The judgemental, propagandist days of cannabis are over — or are they? On the one hand, cannabis users worldwide are jumping for joy at the turn of events that cannabis law has taken in the last decade. On the other hand, it’s not like we are ignorant to the fact that a lot of the mentality of pre-legalisation remains in the undergrowth.

That undergrowth is your boss’s idea of cannabis — or your parent’s idea of cannabis. A law changes overnight, but an entire culture’s attitude towards something doesn’t change overnight. So how private should you keep your weed consumption?

We know this is a pertinent question because cannabis enthusiasts are of all varieties; the entrepreneur, the weekend smoker, the video-game variety, the social user and the medicinal user. And we know that all of these different types of cannabis users are subject to different “etiquettes” when it comes to their cannabis consumption.

If you’re a professional, is it appropriate to tell your colleagues you smoke? If you’re a weekend smoker, do you really have to tell your cannabis-loathing parents that you smoke? That’s what this article is all about. We’re getting into some of the issues surrounding privacy of cannabis use and how this affects our lives.

There’s no privacy about your cannabis consumption if you get drug tested for work.

Before we talk about some of the social implications of revealing the fact that you use cannabis, let’s talk about some of the logistical and legal implications.

To start with, if you have to get drug tested for work or any other reason, it’s pretty much impossible to keep your cannabis use from the authorities. Obviously there are ways around this, but they’re even more illegal than using cannabis, and we can’t condone trying to lie on a drug test.

This is a really big caveat, isn’t it? For the handful of people out there who undergo mandatory drug screening, there’s unfortunately very little scope for privacy about your cannabis use. You could theoretically keep it a secret from your friends and family, but it wouldn’t be a secret from the authorities. And in most scenarios, they’re the ones you want to be keeping it from. 

Professionals and white collars; the etiquette of the cannabis conversation.

A man wearing a suit wears a weed leaf as a brooch on his pocket.

The scenario: You’re a professional who works in an office for a successful company. You spend most of your day dealing with clients, in meetings, signing contracts and making deals. When your work day is over, your favourite thing to do is go home and smoke a joint. After-work drinks are annoying because you care less about drinking than you do about using cannabis. Plus, you never get to take clients out to the best local dispensary — it’s always the finest bar or restaurant. So it’s not like you get to enjoy cannabis with clients.

What’s amazing is that this scenario is more common than you think. Since the legalization of cannabis, it has become clear that the demographics who like cannabis are varied. Whereas once, we thought only Dorito-munching, WOW-playing teenagers smoked weed, we now know that weed users often fit profiles completely different to the couch stoner.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re even questioning whether or not your boss or colleagues might be into weed, you’re better off leaving it off the table unless you want to defend it to the death.

It also depends who you are. How high up are you? How at-risk is your job and workplace happiness if you tell your colleagues that you use cannabis? Are you willing to lose some workplace friends for being open about your cannabis use? How far out of the box are you willing to go with your work colleagues?

It’s important to recognize that in this scenario, a big player in the decision making is how much you keep your personal life separate from your work life. We know this is different from person to person. While some people’s social lives are heavily intertwined with their work lives, there are others who prefer to keep it completely separate.

In the event that your work and personal life are completely separate, this conundrum is less applicable. You don’t talk about your personal leisures with your colleagues. But in the event that you spend quite a lot of time socialising with your work crew, then the decision making is more nuanced.

At a company event, keep your joints out of sight unless you know the odd few people who love to use cannabis. When it happens that you find out that there are one or two other colleagues who also like to secretly get on the green, they become your partners in crime. Don’t smoke without them — and there’s always strength in numbers.

The daters and lovers; when to break the news about your love for cannabis.

Two people on an awkward first date.
@vintage_magazine_

The scenario: You’re single and you’re ready to mingle. You’re open to meeting new people even if they don’t smoke weed, which means you sometimes end up going on dates with people who aren’t into cannabis. When you’re feeling nervous or anxious before a date, you take a small dose of cannabis to calm yourself down and start feeling sexy. 

This scenario is so common since cannabis legalisation that we put together a whole article on cannabis and dating. For those who only smoke cannabis socially or on the weekend, this issue seems less important because the vast majority of people don’t have a major issue with infrequent cannabis use. But what about for those of us using it therapeutically? Those of us who need it to get to sleep or who suffer from anxiety?

The double-standard is that if you told someone on a first date that you take Zoloft for anxiety, it wouldn’t be treated like a big deal. But if you admitted that you used cannabis everyday for anxiety, it might be. That is exactly the kind of judgemental undergrowth that still occurs in the 21st century.

As a rule of thumb, if you really, really like the person you’re on a date with, the sooner you tell them the better. This gets the whole situation out of the way at the beginning and you don’t have to feel awkward about your cannabis use. If you’re still unsure about how involved you want to be with this person, then you don’t have to disclose any super personal information too quickly.

Given that the dating situation is more personal than the professional situation we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot more wiggle room for communication. If you’re a bonafide cannabis advocate then you could use it as an opportunity to educate. It doesn’t mean it’ll be received well, but it’s your feelings that will take the brunt of the impact — not your career, social life, or legal standing.

The thing about intimate relationships is that the further you go along, the deeper skeletons get buried in the closet. It would be pretty embarrassing if 3 months down the track into an intimate relationship your partner discovers that you use cannabis and is totally appalled by it. When it comes to dating, earlier is better.

At a social event, you should take full advantage of the fact that there are lots of people around and all of them are potential mates. Just start smoking a joint (so long as the social event allows it), and watch all of the cannabis loving people come flocking towards you. At a social event, it’s much easier to weed out the ones who aren’t interested in your cannabis use.

The family people; does your family have to know that you smoke weed?

