Keeping the Cannabis Industry Green: Second Cannabis Sustainability Symposium Tuesday
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by Amanda Pampuro


How many gallons of water does it take to grow a joint? How many watts of electricity? How many man-hours go into the cultivation, trimming, and processing?

If you’re a concerned consumer about the way your food is grown and how much the farmers were paid for it, why would you tune out when you toke up?

That is the reason d’etre behind the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC), which is hosting the second annual Cannabis Sustainability Symposium from Oct. 17 to 18 at the Embassy Suites Denver.

“One of our biggest hurdles is educating, telling people who come into the shop what can be recycled — just like anything else, it can be washed off and put in the recycle bin,” said Amy Andrle, founder of L’Eagle Dispensary and a CCC board member. “It’s about getting people asking what can be recycled? What can be composted?”

In addition to talks from cannabis industry stakeholders, the conference will feature discussions from environmental science leaders, including Derek Smith, founder and executive director of the Resource Innovation Institute, Shelley Peterson, VP of lighting technologies at Urban-Gro, and Dr. Elizabeth A. Bennett, director of the political economy program at Lewis & Clark College.

The agenda includes panel discussions on sustainable packaging and waste diversion as well as energy management and the need to implement industry-wide standards.

“A little bit of investment on the side of the business can have a big impact to lessen your footprint,” Andrle said. “As far as low hanging fruit go, something very easy to implement is to look at waste management (and consider) what can you do to offset what you’re sending to the landfill.”

According to a press release, the event was planned “with in-kind support from Denver Environmental Health and sustaining sponsorship from Denver Relief Consulting.”

For Andrle, the much-touted buzzword, “sustainability,” simply means asking, “How are we managing our resources? As a business owner, I want to make sure I’m not spending more than I need to and that I’m not using any more than I need to. The other buzzword everyone is using is corporate social responsibilities.”

Tickets and agenda are available at

From a Bonger's Perspective: The 34th Colorado Invitational Bong-a-Thon
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photos and article by Ben Owens


There’s a positive vibration that you can feel throughout your entire body when you are truly excited about something. It finds its way from your head to your toes, creeps into your thoughts, invades your workspace, and often permeates the moments before with joyful anticipation. As someone who has always preferred bongs to bowls, this is how the week leading up to the 34th Invitational Bong-A-Thon felt.

As I arrived Friday morning to Hummingbird Ranch, I thought I might be in the wrong place. I’d never been here for Sonic Bloom, and the only visible sign of civilization was a small fifth wheel camper parked up the road. No signs. No people. Just a camper. Of course, the property unveils itself the second you pass through the security checkpoint, and continues to unfold for what seems like miles. As I was camping with longtime bongers “Shady Norm” and “Raspy,” I was directed to the staff camp, which was quickly filling up with longtime Bong-A-Thon patrons like Camp Texas, as well as the bands, BAT Committee members, and the sponsors that make Bong-a-Thon a reality.

Bong-a-Thon veteran, Shawn Honaker, mid-competition - photo by Ben Owens

After setting up a small addition to the camp — a hammock, a few tents, and a 10x10 American Flag EZ Up—I joined Raspy, Norm and the crew in setting up, firing up the bongs, and enjoying a few dabs as invited guests began building their own camps. Large white canopy tents and a stage were being hoisted up in the  main area, while patrons arrived in sedans, vans, campers and even single-wheeled “hoverboards”. Outfits like “Camp Shenanigans” and “Camp 13,” staples of Bong-a-Thon, were among the larger and more recognizable camps.

As arrivals slowed down, Shady Norm’s smoked meat was ready for a tester, and a lucky few are able to sample what can only be described as the best aspects of brisket, rib-eye and beef jerky combined in one savory slab. This meat would be served in a variety of preparations at Eat-n-Out, the food truck that satiated the Bong-a-Thon camp all weekend. While attendees enjoyed the food truck and the music kicked off on the main stage, VIPs, Golden Tickets, and band members were offered the opportunity to smoke, dab and chat in the forested VIP area. As campers swapped bowls and bongs, some enjoyed homemade edibles and cannabis delights while others tucked away into hammocks and tents in preparation for a long day of competition on Saturday.

