A Brush in Both Worlds

Words by Renee Thompson, Lily Brennan, Kaylynn Wohl 

Green Eugene staff have the unique ability to peer into the realms of both cannabis as an industry and journalism beat, and also form their own perspective as creative artists of a multitude of different backgrounds. For the Arts & Cannabis Issue, we invited them to tell their story on this intersection here.

Renee Thompson

My cannabis journey started when I was in college, and emerged as a way to treat my anxiety and other health conditions. The first thing I ever tried was a tincture. But within a few months I was smoking out of pipes and bongs. As someone who had been making art my whole life, I was able to explore art in a new way. I don’t think that cannabis is something that works for everyone with anxiety, and I highly recommend seeking mental health support before trying any cannabis products. But once you make that decision to start using cannabis, you honestly might as well get into a hobby like making art. Especially if you are one that has trouble doing things while high. However, I don’t think one needs to smoke or ingest cannabis to be a great artist. Making art, sober or not, is it’s own experience. While I recognize that it is a helpful tool for others, I don’t feel like I need cannabis every time I create, it’s just fun. I also love the community of cannabis artists. Some people are more so in the canna-closet, but it’s always fun to swap cannabis and art stories. 

Ever since I could hold a pencil, I have been making art. I’ve made acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings as well as many mixed media hand-cut collages and many clay things. I was fortunate growing up to have a family that supported my art, and a Godmother who was going to UCLA for art history. She would let me play with old supplies, and even sneak me into a lecture or two. My parents have always been a big support, and always took me to museums and different festivals. So I grew up in a very art-friendly environment. When I was in school, I took every opportunity to take art classes. In my senior year of high school along with taking advanced placement art I was a teacher assistant for, you guessed it: an art class. However, it wasn’t until I took my second ceramics class in college that I got to experience making art while high.

My personal experiences making art while high have been excellent. Since I have been using cannabis for a while now, I feel comfortable doing intricate work. Sometimes it is hard to work on a piece when it enters a stage of being done. A misplaced stroke or cut could undo hours of hard work. This is especially true with ceramics, as it is an art process with several stages. But throwing clay on a potter’s wheel and getting lost in your own little world after smoking a joint with someone you love is a feeling unmatched by much in this world. While I didn’t make much cannabis-inspired art until I transferred to UO, the first piece I did create is titled High Tide. It is a 4”x6” hand-cut collage using a photo my grandfather took as a base. It combines recycled magazines and other ephemera and some golden paint. I think that the piece becoming cannabis-inspired came to me as a flash decision. Most of my collage work is based on flash decisions.

The first step is always looking through ephemera, magazines being my favorite. After flipping through and tearing out pages, I try and figure out what should go where. After meticulous cutting, everything is placed where it would be pasted, and I meditate on why I picked certain things. Placement and accumulated meaning is analyzed, and I do a second pass at my material to see if I can add anything new to the piece. Some people would think that using cannabis while doing art would lead to clumsy mistakes, but I find that it is easier to block out the busyness of the world and focus on art while high. Most of my collage work is inspired by my love of vintage things, reusing materials, and my mixed background. I love mixing together things you wouldn’t see side-by-side in a magazine but feels like you could. Things from the past are always being dragged back into the present, and to me it feels wonderful to make art out of things that people didn’t want anymore or were meant to be thrown away.

Like most artists, I feel like I go through phases. Drawing, painting, and sewing seem to always be in rotation, but I can’t wait to have access to a good clay space and quilting space. Currently I’ve been messing around a lot with digital work, and my roommate and I make pinback buttons and stickers. It’s been really fun to do as I was scared of making digital art for the longest time. I first started by making zines, and even tabled at the UO Zine Fest in 2019. It can be intimidating to enter a new phase, especially since it is so much easier to compare yourself to others on social media and such, but it’s always better to just bite the bullet and go for it. Who knows what phase will come next for me, but you can bet that it will be preceded and followed by a plume of skunky smoke.

If you’re interested in seeing Renee’s work you can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or on her website.

         Instagram: @renee.eporita

         Twitter: @eporita

https://rethompson55555.wixsite.com/portfolio

Lily Brennan

The other day I was at Joann Fabrics just resupplying materials. If you’ve ever bought fabric from Joann Fabrics before, then you must know the dreaded question the workers ask you while measuring and cutting your desired items: “So, what are you making with this?”

I never know what to say. I always go with a safe white lie of, “Oh, you know. A costume.” Or even the occasional, “I’m making stuffed animals for a friend.” Those answers are much easier to swallow than the truth. The truth being that I’m making a six-foot-long orange octopus-esque creature with diamond-patterned skin, all of which I believe to be a guide of sorts to an afterlife.

Hard to swallow, right?

My name’s Lily Wai Brennan. I’m a multi-disciplinary textile artist, inspired by experiences I have with the in-betweenness of dreams and reality. These experiences manifest as critiques on queerness, the body, childhood speculation, and personal relations. I often imagine that my artwork exists in its own childhood TV show, and I’m the token human living in this absurd reality.

I’ve been making art professionally for seven years. I’ve probably been smoking pot for just as long. In ways they feel involved with each other. Since I make surreal, trippy work about losing touch with the borders of our realities, being high feels incredibly prevalent. Smoking is when all those borders really fold and push away, and you’re finally able to take a step outside of yourself. I crave those solitary moments where reality begins to morph before me. Senses are amplified, yet impaired. My thoughts race through uncanny scenarios. I’m at my best when I lose touch with it all.

