It’s the best time of year to get high in the Valley.

Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

There’s truly nothing like it in the country: the iconic Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs features the longest span of spinning gondola cars in the US—6,000 feet in 2.5 miles—with one of the fastest vertical gains anywhere on earth.

Set against rugged Chino Canyon on the northern edge of Palm Springs, the tramway is part of the Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority, and the area is designated a national monument. More than 20 million people have ridden the 10-minute, dual-car tramway from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet. At the top, riders enjoy temps dozens of degrees cooler than where they started. First envisioned in 1935, the tramway was spearheaded by electrical engineer Francis Crocker, who dreamed of traveling to the snow-covered peaks of Mount San Jacinto, sitting 10,834 feet above the desert floor. Three decades later—through years of perseverance—that dream came to fruition. The tramway was finally completed in 1963, and global celebrities like Monaco’s Princess Grace and her family showed up to ride it.

According to officials, funds for the construction of the tramway were raised by the sale of $8.15 million in private revenue bonds, and no public funds were used for the construction or operation of the tramway. The 35-year bonds were successfully paid off in 1996. The tramway was designated a historical civil engineering landmark in 1988.

On the Calendar: Coachella Valley, February 2020

It may be a short month but there’s no shortage of events in the Coachella Valley this February. Front and center, two of the desert’s most anticipated experiences kick off the beginning of the busiest time of the season. Modernism Week and the 74th Annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival are both international attractions, bringing in thousands of visitors from all over the world to celebrate two things the desert does best: mid-century architecture and delicious date-infused food. With so much to see, eat, and do, here’s a list of events going on this month to help you plan.

Jerry Seinfeld

February 1, 2020
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa, Rancho Mirage

hotwatercasino.com


One of These Nights: A Tribute to The Eagles

February 7, 2020
Spotlight 29 Casino, Coachella

spotlight29.com


Swing ’N Hops Street Party

February 8, 2020
El Paseo, Palm Desert

discoverpalmdesert.com


Palm Desert Half Marathon and 5K

February 9, 2020
City of Palm Desert Civic Center Park

palmdeserthalfmarathon.com


Modernism Week

February 13–23, 2020
Palm Springs

modernismweek.com
This jam-packed festival features more than 300 events. Prepare yourself for 10 days of happenings, including night parties, fashion shows, walking and bike tours, and the vintage trailer show. Nobody does midcentury modernism like Palm Springs.


Valentine’s Super Love Jam

February 13, 2020
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa, Rancho Mirage

hotwatercasino.com


74th Annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival

February 14–23, 2020
Riverside County Fair, Indio

datefest.org
What started as a celebration of the end of the annual date harvest is now a more than weeklong festival. The fair maintains decades-old traditions while incorporating fun for everyone with concerts, fair rides, animal adoptions, contests, and, of course, every type of fried food you can dream up.


Make It Last Forever Valentine’s Day Show

February 14, 2020
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa, Rancho Mirage

hotwatercasino.com


Desert Arts Festival

February 15– 17, 2020
Frances Stevens Park, Palm Springs

westcoastartists.com


La Quinta Car Show

February 15, 2020
La Quinta Community Park, La Quinta

lqcarshow.com


Smoke House Saturdays

February 15, 2020
The 420 Lounge, Palm Springs

@420loungepalmsprings


Writers Festival Film Club: Julie & Julia (2009)

February 20, 2020
Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory

rmwritersfest.org/film-club


Arrival: The Music of ABBA

February 21, 2020
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa, Rancho Mirage

hotwatercasino.com
Channel your inner ’70s Swede and prepare to get down to “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Mama Mia,” and other classics. There’s no word yet on whether Pierce Brosnan will show up.


Sensi Connect

February 22, 2020, 6–10 p.m.
The Bing Crosby Estate, Rancho Mirage

sensimag.com/sensi-event
Come hang with us and network with industry leaders and executives.
Desert


Woman’s Show

February 22, 2020
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, Palm Desert

desertwomansshow.com


HITS Coachella Desert Circuit

February 25–March 1, 2020
Desert International Horse Park, Thermal

hitsshows.com


Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival

February 28–29, 2020
Rancho Mirage Community Park

ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.com


2020 Wildflower 5K Trail Fun Run/Walk

February 29, 2020
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Palm Desert

desertmountains.org

This CBD-infused shrimp avocado toast is ideal for Valentine’s Day.

They say the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. If that’s the case, Chef Jeshua Garza’s CBD-infused shrimp avocado toast is the perfect meal to melt hearts this Valentine’s Day. The combination of the spicy citrus arbol marinade dripping off the shrimp onto a charred smoky sweet corn and salty queso will have mouths watering and taste buds working overtime.

INGREDIENTS

For the marinade

  • 1 cup pure olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored CBD oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 arbol chilies (or 1 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes)
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 2 lemons, zest
  • 1 grapefruit, zest (reserve juice)

For the toast

  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ear yellow corn
  • 1 loaf artisan sourdough
  • 2 small Hass avocados
  • 1 package queso fresco
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • salt and pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
  • In a saucepan, heat the oils and add all marinade ingredients.
  • Cook 5 minutes on low to fuse flavors. Let cool.
  • Toss shrimp and marinade in a large Ziploc bag. Set in refrigerator to marinade, the longer the better.
  • Coat corn in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill until it has a nice char on it. Cut the corn kernels off the cob.
  • While the grill is still on, cut artisan loaf in ¾ inch slices, rub olive oil on both sides, and season with salt and pepper. Grill both sides until golden brown.
  • Heat a sauté pan and sear shrimp for about 1 minute per side.
  • Pour grapefruit juice over shrimp to deglaze pan.
  • Slice avocado and place it on toast.
  • Use a fork to smash the avocado. Season with lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Add five shrimp to the toast.
  • Top with corn and queso fresco. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Coliving is taking off because it addresses two of our most important social challenges.

Loneliness is a killer, more dangerous than obesity and smoking. Studies have found it leads to heart disease, stroke, and immune system problems, and it could even impair cancer recovery. A researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found loneliness a strong predictor of premature death, declining mental health, and lower quality of life in cardiovascular patients, and a Brigham Young University professor’s meta-analysis of studies from around the world found that socially isolated adults have a 50 percent greater risk of dying from any cause than people who have community.

That’s sobering, especially when you consider that 40 percent of American adults suffer from loneliness, according to an AARP study. And it’s one reason coliving—a new form of housing in which residents with similar interests, values, or intentions share living space, costs, and amenities—is exploding.

Coliving situations run a spectrum, from the resident-driven model to small homes with a half-dozen or so people to massive corporate complexes like The Collective tower with 550 beds in London. Residents, who stay anywhere from a few days to several years and usually don’t have to sign a lease or pay a security deposit, sleep in their own small private rooms (sometimes with bathrooms) and share common spaces such as large kitchens and dining areas, gardens, and work areas. They’re encouraged to interact with one another, often through organized happy hours and brunches. Ollie, which operates coliving spaces in New York and other cities, advertises that “friends are included.”

