Celebrate with cocktails full of flavor and history.

If you want to keep the party going, this month gives you great excuses to do just that. In January alone, we get to celebrate National Bloody Mary Day, National Hot Buttered Rum Day, and Irish Coffee Day. Explore these recipes and expand your drink palate into the new year.

One Way to Wake Up

Bloody Mary Day: January 1st

A Bloody Mary combines vodka, tomato juice, spices, and flavorings, including Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice, and celery salt. Legend has it that the Bloody Mary was invented in the 1920s in a bar in Paris or in the 1930s in a bar in New York City, depending on who is telling the tale.


Raise one to the Sun Bloody Mary

Courtesy of Constellation Catering / constellationcatering.com

Ingredients

3 ounces vodka
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Splash of lemon juice
Splash of Tabasco sauce
Splash of steak sauce
Dash of pepper
8 ounces tomato juice
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Dried orange slice

Instructions
  • Pour vodka into a
  • pint glass with ice.
  • Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, steak sauce, and pepper.
  • Add tomato juice and
  • stir vigorously.
  • Garnish with cherry tomatoes and a dried orange slice.

Uphold the Tradition

Hot Buttered Rum Day: January 17

There is still a chill in the air, and hot buttered rum takes the sting out of colder temps. This mixed drink contains rum, butter, cider, and various spices. The original drink dates back to the colonial days. Today Collins Hot Buttered Rum cocktail mix (pictured at right) makes it easy to whip up and enjoy this warm treat.


The Perfect Hot Buttered Rum

Courtesy of Collins Hot Buttered Rum

Ingredients

2 tablespoons Collins Hot Buttered Rum cocktail mix
1½ ounces spiced rum
1 cup water
Cinnamon for garnish

Instructions
  • Heat water in a pan, stir in Collins Hot Buttered Rum cocktail mix and rum.
  • Pour into a coffee mug and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • For a variation, top with whipped cream and Collins Orange Twist in Syrup.

A Kick in Your Coffee

Irish Coffee Day: January 25

Different variations of Irish coffee cocktails have been in existence for the past 100 years. Irish coffee is a drink blending hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, stirred and then topped with cream. When the evening temperatures dip, this is the perfect way to end the night.


Original Irish Coffee

Ingredients

3 ounces hot, brewed coffee
1 ounce Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ounce fresh cream

Instructions
  • Heat the coffee, whiskey, and sugar in a pan without bringing it to a boil.
  • Pour into glass and top with cream.

Alcohol Prohibition, Local Brews, Icebar at The Linq Promenade and More

  • Experience alcohol Prohibition at The Underground. Read
  • Icebar at The Linq Promenade transforms the watering hole. Read
  • Local brews fill the taps at CraftHaus Arts District. Read
  • Dosist launches in Nevada. Read
  • While American culture worships the very young in socials and media, Boudoir For All (boudoirforall.com) photography captures in images that anyone over the age of 40, 50, 60, or beyond is still attractive, sexy, and desirable. Read
  • What Matters This Month by Stephanie Wilson Read
  • A competitive cannabis market serves the public best. Read

Under the Radar

Experience alcohol Prohibition at The Underground.

The prohibition of alcohol changed the fabric of the country. The Underground at The Mob Museum, located in the basement of the building, brings that era to life. Featuring a fully operational distillery and speakeasy with an authentic vibe, the Prohibition history exhibition transports guests back to the roaring 1920s.

The Underground brews and serves craft beer on-site as well as distills jars of moonshine in its “Virginia Still” (named after Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s girlfriend, Virginia Hill). Jars of moonshine are available for purchase. Artifacts from the 1920s and 1930s tell the intriguing story of the Prohibition era, a time of bootleg booze and organized crime. Enter The Underground at the secret side entrance with the password published daily on Instagram Stories @MobMuseum_Underground.

The Underground at The Mob Museum, 300 Stewart Ave., themobmuseum.org


Frozen Bliss

Icebar at The Linq Promenade transforms the watering hole.

Icebar at The Linq Promenade, the new immersive ice attraction, chills cocktails and other drinks on the world’s largest, permanent bar made only of ice. A project of Minus5 Ice Experience, the distinctively cool vibe for people of all ages embraces an ice-cold environment all year-round. Signature frosty cocktails are served in glasses made entirely of ice for guests age 21 and older.

Icebar at The Linq Promenade, 3545 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,
minus5experience.com/icebar


A Cold One

Local brews fill the taps at CraftHaus Arts District.

