Medical Marijuana and the Patient Protection Act: One Year Later

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What Difference Has a Year Made?

On April 24, 2015, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5052, known as the Patient Protection Act, which provided new guidelines for selling medical marijuana in Washington, and directed the state’s Department of Health to implement them by July 1st, 2016.

These new guidelines represented a radical shift in how medical marijuana was grown, packaged, and sold, and it transformed it seemingly overnight.

As the state forged ahead on recreational marijuana reforms, they realized they also needed to give attention to the regulation of medical marijuana. But this process upset the status quo, and a community who had grown accustomed to doing things their own way — it had evolved in a grass roots manner to help thousands of patients, but there wasn’t a lot of oversight regarding product quality and processing. Without independent regulation, the community had become built upon relationships.

These new regulations were a substantial change for many patients who had found stability in a culture of low-cost product and a familial atmosphere at their neighborhood dispensaries. They could smell jars of nugs, hand-pick close, and even enjoy a dab bar on site — all of which would soon be illegal.

But change was not made simply for the sake of change: Things had to be different in order to comply with the Cole Memo, a Justice Department memo from the Obama administration, which set clear expectations of transparency, traceability, prevention of distribution to minors, risk reduction, and more, in order for states to legalize cannabis in their states without risk of federal interference.

The new approach to medical marijuana had many critics and many different drafts of bills, but SB 5052 would eventually be law and things would be very different as a result. Some of the major changes that went into effect on July 1st, 2016, include:

  • Medical marijuana dispensaries that were unable to transition to an ‘I-502’ retail store would be closed, and medical marijuana would now be sold via licensed retailers with medical endorsements and an on-site Medical Marijuana Consultant
  • No consumption could take place on site
  • All products sold as medical marijuana would have to adhere to the rules laid out for their recreational counterparts: tested, packaged, and sealed until after purchase

All patients with a valid medical recommendation would still be allowed Affirmative Defense under the law, and those who registered with the state’s database of patients would also be afforded arrest protection, increased possession limits, and grow allowances.

As a result of these changes, the cost of medical marijuana went up significantly for many patients, who now had to pay a standard state excise tax — although they could avoid sales taxes. Additionally, the availability of high dosage, medical-grade marijuana products have been slow to come to market, which has frustrated patients even more. However, a big plus is that, with the new regulations, patients can now be assured that the products they’re consuming have been lab tested.

Enter Medical Marijuana Consultants

While retail stores don’t have to also sell medical marijuana, in order to serve this community, they have to secure an endorsement from the state — and have at least one state-certified Medical Marijuana Consultant on staff.

This newly created professional distinction was the first and is still the only medical marijuana professional approved by a state department of health in the US. This certification requires 20-hours of education and 10-hours annually of continuing education to be re-certified, resulting in the highest standard for cannabis education in the country.

In response to these requirements, Seattle Central College launched its Cannabis Institute in partnership with the Academy of Cannabis Science in Spring 2016. Since coming online, we’ve provided a comprehensive cannabis education to hundreds of students, many of whom are working in cannabis shops around the state. While a store is only required to have one consultant on staff to comply with their endorsement, the comprehensive, science-based and expert-driven curriculum we provide has inspired entire stores to go through the certification process.

Many of our graduates have either entered the medical marijuana field, or they’ve moved up in the ranks in their retail stores as a result of becoming certified. But we’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how many non-professionals have enrolled in our program — from caregivers to professionals such as nurses, designers, massage therapists, and chemists who want to learn how to work effectively with the cannabis industry as it builds its legal infrastructure.

Medical Marijuana by the Numbers

Here some statewide numbers one year after the new regulations took effect:

  • Total medical marijuana patient cards created: 23,327
    • Adult patient cards (age 18 and over): 21,465
    • Minor patient cards (under age 18): 124
    • Designated Provider cards: 1,738
  • Medically endorsed stores:
    • Active Stores: 191 (at least one consultant on staff registered to use the database)
    • Inactive Stores: 282
  • Medical marijuana consultant certifications:
    • Total applications received: 1,061
    • Number of ACTIVE certificates: 745
    • MMJ Consultants working in stores: 556

(Source: WA Department of Health, June 26, 2017)

More Changes on the Horizon

With the recent approval of SB 5131, more changes are coming to the industry. Here are a few of them:

  • Adult users can now share limited amounts of cannabis with other adults without the risk of arrest
  • Seeds and clones will soon be available for patients, solving the riddle of how to legally get started with a home grown crop
  • Advertising restrictions will mean no sign spinners on street corners and fewer pot leaves on billboards

Rules will need to be developed and adopted, but this should be a significant improvement.

