The Healing Of A Nation?

I’m sitting in my car at the gas station getting my gas pumped. A great benefit of living in Oregon is that you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. Looking at the window of the actual station and noticing shelf after shelf filled with packs of cigarettes, I started thinking. There is literally every single kind imaginable, for every kind of smoking need you might have. All of them packaged all pretty and sold like highly taxed and regulated candy. 

There were days when people grew their own tobacco. Or maybe the local farmer grew it for them. Maybe it was smoked casually. Habitually. Ceremonially.  Most likely it was cultivated on a smaller scale- planted, harvested, dried and packaged by the farmer. It was pure in form, sans any fillers.  It was like any other crop that the community wanted and needed that the farmer could provide. 

And then I started thinking about cannabis. And the future of it in legal states. 

 

photographer unknown

* * * 

I haven’t written about cannabis for obvious reasons. I can’t bear to be boxed into a stereotypical stoner, because I am not. I am also a mother-  and people don’t love middle aged mothers talking about marijuana use because people just might think you are always high while mothering or smoking around your kids and decide to call social services on you. And mostly I haven’t written about it because until recently, it’s been mostly illegal… and now in Washington/Oregon, where I live, it’s mostly legal.

TOXICITY + MAINSTREAMING

I am not anti-legalization. I celebrate the freedom legalizing cannabis brings and the stigma about the plant that hopefully will get lifted. Of course my vision is that we break through the ridiculous stereotypes and all of us that understand its benefits come a bit clean and also step into a bit of activism around it. It’s a plant, and a powerful one. People should have safe and healthy access to it if needed or wanted. Plants should not be illegal. Plants are plants. Some just make you feel a little “different” if you smoke them. Some are strong medicine. Some are a good time. Some stop you from coughing. Some look pretty in pots. And some taste amazing marinated in soy sauce and thrown on the grill. We have every right as people on this earth to have access to what grows from the ground. 

But I have concerns. I am worried about who will have access to buying cannabis, what kind of forms it’s offered in and who will be allowed to grow and sell it. I am worried about the growing practices and production methods as well as the style of distribution. I am concerned about pesticide use- like that in our food, our tobacco and our alcohol spirits. Will cannabis eventually be filled with a bunch of toxic fillers sold to the masses in a form that is unrecognizable due to companies with far and wide reaches such as major tobacco companies? I don’t know. But it’s possible. 

In Washington state medicinal growers are not regulated by the government. The Stranger shared an article a few weeks ago that revealed the biggest violators of pesticides in marijuana are medicinal growers.  When you purchase marijuana as a medicine in Washington state you may very well be getting large amounts of pesticides in the product. How is that medicine? 

 Since legalization, cannabis farmers who have been growing for a long time are not making money in the way you’d hope a pot farmer would… because when you grow cannabis, unlike any other crop, you receive no tax breaks. What this means is that successful cannabis farmers could very well be people who are farming other things already - on a large scale-  and are all set up to take on a new cash crop. This puts cannabis at risk of becoming a crop no different than wheat. Or tobacco. Or soybeans. 

I just can’t stomach thinking about that. 

I also can't bare to think about the possibility of pharmacuetical companies and highly perified pills that are a lab made profitible version of cannabis?

photographer unknown 

 BRANDING + WHITE MEN IN SUITS

The Bob Marley family just launched Marley Naturals in partnership with Seattle big cannabis spenders Privateer Holdings. so by the end of this year there will be a global brand of cannabis coming from the Tuff Gong’s legacy, branded by the same folks who formed the look for New Balance and Starbucks.  According to Rita Marley, Marley Naturals will be “Jamaican strains that Bob enjoyed”. They are branding it as a healing plant, much to what Rastafarians have always believed and named and sing endlessly about: “it’s the healing of the nation”. Willy Nelson also has branded a strain of cannabis called Willie’s Reserve. Willie Nelson’s is a mostly sativa cannabis strain that claims it will leave it's users clear-headed, allowing them to perform artistic or social activities.

 Both of these brands claim integrity with the pure state of the plant. Marley's Natural state they won't have pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, but Willie's Reserve will. And after hours of research, I couldn’t find information on the actual growers, the cultivators, or the manufacturers of these brands. I couldn’t find out the exact methods or processes. I want to know everything about what I purchase and consume, including who is growing it, especially when it’s branded in a way that is aligned with the teachings of Rastafarianism. 

Mainstreaming and branding marijuana can go two ways. High end cannabis from all over the world can be available for people who understand its uses and quality and it will make it easier to find quality cannabis with a brand you can trust- because it’s insisted upon. Because the consumers will demand it and the producers will supply it. Or a bunch of kids will start going around smoking pre-rolled cigarettes like candy, all excitedly listening to an Exodus album in their cars. And depending on the testing and integrity of the growers, they could be smoking poison instead of medicine. The demand could be from people who know nothing and care nothing about growing methods, and only that they can now buy their weed all rolled up for them stamped with superstar approval. I am wondering who else will come out with brands. 

