What happens if you smoke weed everyday?

Actor, comedian, and well-known stoner Seth Rogen has said, “I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years. For me, it’s like glasses or shoes.” If the work of Seth Rogen — most famous for the films Knocked Up and Pineapple Express and TV show Freaks & Geeks — isn’t ringing a bell, then you’ve probably heard the Dr. Dre song, “Smoke Weed Every Day.” You’ve definitely heard of  cannabis entrepreneur and pot culture icon Snoop Dogg, who reportedly smokes a whopping 81 blunts per day. 

There’s no question that there are plenty of celebrities and consumers who smoke weed every day. But it begs a separate question: is smoking weed every day a good idea? If so, what actually happens? 

THC and your body and brain

To learn more, we spoke with Dr. Adie Rae, an assistant scientist at the Portland, Oregon-based Legacy Research Institute. She is also the resident subject matter expert in cannabis science and pharmacology here at Weedmaps.

Undoubtedly, cannabis consumption has many benefits, including, but not limited to: managing chronic pain, ameliorating PTSD, helping people gain weight, managing epilepsy and anxiety, and so much more. And let’s not forget, cannabis consumption can spark creativity and productivity, and just be fun without any justifications thanks to THC, the cannabinoid that gets you high.  

Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Nonetheless, according to Dr. Rae, there are more reasons not to smoke weed every than to consume with such regularity. While the definition of what constitutes heavy consumption is up for debate, Rae says that heavy cannabis use may increase the risk for the following conditions: 

  • Hyperemesis: a rare condition that leads to repeated and severe vomiting, it is associated with daily use of cannabis.
  • Cannabis use disorder: a diagnosis given for problematic marijuana consumption.
  • Schizophrenia/psychosis: schizophrenia is a rare, chronic brain disorder that includes delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and thoughts. Psychosis is but one symptom of schizophrenia that affects how the brain processes information. Early and excessive cannabis use can express symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Abuse of other substances (which Rae emphasizes is correlation and not the gateway theory that cannabis causes other drug abuse).

You may have  heard the quote, “Physician, heal thyself,” and some hold that all cannabis use is ultimately medicinal, whether intentional or not. However, in some instances, heavy cannabis consumption could make some aspects of our health worse. “There is the possibility that daily consumption could worsen depression and interfere with both male and female reproduction,” Rae added. “But the data is fuzzy and more research is needed.” 

Building THC tolerance and the endocannabinoid system  

A fact that needs no explanation to consumers is that regular cannabis consumption inevitably leads to tolerance. During weed consumption, THC attaches to CB1 receptors, located throughout the body as part of the endocannabinoid system, a physiological process that helps the body create and maintain bodily harmony. When THC locks into the CB1 receptor, we not only get the feeling of being “high,” but other systems are modulated, including sleep, pain, and appetite. 

But when THC is regularly consumed or for prolonged periods of time, the sensitivity of the CB1 receptor becomes reduced, which leads to reduced effects. How long it takes for tolerance to set in depends on a few factors, including how often you consume, the level of THC you’re consuming, and your own personal biology. 

“Tolerance means that you need more and more to achieve the desired effect,” Rae explained. “This can get pretty ugly, where folks can no longer get high from flower, and they can only feel something if they use high-dose edibles or dabs. Increased frequency and high doses of THC are also associated with all the potential risks mentioned earlier.”

Developing cannabis tolerance can also be expensive. Once you’ve developed the tolerance, in order to meet the same desired effect, you’ll have to do one of two things: 1) spend more money to consume more frequently, or 2) consume higher potency THC products, which can reach $75 or more for an eighth.

To avoid tolerance, Rae said consumers should take a “T-break,” a deliberate break from cannabis consumption to reset the body’s tolerance to THC. “By taking regular tolerance breaks — at least 48 hours every 30 days — a person can keep their endocannabinoid system sensitive to THC,” she added. “Increasing doses aren’t required to feel the effects of cannabis, avoiding dose escalation, and thereby avoiding risks and costs.”  

Should you smoke weed every day? Probably not. Make sure you carve out time for a t-break to gain the most benefits both financially and for your good health. 

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What are beasters?

Long before cannabis prohibition came to an end in Canada in 2018, our neighbors to the north had a robust illicit market with a long tradition of outstanding cannabis cultivation, especially in the province furthest to the west, British Columbia. 

