Cannabis and the Environment

Written by Alexandra Arnett

You may notice a lot of farms throwing around the term ‘sustainable farming’, but what does that actually mean? Sustainability is defined as the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. But is sustainability really sustainable? The purpose of sustainability is to maintain. Maintaining what was already there is simply not enough when looking at the bigger picture. As hard as we may try to maintain, the biodiversity of the planet is still suffering from our actions, thus we must make efforts to restore this biodiversity. Methods such as regenerative farming include taking part in a diverse bioecological system and giving back to the earth. Practices include planting complementary plants alongside your cannabis, growing various crops in the offseason to protect the soil, composting, using natural soil and avoiding chemical additives. Some farms have even been successful in dry farming cannabis plants which means they don’t use supplemental irrigation systems for their plants. Now, in a place like Oregon, this may produce cannabis that ends up molding, but for drier climates, this practice does show some promise.

Regarding “organic” cannabis farming, the USDA actually does not certify any cannabis as organic as it is illegal under federal law. Hemp, on the other hand, can obtain a USDA Organic certification. In an effort to obtain similar “organic” certification for cannabis farms, various organizations have been established that helps to ensure farms follow specific “sustainable” standards. Some of these organizations that work with farms in Oregon include Dragonfly Earth Medicine, Certified-Kind, Sun+Earth Certified and Clean Green Certified. Each organization has different requirements for getting certified and some are more stringent than others in regard to certain farming practices. [The various rules for each are linked above.] There are also a number of farms that make claims about having “organic” practices, but the reality is that we can’t be certain. In addition, everyone has their own idea of what “organic cannabis” looks like. Farms should make an effort to practice regenerative farming methods in order to give back to the earth.

I know we would all like to think that growing cannabis does no harm to the planet. But the reality is that growing cannabis in a way that benefits the environment wholly takes much more effort than simply choosing to grow outdoors. There are three main environments in which cannabis is commercially grown: indoor, outdoor and light-deprivation greenhouse. Some farms just grow cannabis using one of these methods, others may implement multiple methods if accessible. Typically, cannabis plants are grown in soil, either directly in the ground or in a planter pot. However, indoor cannabis growing operations may often use a hydroponic method of growing. Hydroponic growing involves suspending the roots of the plants in buckets of water and a medium such as perlite or coconut fiber.

Out of all the growing methods, outdoor growing is the one that would require the least energy and water. Greenhouse growing methods are also another good choice if you may be dealing with inclement weather for growing cannabis. Indoor growing and hydroponic methods are the most wasteful, in both energy and water consumption, especially when the methods are combined. If you want to choose the best method for the environment, growing cannabis in the earth’s natural soil provides a number of benefits to the earth and uses the sun rather than artificial lighting and energy.

While there is an overall lack of research on the effect indoor cannabis cultivation may be having on the environment, in 2020, one researcher Evan Mills published an in-depth follow-up study to a 2012 paper on cannabis energy use and cost. According to his data, indoor cannabis cultivation produces up to 15 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year and can cost upwards of $6 million a year. To compare this, Oregonians produce around 20 million metric tonnes per year in transportation emissions. However, there are ways to mitigate some of the negative effects of indoor cannabis cultivation there are a few steps that can be taken. Implementing things such as renewable energy sources, LED lighting, reusing water through reverse osmosis and even collecting rainwater for use are all ways indoor cannabis cultivators can help lessen their impact on the environment. 

Let us not forget though that there can be negative effects to the consumer if cannabis is grown in less than ideal environmental conditions. Not only does cannabis pull toxins out of the soil it is grown in, when it is grown outdoors there is a chance for dirt and other allergens to contaminate the plant. Overall, knowing your grow is the most important thing you can do to ensure you are getting the most quality product on the market.

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.

High Recommendations

written and photographed by Emma Routley

I had never heard of Kush mascara until I was standing in line at Sephora and saw Milk’s Kush Mascara in the travel-sized items section. Interest peaked by both the name and the silver packaging, I picked it up on my way to the register.

