CBD Support Tincture for Pregnant & Postpartum Folx

By Cassandra Thompson

CBD vs. THC in Cannabis

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the active component in cannabis that can support mental, emotional, and physical ailments experienced in pregnancy and postpartum.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active component in cannabis that, when used in large amounts, has been connected to complications in pregnancy such as low-weight for gestational age before birth or smaller babies at birth, and neurological complications for babies post-birth.

However, consumption of CBD via infusion in foods, oils, and tinctures has been found to relieve nausea, relieve anxiety, reduce pain and inflammation, regulate mood, reduce blood sugar levels and support sleep. I have seen CBD aid folx in all of these ways in pregnancy and postpartum, without the psychoactive effects of THC that can promote paranoia, anxiety and get folx ‘high’.

CBD is often taken in 10mg doses (also known as a ‘microdose’) at first, so that the individual may determine what amount works for them, and work their way up from that dose, only if necessary for their relief. It is also best to take CBD on an empty stomach, and not close after or before taking prenatal vitamins, to feel the full effects.

Here is a recipe for a CBD tincture (liquid infusion, often done with alcohol or vinegar) that can be used to safely microdose for relief of common symptoms experienced in pregnancy and postpartum, without getting the user ‘intoxicated’ or experiencing any of the symptoms caused by large amounts of THC use.

Activating Your Cannabis

Before using cannabis flower in medicinal, edible preparations, it needs to be heated (decarboxylated) to release the CBD for effective infusion in carriers and absorption in the body. 

It has been found that negligible amounts of THC in a CBD dominant strain allow it to have a better effect on relieving the physical and mental ailments experienced in the body. A CBD dominant strain can be requested from your supplier/dispensary. This will have an average ratio of 4:1 CBD to THC within the plant, with an extremely low percentage of THC (less than 2%) and a higher percentage of CBD (above 13%).

If you have an oven, you can activate your cannabis by spreading a ½ ounce (14 grams) thinly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking on the middle rack for 1.5 hours at 240 degrees Fahrenheit (240F).

CBD Tincture

  • Yields 2 cups of tincture that will remain good for years if kept in the fridge.
  • 4 mL/1 tsp = 1 serving of a 10mg dose of CBD

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups A.C.V. (apple cider vinegar) – aids with digestions, nausea, heartburn and promoting healthy gut bacteria/reducing amount of group b strep developing in the body
  • ½ cup raw ginger – aids digestion, anti-nauseant and anti-inflammatory
  • 1 ½ tsp dried stinging nettles – supports healthy uterine tissue growth and release, reduces fatigue, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, nutrient-rich, hemostatic, lowers blood sugar levels
  • 1 ½ tsp dried lemon balm – relieves stress and anxiety, supports sleep and supports digestion
  • 1 ½ tsp dried  oat straw – supports mood regulation and supports milk production
  • 1 ½ tsp dried chamomile – supports digestion, lowers blood sugar levels, antioxidant, supports heart health and promotes sleep
  • 2 – 500mL mason jars with caps
  • 1 – small strainer
  • cheesecloth
  • amber tincture bottle with measured dropper (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients into a mason jar and seal. 
  2. Leave on a window sill for 1 month, turning daily/frequently.
  3. After 1 month of infusing, get the other mason jar, the strainer and the cheesecloth, and place the strainer in the mouth of the clean mason, with the cheesecloth inside the strainer, and pour the infusion contents thru the cheesecloth and strainer, allowing only the infused a.c.v. to pour into the clean container. 
  4. Squeeze or ‘milk’ the cheesecloth into the clean container to get as much a.c.v. out of the herb matter as possible.
  5. This can then be kept in the clean container for dosage with a teaspoon, or some can be put into an amber tincture bottle with a measured dropper for on the go use. The remaining amount can be stored in the fridge for refilling the tincture bottle later on.
  6. Begin your dose at 1 serving, if no effect is felt after 1 hr, double your dose upon next use, more than 12 hrs after the last dosage attempt.

Cassandra is a doula and radical herbalist, owner of Seed & Cerasee, a Birth Centre Aide at the Toronto Birth Centre, a founding member of the birth work collective Ocama Collective, and is actively following her path of birth work in afro- diasporic tradition – inclusive of trans & queer IBPOC community.

Meet Black Cannabis

By Damon Williams

How would it feel to know that as a person of color you are 3 times more likely to be arrested than your white counterparts for weed?  Or how about the fact that people of color only make up less than 5% of the entire U.S cannabis industry.  Sounds fucked up right? Well, it is! To have your whole life ruined by an off tilted justice system over an incredible flower and to see those now legally profiting from it. It’s mind-blowing!  Something has to change and we at Black Cannabis want to do our part to change the narrative!

