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High Country: The Top 10 Cannabis Strains of 2019

Last year, High Country introduced you to Smokey Town (smokey.town; @smokey_town), a Basalt-based startup that provides an in-depth database of reviews for every cannabis strain found on shelf at dispensaries from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. Since its launch in early 2018, it remains the most thorough resource for finding flower in the Roaring Fork Valley.

According to its co-founders, who’ve requested anonymity, “We are the Lorax. We speak for the trees. In 2019, we saw weed shortages and corporate buyouts. Finding growers committed to the craft is harder and more important than ever. You have to be able to trust the integrity of the people nurturing the product from seed to sale. With Aspen taking in roughly $11 million a year in marijuana-related sales, there is plenty of demand. However, with eight shops now in operation, taking into account rent and an inability to deduct business expenses and labor costs, we may be looking at an oversupplied market in 2020.”

Working with close to 20 partners and expert judges, Smokey Town scours every dispensary in the area to compile detailed information. There are currently more than 250 strain reviews available and subscribers of the Smokey Town e-newsletter also receive an update in their inbox as soon as a new strain is added to the database.

As we wind down 2019, we turned to Smokey Town again for their top 10 rankings of the best strains its team smoked this year — complete with origin, effects and relief details, plus recommended pairings for music, drinks and food.


1. Berkel

Indica Hybrid

Origin: Cross between Pre-98 Bubba Kush x Grand Daddy Purps strains

Music: “Lebanese Blond” by Thievery Corporation

Food: Beef Pho at Bamboo Bear

Effects: Relaxing, Uplifting

Relief: Pain, Fatigue, Insomnia, Nausea

Shop: Roots Rx, 400 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-900-9333, rootsrxstores.com

Tahoe Alien

2. Tahoe Alien


Origin: Cross between Tahoe OG Kush x Alien Kush strains

Music: “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley

Drink: House Sticky Chai at Victoria’s

Effects: Relaxing, Euphoria

Relief: Headaches, Stress, ADD, Depression

Shop: The Green Joint, 720 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970-925-6468, thegreenjoint.com

Durban Poison

3. Durban Poison


Origin: Named after Durban, South Africa’s busiest port

Music: “Dreams” by Beck

Food: Bar Tacos at Su Casa

Effects: Energizing, Creativity, Happiness

Relief: Stress, Depression, Pain, Fatigue, Headaches

Shop: Silverpeak, 520 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-925-4372, silverpeakcannabis.com

Jet Fuel

4. Jet Fuel

Sativa Hybrid

Origin: Cross between Aspen OG x High Country Diesel strains

Music: “Soft Serve” by Soul Coughing

Drink: Charcoal Lemonade at JUS

Effects: Focus, Giggles, Uplifting

Relief: Pain, Fatigue, Mood Swings and PTSD

Shop: Rocky Mountain High, 615 Buggy Circle, Carbondale, 970-963-4669, rockymountainhigh.co

Super Sour Lemon

5. Super Sour Lemon


Origin: Cross between Cali Sour x Lemon OG strains

Music: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Food: Rotisserie Chicken Board at Meat & Cheese

Effects: Stimulating, Uplifting

Relief: Muscle Spasms, Pain, Migraines

Shop: Tumbleweed, 304 CO-133, Carbondale, 970-510-3065, tumbleweed420.com

Kimbo Slice

6. Kimbo Slice


Origin: Cross between Blackberry Kush x Starfighter and named after the late mixed martial artist, boxer, wrestler and actor

Music: “Burn One Down” by Ben Harper

Food: Beef Chili at Butcher’s Block

Effects: Relaxing for both the mind and body

Relief: Pain, Insomnia

Shop: Native Roots, 308 S. Hunter St., Aspen, 970-429-4443, nativerootsdispensary.com

Golden Goat

7. Golden Goat


Origin: Hawaiian-Romulan pollinated with Mr. Dank’s Island Sweet Skunk

Music: “Golden Skans” by The Klaxons

Food: Swift Kick at Big Wrap

Effects: Creativity, Conversation

Relief: Social Anxiety, Tension

Shop: Best Day Ever, 520 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-429-8637, bestdayevercannabis.com

Super Silver Haze

8. Super Silver Haze


Origin: Cross between Skunk #1 x Northern Lights #5 strains

Music: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Food: West Coast Oysters at Clark’s

Effects: Energy, Motivation, Focus

Relief: Pain, ADD

Shop: Euflora, 710 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970-925-6468, eufloracolorado.com

Blue Bird OG

9. Bluebird OG


Origin: Cross between Grape Stomper x OG Grape Krypt

Music: “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin

Food: A slice at New York Pizza

Effects: Focus, Alertness, Motivation, Uplifting

Relief: ADD, Stress

Shop: The Green Solution, 106 S. Mill St., Aspen, 970-760-0284, tsgcolorado.com

Tangerine Haze

10. Tangerine Haze


Origin: Cross between G13 Haze x NYC Diesel strains

Music: “Voodoo Child” by Jimmy Hendrix

Food: Cookies and Hot Cocoa at Paradise Bakery

Effects: Productivity

Relief: Stress

Shop: Green Dragon, 409 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-429-4365, greendragon.com

