“Brady Bunch” fans were abuzz this week as HGTV unveiled its new show “A Very Brady Renovation” Monday night, which follows all surviving cast members of the original 1969-1974 series as they work with professional renovation experts to recreate their iconic home. The original series debuted 50 years ago this month.
Like most shows of the era, the exteriors seen on the series were a real house. Its interiors were never seen on the hit ABC series — all interiors were filmed on Stage 5 at Paramount Studios. When the house used for the exteriors — located at 11222 Dilling St., in Studio City, Calif., — went on the market last year, a bidding war erupted but HGTV won, purchasing the house for $3.5 million.
Almost immediately, the network planned a massive renovation to make the house look as much inside like the “house” was seen on TV. That involved adding 2,000 square feet to the original floor plan, a task that likely would have given even Mike Brady (an architect) a massive headache!
All six of the Brady “kids” — Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan) and Mike Lookinland (Bobby) joined Jonathan and Drew Scott (“Property Brothers: Forever Home”) Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen E. Laine (“Good Bones”), Leanne and Steve Ford (“Restored by the Fords”), Jasmine Roth (“Hidden Potential”) and Lara Spencer (“Flea Market Flip”) to execute was the network is calling “the boldest home renovation the world has ever seen.” (Sadly, Alice, Carol and Mike are no longer with us — Ann B. Davis died at age 88 in 2014, Florence Henderson died in 2016 at age 82 and Robert Reed, who was gay, died of AIDS in 1992 at 59.)
Roth, fresh off a red shag carpet event last week, spoke to the Blade by phone Sept. 6 about her work on the show.
WASHINGTON BLADE: How did you come to be involved in the show/project?
JASMINE ROTH: I got a call and it was like, “Hey, we’re thinking about the Brady Bunch house …” and I was like, “Yeah, absolutely,” they didn’t even have to ask me. It was pretty early on, I don’t think they knew exactly what they were planning to do with the house at that point.
BLADE: Had you been a “Brady Bunch” fan as a kid?
ROTH: Yeah. My mom was a huge fan and watched it with her brother and sister the first time through and so when I was a kid, whenever it was on, she was like, “Oh my goodness, come watch this show, the ‘Brady Bunch’ is on.” I definitely grew up watching it, I knew all the characters, I knew the song, so when I got the call it was a no brainer. To say I’m a fan is an understatement.
BLADE: What did you actually do on the project?
ROTH: Each of us hosts were given different areas of the house. I was in charge of Mike’s den, which was a challenge because it was one of those rooms where a lot of scenes were shot, a lot of important scenes. It was a room people spent a lot of time looking at, so I knew I had to get it right with the drafting table and the green shutters and the little sofa. I was also in charge of the master bedroom … which, at the time, was the first time where a couple was shown sleeping together in the same bed, so for the TV world, that was a big deal.
BLADE: I could never figure out what that was supposed to be behind their bed — some kind of a screen or scrim or something? It wasn’t a wall.
ROTH: I think the idea of it was that it was a paper screen and a window behind it so the light would filter through, but of course, this was just on a set so there wasn’t any real light. But that kind of thing came up again and again because it wasn’t technically a real house on the show. One thing that was interesting, when the Brady kids came in, they went, “Oh my gosh, it has ceilings,” because of course on the set, it was just lights and microphones up there. But I think the headboard area was mean to be this kind of Asian-inspired paper shade. In our design, we made it out of bumpy glass and then we had the exact pattern from the set printed onto a kind of contact paper that adhered to the glass to give it that paper look, but more durable.
BLADE: The Bradys had so many interesting paintings (or reproductions) in their house. Did Paramount have those in its prop house or did you have to recreate them?
ROTH: Paramount did have a fair amount of items but we weren’t sure if they were from the original set, you know, they did a lot of reboots and specials and things over the years. But we were able to get as much as we possibly could. A lot of it was in pretty rough shape. … As for the paintings, we recreated most of them.
BLADE: Did the nationwide scavenger hunt for furniture and replicas turn up much you were able to use on the show?
ROTH: Oh my goodness, yes. There was a bust of a woman on the headboard of the bed a fan had bought at a thrift shop years before and donated. He didn’t even know at first it was the same on one the show but recognized it later. It’s the kind of thing you’d never consciously notice watching the show, yet the bedroom wouldn’t really be complete without it.
