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.
Last year when I moved to Oregon, my father and I did a cross-country road trip from New York. As soon as we crossed from Idaho and into the Beaver State, we were instantly welcomed to the first dispensary we’ve ever seen, with New York still being an illegal state and all. And as we ventured onward, it seemed as though the further you traveled into the state, the more apparent cannabis was for Oregonian lifestyles and cultures. It had me wondering…
What was Oregon like before recreational legalization in 2015? Would I have been a bit less shell-shocked if I had moved here prior? Coming from a state where I was used to the negative connotations and illegal activity pinned on cannabis use, I was interested in finding out just how much Oregon may have changed due to its legalization.
Oregon was the first state to have decriminalized small amounts of weed in 1973, as well as one of the first that allowed medical use. This being said, tolerance has a history of being challenged by those who oppose it, and this was no different for recreational legalization.
On November 4th, 2014, there was a statewide ballot that contained the Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative, Measure 91, otherwise known as the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act of 2014. This went on as an initiated state ballot (a citizen-initiated ballot measure that amends state law) which was then approved by only 56.11% in favor.
Measure 91 legalized recreational cannabis for people ages 21 and older, allowing them in turn to possess up to eight ounces of “dried marijuana” and up to four plants. After its initial approval in 2014, Governor Kate Brown signed its legislation on July 27, 2015, making the first legal sale date for marijuana up a year to October 1, 2015. Oregon was officially the third state in the US to legalize recreational cannabis use.
The Initial Aftermath
It seemed almost instant that recreational cannabis was a controversial topic in Oregon. During the 2015 legislative session, the Oregon Legislature considered a 17 to 20% state sales tax on marijuana retail sales. This upset many individuals who were already practicing medical cannabis use, but also those who planned to start legally purchasing for recreational use. Others found it as a beneficial opportunity for the state.
Opinions seemed relevant to county locations as well. For example, legislation was also designed in 2015 to allow counties where 55 percent or more of voters opposed Measure 91 to ban cannabis sales. A total of 15 counties rejected the initiative by that margin, all of which are east of the Cascade Range.
Overall, the reaction to Measure 91 passing was extreme from both ends. Some were incredibly joyful while others were absolutely enraged. At this time, many were unsure of how this would affect societal interactions, taxation, local cultures, regulations, or even the impressions of the state in relation to the rest of the US.
So… Did Things Change?
After legalization, recreational cannabis became an incredibly successful industry across Oregon. In mid-2016, there were fewer than 100 Oregon businesses licensed to sell recreational cannabis. Applications for licenses began to skyrocket towards the very last months of 2016, partially due to the legalization that required businesses to obtain a “recreational license” from the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) in order to recreationally sell, effective Jan. 1, 2017. The number of licensed retailers nearly tripled in the one-month span from early Dec. 2016 to early Jan. 2017.
As expected, state and local recreational cannabis sales/excise taxes generated (and still does today) a hefty amount of tax revenue. For example, over $78 million in tax revenue was generated in 2017, the same year that licenses were a requirement in order to sell recreationally. Many may wonder where this tax revenue goes. A 2019 audit found that “most of the collected taxes have gone toward shortages in the city’s general fund and specifically to police and transportation programs.”
Socially, it seems much more widely accepted to use cannabis now. Despite the controversy that sprouted from its initial legalization, recreational cannabis use has become extremely common, and is even seen as equivalent to alcohol consumption by many. There are still some Oregonians who don’t support it, but reports have found this to be heavily related to generational and regional differences. Many report that Oregon’s prior history in relation to cannabis may have helped dissipate the initial tension, as medical legalization in 1998 paved a way to remove negative connotations associated with weed.
Culturally, much of Oregon stayed the same. Similarly to how medical legalization began to normalize cannabis use, cannabis itself had already begun assimilating into Oregonian cultures for decades. Recreational use becoming legal created a larger space and community for consumption across the state, even as far as having cannabis-themed restaurants or bars. The cultural tolerance to weed stayed the same, while the execution of the practice became more publicized.
Despite only being legalized recreationally six years ago, cannabis has been oriented into Oregonian cultures and lifestyles for numerous decades. As Oregonians it is important that we all understand the recreational laws, and continue to educate ourselves to keep both ourselves and the greater community safe.
In our last harvest issue, I provided an overview of my first successful Oregon grow with Jack Herer as my chosen child. This season, I doubled up on plant bodies to care for. It was Mother’s Day weekend, the prime time to plant outdoors, when my Jedi Master grower friend Alan helped me adopt two sisters of the same strain: Purple Punch.
