What’s happening with the MORE Act?

Written by Megan McEntee

Legislators are working on our nation’s next step in healing the wounds from the war on drugs. But what is it, and why should we support it? Here is everything you need to know about the current landscape of federal decriminalization.

What is the MORE Act?

The MORE Act, also known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, is a comprehensive plan to better incorporate cannabis into a federally legal market. Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – a law that regulates certain drugs on a tiered scale according to their potential risk of abuse and dependence. There are five tiers to this system, and federally, cannabis sits on the same tier as heroin and LSD. The MORE Act would deschedule cannabis from the CSA, erase criminal penalties and create a safer space in the United States for laborers and consumers in the industry.

Why do we want to pass it?

Other than the obvious benefit of federal decriminalization – being able to consume legally – there would be countless benefits if the bill passes. Primarily, it would allow cannabis to be regulated for consumer safety, call for the release of marginalized and incarcerated individuals for small cannabis violations and help phase the plant out of the illicit market. If cannabis were federally legal, the FDA would be able to conduct more research on the medicinal benefits as well. Overall, the MORE Act would be a huge step in the de-stigmatization of cannabis and a safer market for everyone involved. It would also create a safer environment for consumers, because it would help create a landscape in which citizens can consume without fear of repercussions. 

What has happened so far?

The bill first passed the House of Representatives in 2020 but did not end up passing the senate. It was reintroduced in May of 2021 and passed the house again on April 1, 2022. The vote was mostly divided on party lines with support on the left. 

What still needs to happen?

The MORE Act is expected to face opposition in the senate. It remains divided on party lines, with only three republican backers at this point. Additionally, the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has introduced an opposing bill: The Cannabis Administrative and Opportunity Act. The two competing bills may create a deadlock, resulting in little to no progress in this session of Congress. The Senate vote date has not been announced yet, but democratic senators are pushing to introduce the bill prior to the recess in August.

Other provisions in the bill – so stoners can read it:

  • Legal documents must call it cannabis instead of marijuana
  • Race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality statistics on cannabis business owners and employees must be published regularly
  • Creates a trust fund for people and businesses impacted by the war on drugs
  • Imposes taxes on various parts of the cannabis manufacturing, importing and exporting processes
  • Provides loans available to cannabis-related businesses
  • Protects federal benefits – such as Social Security – for people who engage in the cannabis community
  • Protects benefits for immigrants who engage in the cannabis community
  • Creates an expungement process for people with federal cannabis offenses
  • Requires the government to study the societal impact of decriminalization
  • Requires the government to study the true signs driving under the influence of cannabis
  • Requires the government to study the cultural impact of legal cannabis, specifically on schools and workplaces 

High Recommendations: Papers + Ink and the “Art of Rolling”

Written and photographed by Lily Brennan 

I don’t know about you guys, but when I want to celebrate 4/20 I want to make it feel special. When you’re an everyday cannabis consumer it can be difficult to find just the right thing to make your holiday stand out from any other smoke sesh. I’ve finally discovered the cure for my own desires and added some spark to the process, and I’m stoked to bring you guys along the way. Papers + Ink’s Rolling Paper Kits adds a bit of color, fun and sophistication to your regular routine, perfect for celebration.

Papers + Ink Studio is a BIPOC female led collective with a mission to create products for the sophisticated smoker, rebranding rolling papers through the lens of the Art of Rolling™. “Tired of outdated stereotypes that didn’t reflect who we are,” the founders of Papers + Ink state, “we created the products that didn’t yet exist for us.” And that’s exactly what they did. With just a quick glance of their website, you can find sleek flameless lighters, ornate glass ashtrays, and even a cute little “nug sweeper” in the shape of a toy car. However, they’re most known for their Rolling Paper Kits, ethical and cruelty-free patterned rolling papers.

Inspired by travels, vintage textiles, botanicals and the occasional collaborator influence, Papers + Ink currently carries sixty-two unique patterns. They even have the option to order custom prints as well! What I’ve selected for myself to review are their prints Lukas Shrooms, an adorable cartoon print of the classic toadstool mushroom; Tie Dye Fantastic, exactly what your hippie dreams could imagine; and Party Plant, a colorful spackle of marijuana leaves – perfect for a 4/20 celebration.

When purchasing their Rolling Paper Kits you have two options to select from. First is their $28 Full Kit, consisting of 15 “queen-sized” rolling sheets, 15 premium filters, a bamboo packing tool, and even a How-to-Roll Guide. Their second option is then a $14 Mini Pak, consisting of 5 “king-sized” rolling sheets and 5 premium filters; perfect for sampling without a commitment. Both have sheets made with organic unbleached hemp rolling papers which are then printed with non-toxic vegetable based colorings. No matter the choice, you’ll be delivered a package with items of the highest quality.