“Coliving is different than just having roommates, who may be people you found on Craigslist and just happen to share [your] living space. It’s done with more intention,” says Christine McDannell, who lived in unincorporated coliving houses for years before she launched Kindred Quarters, a coliving operator with homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, in 2017.

Author of The Coliving Code: How to Find Your Tribe, Share Resources, and Design Your Life, McDannell also runs Kndrd, a software company for coliving managers and residents, and she hosts the weekly Coliving Code Show every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Soundcloud, and coliving.tv. She has watched—and helped—the industry grow up, and she’s amazed at how few, if any, horror stories she hears. That’s largely because millennials—by far the largest demographic among colivers—are accustomed to sharing and being held accountable through online reviews, she adds.

“You just don’t hear the crazy stories about roommating with strangers in an unfamiliar city,” she says. “When people write bad reviews, it’s usually about the Wi-Fi.”

As companies fat with funding expand into cities across the globe, coliving is newly corporatized—but it’s hardly a novel concept. Boarding houses provided rooms and shared meals for single men and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries; one of the most famous, the Barbizon Hotel in New York, was a “club residence for professional women” from 1927 until the 1980s.

People lived communally throughout most of history until industrialization facilitated privatization of family life and housing throughout the 20th century—with a few disruptions. In Israel, people have been living in communal villages called kibbutzim for more than 100 years. In the US, hippies attempted to create communes in the 1960s, but they were destroyed by free love, drugs, and egos (which did a lot to discourage coliving, even today).

At the same time in Denmark, however, cohousing (an earlier iteration of coliving) was emerging as a way to share childcare. Today, more than 700 communities thrive in Denmark. In Sweden, the government provides cohousing facilities.

A handful of cohousing communities following the Danish model have been established in the US, and hacker houses are common in tech capitals like Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, but the concept has been slow to catch on until recently.

As it becomes increasingly impossible for mere mortals to afford skyrocketing rents in desirable cities, Americans are coming around to coliving and finding creative solutions to all sorts of social issues. Older women are shacking up together following the Golden Girls model. Coabode.org matches single moms who want to raise kids together. At Hope Meadows in Chicago, retirees live with foster kids.

The opportunity to pay lower rent (in many but not all cases) and share expenses makes all the difference in places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. When New York–based coliving operator Common opened a development with 24 furnished spaces in Los Angeles for between $1,300 and $1,800 a month, more than 9,000 people applied.

McDannell says coliving is exploding because it solves important challenges that plague modern society. “People are signing away their paychecks on rent and feeling increasingly isolated,” she wrote in “Why We’re Building a CoLiving Community Ecosystem” on LinkedIn. “It is due time that HaaS (Housing as a Service) disrupts the antiquated industry of property management and real estate.”

Sneakerheads, CBD Villages, and happenings in the desert.

  • Brian Metzler delves deep into the stories and hype of shoes and brands that have made running cool. Read
  • CBD villages are popping up at local events all around the Valley. Read
  • Harborside founder and cannabis visionary, Steve DeAngelo, who won lifetime achievement honors at the Cannabis Business Awards. Read
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Blade II has wrapped up filming in the Coachella Valley. The mayor of Coachella Read
  • An estimated 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets and gear clog up the seas. Read
  • A cannabis veteran makes the move away from the Emerald Triangle to Coachella Valley. Read
  • Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month Read

Calling All Sneakerheads

A new book explores the intrigue of the running shoe.

In Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture & Cool of Running Shoes, author Brian Metzler delves deep into the stories and hype of shoes and brands that have made running cool. He examines every facet of the rise and innovation of running shoes through major cultural fads, attempts at injury prevention, and techy experiments done in the name of speed and performance.

Metzler went overseas to factories where shoes are built and into brick-and-mortar shops facing extinction. He interviewed Olympians, ultrarunners, and other celebrities of the sport like Kara Goucher, Scott Jurek, and Deena Kastor. Metzler is a sports journalist who has tested more than 1,500 pairs of running shoes and has raced every distance from 50 yards to 100 miles.


It Takes a Village

CBD villages are popping up at local events all around the Valley. Last month, a gathering of CBD brands made waves at the Live Well Festival in Palm Desert, featuring names like Papa & Barkley, Wyld, Kings Garden, House of Lucidity, and West Coast Cannabis Club. These CBD stations have products to try out and buy as well as free massages to reduce stress and loosen up those muscles.


Making the Cut

In December 2019, we sat down with Harborside founder and cannabis visionary, Steve DeAngelo, who won lifetime achievement honors at the Cannabis Business Awards in Vegas that same month. Now his 4,800-square-foot facility, Harborside, has finally opened its doors in Desert Hot Springs.
“The Valley is growing into a world-class center of both the cannabis industry and cannabis tourism, so it’s an ideal location to introduce the legendary Harborside retail model and in-house brands to a wider population,” DeAngelo says. “We’re also bringing some things that the Valley hasn’t seen yet, like our drive-through and an on-site holistic healing clinic.”


Hollywood in the Desert

Behind the Scenes of Pay Dirt

A new action movie starring Val Kilmer (Tombstone, Top Gun, The Doors) and Luke Goss (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Blade II) has wrapped up filming in the Coachella Valley. The mayor of Coachella, Steven Hernandez, welcomed the production with open arms, allowing it to recreate one of the most festive celebrations held on the east end of the Valley, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Hundreds of extras were on hand, decked out in traditional attire to be in the scene with Val Kilmer, who plays a sheriff in the action drama. It was all part of the vision of filmmaker Christian Sesma, who was born and raised in Cathedral City and who has directed more than five feature films here in the Coachella Valley. Locals will see some recognizable places and faces in the film, bringing a little movie magic to the place we call home.


Untangled Cool

An estimated 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets and gear clog up the seas. Florida brand Costa del Mar found a smart solution to this mess: make its sunglasses for sport anglers and ocean lovers out of some of that plastic. Costa’s Untangle Our Oceans program takes discarded fishing nets, turns them into plastic pellets, and then uses that material to build its frames. The resulting shades, which are available in five styles, is durable and the polarized glass lenses cut glare on the water.
$199–$219 / costadelmar.com


Crystal Clear Future

A cannabis veteran makes the move away from the Emerald Triangle to Coachella Valley.

Even the most experienced herbalists and cultivators are leaving some of California’s largest cannabis-producing regions in hopes of a fresh start in the desert. Crystal Rae is one such veteran. For years, she owned and operated an alternative wellness center in the Emerald Triangle. “I have always enjoyed reading and learning about the prohibited plant,” she says. “The more I learned, the more I became an advocate of all things hemp and the decriminalization of weed. It has been a lifelong thing looking back.”