While the laws we have regulating medical marijuana aren’t perfect, they’re a work in progress and can continue to be affected by concerned and engaged citizens.

If cannabis regulation is important to you, we encourage you to stay involved with what’s coming up:

Overall, we’re very grateful for the many partners and collaborators who have helped us contribute positively to Washington’s growing cannabis industry. We’re committed to offering expert-driven and science-based education, and to listening to the educational needs of students, patients, and the industry as a whole. We hope you’ll join us in that mission.

Inspiring Outdoor Spaces: Tatiana Gill

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Inspiring Outdoor Spaces: Tatiana Gill | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Instructor Tatiana Gill | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Inspiring Outdoor Spaces: Tatiana Gill | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Need a Little Inspiration?

Seattle is a beautiful city, filled with natural and artistic gems — some well-known, others a bit off the beaten track.

We asked the artist and instructor Tatiana Gill to share with us her favorite inspiring outdoor spaces, and then we created a map for you to use as you explore.

In addition to what we’ve featured here, she also cites the ever-changing and often amusing graffiti along the Pike/Pine corridor, the Kubota Garden, and Fremont’s Rocket and Lenin statues.

What are some of your favorite, creatively inspiring outdoor spaces in Seattle? We’d love the hear about them in the comments.

Fremont Troll & The Wall of Death

Fremont Troll & The Wall of Death

Troll Ave N / NE 40th Street

“These once tied as the two worst public art installations in Seattle, but I love them!

Meridian Archway

Meridian Archway

4649 Sunnyside Ave N

“The mosaic rock work at the entrance of the playground is gorgeous.”

Streissguth Gardens

Streissguth Gardens

E Blaine, between 10th Ave E & Broadway Ave E

“I adore the amazing landscaping of this hidden gem of a garden!”


The People's Wall

The People's Wall

E Spruce St & 20th Ave

“Created in the 70s for the Black Panther Party, this mural is a cultural touchstone.”

UW Campus

UW Campus

University District

“The architecture, sculptures, and landscape are captivating.”



Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

“This sculpture is off the beaten path and really impressive.”

Drawing Blanks: The Science Behind Writer’s Block

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Guest Post by Writer Vigilance Chari

Are you suffering from a bit of writer’s block? Don’t fret: Many of history’s most acclaimed writers have experienced an interruption in the flow of their creative juices.

The topic has been so prevalent that there has been quite a bit of study on its origins, by both philosophers and scientists alike, hoping to shed some new light on the condition.

What makes writer’s block difficult to understand is that there is often very little commonality in experience. It cannot be clinically diagnosed, and you won’t find cures for it on WebMD. Nevertheless, as poet and essayist Julia Spicher Kasdorf — director of the Master of Fine Arts program at Penn State — says, writer’s block is “as real as any kind of anxiety.”

So if we’re not sure what causes it, what can we do to address writer’s block? First, let’s look at what we do know about the potential source of this condition.

Writer's Block as a Brain State

Although there haven’t been direct studies on people experiencing writer’s block to identify specific causes, other approaches can be used to determine which parts of the brain are affected when someone has writer’s block.

Drawing Blanks: The Science Behind Writer's Block | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
The anterior view of Broca’s area – Wikimedia Commons

For instance, since one of the fundamental characteristics of writer’s block is the inability to write down words, analyzing where language resides in the brain can give us some useful insight.

Language is one of the skills that is processed by the left frontal lobe. The significance of the role that the frontal lobe plays in word formation was first reported by French physician Paul Broca, who deduced that damage to this area resulted in the inability to construct words, a condition called aphasia. Fittingly, the left side of the frontal lobe is nowadays called Broca’s area.

We could also look at writer’s block as the inability to develop a story. For most writers, forming words isn’t as much of a problem as figuring out what should happen on the next page.

Several studies have looked into the concept of “creating stories” and the areas of the brain that are involved. The most reasonable conclusions were drawn from experiments involving an fMRI scanner — MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow to various parts of the brain.

In one study, participants were given three words and asked to create a story around them. The fMRI scanner detected a significant increase in activity on both sides of the prefrontal cortex: The left side, where Broca’s area is located, and the right side, where the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is situated. The ACC is associated with establishing logical relations between concepts and decision-making, both of which are crucial skills for a great writer.

Drawing Blanks: The Science Behind Writer's Block | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Anterior cingulate cortex highlighted in yellow – Wikipedia

In another study, scientists sought to determine the parts of the brain that were related to critical thinking and brainstorming by asking participants to write an actual story.

