Weed and Western Animation

written and illustrated by Renee Thompson

For me, the relationship between weed and animation has always been clear.

Although it goes unspoken, it is apparently a familial tradition to smoke weed and watch cartoons. First, my grandfather watching Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings in the 60’s, and then there’s present-day me: smoking a bong in the wee hours of the morning watching Ranma ½. There is a certain wonder and magic about animation, about seeing art come to life. It exposes you to different perspectives, and perhaps because people don’t take it as seriously, there is more room to explore the world of cannabis. Animation is relaxing, beautiful, and more often than not, it’s funny. This stellar combination makes watching animation the perfect companion to a cozy night in with a joint (or three).

When cannabis is ingested, perception is altered in many possible ways. While every person reacts to cannabis differently, as well as having varied responses to various strains, most people do report heightened focus abilities and other changes in their senses. Spanish vision researchers at the University of Granada in 2021 found that cannabis use does affect vision, and the participants of the Effects of cannabis on visual function and self-perceived visual quality study reported seeing halos and other small visual distortions. As someone who watches animation both sober and high, I have noticed slight color, hue, and shade changes as well as small light halos which do slightly alter the works while being under the influence. For most cannabis consumers giddiness, hunger, and fatigue are common side effects to consumption that go well together with watching a funny cartoon and eating your favorite munchies.

After consuming animated works for some time, one begins to notice repeated symbols, metaphors, and other coded language that is used to bring cannabis into the audience’s mind. In adult animated T.V. series, like The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and South Park, references to cannabis, like South Park’s Towelie, are in-your-face even if they were produced when cannabis use was illegal in the U.S. Characters in these types of shows can be seen purchasing cannabis from dealers, consuming cannabis, and may even have a designated stoner character. In some cases, watching these types of shows were many people’s first encounter with cannabis related concepts and rituals. I feel that animation is also largely affected by the creatives that make them, and since cannabis has been known to alter creativity, it makes sense that artists who may use cannabis would slip in these references into the art they make. Even though animators like Adventure Time’s Pendleton Ward, Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar, and Gravity Fall’s Alex Hirsch have been speculated by fans as cannabis users, none of them have ever made any public comments about using cannabis. 

Animation made after cannabis legalization in America, like Midnight Gospel, seem to be moving away from more joke-like cannabis use and focus on real conversations embedded in the dialogue. Midnight Gospel opens with cannabis activists being eaten by zombies as the main character, Clancy, interviews the President of the United States, played by Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction medicine specialist, about the pros and cons of drugs. Together, the characters have an in-depth conversation about sensations, experiences and research related to psychedelics. The animated fictitious tale combined with real interviews created a new type of storytelling that I had never seen before.

Animated films on the other hand, are not as cannabis-friendly as adult animated T.V. series. Most likely due to the fact that a majority are made for children. However, there are some exceptions. In the animated film Persepolis, a film based on the autobiographical comic The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Marjane recounts her use of cannabis as a way to forget about the troubles she left in war-torn Iran and connect with her new friends in Europe. In the film, which was made in France,  you see Marjane buying cannabis, consuming cannabis, and reflecting on her own use of the substance. Whether displayed as exaggerated use, as shown in shows like American Dad with the golden blunt, or a more realistic use as seen in Persepolis, adult animation is where you see the bulk of cannabis references and use.

 As for non-adult animation, references are more hidden. In season 4 of Hey Arnold!, Arnold’s grandpa insists he cannot go back to school because he, “lost too many brain cells,” and insinuates Woodstock for being partially responsible. There are also more blatant references in shows like Bob’s Burgers, which is rated 13+, but also shows the Belcher children working on an illegal weed farm and selling weed to other characters. In the realm of advertising, the partially animated Expensify commercial featuring rapper 2 Chainz, which aired during Super Bowl LIII in 2019, shows a scene where the musician helps the reindeer he is riding smoke out of a bong. In that same Super Bowl, an Acreage commercial calling for medicinal cannabis legalization was blocked from airing.

There is something extremely nostalgic about cartoons, animated films, and anime that reminds me of simpler times. Even though the days of walking to Blockbuster video to get the latest Studio Ghibli movie are over, animation has never been more accessible. Today’s streaming services offer thousands of choices, and one could watch animated works for years without watching anything twice. Animation has always been a stage to talk about real life, as distorted as some of the creations are. This is also one of the few mediums that has been able to implement cannabis culture, possibly because of the artists behind the animated works and/or the audiences that consume them. I hypothesize that as cannabis consumption becomes more normalized, we will continue to see realistic, and perhaps less humorous, cannabis use in animation. 