Saturday morning came with the smell of weed, bacon, eggs and more wafting through the ranch as campers drearily made their way towards porta-potties, grills and showers. Some campers like the two guys in the gorilla and banana suits hunted for Bong-a-Thon “Easter eggs” hidden throughout the property—specially made marbles that could be redeemed for prizes. Meanwhile, the merchandise booth and stage began attracting lines hours before opening around 11 a.m., while contestants anxiously waited entry to the coveted Bong-a-Thon events, including the Individual and Team Bong-a-Thon competitions. I was lucky enough to score a spot with my team in the Relay Bong-A-Thon, which challenges seven people to smoke seven grams of cannabis as fast as possible. 

Custom Bong-a-Thon awards, photo by Ben Owens

But the main event is the Individual Competition, with reigning champions like Shawn Honaker, Mark Rice, Shady Norm, and Bear Coronado competing among 27 total entrants to take down a quarter ounce. Bear Coronado set yet another record this year with a final time of 4:06. They aren’t kidding when they say professional smokers come out to compete. Bear is also a member of the Collector Buds professional smoking team, the only sponsored relay team at the event.

After the other competitions like the Open Invitational and Dab Out were completed, musical guests took the stage and a wet t-shirt contest was held with the 420 Nurses and one brave man. Nearby, a bong and rig setup by Pukinbeagle Glass was frozen in a slab of ice, available for all to use. It was the subject of many photos, snaps and dabs before eventually being  melted out on Sunday. Around 11 p.m. the announcements and awards began, as well as the highly anticipated raffle. As the winners for each event are crowned and raffle tickets given out, the camp had no intentions of settling down for the last night.

Camp shows and shenanigans were commonplace after the raffle completed, with attendees venturing throughout the camp to explore geodesic climbing domes, a nearby river, and up towards the far end of the campsite, a laser light show by DJ Diablo that could have been mistaken for a festival or concert. The entire crew at Bong-a-Thon from the staff to the first year attendees really go out of their way to contribute to the atmosphere and experience. As Sunday morning lazily rolled in, with many campers still awake and enjoying the last moments of this truly sensational event, tents began to come down and campers began to make their departure, turning back for last glimpses and photos at the gate — just enough time to take a few final bong hits before beginning the journey home.

Bong-a-Thon organizer, Chris Jetter, announces the winners - photo by Ben Owens

To really understand what Bong-a-Thon is, you need to attend, to truly be there in the moment with your fellow ‘bongers.’ As someone who’s watched every Youtube video and documentary on Bong-a-Thon, read all of the articles, and smoked with many of the people involved prior to going, I can tell you that the experience is incomparable to any written, filmed or otherwise conveyed story of the experience. If you’re still reading, mark your calendars for next year and make sure you grab an invitation — you won’t be disappointed. See you there. ♦

Main Event Results:

Individual Bong-A-Thon (7 Grams, 1 Person):

  1. Bear Coronado 4:06 min. "Macho Man Randy Savage Bong Hit"
  2. Matt Servold 4:33 "Dr. Puffer"
  3. Sammie Thatcher 5:20


“Fastest Gram”:

Winner: David Pionke 49.91 sec.


Team Bongathon (Five Person Hookah w/One Ounce of Power Papaya):

Winner: Studio420 1:55 min.

    Marty, Cody, Shaun, Red, Jeff & Cruz


Relay Bong-a-Thon (7 Grams, 7 People):

Winner: Team In-N-Out Hemp 6:49 min

    Ric, Jesse, Jamie, Dan, Troy, Stephen & Luke


Dab Out (.1g dabs even 60 seconds until you “dab out”):

Winner: John Bottoms with 6 Dabs.


Wet T-Shirt Contest:

Winner: Marisa

The 8th Annual Clinic Charity Classic
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 by Samuel Farley

For eight years, The Clinic has organized the annual Clinic Charity Classic golf tournament to benefit the National MS Society, becoming a staple of cannabis philanthropy and one of the year’s most memorable events within the cannabis community. Held on August 11 at the Arrowhead Golf Club, this year’s charity classic was a familiar yet equally fun event. With sponsors including incredibles, Leafbuyer, Coda Global, LiveGreen, Native Roots, Pax, Craft 710 and others, the event was packed full of new products for players to try as they made their way around the course. Various companies had games set up for golfers to enjoy and to help raise additional money for MS while out on the course. “It’s something we are proud to take part in and it’s great event for an important cause,” said Cole S., a player and manager with LiveGreen. 