This past fall, CraftHaus Brewery opened up an outpost called CraftHaus Arts District in downtown Las Vegas that’s quenching the thirst of beer fans. The new taproom offers 24 taps with 16 devoted to CraftHaus brews, and the rest for guest beers, cider, white wine, and Vesta Cold Brew coffee on Nitrogen.

The menu features beer-bacon jam made with CraftHaus beer and soft pretzels with beer cheese to pair with the brews. Chef James Trees of Esther’s Kitchen across the street brings in bites to enhance the tasting-room experience.

The interior of the 1,800-square-foot space is elevated with a clean design palette of concrete, marble, and signature CraftHaus green. The outside patio beckons patrons to relax during great weather days.

Owners Wyndee and Dave Forrest built their flagship CraftHaus Brewery in Henderson around a love of quality beer and community. On the wall, a custom 24-foot mural by artist Donovan Fitzgerald featuring a Jubilee!-inspired showgirl pays homage to the heart of Las Vegas.

CraftHaus Arts District, 197 E. California St., crafthausbrewery.com


New Arrival

Dosist launches in Nevada.

Based in Los Angeles, Dosist has arrived in brick-and-mortar retail outlets in Las Vegas. Currently, there are 12 locations in Southern Nevada to purchase natural alternatives using active ingredients in cannabis for physical relief, health, and wellness. Six targeted formulas focus on different areas of well-being. This includes sleep, bliss, calm, relief, passion, and arouse. The proprietary medical-grade dose pen and dose dial deliver a precise dose each time.

Dosist / Dose Pen in 2.25-mg dose, 50 and 200 doses, $40–$100 / Dose Dial in 3.7-mg dissolvable tablet, $30 / dosist.com


Transcending Beauty

The longer you’re alive, the older you get. While American culture worships the very young in socials and media, Boudoir For All (boudoirforall.com) photography captures in images that anyone over the age of 40, 50, 60, or beyond is still attractive, sexy, and desirable.

“We want to celebrate the essence of women over the age of 40 and older and have their beauty shine,” says Elle Abbott, owner and photographer.

“We also encourage men, non-binary, transgender, and other members of our community to show their sexy side at any age.”

Abbott started in photography using film as a young girl, switched to digital, and always maintained her interests in photography as an avocation. In 2019, she decided to take the leap and make photography her career with a focus on boudoir shots for women over 40, people of color, LGTBQ community, and other underrepresented segments of society. An advocate for cannabis, Abbott showcases shoots with cannabis prominently featured.

The most crucial factor is that when the client comes to her studio, they are totally comfortable. This can include shoots where the client is dressed in a sweater and covered with a blanket for cozy shots to wearing sexy lingerie for a sizzling session. Abbott encourages clients to bring their own outfits, but she does offer sensual props to enhance the mood.


Sensibilities

What Matters This Month by Stephanie Wilson

1. Goals are the new resolutions. And since we’re in a new decade, let’s set loftier targets, hit them, surpass them. Where do you want to be in 2025? 2030? Start manifesting the life you want. In the shorter term, however…

2. Manifest the outfits you want by signing up for Nuuly clothing rental from Free People’s parent co. For just $88/mo., you get six temporary additions to your wardrobe—perfect excuse to try out new trends.

3. Be extra extra. I resolved to be just that at the start of last year. Met that goal and have a photo of the statement jacket I borrowed from Nuuly as proof. See @stephwilll if you’re curious just how extra “extra extra” is.

4. See Also: posts about my apartment/urban jungle.

5. Putting it out there now. I’m setting my first intention for 2020: I will get my place featured on Apartment Therapy as a home tour this year. Boom.

6. Wanna be my goal buddy? DM or post a comment—we’ll start a club. One with books and discussions involved. Community and knowledge will result. We’ll call it…The Book Club. Let’s do this.


Green Politics

A competitive cannabis market serves the public best.

The legalizing of cannabis in Nevada fulfilled two key goals of state government: bring diversity to the local economy and offer a consistent revenue stream for education. In the November 2016 election, when 602,463 voters approved the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, the people of Nevada were promised transparency, efficiency, and education funding. What we got instead is anything but.

Legalization was meant to increase revenue for the state and increase jobs in local economies. To realize these benefits, policymakers must ensure a competitive market that gives consumers a fair-market price and top-quality products.

This is achieved as long as there are many sellers for a competitive market. But over half of the state’s new dispensary licenses were awarded to just 3 percent of applicants. The other 97 percent of applications were denied.
The recent shoddy licensing process came under legal fire. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez noted that the privileged license approval process was “arbitrary and capricious.” Its deficiencies enable state officials to pick winners and losers in a highly lucrative business lottery. Further, the judge said, transparency and procedural competence were lacking, jeopardizing Nevada’s long-standing licensing precedents and procedures.