While in the fMRI scanner, the subjects were given the first 30 words of a story, asked to brainstorm a possible continuation, and then allowed two minutes to complete the story. The stories were then scored based on the level of creativity, and measured against the brain activity recorded by the scanner.

The entire process was characterized by increased activity in the frontal lobe, with the subsections involved being those primarily associated with planning and memory. The motor cortex also exhibited increased blood flow relative to the physical act of writing the story.

Therefore, when we talk of writer’s block, we may actually mean “creative block” — the biological inhibition of the brain to make the connections and plans that lead to creative writing.

Unlike other physiological conditions, however, there’s no pill you can take to make writer’s block go away. So, what can you do to fight it?

Loosening the Frontal Lobe

Increasing brain activity in the frontal lobe is an unpredictable psychological process. Sometimes it’s the simple things that work when complicated remedies fail.

Regardless, it’s entirely possible to come out of writer’s block. You just need to find the remedy that works for you.

1. Do something else that’s creative

Drawing Blanks: The Science Behind Writer's Block | Seattle Central College - Continuing EducationSometimes all your frontal lobe needs is a jolt from a different kind of energy source. If you’ve been coming up blank the past week, take a break and learn something new.

Try painting, photography, music, poetry, or any other form of art that captures your attention differently. Physical activities like gardening or repairing that old car in the garage could also work.

Engage in a different project for a few hours, and then get back to your writing. The key is to keep exercising your frontal lobe and, eventually, you’ll tap back into the writing flow.

2. Freewrite

As a more direct approach than starting a new project, freewriting challenges your brain, particularly the frontal lobe, to come up with words and a story.

When you’re feeling stonewalled, take a deep breath and proceed to write down everything that comes to mind about your topic non-stop for ten minutes. And, if the words don’t come, write “blah blah blah,” over and over. If other thoughts occur to you that are not related to your story, write them down, too. These distractions may be among the reasons why you’re blocked.

You could also start your day by engaging in a stream-of-consciousness style of writing for 30 minutes, writing down everything that comes to mind — especially if its unrelated to your topic. This can serve to ‘prime the pump’ later in the day, and gives you a structured opportunity to express what’s on your mind outside of the confines of your story.

3. Come up with a schedule

Although some writers prefer to write only when they feel most inspired, establishing a routine can keep your frontal lobe from slipping into a creative block.

As renowned artist Chuck Close once said, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

Plan your writing process, and try as much as possible to stick to a schedule. Taking advantage of the brain’s habitual nature can keep you focused when you need to be writing.

4. Change your environment

Drawing Blanks: The Science Behind Writer's Block | Seattle Central College - Continuing EducationWriting, like many creative activities, requires that one be present. This means that, although you may not know it, the environment you’re in is an integral aspect of your process.

When writer’s block hits, changing the scene can help to freshen your mind. If your primary writing tool is a desktop PC, buying a light and compact laptop will enable you to step out of the house and find new inspiration.

A different writing environment, such as the park or the nice restaurant across the street could be what your frontal lobe needs to get back to work.

5. Move your body

The biological aspect of writer’s block involves reduced rate of blood flow to the frontal lobe. Increasing your heart rate with physical exercise can be a good way to give your brain a much-needed kick into gear.

Dance, do yoga, go out for a run, or take your dog out for some playtime. Sometimes even a few minutes of meditating and deep breathing exercises can help to relax and focus your mind.

More than anything, try to remember that if you’re going through writer’s block, don’t let it dampen your creative spirit. Being stuck doesn’t mean you’re not smart enough, skilled enough, or don’t have anything to say. The human brain is remarkable, but it’s not perfect, and it often leads us down some very negative rabbit holes if we let it.

Just keep in mind that the best way to overcome writer’s block is to just do it: Write! Every writer will experience a block in their creativity, but the difference between the hobbyists and the professionals is that while one allows creative block to discourage them, the other simply pushes through.

About the Author

Vigilance Chari is an international presenter and published author who currently covers tech gadgets and college laptops for LaptopNinja.

When not writing, she spends her time as an enthusiastic professional party planner and part-time painter.

Community Spotlight: Cannabis Nurses Lead the Way

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It Starts with Educating Communities

While the cannabis industry has made tremendous gains over the past few years, it can still be challenging for some healthcare providers to come out in support of cannabis remedies and therapies.

Some are concerned about the legal ramifications, and that support could have an adverse impact on their licensure or professional reputation; others are simply unaware of the benefits of cannabis therapy, and how to find sound, science-based information that they can use to guide their patient care.

Nurses have been leading the way in this area, primarily due to their extensive and hands-on experience working with patients of all backgrounds with a variety of conditions.

