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. 

CBD for Dummies

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding cannabidiol, or CBD, and while the FDA still restricts its use in food and beauty products, hundreds of new products have begun popping up since the enactment of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.  So with all these products filling the shelves, what is the deal and what exactly is legal? How can one tell a quality hemp CBD product from an inferior hemp CBD product? 

As of August 2019, the DEA has retracted the status of CBD derived from cannabis from the Schedule 1 list, which means many new (and old) companies are hopping on the CBD bandwagon. At the end of October, the United States Department of Agriculture sent out interim rules for hemp production and testing. Currently, farmers can be issued a license for hemp production under their state or tribes’ own hemp regulation program or through the USDA. Individual states still have the right to make the production of hemp and hemp products illegal. Even though some states still have hemp production bans in place, the USDA reassured producers in legal states that interstate transfers of hemp may not be seized in states where hemp production is illegal.

While people often confuse hemp and cannabis, they are the same species of plant. Hemp has served as a legal definition for cannabis with less than 0.3% THC for the better part of its cultivation in the United States. Both cannabis and “hemp” varieties have the ability to produce high amounts of CBD. Hemp can also be grown for seed and fiber, which produce oils for beauty and food products and material for cloth. CBD products can come in many different forms, some of the most popular being edibles, tinctures and topicals, such as lotions and salves. CBD has also been seen in hair care products, beauty products, beverages and even clothing. To note, products using hemp seed oil will not always contain CBD. If the product has only hemp seed oil, then there will be little to no chance of CBD being present in the formulation. If the product uses hemp seed oil as a carrier for the CBD oil, then there will be CBD (and potentially other cannabinoids) present.

So what exactly is it that makes a CBD product worthwhile? CBD products can be made using three different CBD infusions: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD is made using whole-plant extract and will contain at least the legal limit of total THC, 0.3%, and may contain other amounts of cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD, but with an extra step of extraction to pull out any THC that may be present. Isolated CBD is made from an extract that has had all other cannabinoids pulled from the oil and is typically at 99% purity. The number one thing consumers should look for in a CBD brand is those who have both full and broad-spectrum CBD products. While full-spectrum is highly recommended for help with pain, loss of appetite and nausea, it can also cause anxiety in some, as well as a positive drug test. If you are worried about a drug test, look for either broad-spectrum or isolate based products. Quality products include brands that source their flower from a trusted farm. Farms in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all have rigorous testing standards for their hemp and many of the “craft” hemp farms are located in these states. In addition to this, companies that can supply you with a verifiable lab report from an ISO 17025 certified lab are at the top of the list for having a higher quality product.

Now, how exactly do these CBD products work? 

First, let us start by saying that there are two types of cannabinoid receptors present throughout the body, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found all throughout the body and are mainly located in the brain. CB2 receptors are mainly found in the peripheral nervous system, gut and immune cells. CBD has a weak binding affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 receptors and instead plays a more indirect role in regulating cannabinoid receptors. 

CBD is also known to mediate the intoxication affects many people feel with THC. This happens because CBD blocks THC molecules from binding to more receptors by attaching to what is called an allosteric binding site. Think of it as if you were trying to put a key into a keyhole that a substance like gum had been stuffed into.

Indirect pathways in which CBD interacts with include those involved in anxiety, depression, pain, cancer cell growth and even heart health. For anxiety, CBD has various mechanisms of action by which it may contribute to combating the symptoms. CBD can mediate the 5-HT1A receptor, which is one that serotonin interacts with. Serotonin is involved in a variety of actions such as anxiety, addiction, nausea, sleep, pain perception and vomiting. 

In addition, CBD can inhibit the reuptake of adenosine through the GPR55 receptor, which helps contribute anti-inflammatory effects, as well as the anti-anxiety effects. This inhibition increases the amount of adenosine within the synapse of a neurotransmitter, allowing for more transmission of adenosine through your system. Because of this, CBD can also help regulate coronary blood flow and oxygen flow throughout the heart muscles. Referencing back to the GPR55 receptor, when it is activated, it promotes the growth of cancerous cells. CBD is able to help fight the growth of cancerous cells by blocking the activation of the GRP55 receptor. Activation of the GPR55 can also be thought of as like a key fitting into a keyhole while blocking it can be thought of as the gum that blocks keys from fitting.

