Satisfy carnivore desires at Big B’s Texas BBQ.

Texans love to enjoy their succulent meat smoked, roasted, slow-cooked, or grilled barbecue style. Texas native Brian Buechner and his Estonian wife, Natalia, have transported that indescribable flavor of Texas barbecue to Vegas via Big B’s Texas BBQ.

Photos Courtesy of Big B’s Texas BBQ

Barbecue transcends many regions, and Big B’s Texas BBQ follows the traditions of the Hill Country using Texas mesquite and oak wood imported from the Lone Star State. This style of Texas barbecue is considered “purist barbecue,” explains Natalia. Quality meat is simply coated with only a dry rub of salt and pepper—never brined or injected—and smoked on wood for hours. Meats are then served on butcher paper with sauce on the side.

“I think it is really cool that the meat has been cooked for generations in the same exact way,” says Natalia.
Beef brisket, hot links, chicken, turkey, California-style tri-tip, and Southern-style pork are served alongside a selection of classic side dishes, beer, wine, and dessert.

Photos Courtesy of Big B’s Texas BBQ

Brian moved to Las Vegas more than 20 years ago for career opportunities but was unable to find authentic, traditional Texas barbecue in Vegas. Although not trained chefs, the couple decided to follow their dreams, opening their first location in Henderson in 2016. They recently opened a second location in Las Vegas with the same Texas flavor and, for sports fans, Texas games broadcast in the party room.

Locations in Henderson and Las Vegas

Something about the beach always called my name.

March is one of those glorious months in Los Angeles that signifies the coming of lush green vegetation, gorgeous fresh blooms, good surf, outdoor events, and so much room to play. Spring is about to bloom!

This month’s issue is a deep dive into the city’s rich history, including unsolved crimes, fascinating architecture, and a more intricate look inside the stories and fables surrounding Hollywood. Having been raised in the heart of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, my sister and I embarked on adventures powered by the lure of LA. Whether it was grabbing a donut with our grandfather at the local donut shop and hearing him tell us stories about golfing with Bob Hope, or roller skating along the boardwalk where my mom would tell us stories about listening to the Beatles at Hollywood Bowl, story was always at the heart of growing up. Venice Beach and Santa Monica happens to be where I would ditch school and escape.

Something about the beach always called my name. Venice and the canals were the source of sanity when life at home got a little crazy, and as I grew up and became an adult, I found myself utterly enthralled in all of LA. I explore on the regular. From roaming downtown during the day to holing up at Café Stella’s in Silverlake sipping a latte to sipping an afternoon martini while writing at Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood—there is no shortage of places to escape to. That’s the beauty of LA. You can always eat, always drink, always find cold pressed juice or vegan options, cultural immersion, art. Honestly anything you can think up, it’s here.

This month, you can also get your Britney Spears on at the hot new Britney Zone or get swept away in technology and art at the Wisdome downtown. No matter where you go and what you do, don’t let the chaos of a politically jarring primary election or the looming reminder of tax season get to you.

Let go. Breathe. Dance. Play. Eat. Find something new to do that you’ve always wanted to try. This is a new beginning. Take it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

Dawn Garcia

March Horoscope

Feb. 19–Mar. 20

Listen to the compliment that presents itself to you as a criticism; energies will make you better through jealousy and roadblocks. It could be that you realize it’s time for a change.

Mar. 21–Apr. 19

There is something to celebrate that presents itself to you. To thank the universe for this opportunity or inspiration, donate to an organization a few times this month.

Apr. 20–May 20

Do not try to impress anyone who isn’t treating you well. Please agree with the vibration that you are perfect the way you are—and totally step back from the people who are taking advantage of your good nature.

May 21–June 20

It’s time to apologize for the things you have done to hurt people. If your ego won’t let you actually call them to apologize, write them a “spiritual” letter telling them you were unfair to them and that you are sorry.

June 21–July 22

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The door to your future couldn’t open any wider. If you want the job, you can have it. If you want that relationship to go to the next level, you can have it.

July 23–Aug. 22

People are about to prove to you how much they love you. March is when your gratitude toward people who are supporting you will make all the difference.

Aug. 23–Sept. 22

There are angels surrounding you. Pennies and feathers in your path are likely. This is a month of being aware of how things are lining up for you. Accept all invitations.

Sept. 23–Oct. 22

Coincidence will be your best friend this month. It’s time to drop (old) ideas that you can’t have what you want…you totally can. Pay attention!

Oct. 23–Nov. 21

Practice saying nice things about people. Do not take on the bad karma right now of backstabbing those who truly do not deserve it. Ask yourself: “Am I basing my opinion on someone else’s agenda?”

Nov. 22–Dec. 21

You are the owner of this lifetime and acting as though you do have the power to change things will make all the difference this month. You will get a sign that you are on the right track.

Dec. 22–Jan. 19

When you focus on one thing at a time, you are a genius. Avoid multitasking this month. Better to spend the time to make sure it’s done right the first time.

Jan. 20–Feb. 18

Embrace the high energy of spinning lots of plates right now. You are the chef who has many pots simmering, and it’s time to admit that you like it this way. Thrive by making the magic happen with all the resources available to you.

Tiny homes are an obvious solution to housing and climate issues.

I visited Jay Shafer’s meticulous American Gothic–style house in a sun-dappled Iowa City backyard shortly after we launched Natural Home magazine in 1999. The Dow had just surpassed 10,000, mortgage credit requirements were melting into oblivion, and America had a bad case of McMansion Mania. Shafer’s 130-square-foot home (yes, you read that right), built for $40,000, was a hard “no” to all that. It was also cozy and inviting, and Shafer described himself as a claustrophile (someone who loves closed-in spaces).

Shafer won the Philosophy and Innovation Award in our Natural Home of the Year contest because his adorable house embodied everything the magazine stood for, and he wasn’t afraid to say things. He said that we Americans like our homes like we like our food—big and cheap—and he was the first to figure out that putting a tiny house on wheels makes it an RV and therefore not subject to city and county minimum-size standards and codes. He wasn’t shy about his intention to make tiny homes a revolutionary alternative in a housing market headed for disaster.

“I am certainly not proposing that everyone should live in a house as small as mine,” Shafer wrote in the letter accompanying his contest entry. “Such minimalism would be excessive for most people. What I am saying is that the scale of our homes should be as varied as the spatial needs of their inhabitants, and that it is those needs rather than government regulations and conspicuous consumption that should determine house size.”