It would be an understatement to say I was waiting eagerly for my package of goodies to arrive in the mail, and was pleasantly surprised when my papers came earlier than expected and in beautiful condition! As soon as I opened up my Papers + Ink haul I could tell just by its packaging that this experience would be vastly different from using any old papers you’d find in a store. It says a lot about a company when they take the extra time to design packaging that is unique, sturdy and individualized to the brand. The presentation alone made me feel like the “sophisticated smoker” they were advertising towards.

The papers themselves are incredibly smooth to roll with, made out of paper that glides together effortlessly. I especially found their lack of creases a huge bonus, something I’ve personally struggled with other papers in the past. The Full Kit seems like a perfect purchase for rolling beginners, as it gives you all the tools you’ll need for a successful roll! Still a little nervous? No worries, as Papers + Ink even includes video tutorials on how to use their kits on their website.

I’m incredibly impressed with the prints as well. Vegetable-based inks are usually difficult to achieve vibrant colors, but Papers + Ink have nailed their dyes for their consumers. Mixing their Mini Paks gives you the option to sample and explore all these colorful patterns they’ve designed. You’ll be impressed as soon as you open their high-end packaging, and set your eyes on patterns that look identical to what they advertise on their website. And, of course, the prints look really cool while lit too.

Overall, I recommend Papers + Ink’s Rolling Paper Kits if you’re looking for papers on the more luxurious side. These papers will wow newbies, veterans and anyone in between. They’re the perfect gift for a friend, a treat-your-self purchase, or 4/20 celebration. You can catch me purchasing from them every year as fun patterned rolls become a new tradition in how I celebrate the stoner holiday.

  • Socials:
  1. @PapersAndInkSesh
  2. Papersandink.com
  3. talk@papersandink.com

Get Bak(ing)ed with these 420 Recipes!

Written by Lauren Leone, photographed by Alice Yeager

There are so many different ways to participate in 4/20, ranging from smoking your favorite bud, hitting a dab pen, using topicals, tinctures or sprays and my personal favorite: edibles.

When it comes to edibles, there are so many different kinds to choose from, the options are truly endless. For this upcoming 4/20 I wanted to challenge myself to create my own edibles, and combine my passion for cooking with my interest in cannabis. I researched easy ways to bake your own canna-butter and canna-oil that can be infused however you want. 

Treat yourself with some infused baked goods like brownies or cookies, or go a more subtle route and make some infused salad dressing or a flavorful grilled cheese sandwich to give your dish an extra kick. The possibilities are infinite.

The first step, and the most important one, is the method of decarboxylating your weed. Decarboxylation is the process that marijuana goes through to convert THC-A into THC which allows you to get high. 

Decarboxylation:

  1. Set your oven between 240-248 degrees. These are the temperatures that decarboxylation occurs at.
  2. Grind your cannabis into smaller pieces and lay out on a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Cook your cannabis in the oven for 30-40 minutes, making sure to stir your cannabis every 5 minutes. This will ensure that everything cooks evenly.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside your cannabis in an airtight container. Your cannabis should have a slightly darker color to it.

Canna-oil:

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 grams of marijuana
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 Mason jar (or any airtight container)
  • Cheesecloth

Instructions:

  1. Once your cannabis has gone through the decarbing process, you can combine it with your olive oil and begin the infusing process in 2 different ways.
    1. Cook your olive oil and cannabis in a slow-cooker/crockpot on low for 4-6 hours.
    2. Combine your oil and cannabis in a saucepan and cook on low heat for about 3 hours, stirring regularly. It is recommended to add a small amount of water to your saucepan to prevent the oil from burning.
  2. When the infusing has finished, pour your mixture over cheesecloth into your Mason jar to strain out all of the cannabis. Let your oil strain for about 10 minutes to make sure you maximize your yield.
  3. Discard spent cannabis and cheesecloth.
  4. Keep your oil at room temp and get your bake on!

Canna-butter:

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 grams of cannabis
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 Mason jar (or any airtight container)
  • Cheesecloth

Instructions:

  1. After you’ve finished decarbing your weed, melt 1 cup of butter in a saucepan over the lowest heat. Once your butter has melted, add ½ a cup of water. This will help cook everything more evenly.
  2. Stir in your cannabis and cover your pot with a lid. Let your mixture simmer for about 3 hours, stirring regularly.
  3. You can also use a crockpot or slow-cooker as an alternative by combining your butter, water and cannabis all at once and setting the temperature to low. Let this cook for 3 hours.
  4. After the 3 hours is finished, strain out the spent weed into an airtight container or jar using cheesecloth. Once you’ve finished straining, you can discard your cheesecloth and weed.
  5. Let your mixture sit for about 30 minutes, giving it plenty of time to cool before putting it in the fridge. Your butter will solidify on the top of your mixture, and you may have some excess water below which you can easily drain.
  6. Store your butter in the fridge and get your bake on!

Tips and Tricks:

Always cook your butter and oil at a low temperature to avoid burning off any cannabinoids. Additionally, it’s important to store your butter and oil in an airtight container, which will also help with the longevity of your edibles.

