WEST HOLLYWOOD – There are still very few places in the world where people can come together freely to enjoy desserts, water, and tea – all infused with cannabis; California is one of them.
Last Wednesday, June 27, at WeWork Pacific Design Center, in conjunction with Wise Owl Media Group and Jade Umbrella, Dr. Christopher Metzler kicked off his “Politics of Cannabis” Q&A series featuring a showcase of cannabis and hemp-infused products ranging from sugar made with cannabidiol (CBD), to hemp-infused artisan water.
The Q&A was refreshingly led by two African American men. Dr. Metzler, political pundit and legal expert, took the stage with moderator Derrial Christon, Black Hollywood Live executive producer and Reelz Channel television host, to discuss the advantages of cannabis, the politics surrounding it, and ways to take advantage of this significant moment in history.
“Throughout the country, I think people are starting to understand the economic benefit of cannabis, so the attitudes have changed,” said Dr. Metzler. “But there are still places where cannabis is in need of a serious rebranding.”
Walking around the WeWork Pacific Design Center, it was easy to forget that cannabis, known colloquially as “weed” or “pot,” is still banned at the federal level. Despite a 2017 Pew Research Center study revealing that nearly 61% of Americans believed the use of marijuana should be legalized, only 10 states have fully done so for both medical and recreational purposes. On October 20, Canada will be the second country to legalize marijuana use.
Attendees and vendors had the chance to try a variety of infused snacks and drinks, each product branded as similarly to a regular item at the grocery store but with a bit of CBD oil.
CBD’s effects differ from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive aspect of cannabis responsible for the “high” feelings and is found in greater amounts in the hemp plant. It’s useful for treating a range of ailments including arthritis, epilepsy, and inflammation.
Amber Monet, a distributor of hemp-infused My Water, offered a flavorless, zero-calorie option for people looking to consume CBD oil without the hungry, high feeling experienced with THC-infused products.
“Unlike the opiates in a lot of Western medicines, his has no addictive properties,” she said. “The water doesn’t add calories and it doesn’t have THC in it at all. When you have [CBD oil] in this form, you can drink a small amount and you’ll feel like you’ve taken pain meds.”
As the sun set low on the hills, Dr. Metzler and Christon began the Q&A. Among the issues addressed were pesticide use, opioid addiction, cannabis regulation, investment opportunities, new technologies, and President Trump’s implicit support for marijuana legalization.
Dr. Metzler also stressed the importance of understanding the science behind the benefits of cannabis before tapping into its advantages.
Notably, Dr. Metzler is engaged in research meant to expand knowledge around cannabis use. His DNA testing company, MelixMJ, provides kits that allow users and their doctors to understand how their bodies process and react to cannabis. With this new technology, consumers can select the products best suited for his or her individual needs.
“You have to respect the science,” he said. “One 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 couldn’t find any [deaths] based on cannabis use.”
While the lavish event attracted a diverse crowd, it was hard to ignore the grim reality outside of those walls; that Black and Hispanic people in states where marijuana is illegal are disproportionately targeted for pot-related arrests.
In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a report indicating that Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than their White counterparts to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Still, Dr. Metzler and Monet remain optimistic about the economic prospects for minority groups.
“We’re in the prohibition stage of cannabis,” Monet said. “If we can be imprisoned and overworked over a natural plant that doesn’t kill you or cause addiction, but only heals you, then we can also become millionaires and billionaires off of this. We can start our own Wall Street.”
Watch the LA Sentinel’s “Politics of Cannabis” Q&A video here.