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

High Country: 2019 Cannabis Connoisseurs Gift Guide


SilverStick Wallet Dugout

Sturdy, inconspicuous and sleek, SilverStick is the dugout of choice for the day-to-day and is so compact it fits in the palm of your hand. Designed in Boulder and handcrafted in the United States from Horween leather and European veg-tanned hides, its just-released wallet version holds the signature SilverStick one-hitter pipe, flower container, lighter, poker, and filters with a flap on the back to hold your ID, cash, and a credit card. $99, thesilverstick.com


Binske Cannabis-Infused Truffle Olive Oil

Known as the only cannabis brand in the world with access to Maranon cacao in Peru, which The New York Times called the rarest in the world, Binske’s flavored honeys and olive oils are just as delicious. And for the holiday season only, a limited run of cannabis-infused (10 milligrams per serving) truffle olive oil will be available in dispensaries across Colorado. $25, binske.com


Edie Parker Flower Lil’ Edie Bag

Earlier this year, accessories designer Brett Heyman debuted a cannabis offshoot of her popular acrylic purse collection Edie Parker. While everything in her haute head shop is covetable, the Lil’ Edie Bag is perfect for party season to stash a pack of pre-rolls in high style. $395, edieparkerflower.com


Another Room New Kit

Designed and hand-sewn in Vancouver, British Columbia, Another Room’s New Kit is all you need to smoke weed wherever you land. The clear carrying case comes complete with a signature Doob Tube, Joint Locker, and smell-proof pouch for flower with tons of extra room for more supplies. Surfaceless? The door of the bag doubles as a makeshift rolling tray. $88, anotherroom.io


Higher Standards x Jonathan Adler Table Set

The self-described “aesthetic libertine” and potter has played with cannabis culture long before legalization made it in vogue, but it’s never looked chicer than in his collaboration with luxury accessories retailer Higher Standards. Available in either the “Hash” or “Smolder” motif, the complete handmade ceramic collection includes a set of four coasters, valet tray, square tray, catchall and triangle stash box. $320 (pieces sold separately), higherstandards.com


Mister Green x DangleBong

In collaboration with Mister Green and the introduction of its new outdoor GEAR line, Dangle Supply has created a limited-edition, custom painted titanium adventure bong that includes a rubber stopper, machined titanium bowl and branded carabiner. Dubbed the DangleBong, the camp mug-esque construction is indestructible, non-corroding, and was developed by a professional mountain biker and a bicycle designer/engineer. $139, green-mister.com


‘Higher Etiquette’

When it comes to minding your marijuana manners, look no further than Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter herself for a go-to guide on modern cannabis culture. Throughout the text filled with historical anecdotes, scientific facts and insider lingo, it’s apparent that author Lizzie Post is a true connoisseur, effectively and humorously educating consumers on how to navigate every situation from dispensaries to dinner parties. $18.99, higheretiquette.com


Firefly 2+

Experience the plant in its purest form (and without the worry of what’s in concentrates) with Firefly’s latest device. An upgraded version of its convection technology, this dry herb vaporizer only heats up when inhaled to maximize flavor and is ready to use in three seconds. Plus it’s powered by touch sensors (compatible with the free Firefly mobile app) and is super easy to load and clean. $249.95, thefirefly.com


Blue Willow Winter Wellness Set

Handmade in Aspen, Blue Willow’s beautifully bottled trio features a Body Balm, Body Oil, and Bath Soak — each infused with 150 milligrams of CBD oil. As the daughter of an herbalist, founder and maker Harmony Bowman puts the purest botanicals into every heavenly-scented batch. $160, thisisbluewillow.com

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

High Country: Women’s most-Googled cannabis questions get answered

Although Apple removed all 181 vaping-related apps from the App Store last week, the number of cannabis-focused podcasts continues to grow. And one of the smartest yet has just dropped, promising to give women guidance on “How to Do the Pot.” The seasonal, narrative podcast tackles the most common questions curious female cannabis consumers Google most — usually in secret.

As an early innovator in the cannabis industry, April Pride’s path has taken her from fashion designer to cannabis company founder to podcast host. In 2016, she launched Van der Pop, one of the first luxury lifestyle brands in the business to offer high-style smoking accoutrements. Later, Pride incorporated an educational resource into Van der Pop’s digital presence dedicated to the many new consumers she’d attracted. Two years later, it was acquired by Canadian behemoth Canopy Growth Corporation — the first cannabis producer publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Through her work, Pride recognized that women were an underserved and fast-growing market who wanted information about cannabis, especially as legalization and positive acceptance continued to spread across North America. Her foresight earned her the title from Fashion magazine (aka Canada’s Vogue) as “the unofficial godmother of the women and weed movement.”

“When I started my first company that designed discerning products for cannabis, I underestimated the need for education. While women appreciated my products, many were not confident in their knowledge about how to buy cannabis and how it could serve them,” Pride told me.

