Comedian Jessimae Peluso talks cannabis: “It’s so wild that a cute little plant could make such a big difference”
“Cannabis has really had a positive impact on my life, so much. I am able to be more present in what I do, in my condition as a human being. It makes me whole. It allows me to have a positive influence on others. And that ripple effect really permeates [the fabric of society]says comedian Jessimae Peluso of MTV’s girl code, while smoking a joint and sporting a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt in his Los Angeles home.
“It’s so crazy to think that just one cute little plant can make such a big difference in someone’s ability to be present and evolve into a more empathetic human being.”
There are two things that Jessimae undoubtedly and unashamedly loves: words and weed. And she is very committed. Words she made a career and a tool (“I love words. My mom was big on vocabulary and both my parents did crossword puzzles every day. So I’m kind of a nerd. Words are the how most of us survive”). Cannabis, she made a lifestyle. And also a cause.
Just a few weeks ago, the comic joined the US Cannabis Council and HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project. Cannabis in common campaign, which aims to get Americans to contact their lawmakers about passing cannabis reform at the federal level.
Other high-profile celebrities like Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen, along with nonprofits and dozens of companies in the cannabis industry, have also joined the campaign.
More on this topic later in the article. But first, let’s pause and rewind a bit.
It’s the environment, stupid
“I really, really believe that your environment dictates your vices,” says the smith.
Jess (“can I call you Jess?” “Okay”) grew up in upstate New York, where the people around her were mostly drinkers. The grass was not foreign, but not very common either. And certainly not in the lady’s party repertoire.
Alcohol has always been more accessible and accepted. Even after moving to New York, her habits haven’t changed much. After all, she worked as a bartender.
Then came California, and oh, how things changed. “You can’t drink and drive in Cali like you can in upstate New York. Not that I condone it, but that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t have a metro,” she says.
“The environment really reflects what people like. And in Cali, people love marijuana. It’s just more common in this environment.
So Jess started paddling around in the black grass, finding solitude and solace there. “Cannabis could help me access another part of myself that I didn’t even know I had access to, because alcohol is such a numbing substance.”
Marijuana has helped Jess open up creatively, emotionally and sexually. “It opened up different avenues and areas of my life.”
Although the effects on her personal well-being made her a friend of weed, it was its effects on her psyche as she dealt with her father’s illness that made her a devotee.
Papa Peluso suffered from vascular dementia, a type of brain disorder that causes memory loss, sometimes compared to Alzheimer’s disease. And the marijuana really helped Jess cope, “slow down and survive the trauma and grief of losing my father while he was alive.”
Throughout his career, cannabis has also become an aid, a medicine, a way to manage stress and anxiety, a way to find balance in life. “It’s created a deeper space of empathy for myself, for others and in the world and things that people go through that I can’t even imagine. It’s such an amazing vehicle and vessel for anyone who are open to experiencing something on a deeper level.
Cancel Cancel Culture?
“I don’t agree with what’s going on and the way people have taken people for words, because words are continually evolving,” Jessimae says. His profession is painfully crossed by this daily dilemma: what can I say? What can’t I say?
Basically, it’s all in the how. Context is everything. “Words that were once appropriate have evolved into an inappropriate space. They constantly exchange. We always change a word to replace another word that has already been deemed inappropriate. So I think I think people cancel people, especially comedians… I think people don’t realize the importance of comedy and the importance of what a lot of (not all) comedians are trying to accomplish . Comedians are a means of reflection on society and on what is happening in society. It’s almost like killing the messenger.
“If what they’re saying strikes a chord, that means there’s some truth to it. And if you dig a little deeper, it probably goes beyond what a comedian says and into inappropriate laws, and councilors and women operating inappropriately. The comedians are not the ones who put down the people who are in your local government and the people who are actually responsible for people’s health. These are the ones you really want to spend your time and energy undoing: not the people reporting on them.
Back in the weeds
Never afraid of controversy, Jess looks back on his participation in the Cannabis in common campaign.