For those that are looking for some recommendations, here are some of my favorite animated T.V. shows and movies not yet mentioned in this article. Most of these titles are available on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or HBO Max, but you could also find some of these works at your local library.

Movies:

         1. The Secret of Kells, 2009

         2. My High School Sinking Into The Sea, 2016*

         3. Loving Vincent, 2017

         4. Disney’s Fantasia, both 1999 and 2000 versions

         5. Chico and Rita, 2010*

T.V. Shows:

         1. Bee and Puppycat, 2013

         2. Daria, 1997*

         3. Tuca & Birdie, 2019*

         4. Disenchantment, 2018*

         5. Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio, 2016*

*Related to cannabis, or has cannabis references. 

Strain of The Month: Forbidden Fruit

 written and photographed by Renee Thompson

There’s just something special about having purple flower. I don’t come into contact with it a lot, but it’s nice every once and a while to treat yourself to something different. Having an inclination to the more fruity flavor profiles, when I saw Forbidden Fruit at the dispensary, I knew I just had to have it. A cross of Tangie and Cherry Pie, this indica works great in a joint, blunt, pipe, or bong. Technically purple flower, whose color is produced with the help of anthocyanins, Forbidden Fruit is more of a mixture of dark purple and dark green accented with orange pistils, which look like little hairs or whiskers. Fun fact: anthocyanins are also responsible for the color of blueberries.

The Forbidden Fruit I sampled this month was purchased at Lucky Lion, located at 2164 W. 7th Ave. in Eugene. I personally have had nothing but great experiences with this location, the budtenders are always so helpful and kind to me. I feel that I have been extremely lucky with my timing, as I have been the only customer in the shop on a handful of occasions. Perhaps it is the steep construction of the parking lot, or the location of the shop altogether, that has kept this dispensary under the radar, but I have always found that these hole-in-the-wall dispensaries give the best service. The general layout and decoration of the shop is nice, it reminds me of visiting a rich friend’s basement. If we were not in a pandemic, Lucky Lion would be a place where one could hang out for a bit or admire the flower buds on Greek-style pedestals.

The key side effects I experienced while using Forbidden Fruit were relaxation, creativity and euphoria. If you identify as a creative-type, I strongly recommend trying Forbidden Fruit. Unlike some indicas, this strain did not put me in-dah-couch. I felt very much like cleaning, organizing and creating. While smoking this strain, out of a bong mostly, I took on to cleaning and seasoning cast irons—which is a tedious chore if you use them as much as I do. I also started to art journaling more, an activity that worked well with this strain.

While smoking Forbidden Fruit, I didn’t feel like I was using more than I usually do, even though I have been stressed out lately. The Forbidden Fruit flavor profile lives up to its name. Fruity, specifically that of tart blackberries and sweet blueberries, is the first and strongest flavor. There is also a certain tea-like or earthy flavor. If you do smoke through quite a bit of this strain, or another purple strain, you’ll find that your kief catch will be decorated in dark purple dust. Overall I would rate Forbidden Fruit a 10/10, and according to Leafly it is still available at Lucky Lion.

High Recommendations: 42° Farms Remedy Hemp Balm

written and photographed by Skyla Patton

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

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

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

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

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

Endocannabinoid Deficiency and Cannabis Use Disorder

an opinion piece written by staff writer Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex

It is my opinion that psychiatrists and psychologists may be misdiagnosing some people who use cannabis with Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD). Now, my argument is not that people cannot misuse cannabis or cannot be addicted to it. Instead, I want to focus on how some symptoms of endocannabinoid deficiency can fit in with the diagnostic profile of Cannabis Use Disorder. It wasn’t until recently that cannabis education for medical and mental health professionals became more common, and maybe even more desirable to those professionals. Let’s start with some basics. Cannabis Use Disorder is defined as having 2 or more of the following symptoms; 

  1. Cannabis is often taken in larger amounts over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or insignificant effort to cut down or control cannabis use.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use cannabis or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving or a strong desire or urge to use cannabis.
  5. Recurrent cannabis use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.
  6. Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.
  7. Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use.
  8. Recurrent cannabis use in situations which is physically hazardous.
  9. Cannabis use is continued despite knowledge of having persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems that are unlikely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis.
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either:
    1. A need for markedly increased amounts of cannabis to achieve intoxication and desired effect, or
    2. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of cannabis.
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either:
    1. The characteristic withdrawal symptoms for cannabis, or
    2. A closer related substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Again, I am not saying that cannabis is not addicting or that people don’t misuse it. It is very understandable for criteria such as failing to fulfill major obligations due to your use of cannabis to be cause for a CUD diagnosis. I generally agree with criteria 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9. The reasons I didn’t include 1, 4, and 8 are because I think that they can be easily misinterpreted in sessions, however, they do have standing when paired with other criteria and situations. For criteria 10 and 11, this is where I think endocannabinoid deficiency can provide a different explanation.