We spoke with two cannabis nurses who are focused on sharing their knowledge with their professional colleagues and patient communities alike, with the goal of expanding everyone’s knowledge and ending the stigmas related to cannabis use.

Lisa Buchanan – RN, OCN

Cannabis Institute Alum and RN Lisa Buchanan | Seattle Central College - Continuing EducationLisa has been an RN in Washington State for 25 years. She is a proud alum of Seattle Central College, and, most recently, its Cannabis Institute.

During her career, she has worked on an orthopedic oncology unit, at an outpatient sarcoma clinic, and as a clinical nurse coordinator for patients with lung, head, and neck cancer. After working with patients who were undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatments, many of whom found that the drugs designed to alleviate their nausea and pain weren’t adequate, Lisa learned about the benefits of cannabis therapy and began engaging her colleagues and patients on the subject.

“When I was working on the Orthopedic Oncology unit in the 90’s, I had a long term patient with a spinal tumor that used cannabis for pain relief so that he didn’t have to use so many narcotics,” she remembers. “They wiped him out mentally, and he wanted to continue to be sharp so that he could do his work while he was in the hospital for treatment or surgery. He was very pro-cannabis and would talk to all of the nurses and other patients about the value he received from it. I took care of him over the course of several years.”

“I lived in Washington, and I voted yes on medical marijuana in 1998 when it was on the ballot in and was happy to see it pass,” Lisa continues. “That same patient encouraged me to go to Hempfest to learn. I took his advice and got to meet and speak with amazing people. I also got to see that not everyone who uses cannabis is the stoner caricature that the media and anti-cannabis agencies project. Patient ‘R’ started my journey to being a cannabis nurse.”

Lisa’s nursing work currently focuses on education and quality of life. As part of the management team at Dockside Cannabis, she guides and educates people on a daily basis. One of Seattle’s first recreational marijuana stores, Dockside is medically endorsed and is also home to the Cannabis Museum. In addition to her nursing credentials, Lisa is certified as a Medical Marijuana Consultant by the Washington State Department of Health.

“What is most rewarding for me is when a patient finds something that improves their quality of life,” she explains. “Some patients have a hard time trying cannabis because of the stigma, so it’s a beautiful thing when they find a form or a regimen that works well for them, and to watch them bloom as teachers to others. It seems like things just ‘happen’ to patients, and that there aren’t a lot of choices. When they get to make a choice, and it makes their world better, I’m thrilled by their empowerment.

Juhlzie Monteiro – RN, BSK

Cannabis Nurse Juhlzie Monteiro | Seattle Central College - Continuing EducationJuhlzie provides a different angle on the life as a cannabis nurse.

Based in Las Vegas, Juhlzie is a Registered Nurse in the state of Nevada and a UNLV Alum. She has worked for over 20 years in medicine, specializing in Internal Medicine, Orthopedics, Pediatric ER/Trauma (PALS) and Adult ER (ACLS/TNCC), Outpatient Surgery and Pain Management, and as a Nurse Educator in many of these specialties. She is known in her community as @AskNurseJuhlzie and has educated professionals, patients, caregivers, corporations on everything from cannabis-related legislation to the science behind cannabis therapy.

“When I discovered cannabis in January 2010, I had no idea that Nevada had established a legal medical marijuana program in 2001,” she recalls. “As an ER/trauma nurse who triaged thousands of patients over the years, I was not only unaware of the state’s program; I didn’t know that marijuana was a successful treatment option.”

Discovering this knowledge profoundly affected the way she viewed the options available to her patients, becoming a veritable Pandora’s Box that, once open, she could not close. “It was a paradigm shift for me, and it was impossible for me not to share my knowledge with the world.”

Instead of allowing her newly discovered knowledge of cannabis therapy isolate her, she decided to combine her passion, profession, and power of the media to spread the word. Juhlzie knew that health care providers weren’t receiving cannabis training in medical and nursing schools and that she could fill that need within her professional community.

“I knew that we as nurses needed a platform to inform and educate our profession on the benefits of this plant — providing evidence-based education and research written by nurses, doctors, scientists and experts in the field — which healthcare providers could use as a reliable and respected resource to add to their toolbox,” Juhlzie explains. “That is how and why I founded Cannabis Nurses Magazine. It has become a reliable and trusted source for education not just for nurses, but for medical providers, patients, caregivers, and legislators alike.”

And education doesn’t just open minds; it can change communities. Several US states seeking to add opiate dependency to their list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis recently used Cannabis Nurses Magazine as a vital resource.

But Juhlzie’s work is far from done. “I plan to continue planting the seeds of wisdom, truth, and science behind this simple plant.”