The visual cues between the twins made it difficult to know who’s who, so I named them Agatha and Beatrice. Figuring only one symbol of identification would suffice, Agatha was given a raw blue agate stone placed at the edge of the root pouch.
Early on, I ran an Instagram story poll asking “which team are you?” and Agatha won popularity. A few weeks later, I started noticing that one had more success in the race towards the sun.
I began wondering about the metaphysical implications of having a crystal in one but not the other. Or maybe I was focusing more one the one with the marker.
I recalled a video of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s rice experiment showing the power of positive words and how they affect the growth of grains of rice resting in water. The idea is that the rice that was praised started to sprout and grow while the ones that were ignored or criticized rotted and decomposed. I assumed maybe having more attention on one plant was causing the other one to struggle. I began to give more intentional words of gratitude to hyping Beatrice up, and I placed a ring of rose quartz at the base of her soil to continue our season. While some progress was made, I was truly questioning the sisterhood of these girls.
For flourishing foliage, bat guano was my main nutrient, keeping it organic despite the fact that I’ll have these buds wrapped in a Swisher Sweet in no time (yes, we all have our flaws). Progress was noticeable up until I spotted a pause. I returned to my Jedi Master with two questions, those of which he answered with: check the water pH and, “Oh! You don’t have Purple Punch. I gave you Purple Passion and OG Blue Cheese.” We all have forgetful stoner minds, so this was no big deal. I later learned he was also growing Purple Passion. I was just relieved to find out I was in fact hearing them hum a different tune.
You’d be surprised how much travel was necessary to obtain a pH meter and buffer solution in this town. Many of us Eugenerds have had the delightful Eugene experience of having one specific item needed to obtain but it takes a minimum of four destinations to finally complete the quest… or we simply give up to resort to giving the internet gremlins our money. Shout out to the Constant Gardener for most of my treasure hunt finds, including their own pH up (called Olympus Up) and pH down (cleverly called Hades Down) solutions. This Nectar of the Gods line comes in black bottles with intricate labels; they’re pretty metal so of course I’ll be throwing dollars at their product.
I tested my good ol’ tasty tap water and was shocked when I saw a loud 8.3 appear on the meter. An ideal range for cannabis (depending on their stage) is 5.5-6.5. Cannabis plants cannot absorb and process any more nutrients unless being within this sweet spot. I put my scientist pants on (and gloves of course) and began the process of making a stockpile of bat-shit-tea. Keeping in mind that nutrients added to water will alter the pH, I was sure to add the solutions after the guano.
As the colder nights rolled in and I rolled up, my girls began showing more distinct differences. Beatrice, identified as Purple Passion, darkened her leaves with hinted hues of maroon and plum. Although her size was significantly smaller than her neighboring OG Blue Cheese, I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful her buds were in comparison. The rocky upbringing was so worth it when I arrived at the flowering stage. I’ve never seen such a beautifully deep purple before. My OG Blue Cheese, as smelly and thick as she was, stood taller than me at around five and a half feet. Vibrant green leaves fanned throughout the frosty colas.
My Jedi Master told me, “They say if you think you’re ready to harvest, you should wait another week.” So I waited and saw more progress. Another week came by, and I waited some more. By mid October, I gathered some leaf clippings from around the buds and we inspected them under a scientific microscope, although jewelers scope works fine for those with sturdy hands.
For a nice body high and some couch lock, I was looking for 15-24% of the trichomes to appear in amber rather than milk splotches. Anything from 40-50% and they start to break down and deteriorate.
On October 16th, I pulled Agatha and Beatrice’s fan leaves off and moved them inside to live in dark solitude for two days. Upon entry, my house smells like dank farts. My guests don’t mind, and my roommates patiently wait by my side as I prepare to cure. This may have been my most stressful growing experience as I was challenged with far more intricacies due to the finicky nature of these two strains. I walked right up to my edge and leveled up in growing experience. I can’t wait to set these flowers to flame.
The leaves are changing color, the wind has a chill to it and the colas are leaning over with the weight of the world on their shoulders… harvest season has arrived! After a long season of cultivating and doting over your plants, the time has finally come to bust out the shears and get to work. Check out these tips to make your harvest season go a little smoother, whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned chopper looking for new tricks.