This mascara has a unique formula that separates it from the rest of the market: cannabis oil.  The cannabis seed oil is meant to both condition and thicken eyelashes, continuing to hydrate even after the makeup is removed. At first, I thought putting oil on my eyelashes didn’t sound like something I would want.  Oily mascara just sounds like a recipe for smudged black eyelids. Inside the box, the tube has surprising weight to it, and a spoolie with soft bristles designed for high volume coverage. I don’t normally like mascara spoolies of this stature because due to it’s large size I have the tendency to get it all over my eyes instead of actually on my eyelashes.  Something else I was worried about going into the mascara trial was my eyes potentially watering — whenever I go into a grow room, my eyes are always streaming by the time I leave.

I tried the mascara for a week. While it took about four coats to get the mascara how I wanted it to look on my eyes, the mascara proved itself notable in the way it lasted a full eight-hour shift and kept my eyelashes looking curled throughout the day without any touch ups.  The smudging I was worried about did not occur, and despite its great staying power, the product is easy to remove at the end of the day. I use makeup wipes, and there was not much effort involved in it’s removal which I consider a bonus, since I hate rubbing my eyes until they’re sore just to get my makeup off to go to bed.  The only major downside to the mascara is that the spoolie is quite large, and as someone who does not have big eyes I came close multiple times to knocking it against the bridge of my nose while applying the inner corners. It might not be best for a quick time-pressed morning, but was great otherwise. 

Milk’s Kush Mascara comes in a regular full size for $24.00 and a travel size for $12.00.  Milk makeup is both vegan and cruelty free, which is my favorite type of brand to support. The packaging says 95% of the 21 women who tested the mascara saw higher volume, and longer lashes, while 90% saw thicker and lifted lashes.

I will continue to use my little travel sized mascara until I use it up, and then I might consider just purchasing a full size!  My eyelashes do feel conditioned after several days of using this kush mascara, and the cannabis seed oil so close to my eyes actually doesn’t bother me at all.  I highly recommend this mascara to anyone who wants a non-waterproof mascara with incredible staying power and is easy to take off at night.  

CBD for Dummies

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

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

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

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

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

Now, how exactly do these CBD products work? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Hempiest Time of Year: Eugene’s 2017 Hemp Gift Guide

words by Sierra Pedro | photo contributed by Mountain Rose Herbs

From skincare to clothing to lip balm, hemp products make great go-to gifts for any of your Oregonian friends. We compiled a list of local, hemp products you might consider purchasing for a special someone in your life!

Hemp Hoop Infinity Scarf, $15

Made with 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton jersey, these cozy scarves are guaranteed to please a special fashionista in your life this holiday season. Currently offered in sea foam and iris colors.

Shop: sweetskins.com, 850 West 2nd St.

Street Purse, $48

The Eco Boutique, home to Of the Earth Organic Apparel, offers stylish purses that can be worn over the shoulder or as a handbag. They are also on discount at $29 on their website right now! Currently offered in black and denim colors.

Shop: oftheearth.com, 782 Blair Blvd.

Sprout Bag, $16.50

Made with 100% hemp, this 7” by 10.5” sprout bag is a go-to gift for any cooking guru. Just include some seeds, water and your sprouts will be ready in 3 to 5 days!

Shop: mountainroseherbs.com, 152 W 5th Ave. #3

Hemp Seed Oil, $11

An 8.5 oz. bottle of quality oil a delightful present for any kitchen enthusiast in your life! This certified organic hemp seed oil can be used for hummus to guacamole to smoothies to pesto. Plus, the oil bottles themselves are made from 50 percent recycled material.

Shop: mountainroseherbs.com, 152 W 5th Ave. #3

Hemp Lip Balm Assortment, $41.58

Lip balm makes the perfect stocking stuffer, and this assortment of 28 tubes and seven flavors offers a one-stop buy for all your closest friends and family. Made with hemp seed oil, rosemary and Vitamin E. Flavors include peppermint, spearmint, orange, lemon lime, cinnamon, vanilla and unscented.

Shop: merryhempsters.com

Organic Dog Salve, $5.25

Don’t forget about your furry friend this holiday season! This pet-friendly, price-friendly dog lotion with soothe cuts, bites or other abrasions. Packaged in a simple, roll on applicator.

Shop: merryhempsters.com