During the Vietnam War, some 30,000 conscientious objectors made their way across the US border and into Canada. At least a few of those individuals had pockets full of cannabis seeds, which were soon planted in the fertile grounds of Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, and the Okanagan. These crops grew into high-quality, potent, and flavorful bud, aka BC Bud.

Like so many other cannabis terms specific to the culture, “BC Bud” eventually turned into the term “beasters.” 

Where’d the term “beasters” come from?

The story and origin of the beasters nickname is up for debate. Some believe that beasters aren’t grown in Canada at all, and are a cheap version of the not-very-potent, easy-to-grow, M-39 strain cultivated in warehouses operated by gangs in Asia and shipped to Canada — who then send these “no-love buds” to the U.S. 

Perhaps the epic quality of genuine BC Bud caused confusion about what a beaster actually is. Could it be the slang-term for the good stuff illicitly shipped to the U.S. from British Columbia? Is it mass-grown in a greenhouse in some rural province, or is it a general term that encompasses all Canadian weed that has made its way illegally to the US? Is it really grown in Asia and shipped to Canada?

At least in the early 1990, beasters were thought to be Canada’s version of brick weed, described as a poorly grown, badly managed and harvested indica-leaning hybrid of Northern Lights and Skunk strains. Despite the poor taste and potency, these early beasters were still an improvement to the cannabis making its way up from Mexico, which tended to be dry, full of seeds and twigs, and lacking flavor and potency.

And though beasters grew quickly and were visually appealing, they were subprime cannabis plants where growers placed making money ahead of cultivating a high-standard, potent crop — qualities for which authentic BC Bud is so well-known. 

Beasters and modern weed

In our current cannabis culture, beasters could probably be defined as middle-of-the road weed that simply comes from Canada. To the schooled eye, beasters are pretty easy to differentiate from other buds and have some predictable effects. 

Visually, beasters have few seeds or stems, as well as a nice shape and noticeable trichome crystals, as well as orange, purple, and green hues. Beasters are known for a smooth toke and decent taste that will bring on a couchlock body high true to its indica lineage. 

They’re also known to be semi-potent with THC percentages typically 15—20 percent. While these levels may not be a big deal to experienced consumers, those new to beasters will want to take it slow. 

If, in fact, beaster plants can be traced back to the M-39 strain, consumers could expect an experience that leans into its indica-like qualities. Though the strain can bring on a good mood while being super relaxing, it can bring on the munchies before putting you to sleep. 

Growers like M-39 for its relatively short (eight-to-nine weeks) flowering period, its mild aroma, and resistance to mold. When grown with care, M-39 can produce rich, resin-coated buds and a strong limonene terpene profile. 

For the cost, beasters are a decent buy. Expect to spend anywhere from $50-60 for an eighth, depending on where you live. 

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Remembering Franco Loja and his lasting influence on modern cannabis

If you’re a fan of — or have even heard about — famous cannabis strains like White Widow, Super Silver Haze, or Himalayan Gold, you have been privy to the work of renowned international cannabis seed bank and genetics creator, Green House Seed Company.

The influence of Green House Seed Company on cannabis breeding and access to quality flower shouldn’t be underestimated. Green House is widely considered one of the most successful cannabis businesses in the world. Based in Amsterdam — arguably the center of the cannabis universe — Green House claims a massive haul of cannabis cups, Greenhouse Coffee shops, a seed bank filled with exceptional genetics, world famous strains, and a bold vision to normalize cannabis for patients and casual consumers alike.

Strains from the firm have won 40 High Times Cannabis Cups, 17 Highlife Cups, and many others across the globe. Founded in 1985 by Arjan Roksam and Green House’s master cultivator and head breeder, Franco Loja, their search for rare and endangered cannabis seeds was chronicled in the series Strain Hunters, a Roksam-produced work that was picked up by Vice on HBO. 

But this search for the rare and unique also took the life of Loja, who died in 2017 at the much-too-young-age of 42. 

Why landrace strains were important to Loja

Roksam and Loja scoured the world for rare landrace cannabis, extremely unique plant finds in an industry teeming with hybridized strains. Landrace strains are prized in the current landscape because they are frequently used to inspire and crossbreed new strains. They’re the bread and butter of legal cannabis.

