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    Canna Conversations: Jimmy Smith, Photographer and Founder of The Activity


    You all went wild when we shared the snap of our #SendNudes matches up in flames (above). The guy behind that capture? Jimmy Smith, Photographer and Founder of @theactivity We've been working with Jimmy for quite some time and find his journey with cannabis to be supremely compelling. Read our interview below to hear how cannabis continues to heal him.

    All images courtesy of Jimmy Smith

     

    Rogue Paq (RP):  How did the members of your household regard cannabis when you were growing up?

    Jimmy Smith (JS): We all pretty much agreed that it was a drug for criminals. This was a distinct issue in my household because when I was 13, I started skateboarding with kids who smoked a lot of pot. From that moment forward, my family was on alert that I would not adopt it into my life and honestly, at 13 I wasn’t interested.

     

     

    RP: We believe that cannabis is a healing plant with the potential to replace prescription medications in the proper application. Tell us about how cannabis has played a part in your overall health.

    JS: Cannabis has been critical to my mental health. I had a near death experience in Croatia in 2011. I was on a wave runner when a storm mounted and I got lost at sea for about 7 hours. It was a pretty traumatic 7 hours from which I developed PTSD. I didn't experience significant side-effects until about a year later when I began struggling with depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks, and social withdrawal. Then came alcohol abuse as a way of trying to cope which, of course, only exacerbated my symptoms. I got myself to a point around 2015 when I realized that I needed to quit drinking in order to get better and so I started to get interested in cannabis. As I began to experiment with cannabis, the up-front benefit was that it began to ease my depression; And then about a year in, it also started to combat my anxiety. I should note that in late 2015-early 2016 I was between jobs and lost my health benefits. This was a terrifying time because I was taking prescription medication to deal with depression, anxiety, and OCD. I was so scared because I honestly didn’t believe that cannabis would be enough to deal with my mental condition but, to my surprise, the benefits far surpassed any prescription medication I had been taking. As time went on, the benefits continued to increase as I learned to avoid Indicas (which seemed to trigger my paranoia and depression) and to rely on pure Sativas which lifted and focused me. I also became aware of dosage and how making adjustments to intake could really boost benefits. From that time period, I’ve never looked back. I am so grateful for this plant that quite literally has saved my life. I say that with no exaggeration nor hesitation.

     

    I had a near death experience in Croatia in 2011. I was on a wave runner when a storm mounted and I got lost at sea for about 7 hours. It was a pretty traumatic 7 hours from which I developed PTSD.

     

    RP: What is your ritual?

    JS: My favorite ritual happens now because I love fall and winter in Arkansas and the colder weather plays into my ideal way to partake. I get to put on my old-man sweater which is a chunky cardigan style piece that I love, and I pull out my antique tobacco pipe. I then start a fire in my wood burning stove and sit in my smoking chair. That’s the stage I love to set. Then I sit and smoke. The perfect time is right at sunset- it’s a meditative period where I reflect on the actions of the day past and formulate a strategy for the following day. I also use the time to contemplate any problems I may need to solve personally or professionally. It’s the most productive period of my day because I’m setting myself up for success.

     

     

    RP: What are the contents of your ritual?

    JS: I have three large grinders from Phoenician Engineering. I grind my sativa and indica separately in each of two of the grinders. Then I have a beautiful chrome plated grinder which I only use for special occasions. It’s like getting out the fine china and the crystal stemware.

    I also have a series of Boston brown glass bottles in which I store my grind - they are the perfect delivery system of ground flower into my antique pipe. Exactly the right size.

    I have my Rogue Paq Ritual Case, of course, but I like to look at it on my bookshelf and currently keep it strictly for photographic purposes. I can’t yet let myself use it into oblivion. That day is coming though.

     

     

     

    RP: What is your favorite strain and why?

    JS: I honestly don't remember strain names but I love pure Sativas. I’m a rather introverted person and Indicas put me too deeply into an existential state. Sativa is energetic and uplifting and it makes me want to learn and create. I use it as a vehicle for staying in the moment. Sativas are perfect for when I want to achieve a “flow state'' where my subconscious and conscious meet and where I can create intuitively without overthinking things. In short, it’s a productivity tool when I need to get the most done. 

     

    Jimmy Smith

     

    RP: As a photographer, what inspires you?