It’s obvious Privateer Holdings is going bigger and bigger with funding cannabis endeavors. If you check out their site they really do hold down a massive cannabis fort of technology and information; extremely medical, sterile and professional looking in their own brand.  But how big and who are they contracting to grow and what are they using? And what does this mean for the small farmer who finally can make a living at what they have loved to grow best and prospered with? Bottom line is: most herb farmers will get pushed out of the game and large agri-farmers could take over business.

Mass production may/will occur and white men in suits {in bed with the government} will rule the game. Again.  Same story. Played over. 

What could it have looked like if we just decriminalized instead of government regulated legalized? Stopped throwing people of color in jails for selling instead of putting all the money off the sales in the government's hands?

photographer unknown

* * * 

ADDICTION 

Our culture creates addiction very consciously. Because when we are addicted we spend money on it. Addictions make people rich. Long gone are the days when the tobacco came from the earth into the pipe. Or the spirit came from the left over apples from the orchard. And the cacao leaf was chewed straight from the tree. But for the masses these things get watered down, processed and become toxic chemical-infused substances, made poorly and cheaply, far away from their original form and origin, so far away from their purpose. Cannabis is not physically addictive, but is most definitely emotionally addictive and I personally know many people who have a hard time stopping. But with added ingredients, it can easily become chemically addicitve. And why wouldn’t it if people are counting on making a ton of money from it? It almost makes sense that it needs to become highly addictive for the desired profit. We can say, “of course it will be regulated!” But we all know what happened to tobacco. I’m not saying pure tobacco is good for you. But in extreme moderation I am not sure how deadly it truly is. It’s the addiction to it, the habitual daily smoking, and all the highly toxic chemicals added that makes it 100% deadly. It’s not the tobacco, it’s how we produce it, sell it, market it and use it. 

Have you heard of Wax? Me neither. Wax is also cannabis, but it’s hit with a rush of butane- yes what lighter fluid is made from - in its pure form it’s glycol.  It then alchemizes the plant into a very powerful wax-like substance that is so high in THC you can literally trip your face off. This is also legal and quite easily available at dispensaries.

Shatter is similar but even more processed and potent. Shatter is a refined version of Wax, and involves multiple steps to extract all the plant matter and solvents. These steps usually involve a pressure vacuum. Shatter is semi-transparent, usually with a yellow or amber color. It is a thin cake, which ‘shatters’ when you break a piece off, hence the name. Shatter is extremely potent, and can be upwards of 90% THC. 90% could literally toxify your body and you could OD on it if you don’t know when to stop. This is also legal. Cannabis products created with glycol… that are being called medicinal. I have a good friend, who will remain anonymous, who told me: That shit is even way too strong for me and I have been smoking cannabis daily for 25 years.

Another name for both of these is DABS, which is essentially a high grade hash {again made with butane} that can be smoked through a vape pen and is pretty huge with the younger generations. It’s the future of marijuana because of course the kids don’t want to smoke it the way their parents do. There is an entire DAB Girls culture- young hot girls who share video posts of themselves on social media taking huge hits, bragging about how much they can take in. Like pin-up girls smoking honey colored pot amidst their cloud of smoke. If that’s the culture, then fine, I am not here to judge or to become my own mother, but the chances that your DABS are contaminated, made with hardware store butane instead of lab grade glycol, is more than likely - whether it’s bought on the street or in a medicinal dispensary. And then, of course, you have probably exceeded a safe dose of THC. So even though it was been said that it's impossilbe to overdose on cannabis in it's pure form, thanks to DABS it's now possible.

photographer unknown

 

 CANNIBIS IS A PLANT

 But here is the thing with it being a plant. With dirt. And sun. And some paying attention, you can grow your own cannabis, in your own house, and if you are in the Cascadia {Oregon + Washington} area, you can do it in your own home totally legally. This is the one way you can be sure you are getting what you want. Learn about the plant. Get some seeds. Plant them. Take care of it. Figure out what works. And use that. Or continue to support your small cannabis farmers from the underground on out. Don’t get caught up in the corporate/government hoopla around cannabis unless you are absolutely sure you are getting a pure version of what you seek. Make sure you are getting high quality, pure, toxin-free marijuana. Please. 

We have to keep this conversation open and honest, we have to talk to the next generation of cannabis smokers in open and honest ways. WE are the ADULTS in the moment of legalization. All this will affect our kids. The more we talk about it the less likely we are to accept tainted products being sold to the future generation risking another abused road for yet another natural and organic substance. A plant that helps many people - in health, happiness and spiritual life.

Let's refuse being served up thing that kill us and bastardizes nature in yet another way. 

Cannabis is never going to be the same again. Let’s keep paying attention. Let’s own this shit. 

* * * 

MY PERSONAL USE

I do use cannabis. Not as frequently as I probably should, but occasionally it’s exactly what my body needs. Here are all the ways I use it. And for each of these ways, I want pure, clean, unadulterated cannabis in my system. I insist upon it. 

