November 28th, 2022
Javier Hasse, Senior Contributor
Chelsea Handler Talks Week, Therapy and Ditching Booze: 'It is Worth Being a Promoter of Something that You Believe In'
Comedian and six-time New York Times best-selling author Chelsea Handler has been going to therapy for a few years now and she’s no longer an a**hole.
Or at least, she’s aware that she is one, and working daily to improve. “I still am an asshole, but now I know I'm an asshole,” she says, half joking, half serious.
In this process of self-discovery and rediscovery, therapy wasn’t the only thing that helped; cannabis has also played a central role. Weed, she argues, calms her down. “I think when you're frustrated or stressed, and the world is a very stressful place these days, alcohol becomes a hat on a hat. The intention that you have with drinking doesn't necessarily always equate to the outcome. Whereas cannabis calms you down, it kind of dulls your senses in a way that's not overpowering so that you have no reaction.”
Drinks, Drinks, Drinks
Chelsea has gone on record countless times regarding her alcohol consumption. “I have vast experience with alcohol that has been very well documented by me and others.”
Not being a fan of hangovers, Chelsea found a fantastic alternative to booze in cannabis drinks – especially considering she does love weed but doesn’t enjoy smoking often because it bothers her throat.
“Every once in a while I have a little bit of a joint. Sometimes I also do edibles, but they take a while to kick in, it is always kind of a crapshoot. Sometimes something can hit you and sometimes it doesn't; sometimes you don't feel a thing,” Chelsea explains.
This is why the comedian got turned onto cannabis beverages. Chelsea feels like beverages present a great alternative to both alcohol and traditional joints or weed edibles. In addition, the dosing is precise and easy to titrate, and the effect, faster than edibles.
“You're going to feel relaxed immediately. And you understand it's a controlled substance,” she voices. “I feel like we're in the Wild West still with cannabis, even though we're making so many inroads and there are so many great things happening, like decriminalization and the pardoning of people convicted of using cannabis and carrying it. But we are still in an area where it is evolving… I feel like drinking it is the most controlled way to ingest it.”
Having been a fan of cannabis drinks for a while when cannabis beverage maker Leisuretown approached her, the partnership was a no-brainer.
“They really seem to understand how to do it right; they offer a CBD and a THC option. I think that's a great invitation for people who are scared or trepidatious about getting into the cannabis space. If you take control of the cannabis and the cannabis doesn't take control of you, the experience is much better,” she says.
A few weeks ago, Chelsea partnered up with Leisuretown, a California-based beverage company offering a line of THC-infused social seltzers and CBD-infused sunny seltzers, low-sugar and low-carb seltzers that go down easy.
Created by serial entrepreneur Josh Held, Leisuretown is backed by a crew of celebrities including entrepreneur and pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, DJ and producer Diplo and, now, of course, Chelsea Handler.
“I dig the low-dose weed drinks, it's something new and different,” said Thomas Wesley Pentz, better known for his artistic name, Diplo, in an exclusive conversation at the time of the beverage’s launch. “I can drink a few and just chill.”
“The growing cannabis beverage category has become increasingly popular, and I am completely in favor of the optimization that Leisuretown offers,” added Rob Dyrdek. “[The] seltzers are a tasty drink that don’t wreck my day, offering microdoses of THC that allow consumers to let loose while staying in control of their cannabis experiences.”
Now, back to Chelsea. She too sings the praises of cannabis beverages.
“It's not like smoking an entire joint and sitting on your couch staring into space,” she explains. “A cannabis drink just takes the edge off, it really helps you if you have social anxiety.”
In fact, weed beverages have become an important part of Chelsea’s social life. “I can't tell you how many of my friends have started taking cannabis beverages before we go out to dinner, before we go to a party. It’s a nice fine line, especially in the dosage that Leisuretown offers, two and a half milligrams of THC… If you want more than that, you can have another drink in a healthy manner. But if you want just that little tiny relief, then that's what it offers you. And I think that's what we've all been looking for a really long time: To get away from the pharmaceutical industry.”
