cary, whose credits include Late Night with David LettermanThe Simpsons and Parks and Recreation, the idea for his debut documentary was conceived in his hometown of Nantucket Island following a conversation with Ben Stiller and Fisher Stevens at the 2009 Nantucket Film Festival. Slated to premiere at SXSW in March, Netflix Originals has brought it straight to streaming following the film festival’s coronavirus cancellation.

Ahead of the documentary’s release, here are a few more quotes from the film’s high jinks:

“What’s reality? The answer is there’s no such thing. We are on a trip all of the time. Right now we are on a trip, right? Life is a trip.” —Deepak Chopra 

“Did it make me smarter? Did I become enlightened? I don’t know. But I think it enabled me early on to imagine another point of view…another perspective. I think it made me a better person both creatively and every other way. I’d rather be a person who’s had that in their past than somebody who missed it.” —Anthony Bourdain

“The first time my dad [Timothy Leary] did psilocybin in Mexico, his famous quote from the experience was ‘I learned more on my four hours on mushrooms than I did in my previous 20 years in psychology.’” —Zach Leary

“I thought…’I’ll never do that again.’ But I did. A few more times.” —Sarah Silverman

“I just always had this question…there’s gotta be more…there’s gotta be more. And then when took acid, I’m like oh, you’re right…there’s a lot more. It’s a tremendous asset when you learn about it and not have our government stop us from learning…same with marijuana. They take away all of the possible discovery of all of the medicine it could be.” —Bill Kreutzmann

“You should not take it cavalierly. I don’t know if you should take it.” —Carrie Fisher

“These compounds when utilized under optimal conditions seem to have a rather remarkable facility for catalyzing spiritual-level experiences, which by their very nature may have the potential to be transformative.” —Dr. Charles Grob

“in retrospect, I didn’t realize how much it [LSD] was going to change my life because it really changed my life for a long time.” —Ben Stiller

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro