Budtender Spotlight: Kyrsha Witherspoon

Interview and Photo by Anna Glavash

How and when did you become a budtender?

Two years ago, I started at Twenty After Four. I was wanting to get out of the retirement home I was working at, and I was recreationally smoking because of my social anxiety. I had a friend that was working at Twenty After Four, and she said it would be a good fit for me. She thought it would help me to step out of my comfort zone and tried to work there, and it did help me a lot.

First time you got high?

I was overwhelmed. I had a group of friends with me that had already been smoking, and they kind of played jokes on me. It also opened me up to different perspectives. We got to talking, and certain things that I wouldn’t normally be too open about, I was able to talk about more easily.

Funny customer interaction?

I’ll have people come in and say, “It smells good! What do you have in here?” They’ll act like they don’t really know what they’re stepping into, which they probably don’t, but it’s funny to break the ice by saying, “Oh, I got weed here.”

What is a stereotype about cannabis users that’s true and one that you think is false?

The one about being more open to ideas is true. I feel like a lot of people that haven’t tried cannabis are more narrow-minded, but being a part of the industry, I’ve noticed how people actually listen to other people’s ideas and are open to them.

One that isn’t true is that everyone who smokes is lazy. I honestly will wake up, smoke a bowl and start my day. That’s just something that goes with my morning coffee. It’s a ritual. Some people probably think that you can’t get stuff done because you’re smoking all day. But I would say I can use it and be productive as well.

What do you look for in a strain?

I like to be able to function throughout the day, so I lean towards sativas and hybrids. Pineapple or fruit flavored strains are the ones I like, and I definitely use my nose.

What’s special about this shop?

The company motto is “Treat Everyone Like Gold.” When you step in here you’re going to be treated like anyone else, whether you’re the CEO of a company or a person that just wants a joint. Some other shops that I’ve been into just want to get that sale. It’s different here. We want to see what needs we can help you with. We pay a lot of attention to that aspect and it goes a long way.

Favorite way to consume?

I like to smoke out of glass. I have an Empire bong at home. I used to like to roll up blunts but then I got more educated on the stuff I was using, so I stick to more Raw papers and glass now.

What do you do when you’re not here?

Usually I’ll hang out with my family. My cousin is one of the only people that will actually sit down, smoke with you and talk about whatever. Anything that I want to talk about we can just smoke down and talk about it with a bowl.

Are you high right now?

A little bit!

Elev8 Cannabis has been open for nine months. They’re open M-F 8-10 and 10-10 weekends at 2055 West 12th Ave.

Hemp Press: Saving the World One Sheet at a Time

Words by Kelsey Tidball | Photo by Sierra Pedro

Did you know that more than seven billion trees are cut down each year to provide us with paper products alone? Did you know that instead of cutting down all those trees, paper can be made out of hemp? And did you know that hemp paper is sustainable and can be entirely tree-free? Matthew Glyer has spent years of his life grappling with these questions, and when he opened Hemp Press in 2013, he became the proprietor of the first exclusively hemp paper print shop in the nation. Hemp Press is the only printing company of its kind, and it’s located right here in Eugene! The company specializes in creating and designing hemp-based packaging for hemp and marijuana-based products, labels, business cards and their trademark Crutch Cards.

“Hemp paper is controversial,” Glyer says. “The paper mills don’t want to make craft paper and the printers don’t want to print with it.” Glyer says this is mostly due to the fibrous nature of craft papers and the particularity of hemp paper, which is made from the core of the hemp plant.

“Most printers run the risk of having a piece of hemp break off and completely ruin the machine, but ours is equipped for that.” It took Glyer four years to figure out how to print on hemp paper, and now that he has cracked the code, he sees the opportunity to incorporate hemp paper into the economic and agricultural norm.

“Our big goal is to keep manufacturing in the United States and to source the fiber from the United States,” Glyer says.

