About the Author
Michael is a journalist and filmmaker. His award-winning documentary, Sleeping with Siri is playing film festivals across the country. Stusser runs TechTimeout campaigns in high schools across the country, asking teenagers to give up their digital devices (for a little while) in order to find balance, and perhaps even make eye-contact with their parents.

The High End: The Best in Pre-Roll Branding

The High End: The Best in Pre-Roll Branding

By Michael A. Stusser on July 2, 2017

About 20 years ago there was a rumor going around that legendary rock poet Bob Dylan had custom-made packs of cannabis cigarettes delivered to him at shows all along the road. Now I have no idea if that’s true, but I always thought if I ever got famous, the first thing I’d do was get ahold of whoever was hand-rolling Bob Dylan’s boutique joint packs and have ‘em start delivering them to me. Well guess what? I may not be famous, but the legal cannabis biz is booming, and dozens of companies are now rolling top-shelf packs of laughing grass!

Historically, pre-rolled joints have gotten a bad rap because they’ve often been made with leftover shake and seed-laden dregs full of stems and seeds and nasty schwag. No more! Today, good ganjapreneurs understand if they fail on flavor or quality, they’ll lose customers quickly. The best legal joints are now full of top-shelf flower. Many also have outstanding packaging—as cannabis connoisseurs who pay a premium prefer pretty presentation over plastic doob-tubes or crappy sleeves. So we’ve sought out the very best of both the bud and the branding. Here’s The High End!

Saints SGB (Seattle Green Bud)

The artisans at SGB get it. In addition to gorgeous packaging and all-organic first-rate flower, they keep things interesting by constantly changing up their Saints branded offerings: Sold as singles or five-packs, their hand-selected pre-rolls come in a variety of indicas, sativas and hybrids. My favorite is the Artist’s Series Pack, a five joint multi-strain sampler collection, each one specifically labeled (with strain names, THC/CBD levels) in the event you find a favorite for the future. The boxes were designed by Jeremy Fish, famous for his work with Upper Playground. Doesn’t hurt that their well-built boxes are printed on hemp and proceeds for their Limited Edition Pride Packs go to Equal Rights Washington.

Strike Your Fortune

Fortune pre-rolled cannabis joints come in whimsical five-packs (including one wrapped in pure gold leaf and in an elegant glass tube) with a golden font adorning the box that clearly hints of the carnival fortune teller vibe you’ll be experiencing. There’s also a groovy sticker and tarot-inspired keep-forever card in the box to elevate the experience. According to their website, the Oregon-based pre-rolls are “carefully crafted with a touch of mystical alchemy to guarantee an extraordinary smoking experience.” Smoke too many of these babies, and there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing cloudy visions. “The future’s so bright, ya gotta wear shades.”

Leira CannaGar

The Leira CannaGar are small-batch, hand-rolled cannabis cigars encased in elongated glass tubes and sealed with a purple wax seal to remind consumers of elegance, power and wealth. The price ($420) will also remind you. The good news is that once you fire one up, you’ll need some leisure time to get through it as estimated burn time is four hours. The 6″ Corona is packed full of 12 ounces of primo bud, then covered in three grams of rosin oil, then wrapped in at least two layers of stunning pure cannabis leaves, then cured. When someone says, “It’s how we roll…,” they should be talking about one of these.

Sitka Spliff Cigarettes

Packed in elaborate aluminum gold tins, the packaging for Sitka Spliffs is reminiscent of old-school boxes from the early 1950s cigarette era. Along with filtered tips and white-paper wrap, the Mad Men design and branding is top notch. Sitka spliffs are all natural, additive-free and unbleached. Best of all, when you’ve run out of their pre-rolls, you can use the handsome tin to store your personal hand-rolled joints!

Bloom Farms

Some of the most beautiful designs in cannabis come from Bloom Farms. Their founder, Michael Ray, studied and worked in graphic design before getting into the ganja biz, and it shows. The strain-specific full-flower pre-roll cases could fit into an Art Deco coffee table book. It’s also cool that the company puts social responsibility in their mission statement, and pledges a meal for someone in need with every purchase.

Vashon Velvet

A small family farm growing plants out of an old horse barn on Vashon Island in Washington State, Vashon Velvet prides itself on producing pot “like we used to smoke in college: that makes you laugh and not fall flat on your face.” Their all natural pre-rolled joints come in custom-made boxes containing five joints made from premium flower. Velvet is a women-owned canna-business: Susie Gress is the founder, her sister Kay Rice created the lovely artwork and packaging and Ivy Gress handles branding and sales. The feminine (nurturing, loving) touch shows, as happy plants make for the best buds….

Lola Lola

Lola Lola’s tagline is Alchemy Reimagined, and it’s a pretty apt slogan. Family-owned, the San Francisco based company knocks out killer weed from their Lola Lola Farms in Mendocino County. Their Three Cone Kit includes hand-packed joints using Grade A fresh flower and comes with a lovely limited edition Lolalandia lighter. (Collect all 10!) As they say, “We believe in good vibes, smart storage and delightful design.” Roll on!


