Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tokin' Woman Does Chelsea (Lately)

Chelsea gives a thumbs up upon
receiving her copy of Tokin' Women
Chelsea Handler, whose new book Life Will Be the Death of Me debuted as the #1 New York Times bestseller last month, appeared yesterday at The Hall of Flowers, a "B2B Premium Cannabis Trade Show" in Santa Rosa, California.

Interviewed by "Dr. Dina" for a conversation titled "Changing Stigmas: Hollywood's Opportunity with Cannabis," Handler looked great in a "Feminized" T-shirt, pencil jeans and purple pumps, and exhibited wit, wisdom, and lots of humor.

To the first question, "What is your relationship with cannabis?" Handler replied unequivocally, "It's strong." Saying that she tried marijuana a few times in high school but got "too stoned" and paranoid, she thought, "Why don't I just stick with alcohol?"

But in her new book she relates how after the Trump election she found that her rage at the political situation was overly exacerbated by alcohol, and so she began learning more about marijuana as a substitute, starting as an aid to meditation. "It's changed my life," she announced. "It's cut my drinking in half, which is a sentence I never thought I'd say."

Though she said she's more of recreational user, Handler also said she's replaced Xanax and sleeping pills with edible cannabis products. She joked that she's learning, "This is the strain I use to sleep, to wake up, to go to my nephew's bar mitzvah..."

Handler is launching a cannabis company aimed at producing products especially for women who are "dipping their toes in the water" of using cannabis again, or for the first time. Mentioning her sisters and a niece who uses it successfully for anxiety she said, "I've seen it impact people I care about. And I know from experience if you can do that, you can impact the world."

Having smoked with Willie Nelson and Snoop, she said, "That's serious shit. That's not an introductory weed for women who might want to come back to the marketplace." She wants her customers to know, "You're safe with me. I wouldn't promote something I don't use. I think people know they can rely on me for authenticity."

Handler is working on developing cannabis strains that don't cause "the munchees," which ought to be especially popular with women (even non-female Bill Maher mentioned he was interested when she guested on his show recently.)

Watch: Chelsea Handler and Dr. Dina conversing about cannabis. 
Talking about ending the stigma against "potheads," Handler spoke of the importance of normalizing cannabis use, in life and in the media. "So many users aren't out because of shame," she lamented, adding, "But I have time to be here and be a New York Times #1 bestselling author."

"We need to highlight that cannabis can be used to function, to create, to contribute," Handler said. "We're going through a cultural shift. Like the world is getting browner and gayer, cannabis is coming. So hop on board before you miss the bus."

"I think the world needs cannabis more than it's ever needed anything," she continued. "Alcohol is not doing it.....if we want a kinder, softer and gentler place, then we have the answer." For herself, she says cannabis makes her more patient, and slower to react, "which for me is a great thing." Asked what she likes to do when stoned, Handler replied, "I like to write," and added that she's also getting into exercising on cannabis.

Looking to the future, Chelsea envisioned more state-by-state legalization, leading to legalization on the federal level. Dina, the inspiration for the TV show "Weeds" who was a consultant to the Netflix series "Disjointed," spoke about her nonprofit supporting pot prisoners, announcing that longtime prisoner Paul Free was freed the day before, and that Anthony Bascara, who's been imprisoned for 36 years and is now in his late 80s, is also going home. She introduced her partner in the venture, Stephanie Landa, who was incarcerated in federal prison for five years for growing pot for Dina's dispensary.

Dina brought up Whoopi Goldberg's upcoming film Waldo on Weed about a pediatric eye cancer patient, and someone from the audience asked about Chelsea's recent appearance on "The View" where (apparently) Whoopi is not permitted to talk about cannabis. "She can't talk about much," Handler said. "But I'm pretty sure she was stoned. I gave her a look like, 'we're in this together.'" She added that she's starting a podcast and that, although there was concern by the producers about her talking about cannabis on the show, she was able to convince them it wasn't a problem.

On my drive home, I listened to an interview on KPFA radio with Jane Fonda at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1975 (the year both Chelsea and Dina were born). Fonda talked about how the Nixon administration tried to blackball her from the the movie industry due to her political activity, but she prevailed. It's nice to see prominent women now able to stand up for cannabis and stay in the public eye.

Handler won a Tokey award in 2016 for her episode "Chelsea Does Drugs" in which she took ayahuasca on camera; in 2018 she took a Tokey for a Top Tweet. The first line of her new book says, "I had just taken a couple hits off my vape pen." It has a chapter titled, "Ayahuasca" and another called "Marijuana Keeps Families Together."

Buy tickets to Handler's current Sit-Down Comedy Tour.

UPDATE 5/6: Handler wore her "Feminized" shirt on The Daily Show and spoke to Trevor Noah about her newfound love of pot.

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