Cannabis and the Environment

Written by Alexandra Arnett

You may notice a lot of farms throwing around the term ‘sustainable farming’, but what does that actually mean? Sustainability is defined as the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. But is sustainability really sustainable? The purpose of sustainability is to maintain. Maintaining what was already there is simply not enough when looking at the bigger picture. As hard as we may try to maintain, the biodiversity of the planet is still suffering from our actions, thus we must make efforts to restore this biodiversity. Methods such as regenerative farming include taking part in a diverse bioecological system and giving back to the earth. Practices include planting complementary plants alongside your cannabis, growing various crops in the offseason to protect the soil, composting, using natural soil and avoiding chemical additives. Some farms have even been successful in dry farming cannabis plants which means they don’t use supplemental irrigation systems for their plants. Now, in a place like Oregon, this may produce cannabis that ends up molding, but for drier climates, this practice does show some promise.

Regarding “organic” cannabis farming, the USDA actually does not certify any cannabis as organic as it is illegal under federal law. Hemp, on the other hand, can obtain a USDA Organic certification. In an effort to obtain similar “organic” certification for cannabis farms, various organizations have been established that helps to ensure farms follow specific “sustainable” standards. Some of these organizations that work with farms in Oregon include Dragonfly Earth Medicine, Certified-Kind, Sun+Earth Certified and Clean Green Certified. Each organization has different requirements for getting certified and some are more stringent than others in regard to certain farming practices. [The various rules for each are linked above.] There are also a number of farms that make claims about having “organic” practices, but the reality is that we can’t be certain. In addition, everyone has their own idea of what “organic cannabis” looks like. Farms should make an effort to practice regenerative farming methods in order to give back to the earth.

I know we would all like to think that growing cannabis does no harm to the planet. But the reality is that growing cannabis in a way that benefits the environment wholly takes much more effort than simply choosing to grow outdoors. There are three main environments in which cannabis is commercially grown: indoor, outdoor and light-deprivation greenhouse. Some farms just grow cannabis using one of these methods, others may implement multiple methods if accessible. Typically, cannabis plants are grown in soil, either directly in the ground or in a planter pot. However, indoor cannabis growing operations may often use a hydroponic method of growing. Hydroponic growing involves suspending the roots of the plants in buckets of water and a medium such as perlite or coconut fiber.

Out of all the growing methods, outdoor growing is the one that would require the least energy and water. Greenhouse growing methods are also another good choice if you may be dealing with inclement weather for growing cannabis. Indoor growing and hydroponic methods are the most wasteful, in both energy and water consumption, especially when the methods are combined. If you want to choose the best method for the environment, growing cannabis in the earth’s natural soil provides a number of benefits to the earth and uses the sun rather than artificial lighting and energy.

While there is an overall lack of research on the effect indoor cannabis cultivation may be having on the environment, in 2020, one researcher Evan Mills published an in-depth follow-up study to a 2012 paper on cannabis energy use and cost. According to his data, indoor cannabis cultivation produces up to 15 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year and can cost upwards of $6 million a year. To compare this, Oregonians produce around 20 million metric tonnes per year in transportation emissions. However, there are ways to mitigate some of the negative effects of indoor cannabis cultivation there are a few steps that can be taken. Implementing things such as renewable energy sources, LED lighting, reusing water through reverse osmosis and even collecting rainwater for use are all ways indoor cannabis cultivators can help lessen their impact on the environment. 

Let us not forget though that there can be negative effects to the consumer if cannabis is grown in less than ideal environmental conditions. Not only does cannabis pull toxins out of the soil it is grown in, when it is grown outdoors there is a chance for dirt and other allergens to contaminate the plant. Overall, knowing your grow is the most important thing you can do to ensure you are getting the most quality product on the market.

Drowning in Plastic: A guide to canna-recycling

written by Skyla Patton, photographed by Lily Brennan 

Do you remember the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Thrifters know this to be a time-honored truth, but it also works in reverse: something that starts as treasure can easily become trash, too easily these days as we find ourselves drowning in plastic and other waste amid a climate crisis. The cannabis industry is famous for innovation and resourcefulness, but anyone who’s ever stepped foot inside a dispensary knows that it’s one that relies heavily on plastic and disposable products. The collection of single-use joint tubes piling up in the corner of my bedroom accuses me every time I add another to the mountain. Here are a few user-friendly ways to make your consumption habits even more eco-friendly. 

First and foremost, check recycling access near you 

While we can’t toss our cannabis-plastics into SANIPAC or APEX bins quite yet, there are still options for recycling things like joint tubes or cartridges depending on your area. Here in Eugene and Springfield, there are plenty of dispensaries that will accept clean, label-free joint and flower tubes for recycling or refilling with your latest purchase. It’s always a good idea to call first and ask prior to bringing in your bags of recyclables, just to make sure you’re heading to the right place with your haul. Bonus Tip: The fastest way to remove labels from tubes is to soak them. Fill your sink with hot, soapy water and submerge your joint or flower tubes to soak for 10-15 minutes, or until labels are easily peeled off. If residue persists, use the rough side of a sponge to scrub it off. 

Keep exit bags in your car for easy access 

I never remember to bring my reusable grocery bags into the store unless they’re right in front of me, so to fix that problem, I store them in the back seat so I have to see them before I go in. The same rule of thumb applies for the child-safe exit bags we get our cannabis goodies in, a mandatory part of the shopping process but a plastic-creator nevertheless. Keeping one large exit bag in your car (or buying a reusable cloth exit bag to make it personal and stylish) will help you remember to rely on that, and prevent another pile of plastic packaging from growing in your home. 

