Hemp Sweet Hemp: Building a Healthier Home with Hempcrete

with Anthony Néron, DuChanvre

Here in U.S., stories that include pot in the walls generally don’t have a positive outcome. That’s not the case if you live in France where people are quite familiar with Hempcrete, and its many benefits.

It didn’t take a lot more than the simple concept of living in a hemp nest to sell me on Hempcrete. As many of us cannabis lovers evolve — the more we crave nature in every aspect of our lives. But the real benefit here: a safer, healthier home. 

I met Anthony Néron, founder of DuChanvre, a family business based in Quebec at the ‘Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference’ in NYC. Anthony combines Hempcrete with a lime plaster finish to create homes that are indestructible and beautiful inside and out. Anthony’s mission: bring art and integrity to construction.

Hempcrete or Hemplime is a bio-composite material made of hemp hurds (shives) mixed with a lime-based binder. Together they yield lightweight, cement-like blocks ideal for insulating walls, and most often paired with wood stud framing. Hempcrete is fitting for most climates as it combines insulation and thermal mass - eight Hempcrete blocks weigh about the same as one of its concrete siblings.

ON WHAT MAKES A HEMPCRETE LIME PLASTER HOME SO UNIQUE

Anthony Néron: Hempcrete is the most durable insulation material available. Lime plaster is the finish that’s applied directly on the hempcrete to create a wall system that can resist fire, humidity, vermin, compression, and even earthquakes, because it’s so fibrous. It’s a great option for people living in California. It's not going to decay, lose color or fade out. It's not going to dust off or peel off.  You do a lime plaster once in your life.

It’s reminiscent of a pre-war home or building built before the 1930’s. Those homes and buildings are considered to be of the highest quality, because during those times, toxic materials did not exist.

Now hemp and lime together is an insulation with high flexibility, and therefore not a load-bearing material.  Not hard like concrete or as strong as stone, but within proper framing it is considered as solid and durable as a stone wall. 

If you punch the wall, you will break your bones. 

Also, Hempcrete and lime plasters are classified as fireproof and can resist heat up to 1,800 degrees. 

Need more convincing? Fireplaces are built with lime. 

ON THE HEALTH BENEFITS

AN: Because these are natural materials (lime and hemp), they are noble materials. They come from nature and are totally balanced. It's already been exposed to the elements. So, the electric charge of the materials is negative. That means it's neutral to the human energy field and doesn't interfere with our electric balance. 

Plastic (traditional insulation) is electrostatic. So, what contains plastic becomes positively charged. When your walls are covered with conventional paint that contains acrylic or synthetic materials, what happens is that your environment becomes electrostatic. It's an environment that the particles would attract each other and likely create more dust.

And if you have hot or cool air that is pushed through a metal conduct, that creates positive electric charge and particles. For sensitive people it can cause problems.

The place where you spend most of your time should be in harmony with your choices and values. 

Why eat organic if you live synthetic? 

 If you want to buy fair trade, then choose a clean environment and surround yourself with natural materials. 

ON HEAT AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY

AN: Hempcrete houses are much more efficient. They perform in heat and cold.  That's the purpose of Hempcrete insulation. There’s a thermal reflection factor meaning it reflects temperature — radiating warmth in the winter and cool in the summer.

Hemp has long been used in the building industry as a fiber in the coatings, and plasters, as a reinforcement. But it wasn’t until the 1980’s in France that Hempcrete was created. In many ways, this is a return to artful, quality construction. It's slow building and it's quality building.

ON FINDING PASSION FOR HEMP

AN: Hemp homes were a rustic kind of a design, leaning toward hippie. As soon as I saw it, I needed to know more. My mother was an interior designer, so I am aware of design and I could hear her voice in my head as I was looking at it. She taught me her version of being aware of how things are properly done. To create beauty and precision. I grew up in that and so my immediate reaction was to be a part of the future solution.  

When I was younger, I was very creative, active, moving fast, moving on. I had to feel like I was using my power and my skills. And so, being introduced to the first Hempcrete house in Canada just triggered everything. Through apprenticeship, I learned how to use Hempcrete. 

I learned about plasters from other craftsmen and I blended it with the Hempcrete to create something more complete and beautiful.  If this was going to be a new way to build houses, we needed it to be more standard to fit in the market. It couldn't be too rustic. It had to be unique and precise.

This evolved into my craft.