For her cannabis career encore, Pride enlisted friend and business partner Ellen Scanlon to form Of Like Minds, a new cannabis education platform for women. Part of its portfolio is podcasting, with production in collaboration with Western Sound, an award-winning Los Angeles-based studio and Gina Delvic, the founding producer of “Call Your Girlfriend.”

“We decided to form Of Like Minds, a business with a mission to equip women with the information they need to understand cannabis,” Pride said. “We decided that a podcast would be one of the best first steps to provide quality information and promote discreet discovery for women still uncertain about the plant and its effects.”

Listeners will hear from a diverse array of industry experts and professionals who have incorporated cannabis in their lives. Guests will include a professional athlete who uses CBD in training, a retiree who uses cannabis for pain management, a medical doctor who advises pregnant women, and a felon-turned-entrepreneur. “How to Do the Pot’s” first season will focus on topics relevant to the health and happiness of women such as pregnancy, sleep and auto-immune conditions like endometreosis—of which women account for 8 out of 10 diagnoses.

“The industry has long been male-led, which overlooked the needs of women, the fastest growing consumer segment,” says Ellen Scanlon, co-founder Of Like Minds. “‘How to Do the Pot’ is our opportunity to share the best stories in cannabis, change hearts, and minds, while helping women feel more confident in their choices.”

Here’s an exclusive preview of what the first three episodes cover —available for download now with the next three released weekly on Dec. 3, 7, and 10.

Episode 1: What’s up with CBD?

“An examination of ‘the cannabis that won’t get you high,’ that’s been billed as capable of doing everything else. The science behind pain relief, the difference between THC and CBD, how one top athlete uses CBD for pain and recovery—and what we all can learn from her story.”

Questions answered:

• How is hemp different from cannabis?

• How is CBD different from THC?

• What’s the science behind cannabis and pain relief?

• How does one top athlete use CBD and what can we all learn from her story?

• What’s the role of cannabis in reducing opioid consumption for acute and chronic pain?

Episode 2: Is weed cool when you’re pregnant?

“The whispered question we get more than any other. What we know, and what we don’t, about cannabis, pregnancy and nursing.”

Questions answered:

• What data exist around how many women use cannabis while pregnant and the potential effects?

• What do doctors see in their practices?

• For women who do the pot while pregnant or breastfeeding … what do we know about using THC or CBD?

• Given how many people use cannabis to treat everything ranging from nausea to anxiety to depression, why should we should consider this subject seriously for women’s physical and mental health?

Episode 3: Is period relief spelled P-O-T?

“Promising ways that cannabis can treat pelvic pain, symptoms of endometriosis and how to best consume cannabis to relieve pain.”

Questions answered:

• What are the physical and personal effects of endometriosis?

• What are the most promising ways that cannabis can treat symptoms of PMS and endometriosis? And how best should it be consumed it to relieve pain?

• How does an endocannabinoid deficiency contribute to endometriosis and other auto-immune disorders?

• How do you talk to your doctor about endometriosis and cannabis?

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

Super Pipes: Dangle Supply Co. crafts quintessential pieces for your quiver

Packing bongs and pipes in your pack for hut trips has always been a hassle — worrying about glass breakage and water spillage usually just isn’t worth it. But thanks to Dangle Supply Co., the problem of smoking weed during snowy adventures has finally been solved.

This side-hustle of a professional mountain biker and a bicycle designer/engineer was inspired by the rise of bike-packing culture when they started noticing cyclists dangling titanium mugs and other gear off their bags. They wanted to create something crazy to add to their hangable gear kits and as cannabis enthusiasts, naturally, landed on an indestructible bong. What began as a sort of inside joke as gifts for their crew took off on Instagram (@dangle_supply) and the duo decided to make it official, launching Dangle Supply Co. in 2018 amid their full-time gigs in Los Angeles and Bozeman.

While the co-founders’ real identities were requested to remain anonymous, their alter egos Dan Gullbongs Jr. and Danny Gullbongs act as the company’s CEO and CDO respectively. They credit their father, Dan Gullbongs Sr., in the creation of the original outdoor pipe and the Gullbongs family story goes something like this:

“In 1957 our father, Dan Gullbongs Sr., traveled to cyclo-tour and let his flowing locks fly free in the winds of the Swiss Alps. Cresting the largest mountain, he happened across a monastery where mighty monk metallurgists spent day and night toiling over their ancient coal-fired forge.

‘What is it you handcraft here?’ he bellowed at the monks above the howling wind. His inquiry met with silence, he parked his steed—a Nishiki Colonado—and investigated further. There he found the monks drawing the finest titanium tubes in existence. Their rigor and dedication revealed to him something he had always known: this was his life’s calling. His casual curiosity turned to obsession as he spent the next 69 months working dawn to dusk with no reward but for the honing of his titanium manufacturing skills. By the end of his training, the monks were in awe of this chosen one’s wizardry at the titanium forge. They rewarded his toil with one gift: a humble second-hand coal-fired titanium forge.