Seek out sustainable brands to put your money where your anxiety is 

When it comes to issues like single-use cartridges or product packaging, there isn’t a good way to sugarcoat things: it’s wasteful, and we’ve got to work together on a solution to come up with something better than what we’re currently working with. That could look like calling local representatives about cannabis laws, getting involved in the Oregon Cannabis Commission, or even just having meaningful conversations about how to address cannabis waste with your peers. In the meantime, you can also have a direct impact by favoring sustainable products and brands when you shop. Ask your budtender which products have the seal of eco-friendly approval, or do some background research before your next dispo trip to see which companies have made commitments to certain environmental goals or mission statements with a sustainable focus. 

When all else fails, make some rose colored glasses 

The easiest and sometimes most creative way to lower your plastic waste from your cannabis endeavors is to reuse all of it in a newer, better way rather than tossing it in the trash. Pop tops and joint tubes? Clean them out and repurpose into storage for office supplies, vitamins, snacks on the go, homemade joints or blunts, pens or pencils, the list goes on and on. Glass jars? Storage for future nugs, herbs, jewelry, loose change, heck, whatever you want to put in there. I recently saw a Pinterest board of all the different ways to use cannabis-containers for all your plant and propagation needs, with jars as succulents pots and pop tops as seed starters. Grab bags could carry sandwiches to-go or turn into a DIY first aid kit to keep in the car. Gather your favorite art supplies, your best creativity-inducing strain  and start repurposing to your heart’s content. Saving the planet and boosting your serotonin, all in one project. 

Seth Rogen: Weeds Renaissance Man

featured image pottery by Kaylynn Wohl as inspired by Rogen

Written by Kaylynn Wohl

If anyone champions weed within the celebrity light, it’s Seth Rogen. Since breaking out from his late adolescent role in Freaks and Geeks, we’ve seen him in stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and Superbad with his contagious and blazed whole-bellied chuckle. He step-by-step taught us the ways of the cross joint and gifted us with “Bound 3,” a sensual parody featuring his close friend James Franco. The cannabis community is now witnessing Rogen’s evolutionary creations outside of cinema culture with his new (to the United States) company Houseplant.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s cannabis lifestyle brand launched two years ago in Canada. With simplicity in mind, they started with three flower strains: sativa strains Pancake Ice (33.32% THC) and Diablo Wind (26.29% THC) and indica strain Pink Moon (26.45% THC). Eighths of an ounce of Houseplant’s strains are suggested at $60 and are currently available in California through delivery services. The strains come in unique aesthetically pleasing containers that accompany info graphics and oversized striking matches. 

“All our strains are named after weather systems like we did with Pineapple Express,” Rogen described in a Twitter thread. 

The ‘house’ aspect of the brand entails weedy house goods from luxury table top lighters, car lighters, vinyl record sets, and even ceramic ashtrays and vases designed by Rogen himself. A triple LP vinyl box set was catered to the individual experiences of sativa, indica and hybrid strains to create a unique sound experience. Each session reflects the beat and vibrations of whatever mood is smoked. Despite the $95 price tag, fans of both Rogen and cannabis have raved with positive reviews. To combat the frequent site crashes and quick product sell outs after the initial launch, Houseplant offered users to enter an email address to be notified with a designated access link that had a 10 minute grace period.  

While Canada legalized cannabis in 2016, the fight continues in the US as acknowledged by the company’s website impact page. Houseplant’s ethics and political standpoints are made clear through deliberate discourse surrounding the environmental impact and the ongoing legal battles within the cannabis industry. Supporting any cannabis company that openly discusses injustices and imbalances within the industry feels just as good as smoking the strains themselves.

“We feel strongly about educating people about cannabis, a plant we love and believe substantially benefits society. We will always use our platform to educate people about the devastating history of the War on Drugs and help end the senseless, racist cannabis laws that, despite progress, still exist today. We won’t stop until every adult in America is able to enjoy cannabis without fear of being labeled a criminal,” reads the Houseplant website. 

In more recent years, fans of Rogen’s acting career have additionally been able to adapt their support towards his artistic pottery endeavors. This stoner’s connection to the herbal earth, fostered by loving cannabis, has expanded through connecting his hands to the earth material of clay. This passion for ceramic art pours over into Rogen’s fans who previously may not have expressed interest in pottery. The global ceramic culture and community benefit from this artist’s teachings of the alchemical world of clay. 

As a fellow ceramicist (or pothead if you will) I have witnessed immense growth in Rogen’s pottery. The evolution of his ashtrays is an inspiring phenomenon where I’ve even created similar pieces out of awe for his clayed mind. His signature style includes a short cup shape ashtray with a two-to-three inch-long tray added to the lip for easy secured display for any stick-shaped smoke. He provides a walk-through on how he creates these pieces on his Instagram, leaving out secrets only other potters can spot. After mastering these designs with over a year’s practice, Rogen has since created molds in order to mass produce his unique ashtray set. Pottery molds for slip casting are created with plaster where liquid clay is poured in then out to create a shell of the desired shape. 

Rogen’s exploration of sculpting bodacious vases and vessels melds with psychedelic glazes in highlighter hues. Required by a deep understanding of raw chemical interactions, some of his colored creations vibrantly replicate heat maps and splattered zombie vomit. Instances where the unglazed portions of the vessel pop with electrifying color are created by wedging oxides into the raw clay body. Rogen’s particular methods have been vaguely shared with his audience while his pottery updates usually only accompany a brief caption of “I made these.”