For myself and my family, our deepest goals are extending our values into our everyday action, whether it’s buying organic, fair trade, consumption. We wanted to extend those values we hold dear to construction and housing.

ON SOURCING HEMP

AN: We source it most of the time from Europe, some from France, some from Belgium, or it could come from Switzerland. But it's mostly coming from France or Belgium. That's where the industry is the biggest.

ON GAINING TRACTION

AN: Well, the good news is that Hempcrete is rapidly growing in popularity and use. The bad news is that options may not be on the forefront or easy to find. You have to look and ask for it. It's a matter of education. These philosophies in construction will become more and more available over time. 

But to me, I'm already living in the future. 

These are houses that are built and last for hundreds of years. If you have a long-term vision, its something to go for. You're not going to have to make over in 30 years from now. It takes a little more time than conventional homes to do, but it lasts much longer.

ON PRICING AND TIMELINES

AN: The budget is 30% higher than conventional homes. So, a little more costly and a little slower because there are drying periods. You have to compare it to houses that are artisan made, and in many ways, our homes are really handmade. Everything is custom. We have custom lime plaster that they're looking for certain colors, certain textures. So, it's different for every client. We are usually finishing a 2,000 square foot house within one year of work. 

In Europe, some lime homes are a thousand years old and still beautiful, still comfortable. We are bringing back tradition in a modern way.

duchanvre @du.chanvre

How much plastic is in my walls?

— Highly Epiphanies

Mind, Body, Sensimilla 

The Class with Founder Taryn Toomey

by Nina: The Class ends. Still in the zone, I’m gifted with Conner Youngblood singing and playing guitar. I sit there in a complete trance, soaking in the magic of music, no distractions to compete with my sense of peace. My mind is flooded with happy ‘highly’ epiphanies, reaffirming that the secret to being ‘well’ is a 360 approach.

I’ve spent the last two decades chasing calm. I thought I had it down pat. Yoga, sun, rest, prayer, pleasure, and great cannabis — all while loosely following the Earth’s cycle. 

When I began taking The Class this summer my mind and body transformed immediately. Through The Class, I realized why the calm I mastered and polished up with cannabis was becoming more challenging to execute. As someone who hates yelling, it never occurred to me I was really angry. And how come we don’t talk about anger? Perhaps it’s another emotion that has a stigma attached to it. It certainly does for women. It explains why my cannabis usage is up for what I considered a ‘disposition of no change.’ 

 Meet Taryn Toomey, founder of The Class. Many ‘A-listers’ refer to The Class as ‘Church’ as it’s something much deeper than exercise. A cathartic purge of toxins, both biological and emotional — trauma and anger release, joy and fitness — all rolled into one.

Founder Taryn describes The Class as ‘an expansive, heart-clearing and body-strengthening release. This Class will challenge and enlighten you, all while building an incredibly strong, lean, resilient body.’ 

The Class begins with jumping jacks, that spill into long exhales as we shout HAAAAA! The anxiety diaphragm that never really exhales, automatically exhales to its fullest, and it feels soooooo good. The yang to my cannabis inhale, yin. I’m breathing again, without having to ‘focus on the breathe.’

Taryn Toomey: The creation of The Class is really 40 years in the making. I had a rocky childhood and experienced a lot of trauma, so essentially I was seeking a way to heal myself. I taught the method for two years with no name, really with the intention to track what was going on inside of me. I've always had a very fiery personality and found that after I moved my body I was able to have a more grounded, kind approach with myself. Being around community and music, a safe space to self express through sound not words, resonated with me. That’s really where it began.

As I look around The Class, and we’re sweating, shouting and sometimes crying, I begin to understand when our shouts as a collective become insanely loud is when Taryn touches on certain topics that aren’t so obvious — like confusion. Truly, I’m not alone.

Taryn: Your body will change physically, but that is not the intention. It’s a side effect. The burpee is not about the burpee. We're using intense physical movements to get the thoughts going. In that place is where we begin to practice - it's just a thought. We can condition the thought by believing it or by reconditioning a new thought. This is the power of choice. Without the awareness that you are having the thought, you cannot make a choice to stay with it, or to redirect it. You can apply our practice to anything. Through physical intensity, we are unleashing emotions and bringing them to a place where it stares us right in the face. 