Here’s a  short background of Black Cannabis.  Black Cannabis is an organization that was created by three individuals with like-minded thoughts on the cannabis industry. Philippe Dume (Haitian), a former U.S. Army veteran turned cannabis advocate. Philmore Charles (Antiguan) a longtime New Jersey activist and media producer. Finally Damon Williams (African-American) a new cannabis entrepreneur and activist. Together we formed like Voltron and created Black Cannabis. Sorry for the old head reference. But seriously after going to countless events, conferences, and expos — we just kept seeing the same old stuff. Truly a lack of diversity in many of those rooms, also a lack of our voice on media platforms as well. We agreed it is time to create a platform for the voice of the new generation in the cannabis industry. There is a lot of diversity in the industry that is not getting the shine it deserves. Also, there is an audience that is being ignored that wants to learn about this industry. 

We want to provide a platform for people of color, women, veterans, and the LGBTQ community to have a voice and to learn of what’s happening in the cannabis industry. And to know there is a space for all in this industry! Just because you don’t have the money to own a dispensary or a grow house doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of this amazing industry. If you’re good at social media there are companies that need this. If you’re good at accounting there are plenty of companies that need it.  Anything you believe you are good at just take that skill and repurpose it to the cannabis industry. You just need the drive to go out and do it! DO NOT accept no as the answer. Carve out your own path in this industry. 

Another way we have provided an opportunity for marginalized communities is through our partnership with a hemp company by the name of Cola Hemp Co.—  this partnership has given these communities access into the cannabis industry. Together we launched a program based in New Jersey called the Social Equity & Economic Diversity Cooperative or the S.E.E.D Co-Op.  This program gives BIPOC/ , women, and veteran’s access to 500,000 square feet dedicated to growing premium cannabis CBD.  Our program provides groups who sign up with the product and education needed to launch their own CBD brand from seed to sale. The program has courses on cultivation, marketing, and branding. Also, it provides access to a CBD distribution network.  If this is something that may interest you please visit our site at black-cannabis.com/s-e-e-d/.  

We believe this is a  budding young industry and it is still up for grabs. Think in these terms, if you got a chance to jump into a developing industry that is projected to make 30 billion dollars by 2025 would you miss out? Like we said earlier there is plenty of space for all. You just have to be willing to put in the work. Also, you must be willing to be an advocate for the cannabis culture. You just can’t have it any other way. We are still fighting for legalization in the U.S. The fight continues and we all have to be willing to do our part. Black Cannabis will be here for the long run. Are you trying to come for the ride? 


Managing Autoimmune Diseases with CBD

By Sonali Roy 

Illustration by Vero Romero

A multiple autoimmune disease survivor, Sandra  Hinchliffe, has unfortunately suffered from the common medications prescribed by several doctors over the years. Like many, she has received temporary relief, and not a permanent solution. She puts, “Modern medicine can address the underlying disease only to the point of temporary remission. But, even that does not cure the disease or relieve all of the chronic pain that comes with it.” During the time-frame of 2010 to 2011, multiple autoimmune diseases troubled her; she had allergic reactions to certain foods like eggs and yeast. She now carries EpiPens for anaphylaxis. Hinchliffe reminiscences, “As a teenager I was never able to use the beauty and hygiene products my teenage friends were using and back then (late 70s early 80s) there wasn’t much in the way of cosmetics that didn’t send me into severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.” She vividly recalls how she used to receive steroid infusions and other medications and the several nights she spent in the hospital. Doctors at Stanford Cancer Center and Menlo Clinic diagnosed her with Orbital Pseudotumor, which came out for her problem of Sarcoidosis. She was also diagnosed with Hashimoto disease. “Before I was finally diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I saw dozens of doctors over the years who treated my chronic pain in wildly different and unpredictable ways. From judgments and insults to doctors who over-medicated me on opiates. There were doctors who refused to give me opiates but over-medicated me on anti-inflammatories and anti-depressants. I saw doctors who told me to lose weight and exercise, doctors who tried to sell me MLM products they had in their office, it was just all over the place. None of these doctors had discovered the real underlying illness (which was later discovered and treated properly at Stanford Hospital).” Hinchliffe applied for a medical cannabis card, she received it, and started self-medicating at her  home in California. She says, “The doctors who wrote my cards over the years were willing to listen, to believe, and to trust me as an adult woman of sound mind to manage and self-medicate my own chronic pain at home with cannabis and other home remedies.

By incorporating two other herbs, turmeric and boswellia, she has used cannabis soley for managing pain.  This inspired  Hinchliffe to start creating her own cannabis spa products. She uses whole aromatic plant infusion, instead of essential oils for her products. Fragrant plants like pelargoniums, mints, lemon and rose thyme, heirloom carnations and rose bushes, which she grows in her own garden. 

“If you are already taking opioids for chronic pain, and you find yourself in the ER for unbearable acute pain,–there’s a really good chance that you will be treated like a drug seeker! I’ve been in this situation. It’s not fun and what you will go through is a kind of hell on earth. But, I don’t play by their rules anymore. I self-medicate, and self-manage my chronic pain in the privacy of my home with cannabis on my terms–and furthermore, it’s none of their business. That’s my activism.” 