Aside from all the aforementioned dope shit this Canadian-American cannabis influencer has provided the weed community, Rogen wrote a book called Yearbook which is scheduled to be released in May. This novel is a series of true stories and humorous essays that I imagine will pair excellently with my blunt of Blue Dream. 

Simplifying The Indoor Home Grow

written by Kaylynn Wohl, photographed by Kimberly Harris

Extended time in isolation has fueled the sparks under our joints to finally pursue the indoor home grow. Although there’s ease with mastering the outdoor grow during Oregon’s glorious 12 hour day/ night cycles, there’s also intrigue to leveling up by bringing the buds inside. 

When parenting your own micro ecosystem, every tiny detail and decision is crucial for the success of your plant babies. Being a baller on a budget creates some constraints on the process. It may be intimidating to start. This simplified guide serves to inspire every homebody home grower to get the process started. Doing your own research for your unique situation is highly encouraged. 

Step 1: Where are you growing?

My first attempt at an indoor grow had failed miserably in Arizona while choosing to set up in a closet with very little airflow. I was also in the process of moving which undoubtedly put the youngling under immense stress during relocation. My research on setting up in a closet was very limited which is how I quickly learned the hard way after coming home to a crispy green carcass.  

The first question you should ask yourself is: where will I grow?

If choosing a room, remember that any and all light the leaves can access will induce photosynthesis. As each strain requires its own specific lightcycle, access to other light may confuse the plant if it’s outside of the scheduled ‘daytime.’ The amount of intended light the plant receives should be consistent. It’s also necessary to monitor for signs of too much or too little light as indicated by the leaves. 

Closets are ideal for a DIY situation, it’s just crucial to make sure the space between the plants and the light source are far enough to prevent burning the leaves or cooking the plant entirely. Depending on the strain choice, some plants may need to be closer to the light source than others. In small closed off areas, you’ll most likely need fans for cooling and venting purposes.

Step 2: What are you growing?

If you’re a real baller on a budget, odds are you may have stored some random seeds you found in your buds. Experimenting with these are low stakes; alhough, the sex characterstics of these seeds will be unknown until investigating after the vegetative stage and before the flowering stage. I do encourage doing your own research if going this route. 

Back to elementary bean sprouts, starting cannabis seeds can be as easy as wet paper towels and a plastic bag. This route allows you to witness sprouting and daily progress growth. Otherwise, using a seed starter that places seeds directly into a soil can feel like a guessing game, though totally manageable.

Researching beginner strains is helpful in the long run while causing far less stress on a new grower. Autoflowering strains are known to provide successful yields due to strong genetics that allow the plant to do most of the work with low maintenance. Personal favorite strains like Jack Herer, Northern Lights or Blue Dream can be a good place to start, depending on what the grower wants for the end product. 

Local shops do provide seeds, though some hunting is required. These are relatively pricier than what I was able to find online like Seedsman Seeds, a European company known for super discreet packaging. Online options are seemingly endless, allowing any grower to find exactly what they’re looking for and see reviews of the process or yield. 

If you’re hoping to get growing sooner, skip the germination process entirely. Plenty of dispensaries around town offer clones. It’s like pet adoption, but they won’t pee on your couch. 

Step 3: What lights do you need?

This question also reflects how much you wish to yield. Monthly energy cost is also a considerable factor. Before making the purchase of what is considerably the biggest investment within this process, I highly recommend surfing the internet for used lights first. 

The three ideal types of lighting for indoor growing are fluorescent, high intensity discharge and LED. For the purpose of simplification, fluorescent lighting is ideally a good start. CFLs (swirly-looking light bulbs) provide an average yield of one to two ounces, great for a beginner. These can be beneficial for smaller spaces where big lamps wouldn’t fit. T5 tube fluorescents are also recommended for a higher yield and can be easily found in gardening and home improvement stores. 

For a slightly spendier commitment, LED lights are highly common for indoor growing. These have a safety component by having built-in cooling elements while also not needing to be frequently moved like fluorescent lights. Typically, more vertical space is needed between the plant and the LED light. Fans are still recommended since LED lamps can be tricky to get the hang with no set standard.

Step 4: What containers, soil, nutrients?

On a tight budget, I’ve tried using local compost but the critters that came along with it made it hard to control the indoor environment the way that I needed to. I was able to bake the soil at 140 degrees F, killing the pathogens and allowing beneficial microorganisms to survive. If needed, I could go this route with cannabis while more attention to nutrient levels would be needed.

Soil is something I don’t mind spending on. Foxfarm soils provide a nutrient dense environment that plants thrive off of until needing later-in-life assistance. During the vegetative stage, your plant is craving nitrogen (N). The flowering stage calls for very low nitrogen, instead needing phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Getting to know the plant’s signs throughout the process is helpful in understanding when to feed it what. Don’t be shy, these are your children. 

When choosing a container, keep in mind that the size of the root space is relevant to the size of the growth. Breathable root pouches are my go-to: they last a long time, washable/reusable and provide the root space sufficient aeration and drainage. Otherwise, five gallon buckets with proper drainage are plenty fine.

Step 5: Happy Growing!

Of course the process of successful cannabis cultivation requires far more intermittent steps and a healthy dose of trial and error. Get to know your grow; usually it will communicate in some form about what it needs from you. If you’re ever unsure, YouTube has everything. We all start somewhere. 

Hopefully this simplified guide reminded you of your green thumb while taking away some of the intimidating aspects. Besides, it’s pretty cool to be able to give your friends a nug you raised. 

If this guide assisted your set up, show us on Instagram @GreenEugeneMag!

