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Miss Marijuana: Canadian Beauty Queen Alyssa Boston Is on a Mission to End Stigmas

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Alyssa Boston
PHOTO | Miss Universe Organization
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Alyssa Boston is a woman on a mission. The 24-year-old Canadian beauty queen is using her platform to start a conversation on ending stigmas around mental illness, competing in pageants — and cannabis.

While she doesn’t actually smoke weed, Canada’s crowned Miss Universe caused a media uproar when she wore a sparkling cannabis-inspired look during the 2019 Miss Universe competition in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cannabis Aficionado spoke to her about breaking stigmas, social media and of course, that costume.

CA: How was your Miss Universe experience?

Alyssa Boston: It was an amazing 10 days in Atlanta. My roommate was Miss Israel. She was amazing, we had a really good time.

You caused a media frenzy with your national costume; a shimmery, glittery, beautiful cannabis leaf. Tell me more about that. 

Canada doesn’t have a set national costume, so we had to think of something that I wanted to do. We’ve had a Canadian maple tree, a snow angel and a hockey player. When we were deciding on the costume, we wanted it to be more than just 30 seconds on stage — we wanted it to be the whole movement behind it. It’s a huge representation of what’s going on right now in Canada. I thought it was perfect to shine a light on it at Miss Universe.

No one in the history of Miss Universe has ever done anything that controversial. One day, six of us girls were sitting at the dinner table at Miss Universe, all talking about my costume — it was the talk of the town! Everyone had an opinion on it. Miss Columbia loved it. Miss Uruguay was jealous she didn’t think of it first.

Alyssa Boston onstage during Miss Universe. PHOTO | Miss Universe Organization

I bet!

Miss Indonesia was like, ‘Don’t come near me with that costume!’ Because her country would not be OK with it. It’s kind of cool to have that conversation.

Definitely. That’s funny, though. Miss Uruguay…

She was so mad.

Did the people of Canada support it?

For sure the cannabis industry was very supportive of it. We thought the public would be 50/50 about it. But, actually, we saw about 95 percent of people supported it. I had a lot of positive comments, a lot of people thanked me for touching base on it. More people are accepting of cannabis now and were very happy that I was using my voice to spread the message about ending the stigma that surrounds it

How did you come to working with designer Neftali Espinoza?

Neftali is pretty well known in the pageant industry; he’s actually made Canada’s costume for Miss Universe for a couple of years. He does Miss Nicaragua, too. My director is also a good friend of his. The design changed a couple of times, as we wanted to work together with my team and the designer to create something we all liked. I thought it was a good finished product.

You focused your Miss Universe campaign on ending stigmas including mental illness and cannabis. Why is it important that you use your platform to highlight difficult conversations? 

I think it’s important to talk about these issues and use my platform for these conversations — especially since Miss Universe is such a high-profile, international pageant. I’ve been competing in pageants for seven years and during that time, I’ve learned what I’m passionate about.

My uncle suffers from schizophrenia, so ever since I was a kid, I’ve been surrounded by mental illness. I always thought it was important to talk about it — especially with social media being so prominent today.

Alyssa Boston repping Canada and cannabis. PHOTO | Miss Universe Organization

You started the #TalkAboutMe movement on social media to spark discussion around mental health. Can you tell me a little more about that?

When I hang out with my uncle in public, a lot of people are really rude to him because they don’t understand that he suffers from mental illness. I don’t think people are understanding and they are not open to accepting that. If someone had a physical disability, they’d be more lenient to help them. But a mental disability is not as apparent to some people and they don’t treat them properly.

It sparked my interested in creating a movement about just talking about what’s going on in your life, especially using social media. Lots of celebrities use hashtags in their movements that open people’s eyes. Competing in Miss Universe means I could reach a greater scale of people to talk about mental illness. With the #TalkAboutMe hashtag, a lot of people have been like messaging me, telling me about their experiences with mental illness and how they want to talk to somebody about it. I wanted to shine a light on the fact it’s OK to not be OK — and that it’s OK to talk about what’s going on here in your life. That is definitely a rising issue that I wanted to use my platform to talk about.

Speaking of celebrities… Some of the biggest celebrity stoners are Canadian; Tommy Chong, Seth Rogen and the Trailer Park Boys. Have any of them reached out to you about cannabis?