Previously, the primary source for hemp fiber was Canada, where the government both subsidized and funded the industrial hemp industry. However, since the funds for hemp research and production dried up a few years ago, hemp growers and enthusiasts in the U.S. have been searching for a way to bring the industrial hemp industry to native soil.

“Currently, we do not really have the infrastructure in the U.S. to process hemp fiber,” Glyer says, expressing a desire to inspire farmers to actually grow hemp. However, the farmers need a guarantee that the hemp crops they grow will be turned into products that people will regularly buy and use. This is a promise that is becoming easier to make with the introduction of hemp clothing, beauty products and supplements to mainstream grocery stores like Costco and Whole Foods.

Glyer and his colleagues want to turn hemp into a mainstream agricultural commodity, and they hope their printing business will help people see that hemp is a useful and sustainable crop that could help save the planet.

Historically, hemp was widely used to produce products such as rope, clothing and even classic Henry Ford automobiles. However, following Prohibition, the hemp industry was shut down due to its association with marijuana and other illicit substances. This history of government restrictions makes it exceedingly difficult to restart the industry in the U.S. today.

“Part of getting hemp back in the market is branding,” Glyer says. “Hemp-based branding ought not to scream ‘weed,’ so our branding services aim to produce more subtle designs that connect with a broader market.” Hemp Press prints packaging for beauty products, lotions, smoking accessories and other marijuana-related businesses.

“Ultimately, hemp is good for the planet,” Glyer says. “That’s why we need to keep growing it and keep making everyday things out of it if we can.”

He’s right—hemp is naturally resilient, thus eliminating the need for most pesticides and herbicides. According to a study done by the American Chemical Society, hemp also cleans the soil, absorbs CO2 from the soil as it grows and can be used as a substitute for many non-sustainable products. This includes traditional plastics, building materials, and—of course—paper.

Instagram: @hemp.press

Website: www.hemp.press

Email: contact@hemp.press

 

Dabbing for Dummies

Words by Skyla Patton | Photo by Sierra Pedro

Very different from its distant dance move cousin “the Dab,” the trend of dabbing has swept the cannabis industry. Rigs of all sizes, shapes and colors became available in shops and quickly filled up display cases in what seemed liked mere weeks during the late 2000s. Where did this intense way to ingest our weed come from? Though you might still feel a little concerned when someone pulls a blowtorch out of their backpack, you’ll soon see that it’s nothing to fret over. Read on for a background of what exactly dabbing is and how it ripped through the marijuana industry.

Dabbing has actually been present for several decades, but it just recently boomed in popularity and access. Extracting cannabinoids produces sticky oils, most often known as shatter or wax that can be stored in non-stick containers like small rubber bins or squashed between wax paper. The oil is heated to an incredibly high temperature—enter the scary blowtorch—and then inhaled through a dab rig. Unfortunately, most extraction processes are so intense that the aromatic aspects of strains are lost and the flavors can blend in with one another. Due to the concentrated THC, dabs are essentially the fastest and most intense way to get incredibly stoned, incredibly fast. They are also highly renowned for individuals with chronic pain for instant relief upon ingestion.

With time, the process has evolved and been altered by scientists and amateurs alike. It’s important to mention dabbing is still cautioned against due to its dangerous qualities and processes. Properly extracting the oil from the flower requires lab tests, extraction equipment (read: a lot of chemicals) and high grade solvents. While playing scientist can seem fun at face value, the risks and dangers of trying to craft your own oils generally outweigh the positives of making your own wax.

Criticized for its debilitating powers, dabbing is often not recommended for beginner smokers. Most strains of oil range between 60 to 95 percent THC—“good” flower for joints or bowls on average ranges around 18 or 20 percent. It’s also on the more complicated spectrum of ways to get high, but if you’re determined or just plain curious, there’s plenty of ways to get started. Local dispensaries will offer inexpensive and easy ways to get your foot in the door. Dab rigs, glass or metal dab nails and as many types of shatter as you could imagine are more than likely to be lined up in their very own display case. It’s important to remember while venturing into the world of dabbing that while fatal overdose is impossible, an uncomfortable overdose is very much possible. Pay attention to the dosage of your oil and start small to ensure a positive experience.