This year, the event raised more than $100,000 for the National MS Society, serving as an example of what the cannabis community can accomplish. The event has become a staple within the cannabis industry and something many look forward to.

Steven Chang, sales director of incredibles, was thrilled to be a part of the event. “We are really excited that we have been involved for so long and it’s a tradition now, both with incredibles and with our relationship with The Clinic. Raising money for MS and continuing to increase awareness is just a really good feeling and at the end of the day it’s all for a great cause,” said Chang.

 Everyone involved, from The Clinic to the event sponsors, was excited as the day rolled on and the golfers made their way around the course. A dab island and joint carts were available  for players, making it the definition of mile high golfing. This year, carts were provided for non-playing participants to make the day even more fun for those who wanted to come out and party. Ryan Cook, The Clinic’s general manager, relayed the excitement of being able to continue the fundraising work with the National MS Society through the tradition of The Clinic Charity Classic. “Last year was amazing, but this year we took on a lot more, we had full transportation and served breakfast, lunch and dinner for the players. With year eight, I am super excited to say we passed the $100,000 raised mark, and this is all for the MS Society,” said Cook with a huge grin. In total, the event this year raised a little over $115,000 for the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National MS Society.

As it continues to cement itself as a part of the Colorado cannabis scene, The Clinic Charity Classic will continue to cast the cannabis community in a positive light while providing money to the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter National MS Society to help individuals with a variety of needs such as vehicle adaptations. This year, the winning team was Team Scruggs, with Sweet Leaf and Organa Brand coming in second and third, respectively. The 8th Annual Clinic Charity Classic was a fabulous time for everyone involved, and it will be great to see how the event can possibly get even bigger next year. ♦


High Rollers Dispensary and The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine to Host 3rd Annual Cannabis Charity Open - July 27, 2017
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All golf tournament proceeds will benefit Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international grassroots organization dedicated to ending the war on drugs.

DENVER, Colo., (July 23, 2017)—  High Rollers dispensary in partnership with The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine will host its 3rd annual Cannabis Charity Open, from 1 - 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 27, at the Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue in Denver.

All proceeds from the golf tournament benefits Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international network of students dedicated to ending the war on drugs.

Individual registration starts at $150 and $500 for a foursome team. To participate, or for more information, visit

A much anticipated event, participants will receive free tournament golf balls, tees, and other apparel, as well as player gift bags with cannabis accessories.

“As part of an industry born by the will of the voters, we feel it is important to give back to our community. By being a part of the charitable golf tournament in Denver, we hope to help the communities neighborhoods we serve and make a positive impact on the residents who live in them,” said Luke Ramirez of High Rollers Dispensary.

Highlights include a post-event buffet and free drinks throughout the tournament. A raffle and awards ceremony will conclude the day, with prizes for top teams and individual achievements. Additional donation opportunities will be available during the event.

The Cannabis Charity Open is considered a major fundraiser for SSDP. Founded in 1998, the nonprofit organization brings young people together and creates safe spaces for students of all backgrounds to have honest conversations about drugs and drug policy. This year’s title sponsor is incredibles, recognized as the number one infused edible company in Colorado.

“We look forward to the opportunity to give back and celebrate cannabis at the THC Golf Tournament. Both incredibles and Students For a Sensible Drug Policy help to educate the public about cannabis while spreading facts about cannabis legislation across the country. The THC Golf tournament helps to bring together all sectors of the industry to support grass-roots cannabis advocacy,” said Bob Eschino, Founder and President of incredibles.