BLADE: Some of those little tchotchkes changed over the run of the show. Did you just pick the ones that were the most recognizable?
ROTH: Yeah, some changed, some didn’t. There were times we had to make decisions but if it was something that was there for multiple seasons, like the horse at the base of the stairs, obviously those had to be there.
BLADE: Did you find the original horse or is it a replica?
ROTH: Well, we found a horse at Paramount. We’re not sure if it was THE horse, but it looked a lot like it. But unfortunately a bunch of the legs had broken off. So we found a similar one at an online auction and we found a way to kind of meld together the pieces with a 3D printer to fix the parts that were broken on the original.
BLADE: There’s also a smaller horse in the den on the endtable beneath the lamp. For those less noticeable props, did you feel you had to find exact replicas or did close enough work?
ROTH: We just did the best we could with the amount of time we had. We tried to get it as exact as possible down to the objects on the vanity table in the master bedroom and the setup of the books on the shelf in Mike’s den.
BLADE: How long did all this take?
ROTH: It was a six-month project; nine months total with the planning and everything.
BLADE: How were the Brady kids to work with?
ROTH: Oh my gosh, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if they were gonna want to show up and just kidna watch mostly or what. But they were all really ready to get their hands dirty and they were all super excited about it. They were fun and brought a lot of insight. I don’t think we could have done this project without them. Their memories of these spaces at the end of the day are what really brought it all together.
BLADE: Who was the hardest worker?
ROTH: I’d say it varied. Chris Knight was the biggest skeptic at the beginning. He just thought it was too big of a project, but then he ended up working harder than anyone else because he really wanted it to happen.
BLADE: Any of them you particularly clicked with?
ROTH: I worked with everybody. We were paired up with certain people on each room but I live in Orange County, so it’s close and I was able to be there a lot if I had a day off on my own show or I was literally waiting for paint to dry. So I got to work with every single Brady. Every one of them surprised me, that’s what I’ll say.
BLADE: Susan said once — it seemed kinda half-joking, half not — that when they get together they take care not to put Eve and Maureen next to each other. Did you sense any tension between those two?
ROTH: No, that’s so funny. No, I didn’t pick up on any tension at all honestly. We were so focused on the project, I don’t think there would have been time for anything like that or if there was, it would have just immediately dissipated.
BLADE: How did you even begin to add a second floor to the house without disturbing the facade? That seems crazy impossible.
ROTH: That was one of our biggest challenges. We knew we couldn’t mess with the front because that’s what everybody’s used to seeing. … We actually dug down and recessed the family room about a foot lower than it would have been on the set and that’s how we were able to accomplish the angle of the staircase, which was the most important. You know we had to get the staircase right.
BLADE: What will they do with this house now?
ROTH: That’s the million dollar question, I don’t know. It’s tough because there are a lot of restrictions. It’s in a residential neighborhood but it’s also Hollywood, so there’s that. I think it’s a matter of figuring out something that works for everybody but I honestly don’t know.
BLADE: How many episodes are there?
ROTH: I think four plus a bunch of online-only content.
BLADE: Which Brady kid did you most identify with as a kid?
ROTH: Marcia, although she was way cooler and way prettier. So kinda Marcia but in my dreams.
BLADE: Did it seem like there was genuine camaraderie between the Brady kids or no more than it might be for any of us catching up with coworkers from long ago. Don’t you think the public kind of projects onto them and imagines they’re BFFs and hanging out all the time and so on when probably really that’s not the case?
ROTH: Well they all grew up together and you can’t discount that. When you have that kind of shared experience at such a young age, it’s almost like a real brother or sister. They may not be getting together for dinner every week at this point in their lives, but they picked up right where they left off and we really had fun doing this project together. I think it’s a hundred percent genuine and they are truly brothers and sisters, even if it is just on TV.
Remembering Robert Reed
Despite having a combative relationship with “Brady Bunch” executive producer Sherwood Schwartz, gay actor Robert Reed, who was closeted most of his life, never missed a Brady reunion, having shown up for “The Brady Bunch Hour” (1976-1977), “The Brady Girls Get Married” (1981), “A Very Brady Christmas” (1988) and “The Bradys” (1990).