-I have arthritis. I got diagnosed when I was 21 years old so for the past 20 years I have had mild to severe pain in my hips, knees, knuckles and wrists. Living in the PNW can be really rough on my bones and joints with the dampness. I made a choice not to go down the pharmaceutical route and have always treated my body with food and natural methods. I watched someone in my family die from the pills she took to ease the pain of the arthritis. One of the methods I use that helps is cannabis- ingesting and topically applying. Cannabis with high levels of CBD {Cannabidiol} versus THC {Tetrahydrocannabinol} helps relax the body and ease the pain. I also use it topically, in the form of a salve and spray that I make myself and apply to my joints and to be honest it works like nothing else. Add some cayenne and turmeric to the blend and the pain disappears within the hour. 

 

-I have some anxiety. I never used to. Once I turned 40 it hit me hard. I felt like I was turning into my mother. On days when I can feel the spiral of tension happen {this is usually before I begin to bleed} I try a small amount of, again, high CBD strains of marijuana. I don’t do this often, as other things typically help me with this: meditation, diet, breathing, nature, and finding time and space to be fully unplugged and alone. But there are times when the only thing that can actually bring me back into my body and into my breath is a bit of herb. I use this method maybe 1-4 times a month. I am talking little sips of it. Small amounts. It brings me to a foundational state of relaxation so I can move forward from there, open and at ease. 

-Digestive issues. The connection between the gut and the arthritis are huge. Again, food is my first medicine. No grain. No dairy. No refined sugars. Taking those three things out of my system for the most part helps the joint issues and the gut issues. But there are times when my entire body gets stressed and taxed from environmental causes and eating things my body doesn’t love. Then my adrenals go wonky and my digestive tract shuts itself off. I’ll take a small drop of cannabis tincture {again made by myself or people I know and trust} under my tongue and my system goes back into working order. It’s kinda magic. 

-To get me writing. Often times when I use cannabis, I want to write. Or create something. It often frees my mental chatter so that I can feel something else that wants to be said, or come through. And about 80% of the time what I write isn’t “better” writing but it helps me with the process of sitting down and letting go.

-To connect with my spirituality. I don’t need it to get me there, but it works that way if I choose. It can literally bring me into other dimensions when I create the space and set the intention and meditation happens in profound ways. 

I use cannabis as a medicine. Which means I use it when I need it. And yes of course there are times I use it when I want it, but mostly it’s on a need basis, when my body asks for it specifically. And when I do use it for certain reasons, it always shows up as medicine. 

photo by Danielle Cohen


MULTI-CULTURAL USES

Cannabis isn’t just any plant. For many cultures around the world, their spiritual and religious experiences revolve around it and honor it as an sacred gift from god and earth. 

Rastafarians use it as a spiritual act of worship and prayer. The “herb” is literally the sacrament of their religion. “This cannabis religion requires a believer to consume and distribute cannabis as sacrament and medicine. It acknowledges the prophecies of the Christian Old Testament, with an important nod to the New Testament. It takes prophecies of the ancient biblical texts, fusing them with the liberation writings of African-American philosopher and activist Marcus Garvey. This is the story of our great present-day cannabis religion and the sacrifice and struggle that brought it to the forefront of our movement.” -source.

Spiritual aspects of cannabis are considered profound in South Asia with many religious groups including Buddhists, Naths, Shaivites and Goddess Worshippers using it within their meditation practices, as a means to ‘stop the mind and enter into a state of profound stillness, also called Samadhi’.

Cannabis holds a prominent place among Tantrics in India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet to this day. In the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, it is said that Buddha subsisted for six years on nothing but hemp seeds. Various spiritual texts, including the Buddhist Tara Tantra list cannabis as an important aide to meditation and spiritual practice. In the Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas and Northern India, cannabis still plays a significant role in meditative rituals to facilitate deep meditation and heighten awareness. -source

I don’t discount the new and future roots of spirituality in America + Canada that can take form with the legalization and mainstream use of cannabis. I am not saying that it has to be a spiritual thing at all.  It can be just for fun, because you like it, because you choose to. But, we always should look to the roots- who and why people have always used it and why they still do. 

Why not be fully educated? If we want to take a lesson from Bob Marley- know your roots. 

photographer unknown

* * *

The legalization of the plant is happening, and it’s going to be a tricky situation all around- with state laws passing but federal laws still in opposition. But if we hold it with consciousness and keep the conversation going, we can monitor the mass production, the contamination of addictive chemicals, and prevent federal intervention. We can stop the idea that smoking cannabis is anything like smoking cigarettes in this culture. We can also remember a plant that was once burned down en masse by the government is now making the government a shit ton of money. A plant that is considered sacred around the world is becoming a dream commodity for big business in the USA. If you care, you can be part of how this happens by paying attention and being an informed consumer for your community. 

Do you use cannabis in any way? Are you in a legal state? I am not inviting you to share it with the world, but I am inviting you to pay attention to what’s happening around you and keep the conversation open and honest in your community. 

Whether or not you use cannabis, talk about it. For us. For our kids. For all the kids. For the earth. For the people. For the plants. 

Raise your voice. This is how we keep things alive and real.

 

 photographer unknown

 Some video for your pleasure.

Bob Marley on 'herb'. 

Jacob Miller, "The Healing of a Nation" from Rockers.