Discover Your Creative Vision With Linda Upshaw

Let's Tap Into Your Instincts

Learning how to express yourself creatively is a skill that can reap benefits in both your personal and professional lives. Just the act of exploring perspective, challenging your preconceived notions, and tapping into your instinct can help you come up with deeply innovative solutions to problems at work or at home. Plus, engaging with life in a creative manner will help you experience it more richly.

A perfect example of the kind of impact this level of skill and practice can have on your life is artist, musician, and instructor Linda Upshaw, who has been involved in the performing and fine arts since she was a child.

“It has been a journey,” she notes. “It’s kept my spirit nurtured as I set out on a path to self-discovery and fulfillment. When I was young, the call of discovery and enchantment beckoned, and I answered its call!”

While growing up in Seattle, Linda was heavily immersed in classical piano study at Cornish Institute. She was also involved in the Franklin High School Bel Canto Choir and performed as an actor in community theater productions.

“These experiences were formative,” Linda remembers. “They helped me to decide that I wanted to travel, learn, and find work where I could be creative — more than anything in the world!”

Over the past 20-years, Ms. Upshaw has been teaching classes focused on inspiring creative development. In addition to her private and group piano lessons, she offers courses designed to inspire the same type of creative discovery she herself has experienced over the years.

Discover Your Creative Vision With Linda Upshaw | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education“As an artist and educator I have a fascination for the arts and the purpose it serves in developing thinkers who ask the hard questions,” she shares. “I love working with people who are interested in exploring and acquiring the knowledge revealed by the spectrum of life’s experiences, who remain open to the vast array of diversity in all of its many forms.”

Linda believes firmly that art should be accessible for everyone, that it’s not simply something that people of privilege should engage in. The tools, insights, and creative expression that her students gain from her courses can benefit people of all backgrounds, and she actively promotes participation from a variety of communities.

“I want to help people learn how to respond to life with an openness that cannot be contained,” Linda explains. “I’m inspired to create art and develop classes that teach others how to respond to light, color, form, sound — whether it be by using a musical instrument, pen, brush — to create a story, a narrative of their lives.”

Her Intuitive Art: Painting for Your Life class is about expression — how to find your innate creative source, and then share it with others in a variety of mediums. She’s used many of the methods she teaches in classes that span traditional humanities courses to workshops with young children.

Purpose, Passion, and Vision: The Art of Vision Boarding will help you tap into your dreams, desires, hopes, and goals — and then provide you with the tools to lay out the path toward achieving them.

“People that will benefit the most from taking either of these classes are those that desire to explore inner impulses that need expression,” she notes. “Whether that be through the use of painting or other art forms, this is their opportunity to explore this in a safe and supportive environment.”

In fact, promoting that environment has been a key to her past success. “My previous students have often shared that seldom do they find a classroom environment that feels safe, where they can take risks in their expressions and creations,” Linda shares. “My students walk away with a feeling that there exists a multitude of different lenses in which to evaluate data, that perception and intuition are great tools which replace certainty and judgment with nuance. Openness can lead to greater self-fulfillment, and it’s my goal to provide the guidance you need to discover that.”

Linda’s higher education pursuits actually began at Seattle Central College many years ago, so it’s an honor for both her and the College to have one of our distinguished alums come back to her roots and share her diverse artistic training with a new generation of students.

Travel Like a Native: Peru

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Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

From the Mountains to the Sea

Located in western South America, Peru has a deep cultural history — beginning with one of the oldest civilizations, the Norte Chico, who have settlements dating back to as early as 3200 BC, to the Nazca, famous for their lines which can only be truly appreciated from an aerial view, to the Inca Empire, who created one of Peru’s most notable sites: Machu Picchu.

Today, Peru’s multiethnic population is comprised of individuals of indigenous, European, African and Asian descent, which results in a diverse and vibrant cultural experience for travelers. It also offers some of the world’s most gorgeous natural habitats — from jungles to mountains to beaches — so you can cover it all during one visit to this breathtaking country.

To learn more about Peru, we asked instructor Teresa Ramon Joffre to share her perspective on her native country; read on to learn more about cultural similarities and difference, tips and recommendations, and more.

What is the primary language spoken in Peru, and how important is it that a traveler be familiar with it before they visit?

The primary language of Peru is Spanish. I think it is very important to speak at least some words to get by.

Of course, Peru is a very popular destination so people in the tourism industry speak very good English. However, it is great if you can learn some Spanish in advance to get by and make the experience more enjoyable.

What are some of the differences in communication style between Peru and the US?