Caleb’s drumming vibrates through the room. I’m zeroing in on my angst living in a world that’s the opposite of connection but rather miscommunication. Have I really been reduced to emoji speak now?🤢 I’m angry we’re forced to communicate in this meaningless way — and I’m BEYOND angry that the right to my privacy has been swindled away by a group of unstoppable master manipulators.

Our HAAAA’s spill into free form dance from Taryn’s mood altering playlist. Happy and free, easily transitioning from drama to joy. The room is uninhibited and it doesn’t feel weird at all. Taryn guides my mind with ‘where are you going?’ A far cry from my hacked social media brain, that’s not an easy transition for my ADD.

Taryn: The reason why we continuously repeat actions, often through an entire song is to release the brain from focusing on choreography. We put the motion into play and then drop into a consciousness practice, observing thought. I found this approach worked because you're not thinking about what to do next. You’re having to marinate and deal with the frustration, irritation, strength, and whatever else comes up. In there the practice begins. Do it or don't. Stay present or stop. Lift the leg up or don't. And then it's just one more...and one more....and one more. And then boom it's over. Child's pose.

We’re hot, sweaty and completely still. Taryn tells us to ‘clean the heart.’ We open the heart, moving the arms with light wrists and hands. Prana flows through my wrists, reversing the damage of typing and letting the energy flow.

Taryn: I just knew that I always felt things deeply in my heart. Present day, I am still very affected by hurtful words, comments, and judgements. I have always felt them in my physical heart space. So after we've ignited this fire in the body, it only made sense to drop into the heart and massage it back and forth with the physical sensation. Close your eyes, bypass your brain, and drop into the heart and listen. Cleaning the heart out. For me, that's really what it is. It is a heart-centered practice, physically and emotionally. 

Full circle from where we began The Class, now with open hearts, throats, no anger, and free spirits. We go back into jumping jacks, every mirror is fogged, the room is strong, energized and in sync.

Taryn: It's important to bring it full circle because the main thing we don't want to do is ask people to bring up and activate things and then leave them undone. It is a slow and intentional engagement of all things physical, mental and emotional, with loads of work built in to keep one safe while doing so. Integration is very important. We must pacify the nervous system to allow people to feel integrated before sending them back out into the world. This has been something we focus a lot of attention on in teacher training because we understand the power of what we are inviting people to experience in the room.

The Class ends and I’m light. Since taking The Class regularly my cannabis usage is cut in half, keeping my high, higher and the wellness dance exactly where it needs to be.

On the way out, I spot CBD on the shelves.

Taryn: I use CBD when I wake up, in the middle of day and before I go to bed. I think it's important in the wellness industry for the basic things like reducing inflammation, managing pain and improving overall heart health. I've personally always been the girl that believes in using myself as my own case study. When I first heard about CBD I tried it to see what the hype was about and I experienced many of the effects that it claims to have. Particularly, I noticed a decrease in anxiety and a great improvement in my ability to sleep. I love the idea that you can take something that doesn't eventually lead to substance abuse, which then leads to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing...

Taryn, whats next?

Taryn: We are working to bring The Class to as many people in the world as possible, from all walks and stages of life. We will be expanding our reach through a digital platform this fall, giving people the opportunity to access The Class whenever and wherever. We have a lot of exciting things brewing for the upcoming year. We’re on a mission! 

Taryn Toomey, Namaste. It’s been a pleasure 🙏

I hit the sidewalk, automatically look at my iPhone and leave it alone. I have the power. 

The Class @TheClass Taryn Toomey @taryntoomey Caleb Spaulding @csspaulding @conner_yngblood

Photo Credit: @RachaelDunville

I manipulate my mind to fight my mind being constantly manipulated

— Highly Epiphanies




Anecdotal Conversations: Cannabis Dependency

with Adie Rae PhD and Alice Moon

People are so excited that they get to consume cannabis that all other bets are off… and we have a huge responsibility and opportunity to make sure that we reduce harm. If we get the message out early and wisely enough, that is literally prevention. — Adie Rae, PhD

Illustration Sara Andreasson @saraandreason


I was in Paris, an annual holiday that always brings me joy, relaxation and detox from the hectic pace of The States. I was a bit on edge that I didn’t have access to cannabis. So much so, I began to question if I would even return to France until cannabis is legal. Having to decide between my favorite city and my favorite plant was the first sign of some type of dependency brewing.

I knew the tolerance dance well and it took a few decades for this to set in, but lets be real, I’ve smoked more in the last two years than I have in my entire life.