A family including small children at a bar drinking beer together.
@shortysbayonne

The question of family and privacy of cannabis use is a multifaceted issue. There are so many scenarios that apply here:

  • You’re a parent with children who are old enough to understand that you use cannabis and you don’t know whether you need to talk to them about it or not
  • You’re a cannabis user whose parents don’t know, and you’re not sure how they’ll receive it
  • You’re an aunt or uncle or extended family member and there are other extended family members who may or may not want to participate in your love for cannabis

It’s always going to be the most complicated with family because this is also where most of our cultural traditions manifest. For example, if you come from an ethnic family who prohibits cannabis use then it’s going to be a different conversation and thought process than a parent raising children in a self-sustainable community.

Why might you want to have this conversation with your family in the first place?

Depending on how much cannabis has become a part of your life, it might just feel necessary to tell them. The people it’s hardest to keep a secret from is family. They know us the best, they know our personality traits, and they can tell when we’re high! 

You might want to have the conversation so that there’s no more elephant in the room. Or so that you can actually stop keeping a secret because it’s exhausting. Or because you don’t feel like it’s necessary to keep something so magical and effective for you a secret from the people you are the closest to.

The many ways to open the cannabis conversation with family.

There is so much tact in having sensitive conversations with family members. It’s important to think of who you’re talking to. Are you explaining it to a child or to an elderly person? Is it a sibling or is it a parent or older relative? What’s the best way you can communicate with them to help them understand your position in all of it?

If explaining to a child, it can be helpful to begin the process of education. You can explain that cannabis is a plant a lot like mint or sunflowers. It can be used as food and medicine etc., and you can help your child to understand some of the reasons you use it and what it helps you for. 

If you’re explaining to a parent or elderly person, it’s important to be patient. Understand that it takes a long time to undo an entire generation of cannabis propaganda. Do it in small doses. Show them some of the scientific research and help them understand that we know much more about cannabis than we did during Reefer Madness.

If you’re talking to a sibling, keep it short and sweet. The thing about our siblings is that they usually feel less obliged to us than our parents or children do. They are more like friends who we didn’t get to choose and this means that they are sometimes the most vocal about their disapproval. If you know that they will never understand your cannabis use, maybe it’s just about breaking the news but not elaborating at all. Maybe it’s about short bursts of information that aren’t overwhelming.

You don’t have to open yourself up to ridicule and harassment.

A woman with flowers in her hair smoking a cannabis pipe, a collage
@savinamonet

All of the information we’ve given is awesome if the people on the receiving end of the conversation are actually open, understanding, and reasonable people. But there isn’t that much you can do if your boss or parent or sibling simply thinks cannabis comes from the devil. When people are stubborn, it can be impossible to bring their minds around into a more open place.

If that’s the case, know that you don’t have to open yourself up for ridicule or harassment. Part of cannabis etiquette is also knowing that your choices are your choices. Cannabis legalisation is all about free choice and you don’t have to be ridiculed because of a free choice you made to use or experiment with cannabis.

If not telling authorities or family figures in your life makes you feel the safest, that’s okay too. Sometimes, that’s the only way to keep the peace. 

Who knows about your cannabis consumption? Do you keep it private, is it fully out in the open, or do you only share it with a select few? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Creative writer and herbalist, Sera Ghaly, based in Melbourne Australia. She is a lover of all things plant-related, and her passions lie in the ethnobotanical use of plants. Having travelled to South America, India, and the Middle East, she has encountered a number of ethnobotanical plants in their natural habitats and traditions, both psychedelic and non-psychedelic. Her mission: to encourage and educate on the power of herbal medicine and ethnobotanical use of plants — to remind us that everything we seek exists in its whole, complete form in nature. 

A disclaimer.

I came to the world of magic mushrooms pretty deep into my “substance” experimentation, so I’d already had a lot of experience being intoxicated on things other than alcohol. I’m not saying that having a prolific substance-using background prepares you for taking mushrooms. I’m just saying that I wasn’t altogether unfamiliar with what it feels like to trip. I don’t know exactly what that means for those of you reading — it’s just a disclaimer about the many strange and wonderful feelings that accompany a magic mushroom journey.

Buddha in the sky.

A buddha sits in the ocean with a sunflower around his head
@_ann_amber_

I had taken magic mushrooms before in the cosiness of my home with friends and enjoyed lots of giggles and trippy visuals. But this experience felt like the first real psychedelic journey I’d ever had. You know, those cerebral expansion psychedelic stories everybody talks about where suddenly, the answer to all life’s questions comes exploding out of the void.

I wasn’t in the habit of counting grams at that stage in my experimentation, but I probably took somewhere between 2 and 4 grams of psilocybin mushrooms. In Melbourne, Australia, we usually find Psilocybe cubensis or Psilocybe subaeruginosa. Subaeruginosa is the wood-loving species and it’s more common, so I’m going to hazard a guess that Psilocybe subaeruginosa is the mushroom variety I consumed that day.

A handful of friends and I were heading to the beach to enjoy a summer afternoon. Just me and one other person committed to the magic mushroom extravaganza while the rest decided to sit at a beachside bar. 

I was actually there with them at the beachside bar until Buddha appeared in the sky and I realised I was tripping. From that point onwards, I had to leave my friends at the bar and go consult the ocean because I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Feelings.

Two mushrooms hug under a rainbow
@theartofmushrooms

The come-up on these mushrooms was so strong, I was feeling extremely nauseous. It wasn’t like the poisoning sensation that alcohol gives you — it felt like I had sea sickness. Everything was moving way too fast — and being surrounded by hordes of people at a busy Melbourne beach bar wasn’t helping the situation. 