A lot of the tension centered around Reed, a classically trained actor, thinking the Brady scripts were too silly and implausible. Florence Henderson (Carol) and Barry Williams (Greg) in their respective memoirs (“Life is Not a Stage” and “Growing Up Brady”) have said Reed could be a pain to work with.
“If there was a source of recurring tension on the set, it usually concerned Bob,” Henderson writes. “He wanted ‘The Brady Bunch’ to be Shakespeare. It was the catalyst for terrible fights with Sherwood.”
Williams writes that although the tension continued through the life of the show and through its reunions, Reed was good to the young cast and they didn’t see a lot of the more terse exchanges. “He treated the kids as though they were his real family,” Henderson writes.
“I want to make it crystal clear that this sort of tension was not commonplace on the set … and was not exhibited in front of the kids,” Schwartz is quoted as having said in Williams’ book. “It almost always took place late in the shooting day, long after the Brady kids had gone home. Under normal everyday circumstances, our (set) was friendly, comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable. … Friction was an exception not the rule.”
Was Reed combative by nature or could some of his grumpiness come from being forced to stay in the closet pretty much his whole life? Henderson thinks that compounded his irritability.
“It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like in that era to be an actor in fear of losing his career if his sexual orientation were to become public,” she writes. “Being in that closet had to be a very stressful place.”
— JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
Melissa Etheridge shares Q&A in advance of April 26 Tysons tour stop
Rock pioneer finds inspiration in the past — from revisiting old demos to reconnecting with celeb pals like Ellen
We caught up with rock legend Melissa Etheridge on April 8 by phone from Snoqualmie, Wash. — it’s about 26 miles east of Seattle —where she was playing the Snoqualmie Casino on her “One Way Out Tour,” which plays our region on Tuesday, April 26.
It’s named after her latest album, released last fall, which found Etheridge, who’s been out since ’93, revisiting demos from early in her career.
Her comments have been slightly edited for length.
WASHINGTON BLADE: “One Way Out” sounds like such a cool project. Was it all re-recorded stuff of old songs or were some of those vintage takes on the record as well?
MELISSA ETHERIDGE: The last two songs, the live songs, were from where? From 2002? OK, but the other songs were newly recorded.
BLADE: And how many of them did you remember?
ETHERIDGE: You know, when I found them again, they all came back very clearly. And I was like, “Oh, this is — why did I throw that away? That’s weird.” And I really enjoyed, you know, hearing them, they were just old demos. I’d never done full-blown recordings. So I thought, “This is great, I want to do these songs.”
BLADE: We have a relatively new venue you’re going to be playing, Capital One Hall. I’ve only been there once. You excited?
ETHERIDGE: Yeah, it’s always fun. I love the D.C.-area crowd. It’s just really, really nice.
BLADE: And how do you decide where you’ll be? Or do you have any say in it?
ETHERIDGE: Well, it’s not necessarily me. I do have a say in it, in what I want the whole tour to look like. But it is really up to William Morris, my agent, to find the right venue that understands what we need and the kind of atmosphere we’re looking for that and the amount of people and, you know, that sort of thing.
BLADE: Tell me about Etheridge TV. I just wonder, when we were in that acute phase of the pandemic, wasn’t it even remotely tempting to you to just take a break?
ETHERIDGE: No, because since I was 12 years old, I sang all the time for people, like five days a week and it’s just been what I do. And so when it was like, I was looking at a massive, cavernous amount of time that I was going to be home, I still needed a way to pay the bills, so we put our heads together — I’ve got one of the greatest television minds with me, you know, my wife (TV producer Linda Wallem), so I had the space and I had the equipment, and I was like, “Let’s do it.” And it was really fun to learn new things. It was fun to learn about computers and sound and streaming and lights and cameras and all these things that I didn’t know. … I feel a little smarter.
BLADE: When did you start back on the road?
ETHERIDGE: We went out last fall. We went out September, October, right around there. And you know, it was a little different, Now things are things are loosening up … but some places still require masks. But people are starting to get back out and it feels good. It’s not the overwhelming thing that it was a few months ago.
BLADE: And what was it like being on ‘Ellen’ again for her final season?