Set up a station beforehand
Once you start pulling nugs down, everything around you will quickly become covered in a layer of sticky, almost-impossible-to-get-off resin, so it’s important to set up a work station first. If you’re outdoors, set out your tables and chairs and create separate areas for things like snacks and tools for the day. Put valuables like phones and keys (or other items you don’t want to get messy) in a basket for safekeeping, while things like gloves and trimmers should be laid out and easily accessible even with dirty hands. If you have a canopy or tent, put that up for extra weatherproofing.
Use buckets or crates to organize once the plants come down
For different strains, most growers want to keep the plants separated so you know which is which later on while drying and trimming. Label buckets, crates or even laundry baskets with strips of painters tape and a sharpie so you know which containers have which strain as you take them down. When you dry the stems later on, use the painters tape again to separate the strains in sections while hang drying or label the trays individually, depending on how you choose to dry.
Keep those trimmers clean
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to work with a grubby, gummed up pair of clippers. Grab a lighter and an old rag or paper towel, and heat up the blade of your trimmers until the material smokes a bit. Wipe the blade (comes off very easily) with your rag and boom! Fresh shears, just like new.
Stay hydrated and don’t shy away from the snacks
Work is work, and harvest is a lot of work! It’s super important to take care of your body even while you’re grinding it out so the motivation is backed up by energy. Drink lots of water or tea to stay hydrated, stock up on easily-grabbable snacks and don’t hesitate to take a good lunch break when you need to fuel up. Pro Tip: Prepare a dinner in the crockpot before heading out to work so by the time you’re ready to eat, it’s ready to be eaten!
Take time to clean up the nugs
This is a hotly-contested debate in the growing community, but the bottom line is: nugs are easier to trim later on if you spend extra energy tidying them up on the stem during harvest. If time allows, spend a few extra minutes with each stem and snip off all the sun leaves with your clippers before drying so they’re not covered in wilted greenery by the time you’re ready to trim. Your future self will be thankful!
Don’t forget the entertainment
Harvest is undoubtedly a long process, even if you’re only dealing with a handful of plants. Don’t make it harder on yourself and your work buddies by sitting in silence or forcing small talk for eight hours. Download a few good playlists with lots of energy, or my personal favorite, a binge-worthy podcast and let a Bluetooth speaker guide your work to keep everyone entertained, but focused.
How long have you been involved in the cannabis industry?
“Well, I’ve actually only been part of it for almost two months. I’ve known lots of people who were in medical cannabis. And I have done lots of retail before, and thought why don’t I step away from clothes retail and actually do fun retail. And I really like it. My friend’s dad owns this dispensary and that’s actually really awesome because I know almost everyone who works here. We all went to school together so that’s super fun, and everyone else I have met has been really awesome.”
What made you want to leave clothing retail and come to this industry specifically?
“Well you’re here to help a person find what they need and that’s it. There’s no weird, ‘you need to sell this much or do this or that’ you’re just here to help people find what they need and I really like that.”
What brings you joy in this job?
“I think all of the aspects of it really. I come in and get to talk to cool people all day. It’s just a fun time and there’s not really any aspect about it that I haven’t enjoyed so far.”
What is your favorite strain at the moment?
“It’s called strawberry guava, it smells so good. It smells like strawberries, like strawberry yogurt. It’s so delicious. And it feels really nice, like I can still function and do all the things that I need to do even though it’s an indica.”
How would you describe the cannabis culture in Eugene?
“It’s very diverse, we have the university here so it’s perfect there’s so many college kids that come in here all the time. But we also have older people that come in too, that are new to it and want to check it out and have questions, that’s always fun.”
What are some of your other interests outside of cannabis?
“I can be very artistic but it comes in waves. I started making my own Halloween costumes and outfits, so that’s really fun. I have lots of ideas. I just need to do it. I read lots of manga, and I like to play video games too.”
When did you start using cannabis?
“When I first started using cannabis it was mainly for sleep reasons. Insomnia runs in the family, so that was kind of the main purpose I started but now it’s just kind of part of my life.”
What are your future goals in the industry?
“I definitely want to stay in this industry, I also want to see what other things are out there besides working in a dispensary.”
Is there anything else you would like the community to know?
“If you’re new to it, don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. If you need to ask questions, ask the questions. Even if it feels stupid and if you feel embarrassed you can come here because everyone is just here to help you get what you need.”