PotBox is known for their luxurious California cannabis subscription service that delivers the highest quality, most ethically grown cannabis to San Francisco doorsteps. What does “ethically grown” mean? It means using sustainable practices, recycled materials, all natural sun-grown farming, along with organic soil, nutrients and fertilizers. In addition to quarter-ounces of several carefully selected small-batch strains per month, subscribers also receive two elegant hand-rolled joints in wax-sealed glass tubes that make scarlet letters and the Maker’s Mark cork look downright out-of-fashion. Pre-rolls also come with an info sheet containing the vitals on the strains, species, genetics and farms where each plant is grown.

 Island Co.

Like all the High End pre-rolls, Island Company uses the finest cannabis that’s hand-crafted and carefully tested. What sets them apart, aside from their surfer vibe and sunset beachy-inspired packaging, is that they offer premiums (eight king-sized filtered hemp tubes) as well as pre-roll Minis! Sometimes you don’t have the time or patience to burn one all the way down, so the Island Mini (hand-rolled in organic hemp paper and packaged in a convenient book-fold box) gives you options when time is of the essence.


Lucy’s pre-rolls are a classic smoke with a modern twist. Using all 100 percent sun-grown cannabis flower, they’re lab tested and packed to perfection. Elegant packs containing seven individual half-gram pre-rolls come in either Daydreamer packs (uplifting sativas with a floral finish) or Sweet Dreams (powerful indica-dominated blends for beddie-by). Though not hand-rolled, the makers of Lucy’s have come up with a patented, all-organic, heat-stitched rice paper combined with an extra-long crutch that’s designed to give users the ultimate, optimally cooled hit. And isn’t that the point?


NATIV produces high-quality cannabis using sustainable farming practices that’s free of pesticides and grown in fertile soil. Their pre-rolls come in three categories: Black Label (using Nativ’s Private Reserve flower and hash), Gray Label (combining both Nativ’s cannabis and hash) and their White Label (using 100 percent top-grade flower). Nativ’s serious about purity, having their joints inspected and tested for cannabinoid content, residual solvents, terpene profiles and pesticides. Go Nativ or go home….


The Illuminatus folks have created a pack of cannabis joints that look just like a box of high-end cigarettes you’d see in the import section of a smoke shop. The machine-packed smokes are slim and thin with each silver-embossed box containing five “filtered stix” made of hemp paper in a beautiful black box for indica or a rocking red one for sativa. Illuminatus stix pack a punch with more than 25 percent THC in their top-shelf proprietary ganja, with a filter that also mellows and cools heated smoke. Best of all, disguising a cannabis product as a cig not only allows you to roam freely in public and near law enforcement, it also avoids the deadly effects of cancer sticks. “Enlightened health” indeed….

Lowell Smokes

The family behind Lowell Herb Co. have been in the weed biz since 1909 when William “Bull” Lowell started growing “Indian Hemp” on his coastal California farm. Lowell Herb Co. still takes their “hemp” seriously, growing weed without pesticides and using only organic fertilizer. They also pay a proper living wage to their community of family farmers and use natural materials from seed to sale. Packs of premium Lowell Smokes have 10 joints full of all organic flower and pack a punch at between 22 and 25 percent THC content. The smokes are top-o-the-line, and their politics and practices even better.


Chief pre-rolls come in playful packs of seven totaling 1/8th of ganja, and the three-inch cone-tipped joints come in indica, sativa and hybrid strain packs. It’s also nice that each Chief package is labeled with the specific strain and THC percentage, giving buyers information to customize their high. The folks who make Chief also produce Canna Sierra, creating joint packs with a slightly lower THC level. Inspired by wild and beautiful places (and including names like Mt. Whitney, Swell and Grizzly), the folks at Canna Sierra emphasize a “get out, stay out” mentality trying to inspire folks to head to the great outdoors with friends and family. And get baked in nature, naturally….

Valhalla Matchstix

Keep it simple with Valhalla. In addition to the lovely lettering and colorful blue six-pack, the Valhalla Matchstix box comes with… matches! Come on! An all-in-one solution? That’s ingenious! And you know you lost your lighter somewhere….

Michael A. Stusser is a documentary film-maker and host of Higher Ground TV.

Profiles in Legal Cannabis – Season 2

SEASON 2 of Higher Ground’s new series, “Profiles in Legal Cannabis” is now airing! Host Michael Stusser interviews the foremost thought-leaders in the legal cannabis profession, including ganjapreneurs, lawyers, farmers, graphic designers, recreational store owners, and medical pioneers. Watch now on MJ Channel One and MJ Headline News!