Throughout her advocacy and the ups and downs of legalization, Rae remained passionate about steam-distilling fresh buds and other healing herbs into healing oils. “I realized the green rush was also creating an herbal renaissance,” she says. “After all these years of prohibition, cannabis had become the poster child of healing plants.”

Rae created a steam-distilled All-in-One First Aid CBD Cream that took top honors at the 2014 Emerald Cup. “I was able to identify terpenes with my nose. There was no lab testing available; the results shocked people on a regular basis,” she says. “It even cleared antibiotic resistant staph infections.”

With newfound inspiration for the way the industry was moving, Rae relocated to the Coachella Valley three years ago to launch her start-up, Feed CBD. The company focuses on skin-care and remedy products made from organic, food-grade, cold-pressed plant oils and essential oils and hydrosols, also referred to as floral waters. Here in the Valley, Rae hopes to spread her passion for steam-distilling while sharing what she’s learned from the world of cannabis.


Sensibilites

By Stephanie Wilson, Editor in Chief

1. Primary Focus
A New Hampshire law requires the Granite State to be the first presidential primary in the nation. This election cycle, that goes down on February 11, after which my home state becomes irrelevant for another four years.

2. Leap of Faith
While the calendar year is 365 days, it takes the Earth 365.24 days to orbit the sun. Every four years, we add an extra day to the month of February because without it, the calendar would be misaligned with the seasons by 25 days after just 100 years.

3. Born This Way
The odds of being a “leapling”—a person born on a leap day—is 1 in 1,461.

4. Right On
On February 29, some places celebrate Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins Day—both a nod to the old Irish tradition that gave women the right to propose marriage to a man on leap day. If he declined, he was required by law to pay a penalty, often in the form of gloves so she could hide the shame of her bare ring finger.

5. Modern Love
Since we’re not all Irish, but we are all feminists (because we all believe in the equality of the sexes, of course), any of us can propose to whomever our heart desires whenever we want. Except Valentine’s Day. There’s no law prohibiting it but, sweetie, pay-as-you-go forced romance is anything but romantic.

6. PETA Violation
The origins of the canned-love holiday are as cruel as a red rose delivery in February is clichéd. According to NPR, V-day traces back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a brutal fete during which naked men sacrificed dogs and goats—and whipped women with the animal hides. Stop, in the name of love.

Exploring the amorous side of cannabis.

Cannabis is often championed as a cure for bedroom ailments, while at the same time often being misunderstood or simply (if cautiously) being introduced as an acceptable commonplace component to one’s love tackle-box, much like a bottle of wine and 1970s R+B is for some or a Tinder match on a Tuesday night and fistful of Viagra is for others.
Seth Prosterman, a San Francisco–based certified sex therapist, told Vice in 2017 that weed isn’t a one-way ticket to pleasure town, but it can help you get there.

“While pot can help bring out our most sexy selves, disinhibit us, or relax us during sex, I would highly recommend that people learn to be in the moment and deeply feel and connect with their partners without using enhancing drugs,” says Prosterman. “Pot can give us a glimpse of our sexual potential. Working toward our sexual potential, with our partners, is part of developing a higher capacity for intimacy, passion, and deep connection.”

Depending on what social media feeds you’re attuned to, it’s not hard these days to get at least one story fanned your way in a month about something to do with weed and sex. Sure, some of it is just fluffy prose, and some of it just states the painfully obvious. You don’t need Cosmopolitan to tell you that “getting too high can backfire on your sex life [because it] it makes you too sleepy to have any. Don’t eat a whole pot brownie, and then expect to feel horned up and ready to go.” 

That said, there are more and more mavens and mavericks—as well as manufactured goods, experiences, and bold claims—orbiting the Stoned Sex star. Take, for example, Ashley Manta, sex coach, relationship educator, and proud “cannasexual”—one who’s concerned with mindfully combining weed and sex for desired positive results.

Speaking to the men’s culture publication MEL magazine in 2017, Manta made it clear she’s not a blanket proselytizer intent on turning every client into a cannabis-forward sex enthusiast. “I’m not out to convert people,” she says. “If people are happy not having cannabis in their sex lives, I’m not going to tell them they’re wrong for not wanting to consider including it. My approach is more like, if you already consume cannabis or you’re open to the idea of it, here are the best practices for mixing it with sex. The idea of being cannasexual isn’t limited to one specific sex act either, or even just partnered sex. I speak of it in terms of one’s overall relationship with their body, sexuality, and self-care.” If you want to see her theory in action, her Instagram (@ashleymanta) is rife with content to back it up.

Manta is known for her cannabinoid-enhanced “play parties.” If you’re imagining a swinging group of couples gathering under the banner of self-exploration, relationship tonic, or just consenting group sex fests with weed lube, that sounds about right.

A satisfied customer, presumably still reeling in coital bliss, posted this feedback on Manta’s website: “Over the course of the night, I watched from my spot at the vape bar as [Ashley] shifted seamlessly from teacher to participant to confidant to chaperone…Nobody and no body was neglected by her. She guided the underinformed on the mindful marriage of cannabis and sex. She allowed the calming rituals of medicating with cannabis to bring those who indulged in it to that place of body-peace that only the right combination of carefully selected strains can induce.”

A glowing review, for sure. However, the science is still out about the use of specific strains as particular keys for unlocking sexy-time happiness in a universal sense.

Blazed in Love

Alcohol, on the other hand, has no shortage of both anecdote and hard facts about the good, bad, and ugly regarding drunk sex. Depending on body factors, two or more alcoholic beverages will depress the central nervous system, leading to limp noodles for men, reduced clitoral sensitivity in women, and unsatisfying romps.

There are plenty of positive studies coming out about general findings on cannabis and sex interacting. In 2018, Stanford researchers released findings on the largest study to date that compiled info on sex and marijuana. The data set included 28,176 women and 22,943 men, average age 30, who formed a reasonably representative sample of the US population, according to a Psychology Today column, which reported: “Compared with cannabis abstainers, men who used it weekly reported 22 percent more sex, women 34 percent more. Among those who used marijuana more than weekly, sexual frequency increased even more. This study did not ask if participants found cannabis sex-enhancing, but to an extent, that can be inferred.”

No study exists to confirm that cannabis can totally impair sexual function the way alcohol can, but that doesn’t mean all green means go. Dr. Jordan Tishler knows that well. He’s the founder of the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Inhale MD, which specializes in cannabis therapeutics, including the intersection of cannabis and human sexuality.

Tishler says people read things on the internet, dive into discussions about different strains and cannabis topicals (see: weed lube), or cook romantic-dosed dinners for loved ones, and that’s fine. “Those things certainly play a factor,” he says, “but generally it’s not my recommended approach regarding cannabis altering sexuality.”