You know when you smoke too much weed and the concept of standing or even sitting feels like way too much for your body to deal with? It was just like that. So I took to a horizontal position on the sand, staring at the sky.

So there I was; lying on a beach because my legs felt like jelly, feeling nauseous, a little anxious, and my visual field had well-and-truly become the psilocybin visual landscape.

To explain what I meant when I mentioned Buddha appearing in the sky; it was as though I could see thousands of different beams of light intersecting in the sky to create a hologram of Buddha. The way I saw it, he was made out of photons. 

Now, if you were lying on a beach feeling wobbly as hell and Buddha was right in front of you, you’d probably use that moment to ask some questions. It felt like the only reasonable thing to do, even though I was fully aware that there was nothing reasonable about a Buddha hallucination.

I can’t remember the exact conversation between Buddha and I. I just remember that it didn’t take long for the giggle fit to arrive. It all felt very absurd. And that absurdity very quickly became humorous. Then it felt like Buddha was just a bro, hanging out, laughing together and forgetting about our apparent wobbliness or the fact that one of us might actually just be made out of light rays.

I felt totally safe and comfortable. My heart was exploding with love for my new found friend (Buddha), and I had for all intents and purposes, forgotten that I had an entire group of friends at a bar just a hundred metres away. 

Conversation gets tough.

It could have been a minute. It could have been two hours. There will never be a way of knowing. At some point, my friends joined me on the beach after finishing their beers at the bar. I remember being a little confused at their arrival seeing as I had forgotten that we all came here together.

I was still very deep in physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and visual effects. But most of my friends were kind of tipsy, so everyone was really in the mood for talking. I wasn’t and that bothered me a little bit. I was so wrapped up in my conversation with Buddha and the universe that verbal conversation seemed… well… boring.

I felt uncomfortable by the pressure to engage socially. I didn’t want to talk, especially about mundane things like gossip. I secretly wished I could be on the beach alone so that I didn’t feel any pressure to be socially involved with anyone around me.

You can imagine how long this mental loop went on for (another thing about taking magic mushrooms). After a while, I realised that my friends didn’t seem to care if I was “in another world” — it was me that was uncomfortable with the fact that I wasn’t in their world. 

In any case, it just seemed impossible to string a sentence together. It also seemed like a waste of time seeing as a sentence couldn’t possibly describe what was happening to me. I let the entire concept of conversation evaporate — gladly.

Walking didn’t come back until the next day.

A beautiful painting of magic mushrooms
@meganashmanart

The mushroom experience on the beach was more esoteric than I was bargaining for. At that point in my experience with psychedelics, no such religious phenomena had ever occurred to me. Brand new creativity in the way I could understand different abstract concepts seemed to emerge from… myself? You could say that for the first time I could see the potential in drugs other than just having fun.

When it was time to go (I was not operating the vehicle, by the way), I physically couldn’t get up. It wasn’t the loose drunkenness that makes you flop about and trip over things. I literally could not generate a neuronal connection between my brain and my legs. While my mind was saying “walk”, my legs just weren’t responding.

Whatever — my friends found it funny so I didn’t feel the need to try and explain my sudden paralysis. I remember getting dropped off at my door, taking one step in and completely face planting into my carpet. It was all super strange and a little bit scary. Any connection between my brain and body had completely fried out. I crawled into my bed and had a very long sleep.

The next day, I hadn’t regained full control over my muscles yet. I got online to see if anybody else in the world had suddenly become paraplegic while on psilocybin. I came to learn that Psilocybe subaeruginosa, the wood loving species, for unknown reasons, can cause short-term paralysis. I’ll admit that I was definitely less scared after hearing that it had happened to others before… and that it was short term. 

But nonetheless, it was pretty frightening not being able to properly coordinate any movements for at least 12 hours. I remember catching up with my dad the day after this mushroom trip and he asked me to roll him a cigarette. I literally couldn’t and I had no logical way of explaining that to him. I could only answer with “I literally can’t do that.” 

The end of chemical drugs for me…

I didn’t go into this mushroom journey expecting any revelations or life-changing events. As I mentioned, I had experimented with a lot of substances before magic mushrooms and for me, it was just all about the fun of getting high. I was experimental, I used a lot of drugs, and my body was definitely paying the price.

But something happened after this journey. After understanding the potency and power of using psychedelic substances, I suddenly decided that chemical drugs were boring to me. I’d had a lot of fun using ecstasy and speed and party drugs, but I’d never had an experience like what mushrooms had given me. The urge to use lots of drugs just seemed to melt off me without me having to give it much conscious thought.

I entered a whole new world of curiosity for psychedelic substances. I somehow thought and believed that there was more potential in them for what I, Sera, was personally looking for in drugs. All the “experiences” I had been waiting to have with other drugs all of a sudden manifested in one magic mushroom experience. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I found what I was looking for.

Me since then.

Sera receiving traditional face paint before a ceremony
Me receiving traditional face markings before a ceremony with the Shuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

This sparked the beginning of a 6-year-long journey that I took around the world seeking out the world’s traditional peoples and their practises of using psychedelic and non-psychedelic substances as entheogens. I travelled to South America, India, and Egypt, and grew, harvested, helped prepare, and used entheogenic plants native to their traditions in their traditional settings. Throughout my journey, I encountered and participated in traditional entheogenic uses of Ayahuasca (the Caapi vine), tobacco, San Pedro, peyote, magic mushrooms, cannabis, tulsi, coca, and so many more. 

Now, I’m an herbalist. I’m free from chemical drugs. I love to use cannabis regularly and I use psychedelics 2 or 3 times each year as bonafide, self-guided psychotherapy. 