Overall, CBD is a wildly new research topic with human clinical trials just beginning to pop up in various countries. There is so much that we don’t know about the cannabis plant and scientists are itching at the possibilities for treatments of epilepsy, anxiety, psychotic disorders, cancer and pain. Everyone has their own unique endocannabinoid system, so it is important to remember that cannabis products are not a one size fits all deal. It may take some trial and error to find that perfect product, so don’t be afraid to try various quality brands. Now, this doesn’t mean that the products that didn’t work for you aren’t quality products, maybe there was just too much of a certain terpene or cannabinoid that your body doesn’t like, or maybe it was grown with outdoor flower and was contaminated with an allergen your body is sensitive to. Consumer safety is very important, and thus education is key. Brands that I personally recommend include; Sun God Medicinals, Angel Hemp (Angel Industries), Empower, grön and Wyld.

Cannabis in Schools

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

Cannabis use in schools is a controversial topic, especially when it comes to cannabis and kids. Medical cannabis and patient rights are at the forefront of this discussion. Unfortunately, most schools find themselves at odds with medical patients due to the Schedule I status of cannabis at the federal level. In states with legal medicinal cannabis laws such as California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, legislatures allow for the use of medical cannabis in schools. 

However, these laws are not without restrictions. Under these laws administering cannabis in schools typically falls on the parents or guardians, who are usually the legal caregivers for their child’s use of cannabis. This can often be difficult because many parents work full-time jobs or are otherwise unable to regularly be available for administering the medicine, especially in time-sensitive situations. Another issue is that often times cannabis is not allowed to be administered on school grounds, making it even more complicated for parents and/or caregivers. 

Certain states such as Colorado and the District of Columbia allow for nurses to administer medical cannabis to a student, but this is not a requirement and they can decline the task. States also restrict the type of cannabis product that can be used to either a non-smokable product or strictly to a capsule or an edible concentrate product. In Texas, only low-THC, high-CBD products derived from hemp are allowed to be used in schools. 

For students on college campuses, however, the rules seem to be much different. Colleges are largely funded by federal money, especially due to the ability to give federal grants and loans to students. If they were to allow medical cannabis use in schools before it is federally legalized, a large majority of their student body could lose funding as a repercussion. Unlike colleges, K-12 schools are largely funded by state and local funds, with only the most underprivileged receiving federal assistance. Most universities also have policies against cannabis use on campus property, including in dorms. This leaves students who are medical cannabis patients in a rough limbo state of how and where to medicate. 

In states like Florida, Arizona, and Massachusetts, students using medical cannabis are filing lawsuits against their schools for discrimination based on their use. Many of the students are in programs such as nursing or other medical tracks and are required to take a drug test. Judges in these states have settled in favor of the students in some of the cases, but other students are still fighting their school in court. Even after one judge sided with the student, the school still refused the student re-entry into the program. These colleges denying students often cite the current federal law and college policies as a means to disqualify students who use medicinal cannabis from their schools and programs.

Overall, cannabis is still a very touchy subject that many schools are scared to talk about. When more cannabis activists and parents of kids using medical cannabis stand up to take action against unfair school policies, we have seen some beneficial changes like the ones in Colorado and California. However, challenges for medical cannabis users such as the fact many cannot medicate on the school property are still there.

The current University of Oregon policy continues to prohibit cannabis in any form on-campus, whether medical or recreational. All campus properties are cannabis and tobacco smoke-free, including the usage of vape devices. Lane Community College states that possession of one ounce or less of cannabis is a violation, anything more than an ounce violates Federal law. LCC also states that while students with a medical cannabis card can be “under the influence” but may not ingest cannabis on campus property.

Not So Dope Driving

written by Emma Routley, photographed by Connor Cox

The legalities of driving under the influence of cannabis are slightly fuzzier than driving under the influence of alcohol.  Why might law enforcement pull you over for driving high, and what happens if they do?