The High End: The Most Expensive, Outrageous, Over-the-Top Cannabis Products in the World

With mad props to the free-lovin, long-haired Bohemian hippies who paved the way for the progressive-potheads of my own era, if we’re ever going to make the last push toward national legalization (and more importantly, decriminalization), we’re going to need to appeal to mainstream America. Get the marijuana moms and cannabis-closeted executives on board. Appeal to the stiletto stoners and ganjapreneurs. Make pot smoking as appealing to the masses as mixology and martini shakers were in the Mad Men era. (Without the part where everyone drinks themselves to death…). #CannabisIsSafer

Point is, we’re kicking it up a notch. Crappy bongs and aluminum-can pipes will no longer fit in with our terrific new townhouse. That gunked-up grinder needs to be swapped out for gold! Zig Zags and Zippos? Replaced by vaporizers and Tiffany torches!

Legal cannabis is the fastest-growing market in the country (posting $6.7 billion in revenue last year—a 30 percent increase). This Green Rush has created amazing innovation and glorious gadgets for the upscale cannabis clientele. Indeed, we’ve upgraded the hardware. Introducing: The High End. (Check out the video version here.)

If we all had these bongs, we’d get along

Blackened, slimy, swamp water-filled plastic bongs are no longer how we roll. Gorgeous glass is now available at every price level from an impressive array of artists. If budget’s not an issue (make sure ya save something to buy weed), nothing’s classier than a stunning piece from the artisans at Mothership Glass (below).

For pure spectacle, I’m partial to the Grav Labs Menorah—an eight-bowl bubbler that can be used on Hanukkah, or any day you want to make a high holiday.

In the event you’re interested in the most expensive bong in history, it’s this gold-encrusted skull from Scott Deppe. This show piece runs more than $100,000, so yer gonna want to be careful with that thing…

Coming back down to earth, a new breed of American-made ceramic pipes have sparked major interest, including individually crafted gems from Stonedware and Summerland that would just as easily fit into a museum as your nightstand.

While you can still rock a vintage Bob Marley t-shirt or hemp bracelet, canna-fashion is again cutting edge. Alexander Wang’s current designs bring cannabis motifs to the runway on bags and mini-skirts.

High-end designer Jacquie Aiche has created a Sweet Leaf collection inspired by marijuana leaves and worn by Rihanna, Kate Mara and Gigi Hadid. Her Sweet Hoops are also all the rage; they better be sweet for five grand.

Need bigger bling? Fashion maven Vetements, known for couture collections, is selling a gold ganja grinder that can be worn as a necklace or pocket watch.

When it comes to high-fashion, my personal preference is the (fake) Rolex. Notice the green band?!

The Cannabis Connoisseur can clear the counter of clutter and freshen the space with the CannaCloud—essentially the “Keurig of Cannabis!” Made by CannaKorp, this high-end vaporizing system uses single-smoke pods, but unlike those java machines, pours a perfect plume. The CannaCloud is cheap ($150), but they get ya with the individual cPods (at around $7 per unit), which come in various flavors including sativa, hybrid, indica and CBD only strains.

Fully automated infusers like the LEVO will soon be joining the juicer and Cuisinart on countertops. The LEVO is a sophisticated kitchen appliance that makes infused butters and oil. And while the LEVO will infuse butter with herbs and fruits and nutrients, the main purpose is to put your weed in there! Even if, like me, you couldn’t cook your way out of a paper bag, the copper LEVO will still look lovely on your countertop.

Along with sun-grown, small batch, all-organic cannabis, consumers are looking for healthier ways to inhale. The style and sophistication of top of the line vaporizers like the DaVinci IQ, PAX and PuffCo fit right alongside high tech laptops and digital devices, and avoid traditional smoke via convection heat.

The most expensive vaporizer around ($600) was created by former NASA engineers, and while it won’t shoot you to the Moon, the Herbalizer is like having an alien in your living room. These limited edition machines are futuristic and allow users to enjoy herb in a variety of ways, including Aromatherapy, Vaportherapy and the traditional balloon method.

For those of us not chowing elegant edibles or using an electronic vape, we’re in need of FIRE! Hempwick is fab, as are vintage matchbooks (hell—anything but those blowtorches the kids are dabbing with). The S.T. Dupont Prestige Collection Diamond Nights lighter is beyond belief and frankly ridiculous—which is why we’re highlighting it. Inspired by Persian architecture, the $30,000 limited edition is stunning, sophisticated, and, unlike your disposable Bic, not to be left at a friend’s house. If you’d prefer to upgrade from the $30,000 Nights edition, ya can kick it up a notch to the S.T. Dupont Prestige Collection Diamond Rain version—containing 1098 diamonds. Make it rain, bee-otch.

Frenchy fashion house Hermès has been making smoke accessories since Louis XVI’s head rolled into the Seine. This porcelain Hermès Mosiac Ashtray is only $830. Priceless? Hardly! ($830) Senseless? Indeed!

Whether it’s sweet or spicy or has hints of lavender (or Labrador), maintaining aroma and freshness for our flower requires a quality humidor. The best stash box designed for dope is the Cannador… but our over-the-top fave is the Imperiali (below). The Swiss-made Imperiali Geneve dials in constant humidity and perfect self-regulating temperature. The hand-made humidor has 2,675 components (including an internal gas lighter and tourbillion watch) and costs one million Swiss francs. How much is that, you may ask? More than you have… and since only twelve Imperialies are being made a year, forgetaboutit.