ETHERIDGE: Oh, I love her. She’s such an old friend. You know, I say that about myself, too. (chuckles) But, you know, she’s just a relationship in my life that I have treasured. We’ve watched each other grow and the changes we’ve made and the successes and what we’ve gone through and I love that she had me on and just it was just a really — she’s a dear friend. And she showed an old photo there, and we both said, “Oh, that was before we were so busy.”
BLADE: Do you talk to her often?
ETHERIDGE: I would say we see each other socially once or twice a year. It just seemed like once we started having children, all my friends from my 20s and 30s when we were not as busy — it just gets harder to stay in touch and life got crazy.
BLADE: So when you were hanging out back in the day with Ellen and Rosie and everybody, how was it that Brad Pitt was in that group too?
ETHERIDGE: Well, my girlfriend (Julie Cypher) had been married to Lou Diamond Phillips and we were all very good friends with Dermot Mulroney and Catherine Keener and Catherine Keener did a movie with Brad, like a movie nobody saw, like Johnny Dangerously or something (1991’s “Johnny Suede”), some really weird movie. So I met Brad before he was terribly famous. He was a part of that group. There was a whole group of all of us that just hung out, and we were all totally different. We were just like young, hungry Hollywood and we’d talk about, “Oh, I had this audition,” or “I went and did this,” and we were just all trying to make it in that town. So we’d get together and have fun.
BLADE: I was so terribly sorry to hear about Beckett (Etheridge’s son, who died in 2020 at age 21 after struggling with opioid addiction). How are you and the rest of the family, especially (Beckett’s twin) Bailey, dealing with it now?
ETHERIDGE: There are many, many families like us that deal with a loss like that. It just blows a family sideways. But we have a deep love and connection, all of us. We all knew he had a problem and it’s a problem that starts way before he actually passes, so it was not a surprise. So now we’re just living with the missing aspect. You try not to think about what could have been and you try to think about him in a happier place and that he’s out of pain, so that helps us.
BLADE: Had he and Bailey been as close in recent years?
ETHERIDGE: They were very close, but in the last couple of years as he made worse and worse choices, we couldn’t support that, so they were less close, but of course in her heart, it was her brother, he was very dear to her.
BLADE: Did you watch the Grammys? Was there anybody you were particularly rooting for?
ETHERIDGE: I watched bits and pieces of it. I had a show that night, so I didn’t get to see the main thing, but I have seen pieces and I just love the crazy diversity and you know, the TikTok people winning stuff, it’s like, “Wow, this is so not the Grammys I remember from the ’80s,” but that was what, 30 years ago? So it’s all good.
BLADE: You were such a perennial favorite back in the day in the best rock female category. Were you pissed when they eliminated it?
ETHERIDGE: It’s sad because I felt like the criteria they were using to judge what is female rock, they just really dropped the ball. I still think there are some amazing musicians that could be considered, you know, rock, but it feels like we’re having a hard time even defining what rock and roll is now anyway. There’s a whole bunch of strong women out there playing, rocking, you know, playing guitar, being excellent musicians and songwriters. If you can’t call it best rock female, OK, call it something else.
BLADE: I remember so vividly when you were on the Grammys in 2005, in the midst of chemo, when you sang “Piece of My Heart.” I remember you saying you were wondering how people would react to seeing you bald. Having been through that, any thoughts on the Will/Jada Oscars situation since her baldness, too, was due to a medical condition?
ETHERIDGE: You know, it’s funny, I did feel a little remembrance of (thinking), “I just hope people don’t make fun of me.” That was kind of the first thing because to go out there bald, that was so different for me as an artist whose hair had kind of defined her. I was thinking, “How am I gonna rock without my hair?” I thought people might make fun of me, but I got over that. I just thought, “Well, if somebody makes fun of me, that just makes them look bad.” So I just walked through it. And you know, it’s hard to draw the line between what’s funny and what’s painful and how to look at something. I feel for all parties involved.
BLADE: When you go on these cruises, do fans give you some space or do they swarm around the minute you walk out? Is it even enjoyable for you?
ETHERIDGE: Yeah, it is. You know, we did our last one, now we’re doing Etheridge Island, we now have a destination in Mexico, outside of Cancun, it’s just this island that we’re going to that is really fantastic. But I do I make myself available, I don’t run away. When I have to be somewhere, I have a great company we work with called Sixthman that knows how to get me from point A to point B without being bogged down. But I do my make myself available. Everyone gets a picture with me. It’s my work, but I love it. I try to make myself available but also have some time just for myself too.