    JS: I’ve always been passionate about the moving image, film, and still photography but through my journey with PTSD I’ve come to use photography (and cannabis) as a recovery tool. PTSD robbed me, for a long time, of my sense of wonder and my appreciation for beauty. I remember a turning point at which I traveled to Big Sur and I was still very depressed and starting to crawl out of that hole. On that trip, I pulled out my camera and photographed what I was experiencing and I recall thinking to myself how beautiful it was. That was a defining moment because prior to that, I couldn’t remember having a positive thought. I was elated to realize I was even still capable of feeling that way and I vowed to chase that feeling. Photography has allowed me to dive back into the world and see it a different way and to rediscover beauty and through that, my vitality as a human. It’s given me a way to revisit pain points in my life and address them head-on. For instance, just two days ago I finally stepped back into the ocean again since my experience in Croatia. When I got close to the water I experienced extreme panic but I photographed myself stepping in and I held onto a good-luck stone and I did it. I stepped back out and felt nothing short of triumph.

     

    Big Sur
     Big Sur

     

    RP: What's your favorite book and why?

    JM: The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castenada. It purports to document the events that took place during an apprenticeship with a self-proclaimed Yaqui Indian Sorcerer, Don Juan Matus from Sonora, Mexico between 1960 and 1965. A highlight in the book is the passages devoted to peyote and its psychological benefits. It has changed my perspective of reality.

     

    Sativas are perfect for when I want to achieve a “flow state'' where my subconscious and conscious meet and where I can create intuitively without overthinking things. In short, it’s a productivity tool when I need to get the most done. 

     

     

    RP:  What photographers inspire you?

    JS: Bert Stern - I love his product photography. He is credited with the creative renaissance in advertising. He motivated me to get into product photography. As a side note, he photographed the last sitting with Marilyn Monroe.


    Joe McNally - one of the last photographers hired by Life Magazine. He was a portrait photographer but thought like a photojournalist. He motivates me because of the way he teaches. Everyone on the planet should watch Inspiration from Joe McNally.


    Eugene Smith - he is the most influential in my life as a photographer. He was a combat photojournalist wounded gravely in Okinawa after which he took no photographs for two years. Ultimately, it’s my interpretation that he dealt with his PTSD and wounds with his camera. The facts are that one day he took his two kids outside and grabbed his camera and photographed them walking out of the trees (below). After that he continued with photography. That moment, for me was photographing Big Sur. It just changed everything.

    Eugene Smith

    Canna Conversations: Asia Taber, Cannabis Artist for 3C Farms

    Canna Conversations: Asia Taber, Cannabis Artist for 3C Farms

    //ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF ASIA TABER//

    Rogue Paq Canna Conversations with Cannabis Artist Asia Taber


    This month we had the amazingly good fortune to not only sit down and chat with prolific Cannabis Artist, Asia Taber, but she went a step further to create art featuring her Vegan Rogue Paq Ritual Case!

     

    Cannabis Artist, 3C Farms, Asia Taber

    Asia Taber, Cannabis Artist

     

    Rogue Paq (RP): You used to be a model in NY and are now a cannabis artist in California. Tell us about that journey and how you chose one of two completely different paths.

    Asia Taber (AT): Actually, I went from model to special education teaching assistant to cannabis artist. I’m from a tiny town called Sparks NV and at 19 a friend of my mom’s, who was an agent, encouraged me to model. I saw the opportunity as my ticket out of Sparks and so I moved to LA. My naivete quickly became apparent having come from such a sheltered background and I was forced to grow up really fast. For instance, I moved 8 times in the first two years because I couldn’t understand how to read people and I found myself in uncomfortable situations and had to seek new situations to remain safe. Modeling and acting took its toll on me physically and psychologically. It left me spent and anxious and quite depressed. It was from that place that I decided to go back to school to pursue psychology - hence my job as a special education teacher. At the time I met Waylon, my fiance, his intro to cannabis led me to becoming a cannabis artist. He is a 3rd generation cannabis grower and cultivator and he introduced me to high quality cannabis and it changed my life. It impacted me so intensely and so positively that I started to flex my creative muscles around the plant and ended up becoming the Creative Artist for 3cFarms. 


    RP: What was your first experience with cannabis and what was your take-away at that point? 