When the media began blasting my eyes with the horrendous images of beaten Asian Americans earlier this year, I lit a joint and sat on my balcony. My body and its likeness to the images I was being fed felt hollow, and I knew I had to make art about it. So, I did. That day, as I smoked to calm my nerves, I decided to create a racial persona for myself, as an avatar to contribute to the Stop Asian Hate campaign. A few weeks later I presented a successful solo exhibition titled Yellow Kid, showcasing this new body of work I invented in my head when I was high.

I’ve never fully considered the role weed plays for me and my art, but in ways it does feel important. Not only does it manifest experiential inspiration for me while being high, but it also grounds me too. It is both an innovative tool and a coping tool. That being said, I never smoke while working. I prefer absolute silence and solitude as I slave away at my projects; any outside sensory puts me out of my focus. But, weed always comes in during my brainstorming process. So, if you’re ever stuck on any concepts, I high-ly recommend just relaxing and lighting up. 

You’ll be surprised at what you might uncover.

Instagram: @lilywaibrennan

https://www.lilywaibrennan.com/

Kaylynn Wohl

The first mediums explored in my leisurely art career included pen and ink, and acrylic and chalk/oil pastels. When drawing on weed, I often felt like I forgot how to draw, how to make straight lines, or how to accurately portray my vision. Whereas, pastels were a blast on weed. Getting messy and using my fingers was such a tactile exploration while learning to prioritize the process rather than the destination. Coating my hands in vibrant chalky hues and smearing them onto paper was such a wholesome joy. It wasn’t until 2016 when I tried clay on weed for the first time, and boy was I thrilled. Being stoned and all of the ASMR aspects of ceramics created a soothing environment that encourages me to trust the weird grasping tools attached to my wrists. The sound of dry clay scratching or the sound of the clay sludge sloshing around sounds much more appealing when high claying. Plus, it feels like a socially acceptable form of playing in the mud. Wheel throwing is a dizzying challenge where I’d get hypnotized by my spinning uncentered lump of clay. I try to stick to weed and clay on a motionless surface, where all ego must be left at the door. Regardless of being high or not, the clay will do what it wants to do and it’s best to listen and humble myself along the way. There is something comforting about smoking herbs and doing ceramics; both come from the earth. 

Our household is pretty weedy. After a solo silent session that increasingly got louder and more vivid, I realized we as adults were far better than our out-of-service-candle ashtray. I retired the once upon a time apple cinnamon candle and upgraded to using a “real” ashtray that is a functioning piece of art. 

Maybe it’s the little boy in me still giggling about genitalia, but I had the humorous desire to sculpt vagina ashtrays. After exploring the first few trials, my immature child self grew up and conspired the true reason to create these pieces. They’re meant to sit on your coffee table or on your porch or wherever one leaves their burnt bits. With guests who frequent this household utility, conversation spark after realizing what they’re ashing into. This unavoidable situation I frequently encounter has led me to witty and educational comebacks. I ask if they are uncomfortable with the piece and why. Would a penis be more comfortable for you? This question is tricky because the wrong crowd says yes and requests a custom made clay phallus. To be frank, the penis discourse is tiresome and unoriginal. I got to thinking, why isn’t all genitalia  taboo, or, better yet, why is the vagina more taboo? Within these questions lie the many implications of gender inequality. But for now, this is cannabis and ceramic cooters. 

My pieces are created to stir the pot, arouse the house guests, make some people uncomfortable but then reflect why, and of course to be a functioning vessel. Instead of continuing the hush-hush nature around the vagina while “penis” is shouted across the room, I hope to inspire conversation around body positivity. 

Kaylynn Wohl, staff writer and vagina pottery girl

Instagram: klaylynnsclay 

High Recommendations: WVA Gummies

Written and photographed by Alexandra Arnett

As a medical cannabis patient, edibles are some of my favorite ways to consume cannabis. To help with my anxiety I typically use 5mg-10mg of THC or a 5mg/5mg ratio of THC and CBD every few hours throughout the day. I also suffer from chronic pain due to a lower back injury I obtained when I was a gymnast, so in addition to regularly using cannabis topicals during the day, I do prefer to eat a high dose edible before bed so I can sleep through the night. There are hundreds of edible brands on the recreational market but few choose to branch out into having vegan options, especially when it comes to gummies. My favorite edibles are ones that are made with infused butter or coconut oil and use solventless concentrate. Cannabinoids bind with fat molecules to help your body absorb them better, instead of breaking down quickly and passing through your system. Due to its high saturated fat content, coconut oil is one of the best infusion mediums for helping cannabinoids bind to fat molecules for better absorption.

Right now my favorite edibles on the Oregon market are from Willamette Valley Alchemy. I’ve been a long time fan of the company, particularly because they produce wonderful Live Resin cartridges and have strain specific vegan edibles. Finding vegan edible gummy options can be difficult and it is even harder to find ones that are made with quality ingredients, no food dyes, and so on. Willamette Valley Alchemy gummies are made with coconut oil, fruit purees, have no artificial flavorings or food dyes, and they now offer two vegan options! The first vegan option they offered were 1:1 THC/CBD vegan gummies. The particular package I have now was infused with Sour Banana Sherbet and Cherry Wine. 