For example, landrace strains like Afghani and Thai are cultivars that have never been crossbred by humans with another plant. A defining characteristic of landrace cannabis is that it is unique to its particular geographic origin, and is adaptive to the land and environment where it grows. 

Over generations, these landrace cannabis plants become hyper-adapted to their environment, and create genes that protect its ability to survive and reproduce in its particular place. In turn, their genes create site-specific responses to drought, pests, ultraviolet light, and many other factors, they also play a key role in cannabinoid and terpene production. Even if pure Afghani, whose name indicates that it was found in the fields of Afghanistan, were grown in California, it would no longer be landrace since it was grown in a different environment. 

Loja’s passion for life and dedication to quality cannabis genetics

Loja, better known as Franco the Strain Hunter, is a cannabis industry legend who is  remembered fondly years after his passing for his enthusiasm, dedication, and energy. Renowned for more than a cannabis science and cultivation expert, he took cannabis knowledge and breeding to the next level. Loja was well-known for his humanitarian work advocating for the  protection of people across the globe from disease, starvation, and unjust treatment.

Green House Seed Company’s permanent tribute to Loja states, “Franco’s high-risk, fast-paced, full gas career was only just taking off. He had invested all of his time, money, and passion into building up a future for himself and his children, while helping people in places like DR Congo. His children were everything to him, and he was an amazing father.”

Just prior to his unexpected passing, Loja had been traveling with Roksam in the Democratic Republic of Congo, researching how the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD could treat those with cerebral malaria, a preventable disease that takes the lives of more than 405,000 people per year, mostly African children.

A 2015 mouse study published in Neuroscience investigated how CBD can impact cerebral malaria. Research showed that five days after being infected with malaria, the mice who received CBD instead of a common malaria medicine had no memory dysfunction, an increase in neuroprotectants, and a decrease of inflammation in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex when compared to the group that received the pharmaceutical. The CBD-treated group also lived longer than the other cohort.

It’s impossible to know if this study inspired his trip to the Congo, but Loja’s death was caused by the disease he was working so hard to cure. He passed after a short and severe case of cerebral malaria, leaving behind a deep and revered legacy of cannabis horticulture knowledge and cultural influence. 

Prior to his passing, it was abundantly evident that Italian-born Loja was passionate about the beauty of the cannabis plant and its endless medicinal possibilities. 

“Cannabis is my passion, my bread, my home,” he said on an episode of Strain Hunters. “I feel it is my duty to make sure this amazing plant is preserved and enjoyed. I am a smoker, a grower, a breeder, and a strain hunter.”

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What does it mean to get crossfaded?

Even the most experienced consumers of alcohol and cannabis can find themselves in that dreaded over-intoxicated space, when a fun night sipping drinks and toking up with friends turns into a greened-out horror show. 

Crossfading, or being high and drunk at the same time, is a difficult thing to master without going over the edge of either one. Most often, crossfaded highs are a terrible experience because they can be disorienting, nauseating, dizzying, and can even bring on anxiety and panic attacks. Motor skills are significantly diminished to the point of putting people in danger.

Some medical experts believe that consuming alcohol and marijuana can be straight up dangerous. For instance, cannabis is an antiemetic, meaning that it helps prevent nausea and vomiting. However, if you’ve consumed too much alcohol, the most efficient way to get it out of your system is to vomit. In this scenario, cannabis disrupts the body’s instinct to rid itself of excess alcohol. 

Cannabis and alcohol are both frequently consumed psychoactive substances, where they alter a person’s mental state. Though they exert different effects, the combination of the two often leads to impaired decision making. We all know how dangerous it is to drink and drive, which kills one person in the U.S. every 50 minutes. 

But, hey, you’re only human. Sometimes the night simply gets away, and you’ve found yourself totally wasted, baked, and careening into crossfaded territory. Here are some of the warning signs to keep an eye on: 

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation

Should you experience any of these symptoms, stop consuming both substances immediately. 

Tips to overcome the crossfade

Tips and tricks for coming down from a high could also be applied to alcohol. Myths about sobering up aside, no matter what you do, substances won’t metabolize from your body any faster by vomiting, drinking coffee, or taking cold showers. 

When you feel like you’re crossfaded, the first thing to do is make sure you get somewhere safe if you aren’t already. Do not get behind the wheel! Get a ride from a friend, rideshare, or taxi to a place where you can shelter until the crossfade passes. 