    AT:  I never used cannabis when I was younger because I was always an athlete and a runner in high school and smoking cannabis felt just like runner’s high - except that I also got paranoia, cottonmouth, and the munchies. All of that made me think that weed sucked and that I’d rather just run instead. My first experience, though, was memorable because I smoked out of a legitimate peace pipe with a friend’s parent who is Native American. The ceremonial part was wonderful but in the end I didn’t like the effects.

     

    Rogue Paq Crane Trimming Scissors

     Rogue Paq Vegan Ritual Case with our Crane Trimming Scissors

     

    RP: How does your family view your role in cannabis?

    AT: My parents have always been incredibly supportive and encouraging - no matter what I have been interested in. When I was younger I wanted to become a fashion designer and so I used to get super creative and style my own outfits which my mom would photograph so I could catalogue them. People always commented on my unique look and when I was 17 I was chosen one of best dressed girls in America for Seventeen magazine.That was my first taste of modeling so when I decided to move to LA when I was 19, my parents were encouraging - they told me that this opportunity existed now and that school would always be there when I was ready.  As my journey continued and I found cannabis, my parents supported that as well and my dad has been a healing and encouraging voice in trusting my inner artist and reaffirming that I can create without crutches of any kind.


    RP: When did you begin to enjoy cannabis regularly and how has it impacted your life?

    AT: When I began spending more time with Waylon, he encouraged me to give cannabis another try despite how it affected me years prior. It was his position that I was smoking an inferior product and that’s why I had a less than optimal experience. I really trusted him and decided to try again and it opened up a whole new world for me as the saying goes. The truth is, through the years of modeling and acting I accumulated trauma from different situations I found myself in. I became high anxiety, low in esteem, and very depressed. I was broke and struggling as an artist. I was diagnosed with PTSD and I felt suicidal. I was trying to deal with these emotions using allopathic medicine and found no relief. I felt hopeless and like dead weight. Cannabis soothed me in so many ways. It not only helped me to get precious sleep (which in itself is very healing) but I learned the art of micro-dosing which helped to keep my mounting anxiety at bay all day long. The reason I share these personal details is that I want to encourage others to have hope. I want others to know they aren’t alone. I was devoid of hope and made a comeback and I want others to understand it is a possibility and can be done. I ended up going to school for psychology, mostly to understand and to help myself, and I want to pay that experience forward by helping others. I’m actively exploring the best avenues to assist others in need.

    "[Waylon] encouraged me to give cannabis another try despite how it affected me years prior. It was his position that I was smoking an inferior product and that’s why I had a less than optimal experience."

     

    Rogue Paq Ritual Case, Send Nudes Matches, Cannabis

     Rogue Paq Vegan Ritual Case with our #SendNudes matches

     

    RP: Tell us about your creative process. 

    AT: I am very intentioned with the art that I create. I have so much passion and it's important to me to use it to help others. If I could help even one person feel a sense of hope through my art and my experiences, then I feel successful. A lot of my art is inspired by my own struggle with anxiety and mental health and depression. It has been an outlet for me as well as a way to inspire and I think that comes through in what I create. Before I work with the plants, I always make time to sit with them and vibe with them. I lay down intentions before them - to ask their assistance to inspire me to create art that can touch others. I also like to listen to very loud music which helps me to disassociate as an individual because I don’t want the pieces to be about me - I want to be the conduit through which greater meaning flows.



    RP: We notice that you haven’t aligned with other brands before and we are so excited you agreed to work with us. What was your position on this?


    AT: I was reluctant to accept your product initially because I didn’t want to become a product promoting page; but then I realized that I did want to put forward things that I feel are beautiful and that can change our lives for the better. What I appreciate about the design of Rogue Paq is that you’ve changed the way in which we are able to walk around and socialize with our cannabis. You actually make me want to bring my stash bag out to show and share with others because it is beautiful and of excellent quality. It’s something to be proud of - just like the cannabis itself. Coming from a child psychology background, I can’t help but draw that parallel between child play facilitation and the way Rogue Paq facilitates adult recreation. Your product plays the role of facilitator because Rogue Paq as a brand provides everything you need to practice your ritual - it’s all at hand and the user never gets annoyed because some element is missing. It eases the experience and also makes it beautiful. When I made the photos with my Rogue Paq - it was important to me that I capture how sexy it is.

     

    "I have so much passion and it's important to me to use it to help others. If I could help even one person feel a sense of hope through my art and my experiences, then I feel successful."

     

    RP: Did you go to school for art? 

