Sen Dog Reflects on Detroit's Influence on Cypress Hill's Music and Cannabis Advocacy

Published 15 hours ago Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
Cover Image

In the rich tapestry of American music and culture, few bonds are as compelling and enduring as the one between Cypress Hill and the city of Detroit. Since their first visit in 1991, this legendary hip-hop group, which includes members Senen “Sen Dog” Reyes, nasally MC B-Real, percussionist Eric Bobo, and tour DJ, DJ Lord, has forged a profound connection with the city, rooted in mutual respect and shared experiences. This connection has grown stronger with each passing year, reflected in the group’s frequent visits and performances, including their upcoming concert at The Fillmore to celebrate 4/20, featuring fellow West Coast legends the Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief.

Shinola Unveils Grassland Runwell Watch in a Bid for Cannabis Justice Reform

Published 5 days ago Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
Cover Image

In a significant move to mark this year's 4/20 celebrations, the renowned Detroit-based watch manufacturer Shinola is set to release the Shinola Grassland Runwell watch. This launch is not just about commemorating the unofficial cannabis holiday but also aims to cast a spotlight on the critical issue of racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests. By introducing this unique timepiece, Shinola endeavors to foster awareness and catalyze the much-needed societal change towards these inequities.

The Shinola Grassland Runwell, scheduled for release on April 20th, symbolizes a significant leap beyond the brand's previous themes of sustainability and paying tribute to American heroes. This watch, developed in collaboration with actor and Michigan's own Isaiah Quincy, carries a profound message of advocating for criminal justice reform, particularly concerning the racial imbalance evident in cannabis arrests.

Isaiah Quincy's involvement with the Shinola Grassland Runwell watch goes beyond mere design collaboration. Quincy stars in the indie film "Grassland," a drama that delves into the social justice issues surrounding cannabis-related arrests and their disproportionate impact on minority communities. This engagement reflects a commitment to leveraging cultural influence for social advocacy, with the watch serving as a tangible symbol of this movement.

Echoing Shinola's commitment to criminal justice reform, the company previously released the "Twenty After Four" Detrola Watch in 2020, a collaborative effort with the artist Common aimed at highlighting similar issues.

The Shinola Grassland Runwell is distinguished not only by its advocacy but also by its design and functionality. Limited to 420 units—a nod to the 4/20 cannabis culture—the watch features a distinct green marker at the 4-o'clock position and a cannabis leaf design within its 6-o'clock chronograph dial. Powered by Shinola's Argonite 1069 movement, this watch promises precision and reliability, wrapped in a message of reform and style.

As Shinola prepares to release this impactful timepiece on April 20th, it stands as a bold statement in the movement for criminal justice reform, marrying style with substance in a bid to challenge and change the narrative around cannabis-related legal disparities.

How John Sinclair's Legacy Inspired Randy Tessier's Path from Convict to Educator and Musician

Published 6 days ago Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
Cover Image

In the early 1970s, the fabric of American culture was intricately woven with threads of political unrest, social upheaval, and a burgeoning movement towards the legalization of cannabis. It was during this era of transformation that Randy Tessier, a young man emblematic of the hippie movement's ideals and aspirations, found himself ensnared in the legal challenges that countless others faced due to cannabis possession. Tessier's narrative, beginning with his arrest in 1971 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for possessing an ounce of hash, unfolds against the backdrop of a pivotal moment in Michigan's legal and cultural history concerning cannabis.

At the time of his arrest, Tessier, a passionate musician and a symbol of the countercultural wave sweeping across America, was met with the harsh reality of the law. His sentencing to a 60-day period in the Marquette County Jail marked the beginning of a journey that would intertwine his fate with the broader movement for cannabis legalization, a movement significantly propelled by the legal battles of Ann Arbor poet John Sinclair.

John Sinclair's legal ordeal, stemming from his activism and cannabis possession, had ignited a statewide, if not national, debate over the draconian marijuana laws of the era. Sinclair's subsequent victory in the Michigan Supreme Court, which saw his conviction overturned and led to a declaration of the state's felony marijuana laws as unconstitutional, emerged not just as a personal triumph but as a watershed moment for cannabis legislation in Michigan.

During Tessier's incarceration, a daring yet ill-fated attempt to smuggle marijuana joints into the jail underscored the risks faced by those caught in the crosshairs of the legal system for cannabis-related offenses. However, in a remarkable turn of events, the legal victory of Sinclair, coinciding with Tessier's impending re-arraignment, catalyzed an unexpected outcome: the charges against Tessier were dismissed. This serendipitous development, occurring in the absence of enforceable marijuana laws, symbolized a critical juncture in the fight against the criminalization of cannabis.

Reflecting on his experiences in light of Sinclair's recent passing, Tessier, now a respected lecturer at the University of Michigan and a fixture in Ann Arbor's music scene, acknowledges the profound influence Sinclair's legal battle had on his life. The trajectory of Tessier's life, from a potential inmate in a state prison to a celebrated academic and musician, mirrors the dramatic shifts in societal attitudes and legal frameworks surrounding cannabis.