To help with straining, I found it super helpful to make a large bowl in the opening of my Mason jar with the cheesecloth, instead of pulling it taut. Tie a rubber band around the Mason jar and cheesecloth to hold the cheesecloth in place while you pour in the mixture for straining. This will prevent any potential spills during the straining process.

Strain of The Month: Deadhead OG

written by Mac Larsen 

The last time Jerry Garcia performed in Oregon was June 19, 1994, at the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. I was, by a technicality, in attendance at the ripe age of negative six months old. My Mom describes herself as “Dead Tolerant,” she was dragged to the show while pregnant by friends from her undergraduate years and refuses to this day to tell me if she imbibed in any of the usual extra-curricular activities that accompany a Grateful Dead concert. 

Some people think that the music you listen to can have a big influence on the tastes of your child-to-be, much like the foods that you eat can inevitably lead to culinary preferences (I’m looking at you, Taco Bell). For those that doubt this theory of musical conditioning, I would refer them to the thousands of hours of golden-age hippie jam-band songs I’ve consumed since that fateful day before I was born. 

If you weren’t born into a primordial desire to listen to graying rock stars play 20-minute guitar solos, our Strain of the Month can provide ample support for your onboarding into the jam-band lifestyle. In recent years The Grateful Dead has seen a resurgence in popularity among the vintage t-shirt wearing crowd of younger audiences, buoyed by tours fronted by early-2000’s soft-rock wailer John Mayer. 

To celebrate the high holiday this year we’re recommending Deadhead OG, an Indica-dominant hybrid combining Chemdog with SFV OG Kush. Aptly named after the fans of the good ol’ Grateful Dead, Deadhead OG is a hoppy flower perfect for a quiet night at home listening to live albums of your favorite throwback artists. Dank and floral, Deadhead OG is the sort of hybrid not so persuasive to stick you to the couch for the evening but not exactly feeling ready to run a mile at Hayward, either. 

Weighing in at a potent 22% average level for THC, Deadhead OG is a perfect strain to include in your shopping during 4/20 sales at local dispensaries such as Eugene OG or Track Town Collective. For the discerning shopper, Deadhead OG is not the sort of Indica-dominant flower that leaves you unmotivated or tired. A progressive high, Deadhead OG can provide a euphoric early phase that develops slowly into a relaxing, preoccupied sense of calm. Describing Deadhead OG is quite a bit like describing one of the best Grateful Dead shows. It features jubilant highs and calming, mysterious lows, switching between the two with ease. A cannabis classic, I recommended combining a holiday celebration with Deadhead OG with a listen to the Dead’s best Oregon concert “The Sunshine Daydream,” you won’t be disappointed. 

The Art of Reading Stoned

Written by Mac Larsen

If someone were to hypothetically ask me: Mac, I’m stoned, feeling ambitious, and want to read a book, any recommendations? I would reply: welcome to the club!

In a world filled with entertainment perfect for consuming cannabis, the stoned read has become something of a lost art. My three-word advice for anyone interested in joining the Stoned Book Club: Books. With. Pictures. So with a little help from our friends over at Books with Pictures Eugene, here are a few recommendations. 

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

The beloved author of The Giving Tree was a 20th-century renaissance man. He wrote children’s poetry, illustrated his own work, wrote “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash, and smoked an exorbitant amount of weed. Where The Sidewalk Ends provides endless amusement for adults and children alike with its witty rhymes and surreal drawings. 

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Sendak is best known for the sweeping world of Where the Wild Things Are but his real stoner standout is The Night Kitchen, a picture book so psychedelically crafted it can induce munchies in even the fullest of bellies. 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

I’ll just get right to the point, Saga is the best comic of the last 20 years. It doesn’t matter what sort of strain is your preference, Saga is a perfect companion. A Romeo & Juliet story set in space, Saga is a story so vast and one of a kind that only sitting down, rolling a joint, and diving in for yourself can really capture its magic. 

Here by Richard McGuire

Here stems from a simple yet enormously creative idea in comic writing: each page is the same space but divided up into different panels, each showing a different scene in a different time. While one panel may feature a 1950s couple slow-dancing in the bottom of the page only an empty field is shown. Reading Here is a journey not only through history but through the places that are important to us. 

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

I truly believe that the world would be a better place if high school English teachers required a full reading of Gaiman’s Sandman comic run instead of Catcher in the Rye. I like Salinger well enough, but does it include a complete revision of the history of Shakespeare, a baby gargoyle, or a convention for serial killers labeled as a cereal convention? No, it does not. Gaiman’s series was recently adapted into a Netflix series so it would be best for the ambitious reader to catch up on the entire series before Hollywood gets its greasy hands all over it.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

It feels a bit basic recommending Alan Moore’s seminal 1987 graphic novel, like telling someone to try pizza or mac & cheese. The most revered graphic novel of all time is in many ways the perfect stoned comic book reading experience. Fantastically moody and gothic, Moore critiques of a “superhero industrial complex” feel even more relevant today than they did 40 years ago. 

