High Recommendations: Medicated Bath Salts

Written and photographed by Renee Thompson

When I begin to feel the weight of stress on my bones, I always gravitate toward taking a long shower or bath. The mix of water and steam always helps me re-center and feel refreshed. When using medicated bath salts, soaks are even more relaxing. The medicated ingredients can help soothe muscles and nerves. Compared to normal bath salts, depending on the amount of activated ingredients used, one could experience a slight tingly sensation because of the skin’s super absorbent nature. Which is why it is important, not just for the environment, but also for the sake of your own health that you pay attention to the ingredients in bath and beauty products. One thing that I have been doing for the past year is consciously buying products that are better for the environment. I found it very easy to switch to plastic free shampoo and conditioner, and have since started looking into how I can cut out other environmentally harmful products. 

Bath and beauty products can contain microplastics that return to our water supply after you wash your face or body. Microplastics are not usually filtered out of water, since they are so small, but they can have a damaging effect on your health and our shared environment. The Australian Department of Water and the Environment states that microplastics that exist in the environment can negatively affect humans, animals, plant life, and the environment itself. After microplastics have been introduced to the marine environment, they can absorb more toxins and can become even more harmful by carrying those toxins up and down the food chain. Even though Congress passed the Microbead Free Water Act in 2015, the act only classifies microbeads as, “any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof” even through microplastics can be found outside the over-the-counter bath and beauty aisle. The act seems to only target exfoliating microbeads, and doesn’t offer a clear solution for filtering already existing microplastics out of the water supply.

In this recipe, baking soda is used as a cleanser, while Epsom salt works to help reduce soreness. When using this recipe, I like to use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, since its larger flakes work great for exfoliation. I tend to keep decarboxylated stems/shake on hand, but if you are unfamiliar with the process make sure that you heat up your active ingredients on a cookie sheet for 40 mins at 240F. This is also another great reason to save your shake and stems as they can be used instead of pricier premium flower. Of course the higher the THC and CBD in the flower used will affect the potency of the end product, so try and pay attention to those percentages when buying, especially if you are someone who is prone to paranoia. 

Medicated Bath Salts

Prep Time: 5-10 mins

Yield: 1 cup

         Ingredients-

                     1/3 cup baking soda

                     1/3 cup salt

                     1/3 cup Epsom salt

                     1-4 Tbsp medicated coconut oil

                     4-5 drops of essential oil

                     2-4 tps decarboxylated stems and shake

         Tools-

                     1 metal spoon

                     1 medium bowl

                     measuring cup

                     measuring spoons

                     holding container (ex: Mason jar, old flower container, etc.)

         Directions-

1. Measure out the baking soda, salt, and Epsom salt and mix them together in the bowl.

2. Warm up coconut oil in the microwave or on a low on the stovetop.

3. Add the decarboxylated stems/shake and medicated coconut oil to the mixture.

4. Mix well, add essential oil (optional) and mix again.

5. With the spoon, place the medicated bath salt into your container of choice.

6. Add anywhere from 3-6 Tbsp to warm bath or 1-3 Tbsp for a small foot bath or body scrub. Enjoy!

Intersectional Relief

written by Guthrie Stafford, photographed by Connor Cox

As legalization sweeps the nation it becomes easier and easier to take the medicinal qualities of cannabis for granted. And yet, this progress is only possible because people with disabilities have fought tirelessly for the right to relief from mental and physical pain. I sat down with Sai Marie, a local cannabis user who lives with fibromyalgia, partial hearing loss, anxiety and depression, to learn more. We discussed medicinal cannabis, coming to terms with mental illness and Sai’s experience growing up as a biracial native woman. 

At 35, Sai Marie is an accomplished author of poetry, sci-fi and fantasy short stories as well as a mother of three. She radiates the confidence unique to published poets and sports a large turquoise necklace, a gift from her uncle. “From the Res,” she says. 

In the golden light of Café Roma, between sips of raspberry mocha, Sai tells me of a more challenging time in her life. She dropped out of high school so she could put more energy into motherhood, and then she went through a difficult divorce in her early twenties. Through all of it, Sai was suffering from depression as well as a mysterious, generalized pain she would later discover to be fibromyalgia. But when she sought relief from doctors, the pills they gave her robbed her of her passion for writing. “I’m a creative person,” says Sai. “I’ve taken Celexa, things like that. They made me feel zombified. That’s no way to operate. It’s existing, not really living.” 

Managing the balance between wanted and unwanted effects is a challenge when taking any medicinal drugs. And yet, side effects that change our sense of who we are, especially on an ongoing basis, are especially hard to accept. As Sai tells me, “The thing about my disabilities is that they’re constantly treatable; they’re not curable.” Unwilling to give up her art, and to a greater extent, her sense of identity, Sai Marie quit her prescriptions and started searching for an alternative. 

At 24, Sai Marie started using cannabis medicinally, but not without some initial hesitation. “There was a point in my life when I was totally against it,” she says. “You know, I was a nineties kid and D.A.R.E. was a big thing back then.” Although Sai had tried cannabis in her younger years, it took a close friend who was fighting cancer to convince her that it could be used as medicine. 