Cannabis tolerance is still a new research topic. It is very dependent on one’s own endocannabinoid system, for example, some people have developed a high tolerance in order to function on their dosage of medication. Some doctors may misinterpret this high dosage use of cannabis to indicate the cannabis tolerance is negative. One withdrawal symptom of cannabis is stated to be a lack of appetite, but what if that is the reason you choose to medicate with cannabis? Other withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, depression and irritability, several of the many reasons why people choose to medicate with cannabis in the first place. Therefore, it would make sense that these symptoms would occur when cannabis use is stopped. However, therapists and other mental health professionals often stigmatized the use of cannabis and may misdiagnose their patients, creating a problem that does not exist.

Humans have two major endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Research has found that the endocannabinoid system in humans plays a large role in several bodily processes and functions, including ones that occur in the above-mentioned conditions. The purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis. When someone is deficient in certain endocannabinoids, this can cause dysregulation of that homeostasis, which in turn may be the possible cause of several conditions and symptoms. Endocannabinoid deficiency has been suggested to be the cause of several types of disorders that before have not been found to have a specific cause. Conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, glaucoma, bipolar disorder, and more have all been suggested to be linked to endocannabinoid deficiency. 

As an example, let us take a brief look at migraines and the endocannabinoid system. From 1843 to 1943 when cannabis was put on Schedule I, cannabis was one of the main treatments for someone suffering from a migraine. While there are limited human clinical trials, the case studies and survey research that have been conducted have shown that cannabis use may help to treat migraines. From the research that has been done, individuals who suffer migraines show decreased anandamide and 2-AG levels. CBD acts via the TRPV1, a specific cannabinoid receptor, and also limits the production of the enzyme fatty acid amidohydrolase (FAAH) which is responsible for the breakdown of anandamide. THC on the other hand activates the CB1 receptors which may help treat migraines by potentially inhibiting the trigeminovascular system which plays a huge role in migraines and headaches. Supplementing with cannabis, THC and CBD can help bring the endocannabinoid system back into homeostasis. 

In addition to phytocannabinoids, there are things that an individual can do to naturally boost the body’s endocannabinoid system. We call these “cannabimimetic agents” and they include activities such as exercising, eating foods, or taking supplements high in Omega-3 fatty acids. 

Activities such as these help to boost your body’s endocannabinoid system without using any part of the cannabis plant. While you may be able to boost your endocannabinoid system without cannabis, there are still many unknowns when it comes to treating things like migraines, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. If using cannabis helps mediate symptoms than your standard pharmaceuticals, then the concern needs to be focused on researching why cannabis is working to treat that disorder instead of stigmatizing and misdiagnosing patients.

References

Russo E. B. (2016). Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 1(1), 154–165. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0009 

Cannabis and The Climate

written and photographed by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

Budtender Spotlight: Corey Yula at New Millennium

written and photographed by Kaylynn Wohl

How long have you been in the cannabis industry?

I’ve been working at New Millenium for the last two years. Before that, about three or so months working for a farm that my friends had just started. So it was early plant development and setting up the framework for how they were hoping to have things run.

Do you think those three months at the farm prepared you for working at a dispensary?

Definitely. It kind of gave me the knowledge to know what it looks like on the farm end of things. Any facet of the cannabis industry is important to know when it comes to being a budtender just because you never know what kind of questions you’ll get from people.

What kind of questions do people ask you? Anything strange?

I get weird questions all the time. It seems to be from older folks who are used to the old way of how it used to be where they would get what they got and use old terms to describe. So when I ask if they’re into sativa or indica more, or if they have any experience with CBD, they kind of look at me like I’m asking if they believe in aliens or I’m speaking in another language.

Why did you choose to join the industry for work?

I felt a passion for cannabis. I noticed the benefits that it could provide, and it just made sense with my customer service background. I just felt like it would be really cool to be able to direct people towards the thing that will work best for them, whether it’s flower, edibles, or topical. Making sure they leave with a product that’s going to work for them but also a positive experience makes me feel like I’m doing a good thing. I’m also raising awareness for cannabis in general. There’s still that stigma in a lot of places that treats it like this terrible thing. In 2021, I just think it’s time to get the bad stigma out and focus on helping people. So many people of so many walks of life could benefit from cannabis.