The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean Giraud (Moebius)

If you’re a fan of Star Wars or Dune, The Incal is a perfect satirical addition to your collection of space opera stories. Oftentimes confounding and perfectly weird, Jodorowsky’s brand of science fiction is both hilarious and mind-melting.

What It Is by Lynda Barry

Equal parts graphic novel, diary and instruction manual on writing, What It Is by Lynda Barry is guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing through its stunning use of mixed-media and the creative use of every page. If you hope to get more than just eye-popping visuals from your reading experience, What It Is can provide a jumping off point for your own artistic endeavors.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

It would be disrespectful to leave out a classic comic strip in this list of recommendations, and especially egregious to leave out the greatest of them all: Calvin and Hobbes. A fantastic choice for situations where you want your reading to act like comfort food, these collections provide plenty of timeless laughs and conversation starters for philosophical questions such as: What is Calvinball? 

The Illustrated Book of Genesis by R. Crumb

Most well known for his raunchy cartoon Fritz the Cat, R. Crumb’s The Illustrated Book of Genesis is exactly what the name entails, a completely illustrated rendition of the first book of the Bible. It features the full cast of characters and original text, while taking some rather surreal liberties in true counterculture fashion. 

Cultivating Progress: Cultiva Law

Written and photographed by Megan McEntee

Aaron Pelley made his name as a cannabis lawyer in the early 2000s. He not only won a large case, but made the argument that his client deserved to get his cannabis back. 

“That made them the first police station slash dispensary in the United States,” said Pelley jokingly. His passion for this standard of justice inspired Pelley to create what is now known as Cultiva Law. 

Cultiva Law is a firm dedicated to the cannabis industry: dealing with legal, business and compliance related cases all around the west coast. Chris Girard, paralegal and strategic operations at Cultiva, describes the firm’s ultimate goal as “the furtherance of policy and the plant.” I had the opportunity to sit down with Girard and Pelley, founder and CEO, to speak about cannabis law and the industry, as well as issues that arise within the livelihood of a lawyer in this field.

 Pelley started out as a criminal defense lawyer dealing with domestic violence and sex offense cases. After a few months, he realized that he didn’t want to represent sex offenders and domestic abusers. 

“If I was going to continue doing it, I was going to represent people committing the kind of crimes that I could see myself committing,” Pelley said. So he began representing drug-related cases. 

This was back in the early 2000s, when there were only one or two “pot” lawyers, as they were called by the general public, in each state. Once medical cannabis started rising in popularity, he began handling the corporate side of the budding industry. 

“I knew I wasn’t smart enough to host an entire corporate law firm,” said Pelley. “So I started hiring other lawyers to handle the transactional side of this.” Enter Cultiva Law. 

Cultiva thrives on its connection to the culture of the industry. Dependent on building the trust of clientele in this field, cannabis lawyers need to be well versed with both industry knowledge and an understanding of the client on a personal level. Pelley takes this aspect of the job very seriously, articulating that a relational understanding is just as important as a legal understanding of cannabis. 

“I have to be the person that they trust,” Pelley said. “These other lawyers aren’t as good if they don’t understand the culture. They don’t understand the people… and frankly, they just don’t understand the outlaw mentality.” Pelley works with a variety of clients who are trying to navigate the newly legalized industry. Many of these clients have complicated criminal histories. Pelley recognises this, stating “these guys were former outlaws, and yeah, they need to be reformed. But they come from a different place.” 

The stigma surrounding cannabis and other drugs creates this social divide, as well as the recency of decriminalization in Oregon creating a new realm of legal uncertainty. Cultiva takes measures to make sure these people feel safe in the wake of a stressful situation with the law. Whether it’s the rocket-shaped paraphernalia in the lobby of the office, the psychedelic band posters on the walls, or the laid-back demeanor of the staff, Cultiva designs every part of the experience to make clients feel safe and seen. 

Misconceptions about cannabis use, both medicinal and recreational, plague the justice system. Pelley has helped countless medical patients with legal issues. “They’re using the drug to become functional. And people that are using cannabis recreationally are functional, and they’re using it to become impaired,” said Pelley.

Let’s say someone uses medicinal cannabis to treat their epilepsy, and they get pulled over; Pelley introduced this hypothetical with a fresh perspective. 

“What do you want more? Do you want a person driving down the road that could have epileptic seizures? Or do you want somebody who’s using cannabis medicinally, and in very measured doses, in order to prevent his seizures?” Context matters in a courtroom, and the current systems in Oregon tend to lack the leeway needed to accommodate these situations, according to Pelley. 

Cannabis DUIs are a hot-button issue within the legal and law enforcement community. It is a class B traffic violation if the driver or passenger consumes cannabis while inside the motor vehicle, according to Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 811.482. There is a lot of discourse surrounding whether or not smell should be considered probable cause, especially considering possession of cannabis alone is no longer illegal in Oregon. Scent could just mean there is cannabis in the vehicle, which is legal as long as the person in possession is over 21 and the product is sealed in a closed container. 