If I could describe the mushroom experience in a handful of words…

Presuming you could only fit about 7.5 words in a handful, these are the words I would choose:

  • Fun
  • Confusing
  • Revelatory
  • Scary
  • LOL (is that technically three words?)
  • Unexpected
  • Supercalafragalistic…

We want to hear who from our audience has tried magic mushrooms and what it felt like for them. We know it’s different for everybody, and that’s why we thought it would be nice to share a personal account. We would love to hear yours! Share your mushroom experience with us in the comments.

Okay — so what? The world has gone a little mad with conspiracy theories lately. What used to exist on the fringe of society is now becoming more integrated. And whether you’re with it or you’re not, there’s always a lot of juicy story-telling going on.

The thing is there’s something extremely entertaining about smoking a potent sativa and diving into a rabbit hole even you know is going to get weird. We think weird and entertaining go hand in hand. So why not go on a little adventure?

We’ve paired up the 5 best conspiracy shows to watch while stoned along with the best strains to pair them with. We’ve got your next lazy weekend spent inside covered.

1. Get Me Roger Stone (2017).

Given the current state of affairs in the world, you’d think this is a pretty relevant conspiracy documentary to be watching. As the name suggests, this flick is about Roger Stone, the right wing, dirty trickster who’s thought to be the brains behind Donald Trump’s election in 2016. 

The subject of the Get Me Roger Stone himself, Roger Stone, is as entertaining as anyone else in the film. He describes himself as an “agent provocateur” without the slightest of modesty. 

It’s basically the story of the 2016 election — and the climax of Roger Stone’s involvement in the conspiracy of that election. The documentary includes Roger Stone, Donald Trump, a bunch of other high profile Americans and American journalists. On Rotten Tomatoes, it’s got the review “An important film that will change nothing”. You decide?

Pairs with Green Crack Sativa from the pantry.

Green Crack is the perfect wake and bake. Which means it’s Saturday morning. Make your breakfast, top it off with a joint, and spend the morning on the couch getting your cerebrals jizzed at the thought of Roger Stone. 

Get it at the My Supply Co. pantry here.

2. Conspiracies. 

The original poster of Netflix's Conspiracy

Just exactly what it’s called. Conspiracies is a 12 part documentary series that’s basically just a stack of people talking about all kinds of conspiracy theories. If you’re the kind of person who often wonders — did Hitler ever escape the bunker? What was behind Jim Morrison’s death? Aliens, what of them? 

Ahh, this is a feast of conspiracies for the kind of people who can’t look away from a trainwreck. Obscure, sometimes a bit dark, but nonetheless perpetually entertaining, this series belongs on the to-do list of every psychedelic THC lover.

Pairs with LSD from the pantry.

Yes. You read the name of this strain correctly. And this is exactly what makes it perfect for Conspiracies. Psychedelic confusion pervades this strain so imagine what happens when you pair it with a 12-part docu-conspira-series? LSD’s high is long lasting and psychedelic enough to make this an immersive conspiracy experience.

Get it at the My Supply Co pantry here.

3. The Social Dilemma.

Given how much most of the world has spent using social media this year thanks to pandemics and lockdowns, how could we not include this? Although The Social Dilemma just teeters on the definition of a “conspiracy”, it’s a fun one for lovers of the internet.

The infamous quote from this film is “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.” The documentary is built around this concept and what fuels the bank accounts of social media giants. At the centre of that is the “user”, a word only ever used to describe those on drugs and those on social media.

The documentary features a number of figures that were key in the development of things like the Facebook like button. They talk about the inner workings of small mechanisms such as the like button and how it’s being weaponised against the user.

Pairs with Blue Dream Sativa vape cart from the pantry.

The dreamy cerebral high of Blue Dream is the perfect kind of pensive effect to have while watching The Social Dilemma. Imaginative thoughts and ideas pair perfectly with this intricate documentary about the inner workings of social media. Then it ends with a deeply relaxing physical stone — the perfect entrance into the afternoon. 

Get it from the My Supply Co pantry here.

4. The Great Hack.

While The Great Hack has pretty much become common knowledge rather than conspiracy, (or has it?), it’s a perfect documentary to watch with a good old fashion blunt. A documentary that’s one part The Social Dilemma, one part Get Me Roger Stone, this film highlights the alleged corruption behind the election of Donald Trump. The tool? Social media, of course.

The Great Hack was the first documentary that highlighted the potential outcome of fake news. In that way, this film was somewhat revolutionary.

Most people say there was no outcome to the investigation into whether there was foul play in the 2016 election, but there was an outcome and it’s highlighted in this movie. The outcome was that “there will never be a free and fair election ever again” thanks to the influence that social media has, that is now almost beyond control.

Pairs with Rainbow Sherbert Gummies from the pantry.

These gummies are the perfect way to start a morning filled with conspiracy documentaries like The Great Hack. With a hybrid strain, they’re neither too cerebral nor too physical, but a chill mix of the two. And with 30mg THC in each one, they’re going to get you sufficiently baked and in the mood for a documentary like this. But be mindful to keep them as far away as possible while experiencing the munchies!

Get it at the My Supply Co pantry here. 

5. Brave New World.

Not a new conspiracy theory by any means, but definitely still an appropriate one. Brave New World was originally published as a book by Aldous Huxley in 1932. It’s a dystopian novel inspired by Stalin’s regime in Russia.

The dystopian Brave New World describes a place where science and efficiency are important above all else, and where creativity and emotions are seen as qualities to be trained out of the human. A heavy theme in this book is that intimate relationships are entirely compromised as “every one belongs to every one else” — a dictum commonly said in the story.

The story follows the lives of Bernard Marx, his lover Lenina, and another woman, Lina and her son, John, through the strange workings of the brave new world.

Pairs with Sour Lemon OG Sativa from the pantry.