Since cannabis was legalized in Oregon six years ago, on Oct. 1, 2015, it seems like a thing of the past to remember how nerve-wracking being a cannabis connoisseur once was. Public opinion about cannabis has changed greatly over the last few years. It almost seems like smoking a joint is less offensive than smoking a cigarette. But things used to be harsher than we even realize back when society truly demonized cannabis. It was not only the smokers that had to worry about criminal charges, but also the journalists that covered such a turbulent topic.
The Daily Emerald wasn’t always independent from the university, and campus officials and the authorities hounded one such journalist named Annette Buchanan. After being named managing editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald in May of 1966, Annette wrote an article titled, “Students Condone Marijuana Use.” The ensuing legal battle and repercussions would not be forgotten by the State of Oregon, the University of Oregon or the future of journalism itself.
In the article,tudents under pseudo names vented their frustrations surrounding the views and misconceptions that the general public held about marijuana at the time.
“Pot is not like alcohol,” explained Bill, one of the seven students Annette interviewed. “You have complete control. You don’t lose yourself.”
“Who does the middle class or the government think it is that they can tell people what to do?” asked Joe.
The students expressed their distaste about myths similar to those we’ve also heard in more recent years. They complained about how society blamed marijuana for leading to harder drugs, like heroin. However, the students knew that it wasn’t the plant itself that caused its association with hard drugs and crime. It was the fact that it was illegal and therefore only dealt with by the black market. If something isn’t regulated or following a set of standards, it’s bound to be surrounded by shady components.
The students had excellent points about how using marijuana helped “enrich their (intellectual) experience.” They argued that it could even benefit an alcoholic or otherwise heavy drinker to cut down on their drinking and possibly help them switch to simply smoking pot occasionally. They even recognized that being sentenced to jail time for using or possessing cannabis was not a deterrent but a way for society to destroy a college student’s career before it even began. The students could not have known how significant their anonymous accounts would come to be.
It is essential to explain why such an article was published by Buchanan, who herself did not consume cannabis. On Sunday, May 22, students in the lobby of the Student Union voiced questions regarding why the Emerald featured so many seemingly anti-marijuana stories. Buchanan assured them that the Emerald was not purposely trying to condemn them or send such a message. She promised to find out what she could do to alleviate their concerns. The news should be able to present the views and opinions of every one of its readers, after all.
While proofreading an editorial page endorsing Charles O. Porter over residing Lane County District Attorney William Frye, Emerald Editor Phil Semas suggested Buchanan interview UO students about marijuana. On election day, May 24, “Students Condone Marijuana Use” was published in the Emerald.
Too strange a coincidence was it that a week later, on June 1, District Attorney Frye issued subpoenas for Buchanan, Semas, former Emerald Editor Chuck Begs and former Managing Editor Bob Carl. Two days later, all four appeared at the Lane County Courthouse with Attorney Arthur Johnson. The Grand Jury observed as Buchanan was grilled by Frye first, who immediately demanded the names of the seven students featured in her article. Buchanan refused.
Buchanan explained her decision to the Grand Jury citing five reasons: First, as a journalist, Buchanan could not, and would not, breach the code of ethics of her major and profession. Second, to do so would be violating the constitutions of both Federal and State levels, which guaranteed freedom of the press. Third, as a State of Oregon employee, the knowledge was privileged communication. Fourth, the demand was outside the appropriate scope of the Grand Jury. And finally, Buchanan was not afforded legal counsel during the hearing. Frye was more than unhappy and tried to twist the information out of Buchanan by comparing withholding the identities of the cannabis-smoking students in her article to that of rapists and murderers.
Twice before the Grand Jury, Buchanan protected the seven students’ identities, which resulted in her being held in contempt of court and fined $300. This was mainly because Oregon did not yet have a shield law, a statute that protects journalists’ right to refuse to disclose or identify their sources. Publisher of the Oakland Tribune and former Republican Senator William Knowland offered to pay Buchanan’s fine. Frye was the first District Attorney of Lane County to make a name for themself by prosecuting drunk drivers. It makes sense Frye would go after cannabis, especially when the article was on the front page.
On Dec. 4, 1967, Attorney Johnson filed an appeal through the Supreme Court of Oregon. Unfortunately, the verdict of being held in contempt of court was upheld. “The courts have held the rights of privacy, freedom of association, and ethical convictions are subordinate to the duty of every citizen to testify in court,” states the official State vs. Buchanan court document. Nevertheless, by April 1973, the Oregon House passed Senate Bill 206, ensuring Oregon journalists’ right to protect the identity of their confidential sources.
