I Worked With a Cannabis Concierge and Learned This about Wellbeing, Luxury and Justice.
Sometimes for work, I get to creative direct a pashmina bar. This is a situation where luxe, oversized, handmade pashminas are “on tap” to be effortlessly draped in while one simply does whatever one pleases. The bar was part of a tailored exploration created by Hi-Curious for Jessamyn Stanley, a yoga trailblazer and body positivity prophetess with over 400,000 followers on Instagram alone. This was my first time working with a cannabis concierge, and it taught me something about wellbeing, luxury and justice.
Hi-Curious creates bespoke travel experiences to legalized states so that curious guests can search parallels between cannabis and personal wellness. For this trip, a revamped downtown Denver mansion became the stage for absolute leisure intermingled with a tactile introduction to the Colorado cannabis industry.
Chef Ian created every meal from Kim Bap with Bulgogi Beef and Purple Forbidden Rice to Mushroom Arancini to fresh Acai Bowls. Jen, our housekeeper kept the atmosphere clean and cozy. Hi-Curious brought in CBD massages and curated a series of intimate dinners with cannabis pioneers discussing legislation, social justice, social impact, economics and more. All the while, assorted cannabis chocolates from Colorado-based 1906, award-winning truffles from Coda Signature, concentrate, personalized engraved PAX vapes, flower and pre-rolled Honest Blunts existed openly alongside coffee, tea, even the occasional cookie. Despite so many decades of cannabis being forbidden in this country, it all felt natural.
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#tbt to last Thursday when we got to have dinner and #realtalk conversation with this powerhouse group of badassery. See stories to learn more about them. ? * * #moreinstories☝? #power #women #whoruntheworld #womenshistorymonth #herstory #plants #loveplants #love #cannafriends #home #beherenow #listen #community #wellnesscommunity #wellness #wellbeing #cannabiscommunity #practice #flow #progress #entrepreneur #hicurious #mindfulness #rockymountainhigh
I connected with Hi-Curious and its founder, Lauren Mundell, through Facebook. I then attended a media trip to Evergreen, Colorado in February as a guest of Hi-Curious. That trip led to Lauren and I talking deeply about the plant, self awareness, social justice and societal wellness. Lauren then asked me to consult on her project with Jessamyn and help with creative direction of some luxury elements.
Deep self-knowledge is required to create a luxurious experience. It demands finding pathways towards ease for a person’s body, mind and being collectively. That dictates that you have some awareness of where angst resides and where ease is found. You have to be connected in order to help others disconnect from distractions and dive deeper into the glory of their own presence in the here and now. Real luxury holds humanity at its center. Otherwise, that luxury becomes oppression.
My work involved procuring more options. I brought in rosemary-infused Think Tank oxygen from Boost Oxygen to help with the high altitude, hand-blended teas from MoonTent and CandidTea, plush SwaddleDesigns and PediPockets for lounging on the chilly but sun-drenched porch, Quanta CBD muscle rub, Jones & Rose body oils and more. Alongside Lauren, we collected additional items for display and relaxation such as extra pillows for the Meditation Room, ottoman poufs and gorgeous plating. We debated adding bathrobes until Lauren found the gorgeous pashminas, of which I organized into that aforementioned pashmina bar.
Inspired by the mood categories of Ajoya Dispensary, we arranged interactive vignettes on various table tops. These displays featured states of being such as Chill and Focus. Care was taken to not be too much, since being overwhelmed can cause just as much angst as being underwhelmed. Every pipe, bubbler, gummy, sublingual, pastille and flower was an invitation to discover your unique journey of balance, energy, calm, growth and inner peace. Acknowledging that helped something else dawn on me.
Watching Jessamyn explore and discover was delightful. She decided to go outside to smoke and was asked by Lauren. “Would you like a pashmina?” To which Jessamyn exclaimed, “Y’all have pashminas on tap?” She and her friend Lisa actually twirled while they put the pashminas on. Hell, I even twirled because it was so much freaking fun.
I don’t have words to express the joy I felt witnessing Jessamyn and Lisa in that moment: majestically wrapped in pashminas, their feet snuggled into pedipockets, their giggles while sharing a pre-rolled blunt, cheekbones glistening, smiling and carefree.
I realized I was given the privilege to help create this exact experience for other black women. This was a rarity for me. And it wasn’t just any experience, a luxury cannabis and wellbeing experience for black women, in America. This is a first for me. It feels like a benediction.