“Smell doesn’t always equal consumption. The scent of marijuana should be no different than the smell of coffee,” said Pelley. 

Cultiva Law’s caseload is largely business-related, and as such, Girard had insights on how the fallout of the war on drugs impacted disadvantaged populations struggling to break into the industry. Directly after the commercial sale of cannabis was legalized in Oregon in 2014, the first people to start dispensaries tended to be small growers with large investors. These investment groups required startup money to be vetted, meaning the funds were examined for risk potential. 

For people who were selling cannabis in the illicit market prior to legalization, this new requirement posed an issue in moving into the legal market. 

“Ironic that they don’t want people that made a lot of money selling weed to be licensed, and make the state taxes,” said Girard. “I mean, this drug trade originally was built on an inclusiveness of all racial categories, and of all economic categories… And so when we look at the recreational market, it should be no different.” 

This has contributed to an imbalance in the industry when it comes to the racial and socioeconomic background of cannabis business owners. “It’s insane, the economic divide that’s in the industry,” said Girard, “I think that divide is also what keeps the war on drugs going… what keeps it fueled.” The Oregon government has made an effort to remedy this through social equity programs. 

In 2016, the Social Equity and Educational Development (SEED) program was introduced in Oregon. One of the initiatives in this program, the SEED grant, aims to provide more accessible licenses to people in “economically disparaged areas and discriminated groups” receive special consideration for a cannabis business license. 

“I think that we’re gonna see a lot more opportunities that then may be granted to the industry as a whole once we see the positive effects they have,” said Girard. 

One opinion seemed universal across the conversation: once cannabis is legalized federally, progress will come faster. And what we’re seeing is that the economic development that legalized commerce is providing is actually pushing the state legislature to catch up. 

For example, the DEA and USPS are currently working together on policy regarding the mailability of Delta-9 THC, due to the economic opportunities it will provide as well as the precedent set by the mailability of hemp flower. 

“We’re seeing the end to the war on drugs, not through presidential action or legislative action like we’ve been promised for so many decades by every politician. Now we’re seeing it because of the mechanisms of an industry that are forcing it to happen,” said Girard. “It’s phenomenal to watch.”

The staff at Cultiva Law are working hard to try and remedy a broken system, and an infantile industry. Whether it’s taking countless pro-bono cases, filling the pews of a courtroom, or fighting tooth-and-nail for their clients; they are making a difference that can be reflected in the tides of a developing industry and culture. “I don’t think anybody should be going to jail for a plant,” said Pelley with a wry chuckle. “I just don’t.”

 But change is happening, one small win at a time. “Change has to come slowly. Otherwise it’s too chaotic,” said Girard. “Right?” 

High Recommendations: Rebel Spirit 

Written by Annie McVay, photographed by Gustavo Del Real Figueroa

When we first discussed the importance of this issue of Green Eugene, I knew I had to find the perfect pick for High Recommendations, and had a goal in mind: the product needed to support an organization that helped those incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes. And not only a product, but one that a local Eugene dispensary carried. 

Rest assured, after reading this, you can do your part to fight mass incarceration for cannabis crimes! Rebel Spirit Cannabis Company partners and profit shares with The Last Prisoner Project, which advocates for criminal justice reform in three ways: prisoner release, record clearing through clean slate initiatives and reentry programs. Together, they create a pathway of hope and success for its constituents.

Rebel Spirit CEO Diane Downey and her husband Chris Beckler became very active in the cannabis industry, which is how they met the founder of the Last Prisoner Project, Steve DeAngelo, through his Harborside Dispensary in Oakland, California.  When they found out DeAngelo was shifting his sights to creating the Last Prisoner Project, the couple knew it was just the cause they were looking to support. Rebel Spirit was one of the first, and most charitable, cannabis companies to profit share with the Last Prisoner Project.

“We didn’t know when we got involved with Last Prisoner Project that the overwhelming majority of the 40,000 people who are still incarcerated for marijuana offenses are people of color,” said Downey. “Our continuing involvement with the Last Prisoner Project is to try and right some of the wrongs of the world. Mainly the disparity in race and the way the marijuana industry is turning out for white people versus people of color.” 

Rebel Spirit stands true to their slogan: Live free, fly high! During the 2021 Oregon Growers Cup, Rebel spirit won best pre-roll—and I understand why! The packs of pre-rolls are convenient, with each joint expertly filled with finely ground cannabis. 

There are three types of pre-roll packs: hybrid, indica and sativa. Each comes with five joints of two different signature strains, which keeps things fresh as you alternate between them. The flavor while smoking the joints is earthy and natural, all thanks to the 19-acre Willamette Valley farm, utilizing organic and sustainable horticultural practices. Rebel Spirit also prides itself on sourcing recycling-friendly materials for packaging, trying its best to avoid plastics and other unsustainable products.