With accessibility, dependency lurks in the shadows for many of us. Learning how to have a healthy, sustainable relationship with cannabis is like any other relationship. One that requires respect and absence of abuse to ensure that it continues to be a happy, rewarding, and above all, an enduring one.

After returning home, my first call was to Dr. Adie Rae Phd, an award-winning neuroscientist with more than 15 years of experience with addiction, cannabis, and opioid replacement. When she explained dependency could lead to Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), I thought about Alice Moon, a cannabis influencer, who has been vocal about her ‘almost daily’ usage turning into an awful full blown cannabis allergy — a story that deserves attention.

So for today’s newsletter, a friendly reminder that on occasion, absence does make the heart grow fonder and every once in a while we need to take a T-break. Because, if you love this plant the way I do, understanding that this is intuitive medicine and we have to own how we treat it — will keep us, our loved ones and the reputation of this magical plant in tact.

Side note: I was shocked to discover that the last real study on cannabis dependency was in 2012? Say what? 🖤 Nina


In Conversation with Dr. Rae

ON PERCENTAGE OF USERS THAT DEVELOP DEPENDENCY ISSUES

Dr. Rae: The latest numbers were from 2012, and it was roughly 9% of the people who ever tried cannabis; however, that data comes from the era that was before all potent products, extracts, and vaporizer pens. It was also when many people chose not to engage with cannabis because it was illegal. With reduced barriers to consumption and less experienced users entering the mix, we're going to see the numbers go up.

ON SIGNS OF DEPENDENCY

Dependance is a diagnosable condition that totally exists.  DSM-V diagnostic criteria to qualify for the disorder, you have to have cannabis interfere with your life--your social relationships and/or your economic performance.

The number one red flag and leading indicator that happens in that whole litany of effects is tolerance. Tolerance is the first step on the way to physical dependence. You need more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Physical dependence rears its ugly head when you experience withdrawal which has tell-tale symptoms like irritability, lack of appetite, insomnia, and the all too familiar sense that, ‘I'm having a bad day.’ With increased dependency then comes more difficult consequences, whether they be social, economic, or physical.  

ON THE WAYS THE BODY FIGHTS BACK

All the same things that contribute to cannabis use disorder also contribute to Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) which is a nightmare. ( See Alice’s story below)

CHS is where you have cyclic periods of nausea and vomiting. You have used so much cannabis over such a great amount of time you've completely dysregulated your endocannabinoid system to now essentially having an allergy because your body is telling you ‘you're poisoning me.’

ON GIVING IT A REST

When you notice you have developed tolerance, it is time for a tolerance break, a ‘T break.’

Every single human being who consumes cannabis, with perhaps the exception of terminal patients, requires a minimum of a 48-hour tolerance break on some kind of regular basis. How often? This is where it’s intuitive, but with our chronic pain patients we recommend one break every 30 days.

It’s also just good for your brain. Your endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in so many homeostatic processes that you really want to give yourself the opportunity to function at your maximum potential.

ON QUALITY

We've got lots of moonshine but we have no rosé. We're severely lacking moderate products. In Oregon, retail intake managers are not permitted to buy flower from a wholesaler that is less than 17% THC and yet, it’s exactly that kind of moderation people find enjoyable. Balanced with a tiny bit of CBD is going to provide the most insulation and protection from cannabis use disorders and hyperemesis.

Using a handheld vaporizer for flower (not to be confused with vaping oil) like The Mighty or the PAX, you're getting whole-plant vaporization which is essentially a symphony. You've got the conductor THC up there doing it's thing, and you've got all of the winds and all of the string instruments and then you've got the choir in the background as the terpenes.

ON VAPING OIL (not to be confused with flower vaporizers)

Here we are again, no regulation, preying on the public's perception that this is better.

If you look at the E-vape juices, flavorings and terpenes from other sources, such as essential oils, no one has ever studied their effects when they are heated, broken up into smaller molecules and then absorbed into the human body. We have no idea of the toxicity of those things. Lavender oil is fine to put on your skin or to put in your smoothie but it's not okay to heat it up to a point where it's no longer lavender oil. It has completely morphed into something else. It has broken down into its constituent smaller molecules, some of which are totally carcinogenic.

Not to mention the fact that the tobacco companies have long known that some flavors are more addictive than others. So if you find an orange pen, that pen is more rewarding than those other pens simply because of the flavor. 