I haven’t talked to any of them. But I’m going to an event at a cannabis company in a month and Tommy Chong is going to be there. So I’ll definitely get to meet him there and hopefully, we can talk about some cannabis. David Spade mentioned the costume on his talk show. And Steve Harvey liked it when we were at Miss Universe and he saw my costume.

Alyssa Boston, Miss Canada 2019. PHOTO | Supplied

You recently toured Aphria, Canada’s largest grow facility. How did it happen? Did anything on the tour surprise you?

I want to learn a lot more about the largest cannabis firms operating here in Canada. A friend of mine knew somebody that worked there, so I talked to my team and pitched the idea to Aphria to do a video tour. So, the CEO took us on a tour. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe how many people worked there. And the smell when you walk in is so strong!

You hold a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Do you have any plans to launch your own line of cannabis?

I’m very interested in being an entrepreneur. I have a business background, so I’m very interested to learn more about how the cannabis industry went from being illegal to legal. I’m feeling out the industry right now but it’s definitely something I want to look into in the future. For now, I’m just doing as many events as possible, public speaking as much as I can. And hopefully, I meet the right people and create my own line.

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Power & Collaboration Are the Name of the Game at WEIC Women’s Leadership Summit

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Power & Collaboration WEiC
PHOTO | Tinnakorn

In 2019 women held 37% of senior level positions in cannabis. Alarmingly, less than 8% of CEOs are women and only 38% of all positions in cannabis are held by women. This statistic and much more will be the topic of discussion at the Women Empowered In Cannabis (WEIC) Power & Collaboration summit on July 21, 2021, from 10 am PST – 5 pm PST.

The one day summit is WEIC’s first virtual Women’s Leadership Summit and will address the rapid loss of female leadership and power in cannabis and question how the community can address and stop this trend.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an industry from the ground up that is inclusive, diverse and just, and yet women are losing ground at a distressing rate,” said Kyra Reed, WEIC founder and CEO. “The summit is designed to help women elevate our voices and establish real power in the global cannabis market.”

Power & Collaboration WEiC

Meet the Speakers

The Women’s Leadership Summit: Power and Collaboration brings together a diverse group of influential women. This virtual summit offers opportunities for women to learn and interact with each other, irrespective of their location.

Andrea Brooks, Founder and CEO – Sava; Annie Holman, Founder and CEO – The Galley; Christine De La Rosa – The People’s Ecosystem; Kate Lynch, SVP Marketing – Curaleaf; Khadijah Adams – Girl Get that Money; Franny Tacy, Founder and CEO – Franny’s Farmacy; Helen Gomez Andrews, Co-founder and CEO – The High End; Katie Pringle, Co-founder – Marigold Marketing; Kendra Losee, Founder and CEO – Mota Marketing; Lelehnia DuBois – The Humboldt Grace; Dr. Lola Ohonba, WCI Health, Clinical Pharmacist, Certified Medical Cannabis Specialist – WCI; Mara Gordon, Founder and TEDx speaker – Aunt Zelda’s; Mskindness Rivera; Nancy Whiteman, CEO – Wana Brands; Rosie Mattio, Founder and CEO – MATTIO Communications; Scheril Murray Power, Cannabis and Agricultural Attorney – Doumar Allsworth Laystrom Voigt Wachs Adair & Dishowitz LLP; Susan Soares, Founder and CEO – The State of Cannabis; Tiffany Yarde; Valda Coryat, CMO – Trulieve

Nancy Whiteman, Wana Brands CEO

“Pursuing inclusion and diversity in business is not just a way to encourage goodwill. It is a strategic business decision that can literally make or break a company. This is not a wishful, feel-good attempt to make news or have people speak well of the industry. It is truly how we survive — and maybe how we change the world a little bit.” – Nancy Whiteman, Wana Brands CEO

Mara Gordon – Founder Aunt Zelda’s

“This quote from the late Helen Keller says it all – ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.'” – Mara Gordon – Founder Aunt Zelda’s

Dr. Lola Ohonba PHARM.D.

“Women are the “Pillar” of the world but are being left behind in major sectors of our economy especially after the pandemic. It’s time for us to come together as one to claim our spot at the decision-making table!” – Dr. Lola Ohonba PHARM.D.

