WEST HOLLYWOOD â€“ There are still very few places in the world where people can come together freely to enjoy desserts, water, andÂ teaÂ â€“Â all infused with cannabis;Â California is one of them.
Last Wednesday, June 27,Â atÂ WeWorkÂ Pacific Design Center, in conjunction withâ€ŻWise Owl Media GroupÂ andâ€ŻJade Umbrella,Â Dr. Christopher Metzler kicked offÂ hisÂ â€śPolitics of Cannabisâ€ťÂ Q&A seriesÂ featuringÂ aÂ showcaseÂ ofÂ cannabisÂ and hemp-infused products ranging fromÂ sugarÂ made with cannabidiol (CBD),Â to hemp-infused artisan water.
TheÂ Q&AÂ was refreshingly led by twoÂ African AmericanÂ men. Dr. Metzler,Â politicalÂ pundit andÂ legal expert,Â took the stageÂ with moderatorÂ DerrialÂ Christon,Â Black Hollywood Live executive producerÂ and Reelz Channel television host,Â to discuss theÂ advantagesÂ ofÂ cannabis, the politics surrounding it, and ways to take advantage of this significant moment in history.
â€śThroughout the country, I think people are starting to understand the economic benefit ofÂ cannabis, so the attitudes have changed,â€ťÂ saidÂ Dr. Metzler. â€śBut there are still places whereÂ cannabisÂ is in need of a serious rebranding.â€ť
Walking around theÂ WeWorkÂ Pacific Design Center, itÂ wasÂ easy to forget thatÂ cannabis,Â known colloquiallyÂ as â€śweedâ€ť or â€śpot,â€ťÂ is still banned at the federal level. Despite a 2017 Pew Research Center study revealing that nearly 61% of Americans believedÂ the use of marijuana should be legalized, only 10Â statesÂ have fullyÂ done soÂ forÂ both medical andÂ recreational purposes.Â On OctoberÂ 20, Canada will beÂ the second country to legalize marijuana use.
AttendeesÂ and vendors had the chance to tryÂ a variety ofÂ infusedÂ snacksÂ and drinks, each product branded asÂ similarly toÂ a regular item at the grocery storeÂ butÂ with a bit ofÂ CBD oil.
CBDâ€™s effects differ from tetrahydrocannabinolÂ (THC), which is the psychoactive aspect ofÂ cannabisÂ responsible for the â€śhighâ€ťÂ feelingsÂ and is found inÂ greaterÂ amounts in the hemp plant.Â Itâ€™sÂ useful for treating a range of ailments including arthritis, epilepsy, andÂ inflammation.
Amber Monet, a distributor of hemp-infusedÂ My Water, offered a flavorless, zero-calorieÂ option for people looking to consume CBD oil without the hungry, high feeling experienced with THC-infused products.
â€śUnlike the opiates in a lot of Western medicines,Â his has no addictive properties,â€ť she said.Â â€śThe water doesnâ€™t add calories and it doesnâ€™t have THC in it at all.Â When you have [CBD oil] inÂ this form, you canÂ drink a smallÂ amount andÂ youâ€™llÂ feel like youâ€™ve taken pain meds.â€ť
As the sun set low on the hills, Dr. Metzler andÂ ChristonÂ began the Q&A.Â Among the issues addressed were pesticide use,Â opioid addiction,Â cannabisÂ regulation,Â investment opportunities,Â new technologies,Â andÂ President Trumpâ€™s implicit support forÂ marijuanaÂ legalization.
Dr. Metzler alsoÂ stressedÂ theÂ importance of understanding the science behind the benefits ofÂ cannabisÂ before tapping into its advantages.
Notably,Â Dr. MetzlerÂ is engaged in research meant to expand knowledge aroundÂ cannabisÂ use. His DNA testing company,Â MelixMJ, provides kits that allow users and their doctorsÂ toÂ understand how their bodies process and react toÂ cannabis. With this new technology, consumers canÂ select the products best suited for his or her individual needs.
â€śYou have to respectÂ the science,â€ť he said.Â â€śOne of the studies that I was involved in looked at drugs that were approved by the FDA, and the deaths that were caused either directly by the drugs or the side effects. We couldnâ€™t find any [deaths] based on cannabis use.â€ť
While theÂ lavishÂ event attracted aÂ diverse crowd, itÂ wasÂ hard to ignore the grim reality outside of those walls;Â that Black andÂ HispanicÂ people in states where marijuana is illegal are disproportionately targeted forÂ pot-related arrests.
In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) publishedÂ a report indicating that BlacksÂ are 3.73 times more likely than their White counterparts to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Still,Â Dr. MetzlerÂ and Monet remain optimistic about the economic prospects for minority groups.
â€śWeâ€™re in the prohibition stage ofÂ cannabis,â€ť Monet said. â€śIf we can be imprisoned and overworked over a natural plant that doesnâ€™t kill you or cause addiction, but only heals you, then we can also become millionaires and billionaires offÂ of this. We can start our own Wall Street.â€ť
Watch theÂ LA Sentinelâ€™s â€śPolitics of Cannabisâ€ť Q&A video here.