The Imperiali comes with Cubans, but I suggest swapping ‘em out with the CannaGar, the World’s highest-end cannabis cigar! Using fine cannabis (from Seattle grower Gold Leaf), each cigar is hand-rolled and cured. Chock full of 9.5 ounces of bud, the CannaGar is then covered in three grams of rosin oil and wrapped in at least two layers of gorgeous, pure cannabis leaves. Cost? $420, of course!

For the organic gardening types who like to make their own home-brewed Kombucha, there are great grow systems for cannabis, including the Supercloset, Yofumo and BloomBox. The Leaf advertises itself as a “Plug-n-Plant” home growing system that fits into a small apartment and still leaves room for the flatscreen. With a high-tech monitoring system that puts baby monitors to shame, the Leaf supposedly handles it all: light, ventilation, even nutrient levels! The size of a mini-fridge, the Leaf only fits two plants (yielding between four and five ounces of pot). At $3000 for the machine, that’s some spendy weed.

If you’re super tight on space, the Root Indoor Garden is a counter-top sized gadget that can grow lettuce, tomatoes, culinary herbs… oh, and clones (or auto flowers)! The Root includes an LED grow light and a hydroponic system that infuses nutrient-rich water directly at the roots, letting you grow in as tiny a space as a micro-flat.

Of course, anyone wanting to grow their own will need a guide on gardening, so why not blow $500 on a lovely coffee-table book! Three A Light is beautifully illustrated and leads readers from seed to harvest, though, frankly, we’d save $475 and buy something from master gardener Ed Rosenthal.

Some of us are too lazy to get out of the house, much less grow our own ganja. Luckily, in many markets there’s home delivery! A company called Club M does subscription service, delivering a luxury box full of curated cannabis products and accessories each month. Their limited-edition gift box is the M1K (see below), and the K stands for the cool grand a month you’ll be paying for your ganja goodies. They’ve also got $100 subscriptions if you want to dial it down a notch. The AuBox is another upscale option, with specialized categories including edibles, intimates, beauty and even pet boxes.

So long as we’re upping the ante, there’s no reason the Donald Trump crowd can’t get in on the action. (Seniors are, in fact, the fastest growing cannabis-using population, not to mention the legalization of cannabis is a states’ rights issue which the Republican-minded should appreciate.) Palm Angels have some comfy Italian-made slippers that would make Hef proud, and come with embroidered golf leafs.

For high society tee-time, you’ll also need the Jane West golf tees that double as one-hitters or the Pitch n’ Putt containers from Puffingtons that allow you to store your stash in a golf ball. After all, if you ARE having to spend time with a right-winger, something needs to make those 18 holes more tolerable…

Don’t forget to ditch the golf cart and ride the Hemp Roadster! The so-called Cannabis Car has a hemp body and is made by Renew, a Key West car designer. The high-performance roadster features a Mazda chassis and a composite shell made from interwoven industrial hemp fibers and resin that are lighter and more durable than fiberglass. Though the green machine doesn’t run on cannabis—it uses a feel-good fuel called BioButanol—made from recycled agricultural waste, with a carbon footprint that’s 20 percent cleaner than electric cars. Currently in the prototype stage, you can get on the list for this gorgeous two-seat convertible, but you have to put down the full price: $42,000.

In the end, of course, you don’t need a little red convertible or $100,000 bong to make you happy. You need good cannabis and a loving community (SEE! The Counter Culture is alive and well!). Still, it’s fun to have fancy gadgets, and my personal favorite is a vape pen called the Grasshopper. Made out of sturdy titanium, this elegant device fits right inside my jacket pocket and alongside my journal. Problem is, sometimes I forget my real pen. #Stoner.

Find your own elevated bliss, and enjoy the High Life!

The High End: The Most Expensive, Outrageous, Over-the-Top Cannabis Products in the World

Host Michael A. Stusser gives a stoned TED talk on the incredible and outrageous products available for cannabis consumers. From $100,000 glassware to solid gold grinders to elegant canna-fashion, The High End covers it all.

Higher Ground Creates World’s First Pro-Cannabis Ad

Higher Ground has created a new ad to support legalization reform efforts across the country. “Cannabis Clicker” will air in the five States with recreational legalization ballots: California, Maine, Nevada, Arizona and Massachusetts. The ad will also run in States with medical marijuana votes – including Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana. All told, nine states will be voting on ballot initiatives related to legalizing and regulating cannabis on November 8th.

“We wanted to use the old reefer madness propaganda as part of our ad,” noted Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser, “and juxtapose it with what’s really going on.” The ad, titled “Cannabis Clicker,” shows side-by-side living rooms, one playing anti-drug commercials and films from a now by-gone era, while the set in the modern living room plays news stories about legalization from the past few years. “Sometimes it’s best just to let the story tell itself,” Stusser notes. “Teen drug use has actually gone down since legalization, massive taxes have been raised, there has been no increase in traffic fatalities – and the sky has not fallen.”