Next up, a product they recently released are their vegan 50mg THC gummies, infused with solventless concentrate! The batch I have currently is infused with GMO x Sunset Octane. Both options come with 10 pieces, with the 1:1 ratio having roughly 5mg of THC and 5mg of CBD per gummy and the 50mg THC option having roughly 5mg of THC per gummy. These vegan gummies are the perfect option for dosing throughout the day or if you just want to munch on a few gummies instead of a single one to reach that 50mg dosage. Occasionally I have seen limited edition flavors added into their product line, but each of their staple gummies come in a blend of five flavors per package. Strawberry Blast is my favorite, other flavors included are Passionfruit Punch, Blueberry Bliss, Sunrise Grapefruit and LaLa Lychee. If I’m being honest, all of their flavors are delicious.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try Willamette Valley Alchemy’s’ products yet, I highly recommend picking up any one of their products. From their Live and Cured Resin cartridges to their numerous strain specific edibles, this company is an Oregon cannabis industry staple.

420 Tune Guide

written by Renee Thompson @renee.eporita

I have yet to meet a stoner that doesn’t have a go-to album or band to toke to. Some gravitate  more to the traditional sounds, like songs from Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead, and others listen to really out-of-the-box stuff. Either way, all stoners alike  would agree that music and weed go together better than (medicated) peanut butter and jelly. 

For those looking to listen to full albums, I have listed four that are my favorite to listen to while high along with a recommended strain pairing. I’ve also listed 2o of the ultimate 420-themed songs. Songs #1-10 have references to weed in them and songs #11-20 have a certain 420 energy and are visually compelling music videos to watch while high. As an added bonus, to my knowledge every artist besides Masayoshi Tanaka has at least dabbled in cannabis consumption. Hope you enjoy! 

4 Albums You Should Listen To High:

         1. The Rainbow Goblins by Masayoshi Takanaka (Pineapple Upside Down Cake) 

         2. Hit Vibes by Skylar Spence a.k.a. Saint Pepsi (Blueberry Muffin) 

         3. Ugly Cherries by PWR BTTM (Purple Hindu Kush) 

         4. Clandestino by Manu Chao (GG #4) 

20 Songs (10 about weed, 10 from weedos)

  1. Marijuana by Reverend Horton Heat 
  1. I Wanna Smoke by Gangsta Pat 
  1. High Time by Grateful Dead 
  1. Boomer by Bartees Strange
  1. Sweet Leaf by Black Sabbath 
  1. Paper Planes by M.I.A. 
  1. Addicted by Amy Winehouse 
  1. Bam Bam by Sister Nancy 
  1. It’s All Going To Pot by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
  1. La Cucaracha by Lila Downs 
  1. Punk Rock Girl by Dead Milkmen
  1. Over Our Heads/Meet Your God by Off 
  1. 私は愛に ハイです by Yung Bae 

 14. Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches 

15. Horse by Salvatore Ganacci 

 16. C’mere by Interpol 

17. Something For Your M.I.N.D. by Superorganism

 18.  The Less I Know the Better by Tame Impala 

 19. Hymnal by Open Mike Eagle 

  20. Weedcard by Garfunkel and Oates 

YouTube: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-Rtnwzo7SPU6Ok6r-M6YZAkGuxxfE_Q5

High Recommendations: Medicated Bath Salts

Written and photographed by Renee Thompson

When I begin to feel the weight of stress on my bones, I always gravitate toward taking a long shower or bath. The mix of water and steam always helps me re-center and feel refreshed. When using medicated bath salts, soaks are even more relaxing. The medicated ingredients can help soothe muscles and nerves. Compared to normal bath salts, depending on the amount of activated ingredients used, one could experience a slight tingly sensation because of the skin’s super absorbent nature. Which is why it is important, not just for the environment, but also for the sake of your own health that you pay attention to the ingredients in bath and beauty products. One thing that I have been doing for the past year is consciously buying products that are better for the environment. I found it very easy to switch to plastic free shampoo and conditioner, and have since started looking into how I can cut out other environmentally harmful products. 

Bath and beauty products can contain microplastics that return to our water supply after you wash your face or body. Microplastics are not usually filtered out of water, since they are so small, but they can have a damaging effect on your health and our shared environment. The Australian Department of Water and the Environment states that microplastics that exist in the environment can negatively affect humans, animals, plant life, and the environment itself. After microplastics have been introduced to the marine environment, they can absorb more toxins and can become even more harmful by carrying those toxins up and down the food chain. Even though Congress passed the Microbead Free Water Act in 2015, the act only classifies microbeads as, “any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof” even through microplastics can be found outside the over-the-counter bath and beauty aisle. The act seems to only target exfoliating microbeads, and doesn’t offer a clear solution for filtering already existing microplastics out of the water supply.

In this recipe, baking soda is used as a cleanser, while Epsom salt works to help reduce soreness. When using this recipe, I like to use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, since its larger flakes work great for exfoliation. I tend to keep decarboxylated stems/shake on hand, but if you are unfamiliar with the process make sure that you heat up your active ingredients on a cookie sheet for 40 mins at 240F. This is also another great reason to save your shake and stems as they can be used instead of pricier premium flower. Of course the higher the THC and CBD in the flower used will affect the potency of the end product, so try and pay attention to those percentages when buying, especially if you are someone who is prone to paranoia. 