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We feel so blessed to have these incredible women with us in Colorado. Today is Day 2 of our experience. The best part for us is having important conversation about the future of #cannabis and how to do it right. We want to see the rest of the country learn from Colorado and even do better. The social justice conversation is absolutely necessary and we feel blessed to have @mynameisjessamyn voice to help us have it. We are here to learn from Jessamyn, Lisa and so many others. We want the #cannabiscommunity to be the most inclusive, diverse and REAL place and we need teachers to keep the plant’s heritage alive. So many untold stories out there cloaked in shame for breaking the law. We want to see a world where people see cannabis as a supplement for well being. Let’s go from counter to culture. Thank you new followers!
I live in a country where too many black and brown people have been “lawfully” disenfranchised over being caught with small amounts of cannabis. Right now, almost 17,500 people are arrested each year in New York City for marijuana possession charges and a disproportionate amount of those people are of color. Meanwhile, a parade of mostly white “Marijuana Millionaires” are lauded on the cover of Forbes. The legal system uses this precious plant as a way to police some and turn a blind eye to the usage of others. This social justice issue is also an economic issue, for there’s a deep ethical dilemma in criminalizing one citizen as a Felon and celebrating another as a Founder over the same thing.
Like many Americans, I didn’t realize the devastation until it was too late. I never even thought about pot/weed/marijuana growing up. I was a “Say No to Drugs” kid. Luckily, my perspective widened as I’ve seen everyone from celebrities to barbers seek their medicine for dis-ease. No one wants to live in their trauma. Plant medicine is one way to work on using that trauma as a bridge toward betterment rather than the destination within itself.
Most of our wellbeing and whether we feel well has to do with choice. Having options that suit our actual wholeness is what feels like abundance in our lives. Wellbeing, wealth, abundance all center on having the luxury of choice. It’s the polar opposite of being chosen against or completely unchosen and disregarded. It’s also not extravagant, for you can have an excessive supply of crappy options. It’s having opportunities to be better.
I wonder what wellbeing means for people of color, and black women in particular. When I add just the idea of cannabis to it, I go completely down a rabbit hole. Racism and sexual racism have brutalized black women’s bodies and minds beyond atrocity.
There’s intergenerational trauma from enslavement, lynchings, Jim Crow, mortgage fraud, redlining, housing discrimination, employment discrimination, all the discrimination, the racial wealth gap, over-policing and excessive imprisonment — much of the latter being specifically linked to the War on Drugs. Now, America is turning toward this amazing conversation of wellness and mindfulness. The cannabis community is tapping into that energy by putting the plant’s healing qualities front and center. State governments are realizing the dollars and sense of legalizing the plant for adult-use. Cannabis tourism is booming.
It’s as if folks are answering some cosmic call to inner peace and wellbeing. But for people of color, this call to action is an imperative standing on a foundation of deep mistreatment in our own country, with this plant being one of the vehicles for economic and familial devastation within our communities.
Taraji P. Henson was recently honored at Variety’s Power of Women NY for her work with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. It’s an organization that she named after her father to honor him and acknowledge the mental health issues he suffered from fighting in Vietnam. With tears, she expressed why she refers to the state of mental health for black people as “a national crisis”:
“Our vision is to eradicate the stigma around mental health in the black community by breaking the silence and breaking a cycle of shame. We were taught to hold our problems close to the vest out of fear of being labeled and further demonized as weak, or inadequate… The history of mental illness for black people in America stretches all the way back 400 years, 15 million people, and an ocean that holds the stories.”
In the end, so much of this boils down to bodies. Which bodies have the option to occupy certain spaces and places and which bodies don’t. Yet, there’s also the catch that your body is supposed to be your first home. It’s where you establish that you’re enough. It’s how you use your senses toward a full human experience. It’s how you find your trajectory.
We can’t thrive without intersectionality. It’s not a solution if it’s not intersectional. People of color must be part of the spaces and places this cannabis movement is creating. People of color need the freedom to explore the universe of self, the luxury of self and the infinite wealth within. People of color need voice and financial equity in this new legality.
As was detailed by Green Entrepreneur:
“Although 16 percent of African Americans reportedly use cannabis, compared to approximately 14 percent of whites, they are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related crimes than their white counterparts, according to The Brookings Institution.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, approximately 81 percent of cannabis business owners or founders are white, while only 4 percent are African American. This begs the questions: Why are there so few African Americans in the cannabis space? What is it that’s keeping them out of the industry, and how can they succeed ever in this changing environment?”
The cannabis community, states and the federal government have to make economics central to the social justice needed around this plant medicine.
— Joy Donnell Society (@doitinpublic) April 20, 2019
I’m still searching for what the intersection of luxury, cannabis and wellbeing looks like for everyone, let alone folks of color. But I think it might have something to do with being wrapped in a pashmina, smoking a blunt in the sun, unbothered, twirling like kids who know they are enough and they are free.