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Melissa Etheridge Talks Art, Culture and Marijuana Advocacy In The Legalization Era

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It’s been a little over a year since singer, activist and marijuana entrepreneur Melissa Etheridge was arrested for cannabis possession by federal agents in North Dakota near the U.S.-Canada border. Her tour bus was stopped and searched shortly after touring in Alberta, and agents discovered a vape pen containing cannabis oil.

Etheridge, who’s become an outspoken advocate for legalization in the years since she started using the plant medicinally after being diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s, told Marijuana Moment in a new interview that the experience of being busted did not deter her.

Rather, it has motivated her to continue advocating for patients and spreading the word about marijuana’s therapeutic potential.

Later this month, the singer plans to continue that mission, giving a keynote talk on how art and culture can help bring cannabis into the mainstream at the California Cannabis Business Conference in Anaheim. In the interview below, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, she speaks about what the audience can expect and the role of celebrities in the legalization movement.

Via Tina Lawson.

Marijuana Moment: Let’s start by talking about your upcoming speech. How exactly can art and culture “mainstream” cannabis?

Melissa Etheridge: I know that I have lived my life in art. I have made my life art, and my art is my life. I write music and I have experience—when I went through my breast cancer experience, and I used cannabis as medicine for the first time, it was inspiring. It made sense to me on so many levels. Artists, we spend a lot of time in our right brain. We get inspiration—which means “in spirt”—from nothing and make something of it. So it’s easy for us to understand plant medicine. Why shouldn’t we be the ones to help bridge that gap?

MM: Inversely, I wonder how using marijuana has influenced your artistic career?

ME: Oh my goodness, well if you hear everything from after my cancer on, you can hear it. The difference in the work, the depth of my soul-searching, the depth of my spiritual journey. It changed my understanding of parenting. To be more balanced in one’s consciousness, to understand that we have a problem-solving consciousness—the left side, and that gets everything done—yet we need a balance of the oneness, the all there is that’s in the right side.

MM: Where do you see the role of celebrities when it comes to advancing marijuana reform?

ME: Celebrities have a funny role in our world, you know? We keep saying, we’re just people, people. And sometimes we’re just people who have done one thing really well for a long time and that’s what you become a “genius” at—that’s all that that is. So all of a sudden, people are interested in that, so you get this currency, this energy, that is celebrity. Then it’s up to each of us.

I went through this with the LGBT community. I proudly came out and said ‘yes!’ and I’ve heard from, and know that I’ve inspired, many, and that makes me just so happy in my life. Yet I’ve made some mistakes, you know? And we’re all just walking through this. Celebrities, if they choose to, can do a lot. My hope is that I can help others look at cannabis as medicine, as an alternative, when the choice that they’re given is a painkiller, an opioid, to say, “Hey, let’s try to put the stigma away and really get into this plant medicine that won’t harm us as much.” I hope my celebrity can help there.

MM: Do you think there’s a greater need for celebrities who are profiting from the marijuana industry to contribute to the movement in terms of grassroots organizing or contributing to national advocacy groups, for example?

ME: I think that’s a natural byproduct of the movement. I think that the majority of people in the cannabis industry understand it is as a social game-changer on so many levels—on justice reform, on racial inequality, it goes deep. This is a movement.

MM: You also run a marijuana business based in California. What has your experience been like since Proposition 64 went into effect?

ME: We all agree that legalization is a good thing. Prop. 64 is full of almost impossible criteria to me, and it’s causing undue financial burdens. No other industry has ever had to meet these regulation requirements—not even the food industry and certainly not the pharmaceutical industry.

MM: The anniversary of your arrest near the border recently passed. I wonder what you make of the progress we’re seeing in Canada, which is set to launch its legal cannabis system next week, compared to the United States.

ME: Oh, Canada. Again, there are parallels with the LGBT movement. I remember Canada went completely federal—we’re doing gay marriage, bam, same-sex marriage, equality. I don’t know what it is, unless it’s just that anybody who would come to Canada to live—because it’s so darn cold—that they really believe in rights for all, this great thing. I think they also jumped on cannabis pretty early and have seen what it can do for communities, what it can do medicinally, what it can do for businesses and that’s what’s going to just kill us. We are missing out on the opportunity to be the international leaders on cannabis. And it’s these beautiful people up in Canada who are doing it so well. It’s like when the Japanese started making better cars than us.

MM: As a longtime activist, what message would you send to our elected official in Congress, where cannabis reform has stalled for decades?

ME: I’d say, I understand the fear. It has been many decades of misinformation telling us that cannabis is evil. I get it. I’ve heard that also. These are different times and it’s possible to think differently about this medicine. This is an answer for you. Really give it a chance.