An audit conducted November 7, 2019, substantiated the need to revise the application process with three key improvements: (1) Enhance the Transparency of the Licensing Process; (2) Automate the Application Scoring Process to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of data entry errors; and (3) Revise Statute to Reallocate Recreational Marijuana Licenses from Non-Participating Jurisdictions. The third revision alone could benefit the state almost $2.3 million in tax revenues per month while promoting a more competitive industry.

Keeping the cannabis industry competitive will enable it to produce maximum revenues, thus adding to the tax revenue for education, which was the promise that taxpaying voters are expecting. Politics can become the art of the possible, and the best of shared possibilities happens when leaders listen to their bosses—taxpaying citizens—and work in good faith for their constituents.

Editor’s Note: I feel no pressure to predict the next big thing for 2020.

Yes, there are reports doing just that with trends, tweets, IGs, posts, and videos going viral. The landscape of Las Vegas continually changes with new resorts opening, the Raiders coming to town, and the debut of a consumption lounge on tribal land downtown. Top 10 lists detailing the best and worst of the year were broadcast with a forecast on what to expect for the upcoming year. Still, things can either happen or not happen due to a change in circumstances.

How is “the next big thing” defined for 2020? It could be as simple as a new dish (think avocado toast) or as life-changing as the legalization of cannabis in more states, or even federally. The next big thing could be a new romance, career change, becoming single, having a baby, or moving to a new home.

CES coming to Vegas in January showcases the latest in technology and gadgets. I love the newest innovations on my smartphone and tablet. I relish the change. I anticipate the most unique products and services life has to offer, whether on a large scale or in my own personal world.
Maybe it’s more of a mindset. After the chaos of the past year with politics, legal reversals, the economy, and culture division, the next big thing can be changing your attitude.

Change can be scary but exhilarating. We thank you, the reader, for taking us on your journey as we discover the next big thing and share the evolution. As Sensi magazine makes you think, laugh, explore, and share, we embrace the newness of the year for creation, originality, and accomplishment.

Debbie Hall
debbie.hall@sensimag.com

Six ridiculous cannabis laws and regulations that made it onto the books across the country.

Cannabis prohibition is falling like an old empire across the United States. Yet not all new laws and regulations surrounding cannabis are winners. There are many laws in legal marijuana markets, both medical and adult-use, that are not based on data but are in fact quite arbitrary. At best, these regulations are off-base. At worst, they are curtailing access for medical patients who desperately need to access their medication. Laws have forced patients, adult consumers, and cannabis companies alike to jump through unnecessary hoops in order to get weed. But why?

Lawmakers have predisposed notions of what would happen if weed became legal. Unfortunately, many of the laws you see today were written by people coming from the perspective of a deeply ingrained “Reefer Madness” culture. Those in charge fear repercussions that are simply not backed by the data. When laws are developed through that lens, they are not likely to make a lot of sense.

It will take time to iron out these regulations, but someday they will be history. Fingers crossed. Here are six ridiculous, arbitrary, and damaging cannabis laws across the country.

1. No Restrooms Allowed

In West Hollywood, a lot of attention has been given to the country’s first open cannabis consumption lounge licensee. The Original Cannabis Cafe
(previously known as Lowell Farms) has one
bizarre quirk in its regulations forced by zoning. The restroom, formerly a part of the building located within the walls of the restaurant, had to be built out with a separate entrance.

The café owners told Sensi they were asked to disconnect the bathroom from the main building space. This forces customers to exit the front door and walk around the exterior of the building to use the restroom. Before opening its doors in October 2019, the restaurant scrambled to comply with this seemingly arbitrary building requirement.

As far as zoning is concerned, cannabis consumption needs to happen in a closed space. It is all very confusing. But the first cannabis consumption licenses to get off the ground will undoubtedly have some kinks.

2. Limited Lineup

Yes, there is a medical marijuana program in New York. No, it is not making a dent in the demand in the unlicensed market. This can be attributed to the state’s strict regulations, which make it so the only available products are items that aren’t as popular with medical patients.

Products in New York are limited to edible cannabis concentrate oil, capsules, or topicals. You can’t smoke it. Keep in mind, the allowable cannabis concentrate oil is not the same as the popular oils you’d dab with or put in a vape pen. You also can’t buy edibles that are already made with cannabis. Just capsules. New York consumers and patients do not have the option of regular ol’ flower.