Next time we light one up, let’s remember Annette Buchanan, a courageous and honorable journalist. While she was only taking the advice of Emerald Editor Semas by trying to give students their own voice to discuss marijuana use, Buchanan made a name for herself by following through with the promises she made as a journalist and protecting those sources. At the young age of 20, even in the face of so many threats, from the courts and anti-cannabis individuals, she firmly held her ground. She inadvertently helped Oregon enact its shield law, preventing other journalists from going through similar nerve-wracking experiences. She was a copy editor for the Oregonian for years 1975 to 1997 and even operated a farm with her husband, Michael Conard, near Sandy, Oregon. Buchanan lived to be 67-years-old, leaving behind a shining legacy for all journalists to aspire to.
“She felt bound by her conscience, her pledge and her word.” – Attorney Arthur Johnson, The Oregonian, June 29 1996.
Originating in Central Asia, the use of cannabis sativa hemp spread across into China around 2800 BC. Later, around 10,000 BC an artist in Neolithic Japan created what is thought to be the earliest visual depiction of cannabis in a cave near what is now Kyushu. The painting shows the leaf motif common in many cannabis inspired artworks, and also appears to show smoke, an animal, and a person. During this time, hemp seeds were used as a food source, fiber material, and smoked in Asia. Over thousands of years many cultures would use and alter the cannabis plant, leading to its use in many rituals and artworks, and a higher concentration of THC. Even language was impacted by the cannabis plant’s iconic leaf design. The Chinese character Má (麻), which is the character used for hemp, is thought to be two cannabis plants underneath a shelter. Thousands of years later, in 1800, East Asian art like ‘Lovers’ by Choki still showed the culture’s developed relationship with the cannabis plant.
As the cannabis plant traveled to the West through India and the Middle East, smoking cannabis became a ritualistic fashion. The Greek father of history, Herodotus, wrote about how Scythians in 440 BC would throw hemp on hot stones and breathe in the vapor and rejoice. This method of smoking cannabis could very well be the inspiration behind “getting stoned.” The style of ingesting cannabis by placing the plant on hot stones is thought to have originated in China, where cannabis was ingested using brazier’s and stones at funerals. Chinese researcher Yimin Yang believes that this practice was done in hopes of communicating “with nature, spirits, or deceased people.” These ceremonies usually included music and dancing, which could be the origin of the relationship between music and cannabis.
There are even visual renderings of cannabis gods and goddesses, which were seen in Egyptian, East Asia, India, and several other indigenous cultures around the globe. Most commonly, Mother Earth is shown as the patron goddess of Earth and everything green, cannabis included, which is why many modern cannabis-inspired works incorporate her image. In Egypt the goddess Seshat is the patron of writing, creativity, scripture, and mathematics. It is believed that she originated written language, and that she harnessed some power from the cannabis plant. Seshat is usually depicted with a cannabis leaf above her head. In China during the Song Dynasty, the goddess Magu is known as the Immortal Hemp Maiden. Ma Ku, a Taoist goddess whose immortality is said to be the cause of her knowledge and use of superior medicines like the Elixir of Life. In her folkloric stories, Ma Ku is said to have invited Taoist philosophers to smoke some herb, as well as eat foods from the heavens. In India, the god Shiva is known as the originator and lord of bhang, a cannabis based paste that was used throughout the country in 1000 BC.
As cannabis traveled to Europe, during Medieval times, the Renaissance, and Enlightenment periods lead to an influx in botany-based artworks. These were commonly works produced by monks studying plants and are more scientific in nature. Much like diagrams in textbooks, these artists would rely on the illustrations to further their understanding of the world. They would spend a long time illustrating things like the growing stages of the plant, the plant’s natural environment, and other organisms that may co-habituate with the plant.
During marijuana prohibition, there were many anti-cannabis propaganda works made, such as ‘Reefer Madness.’ These posters and works were meant to highlight negative stereotypes surrounding the substance and those who use it. Art made in, or inspired from, the 1960s is what most people have seen of cannabis art. It usually uses bright colors and is said to be influenced by other hallucinogenic substances such as magic mushrooms and LSD. One interesting artistic niche during this time was the alternative comix movement. This is when publications like Zap Comix by Robert Crumb would expand the comics medium to extend to more adult topics like sex, drinking, and drugs; like cannabis. There are many subtle and clear-cut references to cannabis use in alternative comics, like in Robert Crumb’s comix strip titled ‘Stoned Again.’ Rick Griffin, the illustrator behind ‘A Puff of Kief’ was also a part of the alternative underground comix movement of the 1960s.