Medicated Bath Salts

Prep Time: 5-10 mins

Yield: 1 cup

         Ingredients-

                     1/3 cup baking soda

                     1/3 cup salt

                     1/3 cup Epsom salt

                     1-4 Tbsp medicated coconut oil

                     4-5 drops of essential oil

                     2-4 tps decarboxylated stems and shake

         Tools-

                     1 metal spoon

                     1 medium bowl

                     measuring cup

                     measuring spoons

                     holding container (ex: Mason jar, old flower container, etc.)

         Directions-

1. Measure out the baking soda, salt, and Epsom salt and mix them together in the bowl.

2. Warm up coconut oil in the microwave or on a low on the stovetop.

3. Add the decarboxylated stems/shake and medicated coconut oil to the mixture.

4. Mix well, add essential oil (optional) and mix again.

5. With the spoon, place the medicated bath salt into your container of choice.

6. Add anywhere from 3-6 Tbsp to warm bath or 1-3 Tbsp for a small foot bath or body scrub. Enjoy!

High Recommendations: 42° Farms Remedy Hemp Balm

written and photographed by Skyla Patton

They say that you can tell a lot about a person by the contents of what they carry in their bag. I think this is a true statement to a certain extent, but I’d take it a little further: you can tell a lot about how a person takes care of themselves by what they carry in their bag. Whether it’s an army of chapstick, hand sanitizer galore or a total lack thereof, our care-regimen superstars are revealed by whether or not we can leave the house without them. For example, if you were to dig through my old canvas backpack, you’d get a good whiff of OG-something-or-other (and disregard the alarming amount of empty Tums rolls while you’re at it). But as of late, I have a new all-star in my lineup that has saved the day when it comes to self-care and pain management on the go: let me introduce you to 42° Remedy Hemp Balm. 

Turned on to me by a close friend and fellow cannabis-enthusiast, this CBD-packed balm is crafted from the best savory ingredients, like beeswax and coconut oil, along with a perfect blend of peppermint essential oil to soothe the muscles and awaken your senses. The hemp extract used is grown in the heart of Southern Oregon, just outside of Ashland, and the effectiveness of the product tells the story of the hardworking hands and love that went into the plants. My personal favorite is the travel-size 2oz tin, which fits conveniently into any of my backpacks, pockets or purses, and is loaded with a whopping 375mg of CBD. 

As someone who is a regular consumer of both THC and CBD products (with what is sometimes a disturbingly high tolerance) I have to give this product the shout out that it deserves in packing a serious punch when it comes to pain relief. Depending on the area and genre of pain, I’ve found relief with this product that can act as fast as just a few minutes beyond application and popping it back into my bag. Because of the way that CBD and CBG products are regulated, it can be easy for less-than-quality products to slip through the cracks and onto the shelves, and even easier for unsuspecting consumers to spend insane amounts of cash on duds. 42° Farms conducts third-party testing to ensure consistency and safety for all of their products, as well as making their balms in smaller quantities to focus on the quality (and love) in each batch. Curious about the details? Test results are posted with each product on their website for your review. 

This balm is fast-acting and provides an added layer of immediate comfort with the soothing peppermint scent (a personal favorite for headache relief as well) and smooth, silky texture. Unlike other topicals I’ve tried in the past, this product leaves no sticky or greasy residue behind and melts into your skin like butter after just a few moments of massaging it in. Sensitive-skin approved, this moisturizing balm is cool to the touch and a little goes a long way so the smaller travel size is plenty for most occasions—although as a self-admitted CBD junkie, the next size up to 750mg doesn’t look half bad either. The 2oz travel size clocks in at a cool $20, $35 for the 4oz, which is a total steal either way for how long the tin will last you.

As someone who struggles with chronic pain, some of my most favorite things to do in the world are often cut short by the way that I’m feeling: hiking, swimming, traveling, all confined by aches and pains when I should be exploring worry-free in my 22-year-old vessel. The instant relief provided by a quick lather of Remedy (a namesake meant to be interpreted verbatim) has fueled my adventures for the last several months and allowed me to climb mountains, both metaphorically and literally. It’s a backpack essential as far as I’m concerned and you won’t catch me on a trek without it anytime soon. 

High Recommendations: THC Facemasks

written by Renee Thompson, photographed by Kimberly Harris

Disposable face masks for skin care are becoming more common, but in the ever growing beauty aisle, few environmentally friendly alternatives exist. One way to ensure your beauty routine is as green as possible is to make your own. There are hundreds of face mask recipes that use natural materials, and making them yourself is a great way to de-stress through the process or connect with others in your home. 

An easy way to add THC to a natural face mask is to use infused coconut oil or sugar. Some expected effects from using THC in face masks would include (but is not limited to) muscle relaxation and a slight tingling sensation. Everyday ingredients like honey, yogurt, and avocado act as natural moisturizer, and things like citrus and pineapple juice are effective at breaking down dirt in pores. Once a month, or as needed, treat yourself to some of our favorite THC infused combinations.

Pore Cleansing Mask 

Ingredients:

-½ lemon

-1 ½ tsp. honey

-1 tsp. of THC infused coconut oil

Instructions:

1. Cut lemon in half.

2. Over a bowl, use a fork to loosen the lemon sections while trying to keep as much of the lemon chunks and juice inside as possible. 