As explained by Downey, the company name is in honor of family friend Uncle Mark, who was truly rebellious and embodied the spirit of testing the limits. Eventually, Mark moved out west to Oregon and found solace in the remote wilderness living off the land. He was arrested in 1992 in what was then the largest outdoor cannabis growing bust in the State of Washington. Mark refused to cooperate with authorities and remained loyal to his partners, which landed him with the mandatory minimum of ten years in federal prison. Unfortunately, in 1997, Mark passed away in prison in Lexington, Kentucky, far from his Pacific Northwest farm—with only five years of his sentence remaining. 

Downey is an alumni of the University of Oregon Honors college, where she met her best friend, Jill, who is Mark’s niece. Beckler, who is best friends with Mark’s nephew, stopped by on a condolence call and met Downey. The two fell in love. They shared a few fun years with Uncle Mark before he was incarcerated. In 2015, the couple put a mortgage on their home, bought a piece of land, and named it Uncle Mark’s Farm. Starting on the medical side, Rebel Spirit was one of the first cannabis businesses in Oregon to get its recreational license. 

“When we went to market with our product, we realized that people don’t go to a dispensary on Friday night to get their ‘Uncle Mark’ on. They go to get their rebel spirit on. And so Mark is our rebel spirit and that’s where our brand name comes from,” said Downey. 

Are you curious about other companies that support the Last Prisoner Project? Here are some brands that sell products online:

Prosecuting Peace: lasting impacts of cannabis prohibition 

Written and photographed by Gino Savaria 

The isolated backwoods of Douglas county enticed Chris Poulos as a reprieve from the excessive stimulation he was sensitive to. It seemed like a perfect first home for him and an ideal place to grow cannabis— until he spent four years immersed in a battle with Oregon’s judicial system.

Poulos shared that he has struggled with PTSD from a young age, and that he is on the autism spectrum. He said it wasn’t until he tried cannabis as an adolescent that he realized the chronic stress and dissociation he was used to was not the only way of being. 

“When you’re 15, you don’t know what the hell’s going on, but I realized ‘wow, I suddenly feel better when I use this substance,’” Poulos said. 

By his late 20s, he had grown a passion for cannabis, as well as about 70 developed plants. He said that many of his friends couldn’t grasp how he calmly produced a small farm in his house while Douglas county tended to deal harsh sentences for cannabis related crimes. To Poulos, the risks hardly registered. 

That was until Feb. 16, 1996, when two police detectives drove past numerous cautionary road signs and up Poulos’s steep gravel driveway. In an appellate brief of the incident, the two officers reported receiving an anonymous tip that led them to the backwoods residency. Poulos said that to this day, he does not know exactly where they received their information from, but suspects the electric company’s meter reader. 

Poulos said that as they spoke at the top of his drive, the lead detective identified a cannabis plant sitting in a second story window. Poulos believed this would have been far outside their vantage point. 

“They came at 10 a.m. when the sun’s fairly high and the window is more of a mirror, and yet they somehow knew there was a plant behind it. Which was stupid to leave there of course on my part, but I don’t know if there was anything I could have done at that point,” said Poulos.

He said the officers seemed to show up loaded with the information they needed to make an arrest. Yet, according to official records from the court of appeals, they failed to secure a search warrant before arriving. Although the injustice was obvious, the point was moot.

“What was interesting to me was the lead detective had a macho attitude seeming to say, ‘I’m hot shit, and I can do whatever the fuck I want. I’ll throw your ass in jail. I don’t need a search warrant,’” said Poulos.

He recounted that the officers locked him in a Roseburg jail cell for four nights. On Feb. 21st, he was released 45 miles from his home without a vehicle or money to help him get home. When he returned to his property, it was as if he had been robbed. His truck, his house, his CD collection; the state had seized it all, claiming it must have been purchased with drug money, according to Poulos. Intending to push back against the infringement on his freedom,, Poulos quickly hired Robert McCrea, an attorney based out of Eugene. 

“Back then, especially in Douglas County, they were sentencing people for 20 years. So my attorney wasn’t gung ho or like ‘we’re going to get you out of this.’ I guess he didn’t want to make any claims he didn’t know for sure,” said Poulos. 

For eight months the case loomed over his head, leaving him to simmer on the diverging paths ahead of him. He said that when the day of the trial finally arrived, the prosecution approached McCrea with what Poulos believed to be a decent offer: the state agreed to keep him out of prison as long as he pleaded guilty. 

“I think that’s usually their plan when they acquire evidence without a warrant, and most of the time people probably take the deal because they don’t want to go to jail. It’s kind of like a little scam,” said Poulos. 

Poulos said their defense was based on sound logic and McCrea appeared relatively optimistic, so he decided to deny the plea deal. They instead argued that the arresting officers lacked a warrant, and signs warning trespassers should have made it clear that Poulos did not welcome uninvited guests to his property.