According to Sai, the choice to self-treat her fibromyalgia and depression with cannabis was less a matter of peer pressure and more of an empirical deduction. “I experienced the benefits myself so I can’t say that it doesn’t work. I’ve changed my life completely since then.” Much of this change has been Sai’s acceptance of mental illness and trauma as a permanent part of her, but not a defining part. “Cannabis allowed me to step outside of that emotional grey area, that gloomy cloud, and look at life and go, okay, this did happen, but it’s all about my perspective and what I want to do with my time.” For the kind of chronic conditions that Sai lives with, ultimate cures are not a possibility, but relief and perspective are. One factor in her choice take treatment into her own hands was growing up with a mother who defied disability stereotypes and encouraged her to explore native herbal medicine. 

Sai inherited genetic hearing loss from her mother, but she also inherited the confidence   to live with it proudly. As we talk she combs her hair behind her ear to reveal a hearing aid, pale and smooth as a shell. She still has about ten percent of her hearing, she tells me. Her mother had it much harder: a Cherokee girl growing up in the sixties in a silent world. “They wanted to send her to a special school. They put it in her head for a long time that that’s all she could do. Now she’s a psychologist, she’s a very successful woman. I had that as a mother to look up to.” Sai goes on to tell me how her mother made her conscious of her Cherokee heritage. “Since I was a little girl, it was very present in my life that I was biracial.” Part of this presence came in the form of native herbal medicine, a tradition that Sai’s mother taught her long before she conceived that cannabis might have a place in it. Turning towards the future, Sai wants to continue the practice of herbal self-treatment for her own children. But sometimes laws intervene. 

For Sai Marie’s adult children, the revolution in how we think about self treatment for pain can’t come soon enough. “My two boys are terminally ill,” Sai tells me. Both of them suffer from muscular dystrophy, a condition that slowly breaks down the skeletal muscles. CBD can help alleviate the chronic aching associated with this condition. “But they live in Tennessee, so they can’t get some of the benefits that they need. They kind of think it’s sad that they can’t have it.” Historically, Sai’s boys’ experience has been the rule rather than the exception. It’s only very recently, mainly thanks to people like Sai Marie raising their voices, that the ability to seek relief from chronic pain has been viewed as a right. And yet, now that the right to relief has taken root in the national consciousness, the swift pace of its adoption into mainstream culture gives Sai hope for a broader acceptance of disability and mental illness going forward. As Sai tells me, “If it starts as simply as giving someone a plant that can help them, then what can we do to change our world?”

Cannabis in Schools

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

Cannabis use in schools is a controversial topic, especially when it comes to cannabis and kids. Medical cannabis and patient rights are at the forefront of this discussion. Unfortunately, most schools find themselves at odds with medical patients due to the Schedule I status of cannabis at the federal level. In states with legal medicinal cannabis laws such as California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, legislatures allow for the use of medical cannabis in schools. 

However, these laws are not without restrictions. Under these laws administering cannabis in schools typically falls on the parents or guardians, who are usually the legal caregivers for their child’s use of cannabis. This can often be difficult because many parents work full-time jobs or are otherwise unable to regularly be available for administering the medicine, especially in time-sensitive situations. Another issue is that often times cannabis is not allowed to be administered on school grounds, making it even more complicated for parents and/or caregivers. 

Certain states such as Colorado and the District of Columbia allow for nurses to administer medical cannabis to a student, but this is not a requirement and they can decline the task. States also restrict the type of cannabis product that can be used to either a non-smokable product or strictly to a capsule or an edible concentrate product. In Texas, only low-THC, high-CBD products derived from hemp are allowed to be used in schools. 

For students on college campuses, however, the rules seem to be much different. Colleges are largely funded by federal money, especially due to the ability to give federal grants and loans to students. If they were to allow medical cannabis use in schools before it is federally legalized, a large majority of their student body could lose funding as a repercussion. Unlike colleges, K-12 schools are largely funded by state and local funds, with only the most underprivileged receiving federal assistance. Most universities also have policies against cannabis use on campus property, including in dorms. This leaves students who are medical cannabis patients in a rough limbo state of how and where to medicate. 

In states like Florida, Arizona, and Massachusetts, students using medical cannabis are filing lawsuits against their schools for discrimination based on their use. Many of the students are in programs such as nursing or other medical tracks and are required to take a drug test. Judges in these states have settled in favor of the students in some of the cases, but other students are still fighting their school in court. Even after one judge sided with the student, the school still refused the student re-entry into the program. These colleges denying students often cite the current federal law and college policies as a means to disqualify students who use medicinal cannabis from their schools and programs.

Overall, cannabis is still a very touchy subject that many schools are scared to talk about. When more cannabis activists and parents of kids using medical cannabis stand up to take action against unfair school policies, we have seen some beneficial changes like the ones in Colorado and California. However, challenges for medical cannabis users such as the fact many cannot medicate on the school property are still there.

The current University of Oregon policy continues to prohibit cannabis in any form on-campus, whether medical or recreational. All campus properties are cannabis and tobacco smoke-free, including the usage of vape devices. Lane Community College states that possession of one ounce or less of cannabis is a violation, anything more than an ounce violates Federal law. LCC also states that while students with a medical cannabis card can be “under the influence” but may not ingest cannabis on campus property.