A cop might think someone is under the influence of cannabis and charge them for a DUI if they show signs of distracted driving. Should someone be pulled over after consumption of cannabis (not combined with drinking alcohol), it is likely that the cop caught on to some noticeable signs of distracted driving and decided you were worth investigating.  Distracted driving is divided into four categories:

Visual – not looking at the road

Auditory – not listening to the driving environment

Manual – touching something other than the steering wheel

Cognitive – zoning out and thinking about something other than driving

Showing these signs can lead to officers believing someone could be driving impaired and gives them a reason to pull someone over.  Further, someone may be pulled over under suspicion of cannabis impairment if they show signs of slow reaction time or impaired coordination.  Once pulled over, it is difficult for cops to tell whether or not someone they’ve pulled over has been driving under the influence of cannabis.  There is little technology that allows them to test for impairment and nothing that gives them immediate results the way a breathalyzer does for blood alcohol content.  

While law enforcement considers cannabis DUIs to end in similar results equal to drinking and driving, the reality is that it is grossly exaggerated.  Even though there are those who will claim driving while high makes them “better drivers,” driving should be left only to the absolutely sober in all circumstances. That being said, there is no effective way to tell whether someone smoked two weeks ago or on the day they are pulled over through a drug test.  Currently if someone tests positive for THC after being pulled over for a DUI, there is a cause for arrest and charges. If a driver refuses to take a drug test, their license will likely be suspended immediately. The duration of how long a license is suspended is dependent on someone’s driving history.  

The officer may ask if the driver would be willing to participate in an examination, and if they agree they will meet with a Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE).  The Drug Recognition Evaluators (DRE) are used in Oregon to determine whether or not someone is under the influence of cannabis. The DREs use a system called the Drug Symptom Matrix which is a chart that contains the general signs of cannabis consumption.  The chart includes indicators such as:

Red Eyes

Marijuana Smell

Body and/or Eyelid Tremors

Relaxed inhibitions

Munchies

Impaired perception of time and distance

Fatigue

Paranoia

Disorientation

The DRE would proceed to look for these signs of cannabis consumption:

Lack of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), or when the eyes cannot follow a pen moving horizontally in front of them

Lack of Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN), or when the eyes cannot follow a pen moving vertically in front of them

Not being able to cross eyes (convergence)

Pupil size and reaction to light

Elevated pulse rate, blood pressure, or body temperature

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can stay in the system for weeks.  The length THC stays in the body depends on body fat content, and how often THC products are used.  These factors make it difficult to tell whether a driver is testing positive for driving under the influence or not.  

Always drive completely sober.  If you need transportation and cannot drive yourself the University of Oregon offers free nighttime rides home with Safe Ride.  Contact number for Safe Ride is (541) 346 – 7433. 

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.

Cannabis on Campus: Flush It!

words by Bryan Dorn
photos by Destiny Alvarez

Cannabis rules at the University of Oregon are outlined in the code of conduct as a zero tolerance policy; however, with the growing popularization of recreational cannabis and the recent requirement for first year students to live on campus, keeping cannabis off campus can prove to be difficult.

During the Fall of 2017 over 150 cannabis related incident reports were issued in resident halls and on campus, according to Assistant Director of Resident Life Shelby Wieners. This begs the question, what happens when students get caught with cannabis on campus?

This academic year, the residence halls have updated their policies to be less punitive and more centralized around education following cannabis related incident reports, Wieners says.

“Looking at how cannabis is handled on campus was very different than how we handled alcohol— when in the state of Oregon the laws are pretty similar,” says Wieners. “But the way that we approached it just wasn’t similar and I felt that was inequitable to students.”

Resident advisors are now requiring students, who are found with a ‘personal amount’ of cannabis, to flush the product and hand over their paraphernalia without getting the University of Oregon Police Department involved. In previous years, UOPD would be called to initiate contact with residents and confiscate the cannabis and paraphernalia themselves.

Now, the paraphernalia is put in a lock box for UOPD to confiscate at a later time.