Shafer’s message was radical, and largely ignored, in the frenzy leading up to the 2008 crash. But his company, Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, built a following, and he built a name for himself as the godfather of a fledgling tiny house movement (one blogger called him “the George Washington of simple and sustainable living”). He wrote The Small House Book and was on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Then he lost the company in a business dispute and his house in a divorce, and he was homeless for a while, living in a pigpen inside a shed. Determined never to live that way again, Shafer designed a 50-square-foot home that cost $5,000 in Sebastopol, California. He gives master class workshops at tiny house festivals around the world (including the Tiny House Festival Australia in Bendigo, Victoria, March 21–22).

“The evolution of tiny houses has paralleled the digital revolution, since this whole tiny thing started at the turn of the century,” Shafer told in 2014. “Once it became possible to have a remote little phone instead of a landline and a wall-mounted flat screen instead of a 2-foot-by-1-foot chunk on the dresser, folks started seeing the potential for living in what basically amounts to a laptop with a roof.”

A Status Symbol for Humble Braggers

Though 82 percent of renters say they would like to buy a home someday, according to Fannie Mae, homeownership is at its lowest point since 1965. Ordinary people can’t afford the American Dream (median listing price: $310,000). In the Bay Area, homebuyers paid twice their annual income for a house in the 1960s; today, they shell out nine times their yearly salary. Only 13 percent of millennial renters in the United States will have enough cash to put 20 percent down on a house in the next five years, according to an Apartment List survey.

Tiny homes are much cheaper, with prices ranging from $10,000 to more than $200,000 (averaging about $65,000), and operating and maintaining them costs a lot less. When the International Code Commission made changes to its residential code to facilitate tiny house construction in 2018, it reported lifetime conditioning costs as low as 7 percent of conventional homes.

That reality is driving the spike in interest in tiny homes, which are getting a lot of attention as a solution to the affordable housing and homeless crises, with the added bonus of being kinder to the planet than a traditional three-bedroom/two-bath. Whether they live in tiny homes for financial reasons or not, climate-aware homebuyers get a status symbol that flaunts their honorable choice to reduce their footprint and live with less—no easy thing to do, even in this post-Kondo age.

It doesn’t hurt that tiny homes—generally defined as homes with less than 400 square feet—are now readily available in every style, from your basic shed to sleek Dwell-worthy models. You can buy plans and build a tiny house yourself or pick out one online and have it shipped to you. You can even order one on Amazon. Used tiny homes, along with inspirational stories and information, can be found at sites like,, and Tiny Home Nation: 10K Strong

More than half of Americans would consider a tiny home, according to a National Association of Home Builders survey. Potential buyers and just-dreamers flock to check out micro-houses, “schoolies” (converted school buses), and vans at tiny home festivals like the Florida Suncoast Tiny Home Festival in St. Petersburg (March 28–29) and the People’s Tiny House Festival in Golden, Colorado (June 6–7). But the reality is that only about 10,000 people in North America—the lucky ones who have managed to find parking spots—actually live in tiny homes.

Like anything that disrupts the norm in a conformist capitalist culture, building a tiny home in a world of ticky-tacky boxes is not easy. The good news is that times are changing, as municipalities consider tiny home villages as a way to house the homeless and marginalized communities. Still, most states only allow tiny homes to be parked in rural areas (Massachusetts, California, Florida, and Oregon are somewhat more lenient). Because most zoning laws in the United States don’t have a classification for tiny houses, most owners have to follow Shafer’s lead and register them as RVs, trailers, or mobile homes.

In most places, zoning ordinances won’t allow you to buy land, park your tiny home/RV, and live happily ever after. You either have to rely on the kindness of family and friends with backyards or pay a monthly park fee to rent a space in one of the tiny home villages cropping up across the country. Park Delta Bay, an RV resort in Isleton, California, now has a row reserved for tiny homes. At Village Farm, an RV resort that’s turning into a tiny-home community in Austin, Texas, residents pay about $600 to $700 a month to park and use the services.

Slowly, city and state governments are responding to homebuyers’ demands for tiny home opportunities beyond RV resorts. Portland, Oregon, (but of course) has relaxed its ordinances to allow for everything from tiny house communities to tiny house hotels. In Rockledge, Florida, citizens demanded zoning changes allowing for a pocket neighborhood with homes ranging from 150 to 700 square feet. A tiny home community for low-income residents is under way on Detroit’s west side, and Vail, Arizona, built two dozen 300- to 400-square-foot houses for schoolteachers.

Advocacy groups have been paving the way for tiny homes since Shafer and a few friends founded the Small Home Society in 2002, and they’re seeing a resurgence. In 2017, a group of University of California-Berkeley students launched the Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY) project to promote research and development and raise awareness of tiny house communities. Operation Tiny Home is a national nonprofit that helps people “maintain a life of dignity” through high-quality tiny housing and empowerment training programs.

In Canada, activists calling themselves Tiny House Warriors are taking the revolution to the next level, placing “resistance-homes-on-wheels” along the pathway of the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline. “We are asserting our inherent, God-given right to our lands,” says Kanahus Manuel, a leader of Tiny House Warrior. “We’re defending what’s ours, and tiny homes are how we’re doing it.”

Paper-engineering obsessives create the first pop-up book to explore the world of cannabis.

Collaboration is a wonderful thing. When my friend Rosston Meyer told me a few years ago that he was planning a pop-up cannabis book, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I knew Meyer ran an independent publishing house designing pop-up books in collaboration with artists. Meyer is a designer with a passion for art and pop culture, so I imagined his books were a modern upgrade of the old-school pop-up books I played with as a child—3-D elements and foldouts, tabs to pull and wheels to spin—but with a modern aesthetic that appeals to adults. “A pop-up on pot would be cool to flip through and play with,” I remember thinking. “I hope he does it.”

A few years later, Meyer came around to show me a physical mock-up of his pot-themed pop-up, which he’d titled Dimensional Cannabis. What he showed me was a modern art form I wasn’t aware existed. Yes, the book featured 3-D elements and foldouts, with tabs to pull and wheels to spin, but what I had pictured was similar only in concept. These were intricate and elaborate kinetic paper sculptures that painted a picture and brought it to life. I was blown away. So, when he asked if I’d be interested in writing the words to go on the pages before me, I signed on immediately.