Cannabis and The Climate

written and photographed by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex

If anyone has ever grown a cannabis plant or two, you know that they require a lot of love and can be a lot of work. There are both genetic and environmental factors that influence how a plant will develop and what it will look like. It is commonly known that the difference between “indica” and “sativa” varieties is the morphology, but somewhere down the line, it became misconstrued into describing the effects.  

Cannabis has two main subspecies, Cannabis sativa subsp. Sativa and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica. The domesticated varieties of these subspecies include: Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. sativa (Broad-leaf hemp or BLH), Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. chinesis (Narrow-leaf hemp or NLH), Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Narrow-leaf drug or NLD), Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica (Broad-leaf drug or BLD). If you’d like to read more about the indica vs sativa debate, you can do so here, but today we’re going to focus on Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Narrow-leaf drug or NLD) and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica (Broad-leaf drug or BLD). These are the “drug varieties” of cannabis with moderate to high levels of THC. Plants within the narrow-leaf drug category are what some consider to be the standard morphology of a “Sativa” and plants within the broad-leaf drug category would be considered to have the morphology of an “Indica.”

Cannabis morphology is largely based on the genetic origins of the plant. Certain plant adaptations occur in cannabis due to certain climates that they develop in. This is why many Afghani/Hindu Kush strains can have purple shades to them—because they evolved in colder mountain climates, they genetically adapted to their climate by producing more anthocyanins. These plants are also shorter and bushier than other varieties due to their adaptations to colder climates. Through selective breeding of these purple genetics, we have strains today like Sirius Black from Oregon Breeders Group. In the case of your “sativa” narrow-leaf drug varieties, the plants are typically taller and the leaves less dense due to the hotter climates they developed in and adapted to. Next to genetics, the weather is one of the most important factors. The colder the weather, the more stressed the plant can become if it is not native or adapted to the climate. If the climate is too hot, the plant can get burnt by the heat. 

The cannabis plant comes in many shades, such as greens, reds, and purples. Much like chlorophylls give plants and leaves their green color, flavonoids like anthocyanins give plants their orange, red, pink, purple, blue, and even black colors. To begin, flavonoids are consumed by humans through fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods and drinks. Anthocyanins are a specific group of flavonoids. This group of flavonoids includes over 400 different kinds of anthocyanins. Just a small fraction of the anthocyanins you may see expressed in the cannabis plant include cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, and petunidin.

In addition to providing color to the plants, flavonoids and anthocyanins have shown to have both neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties (Weston-Green, 2019). This is among the many reasons that people recommend using whole-plant extracts and concentrates like RSO and tinctures to aid in certain medical conditions. In particular, the cannabis plant also contains two specific flavonoids, Cannflavin A and Cannflavin B. Most recently, researchers have looked at their potential to help fight pancreatic cancer. Although the research is still new, it is something to keep an eye on in the future (Moreau et al., 2019).

References

McPartland, J. M. (2018). CannabisSystematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 203–212. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0039  

Moreau, M., Ibeh, U., Decosmo, K., Bih, N., Yasmin-Karim, S., Toyang, N., Lowe, H., & Ngwa, W. (2019). Flavonoid Derivative of Cannabis Demonstrates Therapeutic Potential in Preclinical Models of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. Frontiers in oncology, 9, 660. https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2019.00660

Weston-Green, K. (2019). The United Chemicals of Cannabis: Beneficial Effects of Cannabis Phytochemicals on the Brain and Cognition. Recent Advances in Cannabinoid Research, 83–100. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.79266  

Campfire Cannabis

written by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex photographed by Kimberly Harris

Oregon, California and the rest of the West Coast have had their fair share of wildfires throughout the years. Here in the city of Eugene, we have been fortunate enough to not be directly affected by these wildfires outside of the smoke. However, many cannabis farms have not been so lucky when it comes to wildfire, and outdoor operations across Oregon have all had to deal with second-hand effects such as smoke and ash. 

Outdoor growing and greenhouses operations were some of the most affected by this year’s fires. The OLCC reported that over 20% of their licensees were in evacuation areas for the fires. Several dispensaries were lost in Southern Oregon, including Talent Health Club, Grateful Meds, Canyon Cannabis, Fireside Dispensary, and Blue River Grass Station. Roganja Farms and Primo Farms were two farms we are aware of that had plants destroyed by the fires. One cannabis testing lab, EcoTest Labs, reportedly lost their building as well. 

I took this opportunity to speak with a couple of growers located in Oregon to get some information about their experiences with the fires and smoke. Heroes of the Farm is one of several northeast Oregon farms that had plants affected by the wildfire smoke and ash. Pat, head grower and owner, combated the ash that fell on his plants with a backpack leaf blower which seemed to blow most of it off. Pat also noted that the heavy smoke from the fires turns the pistols of the plant dark orange. This, he stated, gives the appearance of plants that are ready to harvest when in reality, the plants have a few weeks to go before they are fully mature. He says he hopes the smell of smoke doesn’t stick through the harvest and curing process.

The next is a southern Oregon farm located at the top of the infamous “Emerald Triangle.” 42 Degrees Farms is an outdoor hemp farm that is focused on growing craft hemp. Shane has been growing cannabis for over 10 years and this last year decided to grow hemp varieties of cannabis. 42 Degrees was extremely thankful that their farm was spared from any flames coming from the Alameda Fire, which started just about three miles north of their property. While the plants did have some days where the sun was clouded in thick smoke, they believe the rains in the days before harvest may have helped clean up the plants. While their plants didn’t show any significant changes, they did have other friends experience similar changes to what Pat described above in their own plants. During the fires, the 42 Degrees team continued to put in the hard work through the hazardous air conditions in order to have a successful harvest this October. 