If there was ever a strain that made your neurons fire into parts of your brain you didn’t even know existed, it’s Sour Lemon OG. That sounds like the perfect thing to pair with Brave New World as you explore the abstract concepts of control and how a scenario created in 1932 might mimic what’s happening in the world today. A perfect opportunity to smoke and conspire. 

Get it from the My Supply Co pantry here

It’s been fun remembering and sharing our favourite conspiracy theory flicks to watch while stoned. Which ones have you seen? What are your favourites that are missing from this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

You’re at your friend Gina’s house. It quickly turned from a nice, afternoon brunch into a full-blown Tupperware party only it’s not Tupperware — it’s essential oils. And she’s not just telling you how nice they smell in lotions, but she’s telling you they cure cancer and rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and stuff. And she’s not just trying to sell them to you, but she’s trying to get you onboard to sell them, too. So you politely break the news to Gina that she’s been wooed by some kind of essential oil pyramid scheme.

Everyone has one friend who went there. Into the strange world of multi-level marketing that also taps into the human being’s most sensitive spot — their health. Netflix’s new series, Unwell, touches on this dark side of the wellness industry. Netflix’s Goop, released earlier in the year (with Gwenyth Paltrow) explored the same kind of topic but from more of a curious perspective. Unwell, on the other hand, is more about what happens when things don’t go as the wellness company told you they would.

The first episode of Unwell is all about essential oils. Without going into too much detail, Netflix covers it from a lot of different angles. In one story, a woman has great success getting her autistic daughter to sleep better after seeing an aromatherapist and choosing some essential oils for smelling and inhalation. In another story, a young family becomes very wealthy selling courses on essential oils and incorporating them into everyday life. And in another story, a woman uses essential oils as they were advertised to her, develops a horrible rash all over her body, and actually ends up becoming allergic to them from excessive use.

If anything, in Unwell, Netflix errs on the side of caution. We’re not going to blabber on too much about essential oils, but on the underlying message of the show. What in the wellness industry keeps us well, and what makes us unwell? We all know there’s good research on the therapeutic uses of essential oils, but how can there be people out there advocating their use in a way that would be harmful? As consumers, who do we trust and how do we keep ourselves from getting swept up in the world of wellness marketing?

The wellness industry is an industry.

An aromatherapist drops essential oils onto her wrist.

Before we throw our hands up in the air and beg to know, how could they do this to us, we have to remember something. Industry is industry. We can talk about the difference between life saving drugs and the pharmaceutical industry. We can talk about the difference between oil and the oil industry. And just the same, we can talk about the difference between wellness products and the wellness industry.

For example, essential oils have been used therapeutically for millennia, long before DoTerra and Young Living were around. The aromatic properties of plants have been captured and used as sleep inducers, to calm anxiety, to manage pain, and even to deal with psychological disorders or bad juju.

As Netflix points out in Unwell, there’s a lot of discrepancies between what Young Living and their representatives tell you to do with essential oils and what an aromatherapist might tell you to do with the exact same product. The aromatherapist who appears on the first episode of Unwell says she never recommends the internal consumption of essential oils. 

Those who represent Young Living and other essential oil brands are not typically qualified to give medical advice about how to use essential oils. And because of the structure of a multilevel marketing company like Young Living, it’s not really in their best interest to disclose some of the potential safety concerns of using essential oils. On the other hand, medical professionals like aromatherapists don’t represent the essential oil companies themselves, but represent their own medical practise. It’s almost always in their best interest to disclose safety information to their patients. 

In unregulated industries, the onus is on the consumer.

Like we just pointed out, there’s nothing wrong with essential oils. When used correctly, they are safe and can improve and enhance health. But if you use essential oils the wrong way, you confront toxicity issues. Every single therapeutic in the world has side effects, even plant therapy. So it’s important to know those before you use any wellness product. It’s equally as important to know what you’re using it for.

Essential oils are not regulated by any specific world or national authority. Health Canada doesn’t regulate the sale of essential oils, and this is typically because they’re not considered to be therapeutic. Essential oils are usually only regulated when used in food or pharmaceutical products. But outside of that, anybody can buy essential oils off the shelf.

Without this kind of oversight, the onus is entirely on the consumer to make safe decisions about what they consume. This is a good thing too, because the government shouldn’t regulate every single aspect of our lives. But where does that leave consumers? How should consumers know how and when to consume a wellness product?

Cannabis and CBD — knowing how to navigate the cannabis industry

Two hands pass each other a cannabis joint.

Surprise surprise, it happens in cannabis too. It’s because wherever there’s an inch and a human, the human will magically transform that inch into a mile. If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you advocate CBD and cannabis use. We obviously advocate it, too. But the way some individuals or companies leverage off the spread of misinformation about cannabis actually undermines the breakthrough scientific research going in about cannabis in the world.

Does cannabis have the potential to dramatically alter someone’s quality of life or treat a range of medical conditions? Absolutely! At the same time, touting cannabis as a way to cure everything is just another way to capitalise on a portion of the population that is insecure about their health.

In taking it to the next level, there are even cannabis product manufacturers that manufacture a sub-par or contaminated product and sell it as the real deal. These low-quality products are sold with the same premise of therapy that other high-quality products are sold.

You absolutely should be skeptical when shopping for cannabis products. There are a lot of questions you should ask a product manufacturer or stockist to know the quality of your product. This includes asking about ingredients, the source of the cannabis, and any analytical documents that show cannabinoid content and the presence of contaminants.

Discrediting alternative wellness practices is part of the problem

Part of the problem of ongoing misinformation in the wellness industry is that many wellness practices are discredited entirely as being ineffective. Take essential oils, for example, which by the medical industry in general, are discredited as not having much therapeutic potential. This attitude also leans people into the idea that they are also not powerful. Which couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to essential oils.

