Higher Ground Hits The Ballot Box

We’ve Turned Our Attention to Voting

By Michael A. Stusser

When we started Higher Ground in 2010, our mission was to Elevate the Dialogue on Cannabis Culture. While we supported the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana (no states at that time had legalized recreational weed), we were intentionally non-partisan when it came to politicians themselves: There were candidates from all parties in support of legalization: Most Democrats liked the progressive nature of ending the War on Drugs, many Republicans supported States rights (and eliminating the black market), the Green Party liked growing weed (apparently), and Libertarians, of course, liked the idea of the government staying the hell out of our damned business.

Fast forward to 2020 (in hindsight?), and there are eleven States that have legalized recreational cannabis, a total of 33 States that have made medical marijuana available, and SEVENTY PERCENT of Americans say it’s morally permissible for adults to “smoke marijuana,” regardless of the plant’s legal status (Gallup poll). In addition, for the first time, a majority of Republicans (56%) ALSO favor legal marijuana.(Hell, even that fool Kanye, a vocal Trump supporter, has become a strong campaigner for criminal justice and prison reform.) Point is, people want legal cannabis federally, and it’s going to happen in the very near future. (Sadly, the vast majority of Americans ALSO want gun control and single payer health care, which will probably take even more time to come about…)

Here at Higher Ground, we are NOT single-issue voters. There are plenty of candidates who support cannabis legalization who we would not vote for in a million years. (Take Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. Please. And, while Sen. Mitch McConnell helped pass the farm bill last year which legalized hemp, he’s the worst asshat in the entire Congress.) Our values of equality and justice and peace and fairness override any single issue. Like most of you we’ll research an individual’s platform and let their actions and beliefs guide our electoral choices. Unfortunately, the United States of America, is still in shambles. The pandemic rages, millions are out of work, and racial inequality and police brutality, primarily against people of color, have come to the forefront via the inspirational Black Lives Matter movement.
ONE HUNDRED MILLION Americans who were eligible to vote in the 2016 election did not vote. Let’s repeat that: ONE HUNDRED MILLION Americans who were eligible to vote in the last presidential election (43% of the total) did not vote.
It is our belief that, if the majority of Americans participate in our democracy, we will have a more inclusive, just set of politicians and policies. We’ll also have legal cannabis, an administration that believes in science and global warming, and more people of color and women in positions of power. Which is why we’re devoting the next five months to the Ballot Box.
In a collaboration with the amazing cannabis brand Saints Joints, we have created The Higher Ground Ballot Box, a high-end box of cannabis joints designed to smash stoner stereotypes by registering people to vote. In addition to five premium pre-rolls, the Ballot Box contains a code that immediately registers voters, a mini version of the Bill of Rights, and non-partisan information about voting and elections. With the Ballot Box, we’re using a new platform as an entry point to spark engagement, and register new voters.
The Ballot Box includes a special QR code that directs to the Cannabis Voter Project – and registers individuals to vote. Established in 2018 as an initiative from HeadCount, the nonprofit and non-partisan Cannabis Voter Project is focused on educating, registering and turning out voters. HeadCount has registered half a million voters since 2004 at concerts and events. The Ballot Box link includes an easy-to-use online registration page and news to keep voters informed on election deadlines and voting locations.
We’re not the only ones laser-focused on voting this election.  LeBron James has partnered with other black athletes and entertainers to protect the voting rights of African Americans. The organization, called More Than A Vote, will pair up with other voting organizations and is even working for NBA arenas to be used as polling places for the coming 2020 election.
When We All Vote is another wonderful nonpartisan organization trying to increase participation. Launched in 2018 by co-chairs Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, Michelle Obama and Tim McGraw, When We All Vote is working to close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, and harnessing grassroots energy.
We understand that legalization is a small but important step toward fixing discriminatory policing and racial inequality. But for those who ARE single-issue voters, and cannabis is your main priority, there are plenty of reasons to make sure you’re part of the democratic process. Obviously, the issue is hardly just about smoking weed. The War on Drugs and prohibition continues to be disproportionately applied. Every year over 650,000 Americans are arrested for violating cannabis laws – and not surprisingly, in every single state, black people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though white people use cannabis at the same rates. Cannabis is always on the ballot: The War on Drugs and DEA policies have been used as a tactic to target, harass, assault, criminalize, and incarcerate communities of color for a hundred years.
Currently, only 23 states allow citizen-initiated ballot initiatives, meaning in most states the only way to reform cannabis laws is through the legislature. Dozens of cannabis policy reform bills have also been introduced in state legislatures across the nation, and supporting pro-cannabis candidates at the local level has real impact. Clemency campaigns and releasing prisoners for pot is also something where the needle can be moved at the local level by electing progressive governors and attorney generals.
Sadly, there are still a lot of silly stereotypes about stoners. We’re lazy. We’re couch potatoes. We wake and bake. We’re vegetables. Well here at Higher Ground, we’re working to counter all those outdated cliches-because we know cannabis consumers are as active, involved and civic as any other community. So do us a favor – VOTE in November. Join our Joint Effort. It’s the most important election in our lifetime, and we’d like your voice to be heard. (We’d also like you to be legally stoned….)