Do you feel like a weed expert due to how long you’ve been there?

In a way. The industry is constantly changing and especially now with more states legalizing and they’re able to do more research. My expertise is only applicable so long before more research comes out; it’s constantly evolving. It’s exciting to be able to learn about all of these new things. My job is to guide these people towards a product that’s going to work for them, so in a way I’m learning all this new stuff too. It never gets old. But yeah, I’m a weed expert.

How has your job changed during the pandemic?

It’s been a lot of back and forth. Early on there was a lot of frustration with people not being able to smell the flower they wanted to get. A lot of people depend on their senses, and taking that away was difficult. As it’s gone on, people have become more understanding. It’s taken away a large portion of the experience though and they rely on us to be their guide more than before. They’re trusting us completely. Other than that, dealing with minor logistical things: deliveries for pop tops and our red warning stickers that go onto everything have a bigger delay, so that’s something we’ve had to keep in account for when ordering. A couple different times, we stopped allowing people coming into the store completely. At that point, we have to go off of their questions and look at everything we have and try to find what will fit their requests most specifically. There’s a lot more responsibility on the budtenders part.

How has your relationship with cannabis changed since becoming recreationally legal in Oregon?

To be honest I didn’t have too many experiences with cannabis before that. The ones I had were kind of negative. The psychoactivity was nerve wracking for me. I started trying new things, whether it was edibles or just flower. Cannabis taught me a lot about myself. I was able to recognize my anxiety by name, and I’m grateful for that. Since it became legalized, I’ve had opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and saw what it’s all about to form my own conclusions. A general respect has occurred over time.

When did you first try cannabis? Can you describe the situation?

The first time was around 2013. I drove up to Seattle with a close friend of mine, and it had just become legal there. A guy at the dispensary recommended us a joint. It was called Orange Dream. I’ll never forget the strain, and I’ve never seen it since. We had a plan to go smoke it at a park and see a movie. We didn’t get that far because I crashed my car into a friend of a friend’s car and ruined the day. I was totally sober. Probably anticipating the experience freaked me out. Later that night, my friend and I decided to smoke the joint. I sat down on my cousin’s couch and just stared at the wall. I swear I left the room. I’ve never had an experience like that since. I genuinely feel like I wasn’t even there. Honestly it was a terrible, terrible time. It held me back a long time from trying it again, but I did, and I had another bad experience. Then I tried it again later on, and it got progressively better as I started to understand the feeling. Avoid Orange Dream.

Do you have a favorite strain and why is it your favorite?

Not really. I think I’ve allowed myself to be open to really everything. So I go into each joint, each edible and be ready to see where it will take me. I like finding a joint with a really good flavor. Sometimes I’ll get a high that will get me really giggly and puts me in a great mood. It’s just so diverse, and it’s one of my favorite things about it to be like ‘okay what did I get today and what’s it going to do to me?’ Maybe it’s Orange Dream after all.

What’s your favorite method of consumption?

I’d definitely say joints. I think I have an oral fixation; I pick my hands sometimes, and I used to smoke cigarettes. I think joints naturally filled a certain predisposition with having my hands needing to be doing something. Plus it’s really nice to watch it burn.

What’s your favorite thing to do when stimulated by cannabis?

I use it most nowadays in my personal time, because I never know how it will play on my anxiety. I like to do creative writing or playing video games. If I have a good, visually interesting movie, I’ll light up before.

What do you do when you aren’t at New Millenium?

I hang out with my cats, I smoke weed, I play video games. I’ve been obsessed with New Girl lately. I feel like I’ve wasted all these years not watching it. Writing here and there. Otherwise, just staying inside and chilling out. I’m honestly worried for whenever the pandemic ends, and I’ll be expected to do stuff outside of my house. I might fake my own death…

What’s so special about New Millenium?

New Millenium genuinely tries to provide high quality products for affordable pricing. And I mean that. Before working there, I would go to different dispensaries to find prerolls. I was surprised how many don’t offer houserolled prerolls, and I was surprised how pricey they could be. We consistently have $2 prerolls. Half of the strains we have in flower we try to have in prerolls so people can try it before buying an ounce of it. In 2021, cheap weed should be the way of the world to give people their medicine—we’re not Big Pharma!