The same is also true of herbal medicine. There are many stories of botched self-medicating with herbs. They come as a result of some general consensus that because they are herbs, they are all safe and have minimal impact on the body. It’s simply not true.

If alternative wellness practices were treated with the same integrity and respect as modern medicine, we likely wouldn’t be in this dilemma with the wellness industry. We often don’t recognise simple herbal extracts like essential oils as having extremely powerful pharmacological actions because they are never presented to us that way. They are presented as gentle gifts from nature — take as much as you want! In fact, they are potently antimicrobial, and can even disrupt the microbial balance of skin if used excessively or undiluted.

But pharmaceutical drugs are treated just the opposite. They are considered so powerful, you have to qualify with certain pathophysiology to take it. That’s not to say essential oils should be regulated the same way, but some credit given to their power, and therefore, their potential to do harm if not used correctly. This can be extended to any product that can be used with the intention of producing a therapeutic or pharmacological effect in the body.

Learn about what you’re taking and consult the appropriate professional

A bottle of cannabis oil with a dropper and cannabis leaf

Maybe you’re sitting on the couch scrolling through channels and you see an ad for a multivitamin. The way they’re talking about, it looks like something you should take. Before pouring your trust into a television commercial, you can do a little research yourself about the active ingredients and whether they are useful for you. You can also easily find safety information about many wellness products and how to use them without danger.

You might even consider seeing a nutritionist to see if you really need to take any vitamins. You can consult an aromatherapist before consuming essential oils, or ask for more guidance on how you can use them in your life. Go see a cannabis-friendly doctor if you want a professional opinion on how cannabis might be able to help you with your affliction.

Yes, the onus is on you, which is not something humans are used to when it comes to their health. Humans are accustomed to being told what to do about their health by a doctor, which in most circumstances, is okay, because the medical industry is heavily regulated. But in the world of herbal medicine and aromatherapy, there is no such regulation. Which means doing your own research and consulting a professional you trust are imperative to you getting the best experience out of your wellness products — and without getting ripped off. 

The moral of the story is: treat herbs and essential oils and other wellness products like they are powerful medical agents. Treat them as if they will have a dramatic impact on your body. Wouldn’t you do a bit of research and enquiry about anything that would have a dramatic impact on your body?

This guest post is brought to you by Sera Ghaly, herbalist, naturopath and cannabis writer. She explores the concept of creativity and the effects cannabis has on our creative imaginations.

To talk about creativity alone in any kind of methodical or scientific way is difficult enough. Adding cannabis to that conversation takes subjectivity to a whole new level — which necessarily means that the only way to really discuss cannabis, creativity, and imagination is through delicious philosophical meanderings.

It’s not all that much investigated by science, and for the most part, it seems, isn’t questioned. Of the few studies that have taken place, their results are wildly inconsistent — likely because there’s no solid way of measuring creativity.

At the same time, there has been some research on how cannabis affects certain brain regions and psychological behaviours. That knowledge, coupled with what we know about how creativity is implicated in those behaviours, gives us an idea of the wildly complex mechanisms that might be at play.

Philosophy and science aside, on the basis of empiricism, cannabis does something to the creative gene. I know from experience, not just in my own creative endeavours with cannabis, but as a matter of observation. Some of my favourite writers, comedians, musicians and artists have had some connection with cannabis. For many, cannabis is even the subject of their artistic musings (much like me, in this very context). In that way, cannabis itself has been the inspiration for art repeatedly throughout history. 

Before I go on to divulge on the potential of cannabis and creativity, it’s necessary to mention that the cannabis experience is subjective. And so is creativity. The way humans express creativity varies from individual to individual. Think about the subjective experience of a writer at his desk, composing poetry, who has the time and space to experiment with words before committing. How vastly different that is from the experience of a dancer on stage, whose flow depends on fine motor control and movement, where everything is delivered in live-action. It’s safe to say then, that not all creativity is “boosted” by cannabis, and everybody’s context for unleashing that potential is different.

Defining and measuring creativity.

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Given that we have no good way to define creativity, we certainly have no good way to measure it. The only thing researchers seem to agree on is that we’ve been extremely unsuccessful in developing ways to measure creativity. But that’s a reasonable outcome for something which when we try to define, the best we can do is fumble.

Creativity is the outward? – or physical? – expression of novel ideas. But that expression could be music or poetry or architecture or sculpting or dancing or acting or singing or something like that. We all know creativity when we see it, but to pinpoint it is difficult. People seem to go through bouts of creativity, and then times when they don’t feel creative at all. Which is why some people liken creativity to a spring or reservoir of energy that can be “tapped into”. Others describe it in terms of an entity called the muse, that either comes or doesn’t come to work her magic through you.

From an entirely different perspective, creativity doesn’t always have to do with arts and artistic endeavours. Creativity can manifest as problem-solving, such as in the form of engineering or technology. Wiggling your way through or out of a problem in mathematics, design, or processing requires creativity just as much as writing. This just adds to the complexity of creativity and the ways in which it manifests.

In the 1960s, a psychologist by the name of E. Paul Torrance created a psychometric measurement of creativity called the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Torrance admitted that environmental factors and psychological influences would affect creativity. But since their conception, they’ve primarily been used by the education sector and the corporate world to try and identify “gifted” people — which was never what they were intended for. Therefore, the score reveals nothing but a number thought to reflect the fluency, originality and elaboration of thoughts, but doesn’t necessarily consider patterns among them.

Okay — so it’s very clear that it’s hard to measure creativity. But humans are creative. So we can try to find similarities between creative people, and use them as markers for creativity. From there, we can try to draw links. For example, G. Feist, in a meta-analysis of personality traits in creative individuals, says that creative people are “more open to new experiences… and more self-confident,…driven, ambitious, dominant, hostile, and impulsive”. 