It comes down to a lack of a standard of research and understanding. If you were to ask 20 casual CBD preachers about its positive effect during sex, you’d get 20 answers. To those who claim it’s the golden ticket to getting laid, Tishler says keep it in your pants.

“CBD for sexuality is a nonstarter,” he says. “It doesn’t provoke libido…. It may help with anxiety or pain if that’s an issue, but what we’re really looking at in treatment of sexual dysfunction or enhancement with cannabis is how it’s used to create healthier relationships.”

Which isn’t to say the new canna-sex specialists creating new businesses and products or hawking themselves as “experts” are necessarily a bad thing in these early days of legal weed. That there are people doing this and finding an audience suggests bringing such topics and experimentation to light is meaningful to people.

“I could make jokes, but I believe it’s actually a good thing,” says Tishler, who was once asked to advise a company trying to invent a dildo that squirted out weed lube during use. “That we’re comfortable even mentioning sex with cannabis is part of the breakdown of generational stigma.”

Unlike Manta, Tishler thinks having specific strains for bedroom activities isn’t going to make a huge difference. Additionally, sexual lubricants and toys set the mood, but a successful liaison is more about body type, effect, and all interested parties being in sync with each other. Or, for those on a solo mission, in sync with one’s self.

It’s about how cannabis introduced into sexual settings or relationships is a means to stimulate the big sexy organ everyone has above their shoulders, and that, of course, is where the Infinity Stone of getting it on rests for everyone.

“Cannabis can help facilitate situations and discussions and different levels of honesty and intimacy in relationships that need it,” Tishler says. “But what we know about humans is that over 90 percent of what’s going on [to enhance and improve] sex is going on between your ears.”

Don’t let that stop you from sparking a joint next time the mood strikes. It just may take your bedroom bliss to new heights.

Seeing red, feeling blue, tickled pink. What you see is what you feel is what you are.

Humans have used color to express ideas and emotion for thousands of years, according to color specialist and trend forecaster Leatrice Eisman. As executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Eisman is the world’s leading authority on the topic of color, authoring many books on the subject. In The Complete Color Harmony, Eisman describes how even the most subtle nuances in color can result in shades that excite or calm, pacify or energize, and even suggest strength or vulnerability. “They can nurture you with their warmth, soothe you with their quiet coolness, and heighten your awareness of the world around you. Color enriches our universe and our perception of it,” she writes.

According to her research, we all respond to color at a very visceral level, associating specific hues with another time or place. “Color invariably conveys moods that attach themselves to human feelings or reactions,” she notes. “Part of our psychic development, color is tied to our emotions as well as our intellect. Every color has meaning that we either inherently sense or have learned by association and/or conditioning, which enables us to recognize the messages and meanings delivered.”

It’s with all this in mind that she and a team of experts choose the Pantone Color of the Year, which the institute has named annually for more than two decades, gaining more attention and having more impact with each passing declaration. So this year, expect to see a lot of blue. The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is known as Classic Blue.

Describing the shade as “evocative of the nighttime sky,” Eisman explains the choice: “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”

She contends that Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious, expand our thinking, open the flow of communication. Her comments are rooted in color theory, which says that a good part of the emotions that colors evoke is tied to natural phenomena. Classic Blue is the color of outer space (look beyond), of the celestial sky (look beyond), of the deep ocean (open the flow).

One of the earliest formal explorations of color theory came from German poet and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His 1820 book Theory of Colours explored the psychological impact of colors on mood and emotion. Yellow, Goethe wrote, is the color nearest the light, yet when applied to dull, coarse surfaces, it is no longer filled with its signature energy. “By a slight and scarcely perceptible change, the beautiful impression of fire and gold is transformed into one not undeserving the epithet foul; and the colour of honour and joy reversed to that of ignominy and aversion.”

Of red: “All that we have said of yellow is applicable here, in a higher degree.” Goethe’s theories continue to intrigue, possibly because of the lyrical prose rather than its scientific facts.

Today, it’s generally accepted that shades of blue are associated with steady dependability, calm, and serenity. Yellow evokes the color of the sun, associated with warmth and joy. Green connects with nature, health, and revival. White stands for simplicity; black for sophistication.

A 1970s study on the body’s physiological responses to colors revealed that warm hues (red, orange, yellow—the colors of the sun) aroused people troubled with depression and increased muscle tone or blood pressure in hypertensive folks. Cool colors (green, blue, violet) elicited the reverse, but the important finding was that all colors produced clinically tangible results.

It’s not woo-woo science; humans have been using color as medicine, a practice known as chromotherapy, since ancient Egypt. In fact, chromotherapy is as tested a practice as any other alternative medicine—Ayurveda, acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology. While it is widely accepted that color affects one’s health—physically, mentally, emotionally—more studies are needed to determine the full scope of impact as well as its potential to help heal.

This isn’t a new theory, either. In the late 1800s, rays of color/light were shown to affect the blood stream. Later research found color to be “a complete therapeutic system for 123 major illnesses,” according to a critical analysis of chromotherapy published in 2005 by Oxford University Press.
Today, bright white, full-spectrum light is being used in the treatment of cancers, seasonal affective disorder, anorexia, bulimia, insomnia, jet lag, alcohol and drug addiction, and more. Blue light is used to help treat rheumatoid arthritis. Red light helps with cancer and constipation. And that’s just the beginning.

On the Bright Side

When your physical landscape is devoid of bright, vibrant hues, your emotional one is affected as well. That’s where color therapy comes in. It has a deep effect on physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of our lives, and it comes in many forms: light sessions that include color wheels. Colored crystal lights. Breathing in colors through meditation. Infrared saunas with chromotherapy add-ons.

There are actually many ways of adjusting the color in your life, and not all of them require a trip to see a specialist. Unlike trying to self-administer acupuncture (don’t do that), techniques can be as simple as putting on colorful attire or getting some bright throw pillows or plants. You can never have too many plants. And you should eat more plants, too, filling your plate with healthful fruits, vegetables, and spices from every part of the spectrum.

If a lack of sunlight has you feeling a lack of joy, paint your home or office—warm, vibrant yellows and oranges showcase excitement and warmth; browns and neutrals decidedly do not. Choose wisely. Painting not an option? Consider temporary wallpaper or hanging large artworks. On a budget? Head to the thrift shop and repurpose an old canvas by painting it white and then adding whatever hues you are vibing with this winter. If it doesn’t turn out well, cover it up with more white paint and start again.

Have fun with it, consider it art therapy.

There are also an array of therapeutic options popping up as add-ons, as wellness studios, spas, and alternative medicine practices incorporate chromotherapy treatments into their offerings. Many infrared saunas are starting to offer chromotherapy benefits, and the combination of the full-light spectrum and the heat effectively tricks the brain into thinking it spent a full day basking in the sun, causing it to release those sweet endorphins that flood your body when the warm rays of spring hit your face when you step outside. It feels good and really, that is everything. Color is everything.