So we have to ask the question, what does all this smoke and ash mean for the plants? You may remember back in 2017 when the entire state of Oregon was harshly affected by several wildfires, much like summer 2020. That year’s outdoor harvest of cannabis was extremely difficult for growers and many lost money on their harvests. Almost any pound of outdoor cannabis you could find was never more than $800, some were as low as $300, which means that there was plenty of cheap cannabis to go around at the dispensaries. This cannabis had some caveats though. No matter what strain you got, it all smelled like a campfire. 

Back in 2017, as a budtender, I did not hear many customers complaining about the prices for this campfire cannabis. However, no one seemed to be wildly concerned about the quality of the product either, or how the fires may have affected it. Oregon currently has four testing categories for cannabis products; pesticides, water activity/moisture content, cannabinoids and microbiological contaminants (Salmonella, E. Coli, etc). 

Cannabis products in Oregon are not tested for mycotoxins (mold), heavy metals and terpenes unless requested and paid for by the grower. In addition to these testing requirements, there are also strings attached. For example, in Oregon, you can take cannabis flower that did not pass its initial testing and then process it into an extract instead. As long as that final product has a passing test it can be sold. These products can range from not only the dabs you buy at the shop, but cartridges, edibles, topicals and tinctures.

A large part of what makes smoke and ash so toxic is the materials that it burns through. Think about what you have in your own house; cleaning supplies, electronics, wood, paint, kitchen appliances, etc. All of these create toxic chemicals when burned, including heavy metals, which are then present in the smoke you breathe and the ash you see. Fire retardants can also pose risks if used near plants and any water supply.

When dealing with cannabis that has been contaminated by wildfires it is important to run a thorough laboratory analysis. However, this isn’t always an easy thing to do as there are no set procedures on how to analyze potential hazards resulting from smoke and ash damage. Laboratories also are not held to a single standardized testing method.

Aside from testing the cannabis for safety to ingest after being exposed to wildfire smoke and ash, another thing is overall quality. Cannabis plants that have been exposed to smoke and ash undergo a lot of stress, which can be a huge detriment to the plant. This affects the maturity of trichomes, which are what contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes we all love so much. In extreme situations, you could end up with a far more inferior product that is not likely to smell, taste, or look good.

This season, dispensaries may not be letting you smell the cannabis before you purchase because we are still in a pandemic, so trusting your budtender and taking their word for it will be the best way to avoid smoking some campfire cannabis. 

If you would like to donate money to help cannabis businesses that are in need, Southern Oregon grower Noah Levine of Benson Arbor graciously set up this GoFundMe fundraiser. 

Humans of Cannabis

written by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex

The cannabis industry is a place where many people from all different walks of life come together, for the cannabis plant. We’d like to take this opportunity to give the people behind the scenes of the cannabis industry a voice so that they can tell us their stories. 

Sue Carlson – Sue is the founder of The Botanical Joint, a hemp farm located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Sue prides herself on being one of the only Latina craft hemp farmers in Oregon!

Instagram: @thebotanicaljoints

For the longest time, I was always fascinated with cannabis and my dream was to always work with cannabis. My friend from college was one of the first people to introduce me to working with the cannabis plant. She also helped me make connections in the industry in Oregon. Working on the medical side of the cannabis industry also allowed me to pay for four years of schooling in full. I began work with a cannabis chocolate company as a chocolatier and then moved onto another position making another line for a company. After working with edibles for a while, I moved into farming at Oregon Girl Gardens. It wasn’t more than two months into the job when the greenhouse caught on fire, and my whole life suddenly felt like it was in shambles. Here I was apprenticing under arguably one of the best female cannabis growers in Oregon and then in a quick moment, it was gone. 

After this, I decided to start consulting again and was feeding my garden—emotionally and physically—and giving it the nutrients I needed at the time. During this time, I also noticed the lack of quality hemp products on the market and as a medical patient, it was important to me that other patients had worthwhile medicine. This helped me develop the business that I have today cultivating premium hemp CBD products. 

My favorite strain that is currently in cultivation includes Orange Glaze, which to me is the closest resemblance to cannabis in effect. It has a very citrus and diesel aroma and taste, something you don’t see on the hemp CBD market often, if at all.

One thing that I aim to do in my business is to bring attention to minorities in the cannabis industry. I myself am Latina and Native American, so this is a very important component to me. Knowing and seeing people I love like my brother, uncles and aunt go to prison for a plant was devastating. As someone with a public health degree, I make it a priority to support out the efforts of minorities in the cannabis industry, specifically minority females.

Putting “Marijuana” In The Ground

written by Skyla Patton, photographed by Nina Compeau

Cannabis has a world of controversy surrounding it on all fronts, whether it be legalization, decriminalization or social acceptance. While people immersed in the industry work tirelessly to strip the cannabis plant of it’s shrouded stereotypes and narratives, other problematic aspects can slip through the cracks as we try to deal with the big picture. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the dark roots of a commonplace term in the cannabis industry: marijuana. 

Weed, dope, grass, herb, cannabis, cannabaceae, mary jane, the good green stuff; casual and professional slang thrown around to describe cannabis. Even with the plethora of language that surrounds cannabis, marijuana is the title that has remained dominant over the years. It’s suggested that one origin story of the term comes from Chinese “ma ren hua,” or hemp seed flower (cannabis is the genus of cannabaceae, or hemp when referencing non-drug usage). Underneath the seemingly innocent and casual lingo of marijuana in America lies a trail of xenophobia, racism and societal injustices. 