Dan returned home to his shop in Southern California a new Dan. He split his time between cyclo-touring, casual car camping, doing his hair, working on his memoir (“Art of the Dangle”) and forging the world’s most beautiful, handcrafted, unbreakable titanium water pipes. His laser focus on titanium forging was only ever slightly fogged by the fruit of his labor. Dan was born a craftsman though, not a bongtrepreneur, so sometime around 1969 Dan started looking for investors. Luckily we, Dan and Danny Gullbongs, were given the business as a gift and at the tender age of 6 became the company’s CEO and CDO (chief dong officer), carrying on the family legacy ever since. When we get really high, we can still see him sitting in his saddle, ding-dong-danglin’ along.”

After inheriting their father’s unmatched skill of welding titanium into smokeable art, here are Dangle Supply Co.’s super pipes to consider adding to your kit this season — all unbreakable, non-corroding and handmade with surgical grade titanium.

WizardStix, $44.20

“Do you believe in magic? Us either. But these pipes will make you kinda look like a wizard or a witch or whatever. They are small, light and made of unbreakable, forever-lasting titanium, plus they look pretty cool. These are heirloom-quality pieces. This new and updated version features a sleeker bend, and tapered bowl, slightly reducing weight, and utilizes SmoothAss® curves technology.”

WitchStix, $59.69

“This is the bigger version of the WizardStix—bigger bowl and more shareable. It’s super fun to use, you’ll be the life of the hobbit party. Virtually unbreakable and very light.”

DangleBong, $109.69

“This is the official premium titanium DangleBong waterpipe you have been waiting for. Our virtually indestructible waterpipe system goes anywhere with you and includes one titanium bowl and one high-durability rubber stopper that stows the bowl inside the pipe for when you are on the move. The MeggaSucc® raw bowl is an extralight 8 grams, with a bigger bowl size. The DangleBong BowlHole is 14 millimeters and works with most standard 14 millimeter accessories.”

Shop: dangle-supply.myshopify.com

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

New Silverpeak owners plan largest marijuana chain in state

The new owners of Silverpeak dispensary in Aspen plan to turn it into the largest chain of marijuana stores in the state by the end of next year.

A big step in the process occurred Wednesday when Pitkin County commissioners unanimously approved transferring the company’s grow and retail licenses to the new owners, James Young of Aspen and Chapman Ducote of Aspen and Miami, Florida.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Ducote told commissioners. “We have long legs and big aspirations to expand the brand.”

The idea is to spread Silverpeak’s high-end marijuana retail experience throughout the state, Ducote said in an interview after Wednesday’s meeting. The company he and Young formed — called Silverpeak — has closed on or is in the process of closing on 27 retail marijuana stores across the state that will eventually be rebranded as Silverpeak in one form or another by the end of 2020, they said.

The company also is investing in marijuana production and manufacturing assets, Ducote said. The Silverpeak sale includes the company’s High Valley Farms marijuana cultivation facility in Basalt and the retail store on Cooper Avenue in downtown Aspen.

Ducote said he and Young plan to retain all of Silverpeak’s employees after the sale goes through.

The state of Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division has already approved the license transfer, which was contingent on the commissioners’ approval.

Representatives of Pitkin County’s Environmental Health and Building departments recently toured the Basalt facility and found a first-class operation, said Kurt Dahl, environmental health manager. Several minor issues need to be fixed in the next 30 days before the county officially signs off on the new arrangement.

Ducote said he plans to look at using solar power and possibly invest in a water treatment facility that will allow the Basalt growing facility to draw water from the Roaring Fork River instead of trucking in water.

Commissioner George Newman brought up the fight between High Valley Farms and its neighbors in 2015 and 2016 over marijuana odors coming from the facility. That problem was fixed in 2016 and county officials said Wednesday that no complaints have been registered since, though Newman reiterated that the new owners will have to continue to mitigate the odor and could lose their license if they fail to do so.

Ducote is professional race car driver, entrepreneur and athlete, according to his website. Young is the owner of Vanguard Scientific Systems, which sells the equipment that extracts the oil from cannabis used in vaping devices, edibles and other products.

A call to former Silverpeak owner Jordan Lewis seeking comment on Wednesday was not returned.


Hit the road: 6 marijuana tours to try in Denver

Most companies in cannabis-friendly cities across the country are still trying to navigate the confusion surrounding social consumption regulations (ahem, Aspen), but one workaround is through hosting official tours and bespoke experiences.

As the first metropolis to make marijuana legal for adult use, Denver has one of the most extensive selections of organized outings compared to locales like Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a canna-curious tourist, here are the six best tour operators to try the next time you make it down to the Mile High City.

Cultivating Spirits

Cannabis culinary expert Philip Wolf pioneered the art of pairing the plant with food and wine, forming Cultivating Spirits in 2014. Specializing in a three-course dining experience and working with a rotating roster of Colorado top chefs, his goal is to celebrate smoking cannabis instead of infusing with it. Each course is served with a different strain complementary to each dish, while Wolf acts as a cannabis sommelier to take you through the tasting notes of both the flower and food. Plus, he’ll even make a special trip to Aspen if you’d like to host an event of your own in High Country.