A freelance writer & photojournalist, Sonali Roy, is a passionate traveler and loves framing nature. Roy enjoys painting & cooking and is devoted to a vegan diet. Sonali also composes music and

practices yoga & meditation regularly. She spends time with her two canine friends Fuchoo and Funtoosh.

Blue Heron Project

Interview by Mina Ramos 

A few weeks ago on a phone call, a close friend of mine mentioned to me that she was starting to grow cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms at home with her partner and plans to sell what was harvested. She had just finished a ceremony with Golden Teachers (a type of psychoactive mushroom) and spoke highly of the experience that she had and about the therapeutic and spiritual benefits. I was kind of shocked because I had never known her to do something like mushrooms. I remember her saying that the thought of tripping made her anxious. Given that she lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her partner and two dogs, I imagined that she would be growing maybe six or seven plants. I was amazed when I went to visit a few weeks later to find a highly organized set up with about 60 plants and a mushroom greenhouse area. As people who are trying to grow everything organically, with as little waste as possible, on a tight budget in a one-bedroom apartment, I thought it’d be great to interview them about what they’re doing so far and how it has been going for them.

How did the idea to grow weed and mushrooms arise?

While looking at the role that money has had in our lives and analyzing our values, we decided to embark on a journey that has brought joy into our lives, our home and our hearts. Both of us have had toxic relationships to money and how it was earned. We decided to make a change.

For us, that change became an indoor cannabis garden and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms, AKA “magic mushrooms”. 

One of us had a conversation with a close friend about income, and the friend called us out on the way that we were bringing money into the home. Both of us have struggled with addiction and often relied on “survival skills” to meet our chemical dependencies and basic needs. But we weren’t there anymore. In the conversation, it was agreed upon that the way one earns money is relevant to one’s spiritual well-being. What we had been doing in order to earn money wasn’t sustainable. Our friend pointed out that having intrinsic values that are modeled in the ways that we bring money into the home is important for our soul. We talked together and agreed to shift away from an outdated mentality that was based on survival skills, developed while in the heat of a nasty addiction. We were able to and wanted to move into a way of living that can be considered earning a living vs fighting to survive. On our healing journeys, moving away from addictions, one of us was introduced to plant medicine. These experiences have been key in freeing us from our dependency and fears and we have become strong advocates for their use.

We knew that the cannabis market is lacking in organic growing, and that pesticide-free growing is paramount for those using plants for medicine. Having had life changing spiritual experiences during psychedelic plant medicine ceremonies, we wanted to find a way to make both organically grown cannabis and plant medicines more readily available for people we know. We found a way of growing cannabis and cultivating psilocybin mushrooms, known as “magic mushrooms” that was both organic, and full of love. We are growing with the intention of medicine and for the use of personal development/inner healing. Plant medicines are showing groundbreaking transformations for people struggling with trauma, addictions, anxiety, depression, and more. We are not by any means treating people, we are providing safe access to sacred plant medicines, grown organically, safely, and with love for people on the path of healing and self-development.                                          

How far into the project are you?

With respect to the mushrooms we are growing, we have had a full cycle of mushrooms and a number of flushes, we are still producing fruits from this first cycle (Stropharia Cubensis Cuban). We have taken spore prints from our first batch that we will use for our next grow. We are expanding and shifting how we are producing them now. We purchased the spawn pre-inoculated our first time. This time we will be spawning ourselves. Exciting! All this lingo just means getting the mycelium started and established. But we are working to be able to do the entire process, from start to finish, here, ourselves. It’s super fun to learn and it’s been inspiring to find out that we’re capable of this. There’s been a lot of learning, and although I don’t think we’ll ever stop researching (while we embark on this journey at least), it’s honestly a lot easier to do than we had realized.

Weed is a bit of a different story! These plants take a while to grow. I’d say our plants are about 1.5 months old and younger and we are probably 3 months from harvest. It has been incredible getting to know the plants during this time. We both have such a new level of respect for them and are really enjoying getting to know them. They have a sweet, delicate smell and they dance with the fans blowing winds. They have dark deep shades of green and some bright green in them too. They are such a beautiful plant that I never was able to appreciate in this way. There is something about being part of their lives and supporting their growth that has shifted my relationship to them.

 If you are interested in learning with us, feel free to contact us on our IG @TheBluestHeron. We are happy to give you some good resources for getting started with mushrooms. The great thing about mushrooms is that the process is pretty quick! You just need to set up the right environment and keep things super sterile. You are also welcome to follow our journey there as we will be continuing to post content related to what we’re up to, what we’re learning and where we’re headed as our path ends and curves. We would love to hear about your journey as well, connection is what life is about for us.

 What does your setup look like so far? 

