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CNN: Now Chronicling the New Normal, Too

Jan 02, 2018 01:35PM ● By Randy Robinson
At Sensi, we treat cannabis like it's just another aspect of any responsible consumer's everyday life. Because in Colorado–the state where this publication started–it is. 

On New Year's Eve 2017, CNN jumped aboard the weed-wagon. Randi Kaye, one of the network's chief correspondents, literally jumped on board–the Cannabis Tours Canni-Bus, that is. 

If you're unfamiliar with Cannabis Tours, it's a tour company founded in Denver by Michael Eymer, Heidi Keyes, and Charles Conti. Although the company has expanded into newly legal cannabis markets–notably California–Eymer came out of retirement for the momentous occasion. After running down the rules for the evening (which mainly focused on safety tips to maximize everyone's comfort and fun-time), he noted, "Wow. It's been a year since I last did that." 

From left to right - Michael Eymer, Heidi Keyes, and Randi Kaye (photo by Heidi Keyes)

For being supposedly rusty, Eymer certainly was on point. He didn't miss a beat during his safety spiel. 

Rules went like this: mind the elevation and know your limits. If you got dizzy, let someone know. Drink lots of water. Gnaw on the munchies provided. Take it easy on the champagne, because cannabis combined with alcohol packs a whollop. If you get too elevated, the tour guides have remedies on-hand, such as CBD tinctures or Gatorade. 

Most of all, mind your head, and mind your step. For unseasoned sativa smokers, the luxury bus's prismatic environs could become a bit...disorienting. Good thing hand rails extend from the front to the back. 

The Cannabis Tours team strikes a pose with CNN's Randi Kaye


So how the heck did CNN end up on the Canni-Bus? Keyes says Kaye called Cannabis Tours two weeks prior to the event. "[CNN] wanted to make a sensation," she recalls. "They knew exactly what they were doing." 

Coverage, for Coloradans, was a typical smoke sesh. Folks on the tour showed off their fancy pipes and other consumption accoutrements, along with live demonstrations so people watching at home could witness normal people getting high and the sky never falling. Not once.

"They wanted to show that they are pro-legalization and pro-cannabis," Keyes continues. "So many people in the country are pro-cannabis now, and so many states have legalized, and CNN wanted to show they supported that." 

Pete Williams, one of the founders of Medicine Man's dispensary, greeted tourists at the grow stop. After everyone ooh'ed and aah'ed at rows upon rows of marijuana plants swaying under cooling fans, we set off to the Puff, Pass, & Paint event up the road. There, amateur artistes followed step-by-step instructors for painting while blazed. Andrew Mieure's pro-budtending outfit Top Shelf provided top-notch dabs and infused drinks for anyone who wanted to skip the smoking. 

Andrew Mieure's Top Shelf Budtending offered non-smoking alternatives to cannabis lovers at Puff, Pass, & Paint (photo by Heidi Keyes)

And Sensi's editor-in-chief, Stephanie Wilson, painted a portrait of Randi Kaye in dazzling watercolors. 

Stephanie Wilson, pot editor extraordinaire, may need to add a new title to her resume: Master Pot Artist. (Screencap from CNN)


"We really enjoyed our time with them. Randi and Stephen (the producer) were so cool," Keyes continues. "It was a pleasant surprise that they were enjoying themselves as much as we were." 

Not everyone was on board Colorado's elevated tour. The UK tabloid the Daily Mail and FoxNews criticized CNN's coverage of the tour, mainly by playing on old, boring stereotypes of cannabis consumers. According to the Daily Mail, one person on social media commented, "Can someone explain why CNN is showing people smoking weed with a bong??! My kids are watching this for the ball drop and I had to turn it all off!"


In response to the haters, Keyes says she wasn't surprised by the uptight push-back. Bringing cannabis out of the closet is precisely what Cannabis Tours set out to do. 

"I definitely think that cannabis should be normalized," she says. "Just as you wouldn't offer your child a glass of wine, you shouldn't offer them a joint, and I believe it's important to talk to kids about cannabis and when the legal age to consume is." 


There's more. "With our events, we always want to show that there is no 'stereotypical pothead.' Cannabis consumers are normal people. We're professionals, retirees, students, we're couples, singles, friends," Keyes explains. "We're from all over the place and of all different backgrounds. We believe it's important to start the conversation surrounding cannabis and promote normalization, so as a country we can continue to legalize. That's the goal of our company and something that Mike, Charles, and I feel very passionate about, both recreationally and medically." 

After everyone's fingers were caked in paint, Sensi headed over to Eymer's uber-posh penthouse-spa after party, where we lucky individuals got to drink, snack, and soak away whatever cares we happened to stack over the last year. In attendance were contributor Jake Browne, Sensi Media's president Tae Darnell, Stephanie, and, of course, yours truly.

The night ended smashingly. Even cannabis personalities from Los Angeles flew in to Colorado–despite the Golden State's historic launch of adult-use sales on Jan. 1–to join the tour and puff the night into the dawn of 2018.