This tight restriction on the products available for sale has deterred many cannabis patients, store owners, and cultivators from participating. While its medical program was enacted in 2014 by the Compassionate Care Act, the state has fewer than 30 medical dispensaries five years later.

3. Environmentally Unfriendly

All the largest markets have one unfortunate regulation in common: You cannot recycle or reuse any cannabis packaging. In Oregon, plastic childproof containers are required, but once the container is used to store cannabis, it is not allowed to be recycled, meaning all this plastic packaging ends up in landfills. The Bureau of Cannabis Control in California and Washington State laws make recycling products difficult. Colorado does not have any language in place for the recycling of cannabis containers.

It will become a Goliath issue if these laws are not amended to make practical recycling a part of the cannabis industry. Companies want to recycle, and they want a safe and effective way to reuse the old vape cartridges that are brought back into the store. Bad news is, because of these strict state regulations, they can’t. One solution companies are finding is to begin with recycled and reclaimed plastic, like products made by Sana. An innovative company called TerraCycle offers another solution in melting down and cleaning cannabis packaging waste. But like all other industries grappling with the plastic problem, the most impactful changes will be made top-down, not at the consumer level.

4. Not Fit to Print

Marketing regulations for the cannabis industry are a patchwork of chaos. There remain a limited number of ways that companies can advertise, and those laws vary state-by-state. Facebook and Instagram have gone out of their way to shadow ban cannabis companies, sometimes deleting the accounts of licensed, legal businesses. Google AdWords doesn’t play nicely with cannabis companies either, offering payment ad options to very few exceptions. In Colorado, you can’t advertise on billboards, on mobile, in banners, or in handout leaflets. California allows cannabis companies to advertise on billboards, but there is currently a lawsuit attempting to ban that method.

As a result of this mess, the industry has gotten creative with advertising. This very magazine is one avenue that exists without restriction, paving the way for marketing in the cannabis world.

5. Mandatory Monopoly

Some cannabis regulations go so far as to defy capitalism at its core. In Vermont’s medical cannabis program, for example, a registered patient must choose one—and only one—dispensary to buy from. Patients can change their designated dispensary, but only once every 30 days, and only for a $50 fee. The cost is an access issue for many medical patients.

Another peculiar move for Vermont: while any 21-plus adult can legally grow two mature and four immature plants for personal use outside in the sunshine (fenced yard, screened from public view), medical cannabis patients must grow indoors if they want to take advantage of the higher plant count available to them (seven immature).

6. Cash or… Cash

States that legalize cannabis want cannabis tax money. But they don’t allow companies to have a safe way to pay their bills, pay their employees, and to store revenue. Until the SAFE Banking Act makes its way through the Senate and eventually to the desk of President Trump, there is a massive regulatory issue. Dispensaries across the country are forced to operate as cash-only businesses—in a cash-only billion-dollar industry.

Stripe, Square, and other payment apps are cracking down not only on cannabis businesses, including CBD businesses, but on ancillary companies as well. Hopefully a solution will be found in the SAFE Banking Act. Cannabis businesses need to be able to lean on legitimate financial institutions.

Is “OK, boomer” a slur, a sign of increasing generational conflict, or just a meme-able mic drop?

Caitlin Fisher, an Ohio writer who describes herself as “queer as hell, autistic, prone to sudden outbursts of encouragement” and a lover of avocados, cats, plants, and soy chai lattes, released a new book this year, The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation, based on a blog post by the same name that caught Twitter’s fancy and went viral in 2016. “The millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised for not doing it right or daring to suggest improvements,” she wrote in the original post. “If you think we’re doing a bad job, ask yourself how it got this way in the first place.”

For Fisher, “OK, boomer”—the catch phrase that has surfaced as a way to dismiss stubborn, intolerant older folks—is nothing new. “We live in a meme culture, and this is a viral punchline,” she says. “It’s the new ‘whatever,’ a mic drop of, ‘I’m not dealing with this anymore.’”

Most boomers were blissfully unaware of the phrase “OK, boomer” until this fall, when a 25-year-old member of the New Zealand Parliament let it fly during a speech about climate change and the New York Times ran a “Style” section piece on it. Nearly every mainstream media outlet followed suit. Establishment boomers, publicly butt-hurt, declared intergenerational war, culminating in 60-year-old radio host Bob Lonsberry calling the phrase “the n-word of ageism” in a tweet he later deleted. Reaction was swift, fierce, and often hilarious. “You can’t say that, #boomer is our word,” @JazzHendrix tweeted. “But you can say booma.”

