Ashley Picillo (from left), Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran and Lauren Devine kick off the first Cannabis Literary Society meeting.EXPAND
Ashley Picillo (from left), Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran and Lauren Devine kick off the first Cannabis Literary Society meeting.
Chloe Sommers

Denver's Cannabis Literary Society Gets Lit for Lit

Book lovers got lit over literature at the inaugural Cannabis Literary Society author meet-and-greet book signing on May 23. The new consumption-friendly cannabis book club is the latest endeavor of marijuana patient advocate Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran, who wanted to create a safe and legal space where people could talk about the plant and also partake. Besides conversation, the private ticketed event offered homemade infused treats, including Bourlon-Hiltebran's favorite whiskey and cannabis-infused coconut oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran and Andrew Mieure from Top Shelf Budtending made a plate of delectable edibles.EXPAND
Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran and Andrew Mieure from Top Shelf Budtending made a plate of delectable edibles.

Bourlon-Hilterbran is the founder of Colorado nonprofit American Medical Refugees Foundation, creator of the viral "Talk to the 6630507 Hand" campaign, and founder and CEO of Millennium Grown. She's also Colorado state chair for CannaMoms and somehow finds time to blog for MassRoots. Her love of reading combined with her love of cannabis planted the seeds for this latest project.  “So many people don’t read books anymore," she explains. “Reading is a joy, an experience, and to be able to share that with like-minded people who love the cannabis plant makes it incredibly special.”

The Cannabis Literary Society is set to meet twice a month, once for an author meet-and-greet event with music, food and refreshments, and one for the book-club meeting. This kickoff event focused on Breaking the Grass Ceiling, a collection of interviews with some of the most successful and business-savvy women in weed. Co-authors Ashley Picillo and Lauren Devine were on hand to talk about the creating the book and to take questions from the audience.

The authors wanted the book to spark conversation and bring credibility to women who aren't often in the limelight. "Most of the women in the book are using it as a tool to start empowering conversations with other women," Picillo said. "There are women who fly under the radar and deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated."

"These are aspects of the industry that need to have the light shone on them," Bourlon-Hilterbran told the group. "Breaking the Grass Ceiling is absolutely one of those books." In the future, the club will focus on non-fiction, medical and scientific books, and personal storytelling — especially stories that highlight minorities and women.

Working with Bourlon-Hilterbran was an easy decision for the authors. “Amy has been so supportive of us, and we're lucky she allowed us to share her story in our book," Devine said. "Her perseverance and inner strength and conviction and kindness are outstanding."

This initial event raised money for the American Medical Refugees Foundation and the Kris Lewandowski Legal Fund. "People who love cannabis really love cannabis, and those who love books really love books," Bourlon-Hilterbran explained. "It's a lifetime love." It also raised attention for Picillo and Devine, who hope to conduct a women, weed and business panel at Denver Startup Week. (You can vote for their panel here.)

The club is open to lit lovers at least 21 years old. Starting July 1, memberships are $42 a month or $420 annually, and include discounts from sponsors as well as invites to industry events.

Bourlon-Hilterbran's work as a patient advocate is well known in the Colorado cannabis world. Since moving her family from Oklahoma to Colorado to get cannabis medicine for her epileptic son, she's become a pillar of the cannabis advocacy community.

The Ajoya dispensary supports Bourlon-Hilterbran's medical refugee program; the shop has a round-up program through which clients can round up their bill and have the proceeds go to American Medical Refugees. “Amy is all about advocacy, and we are strong proponents for that, as well as the legalization and normalization of cannabis,” says Ajoya spokesperson Jacob McCarthy.

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