Photo: Lamar Alexander; Styling: Malina Lopez


The Higher Ground Legal Stash Box! CoronaVirus Edition

A Highly Curated Cannabis Collection

The Coronavirus is a global pandemic, and to be taken seriously. And while we’re following scientific advice and protocols, we’re also aware of the need to medicate – which is where the Higher Ground Legal Stash Box: CoronaVirus Edition comes in. Curated from legal markets across the country, we’ve hand-selected the items to help you continue using cannabis for a health buzz – as well as sanitizers, hemp masks and CBD to calm our nerves in this very strange time.
Some common-sense info for the canna-community during the CoronaVirus outbreak include the following: Don’t share joints, vapes, pipes or bongs. If you do share a smoking device, have a disinfectant wipe handy to swap the piece before sharing. Obviously, if you’re feeling sick – skip any smoking or recreational cannabis session. COVID-19 causes infections in the nose, throat and lungs. Since – over time – smoking cannabis can impact lung health, it’s best to take a break from smoking or vaping until you’re feeling better or have been tested. Finally, maintain social distancing, even among friends at smoke sessions. One person on a recliner, another pacing the room, and a third on the couch will do the trick. Just be smart, follow guidelines, and common sense.
The notable selections in this Higher Ground Legal Stash Box, CoronaVirus Edition include:
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Luckily, we can support businesses using hemp and promote cannabis through the masks we purchase and wear. An example of reusable, breathable and washable hemp face masks with a natural hemp filter is a great option. The hemp fibre filter is encased in cotton for comfort and make the face mask easy to wash for reuse.
While we have one of these insane contraptions below in the Higher Ground office, it is NOT recommended to replace an actual mask, and should be used with caution. (Wearing a mask when you go out not only protects the user, but others who may become infected.)
The use of edibles can eliminate exposure to potential lung irritants entirely, and Kin Slips is an innovative and slick option. Kin Slips was founded by a passionate group of entrepreneurs hell-bent on reimagining cannabis and developing the most efficient products around. Their commitment to providing an alternative cannabis consumption experience began with these sublingual strips —a infused product that is discreet and all-natural, and provides health and wellness conscious consumers with a consistent, smoke-free cannabis experience. Kin Slips dissolve under the tongue to deliver a precise dose of CBD or THC. Unlike traditional edibles, Kin Slips absorb directly into the bloodstream to bypass the digestive system, enabling an onset of about 15 minutes and are available in standard dose (10MG) and micro-dose (5MG) formulas, which allow consumers easy control over their preferred experience that’s tailored by the variations they offer; Creativity and Focus, Comfort and Relief and Sleep and Serenity. In our box are “Park Life” strips, minty fresh with hints of tumeric, each has a 10:1 ratio of CBD to THC that works nicely to help take the edge off – like a stroll in the park.
Many folks are stressed to the max, and having difficulty sleeping; it’s no wonder – we have a reality-show buffoon running the sitch. There are many sleep-aid options in the cannabis world, including CBD-rich gummies, transdermal patches, and capsules with CBD and melatonin. One of our favorite ways to end the evening is via the Beboe Downtime Vaporizer. Beboe is a luxury cannabis brand, and their gorgeous rose gold pen comes in a glass test tube (we admit it – we are obsessed with cool packaging), with a letterpresses label in gold foil. The Beboe Indica Downtime vape pen is intended for quiet evenings at home, great for reducing anxiety and winding down. A relaxing combination of the choicest Indica-dominant strains makes the Downtime Pen an excellent way to smooth out life’s stresses at the end of a long day, and is a go-to cure for stress and insomnia without any of the usual next-day grogginess.
The Nuggy is the Swiss Army Knife for potheads – and Lord KNOWS what challenges lie ahead in this Corona-ClusterF*ck. While others stock up on AK-47s, chainsaws and ATVs, we prefer tools we can use – like the “Original Smoker’s Multi-Tool!” The Nuggy is a 10-in-One, pocket friendly multi-tool designed specifically for smokers. This stoner-survival tool has everything a real connoisseur could possibly need to help with rolling, cutting, shredding, dabbing, scraping, poking and vaping all packed into one durable unit. The designers have managed to fit 10 must have spring-locking tools into this super compact pocket size device including: a knife, scissors, roach clip, tamper, mini spoon, herb bowl scraper, bottle opener, flat head screwdriver, pointy pick AND an LED flashlight! Cuz, you know, it’s kind of dark out right now…
For those of us who just like the wonderful tradition of smoking a joint, we’re including Mini Joints in the CoronaVirus Stash Box. With small doobies (aka DogWalkers), joints are small enough for a single person using it without the threat of passing on a virus through saliva exchange. Also, kind of hard to be socially distant while passing the blunt.
Island Minis: With five 0.5 gram pre-rolls in each box, Island all-flower Minis are the perfect combination of fun and flavor. Island is a for-benefit organization, and their commitment extends beyond providing cannabis that is both safe and effective. Island actively supports organizations focused on positive social change and have made it part of their mission to give back to our community.
TRIPLE J’S ORIGINAL MINI JOINTS come in different blends to suit every lifestyle; Hybrid, Indica, Sativa and Enhanced with Kief. Known for quality, convenience, and reliability, Triple J’s are assembled by hand in a process that ensures the best quality experience every time without the hassle of rolling your own.
Tinctures are a great way to consume cannabis, and there are a million combinations of THC, CBD and plant materials to fine-tune a particular experience or relief. Sativa Valley Blueberry CBD tincture is formulated to help reduce anxiety, inflammation, and aid in insomnia relief. Paired with a variety of fruit extract flavors, their organic sublingual tincture is placed under the tongue to produce different effects depending on the serving size: calming and anxiety relief effects at low milligram servings sizes, while anti-inflammatory and muscle pain relief is achieved with medium to higher milligram serving sizes. Best of all, Sativa Valley participates in “Wildcrafting” – an age-old practice of collecting plant materials in their natural habitat for food, medicine, and craft.
We know that COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system and is more dangerous for people with additional health issues. While clearly not mandated, people may consider limiting or refraining from smoking as a cautious prevention method. Vaporizers, multi-chamber water pipes, and edibles are simple going to be better on the lungs. The DaVinci MIQRO and IQ Vaporizers, for example, are ultra-portable vapes designed for the solo vape connoisseur, convection-cooking your cannabis to the perfect temp – and not causing lung irritation.
As insomnia affects around 30% of Americans and can pose greater risk factors for those suffering from chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and mental disorders, many are finding relief through cannabis to sleep through the night. We like the wok of Lord Jones, who manufactures some of the world’s finest hemp-derived CBD infused topicals and ingestibles. Lord Jones gumdrops and chews are made by hand in small batches with the finest ingredients and CBD extract derived from select hemp cultivated in the USA. Their hemp-derived CBD oil retains the plant’s original terpenes and phytocannabinoids for broad and full spectrum formulations, and are lab-tested to ensure proper purity and potency. One of our favorite canna-collaborations are their work with the great band Sigur Ros. Together they created cannabidiol-infused (CBD-infused) gumdrops called “Wild Sigurberry!” The limited-edition collection of medicated gumdrops are a “proprietary terpene blend designed to provide a calming sense of well-being inspired by the music of Sigur Rós, “Wild Sigurberry” was inspired by the flavors of foraged berries from the band’s home country – and we’re inspired by the teamwork.
Wash your hands early & often! We all know the drill – and we’re personally using the first verse from Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” as our washing duration song!
When soap and water are not readily available, the use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is equally effective. Hand Sanitizers by Dr. Bronners Soap are essential tools to help keep Covid-19 from spreading and help maintain public health. And Dr. Bronners has always been the coolest all-organic company around, leading the charge to be eco-friendly, and donating to wonderful pro-cannabis organizations. Most recently, Dr. Bronners is working on campaigns for more widespread therapeutic use of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, donating a million dollars to a legalize psilocybin therapy initiative in Oregon.Family-owned and run since 1948, Dr. Bronners are allotting a reserve of 2% of all hand sanitizer production to donate to at-risk communities and the organizations that serve them, so they have access to the hand sanitizer as well, and are continuing to work with advocates and service providers to get their products in the hands of those who need them most during this public health crisis.