About High Rollers Dispensary:

High Rollers Dispensary is focuses on quality cannabis products and compassionate customer service. Based in Colorado, High Rollers is one of the top dispensaries in Denver for high-grade medical marijuana. Located between Florida and Arkansas Avenues on historic South Pearl Street, High Rollers Dispensary provides a boutique consumer experience. Set amidst locally-owned shops, quaint eateries and personal wellness facilities, High Rollers connects the community with the healing powers of cannabis-based therapy. High Rollers combines sophistication with modern-day technology to bring its clients high-quality cannabis flower, pure cannabis concentrates and delectable marijuana edibles. For more information visit

About The Hemp Connoisseur:

The Hemp Connoisseur (THC) Magazine is a national print outlet dedicated to delivering innovative and comprehensive news content to cannabis industry professionals, patients, and consumers. The magazine is a two-time winner of “Best Cannabis Publication” by the Cannabis Business Awards, educating audiences on the many benefits and uses of both marijuana and commercial hemp. It strives to elevate the image of the cannabis industry and consumer alike by providing mature, in-depth journalism with a foundation of editorial integrity. For more information visit

NCIA's Seed to Sale Show - January 31st-February 1st, 2017
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NCIA's Seed To Sale Show is the only national show focused solely on innovative best practices, science, and cutting edge technology in cultivation, processing, and sales strategies. This January 31st-February 1st, over 2,000 of the nation’s leading cultivators, dispensary operators, extraction artists, ancillary product providers and infused product manufacturers will convene to discuss best practices, present case studies, and share information about the science and emerging technology surrounding the whole life cycle of the cannabis plant grown, processed, and sold in a regulated market. As the largest B2B cannabis event in Denver, #SeedToSaleShow will offer an impressive expo floor and will recognize the best in the industry with the Cannavation and Cannatech Awards.

THC Championship - FULL Winners List
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Overall Champion

A Cut Above in collaboration with Absolute Terps – Headband X I95 - Medical Wax/Budder


1st Place: Harmony Extracts – Sour Tangie

2nd Place: Incredibles - Sourband

3rd Place: Dabble Extracts - Crystal Berries

Connoisseur’s Choice: Incredibles – Sourband

People’s Choice: Dabble Extracts – Crystal Berries

Best Tested: Harmony Extracts – Sour Tangie

CBD Concentrate

1st Place: EndoCanna - Spectrum

2nd Place: EndoCanna - Critical Cure

3rd Place: Jett Cannabis - Tora Bora

Connoisseur’s Choice: EndoCanna – Spectrum

People’s Choice: EndoCanna– Spectrum

Best Tested: EndoCanna – Spectrum

Medical Wax/Budder 

1st Place: A Cut Above in collaboration with Absolute Terps – Headband X I95

2nd Place: A Cut Above – Manderin Tangie Cookie

3rd Place: Dabble Extracts – Vanilla Wafer

Connoisseur’s Choice: A Cut Above in collaboration with  Absolute Terps – Headband X I95

People’s Choice: A Cut Above in collaboration with  Absolute Terps – Headband X I95