Book: cultivatingspirits.com

Seed & Smith

A cannabis cultivator, concentrate manufacturer and retailer, Seed & Smith is dedicated to perfecting the craft of producing high-quality cannabis in Denver. With customer education and transparency its primary focus, the dispensary offers a 45-minute “Seed-to-Sale Tour,” which takes guests through the on-site grow facility, harvest room, extraction lab and packaging process, with plenty of photo ops along the way.

Book: seedandsmith.com

My 420 Tours

Founded in 2013, My 420 Tours is technically North America’s first legal marijuana tourism company. Offering cannabis-friendly transportation to and from Denver International Airport and local lodging options, the company is best known for curated cultural experiences including its “Sushi & Joint Rolling” class, “Haunted Hash” party bus outing and immersive experience at the Church of Cannabis. All clients are also privy to complete package deals, plus discounts at partner dispensaries.

Book: my420tours.com

Puff, Pass & Paint

Landscape painter Heidi Keyes launched Puff, Pass & Paint in Denver in 2014 and has since expanded to offering cannabis-infused creative classes in 13 cities across the U.S. Held in private residences, budding artists are encouraged to BYOC (bring your own cannabis) to smoke, vape or eat while you follow step-by-step instructions to create your own mind-altered masterpiece. Each 120-minute session includes a teacher—Keyes herself hosts classes in Denver—and all of the art supplies you’ll need. Puff, Pass & Pottery, grow tours, hash-making classes, infused cooking classes, cannabis karaoke nights, and more are also offered through its parent company Colorado Cannabis Tours.

Book: cannabistours.com


As Denver’s only smoking lounge on wheels, locals and tourists alike can take a ride in luxury while legally consuming cannabis. The tricked-out tour bus hops from hotspot to hotspot around downtown following its just-launched and “Green Line” route where riders can schedule pickups and drop-offs via its mobile app. Loopr also offers grow tours, special events for foodies, dispensary discounts, private rides and even a monthly punch pass.

Book: rideloopr.com

City Sessions Denver

Goldie Solodar starting giving private, high-minded tours for friends, family and visitors from around the globe in 2014. A year later, she hired her first employee at City Sessions Denver, which has grown into a go-to for immersive experiences in all areas of the industry. From sharing personal product picks and hosting behind-the-scenes grow tours to offering cannabis-friendly ski town shuttles and sightseeing adventures, City Sessions Denver creates custom itineraries for every level of cannabis connoisseur. It also publishes an annual City Sessions Guidebook and has an extensive inventory of vaporizing devices including PAX, Puffco and Volcano to rent while you’re in town.

Book: citysessionsdenver.com

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

High Country: America’s No. 1 Cannabis Edibles Brand Taps Bubby’s Chef Ron Silver For Fast-Acting Line

Still beloved for its fresh comfort food, the Manhattan brunch institution Bubby’s opened on Thanksgiving Day 1990 in Tribeca. As Bubby’s readies for its 29th anniversary celebration this month — a major renovation of the restaurant included — owner and chef Ron Silver has also quietly cooked up a cannabis culinary company, which is about to broaden his New York City influence nationwide.

Seven years ago, Silver started personally developing a line of all-natural cannabis sweeteners to help solve what he observed as “a lack of controllable, low-dose and reliable edibles.”

His original mission remains to help people manage their intake and the effects of cannabis edibles through the four-patent-pending invention, TiME Technology. Enlisting former Intel executive Kim Rael as president and CEO, Azuca was officially founded in 2018 as Silver’s second business venture (he’s also the chief creative officer) and specializes in chef-quality, hemp-derived edible products available online and on-menu at Bubby’s. Silver operates an additional location in the Meatpacking District, plus six more in Japan.

Beyond his Bubby’s day-to-day, Silver clocked additional hours devouring chemistry, biology and cannabis books while also testing formulas. He says his expertise as a chef naturally complemented a deep dive into the science of cannabis.

The innovative process encapsulates single cannabinoid molecules, making them water-soluble and resulting in Azuca products having zero detectable hemp taste or smell. Azuca’s collection of CBD-infused sugars, syrups and chocolates take effect in two to 15 minutes — far less than the standard 90 minutes it takes to feel most edible products currently on the market.

“I have an in-depth understanding of cannabis, and cooking, but I never imagined I’d work to combine the two together,” Silver told me. “As a chef, I’m naturally concerned about things tasting great. The triumph was developing a technology that not only tastes great, but actually works in any food or beverage product.”

But the family-friendly restaurateur and father of four’s personal experience with cannabis started before he even began his career in the early-’80s at the legendary Restaurant Florent.

“I’ve smoked weed as soon as I could pick up a bong, since I was 12, and it’s not just that I like it, I love it,” admitted Silver in a recent, in-depth Q&A with PRØHBTD.

“I am interested in cannabis on an extremely deep level. I love the plant itself and see how it can help so many people with anxiety, debilitating ailments and other issues. What we have created is both gratifying and remarkable — and we are just at the tip of the iceberg. Azuca has so much potential and infinite applications,” he added.