According to Poulos, the presiding judge, Joan Glawe Seitz, had commented that she was familiar with the area and would have been uncomfortable driving up to his house herself. He said the case wrapped up fairly quickly and Seitz declared him innocent of the charges against him. However, the prosecution immediately filed a notice of appeal, claiming the judge was biased and the case deserved a retrial. Poulos’s relief vanished as he remained suspended in the legal system’s web. 

“They just made it as hard for me as possible. While they used tax money to pay the prosecutor, they knew I’d bleed from my own pocket. My attorney wasn’t gonna do the appeal for free,” Poulos said. 

With the state still in possession of his truck, his only mode of transportation at the time, and his debts compounding, Poulos turned back to cannabis as a source of income. He said he didn’t see much of a choice, and feared losing his house if his bills were left unpaid. 

A year after his first arrest while awaiting an appeal, Poulos came home to find a note left by county law enforcement requesting that he surrender himself. The detectives searched his home while he was out—but this time they had a warrant, he said. 

Poulos called McCrea, who suggested he listen to their note. After spending one night in a jail cell, he was released with another trial ahead of him. 

According to Poulos, they obtained the warrant for his second arrest by using information from the still open first case. 

On July 23, 1997, three appellate judges considered the arguments made by the prosecuting and defending attorneys. The prosecution claimed that the no trespassing signs and various others  posted were insufficient to imply the detectives were unwelcome, and he should have erected a physical barrier instead. McCrea challenged these allegations, asserting that the measures Poulos took were sufficient enough.

The appellate judges affirmed the ruling of the first trial, stating that “there was no evidence that even the customary casual visitor would be welcome on [the] defendant’s property.”

Half the evidence the prosecution held against Poulos dissolved with this judgment, and freedom appeared within reach. Yet, the state still justified its warrant. They argued that his electric bill was far too high for a property without a permanent resident. 

“This was my house. I lived there every day and they just flat out lied about it,” he said. 

According to Poulos, the second trial revolved around this new notion. The state presented that the Registered Guard receptacle sitting beneath his mailbox was overstuffed with newspapers, and was apparent proof he did not actively live there. Combined with a statement from the electric company regarding significant power usage, they argued that the property was solely a cannabis farm.  

“I wasn’t receiving any newspapers at the time, so I would just take the junk mail and stuff it in the Registered Guard receptacle, not really thinking much of it. I wanted to hold up that newspaper receptacle and say, judge does this fucking look like newspapers to you? Or does this look like trash?” said Poulos.

However, he did not need to; after a third trial he was once again declared not guilty. He said that this judge even appeared fairly irritated with the lead detective, who at this point Poulos felt was  harassing him. 

As the prosecution ran out of steam, they made a hail mary effort for an appeal that once again ended in favor of Poulos.

Poulos narrowly avoided prison, but he did not get off scot free. He soon found the Department of Revenue billing him for $18,000. This was money he did not have, and as interest rates approached 10%, he felt cornered. Poulos said that he didn’t really know what he was supposed to do, so he just kept filling out forms the Department of Revenue sent him, hoping it would stall the process a bit—and once again found his way back to growing cannabis

After numerous documents sent back and forth, he was slightly surprised to see that he had another court date. This time, he would be the prosecutor. He found a tax lawyer in Eugene and pushed for the absolvement of the debt. 

He was disappointed to learn that while they could not throw him in jail, the department of revenue had no issue fining him. In the end he was able to take the fee down to $8,000.

“There’s a lot of things that get fucked up when the state comes in and interferes with your life. So you know, it kind of forced me to address my anger and where my life was because ultimately it’s up to me,” said Poulos

Nearly 15 years after his first arrest, a bout of depression pushed him to turn off his grow lights and leave his cannabis plants in the past. Yet, nurturing plants continues to be a daily ritual that helps him find peace. Poulos said that he sustains an ample garden and greenhouse of vegetables, but he does not grow cannabis anymore.

As he sorted through potatoes crowded by eager shoots he reflected. “I am so thankful that, now, I can just walk two blocks to a store and buy standardized edibles without any danger of getting arrested.”

What you need to know about cannabis law in 2022

Written and Photographed by Alice Yeager 

Beginning on January 1st, 2022, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) outlined new law changes going into effect for the sale of cannabis products. Most of the rules specifically affect the sale and distribution of cannabis products, but there is news for consumers as well. These changes will increase the amount customers can buy as well as regulate safer packaging with better information on dosage and ingredients. If you don’t want to sit down and read the twelve-page compliance bulletin to find out exactly how this is going to affect you, the customer, then don’t worry: I’ll do it for you!

  • The amount of smokable cannabis you can purchase as a recreational user has been increased from one ounce to two ounces. As we are seeing a surge in the COVID-19 Omicron variant this raise comes at the perfect time for people trying to limit their contact with the outside world. Now is the perfect time to stock up, stay home and light up. 
  • This increase will also affect THC based concentrated edibles. You can now purchase 100 MG of edible concentrates which is doubled from the previous 50 MG. 
  • There are also some changes coming to cannabis delivery, which will now allow some counties and cities to deliver to areas outside their formerly regulated radiuses. This will potentially allow more access for cannabis users in rural or disputed areas who may not feel comfortable or have the access to go to a dispensary. 
  • There will also be increased focus on safety and regulation of artificial cannabis products. Manufacturers will now need to provide GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) grade certification to the FDA before being sold to consumers. As consumable cannabis becomes more popular this is an important step in expecting the same level of quality with cannabis consumables as you would regular food items. 