After traveling the globe Alberto Acosta has finally found a home for his treasures and for himself—in Coachella Valley.

If you missed King Tut on his recent Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh world-tour pitstop in Los Angeles (and London, Boston, and Sydney aren’t on your 2020 itinerary), you’ll have to travel back to his hometown of Giza, Egypt, to marvel at his riches. Beginning in 2021, the tomb artifacts will rest in peace for eternity in the shadow of the pyramids in the vast Grand Egyptian Museum, never to travel overseas again. The collection will have been on the road since the 1960s; not a bad run for the young royal.

However, if you still have a desire to gaze upon the Pharaoh’s treasures and don’t want to stress that 18-hour flight, then look no further than the Museum of Ancient Wonders (MOAW) at its temporary home in Cathedral City. The brainchild and life’s work of Alberto Acosta, MOAW is a fully curated, rich collection of officially sanctioned reproductions that are rarely seen outside of their respective museums.

“I’ve spent 30 years researching, commissioning, and acquiring these antiquities, and the last 20 looking for their home. When I came to the Coachella Valley, I knew this was it,” Acosta says.

Acosta has worn a variety of hats—painter, composer, artist, theater production and talent wrangler, museum curator, world traveler, historian, collector of artifacts—and when you listen to him speak, the descriptor that begins to consolidate all his previous roles is that of storyteller. We caught up with him at MOAW.

With all your varied world experiences, why now a museum director?

Creating stunning educational exhibitions and touring them like a theatrical roadshow was my passion. Now, I’m on a different mission. A mission to find [these treasures] a permanent home in the Coachella Valley, a mission to keep their stories alive. They belong in a museum built around their stories, their mysteries. We’d also have a Touring Exhibition Space to showcase exhibits from the Smithsonian, the National Geographic, and many more museums from around the world.

Why the Coachella Valley?

The collection is designed to enhance universal curriculum development for the local school districts while providing a potent new [tourism] attraction. Of all the regions in the US, I chose the Coachella Valley because it will add museum diversity to the worlds of midcentury and contemporary art. It’s an excursion, a portal, a brief adventure into the ancient world that brings context to the rigors of modern existence. It is the first of its kind in the region. The Valley needs a museum of this scope to illuminate our past, enlighten the present, and brighten our path to the future.

The world of artifact reproductions is intriguing; can you explain the basics OF the practice?

I suspend my disbelief when I look at a reproduction much like you do when you go to a movie. I forget that it is not an original antiquity. The object is mesmerizing and provokes an emotional response as one searches for its meaning and purpose. For [most] people, beautifully curated, reproduced artifacts are the only way to experience the important archaeological discoveries of all time. A laboratory fossil cast is scientifically reproduced and digitally remastered through a direct imprint from the ancient stone. It is the only way that museums that house originals can share their important discoveries with other institutions, or even showcase them in their own halls due to deterioration safeguards. They are also limited in number, [nearly] as rare as the originals.

You’ve often said that every artifact is a story—beginning, middle, and dramatic ending—can you give an example?

Let’s take the famous bust of Nefertiti. The beginning: She is one of three women in the long dynastic history of ancient Egypt to rule as Pharaoh. Her beauty is legendary and her stunning likeness was left behind 3,300 years ago in the ruins of a religious city known as El Amarna. She introduces us to her husband, Akhenaten, the heretical pharaoh who threw Egypt into chaos by attempting to establish monotheism in a world where polytheism ruled. He in turn introduces us to Tutankhamun, the middle.

Their ideas were so ahead of their time that they were wiped off the history books. Their legacy was not revealed until the discovery of the tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter and his benefactor Lord Carnarvon. Their story is one of the most fascinating in history and their archaeological discovery still one of the richest of all time. The dramatic ending? Perhaps the adventure continues to today as the exhibit is toured one last time around the world. Or perhaps there’s still more to the story as sanctioned reproductions are exhibited in museums on every continent. We’re fortunate enough to have one right here in the Coachella Valley.

You have a catchphrase when you’re asked if you’re an archaeologist.

Yes, “I do my digging through books.” I’m not in the fields excavating; I like to consult and trade theories with my fellow experts. I began collecting before the internet so my ATT long-distance phone bill was astronomical. Nowadays, the internet is humankind’s collective consciousness and the most convenient resource for making acquisitions. However, while the internet offers quick access to the most amazing people and their discoveries, there is no substitute to a very robust Rolodex.

Can you expound on your reasons for wanting to democratize access to these exhibitions?

These ancient treasures are of universal appeal to everyone, a thread to the past that we hold in the present. Most people don’t realize that only a small percentage of the world’s population ever gets to gaze on originals, be it fossils, paintings, or artifacts. I’m convinced that every person, young and old, should have the opportunity to see in person a great discovery, a rare artifact, a master painting to connect themselves with the history of mankind. So, if local kids or visitors to the desert cannot get to these museums, we’ll bring the museum to them.

Could you franchise the idea?

That would be fascinating. The mission is to reach as many people as possible, to get them to get out of the house, off their computers, to unplug and spend some time reflecting. Museums are offerings wherein a parent brings a child; as that child grows they bring their children, and they bond in shared experiences for generations. Once I’m firmly ensconced in the afterlife, other curators will come along and decide what artifacts or antiquities are needed to enhance the core to keep them vital, and with the Touring Exhibition Space, new and exciting educational experiences will continue to serve the public’s interest and bring back loyal visitors and travelers from around the world looking for something to engage their imaginations.

What’s the next step?

We need the current generation to help make this museum available to the next generation. It’s a huge undertaking, and we can’t do it alone. I have planted the seed. My hope is that Valley residents will recognize the value of this effort, support it through memberships, bring their friends and families to visit, and that prominent philanthropists from the old world and business organizations from the new will help sustain the museum while it gains firm footing in the educational, cultural, and economic fabric of the Valley. I foresee a glorious and beloved future for these collections here in the Coachella Valley.

Valley of the Kings?

Yes, a new Valley of the Kings.

It’s the month of Presidents’ Day sales and romantic Valentine’s overtures.

Here in the Coachella Valley, February is filled with Modernism Madness for the mid-century architecturally keen, county fairs, date festivals, and, for business owners, the start of high season—that much-anticipated window of opportunity during which the nation’s affluent and folks from colder climes congregate to enjoy the pool-friendly weather of the desert. It’s a time restaurants are packed, hotels are at 100 percent capacity, and success is everywhere.

At Sensi, we cover these annual signature events and lifestyles, hopefully bringing a fresh perspective. We also look for stories on less-traveled paths. Cases in point: in this issue, we bring you accounts of local entrepreneurs launching local ventures, follow the adventures of the recently transplanted, and help you discover why successful executives from every field are choosing Coachella Valley to bring it all home.