I think, honestly, the first thing that's going to happen is states are going to start outlawing concentrates because we already have 17-year-old girls coming into the ER with pneumonia because they're dabbers, which is really bad for lung health. I think after that, we're going to start to see all the similar kinds of concerns we have with concentrates are even more magnified and varied because of the vape cartridges.

ON EDUCATION THROUGH PURCHASING

The ‘regular tolerance breaks’ conversation should happen at retail.

In the State of Oregon, we have this regulation where you have to send out a 3x5 card with every consumer that says, ‘Marijuana can hurt your baby.’ That 3x5 card also needs to say, ‘Cannabis is rewarding. Here are the warning signs to look for. If you notice any of these things, take a break for a couple of days. If you're still having trouble, here's a phone number to call, an addiction hotline.’ 

ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

People are so excited that they get to consume cannabis that all other bets are off. No other considerations are made. If it's there [on the retail shelf], then it's okay and we have a huge responsibility and opportunity to make sure that we reduce harm. If we get the message out early and wisely enough, that is literally prevention.

CANNABIS IS…

The Mariana Trench of pharmacology. We have many decades of work left to sort out exactly what we’re dealing with and how we can better tailor it to our needs, as humans.


Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) with Alice Moon

If I was in a hot tub, I wouldn't puke. But within seconds of getting out, I was vomiting. I spent so many nights on my bathroom floor rotating between the two. One day I passed out in my front yard puking. A neighbor came and found me and was like, can I take you to the hospital? What can I do for you? I was just crying because I was like, I don't know what you can do for me. There's no answers. Just leave me be. I just continued to lay there and vomit. Alice Moon


I’ve been following Alice on Instagram for a couple of years now. She’s been talking a lot about her ordeal with CHS. Of course, it’s the one story that never gets echoed.

In 2016, Alice, a cannabis ‘influencer’, began having random vomiting episodes once a month with a misdiagnosis of acid reflux. By 2018 the vomiting became weekly and dangerous. She was diagnosed with Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome — a developed cannabis allergy. On the night before the big day to quit, Alice went out for her last hoorah. The last hoorah kicked up a 14 day full blown attack of daily vomiting and things haven’t been same since.

Alice’s routine was mostly edibles ranging between 5 mg and 20 mg and smoking approximately half joints in a sitting. Her routine was ‘almost daily’ and she hadn’t been taking long breaks.


ALICE: It was very scary. Just not knowing, when is this going to stop? When am I going to be able to have a sip of water? Am I going to die?

People were saying that this is pesticides. So I started smoking pesticide free weed and wasn't using a lot. Just a few hits here or there. And after a few months I had a four day episode. 

I quit using cannabis for three months, and ended up taking CBD which made the next episode shorter. So from there, I was like, okay maybe I can use CBD. I used hemp derived CBD for a few months. Then December 2018, I had my period and used more CBD than I had been using. That triggered my worst episode which was 16 days. With that I got two ulcers, a hernia and a bacteria infection. I had two urgent care visits, one at-home nurse visit and was in the hospital for four days.

I was near death with both of those severe episodes due to severe dehydration that can cause organ failure if you don't know what's going on or if you can't afford to go to urgent care.

I know of people who've developed this within one year but the majority of the people who answered my survey have been using for over eight years. So it does seem to be a lot of use over an extended period of time. Basically your endocannabinoid system is overloaded and your body just can't handle it anymore and completely rejects it. It's like once that switch is flipped, you can't turn it back. 

Now even secondhand smoke bothers me. I can't live the life that I used to live. I can't go to all the events I used to go to. I get so pissed off with all of this, honestly. I get a lot of online hate. Whenever a new article comes out, people are like, you work for the government. I'm like, ‘you guys, I love weed!’ These days, I do have a few people who will repost some stuff but ultimately, people are afraid to talk about it. It's a career ruiner, you know.

One thing that's been really hard for me this year is my mental health. I was using cannabis for depression and anxiety. People need to realize, this isn't just like, ‘oh, this girl can't smoke weed anymore.’ It's like, ‘no, this has affected my whole entire life.’ 

From all the data I've collected, there's no core commonality between all of us with CHS, and there’s tons of us. It's literally people of every age range all over the place and all different forms of consumption.

I want to be able to smoke weed again. And I don't want anyone to have to go through what I went through. It’s been so traumatizing.