BLADE: You Tweeted a few nights ago about having a tight curfew of just 90 minutes at a casino but then it worked out and you got to do a full set. Why are the curfews so tight at casinos?
ETHERIDGE: Why do you think? They want people at the tables. Like for tonight, we we settled on 100 minutes. They’re giving me 10 extra minutes. I don’t like it, but in some areas, the only really good venue is a casino, so if you want to reach your folks there, you kind of have to meet them half way.
BLADE: Yeah, but it seems like in concert halls, the curfews can sometimes be really tight too. Even Madonna got her lights shut off a couple years ago. Of course, she’s notoriously late, but why are they so strict with these things nowadays?
ETHERIDGE: There are all different situations — concert halls often have union crews that will absolutely shut you down if you go one second over. There are also sound curfews, noise curfews, mostly with outdoor venues, but sometimes indoor as well. They have an agreement with the neighborhood. So you have people in the neighborhood standing by with their phones ready to pounce the minute it goes over one minute, they’re gonna call the police. As a performer, you just realize, “OK, it’s not just about me.” When I don’t have a curfew, I usually land at about two hours and some change. That seems comfortable to everyone. Any longer and I think I’m wearing my audience out. When I’m at a place with a shorter show, I just do my best.
BLADE: I know you’re a big Chiefs fan. Did you watch that game back in January all the way to the end?
ETHERIDGE: Well, at the end of it, I was on the floor. My wife was like, “Honey, honey, there’s still 13 seconds,” and I was moaning and sort of getting my feet on the floor and, you know, laying down and throwing a fit. And she’s like, “No, there’s still 13 seconds.” I dragged myself back to the television. And I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Wait a minute. Did we just win?” You know, just really crazy, really crazy stuff. … When you’re a fan like that, it’s a ride you can’t fully explain.
BLADE: Are you in a cordial or good place with your exes? Does it get easier when the kids are starting to grow up?
ETHERIDGE: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And you realize that it’s best for the kids if you can really get along and that any sort of conflict that can’t get resolved, that gets emotional, does no good for anyone. And absolutely, I have, I’ve gotten better at that as the years have gone by.
BLADE: Do you have the slightest inkling yet what the next studio album might be like?
ETHERIDGE: Well, I’ve got some interesting projects that I’m not ready to talk about just yet. But they have to do with my life story. There’s a lot of digging up of my past and really telling the story. So I imagine the next series of music you’ll get from me is going to be very focused on my journey.
New Cranes sommelier brings spirit to wine and sake program
Stewart-Woodruff curates eclectic list for Michelin-starred restaurant
Outfitted in a blue damask dinner jacket with satin lapels and an energetic smile, Eric Stewart-Woodruff carves an impressive figure when chatting about his favorite vintages. Stewart-Woodruff, who’s gay, is the new sommelier at Michelin-starred Cranes in Penn Quarter.
Stewart-Woodruff curates an eclectic wine – and sake – program focusing on pairings with celebrated Chef Pepe Moncayo’s innovative, global flavors. Cranes, which explores intersections of Spanish and Japanese cuisine, opened just before the pandemic, and received a coveted Michelin star in 2021.
Stewart-Woodruff did not start off in the wine industry. In fact, he does not have any formal training in wine. Instead, after a career as a professional photographer, he pivoted to the restaurant industry, where he developed his love of wine. While working for a distributor, he connected with D.C.’s own District Winery. This opportunity allowed him to express his truest self, as a lead tour guide, wine ambassador and sommelier. He credits his identity and personality as his reason for thriving.
“I bring my whole self to work,” he says, “offering a level of humanity and approachability.”
After the pandemic temporarily shuttered District Winery, Stewart-Woodruff found himself interviewing at Cranes, enamored with Moncayo’s “creative vision,” he says – and was sold. He began in late summer of 2021.
Through his work in hospitality, Stewart-Woodruff notes that the industry can be hetero-male dominated. He has been able to break through by not holding back on his identity.
“I tend to play with expectations of what a sommelier may look or act like,” he says. “I move away from what one may stereotypically look like, but still present like one.”