3. Pour infused coconut oil in the exposed lemon half.

4. Use a fork to push the oil inside the lemon. 

5. Repeat steps 3. & 4. with honey.

6. Use a fork to mix the honey, oil, and lemon juice inside the lemon. 

7. Apply the lemon with mixture to your skin. Make sure you apply an even layer to your face, leaving areas around your eyes and mouth exposed.

8. If needed squish the lemon, away from your eyes, slightly to release more of the mixture. 

9. Let the mask stay for 10-30 minutes.

10. Wash off with warm water. 

Tightening Mask

Ingredients:

-1 egg white

-⅓ cup plain uncooked oats

-2 tsp. THC infused coconut oil

-2 TBS. plain yogurt

Instructions:

1. In one bowl, mix your oats and yogurt until there are no clumps of dry oats.

2. In another bowl, mix together the egg white and oil.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the oat mixture and mix until they are combined.

4. Apply the mask while you’re over a sink to avoid any possible messes. 

5. Cover your face avoiding your eyes and mouth.

6. Leave the face mask on until the mixture begins to tighten and dry. This can take 25-50 minutes. 

7. Use warm water and a paper towel to get the more solidified chunks off your face. 

8. Use warm water and a gentle face wash to remove any excess. 

Nourishing Mask

Ingredients:

-½ ripe avocado

-1 TBS. or 1 tea bag of pure green tea 

-2 ½ tsp. THC infused coconut oil 

-1 TBS. honey

Instructions:

1. Cut a ripe avocado into small pieces and add them to the bowl.

2. In the bowl, use the fork and spoon to mash the avocado until it has reached a pudding-like state.

3. Add the honey, tea leaves, and infused oil into the mashed avocado. Stir all the ingredients together until they are well incorporated.

4. Put the mask on your face evenly, leaving your eyes and mouth exposed.

5. Let the mask stay on your face for 20-60 minutes, then use warm water and a paper towel to remove the bulk of the mask.

6. Use warm water to rinse your face of any remaining residue. 

Relax & Rewind: Podcasts and Playlists

written by Theresa Carpenter

During this time, we’re all feeling stressed and overwhelmed with different elements of our life. However, it’s important to remember that it’s necessary to take time for yourself. Here’s a list of some playlists and podcasts that will help make you smile, laugh or just help you get through quarantine, paired with the perfect strain to help get you in the zone.

  1. Rewind – The Sound of 2016 (Spotify playlist)
  • This playlist will take you back in time. It’ll have you reminiscing about simpler times or bring back memories you didn’t even know were there. Some songs you might’ve forgotten existed, but are still just as good as when they were popular. There are rewind playlists of all years, so take your pick!
  • Scooby Snack (Hybrid) is a great strain for getting in a nostalgic mood—even the name brings back good memories.
  1. Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (Podcast by Earwolf)
  • Hosted by Chris Gethard, this podcast talks to one caller for an hour. He can’t hang up first, no matter what, and the caller remains anonymous. This is a fun podcast to listen to because anything is possible. For an hour, you’re listening to a random stranger’s story and it can take your mind off everything.
  • Double Dream (Hybrid) is a classic for easing stress, anxiety and getting your mind off things. 
  1. Mood Booster: the Happy Playlist (Spotify playlist by Ashley James)
  • This playlist is full of upbeat songs that will get you dancing and screaming the lyrics. It’s a way to unwind and let yourself loose, even if it’s just for a few songs. 
  • Pineapple Express (Sativa) is a perfect strain for increasing energy levels and getting you feeling happy with its euphoric high.
  1. The Sporkful (Podcast by Dan Pashman)
  • If you love food, this podcast is the one for you. It might even change the way you eat! Dan Pashman unravels the way he eats and provides vivid descriptions about the food he’s eating. It always makes me hungry after listening to it, that’s for sure.
  • Sour Diesel (Sativa) is perfect for getting your appetite going and having a great time.
  1. Peaceful Piano (Spotify playlist) 
  • This playlist includes songs that are instrumental and solely piano. It’s different from the other playlists because it’s more relaxing. It’s great background music for studying or unwinding after a stressful day. 
  • Bubba Kush (Indica) is exactly what you need for feeling more relaxed. 
  1. Happier (Podcast by Gretchen Rubin)
  • In this podcast, Gretchen suggests different strategies that she wants her sister to try out. She offers advice on topics such as time management and stress. You’re certain to feel more calm and motivated after listening to an episode or two. 
  • Jack Herer (Sativa) is another great strain for feeling calm and improving your mood.

Connecting w/ Cannabis: Women’s Sexual Health and Wellness

written and photographed by Dana Sparks

On any given day, Kass Traieh, 23, balances attending the University of Oregon and working part-time as a bartender. She just recently moved away from her childhood friends and family in southern California to buy a home in the Pacific Northwest and get her degree in human physiology. 

Unsurprisingly, Traieh has a lot going on that keeps her mind busy. 

As her day ends, she likes to unwind with a little bit of cannabis as she settles in for the night with her boyfriend and their dog.

“I feel like weed helps me feel more connected with myself,” said Traieh. 

But it seems to do a lot more than that. 

