High Country: Snowboarding legend Circe Wallace carves her way into cannabis
CBD Pop-Up Store ExperienceJanuary 24-26, 12 p.m. - 7 p.m. Bootsy Bellows, 515 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen Free to attendees 18 and over
ChillzoneWhile cannabis still isn’t welcome anywhere near official Winter X Games festivities, the first-ever CBD lounge is popping up in downtown Aspen for the weekend. Presented by New Age Brands (Kured, Fresh Water) and Integrated Cannabis (X-SPRAYS) — two holding companies of sizable cannabis portfolios — the city of Aspen has approved the sale of products in a retail store-like space with an accompanying “wellness experience” offering free samples, IV hydration stations, a CBD-infused beverage bar and a photo booth. Former NBA player Al Harrington’s Viola Extracts, High Times and Good Meds Dispensary are also participating with event staff and brand representatives on site “to educate the public on the many benefits of CBD for athletes and anyone with an active lifestyle” according to Integrated Cannabis CEO John Knapp.
Circe Wallace has been to more X Games than most of us. As a pioneer of the women’s snowboarding movement in the 1990s, Wallace competed in the first-ever ESPN winter event in 1997 at Big Bear. After retiring from the professional circuit, she’s been coming back every year as a snowsports super agent. Also an executive producer, Red Bull named her “one of the most influential figures in global action sports” in 2012 for her work in television and film.
Now Wallace is carving her way into cannabis with Hot Nife — a company she founded in 2017, which produces full-spectrum, small-batch extract vaporizer pens and top-shelf pre-rolls from an organic flower farm in the Emerald Triangle in Northern California. Already on-shelf in recreational retail stores throughout the state, Hot Nife embodies the ethos of skateboarding and snowboarding culture with throwback neon packaging and an Instagram account specifically curated with hilarious videos to watch while high.
Also a mom of two mini-me little rippers, Wallace counts the likes of clients like Travis Rice and Torah Bright as her early investors. Managing their mega-careers is still her day job, but her move into marijuana makes a powerful statement that cannabis is inching toward acceptance in an industry that has publicly ignored how intertwined it truly is with its community.
Ahead of her arrival in Aspen this weekend, I caught up with Wallace to talk about her lifelong passion for cannabis, the history of hot knifing and working between two industries to change the stigma:
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Aspen Times Weekly: How has cannabis played a role in your life?
Circe Wallace: Cannabis has been pretty omnipresent in my life. I grew up as a skateboarder and a snowboarder in Oregon and Washington and it was in rotation pretty regularly. I didn’t ever consume while competing. I wanted to win and I don’t think weed gives you a competitive edge, but it’s a great post-contest relaxer and I did use it in my career. I always enjoyed that over drinking (not that I didn’t do a lot of drinking, too…).
ATW: As a professional athlete, when were you able to officially come out of the cannabis closet?
Wallace: I don’t think I really came out of the closet as a cannabis user until a Leafly article came out around the launch of Hot Nife. There is a lot of educating that needs to be done before the stigma is absolved … talking about it even now comes with some risk and judgments.
ATW: The stigma struggle is real!
Wallace: It’s totally acceptable to take NSAIDS, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines or amphetamines like Adderall or methylphenidates like Ritalin. And parents will just follow doctors’ orders and give them to developing brains. I mean really, it’s ridiculous. We are a medicated society. Plant medicine has been used for thousands of years, expands creative thinking, eases so much pain and anxiety, yet is still considered a bad “drug.”
ATW: What was the impetus for you to start a cannabis company?
Wallace: Cannabis was an opportunity for me to marry my capitalist, entrepreneurial spirit with my passion for social justice, reform, decriminalization and the effort to usher in a new world order. One where women are empowered and we start taking charge of our own lives. Cleary the Western medical establishment has lost its way and there was no way I was going to sit back at the end of prohibition and not participate. Cannabis can lead the conscious capitalism movement
ATW: Where did the inspiration for the Hot Nife name and branding come from?
Wallace: Hot knifing is basically an OG dab…the old school way to consume where we would take two butter knives on a hot coil stove, and drop hash on them, press them together and then inhale the vaporized smoke. It’s a play on bringing forward modern consumption with a reverence for the past.
ATW: Why do you think the industry ignores the fact that cannabis has always been intertwined with it?
Wallace: Because it’s still (widely) illegal and there are a lot of kids involved. It’s a very mature product and I stick to the theory that the brain is still developing into your early 20s, so recreational use is an adult activity. I don’t think we should ever be urging anyone young to partake and I respect the limitations in that regard.
ATW: You have some pretty big-name investors. How did you come together with each of them?
Wallace: Many of my longtime clients are supporting this enterprise because they believe in me and the opportunity that cannabinoids provide healing modalities. The health benefits are undeniable. We just need to be patient, which is really challenging.
ATW: Will they help Hot Nife change perception?
Wallace: None of the athletes who have invested are consumer-facing. But we intend to change perception through support of age-appropriate athletes and programs that support their athletic efforts. I do believe that cannabis is expansive and can fuel creativity, change perceptions, mellow the mind and the body. And that’s just the beginning. But for now, Hot Nife is about having fun. We actually celebrate the stigma and aren’t ashamed of it.
ATW: How close is the industry to accepting cannabis?
Wallace: Who knows? I think it will be at least five years before we see federal (legalization) and then maybe we will see a shift. Once the research starts coming out, they won’t be able to deny it.
ATW: What’s up next for Hot Nife in 2019?
Wallace: So many exciting things. We’re launching outside of California, adding consumables, a super-premium bubble hash and hosting more consumer and budtender events. We are dedicated to consumption-based experiences to commune and consume together and we intend to create really playful and safe environments to do that.
Katie Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @kshapiromedia.
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