Our set up is currently in a 9.5′ x 11′ room that we have divided into two sections of the following dimensions: 3.5′ x 11′ and 6′ x 11`. This may not sound like a lot of space, and it’s not. However, we are making great use out of the space that we currently have available. We are starting on a small scale before scaling up.

The 6′ x 11′ segment is designed for our cannabis plants. We currently have three 1500 watt LED full spectrum grow lights hanging from the ceiling. Underneath the lights, you find a lush, dark green landscape of branches and leaves, grown in a beautiful and rich living organic soil full of millions of living microbes. There is a forest green crop cover which helps to retain the beautiful living water. We use spring water that we gather weekly from a nearby spring in order to provide fresh, ph balanced, living water to our plants. The crop cover we grow with the cannabis plants includes alfalfa, clovers, and other plants that get cut as they grow. The remains left in the soil further the cycle of life and rebirth, death and decay, modeling nature. A balanced and realistic representation of what we believe in. The landscape of cannabis plants is growing bigger and brighter every day. They are currently still in their vegetative state. There are three different ages of plants in there right now, the oldest being about 45 days, the youngest are seedlings that are ready to be transplanted into small cups and the middle-aged plants are just over 30 days old.

The 3.5′ x 11′ space is currently designed for mushroom cultivation and we have placed four 4-tier mini greenhouses converted into fruiting chambers for mushrooms. This is called the Martha Stewart technique for growing mushrooms. These are on their way to each having their own humidifier, grow lights, fans, and a few other adjustments that maintain an environment suitable for growing mushrooms. Right now, one of our mushroom greenhouses is operational and one of the shelves is producing mushrooms. This week we are in the process of completing the other three greenhouses and by this time next month, all of the greenhouses, and each shelf of the greenhouses with be producing psilocybin mushrooms. Also in the room, you’ll find many fans, both small and large, two clipboards on the walls to track temperature and humidity of the room, some shelving for work equipment and other plant care essentials. Also, you can find plant seeds and mushroom spore prints, a small portable microscope, ph meters, light meters and other handy items that are important for monitoring the plants‘ life cycles.

We are living in a one bedroom apartment and we have decided to live in the living room space in order to have this fully functioning operation in our home. We have found it humbling and nurturing in our personal development to look at space, what we need, what we don’t, and what we are taking for granted. We have recently transitioned even further from having a bedroom, by moving from our living room bedroom to a tiny nook of our apartment near the front door, and dividing the space using our clothing storage and dog beds! By doing this we have opened up the living room portion of our apartment to grow vegetables, and for cannabis plants in their vegetative state to keep separated when we begin to transition cannabis plants into the flowering stage. Moving forward this will allow us to have two spaces for the separate cycles that are required to grow cannabis. We found it important to shape a space for the development of a sustainable, year round (southern Ontario winters) growing of organic fruits and vegetables.

How have you combined your ethics in your practice so far? What are your hopes for the future?

 A lot of this came to us because of our values and that has shaped a lot of our research. We are using “Regenerative Farming Practices” as best as we can within our apartment. This means we use a crop cover for our weed plants (we use a mix of clover, alfalfa etc.) that continues to give nutrients to the soil and keep the topsoil cover moist. We also make our soil mix so that it is living/no-till soil. This soil gets stronger as things grow in it and has a lot of beautiful bacteria and fungi that continue to thrive. We don’t have to add fertilizers to this soil and if we do, we add “compost tea” which is basically brewing earthworm castings, compost and kelp meal (which is all in the soil already).  We are using organic and locally sourced products/ingredients as best as we can. We use spring water to water everybody, which means the water they drink is ALIVE! We also got worms, who eat our compost food and then create worm castings which provide some of the best nourishment for our plants. We feel that even though we are growing in an apartment, we are using practices that are going to heal not harm. We think it’s about recognizing mushrooms and weed as healers. When we are growing, we are trying to sustain life around us, including the environment. There are so many living things in this process, that deserve respect, dignity and care! These practices can be expanded if we are able to practice this outdoors.

It is our hope to charge fees on a sliding scale as we do want these things to be accessible to other people. On one hand, yes, we want to have a source of income, but also see these sacred plants as living beings who provide opportunities for healing and growth and want people to have access to them, and in this we find a sliding scale system to be important. We are honoured to be holding intention into what we are doing. We pray over our plants and mushrooms and we honour them. So our ethics are guiding us: accessible to others, respecting this earth, creating life and allowing nature to show us the way. Honouring non-human life, trying to live in love and recognizing oppressive systems. Growing has become a spiritual practice for us. Our hope for the future is to see where the future takes us. We want to stay grounded in our intention and continue to have fun and enjoy learning about getting to know mushrooms and weed.

What are the connections for you with these plants and healing?  Why are they important to you?

 We have both used both of these plants in our lives for different reasons. For us, when we talk about sacred plant medicine ceremonies, we aren’t talking about cannabis. Yes, cannabis is a sacred plant medicine and for us, there’s a difference in the way that cannabis and other sacred plant medicines are used.  We both still smoke weed somewhat regularly, lately, it’s been in the evening, most days for one of us and on occasion for the other.  

