Welcome to Cannabis Conversations, a series focusing on our shifting opinions on the substance, its place in the wellness world, conscious consumption and more. Up next: Chelsea Handler on cannabis, political activism, and culture. Our earlier feature in the series can be found here.
Last week, Canada embarked on one of its most ambitious projects – cannabis legalization. And with it came questions and conversations around the safety and benefits of cannabis. To spearhead that conversation, Chelsea Handler toured Canada in seven town hall conversations with Civilized, a multi-platform, digital media and lifestyle brand that embraces and highlights modern cannabis culture.
Political activism, culture and cannabis were the topics of discussion for the night, and Handler has a lot to say about those points. On a mission to use her success and fame with a purpose, the comedian-turned-activist stepped away from her Netflix show, Chelsea, to embrace something entirely different and join a political movement. She is outspoken and opinionated about her views on human rights and the fight against inequality. She’s currently filming a documentary with Netflix on white privilege in the U.S. due out next year.
On a recent visit to Toronto, Chelsea Handler continued her unfiltered conversation with Civilized publisher, Derek Riedle. It happened to be the same night that controversial Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in – amidst allegations of sexual assault – to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. Women stood up and paid attention to the testimony against Kavanaugh brought forward by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. One year after the revelations of the #MeToo movement, the controversy felt palpable and emotional. So when Handler came on stage at the Elgin Theatre, the audience was as fired up as she was.
Handler had no intention of having a civilized conversation. She was worked up, and has been ever since Donald Trump took office in 2016. Sipping on a vodka on the rocks, Handler discussed privilege and the state of the nation. “This is an embarrassing time for Americans.” she said. She’s proud to be hysterical and outraged at this moment in her country’s political history.
“It’s better to be hysterical and outraged instead of surprised,” she said. “Because right now, we are at the pinnacle of white privilege.” Not wanting to exclude Canada from the conversation, Handler pointed to Ontario’s controversial former mayor, Rob Ford. “Only a white man can get elected after having a crack problem,” Handler said, to wild applause, laughter and cheers.
Admittedly, Chelsea Handler is an elitist. Her success is driven by her ambition to never have to rely on anyone. She is fiercely independent and wants to remain that way. But Handler started checking her own privilege and elitism, and became aware of the freedoms in her life that weren’t afforded to a large section of the U.S. population. Things like never having to worry about being pulled over by a cop and feeling like your life is in danger.
“It takes a long time for people to get out of their own lane and look around at the inequality around us,” said Handler. “What’s happening around the country is horrifying, but it should serve as a wake up call for more people to vote. I am a Liberal and I’ve grown up a Liberal, but I’ve tried very hard to understand what’s happening in the middle of the country.”
On Normalizing Cannabis Consumption
Another pulse check on the nation – cannabis. Now that Canada has become the second country to fully legalize cannabis (Uruguay is the only other country in the world), weed is on everyone’s minds. Handler is a strong advocate for cannabis as a tool for healing while providing focus and clarity. There has been a lot of talk that Handler is launching her own as-yet-unnamed line of cannabis, but it’s still in its infancy. So far, she’s been traveling to grow ops to educate herself on the different strains of cannabis. The edible products would be aimed at women, with a safe, healthy, and holistic high.
Handler’s go-to cannabis products are topicals and edibles. Learning how to microdose properly gave her the creative fire to begin writing her next book (Chelsea Handler already has five New York Times best-selling books to her name). After feeling stifled and unfocused for a long time, Handler credits her small dose of daily cannabis to feeling enlightened and productive again. By getting educated and experimenting with small doses, Handler says she was able to remove the hangover effects from getting “stoner high.” Instead, with just a small dose, Handler has been able to reap the rewards from THC and CBD oils and edibles (THC and CBD are the active compounds in the cannabis plant). Cannabis offered her an alternative to the constant buzz of a hangover and the morning-after bloat. She was still able to go out and entertain herself without having to drink.
Because cannabis changed her life, Handler wants to improve the conversation around cannabis by normalizing it. Opening up the conversation around cannabis levels the playing field so that everyone can understand and become acquainted with the plant.
In California, where Chelsea Handler lives, the alcohol industry has taken a hit since cannabis became legal on January 1, 2018, with people choosing cannabis over alcohol. In Canada, alcohol companies like Constellation Brands (Corona) and Molson Coors recognize they have fierce competition and are rushing to get in on the game.
Handler isn’t saying cannabis is the magic cure for everything. She says to “just go for it,” but by being careful and doing it in a safe environment. “We should all have something that helps to take the edge off,” says Handler. She suggests cannabis as a gentle approach to discovering how you can be “if you weren’t so afraid.”
Learn more about Civilized here.