Though new to the mainstream media, on the subReddit
r/BoomerTears, 17,400 members post “any sour or garbage logic from boomers explaining why they’re special or complaining.” #BoomerAdvice, blasting out-of-touch words of wisdom from you know who, trends pretty regularly on Twitter. And of course, there’s a viral TikTok of a white-haired boomer ranting while a teenager scribbles “OK, Boomer” (flanked with hearts) on his notebook as well as an “OK, booomer” song that has spawned 4,000 TikToks. Hoodies, t-shirts, phone cases, and stickers emblazoned with the phrase are available on Redbubble and Spreadshirt.

This is not your father’s generation gap; memes like “OK, boomer” spread exponentially faster in 4G. “We can talk to people across the world, and we have the power to create whole new movements and share information really fast,” Fisher says. “Teenagers are no longer rolling their eyes at the dinner table. Now, teenagers are joining the revolution.”

What Is This Revolution?

Millennials—along with their predecessors, Gen X, and successors, Gen Z—are angry. And whether they deserve it or not, boomers are taking the blame for social and historical factors that haven’t been kind to the generations that followed them. Boomers got college degrees “for the price of a McChicken,” according to one Redditor, while millennials are strapped with record student loan debt. The climate crisis and the rising tide of nationalism, inequality, and economic uncertainty all happened under the boomers’ watch. They elected Donald Trump.

Even to boomers, it’s pretty clear this hippie-cum-capitalist generation kicked a lot of cans down the road while they were chasing profits and partying like it was 1999 (well into the 21st century). “How many world leaders for how many decades have seen and known what is coming but have decided that it is more politically expedient to keep it behind closed doors? My generation and the generations after me do not have that luxury,” Chlöe Swarbrick told the New Zealand Parliament in her climate speech just before she dropped the OK bomb.

Even more maddening, boomers won’t acknowledge that younger generations are being forced to operate in a completely different economy, without the equity and safeguards boomers had and with huge fear about the future. “The world is just different,” says 30-year-old Lindsey Turnbull, who owns an empowerment company for teen and tween girls, MissHeard Media. “We need the adults to acknowledge that and not brush kids’ very real worries off as hormones.”

These millennials are quick to point out that not every boomer is a “boomer” (thank God!). And furthermore, anyone who is intolerant to new ideas and unwilling to unlearn their biases can be “OK, boomered.” It’s more about attitude than ageism.

“I know how exhausting it can be to debate with people, especially online, who are really adamant about not seeing another point of view,” says Turnbull. “‘OK, boomer’ just says you’re not wasting all that time and emotional energy trying to come up with a well-thought-out response when the person on the other side doesn’t listen.”

Trending on White Twitter

One of the biggest issues many people see with this meme-inspired revolution is that its guerrillas tend to be of a type—upper-middle-class white youth—and they’re complaining about issues like lack of economic opportunity and silencing that people of color have been dealing with for centuries. Black Twitter sees #OkBoomer as nothing more than disrespect for elders. “White Brogressives never cared about income inequity when it was just black or brown folks on the wrong end of it,” @Wonderbitch82 posted.

Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin magazine and author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality, believes white upper middle-class youth who find themselves shut out of the housing market and exploited by the gig economy should aim their angst at investment bankers, not boomers. “These young people are surrounded by baby boomers who’ve hoarded all the wealth and polluted the planet in the process; they haven’t had to witness—or deal with the ramifications of—old age and precarity for millions of working people in that generational cohort,” he writes in the Guardian. “Instead they get to revel without self-reflection in oedipal angst about their elders—many of whom were kind enough to pass them their ill-gotten privileges.”

Fisher doesn’t disagree. “It’s important to acknowledge that ‘OK, boomer’ is about privileged older people, baby boomers in Congress who keep voting to give themselves pay raises but don’t want poor older people to have affordable health care,” she says. “While we’re fighting against the ‘royal boomer’ we can’t ignore the needs of older people in our communities. Ageism is really serious. There’s elder abuse, and medical debt is bankrupting older Americans. We can’t point to all older people and say they are the problem the way they point to our generation and say we are the problem. We have to open up the conversation.”

The conversation opens up for Turnbull, who lives in Washington, DC, when she mingles with people of all ages during political marches and protests. But in many places in the US, opportunities for cross-generational conversation are becoming rare as children are shunted into age-based sports and activities while the elderly are sent to care facilities, says Timiko Tanka, an associate professor of sociology at James Madison University. “As is said in an African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” she says. “But today, many children are growing up without such a community.”