And why Sensi? Because this magazine was born with the express purpose of sharing the health and wellness and medicinal benefits that CBD and cannabis can bring. And the businesses, the brands, the entrepreneurs, the executives moving this industry forward, they’re in our contact list. It’s our authenticity and our network that makes us unique.

So, bookmark us. Make us a habit. Pick up a copy on the first of each month. Pick up two and share. I guarantee that with our content, our events, and our partners in the industry, you’ll get expert advice and insider intel on all things plant-based health and wellness in the Valley—without having to give your search history over to Google and Facebook.

By the way, nice to meet you. I’m Sensi’s new managing editor for the Coachella Valley.

Peace,

Sat Panesar
sat.panesar@sensimag.com

Colorful new crosswalks in Palm Desert are meant to keep you safe—no matter how distracting you find them.

It’s impossible not to notice the colorful crosswalks on El Paseo in Palm Desert. That’s why everyone’s talking about them. Some pedestrians dig the new look while others, especially some local business owners, find them “distasteful” for the upscale shopping district. But this is more than street art: The surprisingly controversial color pop on Palm Springs’s streets is the first wave of a $950,000 demonstration project that aims to create a safe and pedestrian-friendly environment. Other improvements for the project include new crosswalks, wheelchair ramps, and solar panel pedestrian signals. Color us impressed. 

Editor’s Note

The desert is alive in December. For those of us who grew up in cold climes, it seems surreal to be soaking up sun at the same time Mariah Carey is belting out carols and dreidels are spinning. But all that vitamin D in the day and cool Mojave breezes at night is a welcome respite from the darker side of the holidays. This time of year can be notoriously hard on many people, with the short days bringing on depression and the call to be happy and close to family triggering difficult and deep-rooted pain. 

Last month was a tough one for me, personally. A friend lost her young daughter. In the same week, I received news of another friend’s passing as well as the news that yet another friend, the poet Chris Ransick, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. All that loss made me remember how little we control life, how all we can really do during our brief time here is treat other people the best we can and love with all our hearts.

We also lost Gert Boyle, the “Tough Mother” who ran Columbia Sportswear ever since her husband suddenly died of a heart attack in 1971. She worked every day at her company in Portland, Oregon, past her 95th birthday and participating in business meetings the same week she passed. Gert was famous for wry one-liners and she was an American success story, running her company from near bankruptcy to over $3 billion in annual sales last year. But she won’t be most remembered for hilarious commercials, like the one when she put her son through a car wash sans car to test a jacket, or for the quality of the ever-popular apparel she put on so many of us. She treated her employees, and even people like me, like family (even if it was with a touch of tough, sarcastic love).

Whether the holidays fill you with sadness or joy or an odd combination of both, you can find love and give love. And if you need some time to think it all over, head out to Joshua Tree, walk into the desert and just embrace the beauty of being alive.

Doug Schnitzspahn

doug.schnitzspahn@sensimag.com

Luxury has gone to pot.

 At the end of October, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Cannabis Open Houses Are Putting the High in High-End Real Estate.” The trend piece by author Katherine Clarke revealed the emerging discovery being used by developers and real-estate agents to move luxe properties in communities where recreational cannabis is not just legal but widely accepted. 

It’s not unlike Los Angeles, where the rising industry is being hailed as an untapped source for buyers of high-priced homes. Throwing cannabis-related events—everything from elaborate seven-course pairing dinners with vapes in lieu of vino to live trimming classes—at multimillion-dollar properties on the market is garnering attention, building social buzz, and attracting buyers with money earned in, around, or on cannabis.

Not everyone sees the genius behind the trend, however. Clarke spoke to one agent in New York, where recreational cannabis is still a pipe dream and old tropes live on about munchie-motivated stoners. “When I think about cannabis, I don’t think about buying an expensive house,” says Warburg Realty’s Jason Haber. “It’s not a call for action as much as a call for Doritos.”

Someone should tell him friends don’t let friends make tired stoner jokes anymore. Especially ones implying cannabis consumers indulge their munchies with mindless consumption of unhealthy snacks when the reality is cannabis appeals to what The Economist dubs the “health-conscious inebriate,” citing a poll that 72 percent of American consumers thought cannabis was safer than alcohol. A 2018 The New Yorker headline declared cannabis to be a wellness industry in California where, in fact, a cannabinoid cousin of THC and CBD is starting to garner a whole lot of buzz. Instead of stimulating appetites, THCV may suppress those hunger pangs. When 2021 is declared the year of THCV, you can say you heard it here first. 

Consumption and consumerism

Cannabis has moved so far beyond the clichés of yore. Tie-dye tees, bell-bottom cords, dancing bear patches, plastic bongs, Ziploc baggies: these tired trends are so out of style, some have already circled back and left again. (Looking at you, tie-dye.) The stoner kids of yesterday are the cannabis entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and connoisseurs of today. And as they’ve aged, their tastes in cannabis aged with them, like the fine wine they can now afford. Cannabis consumers have money to burn. 

And since we live in a capitalist society (an unjust one where people remain locked up for nonviolent drug charges in states that earn taxes off now-legal cannabis sales—that’s a whole layered story for a different day), money makes things happen. And what’s happening now is the emergence of a cannabis experience elevated to a higher level.

If you were paying attention to the pop-culture cues over the decades, you would have seen the high-end highs coming. When cannabis prohibition began its slow-and-steady march to its forthcoming end, it emerged from the black market with an established following of consumers—loyal cannabis consumers with no brand loyalty, because cannabis brands didn’t exist. Dealers did, growers did, activists, advocates, and believers, too. But the concept of cannabis brands was all brand-new. 

With strict laws surrounding where the substance can be marketed, sold, advertised, distributed, and more, establishing customer loyalty in this industry is more difficult than it would seem on the surface. What differentiates one edible brand from another, one vape pen from the next is complicated to discern for those who aren’t well versed in the modern verbiage or its meaning. (Full-spectrum distillate, live resin, 2:1 ratios, oh my!)

This is where marketing and branding comes into play. And with marketing and branding comes the emergence of new market segments, including the ultra-luxury category. It is from within that category that future trends are likely to emerge. That’s how trends play out, as Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) explained to her new assistant in one iconic scene of The Devil Wears Prada. (If you haven’t seen it in a while, a quick refresher: “The color of the shirt you are wearing right now was determined years ago by high-end designers preparing their collections for fashion week runways.”) 

Trickle-down trends are a hierarchical process whereby individuals with high status establish fashion trends, only to be imitated by lower-status individuals wearing cheaper versions of the same styles.

“It’s always been a thing,” says Karyn Wagner, CEO of Paradigm Cannabis Group, a women-owned extraction company specializing in pre-rolls and extracts made from small-batch sun-grown flower. “There’s always been those products that are better than others. But now, with adult use, we have to be more brand-conscious. With that, how do you distinguish yourself from someone else? Why is this better? What makes it better?”