“Our conduct process is educationally designed and is not the criminal process,” Wieners says. “So having RAs facilitate this and not having UOPD go to every single cannabis call realigns our response to how we say we educate students.”

Depending on the severity, context and frequency of the incidents, students who are found responsible for policy violations, like possession of cannabis in the dormitories, can expect a range of sanctions from community involvement to expulsion, according to Wieners.

Between fall 2017 and fall 2018 there was a 23% reduction in cannabis related incident report submissions through University Housing. According to Wieners, this could be due to students receiving more in depth information on community expectations and curriculum or shifting attitudes between graduating classes.

While the new policy on campus may seem straightforward, there are some grey areas. The amount of cannabis that is deemed personal possession is based on a “flushable amount,” according to Wieners. If RAs find what they deem an excessive amount they call professional staff with University Housing and take the incident from there.

The policy also does not include non-THC cannabinoids such as CBD. Medical students are still forbidden from having their medicine on campus due to federal regulations, Wieners says.

Students who need access to medical cannabis and are required to live on campus are encouraged to contact the Accessible Education Center and the University Counseling Center to find a solution with the University.

“Students aren’t a mass of beings right? Everyone is an individual and so looking at each individual case is really important,” Wieners says. “We would rather process a situation and talk about it than make a decision in a vacuum. Because every case is different.”

This shift in policy has inevitably lead to more University Housing involvement with cannabis incidents on campus and less UOPD involvement.

Most cases of cannabis on campus are now being logged as conduct violations rather than criminal violations. According to Kelly McIver, Public Information Officer for UOPD, the police department does not want students to incur hefty fines or deal with long term legal trouble due to small issues that can be addressed with education.

Because the university is federally funded, cannabis use and possession is strictly forbidden on all university affiliated properties, according to McIver. However, officers are not going out of their way to sniff out stoners.

“I think it’s better for everybody because it allows police to focus on not only addressing more serious crimes that may be occurring, but also spend more time out on patrol where their visibility and presence can be a deterrent to more serious crime,” McIver says.

In the future, students who are found with a personal amount of cannabis on campus can rest easy knowing the university is not looking to take legal action or derail their education. If students who are breaking the rules on campus comply with the Residence Halls, then the new rules on campus can foster a safer and more educational learning environment.

Cannabis Consultants: The Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee

words by Julio Jaquez

The passing of Oregon’s Legalized Marijuana Initiative, more commonly referred to as Measure 91, has produced a massive economic boom that has left many questioning its adolescent regulatory practices. Approved by Oregon voters on November 4, 2014, Measure 91 legalized the sale and usage of recreational marijuana for those ages 21 and older. With this massive responsibility of transforming Oregon’s historically illicit cannabis market into a legal and regulated one, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the OLCC, was tasked with regulation: introducing the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.

Alongside the five governor-appointed citizen commissioners who set the policies for the OLCC,  the Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) was required to be established if Measure 91 was enacted. As of 2014, the RAC was birthed out of legalization of cannabis  that tasked the committee with responsibilities such as assisting and advising the commission on how to properly regulate and develop Measure 91 as the industry continues to blossom. With a total of 16 members, half of the committee are dispensary owners, cannabis growers, manufactures, and processors, while the other half are state commissioners, law enforcement and members working within the state government. Members are invited to be a part of the RAC, and the range of work fields within the committee are deliberate in order to gather a diverse set of perspectives. Appointed in 2015, Ryan JD Christensen, a then small-business owner with no skin in the cannabis game, was invited on to offer a neutral standpoint on the committee.

Ryan JD Christensen, now Vice President of FORTUNE, a company based out of Portland, partners with the cannabis industry to strategically market and creatively package consumer goods out to the legal cannabis market. Ryan began as a creative consultant, working with brands like Red Bull, Nike, Adidas and Whole Foods with no real involvement with the cannabis industry. Ryan’s involvement with the cannabis industry initiated once the legalization of recreational marijuana was passed in Colorado and Washington. “I started freelancing and advising or just seeing if I could sit down with more cannabis companies to talk about branding and their marketing needs if and when Oregon would become a recreational state,” says Christensen, explaining how his career focus was positioned within the cannabis industry.