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Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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Mike Tyson And Joe Rogan Swap Stories About Psychedelics And Marijuana

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Former boxer Mike Tyson had a mind-blowing discussion with Joe Rogan about tripping on psychedelics and smoking marijuana on Thursday.

“I like who I am when I smoke. You know what I mean?” Tyson said in an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “Without weed I don’t like who I am sometimes. That’s just real.”

Rogan agreed.

“It makes me nicer,” he said. “It calms me down.”

Check out the video of Mike Tyson and Joe Rogan discussing drugs below:

Beyond cannabis, the two discussed using 5-MeO-DMT, a tryptamine that is found in the venom of a certain toad species, among other places in nature.

“I smoked this medicine—drug—whatever you want to call it, and I’ve never been the same,” Tyson said. “I look at life differently. I look at people differently.”

“The experience I can’t even express, really. Almost like dying and being reborn.”

Rogan said he had similar experiences with the drug.

“That’s what it felt like to me, too,” he said. “You stop existing.”

“It’s inconceivable,” Tyson added. “I just don’t have the words to explain it.”

Tyson, who is now an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry and has his own marijuana-focused podcast, said he’s been smoking weed since he was 10 years old.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Rogan Experience.

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Rapper Redman Discovers 20-Year-Old Marijuana At Mom’s House

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If you live in a state marijuana is legal, you might have already grown accustomed to having your freshly harvested cannabis sold in neat, child-proof packaging.

But 20 or so years ago, you were more likely to get something that resembles what rapper Redman’s mom recently unearthed: schwag stuffed tightly into little baggies.

In a video posted on Instagram on Saturday, Redman shared the discovery with his 1.2 million followers. He said his mom, who made sure the artist didn’t use her name in the post, found the baggies, which were still packed full of what he estimated to be at least 20-year-old bud.

“We’re selling this on eBay,” the mom joked.

“You gonna say not to use your name then say we’re selling it, mom?” Redman said.

One bag in particular—a triangle with a red symbol—”has history,” he said. It’s from an era of rap that saw some of the greatest marijuana enthusiasts: Biggie Smalls, The Lox, Cam’ron, Lil’ Cease, Norega.

“If you don’t know what that bag is, it’s from one of the east coast riders of marijuana,” Redman said. “Branson, baby. That’s an official Branson bag.”

No word on whether Redman tried to smoke the historic cannabis, but if it really is 20 years old, then it’s unlikely to be especially potent. So perhaps he’s better off holding on to the relic, or even donating it to the Weedmaps Museum of Weed—a pop-up exhibit that’s set to launch in Los Angeles later this year.

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Photo courtesy of Redman.

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Hertz Rep Expertly Dismisses Twitter Complaint About Rental Car Smelling Like Marijuana

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The Hertz social media team has to deal with a lot of questions and complaints on any given day. But on Thursday, the rental car company’s Twitter account heard from someone who was especially upset that the vehicle they picked up in California was “infested with the smell of marijuana.”

The person behind the Hertz account, who identified themselves as “JG,” apologized to the dissatisfied customer and recommended reaching out to its roadside assistance line for an exchange.

Well, the customer, using the Twitter handle @landryandlee, had apparently tried that already and was asked whether the car was still drivable. If it was and they still didn’t want to drive it, the company’s staff reportedly suggested getting the car towed at the customer’s expense.

“To clarify, have you found drugs in the car?” Hertz’s JG asked. “Are you in immediate danger?”

The customer was uncertain whether there actually was cannabis in the vehicle but said “I do not feel comfortable driving the car.” Worse yet, the customer’s son had a hockey game the next morning and “I have now spent my entire afternoon dealing with this and no resolution.”

Alas, as a member of the Hertz social media team whose job generally requires them to defer complaints to employees who can handle the situation, JG informed the customer that they “cannot assist further.”

“If you did indeed find marijuana in the vehicle please document it, remove it, and contact the authorities if you feel it’s actually necessary,” the Hertz account replied. “If you are not in any immediate danger, please follow the advice.”

The customer did not find the advice helpful.

“You really cannot help me?” @landryandlee wrote. “All I want is my rental car to be replaced….how can a rental car company not take care of this???”

“We apologize for this. Please go to your nearest Hertz location for more assistance,” JG said.

Hertz’s JG got props from some marijuana enthusiasts on Twitter for the chill response to what seemed to be a relatively benign situation. And one jokester followed up on the threat to ask JG whether it was possible “to have my next rental pre-loaded with pre-rolls?”

And the chill-as-always JG replied, asking the Twitter user to “DM us with your reservation number” and also “clarify your question.”

It’s unclear whether the customer ultimately got the vehicle exchange or whose team won Friday’s hockey match. This story will be updated if we learn more.

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