Tanka says intergenerational care centers, which are starting to crop up across the country, have been proven to be useful in reducing age-based prejudice and stereotyping. In her Social Gerontology course, students spend at least 20 hours interacting and becoming comfortable with elderly people—so comfortable that by the end of the semester, they’re playing cards together. Schools, care facilities, and municipal governments need to create more opportunities for people to share different perspectives, she says.

“‘OK, boomer’ is a warning that we need to find a bridge, not a wall, and have meaningful conversation,” says Tanka.

Rob Van Dam emerges as a visionary in cannabis, wrestling, and life.

In 2006, professional wrestler Rob Van Dam had just achieved the pinnacle of success. He became the champion of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), experiencing one of the most significant peaks of his career. He was riding high in more ways than one.

Van Dam’s meteoric rise soon came to a thundering crash. Later that year, while touring on the WWE and ECW wrestling circuits, Van Dam and his wrestling partner Sabu were pulled over by the police in Ohio for speeding. Van Dam never hid his love of cannabis and kept it out in the open. That night, like many nights in the past, the car reeked of cannabis.

“Back then, I was never careful, and I never thought about hiding my use of cannabis. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” he says.
They were arrested for possession of cannabis, and Sabu urged Van Dam to inform the management of WWE about the arrest. “I told him he was crazy,” Van Dam says. “I got busted so many times before. Nobody ever found out, and I could still wrestle.”

This time was different, and it totally changed the course of Van Dam’s life.
By the time the two wrestlers arrived at the arena for the evening’s matches, having posted bail, the management and fans knew about the arrest. The media had reported the event, and Vince McMahon, the owner of WWE, was so furious he walked by the two wrestlers without speaking to them. “I knew that was not good, but we were prepared to wrestle,” says Van Dam.

Later that night, McMahon calmly informed Van Dam that he would be suspended for 30 days, urging him to get some rest. Van Dam would have to drop the WWE championship that evening in Philadelphia. He would still have to wrestle, knowing in advance that he’d have to concede the match.

“That was so heartbreaking. I let my fans and my wife down. I just felt that responsibility even though the marriage was faltering at the time,” he explains. “When I got beat, everyone just started booing and throwing their drinks into the ring. I was getting pelted, and I was devastated.”

The next night, Van Dam had to drop the ECW championship as well.
This life-altering episode, while distressing, actually brought Van Dam’s life to a better place. He found himself with renewed passion while becoming healthier and exploring new avenues. Eventually he got his wrestling career back on track.

Comic Books and Pumping Iron

Van Dam was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he discovered his first love: comic books. He was a fanatic; he had to acquire every comic book with his favorite characters.

“They really captivated my mind,” says Van Dam. When he discovered wrestling in high school, he followed it with the same zeal as one of his comic book characters.

Fate intervened when, at the age of 15, he attended his first wrestling show by the World Wrestling Federation in Battle Creek’s Kellogg Center. A friend of the family and a wrestling insider who Van Dam knew as “Miss T” got him backstage access to greet the wrestlers as they exited the dressing rooms. He was so enthusiastic that Miss T encouraged him to begin lifting weights and to consider a career in professional wrestling.

In high school, coaches had encouraged Van Dam to be lean and mean. But he wanted to bulk up like the professional wrestlers he followed, and he switched to martial arts to gain flexibility and mobility.

He researched wrestling schools, and in December 1989, at the age of 18, Van Dam began to attend training sessions given by The Sheik, a top wrestler and box office attraction in the ’50s and ’60s. Van Dam was bagging groceries to make money for school and was thrilled he could train with The Sheik and still remain in Michigan. While Van Dam was considered smaller than most wrestlers, he demonstrated his desire, endurance, and ability. His parents were supportive, and Van Dam promised them that if wrestling didn’t work out in two years, he would change careers and attend college.

Talent and determination won him matches with wins in smaller venues. Van Dam understood marketing and would work out in the ring to gain fans. His popularity grew as he toured on the road as a wrestler.

“There was never a guarantee I would be successful, but at the time, I was having a lot of fun,” he says. “Still, there were many times I doubted myself even though others in the field would tell me I was impressive and had some great moves with my martial arts training.”

Finding Focus

The first pivotal shift in his life occurred during an event in Jamaica when Van Dam was 21. The match hadn’t gone well, and afterward, a group of wrestlers blasted him, telling him that he would never make it. It was brutal for him; Van Dam sat on top of a truck by himself and sobbed. He tried to find inner peace with meditation but ripped himself apart instead.