From February to October 2018, Ryan worked with HiFi Farms, nicknamed the “The Coolest Cannabis Farm in Oregon” by Esquire Magazine. He strategically began to introduce a variety of new products like shatter, pre-rolls and other forms of cannabis infused products to the consumer market. With a stable four year membership within the committee, Ryan explains that the committee connects frequently via email, phone call or even in-person at the OLCC office and offers advice about a plethora of subjects pertaining to cannabis. Another part of being on the committee is being an advocate and allowing yourself to be tapped on the shoulder to help inform those interested about the cannabis industry. “Our answers are not gold. Our answers do not represent the state of Oregon. Our answers are not representative of the OLCC,” expressing that his role within the committee is simply to advise and inform. Considering the committee meets about four times a year, his interaction with others on the committee is limited, but Ryan explains that his willingness to connect members within the cannabis community to previous members of the RAC helps dry the cement within the industry in Oregon.

A previous member on the RAC, Mowgli Holmes, CEO and co-founder of Phylos Bioscience created an agricultural genomics company whose mission is to map out the evolutionary process of the cannabis plant. Alongside his team, Mowgli is focused on extracting and sequencing DNA from every cannabis sample collected. These findings have been placed into visualization by using the 3D map identified as the “Phylos Galaxy” that illustrates the cannabis family tree in order to create a better understanding of traits of each individual strain. With reports from 2016 indicating that Mowgli and his team have documented a total of 1,000 strains, Mowgli claims that currently his team at Phylos Bioscience have now mapped out a total of 3,000 strains, which the company shares on their website. Although Holmes is no longer on the committee, his role as a plant scientist is to continue educating and developing the cannabis industry using big data collection, technology and expertise in order to properly categorize and evaluate various strains.

With members like Mowgli and Ryan, who come from diverse fields of work, the OLCC utilizes the committee’s wide array of perspectives to review and offer advice on proposed regulations. The committee’s advice generally adds significant weight in rule making, but the overall mission of the Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee is to keep the Oregon cannabis industry thriving.

For more information regarding the OLCC and everything else that entailed with the passing of Measure 91, visit www.oregon.gov/olcc

Cannabis Changed My Life: A Journey to Cannabis Journalism

words by Skyla Patton

My life changed when I started experiencing pain, like real pain, when I was about 13- which, if you’ve ever been a 13 year old cis-gendered girl, is the worst time for just about everything. On a vacation to Washington to visit family, the dreaded mother nature finally visited. My periods were horrific, and I learned quickly that while they are unpleasant for everyone, I had particularly bad luck. For the next several years, I suffered through one week a month where I could barely get out of bed because of the fire in my gut or missed whole days of school because my skin was so bloated and sensitive it hurt. The worst of all, though, was my breast pain – I couldn’t sleep if I wasn’t on my back, and the pain didn’t stop when my period did. It was there, all the time, every day. I had to wear heavy-duty sports bras to dull the pain down, couldn’t participate fully in PE and had to have special permissions to carry ibuprofen around in my backpack.

“You’ll be fine, sweetheart. Discomfort is normal for growing girls,” hummed my women’s doctor during one of our first appointments. This was far from the last time I heard these words. Practitioners across the board ensured me that my blistering breast pain was over-exaggerated and something I simply had to deal with, a curse of womanhood. For years of my life, I believed them; I suffered through the discomfort, I took the prescription medication and I pushed through yoga classes everyone swore would eliminate my pain.

I discovered cannabis several years after mother nature wreaked havoc on my bodily happiness. Growing up in a community that was heavily immersed in cannabis culture already, even in the early 2000s, it didn’t feel like an entirely alien path, but it was absolutely considered a leisure activity. I took my first puff in a way I imagine to be similar to everyone else’s: on a camping trip, surrounded by good friends and (luckily) a lot of delicious snacks. However, that first puff changed a part of me I will never forget: my aches faded, my mind relaxed and for the first time in years, my boobs took a chill pill. I slept on my side that night on my air mattress for the first time in over four years and it felt. so. good. Weeks later, a family friend offered me a CBD/THC combination salve, Rub by Whoopi and Maya (yes, the Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Elisabeth—shout out to powerful women in business), designed specifically for menstrual pain, and I was sold. The ability to live a day of my life without continual discomfort or constant thinking about that discomfort was an overwhelming feeling of relief and gratitude. I was not interested in letting this new freedom go: I was hooked on cannabis.