Eugene is not lacking in access to dispensaries, and if you’re ready to take the first puff into the world of dabbing, there’s plenty of places to get started. Local Eugenian Jake Beneat offered some extra pointers for novice dabbers. “I smoke dabs because my tolerance has been built up so highly that smoking bud in joints or pipes feels like a waste a lot of the time. Dabs are a surefire way to get ripped really quickly and effectively, so I really only smoke oil anymore.” He emphasized the instant gratification aspect of dabbing that is commonly talked about. Beneat has had his medical card for a little under a year now and considers himself to be a seasoned smoker. We asked what his favorite location is for his oils of choice. “TJ’s has three locations that are easy to get to, the best prices and quality oils so they’re my go-to dispensary here in Eugene. I have chronic back and neck pain, so dabs are the fastest relief for me.” Check out local dispensaries and consult extraction professionals for helpful tips or the best places to purchase oil of your liking.

 

Like Honey To Bees: Cannabis Extraction from Flower to Jar

Words by Anna Glavash | Photo by Sierra Pedro

If you’ve ever dabbed or vaped cannabis oil, you’ve probably wondered, “How did the cannabis flower become this golden substance?”

Cannabis extracts have come a long way since the dangerous days of open blasting and black-market butane hash oil (BHO). Today’s extraction process is done by highly trained experts in lab coats with state-of-the-art equipment, and the product is put through rigorous tests before going onto dispensary shelves. With so many quality extracts now on the market, it can be tough to choose. Here’s a look at how two innovative local extractors produce premium cannabis oil.

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Willamette Valley Alchemy (WVA) makes a range of top-shelf cannabis products including edibles and solventless concentrates, but specializes in hydrocarbon extracts, which is cannabis oil that’s been separated from dried plant material using a hydrocarbon solvent blend.

The process usually begins with trim or flower that didn’t make it to market for one reason or another, such as small batch or small bud size. WVA mostly works with farms that are Clean-Green certified, which is the cannabis industry’s version of the organic standard. All their products are co-branded, so you know which farm and flower it was made from.

WVA sources locally-manufactured lab equipment from Cascade Botanicals and Sweet Leaf Extractors. They use a passive closed-loop system which allows them to recapture almost all of the solvent for reuse. They clean the equipment obsessively to minimize any contamination, and double-distill their solvents to ensure they’re ultra-clean. Because the flower they source is top-shelf, they only use the highest quality gas and equipment they can get to honor the plant. “We treat everything like gold,” says WVA Head of Production Adam Chase.

Picture yourself in Walter White’s lab from Breaking Bad—and not the one in the Winnebago. Chase may not be a chemistry teacher, but he’s no less meticulous. Here’s what happens in the spark-proof room where the oil is extracted:

The dry plant material is packed into a column through which a liquid gas is pumped. They use a proprietary blend of solvents including butane and propane to separate the cannabinoids from the plant. The gas is chilled to -100 degrees using dry ice.

Once it’s been run through, the solvent is distilled out using warm water and what’s left is the oil. Once filtered, this oil is poured off and put into a vacuum oven for several days to cure. The negative pressure lowers the boiling point of the residual solvent, which slowly bubbles out. The low temperature allows the oil to retain maximum cannabinoids and terpenes for the most similar user experience to smoking the actual flower.

When all the solvent is gone, the product is sent off to be independently tested, and when confirmed that it’s free of solvents and pesticides, it’s packaged onsite. Test results, including THC percentage, are printed on the label.