Is there anything you’d want the public to know about utilizing dispensaries during the pandemic?
Be understanding with your budtenders. Know that we are all experiencing the same thing you are. A lot of us are overworked, have lost family members or been forced to sacrifice as well. We are trying our absolute best to do what we’ve always done: to provide you a great experience, good quality cannabis and something that will help you out. We’re doing our best. We’re all people.

Budtender Spotlight: Desirae Taylor from the Greener Side

Written and photographed by Jassy McKinley

What made you want to get into the cannabis industry?

Well originally my mom had a medical marijuana card, and she actually started getting her card in 2001. So I was about eleven or twelve years old then, and my parents weren’t shy about it being an open thing. Honestly, it helped my mom turn around 150 percent. She was a recovering alcoholic, and she still is eighteen years sober to this day. I think it’s partly because of marijuana. When I saw that it essentially saved her life in that aspect, it really got me to understand there is more to helping people than just pills and what the doctors prescribe on a daily basis. Twenty pills a day weren’t doing what one to two bowls of marijuana would do for her in that aspect of healing. So once I started getting into it right out of high school, I got my own medical marijuana card and started doing my own research. Eventually after getting into dispensaries as a medical patient, I got to know a lot of the owners. I got hooked up with one of the owners here in town at the Flower of Life originally and she hired me as a budtender. That was before it was recreationally legal. So I started as a medical budtender then became a recreational budtender and that was about 6 years ago.

Would you say your mom shaped the way you got into the industry?

Absolutely. I’ve seen what she’d been through, I’ve seen it all too commonly. Looking at it from a medical standpoint, it’s definitely fueled my way of looking into more natural resources as far as treating people in the medical industry and stepping away from pharmaceuticals. I personally don’t take any pharmaceuticals. I treat it all with marijuana. You read about these diseases, and then you look at what marijuana has done for those people. When you see these stories and hear them over and over again and you’ve seen it for yourself, you can’t deny those results. They may not come from a scientist or a doctor necessarily, but when you have a person stand in front of you who had a death sentence three years ago you have to wonder, how?

What is your favorite strain of all time?

My favorite strain of all time would be white widow, if i had to pick just one. There’s something about the taste, the smell, the high. It all around compliments me and who I am, and the type of high I enjoy at the end of the day.

When did you first try Cannabis? Could you walk me through your experience?

Despite my parents growing in my house I didn’t actually try it until I was eighteen. I wanted to wait, a lot of the kids were peer-pressuring so I was around it and I was aware of it but it happened to be with a group of friends. It was an interesting experience because it was like ten of us in this group, so I don’t think I really got stoned at that point because everyone was passing it around so maybe I got like one hit off of the bowl. A week later I smoked a joint with a friend and it was just between the two of us, and that’s when I really got stoned for the first time. I lived in a small town so we smoked at the boat dock and right after we had finished a cop rolled up and I was so stoned. My friend had smoked before so they were fine but I was just staring at the cop and he was asking me if I was okay. My friends were like “she’s fine! she’s fine! she’s tired!” I was just thinking how much trouble I could have been in.

How long have you been a budtender?

In the broader span of being a budtender, I did take a little bit of a break in the six years for about four to five years I took maternity leave. But for the greener side I’ve been here for about 2 years.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding and favorite part of my job is the people. Being able to interact with them and have that relationship that I have with them is my favorite part. When you spend 40 hours a week away from your family this becomes your 2nd family.

Have you experienced any challenges/successes lately? 

The challenges haven’t been as big lately I feel the industry has really taken a jump forward, especially since COVID has happened. That might seem a little weird to some people but budtending has sped up for sure.

What would you want people to know about being a budtender?

 Some people think it’s kind of an easier job since you just sell weed but I think that’s what kind of sets our dispensary apart, because here we want to be knowledgeable and we want to know about the products. Don’t be shy, be picky about what you want because that’s what your budtender is there to do for you.

What is something you take pride in your dispensary?

 We take pride in definitely what we order and what goes on the shelf. We care about what everyone is getting, we double check everything we put out, and we don’t want to put stems in there. We want to make sure if we wouldn’t buy it then we wouldn’t sell it to the public. That’s another thing I love about it here.

What do you hope to see in the future for the cannabis industry?

 Legality across the board is number one and I think a lot of people can agree with that, and I’m talking federally legal. It’s definitely keeping the pharmaceuticals on the board, and from having marijuana being discovered for taking care of tumors and cancer elements.

Do you have a favorite quarantine munchie?