Once safe, take deep breaths. Crossfading may cause anxiety and paranoia, so stay calm and remember that this too shall pass. Sip water, eat something mild if your stomach can handle it, and assuming your world isn’t spinning, sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is the best remedy for being crossfaded.

Though there has been a pile of research on how alcohol affects the body, there is less research on how cannabis does the same. And there is even less research on the effects of combining alcohol and weed. However, the small amount of research thus far seems to illustrate how  cannabis and alcohol is probably not the best pairing.

Given all the risks and unpleasantness of crossfading, why do it at all? Some may want to tinker with the effects of the substances, experiment with differing levels of intoxication, or test their own tolerance to each substance. 

Regardless of how you choose to consume, do so safely and mindfully.

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Is there such a thing as a hemp car?

Hemp is touted as a potential green solution for everything from building materials to plastics — and that’s precisely where they have value in the automotive sector. A car entirely made from hemp would save a lot of non-renewable materials from their inevitable fate in the junkyard. 

Many would like to see cars become more sustainable overall, though they’re surprisingly recyclable. Almost 95% of the materials used to build a car can be recovered according to the World Economic Forum. Though cars can be recycled, they are still not always used to their full potential. 

Cars themselves are also unpopular with the environment, churning out emissions like there’s no tomorrow. If carbon pollution continues unchecked, soon there won’t be an environment to write home about. The fuel to power cars is a primary source of these emissions, and the shift to electric power has not been large enough to peel back the greenhouse effect

What if all of these green innovation boxes could be ticked off with cannabis? According to one of the car’s biggest backers, Henry Ford, it could be done. 

Ford, fuel, and renewable energy

Henry Ford set out to create a car loaded up with hemp and other fibers to reduce both the plastics and metals used to build it. One research paper looking back on this fiber research noted, “As early as 1940, Henry Ford produced a pioneering composite car from hemp fiber and resin under the motto: ‘ten times stronger than steel.’” A 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics chronicled a future where hemp was used to make “fish nets, bow strings, canvas, strong rope, overalls, damask tablecloths, fine linen garments, towels, bed linen and thousands of other everyday items.”

Sparked by rations and reduced sales in the World War II years, the hemp car happened when Henry Ford’s political image dampened excitement for buying his products. 

Ford prioritized efficiency, and hemp was then — and is today — far cheaper than plastics and metals. Considering the average car back then was 1,200 pounds of metal and plastic, that was a lot of savings. He even started working on ways to use cooking oils for fuel, but when the crisis averted, Ford continued to make combustion engine, metal and plastic laden vehicles. 

Today’s hemp car offerings are decidedly more modern. Porsche recently released a race model with woven hemp standing in for carbon fiber in their body plates. AutoGuide said of the tweak, “The 718 Cayman GT4 has body panels made out of natural fiber composites. These are just like the carbon composites that are de rigueur in fast cars, but trade the plastics for hemp and/or flax.” These panels are significantly lighter, though may have slightly less rain wear over time, an important consideration.

No matter what gear heads think about the environment, considering hemp and other plant materials as a real solution is in everyone’s best interest, and might even improve car performance. 

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Who is Tony Greenhand?

Though he goes by a stage name, few people have enough talent to share the spotlight with Oregon-based Tony Greenhand and his wildly artistic smokeable sculptures. Stepping into the role as a creator of premier cannabis status symbols, commissioning a thousand+ dollar joint by Tony Greenhand is like a visit to the jeweler — it lets people know that you can “afford it.”

What makes a joint worth that many coins? One stuffed with multiple ounces of weed and then expertly crafted into what some may call a monstrosity. Greenhand is fully minted as an important contributor to the smokeable artwork movement, something that would have never been possible even ten years ago, at least not legally. 

In the modern age of marijuana, Tony Greenhand is what many consider a professional joint roller. He’s someone who is credited with having created the biggest joint in the world and is beloved on social media for his joints and technique.

Weaving together weed and art

Greenhand has put work into weed sculptures for about seven years, and has since created joint art that looks like the Pink Panther, all of the Rick and Morty cast, BReal and even Nike sneaks

His work spans categories and styles, and you can see examples of detailed logos, faux heavy chains, firearms and pop culture all represented in his creations. Brands seek out Greenhand for his skills but also for his popularity — they pay him to express via joint.

