The Guinness Book of Records is a staple in American pop culture. Each year, the book enlightened kids about the coolest newest records. How else would people know who broke the most wooden toilet seats with their head, or who lifted the heaviest weight with their tongue?
The internet largely diminished the importance of each yearly edition Guinness Book of Records, but its influence lives on to this day. Which gave Christopher Teague, a cannabis enthusiast and writer for HERB, an idea: The official Cannabis Book of World Records to commemorate all of the marijuana-related records the Guinness Book of Records doesn’t recognize. A portion of proceeds from the publication and other products would go to charitable causes related to the cannabis community.
Jane Street caught up with Teague to learn more about his inspiration and motivation. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
1. Why do you think now is the time to start a cannabis book of records?
Growing up, I was fascinated with the Guinness Book of Records and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Those were everyday people who strove to do amazing things simply to see if they could. It was inspiring to see people try to do what no one had done before, or try to do it better. What really made me excited was that ANYONE could enter and win. Anyone could achieve greatness. New records and categories are constantly being created. But that book does not acknowledge the milestones of cannabis.
Years later, I became a cannabis enthusiast, and eventually, a writer for a major cannabis media outlet. I was able to help cover exciting aspects of the community, but I also saw the disparity in the attention and social influence between “Brands” and “Causes.” Brands had the money to advertise, while causes relied on word of mouth and donations. But social media began to evolve, and I started to see a light. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise millions for charity with a simple task: dunk cold water on your head.
It was easy, recognizable, and anyone could do it. I also saw the plethora of people smoking on social media or sharing cannabis photos, and the lightbulb went off. As I began to feel around and do research, I stumbled on a quote from Seibo Shen, the founder of VapeXhale, that gave me a lot of motivation.
With cannabis law reform in over half the US, Canada, Mexico, and a growing number of nations, the culture isn’t going back into the shadows. Nor should it.
The last century saw a War against a plant, and the plant has won. Growers have bred stronger and more diverse strains. Technological advances such as vaporization units to deliver medicine, LED lighting, hydroponics, and the solar power industry, have thrived because of cannabis. It’s sibling, hemp, which we will also include in the Book of Records, is just as praiseworthy. Hempcrete is a green building material, fabrics made from hemp have antibacterial properties, making them ideal for hospitals and homes, and so much more. Certainly, the most poignant benefit has been the lives saved and given hope by this plant.
But within the cannabis community, there is a division. One that dilutes our true impact and ability to push change. That is active participation.
There are 3 major groups in cannabis, so to speak.
There is the small fraction who put their lives and reputation on the line to lobby, research, protest, petition and stand as the face of the movement. These people deserve the utmost respect.
Then there are the businesses who cater to cannabis consumers. They built the legal cannabis economy, like those who sold picks and shovels during the Gold Rush. Their products can be seen in any consumer’s personal effects: papers, pipes, vaporizers, t-shirts, and movies, to name a few.
Finally, there are the consumers themselves. Most consumers willingly hand over money to buy personal products, but too few donate to those who fight for their freedoms. Our goal is to celebrate the things that make cannabis fun, as well as functional. The medicine and the people who just love it. In doing so, we also have made it our mission to help the cause. We want to transform casual consumers into active supporters, and drive support where it is needed most, to the front lines.
Our motto is “Unity through Compassion”.
That is why our platform integrates charitable donation into every aspect of the Book. All net fees from video Attempt submissions will go to vetted and worthwhile charities, non-profits, and legalization efforts. We will also track these donations on-site with regular coverage and even a live streaming banner as the site develops. Everything we do will benefit the cause, with integrated donations.
2. Can you give me examples of what type of records would be included?
We are going to cover a lot: 1,500 estimated records by the time the first issue is published. There will be categories for every facet of the plant and community, including individual, group, business, and organizational records.
If you can do it with cannabis, we want to see it! From the home grower with an incredible yield to the dispensary that performs the most volunteer service in the local community, and yes, even the jaw-dropping consumption feats of huge dabs and hot boxes, we want to cover it all. We want to create a place where people can be inspired, surprised, informed, and yes, even have a laugh.
We will also compile industry achievements such as most awards by strain, company, person, etc.
3. Who do you imagine submitting to the book?
Personal consumers, groups of friends, growers, processors, trimmers, dispensaries, charities, non-profits and activist groups, and even brands and celebrities all have a place in the Book. It will be a platform for brands to fashion a unique and positive image for themselves to stand apart from the pack, and for worthwhile causes to increase their exposure and drive donations.
We will have 3 forms of active contests.
Records, which can only have a single Title Holder at the end of the year. Sponsored Records will also have prizes for the winners, provided by sponsors. For example, a Grow Closet for a home growing record.
Challenges, which can have multiple winners based on audience voting. These will have prizes to all winners, and may or may not also count as Records. For example, a Rolling kit for joint rolling challenges.
Achievements, which anyone can claim, like Scout Badges, which will be tied to discounts and special offers from dispensaries and brands. For example, coupon codes from a dispensary for using their products to record an Attempt of a Challenge or Record.
4. How will you verify people’s submissions?
We are integrating a customized Record Attempt Submission platform, so people can upload video attempts. We will then check the videos to see if they make or break a record, and then analyze the potential winners entries to see if any alterations, manipulation, or deception invalidates the attempt. Submitters can also send us emails for Records Consideration. In addition, we will have a “boots on the ground” presence through Remote Officials to cover Live Events, such as Cannabis Cups and Concerts, to determine if a Record is broken by anyone there, and provide Instant Verification and Award of Certificates to them at that time.
5. Are there any legal worries that you have about starting the book?
The short answer is no. Nor should anyone who considers attempting a record have any worries.
Along with the Submission platform integration, we will allow the option for people entering to request the use of a pseudonym and facial concealment through blurring or covering their face with another image so they can enter, and even win, regardless of their location in relation to local, state, and national laws.
As for the Book itself, we will source any cannabis for live events through local, legal providers and then either return it, or donate it through another organization to those who need access. We will not own or distribute any cannabis ourselves. And, of course, any events we put on will have the proper permits.
We also ensure that everyone who participates in any Attempts is of legal age through a minimum donation gateway with credit/debit card, or through visual ID verification at the start of the video.
We believe that people and businesses aren’t made great simply by their existence, but by how they impact the lives of others. We want to make a really big impact, and help cannabis continue to change its image for the better.