Traieh’s experiences reflect more than cannabis as a method of unwinding — this is a story of how cannabis also informs the management of her reproductive health and sexual pleasure.

“I honestly think I gave up on finding the ‘right’ birth control,” said Traieh. It’s been a discouraging process because of the many side effects that she’s experienced during her search. 

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, common side effects of hormonal contraceptives — like birth control pills — including weight gain, headaches, mood changes and irregular periods. One side effect that Traieh experiences in particular is a loss of libido — a problem she didn’t have before starting birth control.

“I’m on the pill right now. I’ve switched back and forth between a bunch of types of birth control. Nothing is exactly right — everything leaves me feeling like crap,” said Traieh. 

To top it off, she suspects she might have endometriosis — a condition that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimate one in ten women experience

Endometriosis is when tissue similar to the uterine-lining migrates outside of the organ and becomes inflamed in response to the menstrual cycle. Symptoms include long, heavy periods, intense cramping, pain during sex and nausea — to name only a few. Despite the blaring symptoms, it’s difficult to diagnose because it frequently requires a laparoscopy in order to identify the tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic, without any major non-invasive alternatives. 

Between the intense pain, heavy periods and birth control side effects, Traieh’s story represents a lot of women who have been left to their own devices to solve these issues.

When it comes to her period, using weed and yoga helps her relax and manage some of the pain. 

But experiencing a loss of libido from her birth control shouldn’t be thought of as “just” a physical side effect — it can be an emotional roadblock on one of the avenues that couples can connect with one another. 

Since starting birth control, her boyfriend is the one who initiates sex when she is not using cannabis. It takes a lot more time and effort for her to be aroused without it and even then, the extra time and attention doesn’t always guarantee that Traieh and her boyfriend have sex that isn’t interrupted.

“Having a low libido negatively affected my relationship — sometimes halfway through it would become painful all of a sudden because I was a desert down there again,” said Traieh. “I know a lot of women could relate to that. It could be beneficial to try new things and be able to fully enjoy that experience without awkward or painful delays.”

The coinciding of when she has time to use cannabis and when she has time to be intimate with her boyfriend led to Traieh’s latest discovery: cannabis, not only helps her relax, but helps with her arousal. 

“Not to say that my sex sober is bad, but it’s just a lot more difficult to orgasm — I have more things going through my mind and I’m a lot less focused. But I think weed has helped me relax a bit and takes some of that pain away,” said Traieh. 

At this point in time, little research appears to have been conducted that specifically looks at how cannabis affects birth control and the corresponding side effects. The lack of literature around this topic might be explained by variables like the classification of cannabis as a schedule one drug (which means no federal funding) or even the sense of taboo regarding sex and drugs.

However, a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs during 1982 suggests answers to questions of how this helps by looking at the effects of regular cannabis use on sexual performance

The study’s objective results say the findings are widely “insignificant” due to the specific method used to conduct the study. Yet, when the information produced is pulled away from the confines of the study, it is suggested that an enhanced experience after cannabis use is indicated for roughly half of men and women during snuggling, pleasure/satisfaction, sexual closeness and different facets of orgasm. 

With the legalization of recreational cannabis, consumers and cannabis professionals are left to navigate the wide world of cannabis and how it applies to individuals’ specific needs in ways that were not previously accessible. In this, new things are understood in the trial-and-error of using cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Budtender Andrew Travis at Moss Crossing Dispensary talked with Green Eugene about what to consider when using cannabis specifically for sexual pleasure.

“If you’re using cannabis for sex, it’s smart to stick with more strain-specific avenues because it will be easier to dial in on what you’re going to get out of it,” said Travis. For example, he says that terms like “Sativa” and “Indica” are helpful in identifying plant characteristics or its’ origin rather than identifying what a strain can do for specific problems.

When seeking a strain for help with certain issues — like anxiety or tension — Travis recommends asking about terpenes. Terpenes are found in a lot of plants — not just cannabis — as organic compounds that can be used for their medicinal properties. 

“The way people use essential oils to get therapeutic effects is the same thing with cannabis. That’s why most budtenders have you smell the weed and [buy] whatever your nose likes best,” said Travis. 

Lavender contains a common terpene called Linalool that most people would recognize for its calming effect and anxiety relief. Linalool is a common terpene that most people would recognize without realizing — Linalool is what gives the lavender plant its calming nature and anxiety relief. 

“Encouraging people to have a basic understanding of terpenes is really advantageous, especially if you’re experimenting with cannabis [for sexual health],” said Travis. “Leafly is a really good resource with charts that tell you the terpene name, other plants or things we interact with everyday that have a similar smell and the effects of it.”

Tropicana Cookies is one recommended by Travis for its following terpenes: Limonene (found in lemons), Linalool (found in lavender) and b-Caryophyllene (found in black pepper). Some of the potential effects of these terpenes in combination could be mood elevation, anxiety relief and pain relief respectively. 

Ghost Cookies is a less sweet alternative that contains similar terpenes. It has b-Mercene (found in mangos) instead of b-Caryophyllene and should produce a heavy, couch-lock relaxation.

It should be mentioned that there are more options for consumption than just smoking weed — there is also THC- and CBD-infused lubricants and edibles. All the information on terpenes above still apply to lubricants and edibles — though some brands are more transparent than others regarding this information.