There are sometimes small but intricate figures, other times literal pounds of weed get zapped in a blender and meticulously formed into life-sized objects. No matter the shape, they are all made to perform, which is the most uncanny aspect of the entire process. 

What’s Tony up to now?

Greenhand’s career is only at its early stages if he continues to roll with as much momentum as he has now. Since being covered by the media regularly, he has amassed over 250K Instagram followers, who eagerly await every stunningly detailed piece — almost as eagerly as they wait to see them being smoked. 

In 2018, Greenhand was cast in Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, alongside Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Kim Gordon, and Jack Black.

Get acquainted with his contributions to the weed world, you might spot him or his designs at cannabis competitions or all over YouTube. Knowing the fingers behind the forms means you’re engaged in cannabis outside of its direct consumption.

Any art that builds community and increases awareness is worth checking out, but if you’re already a fan of fine flower, this is the stuff that your dream joints might be made of. Few cannabis artists can make joint art like Tony Greenhand, but he might inspire generations of them to come. 

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Cannabis slang: why is marijuana called “pot”?

There are more than 1,200 nicknames for cannabis, some more familiar than others. Ganga, weed, reefer and bud are some of the most-used and familiar, while alfalfa, Green Goddess and muggle —a 1920’s term for a pot smoker and not a non-magical person — are less well-known. 

According to slang scholar Jonathon Green, drugs like cannabis are slang’s “best sellers” because slang consists of words and phrases, think codewords or inside jokes, intended to stand in for an actual thing or topic considered too taboo for conversations in polite society. 

Of course, one of cannabis’ best-known nicknames is pot, but of all of the dozens and dozens of nicknames, the word “pot” standing in for cannabis seems a bit odd. Marijuana doesn’t remotely resemble the shape of a cooking pot, nor is it the color of one. So where did this odd-ish term come from? 

Origins and history of cannabis slang terms

Green keeps an online database that lists slang grouped by what inspired the term, like “history,” “meaning” or “usage.” For example, the common cannabis nickname, “bud,” is grouped with other plant-derived marijuana nicknames like green, grass and herb. More slang names like chronic and dank are grouped under the “quality” category. 

The word “marijuana” is itself a slang term categorized under “language.” However, despite its common use, advocates and others in the cannabis industry are working to familiarize consumers with the term cannabis instead of marijuana (which is the Spanish word for the plant) because of its racist history and affiliation with illicit markets. 

The etymological argument on the slang term “pot” is far from settled, but one hypothesis of the nickname’s origin reaches back to the Mexican Revolution (1910—1924). The theory goes that Mexican immigrants in the crosshairs of revolution fled their country to make lives in the U.S., many of whom brought cannabis with them.

With that in mind, the term pot, which like marijuana is categorized “because of language,” may derive from the Spanish word potiguaya, meaning marijuana leaves. 

From literature to pop culture

How the term “pot” came into general usage is not very clear, but a prevailing speculation is that the term was popularized by author Chester Himes, who wrote in the short story “The Way We Live Now,” in 1938, “She made him smoke pot and when he got jagged [high]…she put him on the street.” 

But these are all just theories, and no one really knows with certainty how “pot” came to be. However, Green told Time Magazine that with any slang, as soon as “adults or authorities become wise to what a term means, then it’s time for a new one.” So, eventually, maybe the term will eventually go to pot. 

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The rise of 3D printed bongs

Even though 3D printing technology has been around since the early 1980s, it wasn’t until the past few years that news about its potential caught the attention of the mainstream consumer. Though the technology still comprises a small corner of the manufacturing sector, 3D printing analyst firm Wohlers Associates estimated that the industry grew by 31% annually from 2014-2020. 

Traditional manufacturers are taking a second look at 3D printing for several reasons: faster production, cost-effectiveness and less waste among them. 3D printing is also a much more nimble technology than conventional manufacturing. Recently, several 3D printing companies pivoted their bottom line to help COVID-19 efforts, developing 3D printed oxygen valves and hands-free door handle attachments. 

Though 3D printing has yet to make a splash in the cannabis industry, one company in Seattle, Washington, is embracing the technology. Brothers Al and Saul Jacobs, both of whom have backgrounds in the fine arts (Saul is a glass artist), started their business PrintABowl to create customizable pipes and bongs.