Altogether, Dimensional Cannabis took more than three years to complete, with a total of nine people contributing to the final product published by Poposition Press, Meyer’s independent publishing house. A small press, Poposition designs, publishes, and distributes limited-edition pop-up books that feature artists or subjects that Meyer finds of deep personal interest. He got started in the genre in 2013, when he started working on a collaboration with Jim Mahfood, a comic book creator known as Food One. The resulting Pop-Up Funk features Mahfood’s diverse designs transformed into interactive three-dimensional pop-ups. The limited-edition run of 100 copies were all constructed by hand.

Since then, Poposition has worked with a number of contemporary artists to publish titles like Triad by cute-culture artist Junko Mizuno and Necronomicon by macabre master Skinner.

Meyer has been fascinated by pop-up books since he was a kid, and in 2013, he began concentrating on paper engineering and book production. “After making a couple books focused on just artists, I thought that creating a pop-up book about cannabis would be a good idea,” he says. “There’s nothing else like it in the market, and there’s an audience for adult-themed pop-up books.”

For Dimensional Cannabis, Meyer collaborated with Mike Giant, a renowned American illustrator, graffiti writer, tattooer, and artist. Giant’s medium of choice is a Sharpie, and Giant’s detailed line work is instantly recognizable. An avid proponent of cannabis, Giant illustrated the entire Dimensional Cannabis book.

Giant and Meyer met at a weekly open studio Giant hosted in Boulder. “When the idea of doing a pop-up book about cannabis came up, he asked if I would illustrate it,” Giant says. “I’ve been an advocate for cannabis use for decades, so it didn’t take long for me to agree to work on the project.”

Meyer began by sending Giant reference materials to visualize. “I’d get it drawn out, hand it off, and get some more stuff to illustrate,” Giant says. “He’d send me previews of the finished pages as we went. It was really cool to see my line drawings colored and cut to shape. That process went on for months and months until everything for the book was accounted for.”

The process of making pop-up books is called “paper engineering.” I love obsessives, and the engineers who put this book together, make no mistake, are the ones who spend endless hours figuring out the tiniest details of the folds and materials necessary so that water pipe emerges every time you open the paraphernalia page.

“David Carter and I started talking about the idea a couple years prior to actually starting on the book,” Meyer says. “The initial concepts for each spread were figured out, and a different paper-engineer peer was asked to design each spread so that the book had variation throughout.”

Dimensional Cannabis is divided into six pages, or spreads, covering the cannabis plant’s biology, medical properties, cultivation, history, and influence on popular culture. The paraphernalia page features many items we associate with cannabis consumption over the years in America, from rolling papers and pipes to vaporizers, dabs, and concentrates—and that foot-long bong that miraculously appears as you turn the page.

One spread opens to the full plant, with information on its unique and fascinating properties. Another opens to a colorful, meditating figure with text about the healing properties of cannabis. One page is dedicated to its cultivation possibilities, basic genetics, and the differences between indoor and outdoor growing.

The history spread takes us back to the beginnings of the curious and long-standing connection between humans and cannabis. Engineer Simon Arizpe had worked with Meyer before and jumped at the chance to work on that one. “I wanted it to be Eurasian-centric as the viewer opens the page, showing the early uses of cannabis in ancient Vietnam and China,” Arizpe says. “As the viewer engages with the pop-up, cannabis’s use in the new world spreads across the page,” he adds. “We decided [to focus] on moments in time that were either politically relevant, like weed legalization, or culturally significant, like Reefer Madness.”

Arizpe feels like the entire project is an example of what can be done working with talented people outside the traditional publishing engine. “Rosston came up with an idea that has a big following and made it happen,” he says. “It is pretty exciting when people can do that out of nothing.”

For Meyer, who says he likes a good sativa when he’s working, the project was a labor of love that spans all his areas of interest. “Not only was this a great experience putting together such a unique book, but having different paper engineers work on each spread made this a real collaboration,” he says. “There have only been a couple pop-up books produced with a roster of engineers. Dimensional Cannabis is for cannabis lovers and pop-up book collectors alike.”

Fourteen-year-old Kyler Nipper demonstrates action and compassion through Kyler’s Kicks.

Our youth have always been our future—despite any turmoil, schizophrenic economy, feuds between generations, societal divisions, or political unrest they face as they wake up each day. Humans persevere through the darkest of moments with the youth possessing optimism that they can still change the world. Yes, they can—and they do.

Teens in Las Vegas also embrace social change, whether they have experienced trauma themselves or a cause that arouses passion and commitment. It is now time to shine a light on a special young person in southern Nevada who is making a difference today.

A sharp pencil altered the life of Kyler Nipper, sending him on a path he never expected to walk.

Before his life veered 360 degrees, Kyler lived in Texas with his parents, Sherise and Nick Nipper, and his two older siblings. The first shock in his young life was when his mother was diagnosed with epilepsy. Medicinal cannabis was not legal in Texas, so, while the two older siblings remained there, Kyler’s family moved to Colorado in 2015 to allow Sherise to use medicinal cannabis.

With finances stretched tight, Kyler’s parents could not afford the outrageously priced shoes and other gear for a teenager. But the family thrived while maintaining a loving home, and Kyler attended school with clean clothing and the best his parents could provide.

But, on Oct. 7, 2017, while walking down a school hallway, a classmate stabbed Kyler in his chest with a sharp pencil, puncturing his lung. He was rushed to the hospital and was admitted for three days, facing multiple surgeries.

The attacker said that he stabbed Kyler because his shoes were “not cool enough.” Kyler was just 11 years old at the time. At his young age, Kyler started suffering from PTSD, as well as lingering pain in his chest and feet.
“As part of my healing, I wanted to give away cool shoes. A lot of friends started to donate shoes, and we created a Facebook page,” Kyler explains. “People started to mail us shoes, and then we started to get sponsors. Zappos reached out to us when someone told them about our shoe giveaway and gave us 300 pairs of shoes.” That was only the beginning of his service and long-standing relationship with Zappos, but the family’s hard times were far from over.

The Darkest of days

While recovering from his physical injuries, as well as the emotional and mental trauma, Kyler was prescribed pharmaceuticals by his doctor. “I almost lost my baby within the first 72 hours after he took the prescribed medication,” recalls his mother. “We walked into his room and found him with a belt tied around his neck. We rushed him to the emergency room, and the doctor told us that this is a ‘normal’ side effect of Zoloft for teenage boys. We were told to ‘just watch him’ for the first 90 days.”