Following his release, Tessier's move to Ann Arbor, a city that had garnered a reputation as a bastion of countercultural activity and cannabis advocacy, marked a new chapter in his life. Immersing himself in the music and cultural scene of Ann Arbor, Tessier found camaraderie and support among fellow musicians and activists, including Leni Sinclair, John Sinclair's wife. The city's vibrant community and progressive stance on cannabis provided Tessier and his band, Walrus, with a platform to express their music and their message, contributing to the rich cultural mosaic of Ann Arbor.

Tessier's subsequent endeavors, from his academic career to his role in organizing musical gatherings like the "Geezer Happy Hour," illustrate a life enriched by the intersecting currents of music, activism, and education. His narrative, spanning decades of change, offers a lens through which to view the evolution of cannabis legislation and its impact on individual lives and communities.

Moreover, Tessier's recent musical achievements, including the rediscovery and commercial release of Walrus's previously unreleased tracks, signify a form of vindication and a testament to the enduring nature of art and advocacy. The inclusion of the band's song in a major Hollywood film not only represents a personal triumph for Tessier but also serves as a reminder of the unpredictable paths through which recognition and success can manifest.

In recounting Randy Tessier's journey, we are reminded of the complex interplay between individual experiences and broader social movements. His story, from a brush with incarceration to a life of academic and musical fulfillment, encapsulates the transformative power of advocacy, the enduring spirit of the counterculture, and the ongoing quest for justice and freedom in the context of cannabis legislation.

From Setbacks to Opportunities: The Journey of Muskegon's Fields Cannary Project

Published 6 days ago Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
Cover Image

The Fields Cannary project, a pioneering mixed-use cannabis development in Muskegon, Michigan, has encountered a series of construction setbacks and delays since its initial announcement in 2022. Despite these challenges, the project's developers remain optimistic, viewing these obstacles as opportunities to enhance and expand their visionary concept. This ambitious project aims to integrate a dispensary, restaurant and bar, cannabis consumption lounge, processing center, and grow facility into a cohesive destination, fostering a unique community space that normalizes cannabis use.

Securing key permits from both city and state authorities, the developers have laid the groundwork for this innovative venture. The project's approval, including a surprising liquor license for its bar and restaurant segment, underscores a progressive shift towards integrating cannabis into mainstream social settings. Edgar Ramon, co-owner of the Fields Cannary project, envisions the development as a catalyst for normalizing cannabis, akin to the social acceptance of alcohol for those 21 and older. This concept aligns with Michigan's burgeoning cannabis market, which led the nation in per-capita sales last year, emphasizing the state's potential for growth with unique business models like Fields Cannary.

Michigan's regulated cannabis landscape currently includes a limited number of consumption establishment licenses, highlighting the novelty and potential market gap that Fields Cannary aims to fill. The project's development site, spanning 4 acres, intends to offer an experience reminiscent of vineyard or brewery tours, complete with an outdoor event venue for live music and performances, and spaces available for private events like weddings or corporate gatherings. This approach not only capitalizes on Muskegon's vibrant event scene but also caters to a growing demand for cannabis-friendly venues.

The Ramons, who have recently relocated from Chicago to Muskegon to spearhead this project alongside Muskegon native Cory Roberts, are focusing on the restaurant as a central element of their business model. Plans to source ingredients locally for a seasonal menu, coupled with considerations for offering pre-packaged cannabis-infused products, underscore a commitment to quality and community engagement. However, federal regulations present hurdles for incorporating cannabis directly into the restaurant's offerings.

Recent construction delays, including a collapsed roof due to heavy snowfall, have posed significant challenges, yet have also presented the developers with a "blank slate" opportunity. This unexpected pause in construction allows for a reconsideration of design choices, potentially leading to a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing structure. Despite these setbacks, the local community's support and enthusiasm for the project have buoyed the developers' spirits and commitment to the project.

Fields Cannary's vision extends beyond simply being a mixed-use cannabis development; it aspires to serve as a proof of concept for integrating cannabis and alcohol in a shared space. By navigating the challenges of construction delays and regulatory hurdles, the developers aim to establish a model for future expansions, potentially influencing broader acceptance and integration of cannabis into social and recreational settings.

Celebrating Cannabis Advocacy: Highlights from the 53rd Annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor

Published 1 week ago Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
Cover Image

Thousands of individuals from Ann Arbor and beyond gathered at the University of Michigan Diag on Saturday, participating in the 53rd annual Hash Bash, a festival with a long history of advocating for the federal legalization and decriminalization of cannabis. The event, a staple since 1972, attracted University of Michigan students, local residents, and cannabis enthusiasts from various regions, underscoring its enduring appeal and significance in the cannabis reform movement.