Best Tested: A Cut Above – Mandarin Tangie Cookie

 Medical Indica Flower 

1st Place: High Level Health – Skywalker Kush

2nd Place: Green Man Cannabis – Motor Breath

3rd Place: Verde Natural - Herijuana

Connoisseur’s Choice: High Level Health – Skywalker Kush

People’s Choice: Den-Rec – Holy Grail Kush

Best Tested: High Level Health – Skywalker Kush

Medical Sativa Flower 

1st Place: Green Man Cannabis – Ghost Train Haze

2nd Place: Den-Rec – Cookie Dough

3rd Place: The Green Solution – Glass Slipper

Connoisseur’s Choice: The Green Solution – Glass Slipper

People’s Choice: Den-Rec – Cookie Dough

Best Tested: Green Man Cannabis - Ghost Train Haze

Medical Hybrid Flower 

1st Place: Green Man Cannabis – Star Killer

2nd Place: The Green Solution – Blackwater X White Beast

3rd Place: High Level Health – Girl Scout Cookies

Connoisseur’s Choice: The Herbal Cure – Frankenberry

People’s Choice: Green Man Cannabis – Star Killer

Best Tested: The Green Solution - Blackwater X White Beast

Adult-Use Indica Flower 

1st Place: Green Man Cannabis – Louis the 13th 

2nd Place: Crested Butte Cannabis – Chem4

3rd Place: Den-Rec – Holy Grail Kush

Connoisseur’s Choice: High Level Health – Gorilla Glue #4

People’s Choice: Den-Rec – Holy Grail Kush

Best Tested: The Herbal Cure – Chem Dog

Adult-Use Sativa Flower

1st Place: Natural Remedies – Moonshine Haze

2nd Place: Green Man Cannabis – Ghost Train Haze

3rd Place: The Clinic – Tangie

Connoisseur’s Choice: Den-Rec – Cookie Dough

People’s Choice: The Clinic - Tangie

Best Tested: Natural Remedies – Moonshine Haze


Adult-Use Hybrid Flower

1st Place: Green Man Cannabis - Skunkberry

2nd Place: Natural Remedies- Banana Kush

3rd Place: High Level Health - Biostar

Connoisseur’s Choice: Walking Raven – Tangerine Haze and High Level Health - Biostar

People’s Choice: Green Man Cannabis - Skunkberry

Best Tested: Green Man Cannabis - Skunkberry

Medical Solventless Concentrates

1St Place: Verde Natural – Keylime Pie

2nd Place: Canna Caregivers – Black 900

3rd Place: Extracted Colorado –Stash House LA OG

Connoisseur’s Choice: Canna Caregivers – Black 900

People’s Choice: Verde Natural – Keylime Pie

Best Tested: O.PenVAPE – Solventless Oil

Adult-Use Solventless

1st Place: Essential Extracts – Chem Diagonal Matter

Connoisseur’s Choice: Essential Extracts – Chem Diagonal Matter

People’s Choice: Extracted Colorado – Stash House Sour Diesel

3rd Place: High Level Health – Platinum Valley

2nd Place: Extracted Colorado – Stash House Sour Diesel

Best Tested: O.PenVAPE - Solventless Oil

Adult-Use Wax/Budder

1st Place: The Green Solution – Blueberry Pure Wax

2nd Place: Harmony Extracts – Strawberry Cough

3rd Place: The Lab – Sour Fall Budder

Connoisseur’s Choice: The Green Solution – Blueberry Pure Wax

People’s Choice: The Lab – Sour Fall Budder

Best Tested: Harmony Extracts – Strawberry Cough

Vape Pen

1st Place: Evolab – Alchemy

2nd Place: The Lab – Panama Punch Pax

3rd Place: Wonderleaf – Sour Tangie

Connoisseur’s Choice: The Lab – Panama Punch Pax

People’s Choice: The Lab – Panama Punch Pax

Best Tested: Wonderleaf – Sour Tangie

Adult-Use Live Resin

1st Place: Harmony Extracts – Lemon Skunk

2nd Place: Harmony Extracts - NYCD

3rd Place: Revered, Inc./Quest Concentrates - Space Queen

Connoisseur’s Choice: Harmony Extracts - NYCD

People’s Choice: Concentrate Remedies – Green Queen ‘99

Best Tested: Harmony Extracts – Lemon Skunk


1st Place: Myaderm

2nd Place: The Green Solution - Nectar Bee Muscle Rub

Connoisseur’s Choice: The Green Solution – Nectar Bee Muscle Rub

People’s Choice: Myaderm


1st Place: Sweet Mary Jane – Love at First Bite

2nd Place: Craft Concentrates – Canamels

3rd Place: Craft Concentrates – Melty Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter

Connoisseur’s Choice: Craft Concentrates - Canamels

People’s Choice: Craft Concentrates – Canamels 

Best Tested: Canna Caregivers – Indica Brownies

Medical Live Resin

1st Place: Concentrate Remedies – Super Mango Malawi

2nd Place: A Cut Above – Manderin Sunset #3

3rd Place: A Cut Above – Strawberry Fields

Connoisseur’s Choice: Concentrate Remedies – Super Mango Malawi

People’s Choice: Concentrate Remedies – Super Mango Malawi

Best Tested: EndoCanna – Golden Goat

Thank you to our Sponsors and Competitors!!