Ceremony as white settlers means doing our research in order to connect with our own people, and use practices from our ancestors. We are mindful and aware of cultural appropriation. We focus on earth based traditions of Western Europe, so typically we will open by ‘casting a circle’ and acknowledging the Four Corners. We may build an altar dedicated to nature and we speak to spirit and the universe. If you are a settler and not interested in ancestral practices, you can still have ceremony without cultural appropriation, just do your research. Also, we know the land we are on (Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Anishinaabek peoples, Treaty 3) and the land we get our water from (Neutral Territory and Mohawk Territory). We give thanks and acknowledge that this land is stolen and our complex relationship as settlers here. We are on Dish with One Spoon Territory and we are learning to live as such.

One of us has attended sacred plant medicine (Ayahuasca and Iboga) retreats with the guidance of respected people who host them. These were super helpful in personal development and in severing the ties with harmful chemical dependencies (drug addictions). Having learned that magic mushrooms are another type of plant medicine that are used in ceremonies, becoming curious and inspired by experiences with Ayahuasca and Iboga and other plant medicines, it became exciting to consider the power of magic mushrooms and to start a journey with them. Having limited prior knowledge that indoor mushroom cultivation exists and could be grown at home, it was only a matter of time before curiosity turned into passionate yearning.  We both owe a great thanks to sacred plant medicine ceremonies in lending us the opportunity to look at ourselves, for healing and bringing  into our lives an enriched sense of the beautiful people that we are. By no means does this mean we have substituted our drug use by taking psychedelic drugs.

 Plant medicines ceremonies are sacred and can be held in many different ways, and for us when it comes to holding ceremony, we find it invaluable to wait 1-3 months in between. Sometimes there can be ceremony back to back, two ceremonies in two days, but then focus on integration. We at this point have only taken one ceremony at a time, one day, and then waited. We find integration to be an essential part of the process. Integration requires time between in order to take the insights that were gained from the plant medicines and explore/live out of that wisdom. Both of us have history with addiction and daily dependence. One of us has struggled with intravenous drugs and homelessness. Our paths have been independent and very different at times, but we both had an undeniable sense of urgency and need to be taking strong and harmful chemicals. As such, we both see it necessary to respect the plant medicine ceremonies and to fully integrate our experiences and not to be recklessly taking mushrooms in order to find some sort of escape. Instead, we find ourselves living in grace for blessings that have come from the use of plant medicines.

 We have found a lot of insights into ourselves that we have been able to carry with us out of the ceremonies. We have carried into our daily lives a new found appreciation for who we are, what we are doing with our lives, the love that we share with each other, for ourselves, for our friends and family and gratitude for the blessings that we have everyday. I don’t know about anybody reading this, but for me, to be able to find gratitude for who I am, the blessings in my life and the love that I share with friends and family is everything and more. To be able to know myself better from a psilocybin mushroom ceremony, knowing the love that I have to share and seeing the love that is all around me is something I couldn’t put a price on – and something that in the past I couldn’t have imagined would come out of a plant medicine ceremony. We do not ingest the fungi often, these are lasting effects from genuine, heartfelt and inspiring experiences that were gifts of plant medicine ceremonies.

What tips would you have for people who are starting out?

 Depending on your current financial situation, be ready for money to be tight, and if you can, don’t obsess about it. We’re obviously looking to turn a modest profit, as we already shared. However, the intention behind these changes in our lives are born out of a spiritually sick relationship with money including how money has been earned for us in the past. Money stress is terrible and this kind of thing does require some financial investments that can add up pretty quick. These costs are short term costs, as the perpetual cycle of growth and rebirth of the plants will compensate the original investment. If managed properly and handled responsibly, the money returned for the hard days of work can effectively be reinvested into the system and create an opportunity for prosperity. If this is something you’re about to start doing yourself, do your research and buy what you need, leave the rest. There’s a whole bunch of fancy stuff out there, especially in the realm of growing. We put the most of our money and our energy into our soil. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned in this process, is that it all comes down to soil. You can have the best temperature, tools, state of the art lights etc. but if your soil is sick nothing will thrive. So that’s where we invested.

 We also made this what we do. So we don’t have money to spend but we don’t need to go out and do stuff. We were in a position with just enough money to get started on this adventure; nothing else to spare. It’s hard to give any sort of approximate sense of what that looks like financially because everybody’s space and size, as well as goals, are completely different. All we know is that we had just enough money to get started. Every dollar coming in goes to our bills or our plants. Thankfully we love what we’re doing, we have a great time learning about this stuff and we love getting dirty in the soil. We have a blast going to the spring to collect water and take our dogs with us. Spending time being with the plants after we’ve watered feels like being outside after a rainfall — the smell and the feeling in the air. Watching them grow is a joy and we are very busy with them so we aren’t left wanting to spend money on other stuff! If you are growing for personal use, you don’t need a ton of stuff and can get started fairly quickly. Have fun with it. Again, if you have questions, please ask!!! @TheBluestHeron – we’ll be happy to provide resources that have been invaluable to us.