That level of connoisseurship translates to technology also compatible with cannabis-infused edibles containing THC. Enter Wana Brands, the number one cannabis edibles brand in the country with products on shelves in medical and adult-use dispensaries in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Oregon.

The Colorado-based company’s CEO Nancy Whiteman set out on a global search in 2017 for products that could enable Wana’s signature confections to have a faster onset time. She ended up sitting next to Rael at a cannabis conference later that year and has now acquired licensing for Azuca’s TiME Technology specifically for its soon-to-be-launched Wana Quick line.

“Azuca is the perfect partner to help us expand our portfolio to meet all the various needs of edibles consumers, many of whom are demanding more predictability and faster effectiveness,” Whiteman shared with me. “Wana has been working in the edibles space for a decade now, and Ron’s quick-onset technology was best in class for confectionary products.”

Azuca is a privately held, investor-backed company. In March, Silver and Rael came to Aspen for a Green Table Global investor forum in March where they pitched potential funders. This summer, Azuca marked its first expansion to Colorado when it opened processing and manufacturing facilities in Colorado Springs and Golden. Through a lease from Summit Extraction and Centered Snacks, Rael explained, “The move has allowed us to leverage Colorado’s vast resources and progressive legislation to streamline our development and distribution of Azuca’s CBD products.”

Wana Quick products are currently in development, with the line slated to roll out in Colorado in December. Additional states will follow in 2020. Azuca’s own THC products are available in Massachusetts at Mayflower Medicinals, Verilife, and Triple M.

“Bringing this technology to a wider audience is so exciting and important. We are able to see our work and vision come full circle, with one of the most respected edibles companies in the business,” Silver said. “Our plan is to help more companies formulate edibles that are more understandable to their consumers. Providing predictability in cannabis products will only help move the industry at large forward.”

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

High Country: Prep Your Skin For Winter With Pila Xian’s CBD Facial

CBD is still reigning supreme as beauty’s queen ingredient and with winter arriving early this year, it’s the perfect time to experiment with adding the cannabis compound into your skincare routine.

Offseason is also the perfect time to catch up on your self-care appointments, which is why I was excited to learn that local massage therapist and esthetician Pila Xian has just added a CBD facial to her treatment menu. As owner of Heaven On Earth — a day spa dedicated to high-altitude living — Xian has led the local scene in cannabis-infused services. In 2016, she became the first in town to offer a CBD massage and now is also the first providing a custom CBD facial (Remède Spa at the St. Regis and O2 Aspen only offer CBD oil as an add-on to skin treatments).

Xian is most known, though, as a partner practitioner of the celebrity-beloved Intraceuticals Oxygen Facial, which is an all-natural alternative to more common clinical facials that use acid peels and irritating scrubs. After incorporating CBD into her own skincare routine, she’s combining it with her most requested treatment for an even more moisturizing and healing result.

“I’ve been using CBD on my face regularly for the past two years,” Xian explains. “Its natural properties are very soothing and calming to the skin and since it’s an anti-inflammatory, it minimizes issues related to skin sensitivity, especially irritations and redness. CBD is also a powerful antioxidant, which neutralizes free radicals that attach to and damage healthy skin cells. This damage leads to wrinkles, dark spots and even worse, disease.”

As her first client to try the Deep CBD Oxygen Facial last week, I left her studio with my skin looking smoother, lighter and brighter than it has all year. Xian is still vetting an official CBD brand collaborator, but for now is using GlyMed Plus and Color Up Therapeutics. Here’s Heaven On Earth’s step-by-step process for its debut Deep CBD Intraceuticals Oxygen Facial, plus my personally tested product picks to try at home to help put your freshest and healthiest face forward.

Step 1: Double cleanse with CBD-infused cleanser

“CBD excites the CB1 and CB2 Receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and enhances skin’s elasticity and resilience.”

High Country at-home: The Balancing Face Wash, Lab to Beauty, $40, labtobeauty.com

Step 2: Exfoliate

“I choose an exfoliant based on the client’s skin needs and ability. While the exfoliating enzymes do their magic (dissolving the top layer of dead skin cells), I perform an arm, shoulder and neck massage.”

High Country at-home: Bota Protective Skin Toner, $19.99, botahemp.com

Step 3: Extractions

“Depending on each client’s skin, I carefully and manually extract clogged pores and impurities. Please allow for an additional $28 fee and 15 extra minutes for this service.”

High Country at-home: Do not try this at home!

Step 4: Apply CBD mask and Intraceuticals Oxygen Facial treatment

“I first apply a CBD booster to the skin and then start the application of the oxygen wand. CBD is a powerful antioxidant, more powerful than Vitamins A, C and E (the most common used in skincare products), which help to protect our cells and their functions to keep them healthy and active, preventing premature aging in the skin. Following a CBD mask with my signature Intraceuticals Oxygen Facial, creates an even more moisturizing effect.”