In modern times, as legalization support is growing and with the increased connectivity of the internet, there is more cannabis-inspired artwork than ever before. Many ceramic and glass artists have taken to making intricate delivery systems for cannabis, and several illustrators have made cannabis art and merchandise. However, social media apps like Instagram and Facebook have been known to ‘shadow ban’ or penalize these cannabis artist accounts. Censorship in cannabis-inspired art is not new, and has been happening for hundreds of years, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful to cannabis artists and it won’t erase the rich ancient history humans have with cannabis.
Written by Annie McVay, photographed by Renee Thompson
If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed an astounding lack of cannabis in anime. Growing up in the United States, we’re constantly bombarded with jokes and references to using cannabis. We know bloodshot eyes are a dead giveaway and that you’d better have a dang delicious drink to cure the oncoming cottonmouth. Even when pot was illegal in all 50 states, there were iconic films themed around Mary Jane. Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke has long been praised for starting the stoner entertainment genre in the United States. With anime comprising 60% of the world’s animation-based entertainment, I have to ask: where’s the weed?
But hey, let’s start with the fun part and recount the times cannabis has appeared in anime! Anyone who’s watched Samurai Champloo knows that hip-hop beats aren’t the only dank part of this action-packed series. In episode nine, “Beatbox Bandits,” Mugen is caught by the Tengu warrior-priests while on a mission to deliver a severed head, which inevitably leads to starting sacks of weed on fire in the storage shed to escape imprisonment. During the escape, Mugen inhales the purple haze emitted from the burning “holy grass,” causing a psychedelic fight scene. Although the warrior priests didn’t get to use their cannabis to start a revolution in the Japanese government, it did save Fuu and Jin from execution.
Besides that blatant representation of cannabis, anime has very obscure references and negative outlooks on the substance. Inepisode 20 of Assassination Classroom, Nagisa scolds Yuji, a minor character, for smoking cannabis. Detroit Metal City (highly nonsensical and full of jokes, not for the light-hearted)features the manager making the main character Souichi smoke cannabis in hopes of unleashing his true evil. If you’ve ever watched Eureka Seven, then you’re bound to have questions about Stoner, who is modeled after Che Guevara. And while Che Guevara never smoked the drug or promoted its use, we’ve all seen his image on smoking paraphernalia. Other honorable mentions would have to go to Brook from One Piece and Pannacotta Fugo from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, who both have “purple haze” incorporated in their respective arsenal.
So what’s the deal? For so much anime out there, the number of cannabis references is ludicrously low. Things become a lot more clear-cut after considering Japan’s strict laws against cannabis and the history behind them. Using or possessing Mary Jane can get someone up to five years in jail, and a fine, wholesale, transport, or cultivation can earn someone a 7 to 10-year sentence. Cannabis has been illegal since the Potsdam Declaration after the end of World War II in 1948. Yet, before WWII, the entire country of Japan used cannabis for all sorts of ceremonies and traditions. Shinto priests burned cannabis to exorcise demons, pilgrims left it as offerings on shrines, and families even burned it outside their homes during Obon, Japan’s festival of the dead, to invite ancestral spirits.
Japan is so staunchly against cannabis that they believe the substance is one of the most deadly drugs known to man. Ironically, Japan doesn’t classify cigarettes or alcohol as drugs, either. Drinking is so socially acceptable that no laws are prohibiting cracking open a cold one with the boys in public. Alcohol itself is sold 24/7 at convenience stores, supermarkets, and even in vending machines on the street. It’s also normal to show up to work hungover (so much so workers are not allowed to call out when hungover). Co-workers love to drink together after work, and refusing an invitation can be interpreted as an insult.
While drinking in public and smoking cigarettes are a-okay, cannabis will land you in a world of social shame and criminal charges. Neighbors and even doctors will narc on anyone they suspect of smoking reefer. Various celebrities have been caught enjoying cannabis, and it kills their career. Junnosuke Taguchi, a former male idol of KAT-TUN, was initially facing the death penalty for smoking a joint with his girlfriend. Fans even lament their idols’ poor choices and rally at their subsequent press releases to express support for “getting clean.”