The Cannabis Clicker ad uses clips from the original Reefer Madness movie, the infamous “Your Brain on Drugs” PSA, as well as modern day news clips featuring studies and research related to the legalization of marijuana.

Based out of Seattle, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, Higher Ground is attempting to “Elevate the Dialogue” and broaden the movement nationally. While legal in Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon, the use, sale or distribution of cannabis is still a felony at the federal level, and over 700,000 Americans are arrested every year for marijuana-related offenses. The parody ad has been provided to all the pro-legalization campaigns, and is being used both on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and VIMEO) as well as paid television in selected markets in California and Nevada.


Comedians in Cars Smoking Cannabis

Seattle, WA – Just in time for 4/20, comes Comedians in Cars Smoking Cannabis – a parody of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Created by award-winning filmmaker Michael Stusser (“Sleeping with Siri”) – who hosts the web series Higher Ground – the spoof features comedian Lauren Weedman (The Daily Show, HBO’s Hung and Looking, Curb Your Enthusiasm) along with a fabulous 1965 VW Bus.

In Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Seinfeld introduces a vintage car, and then picks up his guest comedian, and drives to a cafe or restaurant for coffee. Comedians in Cars Smoking Cannabis also introduces a vintage vehicle (a very beat-up Volkswagon Bus – identical to the one featured in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), but instead of getting jacked up on coffee, these comedians get stoned out of their minds on legal marijuana. 

Higher Ground is a media-arts production platform that creates highly-produced video assets including a flagship satirical-news program (a mix between The Daily Show and CNN, just without that annoying Wolfe Blitzer fellow), a syndicated column on the legalization movement, along with viral social-media parodies.

“We’re really trying to Elevate the Dialogue about cannabis,” says Editor-in-Spleef Stusser. “And we’re using humor and social media to not only normalize the use of marijuana – but put it in context. People like weed – and they’ve been smoking it forever; time to make it legal.”

Comedians in Cars Smoking Cannabis was directed and edited by Marty Riemer (Twisted Scholar). Director of Photography for the shoot was Mark Goodnow, of the Production Foundry. The team also created the award-winning documentary, “Sleeping with Siri,” which featured journalist Stusser attempting a week-long Techno-Gorge, followed by a lengthy Digital Blackout.

Higher Ground explores and celebrates the elevated aspects of getting high. Founded during a revolutionary time of economic and spiritual transformation in the legalization movement, the brand will document and chronicle this incredible time in our history, and advocate for the legalization of cannabis (along with civil rights, gay rights, and human rights), and embrace the end of – yet another – prohibition.

Seinfeld’s series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” most recently aired its seventh season, and is distributed by the digital network Crackle.

Lauren Weedman’s new book, Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having it All from Someone Who is NOT OKAY, was published by Plume in March 2016.

For more information, contact Michael Stusser at

Fronting a Movement

I have a few concerns.

I’m concerned that I may be fronting the largest drug operation since Scarface and meth labs ruled the night.

I’m concerned about kids and marijuana and making more of it available to their developing young flea-brains (which, if they’re like mine, will remain half-baked until their late 20s).

I’m concerned about involving the government in oversight and taxation, as we know full well they fuck up everything they get their grubby hands on (and are already squabbling over and redirecting the massive tax revenue being collected).

I’m concerned about the “dabbing” culture that takes highly concentrated cannabis and fires it up with a blowtorch, making users look like crack addicts and putting a frightful face on the future of legalization.

I’m concerned Maureen Dowd will try to get stoned again.

I’m concerned about people who are getting too high too often—“All Day, Everyday”—and are no better than the drunks, tobacco smokers, and opiate addicts we say we’re “safer than.”

I’m concerned that, despite childproof packaging and clear “Adults Only” warning labels, cannabis products that look like gummy bears, chocolate bars, lollipops, and peanut-butter cups may fall into the hands of youngsters.

I’m concerned that corporate fat cats will see the billions being made in legal states, then craft and finance self-serving initiatives that make them rich while cutting out the original growers who for decades fought prohibition from their black-market basements.

I’m concerned that marijuana’s dirty secret will get out—that growing weed indoors sucks up water and power like golf courses on steroids—and make progressive voters wary of voting for legalization. I’m also concerned that, without the proper regulation, even legal cannabis will be laden with pesticides, mold, and other untested and unlisted chemicals.

I’m concerned that, until we rename cannabis strains such as AlienKush OG, Girl Scout Cookies, GreenCrack, and BubbleBerry, we won’t be taken seriously.

I’m concerned that the stoner clichés of the past are being used against individuals who are fabulous souls, but do not wish to be involved in capitalistic and ganjapreneurial efforts.

I’m concerned that current growers in California’s Emerald Triangle have it so good they won’t support the legalization efforts in their state, and may even actively oppose initiatives with their own money. (It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of California’s marijuana is exported—providing little incentive for farmers there to follow a seed-to-sale tracking system.)