This is what ultimately led Chelsea to “lean into something that grows out of the ground, the way Mother Earth intended it for us to ingest it and use it as medicine, because that's what it is, medicine.”
As mentioned above, the alcohol replacement component is not minor either. “I know what I'm talking about in terms of being able to wake up in the morning without a hangover and being able to be productive and being able to write a book while on cannabis, being able to use that as a tool instead of it using me.”
Of course, arriving at this point was only possible after a long discovery process. As one can imagine, Chelsea’s relationship (and most of ours) with cannabis has evolved over time.
“I think my relationship with cannabis is always evolving, mostly because at different times in your life, you want different things,” she declares.
Being on tour for most of 2023, Chelsea has been looking to cut down on drinking but still “feel relaxed, creative, inspired, funny and be able to sit down and write” when she gets home at the end of a show or tour if necessary. “Alcohol kind of prohibits all of that. You know, it's just more of an unwinding tool. Cannabis [on the other hand] can help you fuel your creativity.”
Especially while on the road, not being hung-over is a big advantage. “You're doing so much traveling from city to city, you're staying in places for sometimes less than 12 hours… So you really don't want to have any more deleterious impacts on your system than necessary. You want to eat clean, to be in control, get the right amount of sleep, and you want to be exercising. So for me, on tour, cannabis has been integral in that way.”
Weed And Her Funny Bone
Unlike other weed-loving artists, who’ve disclosed in this column that they don’t like to consume cannabis before going on stage, Chelsea has no problem with the herb as it relates to live performances.
“I'm a pro so I can perform pretty much using anything. But it's best to perform when you have clarity of mind and you're sharp and your mental acuity is at top speed,” she says. “And that's one of the things that I really appreciate about Leisuretown, because it gives me a buzz, but I'm not blotto; it takes a lot to put a dent in me anyway, but Leisuretown gives me the right kind of relaxing that I want to feel before I go on stage. I don't want to have to take a beta-blocker, which is something I had I've done for a period of my life.”
Of course, she recognizes, having a drink helps you relax before you go on stage as well. “But when you really want mental clarity and you just want to take the edge off, be in the zone and get into your flow state, I feel like a low dose of cannabis is pretty much the best way to accomplish that.”
Elaborating on the Leisuretown advantage, Chelsea explains that, beyond the effect, she also loves the low-sugar content of the drink and the taste. “I'm in my forties and I want to stay healthy. I'm not into digesting lots of sugar. I'm into wellness and mindfulness.”
This, she says, also helps her invite other women into the cannabis beverage world. “I want women to feel I'm here, telling you about something that is going to work for you and it's going to take the edge off in the healthiest possible way.”
In Chelsea’s view, more women need to be vocal about their cannabis use.
“This isn't just something that men can have; this is something for women too,” she states. “Now, cannabis isn't for every single person; I understand that. But there are so many people that it can help who are too scared because of the stigmatization around cannabis – which is silly, and we need to destigmatize it, which is why we're talking about this. We want people to feel safe and to feel like they're not going to be out of control and that it is a controllable experience to have and an enjoyable experience to have and to understand what your needs are for… This is now a controlled substance and so we should treat it as such and be very open and engaging about what the possibilities are moving forward to make sure that this becomes a regular conversation that people aren't ashamed to have.”
To round up the conversation, Chelsea gets into Biden’s recent decision to pardon non-violent cannabis prisoners on a federal level.
“We've been having this conversation loudly and proudly for the last 4 to 6 years, about the legalization of cannabis in a way that has been louder than ever before,” she voices. “And then look what happens: We get results. So it is worth being a promoter of something that you believe in, because if you have enough conversations about it, the conversation starts to change. And Biden pardoning all of those people is proof of that.”
When asked the classic question of this column, “if you could share a joint with anyone, whether dead or alive, who would that be?” Chelsea very much stays on that political lane.
“I’d like to share a Leisuretown drink with Barack and Michelle Obama, actually. I mean, I would like to throuple up with them,” she discloses, crackling. “I’m sure they would enjoy the drink and they're both probably open to it. And I think that would be a good conversation starter. Plus, Leisuretown is just so inviting. Who doesn't want to go to Leisuretown?”