What’s Up with Vapes?

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

Cannabis vape pens, nicotine vape oil and nicotine vape pens have been around for less than 10 years, and there has been little research on the safety of inhaling these products. Recently, vaping has caused a lot of fuss within the cannabis industry. Patients have reported variations of symptoms including cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and even weight loss. 

According to the most recent update by the CDC, 2,668 cases of illnesses related to nicotine or cannabis vapes have occurred, with 60 deaths having been reported so far. Among these patients, 1,782 of them reported which substance was being vaped, with 82% reported using THC containing products, while 33% reporting the use of only THC containing products. Of the affected, 50% reported where their product was sourced, with 16% having obtained them from retail businesses and 78% obtaining them from friends, online, or other dealers. 

The CDC reported that in 51 samples of lung fluid from those with a vape-related illness across 10 different states, 48 were found to have vitamin E acetate. While vitamin E acetate has been associated with vape-related illnesses, the CDC notes that there is not enough evidence to say it is the only chemical that should be of concern. The FDA states that vape injury cases are not affiliated with any single brand and more research is needed.

Many states have taken action by banning the sale of cannabis and/or nicotine vapes. Our own state of Oregon enacted a temporary six-month ban on October 4th, on the sale of all flavored vapes, both for cannabis and nicotine. However, an Oregon court of appeals established a pause on the ban on November 15th that is stated to last 60 days. As of February 5th, no ban on flavored vapes is in place. Places such as New York, Michigan and Montana also made attempts at banning the sale of vape pens, but they were also blocked by the courts. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington all put in place temporary bans that are set to expire soon. San Francisco has banned all sales of nicotine e-cigarette products. After this, several states, including Oregon, have banned adding substances such as Vitamin E acetate into vapes, as well as implemented more testing requirements to look for this substance.

So how valid is this “vaping crisis?” 

We know that cannabis, specifically the terpene pinene and the cannabinoid THC, are both bronchodilators, meaning they help open up the airways to the lungs and may even help with conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. What we don’t know is how the various extraction solvents, namely hydrocarbons such as butane, propane and hexane, along with other common additives, affect our lung health.

Within the cannabis industry, there are limited regulations for how an extract is supposed to be made. Because of this, companies are able to add synthetic and natural food-grade terpenes, something that we don’t know much about the safety of when inhaled. Common ingredients added to vapes to promote the flow of liquid to vapor include medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Additives such as these have also never been tested for long term safety when inhaled, but all three of the above have been implicated in the “popcorn lung” crisis circa 2016. Failing to add MCT oil or botanically derived terpenes to the ingredient list can lead to consequences and negative attention from the OLCC, and for good reason.

Other concerns surrounding the epidemic of vaping go back to the material used for the process. The OLCC  does not require testing for mold, mildew, or heavy metals in any cannabis product that goes to market. Only four of thirty-three states that have legalized cannabis for recreation and/or medical use require heavy metal testing. Furthermore, the requirements for pesticides vary by state, with California having the strictest restrictions. These issues pose a concern because if the contaminated flower is processed for smoking or ingestion, certain pesticides or other chemicals are toxic or can turn toxic throughout the process of consumption. Although, with extraction processes that use solvents such as CO2 and butane, some extractors say that mold can be eliminated from the final product. However, this is tricky because while the toxin may not be live, the mold spores are still present in the finished product. States like Colorado test their cannabis for mold, which allows processors to take cannabis that tested positive for mold and process it into an extract for resale as long as that end product tests free of mold.

To prevent yourself from falling into the trap of a bad vape pen purchase here are some things you should know; 

Buy only from a licensed shop. A reputable and licensed source should be the only place you purchase vape pens from. This includes not buying CBD vape pens from online distributors. Research the brand! By keeping yourself up to date with the brand, you can likely look at pictures of their grows, team members, and final products. In addition to doing your research, an important thing to look for in a brand is ones that can tell you exactly what farm supplied the flower they extract from. Avoid flavored vape pens. We all know they’re tasty but added synthetic and natural terpenes are volatile and harsh compounds. There are also no regulations on their production and sale. Although some can be a bit pricey, look for Rosin or CO2 cartridges that have less than a 10-15% total terpene count. These processes not only capture the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of the flower, but they also are some of the cleanest methods to extract oil from the plant.

Some cartridge brands that are my personal favorites include; Artifact Extracts, Echo Electuary, Happy Cabbage Farms, Oregrown, White Label Extracts, and Willamette Valley Alchemy.

Updated information on the “vape crisis” can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website, as well as from CannaSafe Labs and the American Chemical Society’s Cannabis Chemistry subdivision. 

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.

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.

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

words and photos by Emma Routley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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