THC Championship Awards - 5 Year Anniversary Celebration!
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The THC Championship is celebrating our competition this December with THE Industry Holiday Party and will be held at City Hall! This year is our Funkin’ 5th Year Anniversary, and we are going all out for all of our readers, our competitors, judges and sponsors. We have some amazing music in store for the evening starting with the reggae beats by PNUCKLE, then we’re funking up the night with RUDY LOVE and BACKBONE. Our awards will be given out at 7:45PM.

Please note that we will be hosting a camera crew at our event. A part of the “The Love Story” is being shot for the documentary of Rudy Love.
We are looking forward to partying with YOU!

MetLo RoofTop will be hosting the VIP section of our celebration!!

Get your tickets HERE!

(21+ event)
Please note - no consumption on City Hall premises

The Love Story (teaser) from TBC on Vimeo.  Rudy:





Ganja Goddess Getaway
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by Raelina Krikston

In the sleepy coastal town of Pescadero, CA, tourists drive up and down the shore to watch sea lions basking on the nearby rocks. The wind whips around and licks your face with a wet, salty kiss like an excited puppy. Follow the road into town and through the hills, and you will come across the forested getaway, Venture Retreat Center, where the first Ganja Goddess Retreat is being held.

This was the scene before us as my friend and I arrived to the Ganja Goddess Retreat, a women-only event centered around the spiritual uses and benefits of cannabis.

We had the opportunity to attend the event, and in the morning after interview Deidra Bagdasarian —  founder of the Ganja Goddess Getaway, about how she hopes to change the perception of cannabis in the public through women’s empowerment and education. Although this is the first year of the event, Deidra is no stranger to cannabis, she is the founder of Bliss Edibles and has been an instructor at Oaksterdam University before she created MYM Events, the parent company to Ganja Goddess Getaway.

photo by Raelina Krikston

photo by Raelina Krikston

THC Mag: First off, thank you for holding an event that has such a strong, empowering energy to it. How did you develop the idea for the Ganja Goddess Getaway?

Deidra Bagdasarian: My husband and I have owned Bliss Edibles and Extracts since 2009; then, we had a baby. When I was on maternity leave, away from the bakery, away from the day-to-day, I felt disconnected from my community and I was trying to figure out how to be a mother to a baby girl. I wanted to show her what women are, and really be the best version of myself. So I started thinking about what I really wanted, something I hadn’t thought about since starting Bliss Edibles, and Ganja Goddess turned out to be what I really wanted.

As I started, magic started happening and I realized that this is what a lot of people want. Women don’t really have a place in the cannabis community. When I went to go find the women in the female cannabis community to tell about this, they weren’t there. There’s a women’s cannabis business network, but I’m not trying to help you start businesses, I’m not trying to teach you to grow weed. I want to normalize cannabis for our culture through women smoking it. The only way that women are going to normalize it is if they understand everything that can be done with the plant. I want to create something that focuses on the creative and spiritual uses of cannabis because no one is having that conversation.

THC Mag: Ganja Goddess is just the beginning, what are your plans for other events under your parent company MYM (Maximize Your Medicine)?

Deidra: We want to create a series of events that all celebrate the same part of cannabis. Something that celebrates the personal use of the plant to make yourself a better person.

Maximize Your Medicine will be the next conference that we put on, we want it to be the “TED Talks of Weed”. We want to really create a space where we can have conversations about cannabis that don’t have to do with growing and selling, but rather using it and making yourself better through using cannabis. People are consuming it, but they’re doing it in their closets or their bathrooms. Let’s talk about how we can use this as a culture to make our culture better.

We started the event company in January of this year. Everyone that we’ve contacted has met us with overwhelming support. The community has been ridiculously positive. I’ve never done anything and gotten this kind of response from it. It’s really exciting.

I’d like to do one event in the same location every year, and more in different locations, but one of the central focuses for MYM events is to spread this information to the places that don’t already have it. We want to go into non-medical states and hold “Goddess Getaways” where we discuss it, we don’t use it, but we have those conversations. If we are going to be a “TED Talk” kind of arena, then those are the places that really need to be included in these discussions. There are people who are using cannabis all over the country, obviously, but the places that aren’t medical have no support. No one is going in there and trying to talk about cannabis, unless they’re talking about legalization. We’re not political, we’re not a business, we’re just trying to talk to the people who are hiding in their bathrooms, because that’s who we were. We were in Arizona hiding from our kids… and buying from sketchy dealers. That’s ridiculous. We want to spread the word and change the perception. Our focus is on women too, the saying goes, ‘if you educate a man, you educate a man alone, educate a women and you educate the family.’