We need research but we also need honest voices. These people know. They know that they haven't tested everything. Do you know what I mean? 

CANNABIS IS…

I miss it so much.

Alice on CannMed Panel @alicemoon

@Dr.Adie @smartcannabis

@saraandreasson

Find ‘Hi’ 5X

Without any real research, it’s through anecdotal conversations that will keep our relationship with cannabis one that lasts through sickness and health, and has many anniversaries. That’s the magic of cannabis — the conduit to open dialog and communication with ourselves, Earth, and each other. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. 💨 Nina

My headphones got me through it

— Highly Epiphanies

email your epiphanies to epiphanies@thehighly.co They’ll remain anonymous

Amsterdam: The Good Good 🌱

with Joa Helms from Green House

By taking younger people away from the dealers and providing them a safe environment, you help a community avoid a lot of bad things happening in the future.  Joa Helms, CEO Green House

If an establishment echoes its leaders, the Green House is warm, friendly, and the only stop you’ll need in Amsterdam for cannabis. With true European flair, it always comes back to the culture. In this case, the biggest healer of them all, cannabis culture.

Interesting fact: Cannabis is illegal in Holland. The technical term is “it’s tolerated.”

Built around the true nature of the cannabis plant, the Green House is not one company but rather an ecosystem of organizations that include the Strain Hunters Foundation, which provides social outreach to the world’s poorest countries, Green House Seed Company, an award-winning genetics company, Agripharm, a grow facility in Canada, GH Medical, a medical research initiative, and four Amsterdam-based coffeeshops where consumers can buy, chill and smoke weed. Green House is also where the famous strains White Widow, Super Lemon Haze and Super Silver Haze were born.

Meet Joa Helms Aka “The Tall One”

When I was studying in the 90’s at university in America, I heard more about Green House than when I was living in Amsterdam. So I said, ‘Why not see if I can work there,’ I never left since.

The 90’s was a crazy circus. Year after year we won a lot of cups either for best weed or best coffeeshop. In 1993, we won our first High Times Cup. [Ed.: Recently Arjan and Joa were amongst the 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry according to the High Times Magazine]. We met and served a lot of nice people from America, including famous activists like Woody Harrelson, Rita Marley, and Cypress Hill.

For us, every year has been different. The cannabis industry is completely different from 30 years ago.

Franco Loja, The Strain Hunters Foundation and GH Medical

The Strain Hunters documentaries started around 2005. We really wanted to go to the places where the landraces thrive and to show what cannabis means to the local community. For example, we get a lot of nice, grainy hash from India but we never truly understood where it comes from and what it signifies to local communities. It's super important to know and preserve the history. Landraces are the building blocks for modern breeding.

Unfortunately, our last episode was in Congo where we lost one of our Strain Hunters, Franco. The Congolese government had asked us to stay, and to develop a medicine for malaria, with specific CBD strains. Franco volunteered to stay, but not long after, he contracted malaria and died two weeks later. It was a dark period in our adventure together. A lot of people came to the funeral from the cannabis world and everybody was really shocked. That was January 2017.

We had to deal with the loss of our friend, partner and a very important grower within the company. In the end we did decide to stay there, even with all the risks that are involved. GH Medical is now working together with the University of Kinshasa on clinical trials. We're analyzing all the research that has been done already and developing a canna-navigator to see which cannabinoid would be good for which diseases. For example, there's one cannabinoid, which takes away your appetite. Others have the opposite effect, which is important if you are undergoing a treatment for cancer. The best results, of course, we see are with epilepsy, both for children and adults.

With every Strain Hunters documentary we leave some good things behind. Whether it’s to help with an orphanage, building a school, or donating bicycles, we do whatever we can to make their worlds a little bit better. The Strain Hunters Foundation currently works in South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, and India.

Arjan Roskam, The Strain Hunters in Congo

The Power of Smoke Lounges

When done successfully, which means not approaching it as business or a medicinal outpost, but rather as a social environment, the city councils often see the added value of a smoke lounge in their area. 

Cannabis, we consider soft drugs. And then you have hard drugs like cocaine and ecstasy and heroin. By separating them you often prevent cannabis users from going to an illegal dealer to buy the weed, who will often push people into harder drugs in attempt to get them hooked. By taking younger people away from the dealers and providing them a safe environment, you help a community avoid a lot of bad things happening in the future. 