These are just my perceptions, of course, but here are some differences in how Peruvians interact with each other:

  • Personal space – I think in the US the personal space bubble is bigger.
  • Greetings – In Peru, most people greet with one kiss on the cheek. Of course, that is gradually changing, especially in a business environment.
  • Informality – Some public transportation in Peru is pretty informal, or, to say it nicely, too laid back. Local buses are a whole new experience for tourists!
  • Punctuality – Some people arrive a bit late; it used to be that most people did, so this is gradually changing.

What are some similarities between Peruvian and US cultures?

  • Friendliness – I think people in both cultures are pretty friendly and kind. Sincere smiles open doors.
  • Eating – We like to eat. We like to go to parties and have friends. Many people like coffee.

Ultimately, I believe that we are all the same. Some are luckier than others, some have had a better environment, better living conditions than others. But we all want the same things: To be happy, healthy, and safe.

What should a traveler keep in mind when they're interacting with Peruvians?

  • Be friendly and smile.
  • It’s good to be trusting but cautious.
  • Be generous and respectful.
  • Dress in simple clothes.
  • No big cameras or expensive jewelry/glasses. In other words, no frills.

Just remember the golden rule of travel: When in Rome … (of course, only when it is about doing good things!).

Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

What are some common practices around eating food or sharing meals?

Service in restaurants is very different. The waiter doesn’t bring the bill until you ask for it. Also, attitudes toward tipping are changing — it used to be that it wasn’t customary, but now it’s generally expected that you’ll tip 10%.

Lunch is usually a big meal with two or sometimes three courses (appetizer, main course, dessert) and dinner can be a bit lighter.

Also, people have dinner a bit later than the in the US. Say 8 or 9 p.m. Of course, it all varies but places are usually open until late.

What is one dish in Peruvian cuisine that everyone must try?

It all depends on your personal choices, allergies, etc. Also, sometimes eating something raw can cause stomach problems or more serious issues.

I would say try the local fruits and vegetables. Make sure they are clean or buy and clean them yourself. Potatoes and corn are wonderful in Peru and also many of the new superfoods that now are famous in the Western world have been around in Peru for a while (maca, camu camu, quinoa, kiwicha, cat’s claw, etc.).

Peru has also been recognized as one of the world’s leading culinary destination, try the food and you will see why!

What are some common misconceptions about Peru?

  • Not everybody dances salsa.
  • We don’t know what tacos are 🙂
  • Each country in Latin America is different. It is like a family. Every person has some things in common but everyone has their own personality.

When you first traveled to the US, what surprised you the most about the culture or traditions? Why?

What surprised me is how big the country is and how reliant people are on cars.

Also, the food portions seem gigantic to me, even the coffee. Back home, people used to have coffee in a small porcelain cup at a cafe. I don’t know if they still do it that way now.

What should no traveler to Peru miss?

Again, it will sound cliche, but Machu Picchu is a must and the main reason thousands of people come.

The city of Cusco is amazing. The jungle is breathtaking. The majestic and never ending deserts with their dunes. There are so many magical places that it is hard to say where!

It is very diverse and has it all: Coastal cities with deserts (the Pacific Ocean), highlands and snow peaks (the Andes mountains,) and rainforest and jungle (the Amazon river). It has 30 out of the 32 climates in the world.

Peru is one of the most beautiful countries I have been in my life.

Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Travel Like a Native: Peru | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Instructor Spotlight: Nicole Li

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Instructor Spotlight: Nicole Li | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Challenge Your Perspective

Instructor Nicole Li | Seattle Central College - Continuing EducationAs the cannabis industry in Washington state evolves, the legal considerations for everyone it touches — from health care providers to retailers to patients, and more — need to remain in focus. And, as it transitions from an illegal industry to a legal one, thinking through and establishing the standards and ethics that will guide it is an important part of its success.

Attorney and Cannabis Institute instructor Nicole Li is uniquely qualified to provide that guidance. With a background in philosophy and bioethics, she blends her legal know-how with her understanding of the health care industry to work with businesses in the Cannabis Industry as they navigate these new waters.

We asked her to share more about her background and interests, as well as her answer to the all-important question: A tiger tail, or tiger stripes?

What classes do you teach for Seattle Central?

I am part of the Medical Marijuana Consultant Certificate Program.

I also designed a 5-hour continuing education course, Law & Ethics for Medical Marijuana Consultants.

How long have you been teaching?

In 1996, I was given a Teaching Assistantship at the University of Washington’s philosophy department.

From 1996-1999, I taught at the UW during the school year and at the Northwest School during the summer.