“Life is just a bowl of cherries.”

Originating as the title of a song (1931) by Lew Brown (lyrics) and composer Ray Henderson, this term expressed the idea that everything was going very well – and life was wonderful. (Today it’s often used ironically, but we’re looking on the bright side.) Clearly, things are quite odd in our CoronaVirus realm. But we’ll make it through, and hope to accentuate the positive – and something that’s pretty darn great are Goodship Tart CHERRY Pastilles. Tart and fruity, Goodship confections are made from all-natural, locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients. Each “sweet tart” pastille is micro dosed at 2.5mg per piece, giving a consistent, uplifting and delicious experience each go-round. Best of all, Goodship tarts come in a beautiful embossed tin – which you can put joints and buds in when the pastilles are long gone.
While the Higher Ground Legal Stash Box is not available for purchase, there are several high end curated delivery boxes for sale, including Club M  and PotBox
Stay tuned to MJ News Network where we will continue to curate the best in legal cannabis, and highlight the most innovative and elegant brands in upcoming Higher Ground Legal Stash Boxes.
Higher Ground is the World’s first talk show highlighting cannabis culture. Think of it as “The Daily Show” meets “Good Morning America”…but with a giant bong on the desk. For more on Higher Ground and host Michael Stusser, visit www.highergroundtv.com or www.michaelstusser.com