Since she was using medicinal cannabis in a state where it was legal, Sherise innocently asked the emergency room doctor about her son using cannabis instead of prescription drugs. The physician told his staff to call the police and child protective services, and report the parents as unfit. The police arrived, pulled out the handcuffs and threatened to arrest Kyler’s parents.

“When the police pulled out their handcuffs on me,” she recalls, “I asked them, ‘Why aren’t you also arresting the doctor? It was the doctor that gave my minor son a pill that caused him to want to kill himself.’”

Sherise and Nick lost custody while Kyler was hospitalized for 72 hours. An emergency custody hearing was held in court after the 72 hours, and Kyler was returned to his parents’ care. The family then fought CPS through the Colorado court system for months before they won the right to give Kyler medicinal cannabis.

“The day we won, we took Kyler down to get his medical cannabis card. Ever since then, it has been night and day with Kyler. Cannabis is the key to Kyler’s healing,” she says. Pharmaceuticals scare Kyler’s parents, and they don’t want any other parent to witness their child trying to kill themselves because of a side effect of prescription drugs.

Before the legal bills, the family had lost everything after Kyler was stabbed. Their personal insurance wouldn’t cover expenses because the stabbing had happened on school property. The school district refused to pay, making the statement that it was the responsibility of the parents and their personal health insurance. While a federal lawsuit has been filed, Kyler’s family still had to pay his medical expenses, financially devastating them.

Creating a movement

After becoming homeless, the family used their savings, $800, to purchase a 1978 RV to drive through the Southwest before settling in Las Vegas, where Zappos is based, and medicinal cannabis is legal.

The Zappos community embraced the family, giving Kyler space to study and a laptop to work on. Believing in Kyler and his family, Zappos then awarded them a check for $15,000 to create a nonprofit organization.
Kyler, still 11 at the time, attended classes held at the US Small Business Administration as the youngest student among adults. He also took nonprofit boot camp and public speaking and other classes throughout the years.

Kyler’s Kicks has become a shoe distributing reality, but because Kyler is a minor, he cannot be president of the nonprofit organization. A third party had to review the papers and bylaws, establishing that, when he turns 18, Kyler can transition smoothly into the role.

A Place for Teens to Go

Trauma invades time even with passing years, and therapy helps with jagged edges. “I knew I needed therapy, but we couldn’t afford it,” admits Kyler. “After doing research, I discovered Nevada places No. 51 (including US Territories) in mental health care. I wanted to open a place and bring that number up to 48.”

What Kyler and his parents learned while looking for a place for the healing space is that there is different zoning for therapy services, education, and social clubs. As a teenager looking for a building to offer both therapy and a social place for teens in one place, that search became daunting.

Anyone who has ever met Kyler and his family understands that obstacles are meant to be overcome with success.

After finding a building, Kyler had to apply for the licenses and was continuously turned down. The family attended multiple meeting at the Small Business Administration and the City of Las Vegas Department of Planning. After numerous meetings, Kyler and his family presented a comprehensive 23-page business plan about the need and how they could benefit from a nonprofit organization. Kyler finally received approval.

But, then the original location fell through, and the search was on again. Kyler and his family found a second building in downtown, only to be turned down due to their credit history—and no credit history with the nonprofit agency. With the help of Zappos and the Never Give Up Behavioral Health Services, Kyler raised $14,950 online to pay one year’s rent and security deposit in advance. The space, now Kyler’s Kicks Lounge, was refurnished with a kitchen and meeting room, plus games, a billiard table, and a TV.

Kyler is the president of Kyler’s Kicks Lounge teen board of directors. The family has partnered with Never Give Up to provide licensed therapists and life coaches.

Now 14 years old, Kyler is home-schooled, in addition to his many nonprofit and lounge responsibilities. His mother works exclusively with Kyler, and his father handles two jobs at the moment. Kyler’s goal when he turns 18 is to create an affordable shoe line with a business model where every pair sold affords another pair to be donated.

Kyler’s Kicks partners with numerous agencies, and Kyler’s Kicks Lounge offers a place for teens attending sixth to 12th grades to go for help, comfort, and fun. Today, the family drives a wrapped car, celebrating Kyler’s Kicks, and is renovating a school bus purchased during an auction for the nonprofit to offer even more services.

“We want every teenager in Las Vegas to know there is a place now open that they can come for a delicious meal, resources (including therapy), and a place to talk,” says Sherise. “You can come to us and tell us how you had a bad day in school, [or that] you want to harm yourself, and we have someone to talk to you. You don’t have to have health insurance, and you don’t need a social security number.”

Kyler smiles and, while being a kid playing video games and hanging with friends, is just getting started on goals with his life. In 14 years, he has accomplished so much, which he says is just the beginning.

Whatever its origin, we use the heart icon today, shaping our hands into a heart, whether for a photo or to show someone we care.

The heart icon expresses the emotion of love in all senses, not just romantic. According to news site, theories abound about its creation. Before the first century A.D., Silphium, a heart-shaped seed pod, was used for birth control. Another theory suggests that early depictions of the heart as a representation of love began in France in 1250. Yet another theory involves a 14th-century Italian physicist attempting to draw the heart according to the findings of Aristotle.
Whatever its origin, we use the icon today, shaping our hands into a heart, whether for a photo or to show someone we care. Emojis in the heart shape (pick a color) fill our texts and posts. February is designated Heart Month to bring awareness to protecting and taking steps for better heart health.

What creates a happy heart?

Is it following your passion, also known as following your heart? Dr. Nikki Martinez, who wrote “10 Reasons to Follow Your Heart” for, suggests several profound reasons. She says that by following your heart, you’ll have fewer regrets, along with increased self-respect, self-knowledge, and forgiveness.

Many people follow their hearts by giving of themselves and offering aid to the disenfranchised in our community. Others teach, mentor, and volunteer to show love to their neighborhoods. Cannabis aids in combating stress, pain, and anxiety, which helps the heart physically and emotionally. Happiness and love pair well together offering many paths to a happy heart.

Sensi magazine embraces love with a pro-cannabis voice. Thank you for reading Sensi, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with you, our readers.

Yours in the new normal,

Debbie Hall

On the Calendar: Las Vegas, February 2020

February has arrived with the year in full swing. Concerts, plays, and a film festival fill the days and nights. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Step into nature with a new appreciation. Valentine’s Day doesn’t just mean dinner and drinks. This is Vegas with fun activities for singles and couples on that day of love and throughout the month. Expand your boundaries while developing a new outlook on the world today.