I’m concerned that a profit-driven Big Pot industry will increase potency, decrease regulation, encourage overuse, and abandon limits on age and availability of what surely is a mind-bending drug meant for fully functioning adults.

I’m concerned that those now organizing “Boycott 502 Store” campaigns are missing an important point: that legalization, taxation, and regulation are moving the movement forward, and don’t (necessarily) need to jeopardize the rights of and safe access for patients.

I’m concerned that we’re moving more toward Walter White’s vision than Bob Marley’s.

I’m concerned that marijuana will not only be federally legalized, but controlled and dominated by mega-corporations who begin to squeeze out indie farmers, add pesticides and food coloring, and eventually decide that GMO cloning is the easiest option—and we’ll wind up right back where we started: with “prescription” drugs so far from the plant you need a lawyer to read the label.

I’m concerned that with so much emphasis on the amazing medicinal attributes of cannabis, the population without ailments will shy away from the very real benefits of simply getting high.

I’m concerned that the marijuana movement and cannabis culture may not stay true to the ideals that launched the journey, including civil rights and personal liberties. It was never about a Green Rush. It wasn’t about “waking and baking” or dabbing till we got couchlocked. It was about allowing people to farm. It was about being able to use a natural herb to mellow out, and, as it turns out, for medicinal purposes. Ultimately, it’s about making sure no one goes to prison for possessing a plant that grows out of God’s green Earth. That vision of personal freedom—that movement—I can get behind. Those ideals don’t concern me at all.

Mr. Chronic

Counterintuitive but true: Pot can make you more productive.

One of my favorite things to do is get stoned to the bejesus and clean house. And I’m not just talking about casual dusting, either; I’m talking about down on your belly, shoving the long extension vacuum tool deep under the bed and sucking up dust mites and fur balls, only to discover long-lost socks, exercise equipment, underwear (whose are those?!), and enough change to go out and buy MORE weed to smoke and then Shop-Vac the garage. In this way, stoned cleaning is a sustainable endeavor.

Hyperactive cleaning, you may say—but that’s counterintuitive! The stereotype, of course, is that smoking marijuana puts you on the couch, not wildly vacuuming under it. But like so much Reefer Madness, the clichés are all wrong. Turns out cannabis has been proven to aid in focus and concentration, as the body contains cannabinoid receptors for THC that can stimulate and modulate our brain’s neurotransmitters. In states where medical marijuana is legal, it’s even being used to treat attention-deficit disorders, replacing prescription stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta that have nasty side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

“Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine,” noted Dr. David Bearman, who has spent 40 years looking into drug-abuse treatment and uses for medical marijuana. “This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine.”

I know what the Doc’s talkin’ about! When I smoke weed, the THC gives my often scattered flea-brain laser-focus; I’m like Mr. Clean on steroids—intensely scrubbing the grout, determinedly deodorizing and disinfecting, even fire-hosing the disgusting recycling bins caked with foodstuff, wine splatter, and spaghetti sauce. Two-fisted Cannabis Clean!

“The most accepted theory about ADHD rests on the fact that about 70 percent of the brain’s function is to regulate input to the other 30 percent,” Dr. Bearman corroborates. “Basically the brain is overwhelmed with too much information coming too fast. In ADHD, the brain is cluttered with and too aware of all the nuances of a person’s daily experience.” In essence, pot can drive millions of incoming ideas out of your monkey mind, and allow you to focus on the tasks at hand—like spiderweb removal whilst listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

For me, getting baked is like a triple espresso, with a shot of spiritual matcha chai on the side. My attitude is energetic and focused, with a little theatrical whimsy thrown in for good measure. Suddenly an overwhelming task such as organizing the jam-packed kitchen drawers becomes an important NASA mission! Run by Commander Clutter-be-Gone, the vital undertaking will be executed quickly, efficiently, and with a few odd brogue verbal commands uttered randomly throughout the exercise. High on ganja, the steps become crystal-clear: EVERYTHING must be dumped on the counter, and items slowly reintegrated into the newly labelled (and vacuumed!) drawers: Sharp Things, FSK, Expired Coupons, TupperWare, and a Catch-All drawer for rubber bands, pens, matches, odd keys, and those fawking square things you twist around a plastic bread bag. Two hours later I’ve made Martha Stewart look like a disorganized lowbrow street thug. Not only are the new drawers impeccably organized, they’ve been lined beautifully with all that excess wrapping paper I couldn’t find a place for.

Now has marijuana ever derailed my efforts at cleaning? Yes. Certainly. In fact, I once began with a toilet wand in my hand and somehow wound up naked in my living room under one of the most amazing pillow forts ever created.

Stoned cleaning sometimes leads to related but tangential tasks, such as trips to the refrigerator (more for munching than defrosting), getting lost in family photo albums, and cleaning out closets. While conducting a fashion show for my friend Julie (to determine which items needed to be given away), I began to see how truly cluttered my life had become. Who needs five baseball hats and a dozen belts? Getting rid of the weight of 1,000 unworn Tommy Bahama shirts lifted my worldly burden, and I began tossing unwanted paperweights, plastic cups, filing cabinets, and additional tchotchkes that not only were cluttering my overcrowded physical space, but, more important, my mind, man!