With the new changes to the Oregon law it may be hard to keep track of what exactly you can or can’t do as a recreational consumer. Don’t worry: here’s my guide for consuming cannabis safely and legally. And of course, these guides are for people 21 and older. 

Q: How much cannabis can I keep on my person when I’m out in public?

As of February 2022, Oregon has yet to update their guidelines on recreational user possession limits to reflect the new purchase limit. It’s safe to assume that you can still only possess up to one ounce on you at a time in public spaces. It’s best to be on the safer side and try not be out and about with more than an ounce until an official update has been released.

Q: Is it legal for me to drive after consuming cannabis products? I am still a competent driver while I’m high. 

Driving under the influence of cannabis is not only illegal but also not cool. Being high and deciding to drive can land you a DUI, which leads to fines well over $1,000 and even jail time. The CDC has also found that cannabis use negatively affects reaction time and coordination, and can become dangerous when behind the wheel. Don’t put yourself or others in danger; take the bus or grab a lift. Seriously. Don’t drive high. 

Q: I’m traveling down to California. Can I bring some Oregon paraphernalia and products with me?

Sorry but no, you cannot legally bring cannabis from Oregon to another state even if cannabis is legal in that state. So smoke it all before crossing state lines—even Washington and California. 

Q: Where can I smoke?

A: The rule of thumb is you can smoke on private property but not in public places. So locations such as parks, bars and concerts are all places you can get into serious trouble for consuming cannabis. In these sorts of environments, it is best to use common sense and avoid situations where you are consuming marjuana around people who may not consent. The best place to consume is at home or at a friend’s place where you are on private property. 

Q: What if I rent my home?

A: This is up to your landlord, they reserve the right to make up the rules on their own property within reason. The most common issue is if you are smoking in a rented unit, most often landlords will provide information on their smoking policy in your lease. You may have to find other ways of consuming cannabis in your home based around the policies you and your landlord have agreed to. 

You can read the full 2022 law here: https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Documents/Bulletins/Compliance_2021_04.pdf

Strain of the Month: Kentucky Bluegrass

Written by Lily Brennan, photo by Leafly

It’s the middle of winter. The sky is gray and the roads are mucked with mud and trash. An unknown residue is lining the sides of your favorite pair of rain boots and it almost seems like a sign to stay in, snuggle up, and share a bowl and some stories with friends. Well let me give you a tale that you can add to your roster…

Ever heard of the legendary “Godfather of Grass” and his classic hybrid strain “Kentucky Bluegrass?”

Johnny Boone, otherwise known as the Godfather of Grass, is a legendary figure in the weed smuggling world. As a once-been leader of the “Cornbread Mafia,” a rural Kentucky-based drug organization that grew 29 large illicit cannabis farms in 10 states, Boone obtained an intense following and was looked up to by many. After a mass arrest of the mafia in June of 1989 with over 70 arrests and 47 tons of confiscated cannabis from the site, the U.S. attorney in Louisville coined the Cornbread Mafia as the “largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history.”

After the arrests of the Cornbread Mafia, Boone included, law enforcements believed this to have a positive impact on the community. However, after Boone was released and then arrested once more in 2017, the Godfather of Grass began to publicly defend the Cornbread Mafia and his crewmates.

“We’re from a poor place. … I don’t think anybody here is into any kind of thievery. I can only say that … in our area, marijuana is one of the things that helps put bread on the table for people,” he told the judge, according to the Washington Post. “We’re not criminals, we’re not. We’re not the kind of people who go out and harm people.”

The truth was that the local communities thrived off of the Cornbread Mafia’s business. Stationed in rural, small towns, there weren’t many job opportunities. The cannabis industry became a livelihood for many locals. After the organization’s bust in 1989, neighboring towns became impoverished. Local enforcement didn’t know what to make of this endeavor.

This has left Johnny Boone to be seen through two different perspectives: an infamous kingpin who ran the largest cannabis drug-ring in American history, or an individual whose cannabis business created commercial growth in local communities.

Boone’s story and the strain within it became so popular High Times magazine dubbed it as “Kentucky Bluegrass.” It is an evenly-balanced hybrid strain crossed between Blueberry and Huckleberry Kush. 

With this cross, notes of sweet berries can be found while smoking it, all to be rounded out by a soft lemongrass aftertaste. Although a hybrid, it is an excellent strain to use to relax and is even made popular by medical users to relieve pain and physical stress. You can nearly feel yourself transporting to a rural Kentucky farmland, surrounded by warm sun and nature’s silence.