“If sex is painful, lubricants can also be super valuable. CBD lubricants can help alleviate tension or help men with premature ejaculation,” said Travis. “The THC lubricants can kind of force blood flow to the area, increase sensitivity and make it a little bit more euphoric.” 

Travis recommends planning ahead if interested in using these as they take time to activate. Additionally, some lubricants are oil-based so they are not safe for latex-based contraceptives like condoms or dental dams.

“I would love to try out cannabis lube to see what affects it has on me,” said Traieh regarding the many different ways of incorporating cannabis into her sexual wellness. “I don’t see it replacing vaping before sex for me though.”

Traieh said she’s able to enjoy herself more with cannabis and because of that she can see how her partner’s pleasure reacts to hers. This new found level of comfort in her sexual relationship has also opened her mind to exploring and expanding how she expresses pleasure.

“I recognize that when I’ve smoked, I’m having a more enjoyable time,” said Traieh. “And when both partners are having a more enjoyable time, it’s a totally different energy. I feel more connected to it and more present.”

From Combat to Cannabis

words by Jake Bevis
photos by Alex Powers

When Jeremiah Civil, a Marine Corps combat veteran who served from 2001-2005, went in for his recent medical evaluation at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Portland, he was asked a series of basic questions about his health and habits. “Do you smoke marijuana?”

“Yes,” said Civil.

“Look, I understand. In fact, if it were up to me, I might even say it might be okay,” replied the VA officer. “It might even be a good thing. But let me read you this pamphlet.”

The officer proceeds to quickly read through a short lecture prepared by the VA about how marijuana is illegal under federal law and they do not support its consumption.

Civil has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and says that cannabis helps him cope with his everyday symptoms. He was not always a habitual smoker. The intense anti-cannabis culture of the military had convinced him it was not an option for years after his service. Eventually, with some guidance, he gave it a try.

“It changed my whole life,” said Civil.

He takes a deep hit from his rubber green bong. He sits in the living room of his government-owned house on site of the Federal Fish Hatchery he also works at, near Estacada, Oregon. There is a cascading display of flags hanging from his ceiling in the living room. In the center is the American flag. On one side is the Department of Interior and the Oregon state flag. On the other side is a banner for Prisoner of War and Missing in Action. “That was kind of our flag,” says Civil, referring to his role in Mortuary Affairs in the Marines. And behind the banner is the red flag of the Marine Corps. “I have my home, my country, who I work for now, and the two cults I belong to,” he jokes. His white pit bull rescue, Gunner, rests lazily on the couch next to him.

“It creates distance between the present and the past within your memories,” said Civil, referring to what cannabis does for him.

He explains his concept of the separation between a person’s resting baseline and anxiety. There is a gap between the body’s resting state for muscle tension, heart rate, adrenalin levels and the threshold of fight-or-flight. Increasing stress closes that gap. But when trauma happens, the body decides it can no longer survive at that low resting baseline. After trauma, the body resets itself to a higher baseline closer to that fight-or-flight threshold, shortening the distance between resting and alarm. This, he explains, is why people with PTSD are more spooked by sudden noises, bright flashes of light, large crowds and so on. These triggers can become an everyday occurrence with trauma such as PTSD.

But for Civil, cannabis slows that progression towards fight-or-flight. He explains that smoking gives him enough space to recognize when he’s about to have a panic attack. He gets more time and can identify it and sometimes even stop it before it overtakes him. “It gives me a little bit more, before it kicks in,” he says. “Enough time to think and become aware.”

It took several years after he left the Marines for Civil to settle on the idea of using cannabis as a tool. When he began experiencing symptoms from his trauma, he went to the VA, where they prescribed antidepressants such as Wellbutrin and Effexor. While the depression was being treated, his anxiety was left untamed. “It was just amplified,” he said. He describes not sleeping very well and always being on edge. He was married at the time. After a particular incident where he got angry and broke everything in the house, his wife sent him to the VA where he received in-patient treatment.

They switched his Wellbutrin to Paxil and added Xanax and Klonopin for the anxiety. However, the addictive properties of the Benzodiazepines overtook him. His compulsive nature would lead him to taking Xanax to the point of full emotional disconnection.

“You could come in here and kill my whole family, and I’d be like, ‘eh shit. Whatever. I don’t care,’” he remembered, taking another rip from his well-packed bong. His dog, Gunner, makes a lazy canine groan on the couch next to him.  

The new drugs changed things for him, but not for the better. In 2009 Civil sought counseling at the VA, but quickly terminated that when he had an explosive outburst of frustration when the staff counselor couldn’t relate to having ever experienced combat.

That’s when he was referred to the Portland Vet Center, a community-based counseling center that specializes in PTSD and military sexual trauma. It’s a branch of the VA established in 1979 by congress, initially to assist with societal reintegration of veterans from the Vietnam War. This is where Civil finally found the guidance he needed.

His next counselor was a combat vet this time. Civil described him as a “hippy type” with gauged ears. The counselor immediately advised Civil to get off the Benzos. He suggested quitting alcohol, coffee and energy drinks, and to start smoking a lot of weed, to help with weaning off his anti anxiety meds gracefully. He helped Civil get his medical marijuana card.

Within a few months he had successfully kicked the Benzos, his mood had stabilized and he was finally starting to get a few decent nights of sleep. “It was all about finding the right counselor,” said Civil.