This introduction to cannabis was also my introduction to a culture and world that was so much more complex and interesting than passing a blunt around while watching Survivor. I immersed myself in the intricacies of the growers around me, the labor of love of gardening medicinal plants, and the varying differences between recreational and medical cannabis users. I have been a declared journalism major since the age of 8, and started writing for The Emerald in my freshman year after being connected by a friend. The neurons in my brain lit up when the idea of a cannabis magazine was brought up during our weekly meeting for Emerald Essentials; and thus, Green Eugene was born. This was an opportunity for me to connect my interest with cannabis culture to my passion for journalism, and I jumped on the pitch right away. Writing stories for Green Eugene opened up my mind to new possibilities and the massive potential that a cannabis magazine could have; I want to erase the stigma of cannabis use, enlighten the public and blaze the trail of cannabis journalism.

When I became a regular consumer of cannabis, the stigma of cannabis use pushed back, hard. I felt the harsh connotation of being a cannabis user: suddenly I was lazy, unmotivated. The door to other “hard” drugs had somehow magically opened through the gateway of smoking pot. These stigmas confused me as they were so different from the stoners I had grown up and interacted with; business owners, loving parents, talented artists and many more. I’ve been a proud and active member of Rotary International since the 6th grade, and suddenly I was fearful of these huge, older-generation role models in my life turning mutinous because of my choice of healing. The same Rotarians who insisted that their stereotype (stale, male and pale) was inaccurate (it is) continued to believe that the stereotypes about cannabis users were fact (they’re not). This tug-o-war of stereotypes hurt me and took years to overturn in my own mindset.

Stereotypes are harmful, inaccurate and oftentimes born out of a fear of the unknown, a fear of change. A huge goal of mine and many others in the cannabis industry is to push the stigma against reefer madness out of the limelight and replace it with a sentient of healing, growth and innovation. Cannabis  made me feel better, and that was a simple enough reason for me.

For all of the period-havers, young or otherwise, out there who are grappling with intense pain: your pain is not something you have to live with. Your doctor should listen to you when you say you hurt and they should not dismiss it because of your time of the month. Listen to your pain, seek out your answer (cannabis related or not) and do not take no for an answer during the pursuit of relief.

I live for producing this awesome publication for y’all, and it’s an honor to be able to share my story on a platform I’m so proud of. Cannabis, for me, was transformative, offering pain relief and the ability to live my life without daily discomfort. It was also a launchpad into a career that I love and truly feel I can stand behind. My hope is that other female-identifying ladies like me can learn to do the same: demand that the world believe your pain, push past stigmas that hold you back and use that same attitude to make a path for yourself. You can do it.
(Disclaimer: I was able to shrug off stereotypes and make it to where I am today due to my undeniable privilege as a white, middle class woman. Mass incarceration for cannabis possession, violence and discrimination affects people of color every day in our country and is being lost in the waves of legalization and commodification. We cannot endorse legalization without demanding decriminalization. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/marijuana-legalization-and-regulation for information on decriminalization and how to get involved in your area.)

Runner’s High

words by Josh Delzell
photos by Connor Cox

Lazy, dull and careless; all stereotypes to describe stoners.  While it can be nice to give in to couch lock and watch a movie, not all “potheads” are lazy, despite what cultural stigmas may have you believe. Many stay active, and while the science is still murky on whether or not cannabis is beneficial to an active lifestyle, many swear by it. Active runners have said that it helps them push through the pain of a workout because of the high. Former NBA player, Matt Barnes, swears by cannabis use. Barnes said “All my best games I was medicated,” in an interview by Bleacher Report for their B/R x 4/20 piece. While most professional athletes are still hesitant to discuss their cannabis use, recreational athletes can talk more candidly about their consumption. Take Ruben Estrada for instance.