The extract might be packaged in a resealable plastic pouch or weighed out into tiny glass jars, depending on its consistency. Though the process is the same, different flowers produce different results. Chase likens it to a unique personality: “The lifeforce of one plant is going to be different from that of another plant, even it’s the same strain grown in the same region.” This can range from a very stable “shatter” to a “sauce” or somewhere in between: “budder” or “wax.” Higher terpene content produces a more flavorful but also more volatile, less stable oil. All of these products are best refrigerated.

Chase and co-owner Brice Sherman built WVA to produce exactly what they wanted to smoke and share it with the community. His favorite part of the job? “It helps people who have medical conditions, and it makes people happy. If somebody had a shit day at work and they got home and they had their partner yelling at them, and their dog bit them when they walked in the door but they have their WVA dab ready, and they take that dab and they’re good, that is the most satisfying part. ”

CO2 Extraction

Critical Source (CS) is focused on full-spectrum CO2 oil formulas, but take a very different approach from other vape pen producers. Cartridges are popular for their convenience, but the flavor or effects can be compromised by a quick and dirty extraction process. The goal of CS’s full-spectrum extracts is to replicate the experience of smoking the real flower, but in cartridge form. Not only should the experience feel more authentic, “the effects can last substantially longer than distillate products,” says founding partner Kenan Hester.

CS’s CO2 extraction process is focused on retaining dimensionality and bioactive compounds of the flower through terpene profile preservation and cannabinoid profile retention that’s true to the cultivar—capturing the plant’s unique essence, if you will.

Initially created for the medical market, their extracts are made using CO2 in place of a hydrocarbon solvent. Although more expensive and time-consuming, CO2 is considered among the safest ways to produce and consume extracts. Hester says, “Great extracts that target therapeutic value should capture everything that you want from the plant and strip away everything that you don’t want.” The good stuff is those bio-active terpenes and cannabinoids. In post-processing, they aim to exclude plant compounds like waxes and lipids that can cause irritation in the lungs.

The process goes like this: The flower is put into the extraction chamber and saturated with low-temperature, low-pressure “subcritical” CO2. First, the terpenes are isolated in a liquid form and put aside. Then temperature and pressure is ramped up to “supercritical” levels, and the CO2 extracts the cannabinoids in a process similar to steeping tea.

The system’s patented back-pressure regulator gradually drops levels back down as the solution travels to the collection point, where CO2 and raw extract are separated. The CO2 vapor rises and is recycled back into the system. The raw extract left behind still contains those unwanted plant waxes and lipids, so it’s then homogenized with ethanol and put through a process called winterization to remove them.

Many CO2 extractors aren’t able to isolate the terpenes at the first stage, so they get winterized too, which can destroy them and create a generic flavor and character. Others may spend 2-4 days winterizing, but CS lets theirs go for 10-12 days until absolutely nothing else can be removed, giving their cartridge a very smooth hit.

Finally, the terpenes are reblended with the cannabinoids to achieve the finished product. CS never uses food-grade or bulk-cannabis derived terpenes, so you can be sure everything in the cartridge came from the same source and vaporizing it will mimic the experience of smoking the flower itself.

Hester likens this process to wine blending and says a little goes a long way. “You can have a Cabernet and Merlot blend that has only 1% Merlot, but as soon as you add that in, it can completely change the entire experience.” Similarly, using just a tiny bit of the original terpenes has a huge effect on the character of the extract.

When Hester founded the company in 2014, the market had a lot of great hydrocarbon extracts, but CS saw a need for more connoisseur-grade CO2 extractions. Though the barrier to entry in this method is much higher, CS wanted to advance the quality and availability of options for patients. It maintains these standards of quality in its recreational products and has just launched a premium line of co-branded vape cartridges called Kalapooya Fire. This brand seeks to honor the history of the Kalapuya people, from whom the culture of eco-stewardship in the Willamette Valley originated hundreds of years before the modern cannabis industry. Kalapooya Fire seeks to source from farms that emulate the sustainable practices of the Kalapuya people. To honor this legacy, they’re also launching a scholarship which supports Oregon Native American students who study chemistry & horticulture at the University level.