    AT: I didn’t go to school for art but art is my innate being. My mom and family always fostered creativity and I feel like it is in my genes. Though, I didn’t express my artistic side until l moved out of my family’s home and this was because every person in my family is an amazing artist. My role in the family was as an athlete, not as an artist. I did soccer, track, basketball, etc. but I never identified as an artist when I was younger. However, in later years when I went to live in Belgium and couldn’t communicate effectively with others, I started to create. I realized that I love upcycling and that initial creative burst evolved into many different mediums and ultimately into photography. I started to photograph my work when I realized that the farm where I hung out with Waylon (3c) didn’t have an Instagram account. I wanted to contribute and thought that was a good way. I’m a female that uses cannabis daily and I hated everything I saw on IG and other platforms. So, I started to create images that appealed to me instead of those that I was being fed. I’ve been with 3c for 5 years now and it’s been part of my mission to try to obliterate the awful stigma that is still associated with cannabis and that is perpetuated by sexist imagery. Sometimes I receive criticism because I’m not professionally trained but I don’t let it affect me because I believe in the art I create.

     

    Rogue Paq Ritual Case, Trimming Scissors, Matches, Bud

     Rogue Paq Vegan Ritual Case with hemostats, crane scissors, #SendNudes matches, hemp roling papers, UV storage jar

     

    RP: What’s your favorite book and why?


    A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I listen to him all the time when I’m anxious, when I’m sad, when I'm irritated - and he gives me hope for a new earth. In that way, it’s a perfect book for this time period and what we are all currently experiencing with the pandemic.


    RP: For us, ritual is everything. Tell us about your ritual and what helps you to raise your ritual whether it be environment, company, strains, tools, etc.

    AT: My ritual is most often relative to my art. I’ve gone through stages of how my ritual looks before I start working on an art piece. In the beginning, when I got off all the prescriptions, I was petrified to do art without them. At first I smoked heavily or I needed to be really stoned because it was my crutch. Then my dad was the one to convince me that the art comes through me and that I don’t require a vice to influence me. That really changed the way I approach my ritual before undertaking art. Now, even though I like the ritual and practice of smoking (I love holding it in my fingers) I don’t smoke OGs because I want to feel light during the day when I’m creating. So, instead, I opt for a sativa. Strawberry Fields is my favorite for during the day (and strawberry lime if I’m going to mix strains). If I opt for a tincture, I do a 2:1 to rid myself of anxiety; it just takes away any underlying fear. Sometimes I prefer sublingual strips because they get me hyper-focused. And, sometimes I don’t do anything at all. I now know myself and my ritual well enough that I can moderate in that way. 


    "Cannabis saved me in many ways. Nothing has ever helped me so profoundly before."

     

    Cannabis next to Rogue Paq Ritual Case

     Rogue Paq Vegan Ritual Case

     

    RP: You mentioned to us that you plan on launching a cannabis-art website soon. Can you tell us more?

    AT: Absolutely. As mentioned, cannabis saved me in many ways. Nothing has ever helped me so profoundly before. The name for my website, High Pilot, came to me four years ago when I first started working with 3c Farms. I had clinical and social anxiety and I was not a good regulator of my emotions. I was minimally productive due to my anxiety and when Waylon encouraged me to try micro-dosing, things changed for me. Initially I resisted because I didn’t want to sink into that stigma of the stoner that doesn’t get anything done. I first started with 3 puffs of the lightest sativa and suddenly I could navigate my emotions which made me a high pilot - navigating through with cannabis. It helps me to control my emotions instead of allowing them to control me. As I began to produce more, a co-worker encouraged me to post more of my work and more about myself. I slowly eased my way into Instagram and I found out quickly what a positive influence my pieces were having on the community. I began receiving incredible feedback and also inquiries on how to purchase my prints. So I want to facilitate that desire and provide people with the things that make them feel good. In order to make me feel good about participating in something I had seen only as intense consumerism, High Pilot is also going to have an R&D department to learn about the plants - and in this way, selling my prints can fund research. When I do launch, the URL will be:

    Highpilotdesign.com

    I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I can be most impactful in helping others who struggle with mental illness - whether it be as a cannabis practitioner, or as a researcher scientifically investigating what cannabis does to our bodies and minds, or in some other way. But, rest assured, it is my mission to touch the lives of others suffering and feeling hopeless as I did.

     

    Rogue Paq #SendNudes Matches, dark background

    Rogue Paq #SendNudes Matches