For him, that means talking about wine and wine education “as if it were gossip,” he says. “I like to view wine like we are at brunch. Wine has personality, it’s performative, and it has stereotypes.” He is seeking to break molds of specific likes and dislikes, exploring the depth that wine has to offer, in the context of the Spanish-Japanese Cranes menu. In fact, he says, Moncayo is supportive of his innovative, certification-less angle. “I become more relatable,” he says.
He also presents original events. He paired with local guest sommelier Andrew Stover (also a gay man) on Tuesday, March 29 for a springtime showcase of specialty rosé wines paired with Moncayo’s dishes. The duo poured tastes of specialty, small-batch wines from Brazil, Italy, Spain, Uruguay, and Maryland.
Leaning into the innovative spirit, the wine-by-glass list is not split by color. Instead, it is divided into evocative categories. For example, both a chardonnay and a pinot noir fall into the “Elegant, round, and mellow” category.
As a Spanish-Japanese restaurant, Cranes not only possesses an extensive wine cellar, but has consistently expanded its sake program. Sakes by the glass are split into the same exact categories. The very same “Elegant, round, and mellow” list includes Ginjo Nama Genshu and junmai daiginjo.
Stewart-Woodruff explains that wine and sake should be attended to similarly. “Sake is something you can think about like a beer in terms of production but treat like a wine,” he says. Sake is a fermented polished-rice beverage, dating back more than two millennia in Japan.
“Sake has aromatics, texture, body, and finish.” He takes pride in discussing customers’ palate preferences, and turning them onto a specific sake, for their qualities of earthiness, acidity, or others.
“Many people don’t experience sake outside of college or bars. Now, I can be a sommelier for sake, and for the marriage of Eastern and Western cuisine and beverage.” He expresses excitement at being innovative in his sake beverage pairings, occupying a niche space. When discussing both wine and sake, he aims to bring an artistic flair and tour-guide enthusiasm to the table.
Woodruff credits his identity and background for his success. He aims to bring a level of humanity and approachability to what has been a formal, stuffy area. He has high ambitions to portray sake as sophisticated as wine in the customer’s mind, “but it pairs well with Moncayo’s conceptually ambitious menu,” he says.
“Wine and sake are as eclectic as humanity. I want people to accept experiencing wine like the world has accepted me.”
Legalization trend continues as Nat’l Cannabis Festival kicks off
D.C.’s 420 Week runs April 16-24
The sixth annual National Cannabis Festival kicks off in D.C. on April 16 as the nation continues to see advances in legalizing cannabis, particularly for medical uses.
Just this week, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed HB 933 and SB 671, to provide numerous operational improvements to the state’s medical cannabis program, including eliminating the requirement that patients register with the Board of Pharmacy after receiving their written certification from a registered practitioner.
“These legislative improvements will bring great relief to the thousands of Virginians waiting to access the medical cannabis program,” said JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML. “We hear from dozens of Virginians each week who are struggling with the registration process and frustrated by the 60-day wait to receive their approval from the Board of Pharmacy,” Pedini added.
There are more than 47,000 program registrants, with an estimated 8,000 applicants still awaiting approval.
The new laws will take effect July 1. Until that time, patients will still be required to register with the Board of Pharmacy in order to shop at one of the state’s ten operational dispensaries. After July 1, patients who would like to receive a physical card will still have the option to request one by registering with the Board of Pharmacy.
The changes in Virginia law reflect growing support nationwide for reforming marijuana laws. Most Americans favor the enactment of a broad array of legal reforms specific to marijuana policy, according to new nationwide polling data provided by YouGov.com.
Specifically, six-in-10 Americans say that “marijuana should be made legal in the United States.” Majorities of Democrats (72 percent) and independents (60 percent) back legalization, while most Republicans (46 percent) do not.
Last week, members of the United States House of Representatives voted 220 to 204 in favor of The MORE Act, which removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act thereby allowing states to legalize cannabis markets free from federal interference. Most Democrats (217) voted for the bill while all but three Republicans voted against it.
A majority of Americans also support amending federal law so that banks and other financial institutions can explicitly partner with state-licensed marijuana businesses. Support for the policy change is strongest among Democrats (66 percent) and weakest among Republicans (38 percent).
