June 28, 2010
by Peter Hecht
Sacramento resident Ngaio Bealum says he loves to cut up on stage
about "weed and sex." But this stand-up
comic-activist-journalist-entrepreneur says he also aims to change
"the stoner paradigm."
"It's not about sitting around and doing nothing," says the editor
and publisher of West Coast Cannabis, a monthly pot lifestyles
publication that bills itself as the Sunset magazine of weed. "My
thing is I like to smoke a joint and go do something."
And so Bealum, 42, a San Francisco native born in 1968 to Black
Panther Party members, plays a multifaceted role in the California
He is an activist who has worked with Americans for Safe Access and
the Greater Los Angeles Caregivers Alliance, groups advocating for
medical marijuana users and lobbying cities to permit regulated pot
He is a former anchor for Cannabis Planet TV and a comedian whose pot
humor - a less-dazed antidote to Cheech and Chong - lights up
California comedy club circuits. He is among comedians due to appear
Tuesday night at the Comedy Spot in Sacramento in a benefit for the
family of a young man recently killed in Sacramento's Midtown.
In 2008, with start-up funds from Oakland medical marijuana
entrepreneur and legalization advocate Richard Lee, he launched West
The free magazine, distributed at marijuana businesses in California,
Washington, Colorado and other states, ballooned in size and
circulation from 20,000 copies and 40 pages to 50,000 copies and 92 pages.
Featuring cultivation tips, weed reviews and pot culture and activism
news, it was a money-maker by its second year - jammed with
advertisements for dispensaries, hydroponic growing suppliers, pot
doctors, lawyers and advocates.
"It's aimed at the West Coast lifestyle and at people who enjoy
cannabis - from connoisseurs to growers to those who use it
medicinally, recreationally or spiritually," he says.
Recently, the magazine has taken a hit of the downer kind. A strict
new Los Angeles dispensary ordinance, forcing the closure of hundreds
of dispensaries, cost the mag dearly in advertising. He expects to
drop to 70 pages for his July issue.
"We've lost 25 percent of our Los Angeles ads - a fairly huge chunk,"
said Bealum, whose magazine deployed two of its three ad sales people
in Southern California to tap into L.A.'s burgeoning dispensary
market. "It's been a pinch for sure."
Bealum, an advocate for the November ballot initiative to legalize
recreational marijuana use for California adults over 21, figures his
mag's fortunes may rise anew.
Meanwhile, the veteran stand-up maintains his sense of humor and
stoner-on-a-mission vibe. He says he rocks with "an urban mind
expansion band." And his comic bits light up YouTube with clips
including recent comedy club appearances in Los Angeles, San
Francisco and Sacramento and at the 2009 Seattle Hempfest.
There is also this early-career stand-up video from Comedy Central,
in which he muses over the hazy origins of his name and makes light
of growing up as "the Lord of the Geeks."
See it below. [See URL.]