In honor of 4/20, we’re presenting Maria Levitov's portraits of cannabis consumers in Colorado, the first state to allow legal recreational sales. “The world can feel isolating and discouraging, so now more than ever, it’s important to show the things that connect us, not separate us,” says the photographer.
“I think cannabis is distinctive in that it mixes medicine with recreation in a way that feels inherently inclusive. By combining fine-art photography with the act of smoking, I think these portraits offer a different insight and perception. Plus, smoke is beautiful and ever-changing; it’s as unique as the participants in this project.”
“My name is Elle Beau, and I am a Denver-based yoga teacher and mentor who offers weekly public yoga classes, private sessions and teacher trainings. I believe in the profound healing power of intentional breath and mindful movement. I also believe that cannabis — CBD balanced with THC, in particular — can play an integral role dancing with breath and movement. A regular consumer of cannabis as medicine, I couldn’t be a bigger advocate of the plant’s inherent healing properties. Off of the mat, my passion is fueled by world travel, exploring all that Colorado’s outdoors has to offer, and playing with my beloved pup, Boscoe Coltrane.”
“My name is Beth Ann Krug. My husband, Michael, and I saw a 4/20 spread on the Internet and within a month went to Denver. You know how Ziggy Marley says, ‘This is a calling, have you heard?’ We felt the calling. Medical cannabis helps my Parkinson’s disease, helps me to feel normal and not feel my symptoms. The International Church of Cannabis saved our relationship by allowing us to worship together on Friday evenings instead of being apart from one another. We also enjoy cannabis socially and making our own edibles. We’re active with the Church of Cannabis; my responsibilities there include organizing the choir, Sunday volunteer work, greeting people at the front desk, giving tours and helping to prepare food for the Friday night dinner after services.”
“My name is Ricky Baylis, and I’m a media manager for an innovative tech startup involving photography. I create video ads and tutorials, as well as help develop the user experience and design. I typically use cannabis mid-day to early evening to help me see my work from a different perspective or mindset. It helps get me through creative blocks and truly keeps my stress under control. Outside of my professional life, I keep active at the skate parks, climbing gyms and disc golf courses in town, and love the amazing music scene in Denver.”
“Hi! My name is Ikeah Tate, and I am a server at Lucile’s Creole Cafe. Cannabis has been a part of my life for quite some time now, almost ten years. I have always thought that cannabis has the ability to bring complete strangers together easily and openly. It is an opportunity to put yourself out there and make a new friend.”
“My name is Roy Oliver McClain II, and I’m a transplant from Charleston, South Carolina. I am an entrepreneur involved with short-term rentals and tourism in downtown Denver. I am a medical marijuana patient for my problems with Crohn’s disease and chronic back pain. I not only enjoy cannabis for its THC, but also its CBD and its medicinal uses. I love cannabis and the joy it brings to people all over the world. It truly brings people from all walks of life together to enjoy and elevate our lives!”
Anonymous: “I am a professional model, commercial actress and full-stack coding student with a passion for the sacramental benefits of cannabis. After losing my father as a teenager, I suffered from severe anxiety and depression and was prescribed multiple addictive medications. However, after discovering medical cannabis, I dropped all of the pills and have since become a respected activist within the cannabis community.”
“I’m Steve Berke, co-founder of the International Church of Cannabis and CEO of Bang Holdings Corp, a publicly traded cannabis company. I’m perhaps best known for my YouTube parody videos, which have garnered nearly 30 million views. My unorthodox campaign for mayor of Miami Beach landed me on the front page of the New York Times and Maxim, with ABC News naming me one of the top eight comedians to ever run for office, alongside Al Franken, Roseanne Barr and Sonny Bono.”
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“I’m Aura Poimtsev, a practicing hairstylist and cosmetologist. My relationship with cannabis blossomed when I started my career in cosmetology. I’m on my feet all day, and with that comes a lot of back pain. I use CBD to help medicate my sore joints and THC to calm my mind after a stressful day.”
Anonymous: “I moved to Colorado eight years ago to go to college and spend my weekends skiing in the Rockies. A lot of things have changed since I first planted my roots here in Denver, but observing the legalization of cannabis is the most noteworthy. As one of those typical B-school graduates from the University of Denver, I was so fascinated by the businesses that emerged as a result of this amendment, as well as the number of professionals who were now coming out of the shadows regarding their relationship with cannabis (including myself). Living in Colorado has reminded me how grateful I am to be able to wake up in a place with so much beauty, opportunity and unrestricted access to this wonderful little plant.”