But fear not! Shining through like a ray of sunshine is Michiko Kameishi, a determined lawyer who claims she’s “always thought that Japan’s Cannabis Control Law is absurd.” Kameishi is a skillful and intelligent lawyer who hates “unreasonable regulations that have no scientific basis.” After hearing how Los Angeles had trendy dispensaries and parties with frequent cannabis use, she knew the time had come to act. Japan may be steeped in propaganda surrounding cannabis, but Kameishi and the power of science may just change the country yet. And if attitudes about cannabis become more positive, we’re bound to see more references in anime.
written by Skyla Patton, photographed by Nina Compeau
Cannabis has a world of controversy surrounding it on all fronts, whether it be legalization, decriminalization or social acceptance. While people immersed in the industry work tirelessly to strip the cannabis plant of it’s shrouded stereotypes and narratives, other problematic aspects can slip through the cracks as we try to deal with the big picture. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the dark roots of a commonplace term in the cannabis industry: marijuana.
Weed, dope, grass, herb, cannabis, cannabaceae, mary jane, the good green stuff; casual and professional slang thrown around to describe cannabis. Even with the plethora of language that surrounds cannabis, marijuana is the title that has remained dominant over the years. It’s suggested that one origin story of the term comes from Chinese “ma ren hua,” or hemp seed flower (cannabis is the genus of cannabaceae, or hemp when referencing non-drug usage). Underneath the seemingly innocent and casual lingo of marijuana in America lies a trail of xenophobia, racism and societal injustices.
At minimal face value, the word has contributed to the furthering of harmful and inaccurate stereotypes throughout history. The word “marihuana” (also spelled marijuana) was weaponized in the early 1900s with the rise of immigration from Mexico and the consequential steady employment in available cannabis fields for Hispanic workers. Prior to this, cannabis had been marketed by pharmaceutical companies as a sleep aid and pain reliever and it came in a liquid form. This product was most widely available to the wealthier (and whiter) population, but lower socioeconomic classes had significantly less access to this form of cannabis and were more likely to smoke cannabis flower. Even though the various classes and races generally use cannabis at the same rate, people of color and impoverished communities are systematically targeted for it. This dynamic of class-based privilege is still represented today in the gentrification of high-end dispensaries developing locations in communities that still actively suffer from consequences of the war on drugs.
Following the wave of immigration, the upper classes of America quickly associated the disparate increasing financial depression and social strain with Hispanic and black communities, seeking somewhere to point a finger of blame. This included their well-known cultivation and consumption of marijuana, rapidly snowballing into an ordeal of systematic racism perpetuated with stereotypes that would have long-lasting consequences on both marginalized communities and cannabis. This downward spiral initiated the path for cannabis to exist as Schedule 1 Drug to this day, defined by the DEA as “drugs, substances or chemicals with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Elites and politicians of the time, such as Harry Anslinger—the ‘godfather’ of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics of which he served for 32 years—used the unabashed xenophobia and racism of the nation to racialize marijuana and paint an image of violence, crime and fear over both the plant and the communities cultivating it.
This stereotype spread like wildfire through the United States and white America ate it up as quickly as they could. Images of pot-smokers rapidly evolved from a wealthy white party appetizer to degenerate, dangerous criminals and offenders who were determined to rob the rest of the world of their nice things and sanity. Marijuana took up a new “exotic” persona, and Reefer Madness or The Devil’s Lettuce took hold.
Narratives spun by politicians such as Anslinger included forming an addiction to marijuana and resulting violent tendencies (including murder or assault), communist brainwashing, and the (dark organ music playing here) furthering of racial equality. Anslinger was quoted in a statement saying, “the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races… reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
These stigmas pushed the images of violence and racism that championed the prohibition of cannabis—not dissimilar from the prohibition of alcohol which would follow a few decades later—which many still struggle in navigating today. It also largely contributed to the deep-seeded institutionalized racism that has carried over to today in casual industry usage of the word marijuana and rampant injustices against minorities within the cannabis community.
While many individuals, either as casual consumers or active participants in the industry, are catching on to the dark roots behind the word marijuana and switching to the friendlier formal term cannabis, it’s important that we get the facts straight. The continual use of terms that are outdated, inaccurate and harmful to any grouping of people is simply another avenue of furthering oppression and institutionalized racism, regardless of historical erasure of meaning and connotation. While it’s important to note that many still debate the origins and etymology of marijuana, it’s also crucial that we as a society are able to identify harmful microaggressions as we see them and address them unequivocally to best protect all members of the communities we’re in.
The pursuit of intersectionality in our verbiage is particularly important to focus on if you happen to be of a community that is in no way disadvantaged by racial or socioeconomic stereotypes and systems—AKA, check your privilege and go from there. Outside of adjusting our vocabulary and understanding the deeper meanings behind the words we use, the next step is to educate the cannabis community on the harms of the drug war and the true science behind the plant.