Chipping away at the inside of my microwave the other day, I came to another reefer-induced realization: What do I really know about this strange food-warming machine? What is a “micro-wave,” and what are the effects of molecules being radiated in this way? And why did I choose a toothbrush to clean the grit and grime when a chisel or power-washer would have been far more apt? I pulled my head out of the nuclear device, unplugged the thing, and put it on top of the ever-growing Goodwill pile, then began scrubbing the empty space on the counter.

“When it comes to clean, there’s only one Mr.”: Mr. Chronic.

Holy smokes—I think I missed a spot!

Turkeys of the Year

Time to reveal this year’s cannabis turkeys—the fattest, most frivolous, flapping, dumb-ass ideas in need of being stuffed, baked, and smoked once and for all.

Let’s start with a turkey large enough for the whole family, and by that I mean Gov. Chris Christie. He not only had the nerve to call cannabis a gateway drug, but said potheads lack restraint (ahem). “If I’m elected president I will go after marijuana smokers and the states that allow them to smoke,” he said. “I’ll shut them down big-time. I’m sick of these addicts, sick of these liberals with no self-control.” Governor GobbleGobble got in one more zinger on the campaign trail: “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie lectured a small crowd last month. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.” Don’t hold your breath, Guv. Well, unless you inhaled, of course.

Last week the DEA chief, Chuck Rosenberg, called medical cannabis “a joke.” “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal—because it’s not,” said pilgrim Rosenberg. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine—that is a joke . . . If you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana—which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana—it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.” Hilarious joke for those being aided by cannabis for everything from epileptic seizures to Parkinson’s, chronic pain, PTSD, and more. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) slammed this diatribe from the House floor, calling Rosenberg “an inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” A petition created for this turkey’s removal currently bears more than 100,000 signatures.

The State of Kansas is still attempting to put Shona Banda, an author and medical-marijuana patient, in prison after her young son accidentally outed her in a D.A.R.E. presentation. Banda, who uses cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease, had her 11-year-old taken from her when he challenged the school presentation’s accuracy based on his own firsthand knowledge that marijuana was helping his mom battle her illness. Though her son has since been returned, Banda is still facing felony criminal charges, including distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property; unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; and child endangerment. Banda, who faces 28 years in prison, will be arraigned in January, and has become a spokesperson for legalization, bringing national attention to the absurdity of the charges. As hemp farmer Thomas Jefferson said, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” Or in this case, a woman.

Ohio’s failed legalization initiative gets the Wishbone Award, screwing up not once but in two pieces! First, the deeply flawed law was a greedy attempt to make billions for the 10 millionaires who wrote and backed the initiative in the first place; second, it introduced the world to Buddy, a regrettable marijuana mascot who resembles Joe Camel. Sixty-four percent of voters clearly saw what a sham this attempted oligopoly was, and voted it down. But ya know who did support this anti-free market boondoggle? The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. For that, NORML gets a Dumb-Stick. Not everything with the words “marijuana” and “legalization” is a good idea, pals.

A 420-friendly resort called CannaCamp was set to open July 1 in a gorgeous wilderness area outside Durango, Colo. In addition to scenic cabins, weed-infused dinners, and baked yoga classes, the Mary Jane Group offered high hiking and a cannabis concierge on its 170 marijuana-friendly acres. Unfortunately, the stoners at the MJ Group didn’t get the details about the ranch’s sale a month before cannabis-campers were set to arrive. “Dude. Where’s my ranch?!”

While the Colorado CannaCampers are now looking for a new location, here in Washington we’ve got hundreds of CannaCampgrounds for all to enjoy! They’re called parks, and our beautiful state is chock full of  ’em! (Disclaimer: It is illegal to smoke in local, state, or national parks. Enjoy!)

Finally, the biggest Turkey of ’Em All was . . . the DEA! In addition to the 700,000 annual arrests still taking place for marijuana-related offenses (now there’s a harvest!), our Drug Enforcement Administration is continuing to put up major roadblocks when it comes to even researching the benefits of medical cannabis.

The solution to carving up this mega-turkey is simple: Take marijuana off the controlled-substances schedule—which currently equates pot with heroin and meth and states it has “no medically accepted use” and a “high potential for abuse.” This will allow doctors and scientific researchers to begin exploring, producing, and testing the medical benefits of this plant without fear of arrest. Put that in your pipe and stuff it. #ThankfulforLegalization

The Lone Reefer

Our King County Sheriff is outspoken in his support for legalization.

The sky has not fallen because we have legalized marijuana in Washington. Is it going to work long-term? I don’t know; we’ll have to wait and see. But clearly, what we were doing before—the War on Drugs—did not work, so it was time to try something new. The citizens suggested legalizing marijuana—and I support it.”