That whole social phenomenon is also super important. You can preserve that where people just come, get the information they need, take a coffee, roll a joint and just mingle with people that they normally wouldn't talk with.

Current Cannabis Climate

It's very intense, so it's not so strange that we’re seeing growing pains now. 

In the beginning you saw the guys with a lot of money, they just wanted to invest. They invest so many millions to put the seeds in the ground and say, ‘And now what?’ So now we have to wait twelve weeks, and they go, ‘What? Wait for it?’ Yeah, it's a plant. You can't rush the plant. You can open stores but when you put the seeds in, you have to wait because it's an agricultural product in the end. It's doing its own thing.

Now it's still about the dollars, but soon it's going to be about the cents and how much scale you can create. In the end it becomes a margin product. And that's kind of the scary thing.

You will see, same as with wine. You have wine in supermarkets and then you have wine specialty stores. In the end, it comes down to quality, pricing and branding.

On Changing the Name from Marijuana to Cannabis

If you think about it, it should be the opposite. Because of the name change, you might forget that there are still people in jail for something that is now legal, which is so wrong. And we should get those people out of prison, as fast as possible.

On Changing the Purchasing Conversation from Indica/Sativa/Hybrid to Terpenes [Ed.: An extremely loose rule of thumb: Sativa gets you up, Indica, calms you down, hybrid is in the middle. Terpenes: the flavor and smell profile].

For me terpenes is the most important thing, but I also think it's important if it's indica/sativa and how much THC/CBD everything has. It makes the picture complete.

On Microdosing

We don’t talk about microdosing here. Over here, the growing, testing and packaging, that's all completely illegal.  So the consequence is that the growers wanted to grow strong weed because they're doing something illegal, so they want the most money per square meter. This resulted in very high THC strains and not so much variation in CBD levels and THC levels.

What’s the Bigger Healer, CBD or THC?

The biggest healer is definitely THC. 

What do you Like to Smoke?

I like to smoke sativas with a nice terpene profile. Super Lemon Haze and Hawaiian Snow are nice strains with a great taste and beautiful high.

Outdoor, Indoor, or Greenhouse?

Definitely outdoor, nothing can beat the sunlight. You don't grow it in the garden in downtown Los Angeles, of course. That is a no. We have to go to Humboldt County, Sonoma, those areas.

Favorite American Brand?

I like the Cookies brand very much. I have a lot of respect for Berner. [Ed.: Berner also created a social media network for cannabis companies]. When I'm in California, I always look him up, and what he has is always super nice and super strong. Dr. Greenthumb from B-Real is also a great brand. We have been friends for more than twenty years and it’s so cool that nowadays we both work in the cannabis industry.

Most Important Part of the Job

Informing and educating the public about the importance of cannabis crops on poor communities.

When will Green House be in the States?

Definitely soon…😎

Cannabis is…

World peace.

Cannabis is my passion, my bread, my home. 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. For life. The late Franco Loja, The Strain Hunter

GreenHouse.org Strainhunterfoundation.com ghmedical.com

@joagreenhouse @greenhouseseedco @strainhunters @arjanstrainhunter

Overachiever 🌱

by Manoela Saldanha

I was the perfectly positioned overachiever: excelling at Trinity, one of NYC’s most rigorous private schools — well on my way of reaching my goal of getting into Columbia University. I thought I was thriving until the day I received my early acceptance letter. Burnout caught up to me accompanied by the darkest of thoughts. That’s when my search for inner peace began. This is my recovery story and where cannabis plays a role today.

When the college process came around, I was ready. I had great grades, played sports, did community service, and was the head of all the diversity clubs — a perfectly curated application. To achieve this facade of perfection, I was sleeping an average of three hours a night, eating between 500-1000 calories a day, all while working out twice a day. 

When I received my acceptance letter and should have been feeling the high of all highs, I instead fell into a suicidal episode. I was confronted with the realization that working so hard to fit society’s definition of perfection had only empowered the mental illness that was consuming my life. I had put so much emphasis on material success and prestige, that I was stuck in an endless cycle of feeling ‘not enough,’ constantly wanting more.

Soon after, my mom walked in on me carving the words “fat” and “dumb” into my inner thighs. That’s when my parents sent me to the best therapist money could buy. I began taking 30mg of Lexapro and a Klonopin every day as a 120 lb, 5’1 girl who was barely 17. 