At the Northwest School, I designed and taught creative writing, arts and crafts, logic, and an introduction to philosophy using Twilight Zone episodes.

I’ve been teaching with Seattle Central’s Cannabis Institute since 2016.

What's your educational & professional background?

I graduated from Mercer Island High School and went to Brown University for undergrad.

I attended graduate school at the University of Washington, where I received an MA in philosophy.

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law school, while also getting another Master’s in Bioethics from Penn.

One day I’ll finish a Ph.D., possibly in some aspect of cannabis and public policy.

I’m the founder of the Li Law Firm, which focuses on the legal and regulatory aspects of health care industry.

What other kind of life experience do you have that influences what and how you teach?

Traveling — specifically, international travel, and as cheap as possible.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching your classes at Seattle Central?

The questions students ask.  It is easy to view the world from one’s own perspective, so it’s great when someone asks a question that requires a different lens.

Tell us about an inspirational learning moment.

I was really shy in college. I never raised my hand, and if I got called on, I would flush bright red, it was awful.

When I got into philosophy grad school, I was given a Teaching Assistantship, which meant that I had to teach four classes per week of symbolic logic. The first time, I had an out of body experience. I was up near the ceiling, in the back of the class, and I could see myself standing in front of the whiteboard, talking through a problem as I wrote it out. I remember being amazed that I was talking, and wondered what I was saying. In that moment, I realized that I could be a teacher; and once the terror subsided, it was a lot of fun.

The best way to further your own knowledge is to have it challenged by honest questions from students. There’s no skating by! The energy of active learning is a rush.

Would you rather have a tiger tail or tiger stripes?

Tail, definitely. It’d be a new experience — I’ve worn stripes!

Nicole's Favorites


  • Dostoyevsky, anything he’s written. Everything in the world is in one of his books, in some form. They are super long, after all, but he covers so much.


  • The Phoenix Foundation and Fat Freddy’s Drop, both from New Zealand.


  • In general, I’m interested in going literally anyplace I haven’t been before. Iceland and Russia are high on my list of places to travel. In terms of going back to places, definitely southern Africa. I love Zimbabwe.

Understanding the Risks of Cannabis Use: A Right and Responsibility

posted in: Cannabis Institute | 0

With Great Power Comes Great Responsiblity

With the use of cannabis growing throughout the US, it’s the right of patients and the responsibility of cannabis professionals to truly understand the substance — not just the benefits of cannabis use, but the risks as well. In a Pew Research study in 2013, 7% of Americans claimed to be current users of marijuana. Just three years later, the number had climbed to 13%, approximately 1 in 8 adults.

While we cover many of the benefits of using cannabis in this blog and our Cannabis Institute courses, it’s also important to educate the community about any potential risks. One of these is known as Marijuana Use Disorder, a condition which is currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). At present, the National Institutes of Health estimate that nearly 6 million people in the US suffer from this disorder.

So, what is it? Marijuana Use Disorder is defined on a continuum, from mild to severe, and is characterized by unsuccessful efforts to limit or reduce use or cravings, increased tolerance and continued use, despite negative consequences. If the individual experiences at least two of these within a 12 month period, they may experiencing this disorder.

Although marijuana use disorder gets the most attention in the press, it is not the only risk associated with cannabis use. For a professional opinion on the broader view of risks involved, we turned to Beatriz H. Carlini, Ph.D., MPH, research scientist at the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. Dr. Carlini has authored numerous peer reviewed articles regarding substance use, risk, and abuse. Her team developed cannabis training for healthcare professionals specializing in chronic pain for the WA State Attorney General.

We asked Dr. Carlini what she thought the public should know regarding the potential benefits and risks of using cannabis.

“The cannabinoids in the marijuana plant are effective on controlling chronic pain,” she notes. “This is well established. That being said, and as any other medication, it does not work for everybody.”

Dr. Carlini is very pragmatic regarding the limits of benefit to some people. Although it may be a good fit for some patients, it is not a panacea and will not be the best answer for everyone.

“Medications for pain should provide relief of symptoms while restoring or maintaining function, or the ability to be productive,” Dr. Carlini states. “It is a tricky balance. If you benefit from cannabis for managing your pain, but you are pretty much ‘out of it’ for most of the day and unable to work or take care of your business, you may want to explore another alternative.”

As cannabis professionals, we move our industry forward by supporting and seeking to understand the science behind it. Accordingly, we’re particularly that Dr. Carlini has joined the faculty of the Cannabis Institute, and to offer her online course Cannabis Research & Health Risks.

In developing the course, Dr. Carlini had two important goals.