For her, it’s about raising awareness of a plant that has helped her so much, while highlighting the undeniable racial disparities in cannabis arrests. “This campaign represents my ability to do something more, to make a difference, to help.”
Referring to how statistics show that African Americans and Latinx people are four times more likely to be imprisoned for cannabis-related crimes, even though consumption levels are comparable, she adds, “We need to look at why this is happening and we have to change that. If we have the power to do so, we are changing lives, ensuring that daughters have their fathers at home and that husbands have their lives back.
And it doesn’t take much for others to help further this cause, she continues. Just call your representative. It may seem small, but it adds up; there is strength in numbers.
“I want to be part of it. I want to help people find peace if they’re going through traumatic times,” she says. “I think marijuana is really an amazing medicine for grief or trauma. There have been so many studies on how the implementation of marijuana has helped people with depression and PTSD, and even cancer, there are just a multitude of ailments that this plant helps.
“And the people who sold and who were arrested for it and who are in prison, they should be exonerated. Enough is enough. Alcohol is legal, but cannabis is not. It does not mean anything. The statistics are completely different. One causes harm to a society and the other can truly liberate and connect a community and a society. So I want to be part of this part. I want to be part of connecting society.
As we dive deep into the controversy, we touch on an article by Forbes’ Will Yakowicz, “Billionaire Charles Koch Explains Why Cannabis Should Be Legal.”
Many have criticized Koch’s support for cannabis, calling him opportunistic. But one fact remains: the cannabis legalization movement needs all the support it can get. It must be bipartisan, or go even further, across party lines.
“A Republican supporting something that traditionally isn’t a Republican concern is what starts to move the needle, that’s what starts to change people’s minds about different laws. and different things. They get pushed into the Senate,” Jess acknowledges. “The important thing is to change people’s minds about where these things come from and accept the change. This is the revolution we need.
“Intent is important, but I think achieving the goal is what people need to focus on.”
And she goes on to provide a more general recommendation:
I think anyone who hasn’t tried cannabis but has an opinion about it… I just have one question for you: how can you have an opinion about something you’ve never tried?
I think it’s foolproof.
On the other hand, it’s a surefire way to experience disappointment in your life by constantly thinking about something you’ve never tried to try, smell, or experience. [can be judged].
It’s like going:
– I don’t like pistachio ice cream.
– Have you ever had any?
– How do you know you don’t love him? What are you reading about it? What are its effects on society? I really, really encourage you to take a shot and write in your journal and realize the freedom you can experience on the other side of this.
Jess isn’t always so serious. She also leverages her comedy to push cannabis forward.
“As a woman in the comedy industry, I have definitely experienced inappropriate behavior, advances, comments, stares, touching…all of the above,
But the only thing that’s different is that I don’t want it to mess me up, I don’t want to mess up my vibe. No one will tell me what I can or cannot do. And if you try to tell me what I can or can’t do, I’m just gonna prove you wrong because that’s what I’ve been doing all my life. It’s all about language and what we say to each other. Has it been a male dominated industry, has the world in general been a male dominated world? Sure. But there have also been incredible women who have achieved incredible feats. And I think we discredit them by continuing this conversation and this narrative of male dominance.
Let’s talk about women who have done amazing things in their individual industries. It’s about really changing the language in your own narrative. For me, I never said, “I’m a woman. I can’t do this.”
I said “I’m a woman, I have to do this differently. And how can I do it differently? How can I approach this differently?”
“I think that’s where it starts. What you tell yourself and the language you speak to yourself, the narrative you tell yourself, will really determine your outing in the world and your footing in the world and how you approach your life and your career and your hobbies and Your passions. And for me, I’ve never let other people’s limitations limit my desire to achieve anything.
You can watch host Jessimae redo a tattoo on Netflix; listen to his podcast, Viper’s tongue on Apple Podcast; and watch Instagram Live, Wednesday, a canna-friendly show that raises awareness and charity for Alzheimer’s disease, every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET. For more information on the visit, go to Jessimae.com.
This article was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.