It’s a reasonable-enough statement, but somewhat surprising in that it comes from our own King County Sheriff, John Urquhart. “I still think it was a good decision for the citizens of Washington,” Urquhart told me in an interview last week. “The initiative [I-502] passed statewide with 56 percent supporting it, and 63 percent in King County, so that’s clearly what the citizens wanted.”

Urquhart’s outspoken support of legalization isn’t being taken all that well by some members of law enforcement. Urquhart did a TV ad last year on behalf of the (successful) Oregon Measure 91, and members of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association took him to task. “How dare he use his position as a sheriff to spoon-feed Oregonians blatantly false information about Washington state,” said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, “right before an Oregon election.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins not only didn’t like Urquhart’s ad, he went NIMBY gun-slinger with a zinger. “You don’t see any Oregon sheriffs going up to Washington to weigh in,” Adkins blasted in a statement. “He needs to get his nose out of our state and show some respect. The issues we face are different.” Like neck beards and living on a swamp-river, I presume.

Members of the Oregon Sheriffs Association claimed Urquhart’s statements were misleading, citing state patrol reports that showed stoned driving arrests had increased. In the ad, Urquhart rightly claims tax revenue is up, wasteful arrests have been eliminated, and DUIs in our state are down, implying that legal weed may have something to do with all these results.

While it’s true DUIs are down overall (DUIs have dropped 25 percent since 2009), arrests involving pot and driving are up. The most current stats from the Washington State Patrol show that cannabis-related DUIs since December 2012 (when we legalized it, man) have gone up, from 988 in 2011 to 1,362 in 2013. A Washington Traffic Safety commission report last week showed the frequency of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive with THC in their systems (alone, or in combo with booze or other drugs) was highest in 2014 (75) as compared to the previous four-year average (36).

“There have been more arrests for driving with marijuana in their system,” Urquhart admitted, “but, overall, fatality crashes have not gone up. There haven’t been any studies in Washington where there’s a direct causation from legalizing marijuana [to road fatalities]. There might be a correlation, but we’ll need more research on that.”

And the reason for more stoned drivers? “Well, for one, we’re looking for stoned drivers. Because of all the publicity around it. And now we have a per se standard. So we’re watching for that—and obviously there will be more arrests. As they test more blood—they’re gonna find more people with THC. The question then will be, how long has it been in their system? Did it affect their ability to drive? And what other drugs might be in their system?—including alcohol.”

But surely, since ganja has gone legal, officers in the field have constantly had to tackle out-of-control stoners at sex-crazed parties, right?

“No. Not at all. From what I’m hearing from my deputies, it’s a big yawner. No change for them whatsoever. What I have told them, if people are smoking marijuana in public, use your discretion like you would with drinking in public, or like speeding. Don’t be afraid to write a citation. So they’re doing that. But I haven’t heard any pushback.”

I asked the Sheriff if it was strange to be a voice for legalization. “To be honest, it’s very, very weird. I have been a cop for 40 years, I spent a good amount of that time doing drug investigations, and was a street-level narcotics investigator. And now, in some quarters, I’m the face of all this. Most police chiefs and sheriffs don’t want to speak out on this, regardless of their what their personal feelings are. And of course, the police chief has to kowtow to who the mayor is. A sheriff has more freedom. I just don’t care, to tell you the truth.” (FYI, the Washington State Sheriffs’ Association wrote a letter to the Oregon sheriffs during the campaign, clearly stating that Urquhart’s views were not endorsed by the organization.)

Urquhart isn’t a Lone Ranger (Lone Reefer?) on legalization. Founded in 2002, LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is a group of over 5,000 current and retired cops, judges, and prosecutors committed to ending decades of failed drug policies. Like Urquhart, they don’t like the trillion dollars spent on the failed War on Drugs or the $80 billion spent on incarceration in the U.S. each year—which could instead go to rehabilitation, job training, and education.

At a press conference last month, executive director Major Neill Franklin explained LEAP’s position: “As our nation’s top police and prosecutors reflect back on their careers, we have come to understand that many of the so-called tough-on-crime principles to which many of us gave our lives are flat-out wrong,” said Franklin. “We can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time, but to do that we need alternatives to arrest, balance in our laws, and continued improvement in community relations.”

Every 45 seconds a person gets busted for marijuana. This adds up to more than 700,000 pot-related arrests in 2014 alone. Of 1,561,231 total drug arrests last year, weed made up 45 percent of ’em. Of the 1,700 daily cannabis busts, 88.4 percent were solely for possession. Still, Urquhart understands that not all law enforcement will agree with his stand on legalization, and he’s fine with that—so long as they have ideas of their own on failed policy.

“The only thing that gets me pissed off is when police chiefs criticize the decision that the citizens of Washington made, for legalizing marijuana, but offer no alternative to that. They all know the War on Drugs doesn’t work. What are we going to do differently? Marijuana is one small step. Let’s see if it works. It’s a grand social experiment. And it appears to be taking hold.”