Printing quality smoking accessories

While the products themselves are not 3D printed, the ceramic molds made to shape them are. However, if you are up to spending about $200-$700, with a little creativity and some open-source searching, you could print your own bongs or pipes at home. 

In fact, spending a bit more money to buy that 3D printer — or at the very least buy glass products made in America or Canada — is a good move to support the legal cannabis industry. As access to legal cannabis in the U.S. has increased, local markets have been flooded with cheap glass from countries with low-quality control standards, like India and China. 

Glass operations in China, for example, often bypass labor and safety standards, making the product much more likely to break, crack or change color. In the short term, you probably paid less for your glass. But in the long run, it is much more likely to break. 

How to print your own bong

Luckily, there are plenty of places to find open-source, free designs to 3D print your own bongs at home. You can check out sites like YouMagine, Shapeways, Thingiverse and 3DWarehouse for ideas. 

With a 3D printer at home, you can get creative making bongs with other people’s designs, and maybe even come up with a few designs of your own. You can also   use the printer to make other cool stuff, from cable organizers to salt and pepper shakers. 

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Lessons in the weed: is attending a cannabis university worth it?

An illicit cannabis industry has been working underground for decades, but the emergence of legal states and subsequent markets has created demand for hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to one estimate from financial firm Barclay’s, if cannabis were legalized nationwide today and taxed at the same rate as tobacco it would have a market worth of $28 billion, reaching $41 billion by 2028. 

Cannabis industry and accounting firm Adnant Consulting estimates that the industry has created 50,000—100,000 jobs per legal state on the retail side alone. But there’s a lot more to legal weed than budtending; think farming, accounting, logistics, customer service and managing. 

To help meet the demand for workers in an industry requiring a broad range of skills, colleges like Northern Michigan University and Minot State University, as well as cannabis-only programs like Oaksterdam University are working to educate people wanting to make a career of cannabis.  

Cannabis and university programs

For students looking to work in the cultivation, research and extraction side of the industry, the aforementioned Northern Michigan University and Minot State University offer “medicinal plant chemistry” undergraduate degrees. 

Other schools, such as Colorado State University Pueblo, SUNY Morrisville, and Stockton University offer cannabis-centered minors. One college, The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy offers a postgraduate degree, the Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics Programs masters. 

Cannabis training universities

There are several schools operating in this space, with a mix of in-person and online course offerings. While these programs offer course certificates, these are not degrees or credits that could be applied to training at other educational establishments. 

The most well-known cannabis university is Oakland, California-based Oaksterdam University, which opened in 2007. Though Oaksterdam has the highest tuition price tag, it appears to be the only university with an actual campus and in-person learning options (that for the time-being have moved to remote learning formats due to COVID-19). 

Here are some other training programs with varying course offerings and price points to consider: 

Whether or not a marijuana-centric degree or certification is needed to get a good job in the industry is up for debate. Some prognosticators say that the industry’s outsized growth simply needs workers to fill a lot of open positions. Others believe that a certification or degree may offer an advantage over candidates who don’t have them. 

Before signing up for any program, one thing to keep in mind with any online training generally is that they are for-profit ventures. So be sure to do your research on the programs before investing any of your hard-earned cash. 

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Discussing cannabis, death, and social justice with a death doula

“What if we all went in $100 on a Marijuana Handlers Card for somebody who can’t afford it?’

That was the question, Raina Casey, a Portland Death Doula, posed to her social media circle in the days following George Floyd’s murder. As the city rallied to support the Black cannabis community, Casey’s question illuminated just how undersized that community was. 

It was a straightforward question, but the cascade of responses made it clear that in asking, Casey had presented an uncomplicated solution to this particular instance of industry gatekeeping; preventing anyone who can’t afford to spend $100 from legally entering the Oregon cannabis industry. 

Casey, whose business supports the needs of those in life/death transition with cannabis advocacy, is well aware of the role cannabis plays in the criminalization of Blackness. She’s seen the community rally to support Black-owned business without addressing the dilemma of there being so few of them to even support, which gave her pause, “We need to support Black business and remind people that they need to support Black and brown people first.”

Raina Casey: Death doula, cannabis consultant, founder of Oregon Handers Fund.