High Country at-home: Beboe High Potency CBD Sheet Mask, $18, beboetherapies.com

Step 5: Apply CBD Serum

“I like to compare using facial serums to wearing a camisole. It’s a lightweight protector, but you wouldn’t go out in one without anything on top of it. Always apply serum underneath your daily moisturizer.”

High Country at-home: Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum, $125, saintjanebeauty.com

Step 6: Apply CBD Moisturizer

“Topical applications of CBD work to reduce inflammation on soft tissue. It works very quickly because of the multitude of CB2 receptors directly underneath the skin. When used this way, the CBD does not cross the blood/brain barrier and is non-psychoactive.”

High Country at-home: Grön Time-Reversing Face & Neck Cream, $50, shopgron.com

Step 7: Apply sunscreen

“Sunscreen is a twice a day, year-round necessity in the mountains! However, we haven’t yet seen CBD on the ingredient list for face formulas yet.”

High Country at-home: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, eltamd.com

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


I was honored to take second place for “Best Columnist” in The Best of Aspen & Snowmass 2019 COntest alongside two of the greats. High fives from High Country to everyone who voted and a special thanks to the Aspen Times for giving me the space to shine a light on local cannabis culture.

High Country: In The Kitchen With Kitchen Toke

Legal cannabis has created a media boom with a bounty of new print publications arriving on newsstands (and online) for enthusiasts of every kind every year. Among my personal favorites is Kitchen Toke, which debuted its inaugural issue in 2017. Founded by Joline Rivera — a renowned Chicago-based creative director whose clients have included the Food Network, U.S. Foods and Meredith Publishing — the quarterly, design-driven magazine is the first internationally distributed food journal dedicated to cooking with cannabis for health and wellness.

After an obligatory October day trip to Big B’s Delicious Orchards, Kitchen Toke’s weekly e-newsletter fortuitously landed in my inbox instructing me with “What to do with those apples you just picked.” As I continue to learn my way around the complex, cannabis-infused culinary world, I wanted to tap Kitchen Toke directly to bring ATW readers practical pro tips. Here’s the first festive recipe for fall (along with how to make a cannabutter base) of our seasonal series, which High Country will continue to bring you in celebration with each new issue release.



• 4 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced*

• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon, divided use

• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

• 1 cup oat flour

• ¼ cup quick-cooking oats, ground

• ¼ cup almond flour

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• ¾ cup organic cane sugar, divided use

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

• 6 tablespoons cannabutter

• 1 egg

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

* Our favorite apples are crispy, providing a pleasant balance of tartness and sweetness. Think Honeycrisp, Fuji or Braeburn.


• Combine the apples with lemon juice and toss with ¾ teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg. Let the ingredients macerate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

• Meanwhile, combine oat flour, ground oats, almond flour, remaining cinnamon, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat the sugar and butters together and mix in the egg and vanilla to incorporate; refrigerate and preheat the oven to 375 F.

• Toss the apples with cornstarch and gently simmer in a saute pan for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Adjust flavors if necessary with more lemon or sugar.

• Press half the dough into a greased 8-inch square pan. Spread the apples on top and place the remaining dough on top by pressing it with your palms to flatten. The dough will spread as it cooks.

• Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the thickened juices from the apples are bubbling.

• Remove from the oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. Cut into rectangles. Makes 12 servings, each about 23 mg THC based on a 20% strain.

Yield: 12 bars



• ¼ ounce cannabis flower

• 10½ tablespoons high-quality butter

• Distilled water


• A French press

• A tea strainer

• A deep pan or pot.


• Clean and soak: Fill a French press with distilled water and add the cannabis. Soak for 24 hours.

• Plunge: Depress the plunger to separate weed from water.

• Rinse: Add distilled water to the drained weed, stir and strain into a large tea infuser.

• Blanch: Place the cannabis-filled tea strainer in simmering water for 5 minutes.

• Cool: Place cannabis into cold water and squeeze out excess water.

• Sort and dry: Remove any debris and break up larger pieces. Dry on a sheet tray overnight.

• Decarboxylate: Place sheet tray of cannabis into a preheated 300 F oven for 20 minutes.

• Cool and cover: Allow cannabis to cool under a sheet of foil so residual oils can settle.

• Simmer: Add cannabis and butter to the French press, lower the plunger to butter level and place in a pot filled with enough

water to meet that line. Gently simmer for 3 hours.

• Strain: Press plunger to separate butter from cannabis.

• Use or store: Pour into a rectangular mold or store in a jar and keep refrigerated. Use within a month.


• 8 tablespoons, about 34 mg THC per 1 tablespoon based on a 15 percent THC strain.

High Country: Charlotte’s Web Unveils New Cannabis Campaign With Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One

Before the CBD craze swept the country, the Stanley Brothers cultivated Charlotte’s Web — a proprietary, high-cannabidiol, low-THC strain of cannabis — that kickstarted the entire plant-based wellness industry. Officially founded in 2014, the eponymous Colorado-based company has maintained its position as a market leader and after five years of grassroots growth, is releasing its first nationwide campaign to stand out among an increasingly cluttered and complex space.