Some like it haute

With any luxury good, consumers want the assurance of quality and efficacy, Wagner says. But you can never underestimate the prestige that comes with a high price tag. “The moneyed class always loves expensive items,” she says. “This normalizes it in their world. It brings in folks who didn’t normally have the desire. It made it OK in their class. Expensive breeds expensive things. You wouldn’t have expensive cannabis if you didn’t have people who wanted to buy expensive cannabis.”

Jenny Le Coq, president of Le Coq & Associates, a marketing and communications firm in San Francisco that represents Kikoko cannabis-infused botanical mints, points out that most people typically don’t seek out a cheap bottle of wine, but look for something fine, trustworthy, and familiar. They want to know the winery, its reputation, who recommends the vintage. “People are looking at wines today with a more discerning eye—how their grapes are grown, for example,” Le Coq says. “People are looking at cannabis in the same way: with a discerning eye.” 

“Discerning” can add up to big money, for sure. Anecdotal stories abound in national media outlets, suggesting couples in Colorado will drop several bills on “cannagars” and other high-end party favors to celebrate weddings and anniversaries. At The High End, Barneys New York’s luxury cannabis lifestyle shop in Beverly Hills, shoppers can splurge on a $1,475 sterling silver bud grinder or a $950 water pipe. New York fashion brand Alice + Olivia partnered with luxury cannabis brand Kush Queen to debut a CBD wellness line earlier this year—bath bomb, body lotion, bubble bath with lavender. Alice + Olivia packaging features CEO Stacey Bendet’s signature “StaceFace” motif, with big sunglasses and a bold red lip. A timeless statement-making style that trendsetters of every era make their own while trendy types try to emulate the overall aesthetic. That’s just the way things work.

To be fair, luxury doesn’t have to mean $$$$. What it must indicate, however, is quality. “Luxury is an assigned label. It is typically assigned by marketers,” Le Coq says. “So, what do you want cannabis to be? As a consumer, how do you perceive luxury? The concept is really defined differently by every person. We want people to experience something that is luxurious. Not only the packaging is beautiful, the taste is beautiful, the place you are put into mentally is a nice, beautiful place.” 

They say they’re not alcoholics, and they’re certainly not anonymous. What is sober curious—and can sobriety really be fluid?

I drink badly, and I have a lot of fun doing it (when I remember). That’s a lethal combination, and when you throw in my unfortunate discovery of White Claw—I can drink as many as I want and never feel full!—I flamed out with alcohol last winter. 

On February 1, just as everyone else was celebrating the end of Dry January and just ahead of the Summer of the Claw, I swore off the seltzer. I figured I’d give myself one month (note: the year’s shortest) to reset. It wasn’t an easy 28 days, but when March 1 rolled around, I felt better than I’d felt in years. The chronic inflammation I had attributed to everything from gluten sensitivity to genetics was clearing. I saw the light, and there was no going back. 

I thought sobriety would be lonely, that every Saturday night would be Netflix. I forgot the Brett Kavanaugh generation isn’t in charge of culture anymore (thank God). 

Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t interested in swilling beer until they black out like we did in the ’80s. Sober is sexy—or, as hipsobriety.com sees it, “sobriety is the new black.” 

On Instagram, there are influencers such as @stylishlysober, @thesoberglow, and the darker @fucking_sober and hashtags like
#soberliving, #soberAF, and #sobercurious. Millie Gooch, who posts as @sobergirlsociety, encourages her nearly 60,000 followers with inspirational messages like “Mocks not cocks” and “Sobriety: a surefire way to improve your wellbeing and your Uber rating.” 

Just like that, I’m a cool kid—with a huge range of new options on Saturday night (and beyond). I’m exploring elixirs made with raw cacao, maca, and horny goat weed at Tonic Herban Lounge just a few blocks from my home in downtown Boulder (I can walk home after imbibing, and it amuses me that I don’t need to). I can do yoga and shake it before dawn at a Daybreaker dance party (daybreaker.com) in Denver, one of 27 cities where the alcohol-free early morning rave pops up and invites people to “sweat, dance, and connect with ourselves in community.”    

I’m surely not alone in this realization that life is better without booze. Worldwide, alcohol consumption fell by 1.6 percent last year. Led by young people, heavy-hitting countries like Russia, Canada, Japan, and the UK are seeing drinking rates as well as tolerance toward intoxication decline. An international survey found that about a third of people wanted to reduce their alcohol intake because of everything from sexual regret and embarrassment to physical health. A 2018 survey found that nearly 40 percent of global consumers want to drink less for health reasons.

In the US, CNBC reports, 52 percent of adults are trying to lower their alcohol intake, and underage drinking has steadily declined in the last 10 years. But only 21 percent of US adults in a CivicScience poll said they had any interest in drinking less or not at all, and most of those were 21- to 34-year-old, vegan-leaning flexitarians who practice yoga and consume cannabis daily. Women, especially those in their 30s and 40s, are drinking more than ever.

Booze still rules for most Americans, and “increased stress and demoralization” is actually pushing more women, minorities, and poor people to the bottle, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The national Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 17 million adults in the US are alcohol dependent, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six binge drink—defined as drinking four or more drinks over two hours or until blood alcohol reaches 0.08—nearly once a week. For this White Claw guzzler, that definition is, well, sobering. I called that happy hour.

Giving up alcohol isn’t a hashtag for a lot of people. It’s not even a choice. As Sean Paul Mahoney writes on The Fix, a website about addiction and recovery, “I didn’t get sober to be cool. I just got sober to stop dying.”

A Little Bit Addicted?

“Sober curious” became a thing after HarperCollins released Ruby Warrington’s Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol in 2018. Warrington also has a podcast, runs Club SÖda NYC (featuring sober events like Kundalini Disco), and stages events (“Sober Curious: Choosing Sobriety for Focus, Presence, and Deep Connection” is February 14–16, 2020, at Massachusetts’ renowned wellness retreat center Kripalu). Her take is that a lot of Americans might not have a “problem” with alcohol but see it as getting in the way of their healthy lifestyles. “We eat well. We exercise. We meditate,” the press release for Sober Curious states. “So, why do we…still drink?”

Warrington wants to know why the only people who don’t drink are the ones who can’t and asks, “What if I am just…a little bit addicted?” 

Call me old school, but a little bit addicted sounds a lot like a little bit pregnant. I worry that people who shouldn’t will take the advice of John Costa, who writes on twentytwowords.com that being sober curious is like being bi-curious—you don’t always hook up with people of the same sex, and you don’t have to cut out drinking forever. “Be sober half the time,” he writes, “and sauced the other half.” He’s joking, but those are dangerous words for me. That’s the life I was living: sober by day + tanked by night = balance.