There are factors that have been determined important in the scientific acknowledgement of creativity. Arguably the most important is “divergent thinking”, which possibly refers to the measure of “fluency” prescribed by Torrance. Divergent thinking is essentially the process by which seemingly unrelated thoughts can be unified into a novel idea. It is a way to measure the mind’s ability to combine diverse information in novel ways. Researchers draw a connection between creativity and divergent thinking, and some go so far as to liken creativity to intelligence.

Cannabis and its effects on creativity.

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Now that we’ve established that the scientific method is one way of measuring creativity and that a little creativity is needed for the social-personality approach, we can theorize a multitude of different ways that cannabis affects creativity. Let’s first check out some of the science that already exists on the topic.

The science on cannabis and creativity. 

In 2012, researchers took to investigating the effect of cannabis on divergent thinking — which is a factor in creativity we’ve already talked about. Researchers demonstrated a clear relationship between the two, and found that acute cannabis intoxication increased the verbal fluency of “low creatives” to the same level as “high creatives”. 

Interestingly, the researchers made an association between cannabis-induced psychosis-like symptoms and trait schizotypy. Schizotypy refers to a group of traits that include things like disorganized and/or eccentric thinking and interpersonal difficulties and may indicate a vulnerability towards schizophrenia (we’ll talk more about this later).

Another study published in 2009 compared cannabis and MDMA users on different measures of creativity. Researchers found that cannabis users gave more “rare-creative” responses than the members of the control group. An unexpected result was that MDMA users self-rated themselves more creative than they performed, and cannabis users did the opposite.

In one other study, no connection was drawn between cannabis and a change in divergent thinking. In another one, researchers concluded that cannabis actually impairs divergent thinking

Researchers used a lot of different ways to measure creativity and even consume cannabis in these studies. This likely is accountable for the discrepancy in results. The fact that there isn’t a single, standardised way to measure creativity makes it extremely difficult to replicate results across studies.

The science on cannabis and imagination.

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One study investigated the effects of cannabis use on visual imagery using a pair-associated task. The researchers created the paper on the basis that cannabis users report better visual imagery. The participants of the study were asked to use imagery to describe the images presented to them. Cannabis users scored lower in the vividness of their depictions.

Most people can see the flaws in this study. Firstly, it’s likely that users who report better visual imagery don’t necessarily report an increased ability to describe those visual imageries. Secondly, the study doesn’t even begin to touch on the potential of the imagination, which is much more than the ability to generate and describe visual images.

In one paper, the researcher suggests that mental imagery might arise from a function called exaptation. This is the ability to give thoughts or objects a function that they didn’t have before. This isn’t a phenomenon in psychology textbooks, but a real phenomenon that has happened many times over. We can look to August Kekule, who discovered the benzene ring as a result of a dream in which he observed a snake devouring its own tail. Or we can look to Archimedes of Syracuse, who developed the method for purifying gold while watching bubbles in his bathtub. Seemingly unrelated objects, ideas, or thoughts, suddenly connect, and all of a sudden, a snake eating its own tail serves the purpose of a benzene ring. Sounds a lot like divergent thinking, doesn’t it?

The ability to have multiple thoughts occurring at the same time and the capacity to draw connections between them seem linked, not just to creativity, but to the imagination. Which makes me hypothesize that imagination and creativity are not like two different fruits in the same basket. It’s as though imagination is the basket. Imagination is the home of creativity, the faculty by which creativity is manifest. 

An infinitude of people, personalities, strains, and effects

At its basis, cannabis is an experience. It’s subjective. Naturally, this means that no two cannabis experiences are the same, as no two subjective experiences are the same. People bring to an experience a wealth of memories, knowledge, traumas, etc. The same is true for the cannabis experience. Couple that with the variety of strains that are available, and the variety of effects that cannabis can have on creativity is enormous. For a lot of people, cannabis doesn’t inspire creativity in exactly the same way every time either.

I gave the example of the writer and the dancer, and how very different their requirements are for their creative expressions. As a writer, cannabis opens my mind to the many possibilities of ideas and gives me the freedom to sail on them for a while before jumping into any one. But when it comes to my music practice, cannabis gets in the way of my motor control. My fingers don’t move as swiftly or with as much precision — they don’t land on the strings with the same perfection. At the same time, I can hear the music better when I’m high, which makes it a perfect time for composing or singing, but never for performing.

This is true for strains too. A heavy indica might not lend itself to creative expression as the body melts into a meditative state. It might be prompted better by sativa strains which are more energetic in nature. And again, all of this will finally boil down to the unique combination of events that take place between cannabis and your very own body and mind.

The connection between cannabis, psychosis, and creativity.

I mentioned earlier that in one study, researchers found a connection between cannabis-induced psychosis and trait schizotypy. First, I’m going to go on a little tangent here, but I promise, I’ll bring it all back together.

It’s not the first study or document that has drawn a connection between cannabis and psychosis. But interestingly, it was drawn during a study about cannabis’ effects on divergent thinking — and the observation was about trait schizotypy. Other studies have drawn a connection between schizotypy and divergent thinking, such as in this study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

The researchers of this study concluded that those with high schizotypal tendencies performed better on creative tasks, cognitive inhibition and overinclusive thinking. Overinclusive thinking is the inability for a person to restrict his or her thoughts to the limit of a topic, and cognitive inhibition is the ability to tune out anything that’s irrelevant to the task at hand (they are kind of like two opposites). In another study, researchers concluded that cognitive inhibition and overinclusive thinking might be the cognitive link between schizotypy and creativity.