At minimal face value, the word has contributed to the furthering of harmful and inaccurate stereotypes throughout history. The word “marihuana” (also spelled marijuana) was weaponized in the early 1900s with the rise of immigration from Mexico and the consequential steady employment in available cannabis fields for Hispanic workers. Prior to this, cannabis had been marketed by pharmaceutical companies as a sleep aid and pain reliever and it came in a liquid form. This product was most widely available to the wealthier (and whiter) population, but lower socioeconomic classes had significantly less access to this form of cannabis and were more likely to smoke cannabis flower. Even though the various classes and races generally use cannabis at the same rate, people of color and impoverished communities are systematically targeted for it. This dynamic of class-based privilege is still represented today in the gentrification of high-end dispensaries developing locations in communities that still actively suffer from consequences of the war on drugs. 

Following the wave of immigration, the upper classes of America quickly associated the disparate increasing financial depression and social strain with Hispanic and black communities, seeking somewhere to point a finger of blame. This included their well-known cultivation and consumption of marijuana, rapidly snowballing into an ordeal of systematic racism perpetuated with stereotypes that would have long-lasting consequences on both marginalized communities and cannabis. This downward spiral initiated the path for cannabis to exist as Schedule 1 Drug to this day, defined by the DEA as “drugs, substances or chemicals with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Elites and politicians of the time, such as Harry Anslinger—the ‘godfather’ of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics of which he served for 32 years—used the unabashed xenophobia and racism of the nation to racialize marijuana and paint an image of violence, crime and fear over both the plant and the communities cultivating it. 

This stereotype spread like wildfire through the United States and white America ate it up as quickly as they could. Images of pot-smokers rapidly evolved from a wealthy white party appetizer to degenerate, dangerous criminals and offenders who were determined to rob the rest of the world of their nice things and sanity. Marijuana took up a new “exotic” persona, and Reefer Madness or The Devil’s Lettuce took hold. 

Narratives spun by politicians such as Anslinger included forming an addiction to marijuana and resulting violent tendencies (including murder or assault), communist brainwashing, and the (dark organ music playing here) furthering of racial equality. Anslinger was quoted in a statement saying, “the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races… reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

These stigmas pushed the images of violence and racism that championed the prohibition of cannabis—not dissimilar from the prohibition of alcohol which would follow a few decades later—which many still struggle in navigating today. It also largely contributed to the deep-seeded institutionalized racism that has carried over to today in casual industry usage of the word marijuana and rampant injustices against minorities within the cannabis community.

While many individuals, either as casual consumers or active participants in the industry, are catching on to the dark roots behind the word marijuana and switching to the friendlier formal term cannabis, it’s important that we get the facts straight. The continual use of terms that are outdated, inaccurate and harmful to any grouping of people is simply another avenue of furthering oppression and institutionalized racism, regardless of historical erasure of meaning and connotation. While it’s important to note that many still debate the origins and etymology of marijuana, it’s also crucial that we as a society are able to identify harmful microaggressions as we see them and address them unequivocally to best protect all members of the communities we’re in.

The pursuit of intersectionality in our verbiage is particularly important to focus on if you happen to be of a community that is in no way disadvantaged by racial or socioeconomic stereotypes and systems—AKA, check your privilege and go from there. Outside of adjusting our vocabulary and understanding the deeper meanings behind the words we use, the next step is to educate the cannabis community on the harms of the drug war and the true science behind the plant. 

For more information on cannabis and its relation to race, check out Race and the Drug War by drugpolicy.org or The War on Marijuana in Black and White, an article published by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Scars of Prohibition

written by Guthrie Stafford

Six years after legalization in Oregon, social perceptions of cannabis users are starting to evolve. From toking podcasters to weed-infused weddings, cannabis is shedding the reputation of Reefer Madness and assuming a more nonchalant attire in the public eye. Yet the scars of old prohibitions run deep, and while popular culture moves on, the devastation of the war on drugs is still felt by many Oregonians who were caught in the crossfire. I sat down with James Lyons, a retired craftsman, Reggae enthusiast and cannabis convict to discuss the lasting damages of criminalization and the potential for social healing. In our interview, Lyons revealed the violation and absurdity which underscored his family’s years-long struggle with the criminal justice system. Perhaps most importantly, Lyons described how the injustice with which he and his loved ones were treated tainted his perception of the government as a whole.

In 1985, James Lyons was in his mid twenties and living as he pleased. After a spinal injury had ended his career as a house painter, Lyons became an artisan craftsman, gardener, and connoisseur of Reggae. He spent half his time touring with his favorite bands, helping them out at shows, selling his creations on the side and discovering a deep affinity for Rastafarian culture and religion. The other half of his time was devoted to his home in the backwoods of Washington County where he lived with his partner and teenage niece. It was there that Lyons constructed a small greenhouse to grow “herb,” mainly for personal and social use, in accordance with the spiritual traditions of Rastafarianism. Lyons assumed that the remoteness of his domicile would protect him from the law. According to Lyons, he was so relaxed, so filled with the flow of every living thing, that when a cannabis plant self-seeded in his front garden he couldn’t bring himself to pull it up. “I let it grow,” he tells me. “Live and let live, you know. I thought, this is meant to be.” 

Unfortunately for Lyons, he had spared the Judas of cannabis plants. The police had been surveilling his property by airplane for months, but the mere presence of the greenhouse out back was not sufficient evidence for a warrant. But when the little-herb-that-could grew and became visible from the driveway, it gave the authorities all the justification they needed to bust down the door and bring Lyons’s life crashing down around him.