Beijing Opera Madame White Snake

Feb. 3, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Judy Bayley Theatre, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

National Wear Red Day

Feb. 7
Millions nationwide wear red to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke.

First Friday

Feb. 7, 5–10 p.m.
Arts District, Las Vegas

A Steady Rain

February 7–23
The Usual Place, Las Vegas
Presented by A Public Fit Theatre Company, this play follows childhood friends Joey and Denny, now serving as Chicago policemen, as they deal with domestic calls, violence, and street life. Their friendship is tested when a domestic disturbance call turns serious.

Dam Short Film Festival

Feb. 13–16
Boulder Theatre, Boulder City


Feb. 13–15
Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas

Broadway’s Next Hit Musical

Feb. 14, 7 p.m.
Charleston Heights Arts Center, Las Vegas
Audience members interact in Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, an unscripted theatrical awards show. The audience submits made-up song titles, and the improvisational group will present them as “nominated songs” for the “coveted” Phony Award. Everyone then votes for their favorite song, which becomes an improvised musical production.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Feb. 15, 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
Winchester Dondero Cultural Center, Las Vegas
Yes, even in the desert, there are birds, and here is the chance to learn and connect with these feathered friends. Presented by the Winchester Nesters and Red Rock Audubon, this event is an opportunity to learn about the natural environment of Southern Nevada while promoting conservation and protection of habitats. All ages and families are welcome to attend.

Men on Boats

Feb. 19–March 15
Vegas Theatre Company, Las Vegas

Tales of Billy Hayes: Cannabis Activist

Feb. 20, 6–7:30 p.m.
Sahara West Library, Las Vegas
Medical cannabis and CBD-use advocate Billy Hayes will speak about being sentenced to life imprisonment in Turkey after trying to smuggle two kilos of hashish in 1970. His book about his experience, Midnight Express, and Oliver Stone’s film adaptation generated controversy internationally. Dr. Scott Jacobson, medical director of Wishing Wellness and a specialist in the use of cannabis to manage chronic disease, will also speak.

A Night of Magical Delights

Feb. 22, 6 p.m.
Paris Resort, Las Vegas
Opera Las Vegas celebrates its 20th anniversary with a star-studded evening of revelry showcasing Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Spellbinding performances of classical and popular performances will appear—poof—all night long. Enjoy inspired cuisine and libations while mingling with Sin City’s social glitterati.

Voices of Women Concert Series: Coretta Scott King

Feb. 23, 3 p.m.
Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center, Las Vegas

Ethnic Express International Folk Dancing

Feb. 26, 6:30–8:45 p.m.
Charleston Heights Arts Center, Las Vegas

Hal Savar Acoustic Guitar

Feb. 28, 7 p.m.
Mermaids Lounge at Silverton Casino, Las Vegas

The Dirty at 12:30 Comedy Show

Feb. 28, 12:30 a.m.
South Point Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

David Perrico & Pop Strings Orchestra

Feb. 28–29, 10 p.m.–12 a.m.
Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

High Society: Sensi Night, Las Vegas

Where: The Doyle
When: December 30, 2019
Photos: Danielle Eugenia Photography

The start of New Year’s week in Las Vegas began with Sensi Night Las Vegas at The Doyle. Two adorable alpacas greeted guests before everyone walked into the first party room with OG Serg hitting the beats. Wrestling legend Rob Van Dam and Sober Junkie posed with fans on the red carpet with more Insta moments captured at the SocialBooth LV. Guests enjoyed Sensi Spiced Old Fashioned drinks mixed by Craft Cocktail Catering. Throughout the evening, guitarist Shawn Eiferman entertained, and Michael De Los Santos dazzled with live art along with artwork exhibited by Steven Spann. What a way to begin 2020!

Party Like It's 2020

Banksy: Genius or Vandal? exhibition invades Vegas

Covering one of the most controversial and influential artists of this time, the unofficial exhibition Banksy: Genius or Vandal? brings together more than 70 works from private, international collections displayed in Las Vegas for the first time. Original works, sculptures, videos, photographs, and other installations create themes from the mind and heart of the mysterious influencer.

An anonymous street artist, political activist, and film director, Banksy creates debate and controversy with his messages. His art combines graffiti with a stenciling technique using a canvas of exterior walls, bridges, and streets. The artist challenges the status quo with social and political commentaries using dark humor.

Bansky, who is based in England, started out in the Bristol underground art scene in 1990 and expanded his work over the decade traveling around the world and creating his art. He presented his first US exhibition in Los Angeles in 2002.

His documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. When Banksy was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2011, there were rumors that he would show up on stage if he won the award. (He didn’t.)

The ambiguity of his identity has intrigued the public and created a following within the art community. The “Banksy effect” refers to street art being incorporated into mainstream culture. The genius of Banksy’s art is that it’s funny, grim, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once. It can make you laugh or cry.

The Bohemian neighborhood bar 18bin feeds the soul in the arts district.

The historic arts district in downtown Las Vegas, 18b, pulsates with art, culture, and the soul of the community. Its newest gathering place for food, drink, and live entertainment, 18bin, draws diners for lunch, happy hour, dinner, and late-night fun.

The bar’s menu combines classic diner and bistro dishes with inspired vegetarian fare. Appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and small and medium plates incorporate Cajun, Mediterranean, and south-of-the-border influences. The menu changes to include locally sourced and fresh ingredients in their peak season.

The plant-based Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Sandwich stacks eggplant, zucchini, Roma tomato, and artichoke hearts on focaccia, and tops it all with mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and olive tapenade. Carnivores devour the Diner Burger, a 5.5-ounce griddled burger topped with Big John’s Cajun Cheddar.

Photos Emily Wilson Photography

A favorite, Cajun Jambalaya is made with spicy andouille sausage and herb-marinated chicken with Cajun seasoning served over long-grain rice with a side of southern-style Sticky-Sauce Chicken Lollipops. Ropa Vieja Shepherd’s Pie puts a twist on the traditional dish with twice-braised beef, chilies, olives, and Manchego cheese.

The full bar at 18bin offers an extensive liquor and spirits list, cocktails, and diverse selection of domestic and international beers. For connoisseurs of the grape, the curated wine list beckons a sip of red or white.