THC Mag: How do you see your future events bringing in more of these “family education” elements? How does this conversation continue?

Deidra: We’ve talked about having parent/Mom’s Retreats, so we can talk about what it is to be a cannabis mom in the prohibition era. I hope it spreads into the family in the sense that it is normalized and children don’t feel like it’s a “Say No to Drugs” thing. I wish parents weren’t ashamed to recreate or take their medicine in front of their children. We’re willing to drink a beer in front of our kids all the time, why aren’t we willing to smoke in front of them? We say it’s safer, so let’s show them. We’re all so shameful about it. I hear all the time ‘Oh, but my kids don’t know I smoke…’ That’s a conversation we’re trying to spark. Let’s talk about those things because it will be perceived by our children however we present it. We have to overcome a lot to re-normalize cannabis in our culture. We have this very bizarre relationship with the plant because of prohibition, but that is not what man has been doing with cannabis for the last 10,000 years.

THC Mag: Considering how cannabis and cannabis use has been affected by being pushed underground, what are your plans to reconnect with the shamanistic uses of cannabis? Are there specific communities that you’re looking to connect with?

Deidra: I’m always looking to find like-minded cannabis users for spiritual purposes. I know that much of the new age community is using cannabis for myriad reasons, but I don’t know that they’re necessarily teaching that cannabis is a tool in the ‘spiritual tool-chest’ of connecting with the divine. I feel like our organization is a thought leader in this regard, and we look forward to connecting with everyone who has a similar message.

These ideas are bigger than any single platform or organization. Education is always the calling card of change, and we are one of the teachers in this movement to restore entheogen use to Western spiritual traditions.

Another thing I’ve just recently started doing is reaching out to Christian women’s organizations to advocate for cannabis. This may be a baby step, but it’s in the right direction. If we can normalize cannabis as legitimate medicine, we can then evolve into the enormous potential of cannabis as medicine that heals your spirit.

THC Mag: We heard you’ve got more than just events in the works, would you like to tell us about some of the other projects you’ve been working on?

Deidra: I’m almost done with my first book, “No One is Afraid of a Cupcake: How Cannabis Edibles Could Change the World.” It’s about how I discovered cannabis and how I’ve seen all those people that have rejected cannabis, accept edibles. I’ve gotten lots of people that say ‘I would never try cannabis,’ — to try edibles. I hope to gain a voice with this book alongside what I teach. Oaksterdam is a voice, but it’s a voice to the community, it’s preaching to the choir, I’d really like to talk outside of the choir.

I feel that as a person who doesn’t have stereotypical ‘stoner look’ I’m a little more relatable. I come from Christian, fundamentalist, conservative America. Heck, I registered as a Republican when I was 18, so I get that mentality; and my family is still there. I want to talk to those people. I want this to have a mainstream voice.

To learn more about the event, visit

Planning the Cannabis Industry: An interview with NCIA’s Event Planner Extraodinaire, Brooke Gilbert
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by DJ Reetz

In a small office across the street from the state capitol building, the National Cannabis Industry Association is hard at work advocating for the cannabis industry. From humble beginnings in the early days of the legal market in Colorado, the group has grown, now operating a lobbying arm in Washington D.C. in addition to its office in Denver. Part of that growth is seen in the roughly 50 events the group hosts every year, aimed at educating the public and connecting cannabis hopefuls with the opportunities for them to thrive. Organizing these events is no small task, and at NCIA’s Denver office, that challenge is met by Director of Events and Education Brooke Gilbert.

Gilbert began her work with the NCIA in 2013. At the time, she was only the third full-time staff member hired on at the non-profit, bringing with her several years of experience in the advocacy world.