This year's Hash Bash featured an array of booths and tables offering a variety of cannabis products and related paraphernalia on the Diag, complemented by a selection of food trucks along Tappan Street, enriching the festival atmosphere. Prominent among the speakers at the event were State Senator Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor and Josey Scoggin, director of the Great Lakes Expungement Network, who took to the front steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library to address the crowd.

While the festival's roots are in advocating for cannabis legalization and decriminalization, the focus of this year's gathering shifted towards supporting individuals with cannabis possession-related charges on their records, reflecting the changing landscape of cannabis legislation. Senator Irwin, in an interview, highlighted Ann Arbor's pivotal role in national cannabis reform activism, praising Michigan's approach to developing the cannabis industry.

Becky Walters, a Michigan resident and volunteer for Sons and Daughters United, emphasized the ongoing relevance of the organization's efforts. Despite the progress in decriminalization, the legal status of cannabis remains varied across the country, with many individuals still facing incarceration for cannabis-related offenses. The organization aims to raise funds for the expungement of such charges, particularly focusing on cannabis-related cases.

Ethan Goldiez, a sophomore at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and a member of the Student Association for Psychedelic Studies, underscored the importance of continuing the Hash Bash tradition. The association, a sponsor of this year's event, views its involvement as a privilege and recognizes the community's strong support for such gatherings.

Wrestling with Promotion: Ric Flair Sidesteps Personal Queries to Spotlight His Cannabis Brand

Published 1 week ago Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
Cover Image

In a candid discussion reflecting on his illustrious career and current endeavors, Ric Flair, the legendary Hall of Fame wrestler known as “Nature Boy,” shared insights into his life, his brief foray into the cannabis industry, and professional wrestling's tightly guarded secrets concerning cannabis use. Despite Michigan's evolving cannabis landscape, with over 700 dispensaries, Flair remained discreet, focusing more on his journey and current projects than on revealing the hidden tales of wrestling's past.

At 75, Ric Flair has transitioned from the high-energy performances in the wrestling ring to a more subdued presence in the cannabis industry, following the footsteps of other celebrities like Mike Tyson. In March, he promoted his cannabis line, Ric Flair Drip—encompassing pre-rolls, flower, and edibles—across five Detroit-area dispensaries. This venture was named after a popular rap song that featured Flair showcasing his flamboyant lifestyle.

Initially sought for his wrestling insights and the intertwining of his sport with cannabis, Flair navigated the conversation away from the controversial and unknown to focus on his personal narrative and business endeavors. While wrestling fans might have anticipated revelations about the sport's secretive marijuana use or stories of wrestlers circumventing drug policies, Flair maintained a tight-lip, emphasizing his privacy and respect for others' personal lives.

The discussion also touched upon Flair's background, including his adoption and his deep connections to Michigan. Despite his association with the state and fondness for the University of Michigan, Flair chose to center the conversation around his professional journey and recent engagements. He briefly recounted his venture into wrestling after a stint with the University of Minnesota's football team, setting the stage for a legendary career.

While the conversation ventured into his wrestling days and the dynamics of marijuana use within the industry, Flair steered clear of specifics, highlighting his disinterest in discussing others' personal matters. His responses underscored a desire to keep the focus on his current work and away from the potentially sensational aspects of wrestling history.

Did wrestlers use marijuana to treat injuries, rather than turning to pain pills?

“I don’t know,” Flair said. “I don’t ask people about their personal lives.”

It wasn’t the response I was hoping for, but I pushed forward, asking about how professional wrestling dealt with high-profile marijuana arrests involving specific wrestlers and whether tales of personalities hiring members of their entourage to conceal and transport marijuana were true.

Flair didn’t like that.

“I don’t like the way this interview is going,” Flair said, clearly become irritated. “Why would you ask me to comment about other people?”

I explained I wasn’t trying to get him to dish dirt on specific people. “You’ve been in wrestling and you’re known for that, and now you’re coming into marijuana ... "

He cut me off.

“I’m more than known for that,” Flair said. “I’m the greatest wrestler that’s ever lived.”

I continued: “I guess I was interested in your connections with ... "

“None of your goddamn business,” he said, cutting me off again.

Before the interview dumped like wheelbarrow full of wet concrete, I tried to switch the topic back to his Michigan connections. He said it’s a “wonderful” state, he’s had “great times” in Detroit, but then he returned to the issue that set him off seconds earlier.

“I don’t want to be part of that conversation,” Flair said. “Just promote my line. It’s the best sh** going ... What’s that got to do with my line dropping?”

The interview encapsulated Flair's multifaceted life—from his wrestling accolades and personal stories to his latest business venture. Although the wrestling icon shied away from delving into the industry's clandestine relationship with cannabis, his demeanor and responses painted a picture of a man who values privacy, respects his and others' personal lives, and is focused on his current path in the cannabis industry.