 Ben and Jerry’s jamoca ice cream had me there for a couple of months. I think that’s what contributed to my ten pounds from quarantine.

Is there anything you would like the community to know?

It’s a really fun industry. Anyone thinking to get into it and you’ve been second guessing yourself: don’t. Just go for it, I kind of did and I am not regretting it. Now ten years after  thinking back to all the college applications I was doing, what career I was getting pushed into. I realized I was settling for something  I wasn’t really passionate about and when you’re passionate about something you love that makes every day your job. If you want to get into the industry now is the time to definitely get in and start doing it before the rest of the United States takes off. Opportunities are waiting especially for the rest of them around the corner and I know there’s a ton of states on the ballot for medical and recreational marijuana this year here in a couple of weeks. So definitely get out there and vote! Your voice definitely matters at this point in time if you want to see marijuana become the way of the future, it’s just a matter of time. We could use all the voices.

Campfire Cannabis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannabis, COVID-19, and our Lungs

Written By Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Danny Avina

Shortly before the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, the US was suffering another lung crisis. Vape pens were all over the news in 2019 for reports of illnesses and deaths related to smoking them. The most recent update by the CDC was on February 18th, 2020. It showed that there have been 2,807 cases of illnesses related to nicotine or cannabis vapes, with 68 deaths. Among these patients, 2,022 of them reported which substance was being vaped, with 82% reported using THC containing products, while 33% reporting the use of exclusive 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. Overall, since the last article in February, there has not been a large rise in cases. However, it’s possible that the pandemic took front row for CDC priorities and it simply was not viable to keep reporting vaping illnesses, especially with what we know about the virus.

As a recap from the last Cannabis & The Lungs piece, we know that cannabis, specifically the terpene pinene and the cannabinoid THC, are both bronchodilators. As a bronchodilator, they help open up the airways to the lungs and may even help with conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. However, there are several ingredients that companies have been found to use in vape cartridges that have not shown to be safe for vaping—or have not been tested for inhalation safety at all. These ingredients include MCT oil, natural and artificial flavorings and non-cannabis derived terpenes.

So far, the vaping crisis seems to have been subdued and the focus has been shifted. Other than Colorado, no other states pursued permanent bans on anything other than Vitamin E acetate. Currently, in Oregon, the OLCC is in the process of putting together a cannabis vape-additive ban which would ban all additives other than natural cannabis-derived terpenes. This means no more natural and artificial flavoring, no non-cannabis-derived terpenes, and no MCT oil or other additives. California has similar pending legislation but it would allow for botanically derived terpenes and other natural flavors. 

More recently, COVID-19 and cannabis have been in the news as researchers have been scrambling to find some sort of medicine that can help ease symptoms and/or treat the effects of the virus. As mentioned in the paragraphs above, we know that THC and pinene are bronchodilators. Currently, researchers have been analyzing CBD and specific terpene formulations for potential to help fight against the virus. 

CBD has been found to be an ACE2 inhibitor and it reduces inflammatory cytokine production. The inhibition of ACE2 expression plays an important role in how COVID-19 enters host cells. When ACE2 expression is inhibited, the virus has a more difficult time entering a host cell. In relation to cytokine production, COVID-19 creates what is called a “cytokine storm.” This cytokine storm is the release of so many cytokines that they become harmful to the host cells. Researchers in Israel are currently looking at CBD in combination with a terpene formulation. This terpene formulation is a blend of 30 various terpenes that have shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. While the research has not gone through any clinical trials, the results the research has produced is promising information. 

Neither the author nor Green Eugene endorses anything in this article as medical advice for treating or curing COVID-19. If you are having symptoms please get tested and speak with your doctor. Remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing out in public spaces, and avoid large crowds.

High Recommendations: THC Facemasks

written by Renee Thompson, photographed by Kimberly Harris

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

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

Pore Cleansing Mask 

Ingredients:

-½ lemon

-1 ½ tsp. honey

-1 tsp. of THC infused coconut oil

Instructions:

1. Cut lemon in half.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Wash off with warm water. 

Tightening Mask

Ingredients:

-1 egg white

-⅓ cup plain uncooked oats

-2 tsp. THC infused coconut oil

-2 TBS. plain yogurt

Instructions:

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

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

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

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

5. Cover your face avoiding your eyes and mouth.

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

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

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

Nourishing Mask

Ingredients:

-½ ripe avocado

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

-2 ½ tsp. THC infused coconut oil 

-1 TBS. honey

Instructions:

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

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

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

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

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

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