Located in The Arts Factory, this new hot spot encompasses a 4,000-square-foot indoor space and a 5,000-square-foot outdoor patio. Its eclectic decor reflects artists, galleries, murals, and public art. Vintage light fixtures, intricate lamps, and midcentury furniture ramp up the ambience. Sunshine can be enjoyed on the trellis-covered terrace, especially when the weather warms up. Live entertainment adds to the creative vibe along with special programs and activations held on the outdoor stage during First Friday.

Cocktails to keep your love warm this February

Need a little romance for Valentine’s Day? Spectacular recipes from The Original Brand Co. in Las Vegas showcase some of the hottest new spirits, mixers, and gin. Yes, Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday for the crisp taste of gin.

A specialty drink trending in New Orleans in the midcentury, the fizz first appeared on bar tops in 1876 and grabbed America’s attention starting in the 1900s. Bartenders would put on a show shaking the popular drink. In 1950, the fizz was included in a French cookbook, bringing it international recognition. Enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of Anna’s Kitchen Shrub

Valentine’s Gin Fizz

Recipe from Anna’s Kitchen Shrub / Makes 1 cocktail


2 ounces Cape
Fear Distillery Maritime Gin
1 ounce Anna’s Kitchen Strawberry Lemon Thyme Shrub (Silver Medal Winner at the PR%F Awards)
Splash club soda
1 lemon wheel

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Add gin and Strawberry Lemon Thyme Shrub.
  • Shake and strain into a martini glass.
  • Add a splash of club soda.
  • Garnish with lemon wheel.

February Horoscope

Jan. 20–Feb. 18

Sometimes you do know what’s best for the people you love, but this month is all about celebrating what people can do without your assistance. Explore your own potential without the burden of helping others.

Feb. 19–March 20

Don’t be surprised if a new job or major project presents itself to you. As reluctant as you may be to let go of your current situation, your legacy may be better served by considering what the universe is offering.

March 21–April 19

Concentrate on loving yourself this month. It’s not about proving yourself; it’s about filling yourself up and supporting your unique energy. February resonates with the signs of Aquarius (power of mind) and Pisces (power of intuitive). These are the elements to balance.

April 20–May 20

You will meet two amazing people. The man is a leader in his industry who has earned everything he has. The woman is unconditional love in action. Pay attention to the impression they leave with you.

May 21–June 20

You may feel frustrated that some people are questioning your credibility. They may not be the people to align with in the future. However, if these people have struck a nerve, that may indicate a skill to hone.

June 21–July 22

Ignore any past “stuff” this month. Although you may feel an innate obligation to heal, it is not your responsibility to do so. It’s time to forget the past and move forward. Trust yourself enough to enjoy this life.

July 23–Aug. 22

Claim your spotlight this month. This is the month of announcements and commitments to a new future. The unjust element of last year has finally fallen away, and as such, your mojo and energy are (again) being celebrated.

Aug. 23–Sept. 22

Are you being stingy with your power? Have you done for people at the same level that they have done for you? Have you kept your promises? Are you telling the truth (not your version of it)? Balance the scales: reciprocity is your gift this month.

Sept. 23–Oct. 22

Perhaps your dream is about to be fulfilled because you take an interest in your art or hobby. The more interested you are in the people who have followed their dreams, the more ideas and inspiration come to you.

Oct. 23–Nov. 21

There are people who deserve your forgiveness. The grudge(s) you’re hanging onto could hinder the good energy coming toward you. There may be a new career opportunity that presents itself by the end of May, though you may hear about it this month.

Nov. 22–Dec. 21

You’re discovering what love means. You’ve figured out the emotional and financial issues and gotten yourself back on track. Your priorities are moving in the right direction, and you’ve accepted what you can and cannot do. Blessings on all of this!

Dec. 22–Jan. 19

There’s a mistaken belief that Capricorns are cold and unemotional. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are drawn to puppies and kittens and are incredibly loyal to long-time relationships. You feel things to the core of your being; it’s time to let others see a glimpse of that.

Find friends and save money in shared living spaces.

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 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. 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.”

Books, Railway Adventures, and Happenings Around Las Vegas

  • Discover art, design, and culture at the library. Read
  • Dan Bilzerian launches Ignite, a line of CBD products. Read
  • Ride on rail bikes through historic Southern Nevada with Rail Explorers. Read
  • The Arts Factory thrives in 18b. Read
  • Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month. Read
  • Holy Smoke shines bright in the tunnels under the Strip. Read
  • The Downtown Dance Conservatory trains a new generation. Read
  • Move fashion forward with vintage clothing from Neon Cactus. Read
  • Exploration Peak offers breathtaking vistas of Southern Nevada. Read

Beyond Books

Discover art, design, and culture at the library.

Libraries have transformed into cultural centers, and that includes the Las Vegas–Clark County Library District. Its newest branch, East Las Vegas Library, designed with high ceilings, modern architecture, and inviting spaces, is one of the most visited branches in the city. Art galleries in all the libraries exhibit local artists. Of course, the magic of books endures, but music, film, and audio selections round out the library’s offerings. These resources expand horizons with a world waiting to be explored.

Clark County Libraries /

Ignite with Flavor

Dan Bilzerian, known as “The King of Instagram,” first built his empire using social media marketing. In 2017, he launched Ignite, a line of CBD products, which has since expanded to include vapes, drops, toothpicks, topicals, pet products, gummies, and lip balm. Flavor profiles include blood orange, lemon, cherry, lavender, and tropical fruit. Its all-natural CBD drops are blended with essential oils. Topicals are made with 100 percent plant-based ingredients. Its newest product is the 350 mg full-spectrum drops and bath bombs.

Ignite / $15–$65 /

Track History

Ride on rail bikes through historic Southern Nevada with Rail Explorers.

Boulder City, Nevada, 26 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was settled in the early 1930s with the building of the Hoover Dam. Today, people can ride pedal-powered vehicles with steel wheels and hydraulic disc brakes that ride along the nearby railroad tracks with Rail Explorers guided tours. The specially tricked out “rail explorers” are like bikes, but you don’t need to steer them, which keeps your hands free for those Insta moments. The Southwest Ramble is a four-mile downhill pedal-powered daytime ride. The Sunset Tour is a picturesque adventure. And the Evening Lantern Ride is a one-of-a-kind experience illuminated by the glow of the stars and the moon. All rides start at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, and each tour includes a nostalgic journey in one of the museum’s historic trains, along with free museum entry.

