The Woke Guide to Cannabis

As recently as a few years ago, I didn't know much about weed beyond the fact that it was one of the only things that had ever helped my persistent anxiety and insomnia. I certainly never imagined that I would be writing about my consumption on a public platform. It was something that I knew—even in my privileged position as a white, upper-middle-class woman—might invite a barrage of opinions about who I was as a person or my work ethic. And even as a constituent of decidedly progressive media companies, I was not willing to take a gamble on my career due to stigma. (In retrospect, the fact that I was so nervous about all this proves that even I wasn't immune.)

Then things changed very quickly. More states moved to legalize cannabis. More and more people began talking about weed, which was a start. CBD started to pop up everywhere. But it was really when my current home of California officially went recreational in January that I noticed a full-on industry explosion. In just the past six months, it has been incredibly exciting (if not overwhelming) to witness the volume of new brands and leaders looking to pioneer and shape this industry. And suddenly, it became vital to become exponentially more informed about it all.

I have learned, for example, that "marijuana" is a politicized term to avoid. (I use "weed" or "cannabis".) I have immersed myself in the fascinating science behind CBD. I have spoken to many female industry leaders about how they're redefining what it means to be a consumer. And above all else, I have come to understand that my position as a white woman gives me an immense and deeply unfair advantage in the realm of cannabis use. The war on drugs rages on—and even in progressive cities, white people are exponentially less likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than black and Latin-x people.

It's messy. It's complicated. It's distressing and bizarre, even, to be sitting here in the hyper-progressive bubble of Los Angeles—a veritable Candy Land of weed—knowing that people in other cities across the country are imprisoned for the very thing that markedly improved my life and eliminated the need to resort to medication. But the fledgling cannabis industry is brimming with potential (and not just in terms of its health benefits—the incredible revenue from Colorado's recreational industry has helped fund its public school system, for example). That means it's time to start putting stigma aside, get acquainted with the science, and, whether you're looking to start dabbling with CBD or are a seasoned consumer, to be as informed on the subject as possible.

Fortunately, it's easier than ever—a new crop of smart and beautifully curated cannabis publications have made this kind of conscious consumption their mission. One of the latest to make waves is Nice Paper, a weekly newsletter that offers everything from product recommendations and the latest on legalization to the science behind how cannabis can help assuage anxiety. Journalists Marta Freedman and Charlotte Palermino decided to launch Nice Paper as a way to fight the stigma through information—not to mention a highly curated feed of brands and products they themselves would actually want to buy. (Seriously—check out their highly covetable Instagram feed.)

With our shared M.O. in mind, I deferred to the Nice founders for a mini crash course in staying woke on weed—the political issues to keep in mind, the real difference between THC and CBD, and everything in between. School is in session below.