Charlotte’s Web tapped Studio Number One (SNO) founded by legendary artist Shepard Fairey to create its “Trust The Earth” campaign. The multi-city art installation is conveyed through a super-sized graphic representation of a hand holding a cannabis stalk and the call-to-action: “Trust the Earth.”

“My creative team at SNO focuses on projects that have meaning and create positive change in the world,” Fairey, creative director and co-founder of Studio Number One, said via email. “Charlotte’s Web was a great organization to align with, as they are making advancements doing good by generating real health benefits with their products. My goal as an artist is to create art with a message, and I’m proud of my team for using this opportunity to do the same for Charlotte’s Web, a brand that can take a stand.”

Named in honor of 5-year-old Charlotte Figi, who suffered from serious seizures, Charlotte’s Web gained national attention when Dr. Sanjay Gupta featured her effective use of its CBD oil on CNN in 2013 (a follow-up is included in his just-aired “Weed 5”). Now 11, Figi is 99.9% seizure-free, according to the Stanley Brothers.

Launched in New York City, the mural appears on the corner of North 11th Street and Wythe Avenue in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg was chosen for the debut for its reputation as a forward-thinking, pioneering community—much like Charlotte’s Web and SNO. The art projection campaign will also roll out in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles. Fake Love, a New York Times-owned, award-winning experiential design agency provided additional support for the activations.

“Trust The Earth” aims to ask and empower Americans to educate themselves about access to natural health while championing the right to choose quality options. The community-minded campaign platform is also available online at trusttheearth.com (#trustheearth).

On the eve on its unveiling earlier this month, I went behind the design with Charlotte’s Web co-founder and chairman of the board Joel Stanley.

Katie Shapiro: How did you come together with Shepard Fairey and Studio Number One?

Joel Stanley: Almost nothing about our journey in CBD, hemp and cannabis has been traditional. Our roadblocks have been opportunities to be creative, innovate, and see lives change. Charlotte’s Web started as a mission and it grew through word-of-mouth and people sharing their positive experiences around hemp CBD. The challenges of traditional communication for hemp have only made us better and lean into our most authentic voice. We don’t market. We have long admired the work of Shepard Fairey and Studio Number One, and how it pushes social messages and icons of justice that billions of people around the world have rallied around. We reached out to them and immediately connected with the team. We’re honored that they chose to interpret our mission in such a powerful way.

KS: How many design iterations did CW go through?

JS: The process was exciting because of the way Studio Number One is set up. They tap incredibly talented artists that represent many different styles with Shepard serving as the creative director. This allowed the teams to iterate on various visual themes until we landed on something that felt emblematic and unique to our mission and voice. We went through about six options and five iterations, and every step was more revealing than the previous. Our “Trust The Earth” call-to-action became one with the art. This process was particularly meaningful for my brothers and I because we’re not sign-spinners and much like Studio Number One, we believe in the collective, in community. Nothing is more powerful than a group of people caring for one another, and art is about community. The collective effort in this art resonates what it means for us all to strive for wellness through nature, to have that right, and to have quality options. When you employ art as a vehicle for storytelling, it’s textural, it’s visceral, and it connects us all to catalyze change.

KS: As the pioneer of the CBD movement, what is your perspective on how the industry has taken shape in the past five years?

JS: Over the last five years, we’ve seen positive forward movement, and we are looking forward to its further evolution. When we were starting out, we made a choice to put our resources into quality rather than marketing, knowing that would influence the shaping of the company and, hopefully, the entire industry.

KS: What is the biggest triumph you’ve seen in the industry so far?

JS: The 2018 Farm Bill passing. We’re anticipating far more research into the category, and into hemp in general, which is very exciting. Humanity barely knows how valuable hemp can be, and as long it was considered a controlled substance, research institutions were denied the ability to study this incredible plant. Research will inform the future uses of hemp for health and wellness, and also agricultural and manufacturing practices.

KS: What do you think is still missing?

JS: We’d like to see more transparency for agricultural practices and support the industry to navigate towards organic practices to the benefit of human health and to that of the planet. To that end, over 50% of Charlotte’s Web cultivation fields are in process and are expected to be certified organic by USDA-recognized agencies for the 2019 harvest. The remaining fields are in transition to organic certification. We don’t employ the use chemical pesticides or herbicides on our plants and during manufacturing, we perform a full battery of tests including microbiological contamination, heavy metals, potency and residual solvents. This process also includes a 60-plus panel of testing for pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate. For consumers, Charlotte’s Web offers Certificate of Analysis for cannabinoid potency that supports our label information. Lastly, Charlotte’s Web does not use GMO in any of its ingredients or extraction processes. All of this is expertly third-party verified (by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration) for Good Manufacturing Practices.

KS: What is your hope for the new campaign to ultimately achieve?

JS: For people to join our community, educate themselves about the benefits of hemp, and experience a better version of themselves through the power of nature. Hemp is proving to us that fear-based prohibitions have only served to block humanity from valuable tools existing in nature. We want to help people remember that our bodies produce compounds like those found in hemp, and we are related to nature. It’s not something separate from us, and in that, we should have trust.

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