Estrada, a senior at the University of Oregon, has been active for most of his life. “Running has been a hobby of mine for a while,” he said. “I’ve played soccer since I was kid.” Estrada tries to get in a strenuous workout at least three days a week, and he does this all while utilizing cannabis.  He declared that he smokes every day,— following up with a clarification that he typically doesn’t smoke before classes, but occasionally indulges in the classic wake and bake on weekends.

Estrada even used to actively run after a smoke sesh. “It depends on the strain,” he said. “But with a sativa, a two hour plus run, even when the high was coming down, I still felt a little boost to add onto the runner’s high.” Estrada reflected on competing in the last Eugene Marathon. “My parents kind of made me do it. They didn’t force me or anything, but they started to really get into fitness by the end of my high school career.” Estrada felt as if he was getting ‘lazy’ while his parents were whipping themselves into shape. “My dad ran the Portland marathon, and my mom ran the half. I was like ‘dang, they’re in their 40’s, I can do this too!’” Estrada also wanted to challenge the ‘pothead’ stereotype in a way. “It was fun taking a bong rip and following up with a two and half hour run, and thinking, ‘most people won’t do this.’”

Estrada wanted to push back against the stigma of cannabis being detrimental to an active lifestyle, when in reality, it’s more common than you’d think.  “There are so many people that use it, that are professionals and are active on a daily basis.” Despite connotations, some people use cannabis and still go for a run or hit the gym. “I ran a marathon, and there are a lot of people who don’t smoke cannabis that didn’t. So, you can laugh your way to the bank knowing you’re doing stuff others aren’t even when they doubt your lifestyle.”

Estrada unfortunately suffered a knee injury during the marathon. “It was the classic, ‘mile 22 will get ya’,” he said. He suffered an LCL injury, and is currently doing rehabilitation for his knee, but unfortunately doesn’t run as much as he used to. However, Estrada continues to use cannabis as a pain reliever for his knee. “It’s a great pain reliever, it relaxes the pain.” THC and CBD have many anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it an effective pain reliever for active lifestyles. THC also relaxes the nervous system which can help with muscle spasms.  “I work for UO Concessions, so I worked all the football games, and I would end up running around 10 to 12 miles a game,” he said. “So at the end of the day, my knee was pretty sore… cannabis made it easier to go to sleep without a nagging injury keeping me up.” Estrada uses cannabis infused topical cream for his knee. He likens these topicals to Icy Hot. “You can slap it on your knee, back, shoulders or anything. It’s a great soother and relaxer,” he said.

Despite the benefits that cannabis provides to athletic lifestyles, it is still banned in most high profile athletic events. The Olympics and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) lists cannabis as a performance enhancing drug, due to “having the potential to enhance sport performance” and “representing an actual or potential health risk to the athlete,” according to the USADA Marijuana FAQ page. However, according to a study done by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, no evidence was found of cannabis being a performance enhancing drug. They even touched on the potential cannabis could have to help with traumatic brain injury after further research. “There is no science that says it’s a performance enhancing substance in the context that it gives you an unfair advantage,” said Estrada. “There are ex-NBA players that have come out saying they used it, and it was their saving grace [for their injuries]. I would like to see a time where people  start to understand and empathize with the medical benefits from it, because I see it as a really therapeutic substance.”

With evidence that indicates cannabis can help athletes, it remains banned by high level athletic competitions. Many stigmas about cannabis come from a lack of knowledge and experience. People like Estrada challenge old stigmas and show that cannabis doesn’t make one lazy; how you use cannabis is up to you and your personal lifestyle. While reflecting on his experience in the Eugene Marathon, Estrada left with an anecdote that sums up what it’s like being an athlete that uses cannabis: “At the marathon I was wearing a t-shirt that had a pot leaf on it, and at mile 20 when I was feeling it a little, there was a group of people and one of the guys yells ‘Yeah! Powered by weed!’ and that was a motivator!”