For more information on cannabis and its relation to race, check out Race and the Drug War by drugpolicy.org or The War on Marijuana in Black and White, an article published by the American Civil Liberties Union.
As marijuana tiptoes towards legalization and legitimacy all over the world, healthy and effective methods of consumption are popularizing. Alternatives to smoking such as edibles, topicals and vaporizers have stepped up to the plate, each with their own pros and cons. However, vaporizers may be the latest and greatest option for consumers looking for the respiratory relief of using edibles and topicals without the slow onset.
“I would smoke a spliff like every night basically,” esays Shae Wirth, musician and marijuana enthusiast. “When I would wake up and try to play the horn I just didn’t have the amount of power behind my lungs as I had before. So I finally was like alright this has gotta change.”
Wirth got his first herbal vaporizer, the Da Buddha, in his freshman year of college in an effort to minimize the smell associated with marijuana smoke — a vaporizer is a device that converts herbal and/or concentrate material into vapor, typically for inhalation. However, the lack of portability made strictly vaporizing difficult for Wirth. It wasn’t until Wirth’s junior year of college that he purchased the portable vaporizer known as the Pax 2, and committed to herbal vaporizers as his regular form of consumption. Wirth describes the difference as night and day. After buying a portable unit and sticking to it, Wirth realized that vaporizers were not only a different way to consume, but a better way.
“If you do wanna smoke a lot, just vape. Because I’ve found it really doesn’t affect my lungs,” says Wirth. “I know tons of music majors who really struggle with this— they’re like coughing in rehearsal and shit —and I’m just like get a vape. That’s the solution, get a vape.”
Vaporizers come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with many having temperature control features. These devices most often take on two forms in the marijuana industry— desktop and portable. Desktop vaporizers, such as Wirth’s Da Buddha, plug into the wall and are typically larger and more expensive than portable vaporizers. Meanwhile, portable vaporizers run on battery power and are typically smaller than desktop units, such as Wirth’s Pax 2. “Usually my friends are kind of hesitant, because they’re like ‘oh vaping that’s kind of whatever,’ but as soon as they try it they usually like it.
An experiment from 2004 published by the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics found that marijuana vapor contained three non-cannabinoid compounds while marijuana smoke contained 111— five of which were known organic pollutants that have proven toxic and carcinogenic effects. One of the three non-cannabinoid compounds found in the vapor was the terpene caryophyllene. Terpenes are organic compounds that gives each marijuana strain it’s distinct smell and flavor profile.
It’s no secret that different compounds boil at different temperatures. The same is true for the various compounds found in marijuana. Vaporizers with precise temperature controls allow marijuana smokers to dial in the high they are looking for by tapping into the various terpenes and cannabinoids associated with the product. This means consumers could experience a whole different suite of compounds, from the same buds, by vaporizing at a different temperature.
Studies have yet to accurately test the differences between an all-vape and an all-smoke lifestyle for marijuana users over a long period of time, and a lot of the research around it is still up in the air. This leaves users to find out the possible health benefits of switching to vaporizers on their own.
While vaporizers may seem like the be-all end-all of healthy marijuana consumption at first, many users still prefer to smoke. According to University of Oregon senior Ryan Lemoine, marijuana consumer, many people complain about vaporizers not hitting as hard or being too expensive. “All types of smoking are very different, like a bong rip is going to hit you immediately and you’ll probably be coughing,” says Lemoine. “Vape smoke definitely lasts a lot longer, and it’s less intense for sure.” This lower intensity means using vaporizers can take more time to get high and have more of a learning curve, according to Lemoine.
Many people can also be deterred by the price of vaporizers. While a small oil pen typically won’t make a large dent in your wallet, some desktop vaporizers can cost up to $600 for the unit alone. These high costs are not easily overlooked by consumers who aren’t planning on vaping regularly or have a tighter budget. However, for consistent consumers who enjoy puffing herb more regularly, the pros and cons of looking for alternatives should certainly be considered.
Quality herbal vaporizers are not commonly stocked at local smoke shops, but it never hurts to look. The popular portable Pax vaporizer can be found at smoke shops such as Midtown Direct. However, websites like Puffitup and Planet of the Vapes have a much wider range of options than smoke shops near campus. Those looking into purchasing a vaporizer should consider multiple options to see what will best fit their price range and lifestyle.