Under existing federal law, financial institutions are discouraged from partnering with state-licensed cannabis businesses. According to the most recent financial information provided by the US Treasury Department, only about ten percent of all banks and only about four percent of all credit unions provide services to licensed cannabis-related businesses.
House members have voted on six separate occasions to pass federal legislation (The SAFE Banking Act) to reform this policy, but Senators have never taken any action to advance it in the Upper Chamber. Most recently, House members voted in February to include SAFE Banking provisions in HR 4521: the America COMPETES Act. Senators failed to include similar language in their version of the bill. (Courtesy NORML)
420 Week arrives in D.C.
D.C. is gearing up for a blazing 420 Week, featuring several days of exciting panels, art and community-building events and parties culminating in the National Cannabis Festival on April 23, featuring Wiz Khalifa, Lettuce, Ghostface Killah, Backyard Band, DuPont Brass, Shamans of Sound, Cramer, and more.
This year, the sixth annual National Cannabis Festival, which celebrates progress on cannabis legalization, is expanding to a full weekend of epic cannabis-related events, including the National Cannabis Policy Summit April 22 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and the National Cannabis Championship, presented by Gentleman Toker and slated for April 24 at Echostage with Slick Rick. The weekend is the capstone of 420 Week, hosted by the National Cannabis Festival organizers in partnership with the Eaton Hotel and DC Brau. The week kicks off on Saturday, April 16, with movie screenings, evening parties, a beer launch and more. Read on for the week’s highlights, courtesy of Festival organizers:
Saturday, April 16 – Sunday, April 24
Eaton Hotel + DC Brau
From the Hemp and Hops Panel and launch of NCF Legalize It! Lager at DC Brau (3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE) on April 16 to the 4/20 Kickback Party featuring Khalifa Kush and panel with artists discussing cannabis’s role in their practice at the Eaton Hotel (1201 K St, NW), 420 Week promises something for everyone with an interest in cannabis culture. Take a tour with Luckie Chucky tours, participate in a “Plantwave Soundbath” and more. Nearly all events are free; RSVP required. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com for details.
National Cannabis Policy Summit
Friday, April 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Join a who’s who of activists, industry pioneers, government leaders, journalists and more for an electric and illuminating day looking at the era’s most pressing cannabis policy challenges and opportunities. U.S. Senate candidate and Civil Rights activist Gary Chambers; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Portland Cannabis Program Manager Dasheeda Dawson; Aamra Ahmad, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and many others will be on hand to discuss environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation, banking legislation, decriminalization and more. Afterward, stay for a reception sponsored by Weedmaps. All events are free; registration is strongly recommended. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com/ncf-policy-summit for details.
National Cannabis Festival
Saturday, April 23, 12 p.m.
RFK Festival Grounds
2400 East Capitol St., NE, Lot 8
The highlight of 420 Week events is the East Coast’s largest ticketed cannabis gathering, which returns to Washington’s RFK Campus with performances from Wiz Khalifa Lettuce, Ghostface Killah and many others. Also on tap: a wide range of exhibitors, five pavilions on topics from wellness to agriculture to education, and a brand-new culinary pavilion featuring top chefs from Maydan, Maketto, Moon Rabbit, as well as the Munchies Zone, with 75 of the region’s most popular food trucks including Peruvian Brothers, Jerk at Nite, Reba’s Funnel Cakes and more. (Note: No THC infused foods are permitted to be sold or sampled at NCF; festival-goers must be 21 and up.) Tickets range from $75-$375 for one or two-day admission to the festival and National Cannabis Championship. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com/tickets.
National Cannabis Championship Presented by Gentleman Toker
Sunday, April 24, 12 p.m.
2135 Queens Chapel Rd., NE
Slick Rick and DJ Footwerk are giving festival-goers a sendoff to remember on the final day of 420 Week and the festival weekend, at the National Cannabis Championship at Echostage, new this year. Presented by Gentleman Toker, this awards show and bash celebrates the incredible cannabis cultivation taking place in the Washington area and across the Mid-Atlantic. Expect exhibitors, comedy, munchies, drinks and a chance to chill with some of the biggest names and brands in cannabis cultivation. Tickets are $55. Visit nationalcannabisfestival.com/tickets.
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