Rail Explorers Tours begin at $45 per person

Industry for Creativity

The Arts Factory thrives in 18b.

The Arts Factory repurposed a 50-year-old commercial warehouse building in the 1990s to create an art center and transform the neighborhood. As part of the arts district, 18b, the community flourishes today with galleries, studios, photographers, boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s the epicenter of First Friday festival, and its purpose remains to exhibit local art along with poetry readings, performances, and concerts. The interior is a delightful maze of unique, one-of-a-kind expressions in different spaces. A city pride mural bursting with color now wraps the building, inviting all to come in and explore.

Just south of The Arts Factory facing the streets are sculptures such as Snowball in Vegas (a 10-foot-tall cat head) and Radial Symmetry (a 16-by-16-foot metal sculpture of two Paiute baskets leaning on each other) as well as the Joie de Vivre mural. These artistic conceptions offer the perfect walking excursion.

The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd.,


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.

Off the Grid

Holy Smoke shines bright in the tunnels under the Strip.

Under the glare of the neon lights of the Strip, an estimated 1,000 people have created homes in the sewer tunnels of Las Vegas, living under the streets and sidewalks of glittering resorts. In addition to facing pitch darkness at night, when it rains, flash floods send 10- to 20-foot walls of water into the tunnels, wiping out makeshift camps and, tragically, drowning those who were unable to reach high ground in time.

Arthur “Doc” McClenaghan, a motivational standup comedian, and his wife, Teresa, have reached out to this underground community. The couple is known for “cannabis, comedy, and charity.” In 2018, after informally volunteering in the community for years, they created Holy Smoke Misfit Missionaries, a nonprofit dedicated to alleviating homelessness.

Their goal is to connect people living in the tunnels with available resources. Doc and Teresa view this outreach as making friends and helping people out. They do bring supplies and food as a gesture for being invited into “homes.” Still, Doc and Teresa are very clear they do not want to enable anyone but assist with resources to help people get out of the tunnels. “It has been the craziest, most rewarding time of our lives,” Doc says.

Both Doc and Teresa were influenced by their respective childhoods. Doc’s mother, born with a cleft lip, was shunned by her own mother, and he witnessed his mother reaching out to the disenfranchised to invite them home. Teresa’s father was considered the black sheep of their family. He was also drawn to the misfits of society and often brought them home.

“We want to teach society about human compassion towards the homeless,” Teresa says.

Holy Smoke / @holysmokemisfitmissionaries

Dacing in the Streets

The Downtown Dance Conservatory trains a new generation.

Downtown Dance Conservatory founders Sara and Tru Ives are excited to train students on the technical and artistic skills required to pursue a professional career in dance. They help students achieve their dreams as the next generation of dancers who will delight audiences around the world.

The conservatory is located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. Bringing a new approach to dance in the community, students range from age three to adult in several styles of dance. Future Prep is for dancers to train for the next level to participate in summer programs, company auditions, and college. Students are given necessary tools, including technique lessons, headshots, video submission, and résumé assistance.

Sara and Tru have been part of the entertainment business for more than 20 years. Sara, originally from Puerto Rico, is a graduate from the University of the Arts with a degree in dance and a Vaganova Ballet teaching certification for grades 1–3. She has danced in the Orlando Ballet, Ohio Dance Theater, and Brandywine Ballet. Tru is a Las Vegas native who has worked as a sound engineer and stagehand on the Las Vegas Strip, including Follies Bergere, David Copperfield, and Masters of Illusion.

Downtown Dance Conservatory / 700 E. St. Louis Ave. /

Midcentury Style

Move fashion forward with vintage clothing from Neon Cactus.

Colorful clothing from all decades with a rich history comes to life worn as a modern sustainable fashion piece. Neon Cactus has opened a brick-and-mortar shop in Fergusons Downtown in an inviting space that goes beyond boundaries. Negar Hosseini, the founder, is a queer woman of color who loves fashion and self-expression in an all-inclusive environment. Neon Cactus curates vintage clothing that embraces sassy sophistication and bold statements. Hosseini also carries handmade stained-glass jewelry to accent the clothing pieces.

Neon Cactus at Fergusons Downtown /

View Finder

Exploration Peak offers breathtaking vistas of Southern Nevada.

Las Vegas is home to many beautiful parks, but Exploration Park is a gateway to the 2,846-foot-high Exploration Peak with trails to walk or bike with spectacular views of the valley. Its magnificent scenery blends the natural elements of the area’s geography and history. Marvel in the vastness of the mountain ranges and blue sky as a gift of nature.

Exploration Peak at Exploration Park / 9700 S. Buffalo Dr. /

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.

Cannabis has delighted and inspired humans since prehistoric times. We should celebrate that.

Cannabis induces merriment, creativity, and divine inspiration. It gets us high. It helps us have fun. If we’re ever to win this legalization debate, we need a better word to encapsulate these blessings than “recreational.”

Delight Giver or Liberator of Sin?

Humans have been enthralled with cannabis’s gentle intoxication since the earliest foragers taste-tested sticky cannabis flowers and, if you believe ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, subsequently invented religion.

In Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany, Robert C. Clarke and Mark D. Merlin describe the cannabis plant’s most significant evolutionary trait as “the adaptation of the female inflorescence to exude large amounts of readily apparent and easily collected psychoactive resin.” Throughout the ages, humans have both reveled with and reviled the gift of those psychoactive crystals—almost exclusively for economic and political reasons as revolutions in thought and art have exploded during the intelligentsia’s cannabis (usually hashish-eating) binges.

Though cannabis was referred to in ancient China as “liberator of sin” and “delight giver,” it was never popular for its mind-opening qualities in that nation. In India, on the other hand, cannabis in various forms—ganja, the flowering tops; charas, concentrated resin; and bhang, a drink made from cannabis, spices, nuts, seeds, and milk—has been, for centuries, a staple for Hindus who are forbidden to drink alcohol. Believed to be Lord Shiva’s favorite food, bhang is deeply embedded in the rituals at holy festivals, weddings, and other celebrations.

Described in the ancient text Atharva Veda as an herb that relieves anxiety, ganja has been a part of daily life in India for thousands of years. Many Hindus drink bhang to relax and escape at the end of a long day, much like Americans drink beer. According to Clarke and Merlin, an 1894 Indian Hemp Drugs Commission report stated that cannabis use was generally accepted because it had positive effects like “raising a man out of himself and above mean individual worries.”