Propelled by Oregon’s first round of stay-at-home orders — which designated dispensaries as essential businesses and created a new pool of job opportunities — and following the initial wave of BLM protests, further cemented Casey’s position as a cannabis and minority activist. Soon, after she reached out to familiars with the experience necessary to expand on her central idea, Casey’s concept evolved and became the Oregon Handlers Fund, a nonprofit that covers the costs of receiving an Oregon Marijuana Handlers Card — a requirement necessary for farm, manufacturing, or dispensary work, and a major impediment to the diversification of the cannabis industry. Potential awardees and supporters alike can visit the Oregon Handlers Fund website to apply for or donate funds. 

Weedmaps spoke to Casey about building a nonprofit from scratch, overlapping the nature of death and the business of cannabis, and how — with a bit of follow-through and the support of a community — small questions can lead to big actions.

Weedmaps: What is your relationship with cannabis as a Death Doula?

Raina Casey: In 2012 I had a stroke and I couldn’t continue my line of work anymore. I was an autopsy technician and I had always been fascinated with the funeral industry. When I was in the military, I was an affairs specialist, but after I had the stroke, I had residual numbness in my left hand. I couldn’t do that work anymore. 

I got sad and depressed and I had used cannabis recreationally, but I started to find that when I used cannabis, I didn’t have to use a lot of my seizure medication. I started to research the medical benefits of cannabis, and soon after I started my research, a lady came into my life. I didn’t realize at the time that she would be my first [death doula] client. She was not only my first client, but she was also the first medical marijuana patient that I really had to advocate for legally and medically. 

Her husband had worked in law enforcement and she was a legislator — cannabis had no place in their home or lifestyle previous to this. But God put me there, put me into their lives, and that allowed me to help them realize that cannabis is very, very beneficial. And you don’t have to have to smoke it to get those benefits. 

WM: How much did patient advocacy like this inform the OHF?

Casey: [The OHF has] actually been years in the making, I just didn’t have the money or the clout or the know-how to get it off the ground. So many friends and relatives would say things like, “I want to get into cannabis. How can I get a job? Oh, the $100 is too much.” They couldn’t afford it and they didn’t have anybody in their lives that could loan them that kind of money.  

We go and support all the Black and brown dispensaries and cannabis businesses, and it’s great to support our businesses, but we need help with the barrier of getting our people into the workforce. There’s no reason why all of these people, ready to go into the workforce, pass exams and background checks and everything, are just sitting there because they say they don’t have a $100 for the permit? There is something very wrong with that picture: You have all of these people who are qualified to work but they can’t.

For as much money as you spend on two ounces of top shelf, you can change somebody’s entire life. This is what needs to be happening and this is what it should have been happening the whole time. 

WM: Even without nonprofit experience, you wasted no time letting this initiative grow into a 501c3. How were you able to pivot so deftly from your career as a death doula to the captain of a nonprofit?

Casey: I have no experience in nonprofits or sales or anything like that. This is my first go-around with any of this, and I’ve been blessed. My godmother, well, I call her my “god-diva,” has allowed me to tag along behind her and watch how she works — she is a retired consultant — to get these really major companies to give her what she’s asking for: their money!  

Anybody who knows me will tell you I’m a very humble person. I just really want to live my life as peacefully as possible, and I want to help as many people as I can along the way. When I started getting into cannabis, a lot of people gave me flak, and all the while I was building my cannabis consulting business and tying it to being a death doula. I knew I was eventually just going to use my own money and start rounding people up in the community to help me pay for these permits. 

WM: As of now, the OHF is solely concerned with getting marijuana handlers cards into the hands of those who can’t otherwise afford them, but what type of growth do see for the Fund’s future?

Casey: I would love to turn the OHF into something way, way bigger than it is. We are working to develop partnerships with the dispensaries and the companies that committed to hiring our applicants, bigger companies that have acted really excited about it when we were discussing what we were going to do. Now, we’ve been going back and hitting them up saying, “Do you remember when we talked about this? This is where you can send your money.

Then my plan is to retire and have my son take over.

WM: Do you have any advice for aspiring changemakers facing similar social justice endeavors?

Casey: Go for it. Seriously, go for it. Because, oh boy, shit would not have happened if I had not just decided to go ahead and do it.  

WM: Last question, what are your favorite strains right now?

Casey: Runtz right now but Obama Kush is a long-standing favorite.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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