Lyons returned home one day to find his house torn apart and an official note setting a court date for him, his partner and his niece. “It was my thing and yet they lived with me and so they charged them too,” says Lyons. “My niece just happened to be in the house at the time. She’s always had trouble. We raised her for a while because she had been passed around in foster care, you know, so we took her in for maybe four or five years until she was old enough to go out on her own. She really didn’t need this to happen when it did.” Compounding this invasion was the fact that James’ partner knew the invaders. In fact, due to her job at city hall, they were her colleagues. “They knew all about what was going to take place for a month in advance,” Lyons tells me. “She’s working around these police officers and then all of a sudden they’re in our house and one of the first places they went was to our bedroom and tore our drawers apart. The whole place was trashed. That feels kinda violating, you know?” As he put his home back together and waited for his court date, all Lyons could hope was that  judge would be reasonable. Unfortunately, it would seem 1985 was a bad year for reasonability in criminal justice when it came to cannabis convictions.

When the court date finally came, Lyons and his lawyer marshaled his argument along two main lines. The first was that his partner and niece were incidental to the whole affair, and therefore should not even be charged. The second was that his cannabis grow was an expression of the religion of Rastafarianism rather than a commercial venture, and should therefore be treated more lightly under the law. This was a stouter defense than it might at first sound. Lyons had personal and legal precedent to back it up. “I’d been to Jamaica three times prior to that and had studied Rasta there. It really became part of my life.” Lyons had also studied under spiritual leaders of the Havasupai Nation in the Grand Canyon and knew there was legal precedence for the use of certain drugs in native ritual practice. Lyons thought he had hired the perfect lawyer to present this defense, given that the man produced ticket stubs to a Bob Marley concert at their first meeting. This opinion quickly changed when he saw how his lawyer, the prosecutor, and the Judge interacted. 

“The main thing that I got out of the court proceedings” Lyons confides, “ is that the whole legal system is all intertwined together whether the lawyer is on your side or not. He’s friends with the prosecuting attorney and they know the judge and after work they go play golf together,” said Lyons. The bizarreness of the trial was compounded by the Judge who presided over Lyons case. “He said if I was his son he would take me in the basement and beat the shit out of me,” says Lyons.  “I thought, you know, that’s kinda odd.” Despite this behavior, Lyons Judge ultimately passed the relatively lenient sentence of three year’s probation for Lyons and his partner. They were overjoyed, but they celebrated too soon. According to Lyons, when the pair subjected to a polygraph test as part of their conviction, they admitted to having used cannabis after their arrest but before their conviction. At the time the test administrator said this was not a problem. “A month later when we went back in to see our probation officers we were both arrested and thrown in jail with a six month sentence. I don’t know how that works but that’s how it did,” said Lyons. This was confirmed by Washington county public records which show that his initial three years probation was revised to a six month sentence upon violation of his probation. As arbitrary as this bait and switch seems to Lyons, he feels the true absurdity of the criminal justice system presented itself in his niece’s juvenile trial. 

Justice is supposed to be blind, but not deaf to common sense arguments. Yet such was the case in the trial of Lyons’s niece. Lyons was planning to make the same case he made for his partner, strengthened by an appeal to his niece’s young age and fragile emotional condition, in the hope of getting her off entirely. “My niece was afraid to represent herself or to say anything so I said, ‘I’m not,’ I’ll gladly go and say what I have to say.” But things started to go south before the trial even began. “Five minutes before I was to go to court and represent my niece the prosecuting attorney switched judges.” Lyon’s previous Judge, with whom he had built something of a rapport, was replaced by a new Judge who, according to Lyons, allowed the prosecution’s attack on his character to overcome Lyons’ defense of his niece’s wellbeing. 

“So this new Judge says, ‘Right there the prosecution’s proven you’re a liar. I’m not gonna hear another word out of you or I’m gonna put you in jail.’ I wasn’t aggressive or anything, I was just trying to understand what happened. It made me realize the legal system is corrupt.” Lyons’ niece paid a heavy price for the new Judges sternness. “She was put on probation and that wasn’t something she could deal with at the time. It went on for almost ten years for her. That probation just kept going on and on, and at one point they put her in a womans’ prison in Portland for at least nine months.” Lyons’ niece had nothing to do with his cannabis grow, but she suffered from addictions of her own. According to Lyons, rather than treating her as a victim of these addictions, rather than helping her find a way free of her troubled past, the legal system penalized his niece and kept her locked in a cycle of endless probation. After wrestling with the legal system for over a year, in the case of Lyons and his partner, and over ten years in the case of his niece, none of them wanted anything to do with criminal justice. 

Lyons doesn’t smoke herb anymore and his niece has escaped from the cycle of incarceration. “Life changes, you have kids and go through divorces and get different perspectives. Still, I stand with how I felt back then. I understand who I was then. Herb opened up a lot of doors in my life and taught me a lot of things, even though I don’t use it now,” says Lyons. He says he doesn’t regret growing cannabis because of the friendships and spiritual awakenings it offered him. What he regrets are the policies which made that pursuit a crime. “I think it’s been proven that the war on drugs hasn’t really worked,” he tells me. At this point in our history, that seems certain, and fortunately, state law-makers are starting to agree. Still, as we revel in our newfound liberties, it is not enough to simply end criminalization of cannabis. To heal as a society, we need to actively reincorporate former “criminals.” That means pushing for the expungement of non-violent drug offenses and reevaluating addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal one. Casual drug use is the least of our worries in a world so full of injustice, while the underlying causes of serious drug abuse are worsened, not alleviated, by persecution and punishment. As we’re tugged by the authoritarian undercurrents of an earlier time, the complexity of the modern world can leave our political ship somewhat rudderless. Yet there is wind in the sails of cannabis decriminalization, mostly due to the prevalence of stories like this one. As Lyons tells me: “We gotta try and change the laws.That’s how our system works. If enough people just keep pushing in that direction, eventually it’ll change.” This is no longer a matter of personal interest for Lyons. After all, he stopped smoking years ago. Now it’s a matter of principle. 