 If you do plan to embark on growing and building relationships with either cannabis or mushrooms, please do your research around legality so you can make informed choices. Although having long histories of medicinal and therapeutic use, both weed and mushrooms carry criminalization. Even though weed is legal, there are specifications for growing and licensing requirements that you may choose to follow. You can order spores for mushrooms online and grow kits but that is where things end. Pharmaceutical companies have a lot to lose if people have access to these beautiful teachers and friends. 

The Power of Dandelion Root Tea

By Lalita Rose

Illustration by Vero Romero

who knew the wishes upon dandelion heads, whose golden petals turn into gray wisps would be the same plant that taught me how to stand up for myself?

whose roots in tea would tend to my inner fire with the truth serum to say, no.

a channeling of unexpressed anger, of boundaries crossed. calm, clear, collected. there is wisdom in their ample presence. a reminder that anger is okay, and you can find ways to communicate it without losing yourself. 

maybe they are the medicine that keeps trying to call out: i am here to help you but humans tend to be stubborn in trusting the frequent alarm. there is righteous rage, waiting to be expressed.

perhaps that is what will help us transmute, that which feels too heavy to expel.

CBD as a Natural Remedy for Pain

By Matty

Where I live, I get access to free health care. I can go see a doctor or go to the hospital whenever I feel something is not right. While acknowledging that this in itself is a privilege, this is a short story about my health anxiety and my journey so far with chronic pain management.

In the summer of 2019, I moved to San Francisco for 4 months. When I found out I was leaving I put my local phone plan on pause to ensure that I wasn’t racking up any expensive roaming charges. Right before I left, I started feeling some pain in my lower right abdominal area. I went to a walk-in clinic close to my house and saw a doctor, who sent me for some lab work and an ultrasound. I never heard back from the clinic and continued on with my planned move to San Francisco, assuming that my results had come back normal.

Two months into my stay, my partner was visiting for my birthday and their visit was unfortunately interrupted by some severe abdominal pain on my right side. I was feeling feverish, and extremely panicked. I was close friends with a physician, and when I explained my symptoms he told me to go to the ER. I went to the ER and the entire time I was there I was panicking about the bills I would be racking up as an international person visiting the US. To cut a long story short, they couldn’t find out what was wrong but the pain lingered.

While I was in San Francisco, I turned to CBD in the form of micro-dosing to manage this undiagnosed pain. It helped a lot, by making me feel calmer and relaxing my body. I soon flew home and was welcomed by my family and friends. When I got home, I found a mailed letter addressed to me, and inside was an urgent message from the walk-in clinic I had gone to before I left. It read, “Please call us back. We have been trying to get hold of you since June.” I was reading this in September. I called them, and they told me that prior to leaving the doctor had diagnosed my pain as a UTI and wanted to prescribe me antibiotics.

To this day, I have no idea what caused the pain in San Francisco, whether it was some symptoms from the untreated UTI or something else that the doctors couldn’t find. The experience made me extremely skeptical of doctors in general. From September until March, I had recurring symptoms of chest pain, abdominal pain, and back pain that went undiagnosed. No one could figure out what was going on. This culminated with multiple trips to the ER and self-diagnosing myself with health anxiety, or as many people may know it — hypochondria. My pain was real, but what happened in California had thrown off my fear response so even though I had been checked out multiple times by multiple professionals, I thought that I was in danger every time I felt those symptoms in my body.

Then COVID-19 hit, and you can imagine the constant fear of feeling like I had a deadly infectious disease in my lungs got worse. But, fortunately, I finally hit a wall and started reading and connecting with other people who have struggled with health anxiety. I educated myself on the behaviors that people with health anxiety would engage in and practiced cognitive behavior therapy to train my fear response to be healthy again.

My doctor prescribed lorazepam as a quick “happy pill” for if I was spiraling and was trying to convince myself to go to the ER, but I was scared to take it because I feared getting addicted. I eventually decided that I was going to try CBD. I ordered an oil that sits under your tongue with a THC concentration of 0.5 mg/mL and a CBD concentration of 11 mg/mL. When I tried it for the first time, I remember feeling a bit buzzed immediately after, but by 45 minutes – 1 hour after I wasn’t feeling any pain and I was very relaxed. This felt great for me. With only 1 mL of this tasteless oil, I could calm myself down and have the non-life threatening pain subside for the rest of the night. I had read about alternative medications but most of the side effects said they would make you feel foggy and zombie-like. CBD has been amazing for me and I hope that more people will try this form of natural plant medicine for managing pain.

CBD is only one part of my healing, I also carry around affirmation cards, exercise regularly, eat as healthy as possible, and practice meditation daily. But, knowing that I have the oil in my back pocket if ever I start to spiral gives me a lot of peace of mind.