Ironically, to fit in with the same group of wrestlers, Van Dam took his first hit of cannabis at age 21. He had been raised in an era of the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs, which emphasized that cannabis was a hallucinogen and gateway drug of addiction and despair. He really didn’t like it at first but soon discovered it helped with his anxiety, eased his physical discomfort, and increased his mental clarity. He also discovered that other athletes smoked it. Van Dam soon became a devotee of cannabis and never hid it from anybody, including bosses, fans, and the media. He would give interviews about the benefits of cannabis and refused to back down from expressing himself. A T-shirt was created with his famous catchphrase, “RVD 420 means I just smoked your ass.”

Others warned him that his openness with cannabis would get him into trouble and ruin his career. “People need to know the truth. It is not a dangerous drug, and it can help in so many ways,” says Van Dam. “There was so much misinformation.”

Along the way, Van Dam became more determined than ever to become the best wrestler he could. He continued to travel up to 300 days a year, including overseas. His world changed in 1998 when he became a wrestling superstar with the ECW and developed a devoted fan base.

Van Dam helped to change the face of wrestling when WWE bought the rights to ECW. He suggested that McMahon develop a pay-per-view called One Night Stand featuring a more interactive wrestling event in the style of ECW, complete with the throwing of chairs.

As Van Dam’s career accelerated, it became more of a business than a fun way to live life. His marriage suffered, he broke his ankle (his first injury), and he experienced scrutiny and suffered fines with his open use of cannabis.

In 2005, he needed knee surgery and was in rehab most of that year. Van Dam soon realized he was on a treadmill and didn’t know how to stop. He wanted to take more time off but instead went back into the ring, reaching an unbelievable peak of success before the arrest in 2006.

After the Fall

Once Van Dam moved past the devastation of the arrest, he discovered a life he could love living while advocating for cannabis and other issues. He continued to wrestle overseas, hosted a radio show, acted, entertained, and spoke on panels. While he did get divorced after 20 years, he would find love again. Van Dam was invited back to wrestle for the WWE, which named him the greatest star in ECW history in 2014.

Today, he sets his own schedule and does what he wants to do without the pressure to perform. Van Dam is happier than ever with his soul mate Katie Forbes in what he calls, “his best relationship ever.” He enjoys his life in Las Vegas, including helping others discover the benefits of CBD and cannabis. He has attempted to retire from wrestling, but he keeps getting pulled back into the ring. Van Dam admits he still loves it.

rvdcbd.com

Badass bride and the hero R.U.N. for a last chance at love.

Darkness devours the world outside of the glowing embers of Las Vegas, as holy matrimony tries to outshine the bleakness. The hero interrupts the wedding and, in true comic book fashion, the couple roars away in a high-speed chase as the Machiavellian gang follows. R.U.N., the live-action thriller produced by Cirque du Soleil, brings an apocalyptic world to the Luxor Hotel and Casino stage.

Montreal street artist Fluke and his team of graffiti artists from ASHOP Productions transformed the theater lobby into an urban city street, setting the mood. The world of good versus evil with heroes and villains comes alive with intricate combat scenes that push the boundaries of human endurance. Live action combined with film, cinematic projection, art, music, and dance engages the audience as fantasy and reality blend into authenticity. Hope reigns as the hero and bride battle for happiness. 

Luxor Hotel and Casino
R.U.N. Theater
3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
cirquedusoleil.com/run

Editor’s Note

The depth and scope of the cultural landscape, creativity, and community in Las Vegas continue to amaze me. Talent permeates the terrain, and not just mainstream or on the Strip but locally, with upcoming artists in all genres. Throughout Southern Nevada, there is something for everyone every night of the week. Communication, entertainment, and connection are prevalent, even without the holiday angle.

Speaking of holidays, Las Vegas does take this time of the month very seriously in celebrations. It began with Halloween, continued through November, and now explodes this month. Inventive, original, and imaginative describe the decorations, parties, gifts, themes, and dinners. Generosity is abundant in giving, volunteering, and sharing with others. Interfaith groups host a multicultural event on December 23, inviting all, including earth-based religions, atheists, and all others, to celebrate diversity.

Conventions add to the excitement with MJBizCon coming to Vegas in December. The parties, awards, networking, and camaraderie bring the city to a new high. Our western roots come to life with the National Finals Rodeo and Cowboy Christmas heightening our country flavor.

While there is no snow in the valley, drive north for about 45 minutes and play in the winter wonderland of Mount Charleston and Lee Canyon. If ice is your thing, you can find skating rinks all over the city. Of course, you can also cheer on the Vegas Golden Knights.