Vaporizers: better for you and your bud

words by Bryan Dorn | photos by Dana Sparks

As marijuana tiptoes towards legalization and legitimacy all over the world, healthy and effective methods of consumption are popularizing. Alternatives to smoking such as edibles, topicals and vaporizers have stepped up to the plate, each with their own pros and cons. However, vaporizers may be the latest and greatest option for consumers looking for the respiratory relief of using edibles and topicals without the slow onset.

“I would smoke a spliff like every night basically,” esays Shae Wirth, musician and marijuana enthusiast. “When I would wake up and try to play the horn I just didn’t have the amount of power behind my lungs as I had before. So I finally was like alright this has gotta change.”

Wirth got his first herbal vaporizer, the Da Buddha, in his freshman year of college in an effort to minimize the smell associated with marijuana smoke — a vaporizer is a device that converts herbal and/or concentrate material into vapor, typically for inhalation. However, the lack of portability made strictly vaporizing difficult for Wirth. It wasn’t until Wirth’s junior year of college that he purchased the portable vaporizer known as the Pax 2, and committed to herbal vaporizers as his regular form of consumption. Wirth describes the difference as night and day. After buying a portable unit and sticking to it, Wirth realized that vaporizers were not only a different way to consume, but a better way.

“If you do wanna smoke a lot, just vape. Because I’ve found it really doesn’t affect my lungs,” says Wirth. “I know tons of music majors who really struggle with this— they’re like coughing in rehearsal and shit —and I’m just like get a vape. That’s the solution, get a vape.”

Vaporizers come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with many having temperature control features. These devices most often take on two forms in the marijuana industry— desktop and portable. Desktop vaporizers, such as Wirth’s Da Buddha, plug into the wall and are typically larger and more expensive than portable vaporizers. Meanwhile, portable vaporizers run on battery power and are typically smaller than desktop units, such as Wirth’s Pax 2. “Usually my friends are kind of hesitant, because they’re like ‘oh vaping that’s kind of  whatever,’ but as soon as they try it they usually like it.

An experiment from 2004 published by the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics found that marijuana vapor contained three non-cannabinoid compounds while marijuana smoke contained 111— five of which were known organic pollutants that have proven toxic and carcinogenic effects. One of the three non-cannabinoid compounds found in the vapor was the terpene caryophyllene.  Terpenes are organic compounds that gives each marijuana strain it’s distinct smell and flavor profile.

It’s no secret that different compounds boil at different temperatures. The same is true for the various compounds found in marijuana. Vaporizers with precise temperature controls allow marijuana smokers to dial in the high they are looking for by tapping into the various terpenes and cannabinoids associated with the product. This means consumers could experience a whole different suite of compounds, from the same buds, by vaporizing at a different temperature.

Studies have yet to accurately test the differences between an all-vape and an all-smoke lifestyle for marijuana users over a long period of time, and a lot of the research around it is still up in the air. This leaves users to find out the possible health benefits of switching to vaporizers on their own.

While vaporizers may seem like the be-all end-all of healthy marijuana consumption at first, many users still prefer to smoke. According to University of Oregon senior Ryan Lemoine, marijuana consumer, many people complain about vaporizers not hitting as hard or being too expensive. “All types of smoking are very different, like a bong rip is going to hit you immediately and you’ll probably be coughing,” says Lemoine. “Vape smoke definitely lasts a lot longer, and it’s less intense for sure.” This lower intensity means using vaporizers can take more time to get high and have more of a learning curve, according to Lemoine.

Many people can also be deterred by the price of vaporizers. While a small oil pen typically won’t make a large dent in your wallet, some desktop vaporizers can cost up to $600 for the unit alone. These high costs are not easily overlooked by consumers who aren’t planning on vaping regularly or have a tighter budget. However, for consistent consumers who enjoy puffing herb more regularly, the pros and cons of looking for alternatives should certainly be considered.

Quality herbal vaporizers are not commonly stocked at local smoke shops, but it never hurts to look. The popular portable Pax vaporizer can be found at smoke shops such as Midtown Direct. However, websites like Puffitup and Planet of the Vapes have a much wider range of options than smoke shops near campus. Those looking into purchasing a vaporizer should consider multiple options to see what will best fit their price range and lifestyle.