On the recommendation of the school counselor, I took a gap year after a tumultuous end to high school. I spent 3 months in Myanmar, a month backpacking in Peru, another month in the Amazon, and I completed a yoga teacher training. All of this shifted my perception of my place in the world and my notion of success. Being in Asia forced me to recognize the reality that many of the most basic amenities in my life, such as beds and toilets, could not be taken for granted. In Peru, I discovered a deep interest in the mystical Incan culture, which I learned about on my four day trek to Machu Picchu. I continued to delve into indigenous culture in the Amazon, where I also reconnected with my love for nature and learned about its connection to spirituality. Yoga codified this spirituality, connecting the body with the mind.

I entered college feeling rejuvenated with a better sense of my interest and tools for handling stress.

It didn’t take long to fall into old habits again. While I was undoubtedly much better emotionally and had managed to wean off my medications, I was disappointed that the calm and appreciative mindset I had taken on during my gap year had given way to the stress and demands of college. Before sophomore year, I once again sought solace, attending a 7-day retreat in Costa Rica, consisting of yoga classes, group therapy, classes, and 4 ayahuasca ceremonies, each from a different tradition. There had been talk about the tea curing addictions such as crack and healing mental illness. While I was skeptical about its supposed magic powers, my curiosity was stronger. I was open to anything that might provide a sense of inner peace.

The first ceremony consisted of 4 hours of pure paranoia. The second night, I felt nothing. The third night/ceremony changed my life. I was overcome with the deepest sense of gratitude I have ever experienced. I realized that I was one of the most privileged people in the entire world and I was overwhelmed by an immense amount of self love. I cried out of pure joy for several hours. I let go of the negative paranoia heightened on my first ayahuasca trip, which manifests itself while sober in my constant self degradation. For once, I saw myself as beautiful. It all sounds like serious hippy bullshit, but even my traditional Brazilian parents will vouch that ayahuasca cured the haunting mental illness that had taken residence within me.  Like the gap year, this experience shifted my perspective; not of the external world, but this time, of myself, which had a more powerful and longer lasting effect. 

Since the retreat, I’ve learned to use plant medicine as a means of consolidating my seemingly contradictory personality of hardworking perfectionist in a hyper competitive environment with my inner hippy searching for happiness and a higher purpose. In the Amazon, this maintenance tool is called Santa Maria, which we know as Cannabis.  

Cannabis has always been taboo in my family, so when I first began experimenting with friends as a teenager, it was a fun form of rebellion. After the retreat, I began to use it differently; at the end of a long, stressful day I would light up a joint to decompress. I’d often do it on my own—it is my “me” time. Cannabis became a form of self care. When I smoke, my guard comes down and I become more silly and open, unconcerned about presenting myself as perfect all the time. My creative side is heightened as I shift away from my overly rational and analytical thinking patterns. I also found that smoking highlights my intellectual curiosity and I allow myself to get lost in elusive concepts such as happiness, human nature, and social issues, which my day obligations distance me from. Looking back on my day, I begin to see the most stressful moments as less severe, allowing me to take myself less seriously and giving me perspective on what’s important. It prompts me to prioritize my own happiness and well-being, even if it’s only for a couple hours. 

Unlike traditional medication, I feel the benefits immediately and can control my dosage. Having control over my wellness has been empowering and improved my self perception. Instead of seeing myself as helpless, I finally feel capable of being happy without the psychological crutch of obscene amounts of chemical medication. I do not think that cannabis is a cure for mental illness and I am not trying to belittle psychiatric medication. However, for me, cannabis has been the most effective daily supplement for relaxation and joy. My use is not medicinal, nor is it as trivial as the word “recreational” implies. 

When it comes to legalization, these nuances are often overlooked due to the intense politicalization of cannabis in our country. The name “marijuana” carries the legacy of the plant’s racialization as a means of polarizing its use. With increased atrocities and  unhappiness in our society, cannabis and other plant medicine could help change the beliefs and perceptions that have led to the current concerning direction the world has “progressed” in. Perhaps, if we open our minds to the social acceptance of cannabis use, it could even do the world some good. At least it’s worth a shot.

I dedicate this newsletter to my fellow overachievers focused on the college applications right now. The moral of my story? The achievements are moot without mental health.

I thought I was thriving, I was really breaking.

Stoner Epiphanies, Manoela


🙏 Illustration compliments of Julien Posture julienposture.cargo.site @julien_posture

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