Like all disorders (and pretty much everything in our culture), alcohol use runs on a spectrum. I was at the end that spent hours upon hours researching whether drinking while on this antibiotic would really make me projectile vomit and scoffed at friends as they struggled through Dry January, Dry July, Sober September, and Sober October. I wasn’t interested in giving up drinking for any reason or any amount of time, until I had to give it up for life.

Warrington, who sees reducing alcohol intake as another step in the wellness revolution, is at the other end of the spectrum—and she is aware of the difference between recovering from alcohol addiction and feeling better during yoga. I hope all of her followers are, too, because the last thing most drinkers need is a loophole.  

I want to believe the trend Warrington is leading toward spirits-free activities and thoughtfulness about alcohol’s role in our culture—where every ritual, celebration, loss, entertainment, and even sporting event is cause for a drink—is not a trend but a movement. That we’ll look back at “mommyjuice” like we shake our heads at “mother’s little helper” pills from the ’60s and ’70s. The infrastructure to support sobriety is being built, and public opinion is turning. After centuries of going hard, America is getting woke, not wasted.

Cheers to that. 

The godfather of the legal cannabis industry talks about what’s on the horizon and his new business venture in the Coachella market.

From a young age, Steve DeAngelo had an affinity for activism. “Some of my earliest memories are of Freedom Riders staying in my parents’ house and my family feeding them,” he says. That desire for change led him to dedicate his life to overturning the draconian laws that governed the consumption of cannabis and to educate the masses to its wellness benefits. 

“The specter of a stoned nation losing its competitive edge to a culture of self-indulgent hedonism was successfully deployed by our opponents to justify re-criminalization, urine testing, denial of student and housing aid, and draconian sentences. The personal choice to get high was transformed by our opponents into a threat against all society,” he says. 

DeAngelo is an icon in the industry as the cofounder of Harborside, one of the first licensed dispensaries in the nation; Steep Hill Laboratory, the first fully dedicated cannabis laboratory; the Arc View Group, the first cannabis investment firm; and the National Cannabis Industry Association, the first trade association for cannabis. 

While all this has been happening, DeAngelo has also been overseeing the growth of Harborside, which has the largest share of the California market. Its latest move is an expansion into the Coachella market with the first drive-through dispensary in Southern California. As his company grows, he has eyes on a national expansion and a growing platform to educate anyone and everyone about the positives associated with cannabis. For the last 18 months, he has crisscrossed the planet evangelizing his message and developing relationships that will hopefully one day help erase the stigma associated with cannabis use. We caught up with him in Mexico. 

You seem to spread a different message about cannabis than most. 

I reject the dichotomy of medical or recreational cannabis. I don’t think that either of those categories fully describe why people use it. People use it for the wellness it gives them—relief from medical issues, mental problems, daily rigors—and overall it promotes better living. There are many, many reasons why people use cannabis. 

How has that message evolved over the years?

In the early days, we didn’t know any of the history of science surrounding it. We did know that it helped us be the people we wanted to be. Back then, we used the arguments we had. We stood on the grounds of individual rights and freedom, that cannabis prohibition was not right, that they could not tell us what we could put into our bodies. That argument worked for a while. But under Reagan, everything went backward. We got moving forward again by spreading the message about all the previously hidden industrial and medicinal prospects that it offered, following the lead of Jack Herer, the author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Educating the populace about the positive effects cannabis offers paved the way for the progress we’ve made. 

What makes California such a fertile place for the industry?

Well, for one, California is a tilt zone. It’s a place where all the loose nuts that can’t land anywhere else end up. The state has a population that is uniquely open to change. People have been consuming cannabis here in larger amounts, for a longer period of time, than anywhere else in the world. That has created a vibrant culture around cannabis and a much more accepting populace that is open to it. Look at Northern California. You have small towns with organic groceries, packed bookstores, yoga studios, a welcoming community with schools built by donations from growers. There is a unique culture there that surrounds it, and you can find that feeling throughout most of the state. 

Where do you see the industry headed?

In the next two or three years, I think you are going to see some major movement happening at the federal level. The plan I like the best now is Bernie Sanders’. It’s clear and concise, but most of the candidates have some plan for the full legalization at the federal level. If any Democrat wins, except Biden, something big is going to change. I think there is even a chance heading into the election that Trump and the Republicans could make a play if they get desperate enough. One way or another, we are going to see some fairly significant change on a federal level. What we have seen is that the pace of change has rapidly accelerated. I don’t see that slowing at all. 

I have been traveling all over the world since January 1, 2018, and there are countries everywhere reforming their laws. South Korea, a spot that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, just changed its [laws]. There is a global cannabis renaissance happening right now. That is the most exciting thing to me. 

We are seeing cannabis displacing other products. I just saw a study that shows alcohol sales in states that have reformed their laws drop quite significantly (11 percent to 9 percent). Opioid prescriptions drop too. We know that Medicaid reimbursements go down in legal states. It’s disrupting industries and gaining momentum daily. 

What is needed to continue the change?

In most parts of the world, the need for basic education about cannabis is needed. Most people don’t have a full understanding of the biochemistry and therapeutic benefits it offers our bodies. CBD is helping spread the message, but it’s mostly a creature of prohibition. What’s driving people to it is that it’s the only cannabinoid they can have access to legally. 

Why open the new store in Desert Hot Springs? Why a drive-through?

The Coachella Valley is one of the major epicenters of the cannabis industry in California, even the world, I would say. We see that the Valley is turning into a cannabis tourism location. People are planning trips just for that, so we think, what better way to introduce them to the Harborside experience? As for the drive-through, why shouldn’t our consumers get the same level of service they are offered in other businesses? When people come in for the Coachella Festival, they can easily get their product. And on hot days, they can stay in their cars. We want to offer them convenience. 

Do you see any big changes coming?

There are going to be multiple shakeups in the industry. When you are growing at the rate we are, it’s impossible not to have disruptions. There are going to be peaks and valleys. We just saw that on the Canadian Public Exchange. A year ago, we saw incredible valuations and today we are seeing companies suffering a huge loss of value. That’s stressful, but it’s not going to stop the growth of the industry.

Look at the issues facing the contaminated vape pens. This is the first major product-related crisis facing the industry. People are wondering if this will kill the vape pen business. Is the government going to ban them? How are we going to get through this? Well, whatever happens, we will survive. If they are banned, then we will just start selling more hand-held vaporizers that consumers can put their own product into. The Canadian Exchange will rebound. Business will keep growing. There is huge growth potential, and the world has no choice really but to embrace it. Everywhere I go, people want to have access to cannabis. 

Any last words? 

The cannabis tribe is open-minded, tolerant, and peaceful. We respect diversity, we abhor racism, we don’t give a shit about conformity, we honor individual freedom, and we walk peacefully on Mother Earth. That’s who we are around the world. We need more of that, so why stop it? 

Harborside and its drive-through dispensary are now open at 66205 Paul Rd. in Desert Hot Springs.
shopharborside.com