Co­me­dian and writer tour­ing Canada with 7 stops

Calgary Herald - - YOU - ERIC VOLMERS — with files from The Cana­dian Press

There are prob­a­bly far more ob­vi­ous le­gal, cul­tural and health rea­sons to em­brace cannabis, but Chelsea Han­dler’s en­thu­si­asm for it is tied very specif­i­cally to one politi­cian.

It prob­a­bly hit its peak on Nov. 8, 2016, af­ter Han­dler re­al­ized that cannabis was use­ful in sooth­ing the sense of apoc­a­lyp­tic anx­i­ety she was feel­ing about the state of the union.

“I was rein­tro­duced to cannabis dur­ing the Trump elec­tion,” the co­me­dian, au­thor and talk-show host says in an in­ter­view with Post­media. “It was pretty much the only thing that got me through it.”

In fact, Han­dler says there has been a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween her em­brace of pot and her em­brace of po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism. As any­one who had paid at­ten­tion to her Twit­ter feed knows, Han­dler has been one of the cur­rent com­man­der-in-chief ’s most vo­cal crit­ics. These days, she reck­ons that 99 per cent of her tweets are of a po­lit­i­cal na­ture, par­tic­u­larly as her coun­try heads into his­toric midterm elec­tions.

The po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in her coun­try helped de­velop a sense of ur­gency in Han­dler. She has be­come a tire­less ad­vo­cate of pro­gres­sive can­di­dates up for elec­tion in Novem­ber. Cannabis, on the other hand, helps quell the anger and pro­mote a cer­tain diplo­macy. In gen­eral, she says, cannabis makes “everybody a lit­tle less an­noy­ing and ev­ery­thing a lit­tle bit more tol­er­a­ble.”

“I be­came hell-bent on know­ing more and more and more about pol­i­tics and pot,” Han­dler says. “The two helped me re­ally func­tion and ac­tu­ally have con­ver­sa­tions around my own coun­try with lead­ing con­ser­va­tive peo­ple. That way we can have dif­fer­ent opin­ions with­out it go­ing off the rails, with­out it be­com­ing un­civ­i­lized, with it be­com­ing a healthy con­ver­sa­tion. The two kind of go to­gether in my head. It was like one ex­treme to the other.”

Pot and pol­i­tics will mix when Han­dler steps away from her coun­try for a seven-city tour of Canada that kicks off in Cal­gary Thurs­day at Mount Royal Univer­sity’s Bella Con­cert Hall. Dubbed A Civ­i­lized Con­ver­sa­tion with Chelsea Han­dler, the co­me­dian is be­ing pre­sented by Civ­i­lized, a dig­i­tal

me­dia out­let based in New Brunswick. Derek Riedle, the pub­lisher of Civ­i­lized, will mod­er­ate the Cana­dian events.

Canada is set to make recre­ational mar­i­juana le­gal Oct. 17. Han­dler met Riedle when she spoke at a cannabis con­fer­ence in New Brunswick ear­lier this year.

While Canada may be ahead of the curve com­pared to most states in the U.S., Han­dler says she be­lieves le­gal­iza­tion is in­evitable in her coun­try even if Amer­ica cur­rently has an at­tor­ney gen­eral op­posed to le­gal­iza­tion. Han­dler an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary she plans to cre­ate her own line of mar­i­juana, which is still in the plan­ning stages.

“There is so much money in this business and so many Repub­li­can mil­lion­aires that are putting money to the pro­mo­tion of cannabis and ad­vo­cacy of cannabis,” Han­dler says.

“I do be­lieve it will be the next al­co­hol. I do be­lieve peo­ple will see the health ben­e­fits. In terms of the le­gal­i­ties and the kind of limbo state we are in here in the States, I re­ally hope this pres­i­dent doesn’t last that much longer. So I’m not re­ally con­cerned about any of the bulls—t (At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions is) get­ting into about crim­i­nal­iz­ing it.”

While Han­dler may be com­mit­ted to civ­i­lized dis­course with con­ser­va­tives, that diplo­macy hasn’t been ex­tended to Amer­ica’s First Fam­ily. A few weeks ago, the pres­i­dent’s old­est son at­tacked Han­dler on Twit­ter, sug­gest­ing she leave the coun­try. In late Au­gust af­ter Han­dler tweeted, “I can’t wait for Don­ald Trump ju­nior to flip on his father” in ref­er­ence to Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump cam­paign, he re­sponded by tweet­ing “I’d say stick to com­edy but you weren’t funny enough to avoid can­cel­la­tion of your Netflix show. Stay away from pol­i­tics — no rea­son to suck at two things.”

While it’s tempting to see this “twit­ter feud” as a battle of wits be­tween Han­dler and a se­verely out­wit­ted Don­ald Trump Jr., one gets the im­pres­sion that Han­dler doesn’t want to give the pres­i­dent’s el­dest son that much credit.

“I don’t think about Don­ald Trump Jr. ever,” she says. “And I don’t think many other peo­ple are think­ing about him ei­ther. I don’t care about that fam­ily .... The writ­ing is on the wall. It’s so ob­vi­ous and dis­gust­ing what they ’ve done. And they’ll get caught. It may not hap­pen when we want it to and ev­ery­thing may take a lit­tle bit longer, but it’s not go­ing to end well. For peo­ple like Don­ald Trump, when they fall, it’s a big loud crash.”

Han­dler rose to fame with her late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, which ran from 2007 to 2014. Her 2016 comedic doc­u­men­tary Netflix se­ries, Chelsea Does, tack­led dark is­sues such as racism and drug ad­dic­tion, and she hosted the talk-show Chelsea, also on Netflix, un­til she de­cided not to re­turn to the pro­ject in 2017.

An au­thor whose five mem­oirs have all been New York Times best­sellers, Han­dler is cur­rently work­ing on a sixth book. She also starts pro­duc­tion in Oc­to­ber on a new se­ries for Netflix about white priv­i­lege, which will be­gin with the co­me­dian turn­ing a crit­i­cal gaze on her­self.

“Ba­si­cally I’m go­ing to hang my­self out to dry first and talk about the fact that I didn’t re­al­ize that half my ca­reer is be­cause I’m white and pretty rather than me pick­ing my­self up by my boot­straps and work­ing hard, which I al­ways thought was the rea­son,” she says.

“Fi­nally, I had the lux­ury of look­ing around and read­ing some books by some black au­thors who ex­plained to me what the dif­fer­ence is be­tween grow­ing up in this world as a per­son of colour ver­sus be­ing white. I just felt hor­ri­fied and hu­mil­i­ated that I didn’t know more sooner. That doc­u­men­tary is about try­ing to find out why white peo­ple think af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion is a bad thing, why you would want to keep any of our brothers and sis­ters down and why we are in de­nial that we are all ben­e­fits of white priv­i­lege.”

Chelsea Han­dler will soon start pro­duc­tion on a pro­ject ad­dress­ing white priv­i­lege for stream­ing-gi­ant Netflix.


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