Thank you for sharing the happiness that is a part of Sensi magazine. Happy holidays to those who celebrate. I wish all the best life has to offer to everyone now and in the coming year.

Debbie Hall

debbie.hall@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. 

How to properly throw a cannabis-infused gathering

I’ve thrown some damn good parties since I started cooking with cannabis in 2009. I’d even say some were epic. There’s nothing like reaching the crescendo of a meal orchestrated to open people’s minds and senses and connect them with their dinner partners, the food’s tastes and aromas, and the finer notes of everything. Everyone blossoms, blissed and blessed. 

This is no small thing to pull off, and of course I’ve had disasters—thankfully none too epic and way less frequent now than when I first started. In the beginning, serving cannabis to guests was cripplingly intimidating.

For me, hosting a cannabis dinner is a lot like teaching a yoga class. As the leader, I’m responsible for every person’s well-being and experience, from understanding their physical limitations and apprehensions to curating a playlist that keeps them motivated, relaxed, and flowing. They should leave happier than they came. 

That level of culpability makes me nama-cray-cray. It kept me from teaching yoga after I got certified and could have strangled my inner canna-hostess, too, if I hadn’t stumbled onto the opportunity to learn from the very best while writing and promoting The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook

When you need confidence, there’s nothing like going
straight to the experts—and a beautiful thing about the cannabis community is how willing anyone who loves this plant is to educate and share. 

Keep them in the zone.

In legal states, a thriving cannabis hospitality industry employs professionals in everything from event planning to budtending. Consumers dab in elegant lounges, sip canna-mocktails, and indulge in CBD coffee stations and s’more bars stocked with infused chocolate. They taste cultivars as they’re paired with courses like wine. They dine on infused foie gras custard while inhaling from bowls of terpene vapor at $500-a-plate dinners.

Chris Sayegh, the Herbal Chef behind those half-G-a-head banquets, considers himself a shaman. He conducts every dinner, explaining to the journeyers how the night will go and how they can expect to feel. His servers act as guides, keeping people on track and helping them if they get uncomfortable. Diners’ glasses are constantly filled with water throughout a dinner engineered to keep them in what Sayegh calls the “euphoric zone.” Afterward, they retreat to a decompression lounge, where they can wipe their faces with eucalyptus-scented towels and get a massage. 

Sayegh says his specialty is “understanding how people can get this really beautiful effect without ever being overwhelmed,” a skill anyone who entertains with cannabis should be honing. Stupefied or paranoid guests suck the soul out of a party as quickly as obnoxious or passed-out-drunk ones—and then there’s that part about being responsible for their well-being. If you haven’t had nightmares about diners slumped over their plates and leaving in wheelbarrows like the hobbits at Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday party, you probably shouldn’t be hosting a cannabis shindig.

Have an “Oh, Shit Kit.”

Overconsumption happens, even with the pros. Though he rarely has to use them, Scottsdale, Arizona–based chef and restaurateur Payton Curry stocks up on water with electrolytes and Undoo softgels (a mixture of vitamin E, olive oil, and olivetol that promises to “unhaze the blaze”) when he hosts cannabis-infused dinners. For a few larger events, he’s even hired nurse practitioners to administer IV bags. 

“Americans have been programmed to sleep it off or make themselves throw up if they have too much to drink,” Curry says. “With cannabis, it’s different. We say, ‘Here’s a pizza, a movie, and six gallons of water.’” 

At Denver-based Irie Weddings and Events, the staff keeps an “Oh, Shit Kit” full of homeopathic rescue remedies; lavender, eucalyptus and chamomile essential oils; 5-Hour Energy; and ground pepper (said to mitigate anxiety and paranoia). 

Budtenders at these events always ask about guests’ experience and tolerance, and signs at the bud bars remind people to sit down or call over a friend if they feel lightheaded or dizzy. No matter what, they never lets anyone suffer alone.

Know your own limits.

Hosting with the most means being there for someone who thinks they’re dying. (It’s physically impossible to overdose on cannabis, but the time for a biology lesson is not during a crisis.) You need to control your own consumption—or even wait until after the party.

That’s why you might want to hire pros, says Andrew Mieure, owner of Top Shelf Budtending, a service that offers certified “cannabis sommeliers” who present a holistic introduction to the plant’s botany, tastes, aromas, and effects. Mieure specializes in serving first-timers and people returning to cannabis after a long while, and they heighten his sense of obligation to deliver only smooth, groovy adventures.

“Their experiences,” he says, “can make or break the future of cannabis in America.” 

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