Artist Spotlight: Savina Monet

Savina Monet was born in sunny So-Cal, but raised in rainy Seattle. A West Coast baby through and through. Looking back on her life, she was always a creator. Instead of buying cards, she would make them. When siblings outgrew their clothes, she would cut and sew and create something new. It wasn’t until she was fired from her agriculture software job did she have a choice: find another 9-5 or build her own wealth by using her creativity. Since the beginning of her freelance career, cannabis has been featured in her work one way or another. For her, it was something that always has been in her life. Savina’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all grew or medicated with cannabis. It was more secretive back then, but before anything, she saw the powerful medicinal effects that came from this sticky bud. In the end, Savina’s journey is to end the stigmatization of this beautiful plant, and the best way she can do that? By exposing people to the plant through her artwork.

Savina’s work reflects her day to day thought process. Her Instagram (@savinamonet) holds the freshest pieces that are inspired by current events, pop culture, or weird things she’s thought of after smoking. The more poignant pieces are usually a commentary about what’s going on around her and how she feels about it, good or bad. Art is the last form of free creative expression. So long as we are free and the water is flowing and the grass is growing, there will be an artist that processes their life through their creative expression. 

Her works demonstrate how life extends beyond its subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘savage’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Savina Monet currently lives and works in Portland, OR creating engaging pieces for her community and the cannabis industry.

The Dandelion Initiative

By Viktoria Belle

The Dandelion Initiative (DI) is an organization founded, staffed and governed by survivors, for survivors. I started the organization in 2016 on the steps of city hall after the Ghomeshi hearings and since then we have grown to develop programs (like Safer Bars & Spaces and our policy work) that prevent and respond to gender based violence. I was inspired by the resiliency of Dandelions, and I figured it was a good name to describe how incredibly resilient survivors and women are. 

When we started envisioning what we wanted the “Heal and Thrive series to be, we knew that survivor-centered peer support and knowledge sharing had to be at the top of our priorities.  We all wanted a space where survivors could connect with one another, see themselves in one another, learn and grow together, and create a community where we were the experts in our own experiences. 

We also knew that prioritizing the safety of all women and trans survivors was vital while creating opportunities for cis-men who identify as survivors to participate throughout the series as well. 

Creating safer spaces for survivors to heal or to thrive means: planning ahead, building trust with your community and facilitators, paying these community members for their knowledge and work, de-colonizing your online or in-person practices, and using trauma-informed and survivor-centered principles. 

We have served over 250 survivors through 12 workshops over 1 year with 3 staff and 7 facilitators. It was incredible, hard and endless work, and worth every single second. 

Dandelions can grow through concrete and through anything, anywhere. Some look at this plant like a weed, something common and replaceable. But in fact the dandelion is a pretty magical plant. Dandelions are one of the most vital early spring nectar sources for a wide host of pollinators; they can be eaten raw or cooked, made into tea, and used in traditional herbal medicine and tinctures. I look at survivors as dandelions, people may underestimate us and our value, but we are so important and resilient, especially a field of dandelions; powerful. 

The DI is a small grassroots nonprofit.  We have 2 full-time staff and a dedicated volunteer board of directors. Since COVID-19 we have lost over 80% of our core revenue from our Safer Bars & Spaces training, workshops and policy development work. This means we have no funding to provide free services and programs for survivors without the support of our program fees. 

We are working really hard to release our report “Don’t Rebuild On Our Backs” which will showcase the impacts of our programs, current information on gender-based violence and finally, the report will highlight policy recommendations to our government, partners and community to help us continue our important work and collaboration. 

Anyone can help us by either donating, sharing our work, sharing grant opportunities with us, all of these things are helpful. 

People can find us on our website or on facebook, instagram or twitter

Thank you for giving us the space to share some information about us and our work, we are grateful.

Viktoria Belle (she/her), Executive Director & Founder, Dandelion Initiative 


Legal Cannabis does not Erase a History of Criminalization

By Katherine Nixon 

Image by Pete Railand (via Just Seeds)

Take yourself back to October 2018 when ‘Canada’ legalized weed. Think about your relationship with cannabis and the police. Did legality change things for you? The deeply unjust cannabis possession laws took in hundreds of thousands of people through the incarceration system. Many people experienced police brutality, over-exaggerated jail sentences, random stops and searches, and much more. Here are some stats to put it into perspective:

  • From 2003 to 2013, Toronto police arrested 11,299 people whose skin colour was noted — and who had no prior convictions — for possessing up to 30 grams of weed/cannabis.
  • VICE reported that Indigenous people in Regina were nearly nine times more likely to get arrested for cannabis possession than white people
  • Black people in Halifax were more than five times more likely to get arrested for possessing weed than white people. 
  • To date only 44 people have been granted amnesty for weed possession, leaving many marginalized people to feel the impacts of an outdated and racially biased law.
  • In 2019 alone, 14 Indigenous-owned dispensaries on reserves were raided. Places like Six Nations where two Indigenous men at a dispensary were arrested for possession of illicit cannabis, distribution of illicit cannabis, and possession for the purpose of distribution contrary to the Cannabis Act or Robert Wilmot, who is operating legally under his Indigenous rights in Millbrook First Nation.