“First, [I wanted] to stimulate a conversation around all the challenges involved in the production of knowledge around marijuana in the US,” she explains. “The second contribution I hope this course can make is to stimulate critical thinking about some of the risks involved in using cannabis, [particularly] for those who are already aware and convinced of cannabis’ medical properties.”

We hope that those interested in learning more about the research at the foundation of our understanding of cannabis will join Dr. Carlini for this informative class. Cannabis professionals, patients and caregivers should all find value in this excellent opportunity to learn from a world class researcher and increase their understanding of this crucial topic.

Instructor Spotlight: Tatiana Gill

posted in: Featured Instructors | 0
Tatiana Gill - Comics & Illustration Instructor | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Tatiana Gill - Comics & Illustration Instructor | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education
Tatiana Gill - Comics & Illustration Instructor | Seattle Central College - Continuing Education

Draw Your Story

Artist Tatiana Gill has been sharing her experiences through the medium of comics since the 90s, and is well-versed in both self-publishing her art and working with small publishers to produce her books.

Much of her work focuses on her own personal journey of self-discovery, and has taken the form of collected stories, short graphic novels, and even a compendium of nearly 500 daily diary drawings — all of which demonstrate how uniquely cathartic drawing comics can be as an art form.

In addition to her books, Tatiana has drawn comics for the Seattle Weekly, Capitol Hill Seattle, and more. While she just recently joined the faculty of Seattle Central’s Continuing Education program, she has been teaching classes to adults and children alike around the community for several years.

We asked Tatiana to share more about herself; read on to learn more — and then join her in one of her upcoming classes.

What classes do you teach for Seattle Central?

I currently teach 2 classes: The Business of Comics and Illustrating for Children.

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching classes on comics around the community for the past 6 years.

What's your educational & professional background?

I have a B.A. from The Evergreen State College focusing on Art and English Literature.

I have been creating self-published comic books since the 1990s, and have books published by Alternative Comics and Éditions çà et là.

In addition to my work in comics, I’ve freelanced in illustration, graphic design, and marketing since the early 2000s.

What other kind of life experience do you have that influences what and how you teach?

Every time I’ve been taught a rule about what one needs to do to succeed in art, I’ve seen someone come along and succeed doing the opposite.

I’ve also noticed that I do my best and most prolific work when I am enjoying myself and not self-criticizing too much.

So when I teach, I try to encourage students to realize their own vision and favorite techniques, and to provide a more optimistic view than what their inner-critic is saying.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching your classes at Seattle Central?

I love to discuss the subjects I am so passionate about with other people who are excited to discuss it.

I also love it when the resources I have found over the years can be shared with others.

Tell us about an inspirational learning moment.

I took a class at Evergreen called “Where No One Has Gone Before” — we studied physics, social studies, art and literature all through the lens of classic Star Trek episodes.

I discovered that learning didn’t have to be a grind — it could be exciting, fun, uplifting and invigorating.

Would you rather have a tiger tail or tiger stripes?

A tiger tail, so I could swish it as I walk down the street! 

Tatiana's Favorites



  • Drawing


  • Crazy on You – Heart

Seattle Restaurant


  • Brussels, Belgium: They have a Tintin museum, lots of waffles, and many lovely and funny sights.

Summer 2017 Registration is Open!

posted in: News & Press | 0

Share Your Passion

Summer is a wonderful time to explore how creativity can transform both your personal and professional lives.

From delving into an existing passion to learning how to share it with others, our classes this summer will help you find your purpose, innovate in your profession, and give you the tools to build new relationships within your network and community.

Featured Programs

Lifelong Learning

Drawing & Sketching
Hone your fundamental drawing skills through an exploration of both contemporary and traditional artistic styles.

Intuitive Art: Paint for Your Life
New! Discover your unique self-expression using an inspiring blend of dance, writing, movement, painting, and music.

Purpose, Passion & Vision: The Art of Vision Boarding
New! Gain creative insight through the art of vision boarding, writing exercises, brainstorming sessions, 3D goggles, and more.

Watercolor Painting
Pick up foundational watercolor techniques, including analyzing color and infusing your art with ink and graphite.

Professional Development

Build Your Website Quickly with WordPress
Find out why nearly 20% of all websites are built using WordPress in this introductory class. No programming experience required!

Introduction to Data Science Certificate
New! Delve into the field of data science, and learn how its principles, tools, algorithms, and resources can guide your business.

Introduction to Graphic Design
Transform your business materials into professional and eye-catching pieces by using the Adobe suite of design software.

Self Publishing eBooks
Learn how to develop eBooks for your organization, an excellent new method for marketing your products, services, and ideas.

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