Branches of Bliss and Thought Morsels

Cultures and religions have been defined—and divided—by their intoxicants of choice throughout history. Early Christians ordained alcohol, and in 1484 Pope Innocent VIII decreed cannabis use cause for excommunication, despite what many believe to be the Bible’s blessing in Genesis 1:29: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, and to you it will be for meat.”

Perhaps Christians vilified cannabis because Mohammed’s followers reached for it instead of alcohol, which was forbidden to them. Cannabis is key to the myth of 11th-century Shiite zealot Hassan-Ibn-Sabbah, who reputedly lured male followers to a paradise and plied them with wine, food, women, and hashish before he forced them to kill infidels. (The word assassin is said to be derived from Hassan’s name, and centuries later, primo narc and “devil weed” hater Harry Anslinger referenced this pernicious urban legend during congressional testimony and in his famous article, “Marihuana: Assassin of Youth.”)

Arab legend credits 12th-century Islamic Sufi founder Sheik Haidar with discovering cannabis’s happiness factor after he ate some leaves while wandering in the Persian mountains, though hashish (sometimes known as “Haidar’s wine”) was widely used in the Middle East long before that. Travelers, scholars, and poets openly procured hashish—which early Arab texts refer to as “shrub of emotion,” “shrub of understanding,” “peace of mind,” “branches of bliss,” and “thought morsel”—in Egyptian bazaars. An Egyptian researcher who studied his ancestors’ predilection for hashish through 12th- and 13th-century poems found evidence of euphoria, sociability, freedom, jocularity, and amiability.

Not every story ended so well, however. “The Tale of the Hashish Eater” in One Thousand and One Nights, a compilation of Islamic Golden Age folk tales, tells of a man who’s beaten and ejected from a public bathhouse when he can’t hide the evidence of his hash-induced arousal. Despite the apologue’s unhappy ending, it sparked new literati interest in cannabis, largely for its aphrodisiac potential, when the Arabian chronicles were widely published in the West in the 18th century.

“Taste the Hashish!”

French physician Jacques Joseph Moreau publicly rediscovered hashish for Westerners in the mid-19th century when he asked novelists and writers to let him watch as they ate copious amounts during monthly “Club de Hachichins” meetings at a Paris mansion.

In a description of his first hashish experience with this society, published in 1843, novelist Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier described a scene in which everything seemed gigantic, flamboyant, dazzling, and mysterious. In his 1860 novel based on these experiences, Artificial Paradises, Charles Baudelaire describes musical notes that enter his breast like luminous arrows, blue and red sounds springing forth in electric sparks. (Some people think the crew may have eaten some opium with their hash.)

“Taste the hashish!” Alexandre Dumas goaded in his wildly popular novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, which describes hashish-induced erotic visions and music that sounds like “the seven choirs of paradise.” Dumas was an influencer, and his book was blamed for all sorts of sins. In 1854, the Mexico City El Correo de España reported that it had created “a veritable ‘hashishmania’ among the European cognoscenti.”

The craze jumped the pond when American writer Fitz Hugh Ludlow wrote about how hashish stops time and expands the mind in The Hasheesh Eater, published in 1857. Imbibers can reach “the soul’s capacity for a broader being, deeper insight, grander views of Beauty, Truth and Good than she now gains through the chinks of her cell,” Ludlow wrote.

“Beauty and Warmth from Gage”

Until Anslinger and his band of corrupt industrialists launched their propaganda campaign rebranding “marijuana” as a terrifying menace, cannabis tinctures and confections were readily available in the United States. The plant—referred to as “muggles,” “reefer,” “muta,” “gage,” “tea,” “Mary Warner,” “Mary Jane,” and “rosa maria”—was an essential component of the Jazz Age.

Jazz singer Cab Calloway praised the gage in the lyrics of “That Funny Reefer Man” and urged sisters to “light up on these weeds and get high and forget about everything” in “The Man from Harlem.” Louis Armstrong, who called cannabis “a friend” and said it was “a thousand times better than alcohol,” tooted its horn in “Muggles.” Fats Waller sang “got to get high before I sing” in “Viper’s Drag,” and even Benny Goodman serenaded it in “Texas Tea Party” and “Sweet Marihuana Brown.”

In the 1920s and 1930s, Harlem was packed with “tea pads,” reefer-friendly speakeasies where people could smoke and dance and talk. People shared joints in dance halls and theaters throughout the city. A 1932 Broadway musical included a musical number called “Smokin’ Reefers” that called cannabis “the stuff that dreams are made of.” Perhaps most presciently, that song admitted it was also “the thing white folks are afraid of.”

Muggles didn’t stand a chance once Anslinger set loose his brigade of yellow journalists. Newspapers across the country ran articles like a 1926 Chicago Herald-Examiner one about a hash eater in Topeka, Kansas, who ended up wandering along the highway, naked and blubbering about being a white elephant while swinging his arms like a trunk. “Marihuana did it,” the paper reported.

Anslinger and his goonies won. They got Satchmo, who said he was no longer willing to suffer the “drastic penalties” of prohibition in his later years after he was arrested while finishing a joint between sets.

“We had to put it down,” he told his biographer. “But if we get as old as Methuselah, our memories will always be lots of beauty and warmth from gage.”

Geometric shapes and light shine in Neon Lit Mural.

When downtown Las Vegas becomes the playground for the Life is Beautiful festival (, street art becomes its canvas. Justkids, with artist Felipe Pantone, developed, curated, and co-produced the first-ever solar-powered mural for the 2017 festival. Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) and Bombard Renewable Energy collaborated on the project, transforming a neglected building into a work of art and hope. The monochromatic base contrasts with the abstract shapes and bright hues, drawing everyone’s attention. The renovation of downtown extends beyond the central hub to create communities.

Justkids is a global creative house that brings international artists together on inspirational projects. Pantone, an Argentine and Spanish artist, specializes in kinetic and street art using bold geometrical patterns and colors. Life is Beautiful returns to downtown Las Vegas September
18 to 20, with innovative installation and a celebration of art, music, comedy, and culinary delights.

Photos Debbie Hall

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 /


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

  • 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


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

  • 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


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

  • 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 ( 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.,

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.,

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.,

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 /

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 ( 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.


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

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 Tanaka, 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.”

Tanaka 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 Tanaka.

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.

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.

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

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 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 ( 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 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.”