Leap Farms: Where the Plants are Happy and the People Are Too

words and photos by Emma Routley

While it may be a struggle for some companies to set themselves apart from the competition, Leap Farms knows exactly what makes them unique — and they’re not afraid to show it. Leap Farms is one of the finest organically operated cannabis producing companies in the Pacific Northwest. From the special ways they care for their plants to their business plan for the future, Leap Farms stands out in the spotlight of the recreational cannabis industry. They work endlessly to ensure their consumers receive the best quality products every time.

Leap Farms especially prides themselves on their 100 percent organic materials. They do not use pesticides or any other chemicals when growing, ensuring the process is all natural. “We don’t grow cannabis, we grow better better people and better soil. The plant and the flowers are just a reflection of our commitment to the other two,” said Beau Rillo, owner and founder.

Part of this process and what helps make Leap Farms unique is their use of Kangen water, along with other methods of integrated pest management, such as predatory mites and other beneficial insects.  Kangen water is an ionized health-based water that comes from a scientifically proven technology, allowing the user to adjust the pH balance (how acidic or alkaline) of the water. Leap Farms uses an alkaline pH of 11.5 to create conditions on the surface of plants where mold and bacteria cannot survive, and a low pH for poison-free pest control.

“We have more control over the water and what it does for the plants. We also keep it readily available as healthy drinking water for our people. What’s good for the plant is good for us and vice versa,” said Brittany Rillo, co-owner of Leap Farms.

Leap Farms began applying this innovative technology on their plants after Brittany discovered its value when adding it to her mother’s lifestyle diet after having been diagnosed with cancer.

“The basic idea is to keep your body at a healthy alkaline levels in order to better combat the basic day to day diseases we all fight while simultaneously battling cancer,Rillo said.

Leap applies this technology throughout the plant’s life cycle, according to Alex Roveda, Leap Farms nursery manager. This homegrown, family corporate structured company cares about what their customers are consuming, and consistency in their products is incredibly important to them. In fact, Leap Farms has never in its history failed a test. Another low-tech practice that Leap Farms swears by is to play exclusively happy, uplifting music on the farm. It isn’t unheard of for the owner to dismiss a grumpy “leaper” from the garden to gather themselves and focus their energies. This lighthearted, self-care focused standard ensures that the plants are around the most positive energy and music at all times.

In addition to their innovative and caring process, Leap Farms also provides the best products for consumers through collaboration with other leaders and like-minded companies in the industry. There was a time when companies were trying to hold up their place in the cannabis industry entirely independently: growing, managing a dispensary, running all the product lines, processing, wholesaling and more.  

Although this method is ambitious and inspiring for entrepreneurs in the industry, doing everything alone doesn’t always appear to be the best method of operation. Leap’s top-notch sales and marketing team came to the conclusion that collaboration within the cannabis industry is far better than trying to do everything by themselves. Through extensive industry outreach, Leap’s sales team has been able to partner up with other companies such as SugarTop Buddery, GreenStar Growing, Pineapple Society and Kumba Hills to name a few. This collaboration leads to the best possible output.

One of the reasons Leap Farms and SugarTop Buddery chose to work with each other is because they share the same values and family centric mentality. Leap Farms and SugarTop Buddery have many common goals, including giving the consumer the best quality products possible. According to Tyler Carpenter and Cory Eicher, sales and marketing directors for Leap Farms, the value of collaboration comes through teaming up with people that have mastered their craft. This is where SugarTop Buddery comes in: outstanding ability and packaging for the project, on top of being in the heart of Eugene.

Together, Leap Farms and SugarTop Buddery are combining forces to create high-quality products for the consumer, such as the Goodsmoke Multipacks.  This product replicates cigarettes visually, however each pack contains ten .5g joints. A single pack of ten prerolls costs $20, and the larger size packaging contains five packs of ten .5g joints costs $100. Leap Farms and SugarTop Buddery are proud of the amount of work they have poured into this product, right down to choosing the perfect rice paper to ensure best quality for taste and burning consistency to making sure every aspect about the product is geared towards giving the consumer their money’s worth.

“Pre-rolls are a consumer product, not a byproduct. I think we are one of the few who look at it that way. We’re trying to change the game,” says Brennan Anderson, SugarTop Buddery’s chief operating officer.

A single pack of ten prerolls costs $20, and the larger size packaging contains five packs of ten .5g joints costs $100.

The future of the cannabis industry also looks bright, and Leap Farms has big plans to keep up with the growth.  During the next five years Leap Farms hopes to evolve into a national distribution company, and within the next ten years they hope to have an international footprint using their foundations and ideals to bring rising nations cannabis and hemp. They also intend on continuing to innovate with new ideas, applied technologies and further develop Leap Farm’s true passion of cannabis and hemp genetics.  

“Leapers” are just as dedicated and devoted to Leap Farms, and describe the working environment in three words: loving, innovative and passionate. They love their jobs and their products, and they are proud of their constant search for new, groundbreaking ways to increase productivity and quality. Most of all, the family and staff at Leap Farms is proud to embody the balance between love and innovation, trailblazing the way to their success in the cannabis industry.  The doors of Leap Farms are always open for tours and information, and they encourage their consumers to get to know their grower and come on by!