His favorite strain quickly became Sweet Tangerine. “It gives me energy without anxiety,” he said. Another one of his veteran friends used grow it for him but claims he can’t find it anywhere. Now he says he just goes for what’s cheap.

Finding the right counselor was a turning point for Civil. Among cannabis use, he adopted a collection of activities to help manage his mental health. Until recently, he was a Warrior leader at group therapy sessions for the Wounded Warrior Project. “People tend to open up more in those situations than they do in a counseling session,” said Civil. “Sometimes you can have some beers and buds; loosen things up.” He jokes about starting a marijuana therapy group complete with a talking-bong to pass around. He continues with counseling, and occasionally volunteers with veteran nonprofits.

He takes the opportunity to rip from his rubber green bong again. Smoke drifts amongst his assortment of flags in the high vaulted living room ceiling.

Jeremiah Civil discusses marijuana as a post-traumatic stress disorder treatment Friday, March 22, 2019, at his home near Estacada.

Using cannabis to cope with trauma is not a cure-all. There are many reasons why someone may not be able to or want to use cannabis, and it’s not a cure for every internal struggle combat veterans suffer with. Civil’s story is simply a case in which cannabis was a missing piece among many that ultimately helped him get his life back.

“Getting off the meds and getting into weed opened me up to trying other things,” he says, referring to treatments for his mental health. In 2011, he attended a Native American sweat lodge ceremony, which he credits to eliminating his nightmares.

Since he got rid of his nightmares, Civil no longer feels like he needs cannabis for sleep. He says he used to rely on it for bedtime. But every now and then, his anxiety catches up with him in the night, finding himself waking in the middle of a panic attack.

Civil used to sleep with a loaded gun. Heart pounding out of his chest, and muscles tense, he reaches for his night stand, looking for the tool he’s learned to trust most as a veteran of war. He puts it up to his face. He flicks a lighter. He’s replaced the loaded gun with a loaded bong. He takes a long deep breath, and as he exhales, his muscles relax, his heart beat goes down, and his mind settles.

Mile High Club

words by Josh Delzell
photos by Connor Cox

Sex is a wonderful thing, but it is also a frightening thing as well. It puts you in one of the most vulnerable places you’ll ever be. It can bring doubts about your sexual performance, your body image or, for the guys, if you’re well endowed enough. Sex is also a terrifying place for those who have experienced sexual violence, with sexual encounters bringing anxiety attacks or PTSD flashbacks.

For anyone that is affected by these issues: your problems are valid and not altogether uncommon. It can be frustrating to struggle with intimacy issues, which leads many to search for solutions.  According to cannabis sexual educators like Ashley Manta, cannabis could be the fix for your problems.

Ashley Manta, the ‘OG cannasexual,’ preaches the use of cannabis to help further one’s sexuality, and coaches individuals and couples through her website Ashley Manta Cannasexual. “There’s also just anxiety and self-consciousness sometimes,” Manta told HuffPost in an interview detailing the becoming of cannasexual, referencing those struggles that individuals have with sexual intimacy.

“Many people that I work with say that they have the internal monologue of not being enough.” The idea behind being a cannasexual is to use cannabis to get out of your head and into your body — because that’s where all the fun happens, duh. Cannabis use can also help with anxieties that can come from sexual trauma. Manta herself is a sexual assault survivor and used cannabis to help manage the pain and PTSD that came with penetration.

What exactly could cannabis do for your sex life? Let’s look at THC and CBDs cousin, 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (or 2-AG for short). 2-AG is a naturally occuring cannabinoid that resides in the nervous system, and interacts with your body’s cannabinoid receptors. During an orgasm, 2-AG levels are significantly elevated whereas other chemical compound levels, like cortisol, are not altered. This suggests that 2-AG plays a role essentially as a rewarding byproduct during sex. When other cannabinoids are introduced, it gets interesting.

While CBD does not directly interact with our cannabinoid receptors, it does elevate 2-AG, which may indicate that high CBD products can help with our bodies response to 2-AG — and maybe help you improve your orgasms. THC on the other hand plays a stronger role in reducing stress and anxiety. THC does interact with the cannabinoid receptors, which happen to live next to the parts of the brain that play a role in how we respond to anxiety and fear.

THC also has been shown to impair the function of short term memory, which can help one stay in the moment during sexual experiences and properly relax. With this knowledge under our belt, it makes more sense how cannabis can help sexual assault survivors, like Manta.

While cannabis is absolutely something to explore within your sex life (many swear that it helps achieve “mind-blowing” orgasms) there are a couple things to note. There are not studies that have looked thoroughly into dosages prior to intercourse. Dosages are crucial to know if you plan to consume, because too high of a dose can affect men’s sexual performance (sorry fellas).

Along with this, it’s important to remember that cannabis affects all of us differently. For some people, it gives them anxiety or makes them unusually tired, neither of which are desirable sexual descriptors. Symptoms and side effects all depend on the strain, so experimentation is required to find what helps you the best. If smoking isn’t really your thing, there are a variety of sex lubes that are THC or CBD infused, which can be easily picked up at local dispensaries like Eugene OG and Moss Crossing.

The most important part of introducing cannabis into your sex life is that it’s something that you need to be in control of. Go into it with the mindset of pleasure and exploration, and remember that the person that knows what’s best for you, is yourself.