Chrystal Ortiz – CEO/Founder Herb & Market Humboldt, High Water Farm

“It is well known that women are more than good enough to run companies. We need to recognize if we are good enough to do the work, we are good enough to own the work. We need to empower one another, create financial opportunities and invest in each other to become owners and make sure there are women in the C-suite of the companies we work with. This is why.” – Chrystal Ortiz – CEO/Founder Herb & Market Humboldt, High Water Farm

Power & Collaboration Event Topics

The day’s schedule will be broken into ten categories:

  • Keynote: EXECUTIVES: How to Use Power in Leadership
  • Keynote: MESSAGING: Developing a POWER message for women in cannabis
  • Keynote: FINANCE: Women, Money & Power
  • Panel: CULTIVATION: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: MANUFACTURING: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: SCIENCE & RESEARCH: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: RETAIL: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: INTERNATIONAL: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: CBD: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: HEMP: Power & Collaboration

Join the all-day live virtual conference on July 21, 2021, at 10 am PST / 1 pm EST – 5 pm PST / 8 pm EST

Don’t miss this incredible event! Register here to attend.

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Culture

Cannabis & Hollywood Elite Turn Out for Wonderbrett LA Store Opening

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PHOTO | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Hollywood cannabis, entertainment, and TikTok elite turned up in droves last night to celebrate the Wonderbrett LA store opening.

The co-founders of the legendary West Coast cannabis brand best known for its world-renowned genetics and premium cannabis, Brett Feldman and Cameron Damwijk, were welcomed to the Hollywood community by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Wonderbrett LA Store Opening
Wonderbrett Co-Founders Brett Feldman (L) and Cameron Damwijk with Snoop Dogg. PHOTO | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Wonderbrett

Global superstar and cannabis advocate Snoop Dogg, singer and music producer Poo Bear, Compton rap artist Problem, music producer and artist Tank God, legendary music manager Steve Lobel, singer Bryson Tiller, pro-skateboarder Nick Tucker, and a who’s who of TikTok stars, Bryce Hall, Lauren Godwin and Zach Clayton, turned out to welcome the hottest new weed dispensary.

Guests at the Wonderbrett LA store opening. PHOTO | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Wonderbrett

“This is a dream come true,” said Wonderbrett co-founder Feldman. “We wanted to create an experience and a haven that lived up to what our community expects and really needs. Tonight was unforgettable and is only just the beginning of what’s to come. Our team is truly the best and we plan to show the world what a premium genetics cannabis brand is really made of.”

Feldman gave a live art performance, pouring gallons of brightly colored paint over the venue’s photo wall while narrating his journey from growing legacy to legal cannabis.

Wonderbrett LA Store Opening
DJ Carisma. PHOTO | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Wonderbrett

Insiders and the press were then rocked by performances from Problem, including his hit song “Like Whaaat” and brand new, unreleased track, “Taking All Fades.” Producer to the stars, Poo Bear followed up with his homage to cannabis, appropriately titled, “Wonderbrett.”

Wonderbrett LA Store Opening
Inside the new Wonderbrett dispensary. PHOTO | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Wonderbrett

Wonderbrett’s highly anticipated, public grand opening is on Saturday, July 10th.

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Culture

New Odor-Proof Bags Will Keep Your Stash Safe & Stylish

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Higher Standards x Revelry

Cannabis carryalls have come a long way. Continued advancement in smell-prevention technology has created a new breed of odor-proof bags. Just in time for 420, two of the cool kid brands have just launched a collection of form-meets-function travel bags to keep your stash safe.

The Higher Standards x Revelry collection fuses East Coast style with the West Coast spirit of adventure. Each odor-proof bag in the collection is made with Revelry’s signature three-layered carbon filtration system of activated charcoal and synthetic filters that soak up all unwanted smells.

The collab showcases minimalist design with maximum technicality across four odor-proof bags — a fanny pack; zip pouch; dopp kit and backpack. Additionally, the bags are waterproof, made from lightweight fabrics with heavy-duty rubber backing, and seal shut with double-lined zippers.

Higher Standards x Revelry collection is available now in stores and online.

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