For 28-year-old Gilbert, who has spent the entirety of her professional career in the world of drug policy reform and advocacy, the journey began in college, when a traffic stop forced her to confront the harsh realities of the war on drugs. “The police officer told me that he smelled marijuana in the car, said that he was going to perform a search. I was naive and scarred at the time and allowed him to do that. He found parts of a broken bowl in my car that had resin on it, and I got arrested for that,” says Gilbert.

The stop lead to a year of probation, but more importantly a more personal understanding of the war on drugs. “I really, you know, kinda went through the system; But at the same time, because I’m white and privileged and rich and in college, I saw the very, kind of, easier side of getting arrested for cannabis possession. So that kind of opened my eyes to how ridiculous drug policies in our country are.”

The ordeal, and the understanding gained from it, led Gilbert to Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a newfound purpose in life. “Once I saw how terrible the drug war really was, I switched my major to public policy and administration and just sort of dedicated myself to changing these failed policies,” she says. “It really just opened my eyes to this bigger movement that was going on.”

At SSDP, Gilbert’s passion for live music steered her toward the AMPLIFY project. “Basically the program was partnering with live musicians who travel around the country that agreed that the war on drugs was a failure and would let volunteers come and set up at their shows to talk to attendees about what local initiatives might be going on, how they can get involved in the broader drug policy reform debate, but then also it obviously touched on drug use that was going on at these shows,” says Gilbert.

From there, the next logical extension for Gilbert was joining DanceSafe, a non-profit organization that educates concert goers with a focus on harm reduction. Part of DanceSafe’s mission involves testing drugs at concerts for purity, as well as fact-based education on the effects of drug use. The mission appealed to Gilbert, whose passion for live music still draws her to dozens of concerts each year, and after a year of volunteering with the organization she found herself on DanceSafe’s board of directors. “I saw it as a very effective means of harm reduction for what I was seeing happen in the music community,” she says. “It was interesting when cannabis became legalized here in Colorado, especially from a harm reduction perspective, because people would come in from out of town, not be educated with concentrates, infused products, edibles, that sort of thing, and so DanceSafe was actually seeing these types of people have bad experiences at shows.”

Gilbert’s resume also includes a stint as the outreach and events coordinator for Americans for Safe Access, where she helped to organize the group’s first ever national conference. These days, She’s staying busy with the ever-increasing number of events that NCIA puts on, including the third annual Cannabis Business Summit that took place in Oakland last June and NCIA’s quarterly cannabis caucuses that take place all over the country. The advance of cannabis legalization has grown the need for NCIA’s services, and the number of events the group puts on has doubled over the past year. With the changing attitudes, the challenge of hosting cannabis-centric events in non-legal states is starting to lessen, says Gilbert, and the work being done at the NCIA is helping with that.

“The stigma is starting to die away,” she says. “Places like Florida, they definitely are like, ‘Well, can you tell me more about this event? There’s cannabis in the name, is anyone going to be  smoking?’ those sort of questions. We’ve done enough events at this point that we’ve put together a portfolio so that we can show that to event venues that might be a little cautious about working with us, because it is something that we get somewhat frequently.”

While the stigmas attached to cannabis are slowly rolling back thanks in part to groups like NCIA, Gilbert still sees work that needs to be done to quell the harm done in the broader war on drugs. “If you saw the failure of cannabis prohibition systemically… I think those arguments can definitely be made for other drugs,” she says. “It does behoove us to be involved in the larger conversation around other drugs.”

The cannabis industry is in full bloom, attracting progressively minded entrepreneurs, but Gilbert’s time working on harm reduction strategies still lingers in her mind, and she says it’s important to recognize that socially harmful policies still exist in this country. “I think there’s a lot of people here that are in the industry now that didn’t come from the social justice background of it,” she says. “What I think is important for organizations like us, and to continue to partner with organizations like [the Drug Policy Alliance] and [the Marijuana Policy Project] and SSDP, who work in the broader drug policy reform debate, is how we can infuse those messages so that we’re kind of this umbrella bringing in these people who might not necessarily see the social justice benefits of
ending the drug war … That’s a responsibility that we have as an advocacy group for sure.”

For information on NCIA’s upcoming events, including the inaugural Seed to Sale Show, which will take place in at the Denver Convention Center January 31 to February 1, visit




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