Hold the phone

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.
Check out Cooking on High, a new taste-test competition of cannabis-fused dishes, on Netflix. Top chefs bring the grub. Ngaio brings the bud. Celebrity judges pick the best plate.

Hey I heard there was some sort of thing that happened in SF that made people in the cannabis industry all upset or something. What happened?

—Otto D. Loupe

Dangit. I was gonna talk about Canada and how they have decided to become the second country in the world to legalize marijuana (Uruguay was the first), and how Canada grows great weed. (I’m in Vancouver right now, smoking on a Lemon Thai variant that tastes like a summer’s day, and one of the kushiest and stinkiest NYC Chem Dawg variants I have had in a while.) I also maybe wanted to mention my new show on Netflix (Cooking on High, check it out) but noooooo, I have to talk about racism and ignorance and lack of situational awareness in the cannabis community. Sigh.

Last week, Alison Ettel, CEO of TreatWell Health, which is a company that specializes in making very popular cannabis tinctures for pets (and humans), created a very rough day for herself. Ms. Ettel allegedly (I say allegedly because Ms. Ettel claims that she was only pretending to call the cops. But even if she was pretending, it doesn’t help her case.) Anyway, Ettel called the cops on an 8-year-old black girl because she was selling bottles of water on Ettel’s block without a permit. The girl’s mother posted a video of Ettel on the Internet, and the shit has hit the fan. People have called for boycotts of TreatWell, many dispensaries have taken the company’s products off the shelves and their social media pages have been inundated with threats and invective.

Ettel has since resigned as the CEO of TreatWell, but it may be too late for the company to recover.

Some people are saying that what is happening to Ettel is too much and that people shouldn’t be so mean to her, but I feel like she just learned some valuable lessons:

1. Don’t bully little black kids. Ettel is claiming that she is receiving death threats. My contention is that she started making death threats first. Calling the cops on a black child could be construed as a death threat. Ask Tamir Rice.

2. If you are in the cannabis industry, calling the cops on someone for not having the proper permits is hypocrisy writ large. I’m pretty sure you can’t get a permit to sell weed tinctures to dogs. Game should recognize game.

3. Everyone has a camera. It is virtually impossible to be a racist ass in public and get away with it these days. Think it through before you act up.

There’s a lot more I could say about racism in the cannabis industry and how a lot of new folks seem to forget that cannabis legalization started as a social justice movement, but I only have 500 words. I am glad that many members of the cannabis industry have decided to do the right thing even though it may cost them money in the short-term. Let’s all continue to take the high road.