There are many still working to fight for amnesty like ‘Cannabis Amnesty’ who have dedicated themselves to fight to have pardons granted to those charged with cannabis possessions and to free cannabis prisoners. They have launched a petition to demand that amnesty and pardons are implemented and that legalization is one of compassion. In Toronto organizations like the Black Action Legal Committee offer support to help Black Ontarians apply for cannabis related pardons for free. There are also organizations like ‘Believers Bailout’ and ‘ACLU’ as well as Barton Prisoner Solidarity and Pivot Legal working with prisoners and holding police accountable to the communities they serve.  Holding policymakers, law enforcement, and authorities to a high standard and held accountable for their actions in our society is one way of fighting against systematic oppression. Regardless if this issue affects you, our freedom is tied and it is our responsibility to fight for a secure and safe community for all. Here are some resources and community orga- nizations that are currently working with all the statistics highlighted above:


CANNABIS JUSTICE RESOURCES

CANNABIS AMNESTY CAMPAIGN

“We are a group of lawyers, activists, and entrepreneurs brought together by the belief that the harms caused by decades of marijuana prohibition must be set right.”

PRISONER AND INCARCERATION JUSTICE RESOURCES

PASAN

“We strive to provide community develop- ment, education and support to prisoners and ex-prisoners provincially in Ontario and feder- ally regarding HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV) and around whole health and harm red uction.”

THINK2WICEINTL

“Think 2wice Envisions the upliftment and empowerment of racialized people by elimi- nating the impact of inequality and social injustice .”

BARTON PRISONER SOLIDARITY PROJECT

“The Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project is an abolition group that aims to reduce the isola- tion that prison walls create through various projects.”

BLACK LEGAL ACTION COMMITTEE (BLAC)

“Based out of Toronto BLAC is a not-for-profit corporation that delivers legal aid services to low and no income Black Ontarians.”

RESOURCES FOR BIPOC FOLKS

BLACK LIVES MATTER CANADA

“To forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black- centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to to dismantle all forms of state- sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto.”

INDIGENOUS CANNABIS CUP

“The gathering is occurring in the context of Canada’s impending legalization of the can- nabis plant in the summer of 2018, and indig- enous people involved in the cannabis industry are looking to self-determine their own rela- tionship to the plant.”

BELIEVERS BAIL OUT

“Believers Bail Out (BBO) is a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incar- ceration and ICE custody. BBO was formed in 2018 by Muslim scholars and community members in conjunction with Sapelo Square and Chicago Community Bond Fund. “

POLICE BRUTALITY RESOURCES

PIVOT LEGAL

“Believers Bail Out (BBO) is a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incar- ceration and ICE custody. BBO was formed in 2018 by Muslim scholars and community members in conjunction with Sapelo Square and Chicago Community Bond Fund. “

THE COLLECTIVE OPPOSED TO POLICE BRUTALITY

“The Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP) is an autonomous group that is made up of victims, witnesses and/or those concerned by police brutality and all abuse perpetrated by the police.”


Katherine Nixon is a teenage community organizer living
on Anishinaabek lands. She works to provide support and solidarity in her community and beyond.

News Brief

Fossil Free Guelph 

Report back by Elizabeth Cyr 

After 7 years of Fossil Free Guelph’s (FFG) organizing for full divestment, the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors (BOG) passed a motion to divest from fossil fuels completely over a 5-year period in an online meeting held on April 22, 2020. This is an incredible accomplishment for the students of FFG and all the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who have supported this movement over the years. For the first time in our campaign for divestment, FFG saw our exact demand for full divestment on the table in front of the BOG. There was deliberation from the BOG before the vote to divest, where two Board members who later voted against the motion spoke against divestment, expressing views that were clearly anti-student activism and steeped in conflicts of interest and resistance to change. The three FFG members who were on the call responded to these comments in a calm and informed way, but did not have enough time to respond to comments targeting student activists on campus, which we found quite disrespectful toward members of FFG and student allies who care deeply about this cause. 

The University would not have taken this action if not for FFG’s consistent campaigning over the last few years. A variety of tactics were used in these years of organizing, and an important turning point of the campaign was a sit-in in the UofG’s finance administrative offices, where the Vice President of finance committed to presenting a recommendation for full divestment to the BOG. This victory shows that students will always be the strongest voice for progress on university campuses. 


Elizabeth Cyr is a recent university graduate, vegetable farmer and artist based out of Guelph, ON. In her time at the UoG she was involved in organizing around fossil fuel divestment with Fossil Free Guelph, as well as other campus and community social/ environmental organizing.