All of this points towards the possibility that the genesis of creativity and psychosis occurs in the same cradle of cognitive processes. The same thing that makes us creative might also make us crazy, apparently. And in an altogether bizarre hypothesis, some researchers suggest that the interconnectedness between psychosis and creativity explains the retention of the psychosis gene in the gene pool. 

It’s interesting then, that what makes some people feel extra creative under the effect of cannabis, might also be the trigger for certain mental health conditions, too. The same place in the soul that cannabis tickles when someone feels extra high and creative might be the same place in the soul that it tickles when someone feels extra high but in a state of psychosis or paranoia. That doesn’t mean creatives shouldn’t use cannabis. For all we know, cannabis might be the way that the person who tinkers on the edge of creativity and psychosis stays there, and never quite falls off the edge. But that’s another matter, for another discussion.

The potential for creation.

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Cannabis has been demonstrated to be a tool that can amplify cognitive processes linked to creativity such as divergent thinking. More than that, cannabis has inspired many artists over history, and has itself been the subject of so much art. 

Users report increased connection to their art, greater vulnerability in expressing it, and the ability to invent new ways to express their ideas. For some, it’s simply about being more relaxed, and therefore feeling freer to express. 

Using cannabis as a tool for creativity requires a little practise. Perhaps you’ll find that your mind is rich with ideas after using cannabis, but the actual composition of the art is hindered by cannabis. If you’re a dancer, for example, you might find cannabis useful when choreographing, but might find it a hindrance during performances. 

If cannabis really is a tool for creativity, you have to learn to use it the same way a swordsman has to first learn to use a sword. It takes some time, a little practise, and a little self-observation to be able to use that intimate relationship between humans and cannabis for its potential for creation.

Cannabis, alcohol, and other drugs are often used as a way to fend off boredom. Even if boredom is a modern luxury, it’s an important threat to think of in terms of addiction. In this article, we explore the reasons that boredom occurs and how to overcome boredom without always resorting to the joint or the bottle.

Maybe boredom is a modern luxury — it’s not exactly easy to trace a state of mind through human history. Even if it is a modern affliction, it’s definitely not a luxury, but a state of mind that precedes compulsive or addictive behaviours.

For most of us, boredom is a haunting crisis with the utility of life. For some creative minds, it’s also a motivational factor towards innovation and creation. But for many of us, boredom can lead to using drugs, cannabis, or alcohol in a non-productive way. Boredom is felt viscerally as stressful, despite the fact that the definition of boredom is very much the contrary.

That fact that boredom can feel stressful is something most bored people will relate to. It’s because there’s this underpinning psychology that life shouldn’t be boring, and there should be some sense of accomplishment or achievement in life. Which starts to point at some of the reasons why people might become bored.

Psychology is just as interested in the concept of boredom as we are. As important information for people using cannabis in the modern world, we’re presenting some juicy research that might help in mitigating unhealthy use of cannabis, alcohol, and other drugs.

Why do humans get bored?

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Boredom has been the subject of many psychological and spiritual conversations. As much as boredom happens to virtually everybody at some point, it strikes us as odd that humans should have… nothing to do. Or even have the feeling that there is nothing to do.

And essentially, boredom is the feeling that there’s nothing to do.

Even in the presence of logical reasoning that tells a person that there is definitely a lot to do, the feeling of boredom can still be stressful and overwhelming. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons that psychologists think humans get bored.

Monotony and repetition.

Boredom can result when a task or job is extremely repetitive or a person lacks interest in the details of that task. It’s a kind of mental fatigue, which can ultimately lead to a lack of desire and a feeling of entrapment in boredom. 

The need for novelty.

Let’s be honest — some of us get bored much faster than others (enter Geminis). What’s that about? There’s this overzealous need for more excitement, always. Those who get bored quickly feel that the world is moving slowly and the only way to speed it up is by seeking experiences. Extroverts are particularly prone to boredom compared to introverts, to whom the inner world is vastly more interesting than the outer one. And the extroverts are more likely to seek external stimuli such as drugs and alcohol.

Issues with attention.

There is some sort of relationship between boredom and attention disorders that’s worth exploring. In one study, boredom-prone individuals scored lower on measures of sustained attention. The inability to pay attention for long enough fits in with the concept of monotony and repetition, whereby the particular details that make a task unique are completely missed. In this case, they’re missed not because there’s something boring about the task, but because attention can’t be maintained for long enough to find those details. 

A lack of freedom.

Those whose freedoms have been stripped away from them are also more likely to feel bored. Think about what a prisoner goes through in solitary confinement, or even in a regular prison cell where many of life’s liberties aren’t awarded. The inability, because of a lack of freedom, to engage with the things we love about life ultimately can lead to boredom with life as a whole.

Why do humans resort to drugs, alcohol, and cannabis to swathe off boredom?

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There’s not an awful lot of research that answers this question, and it’s not like modern science knows what the biological mechanism behind boredom even is. But from what we know about why humans become bored in the first place, we can hypothesize about why many people resort to drugs, alcohol, and cannabis.

In many ways, boredom can be perceived as the “lack of something” — something interesting, intriguing, exciting, or at all worthwhile. It’s not because there’s nothing worthwhile in life, and that’s why we consider boredom to be irrational. But once there is that feeling, for whatever reason brought it there, drugs are a very easy way to solve the problem.

Alcohol, cannabis, and drugs are “easy” ways to switch off negative emotions, even if it’s just a bandaid treatment. It’s easy for the bored person to replace feelings of boredom with feelings of euphoria, drunkenness, or even sleepiness. 

It gives the mind something to do. And it’s worth saying that this “something” isn’t necessarily a creative or productive thing to do. It can be counter-productive, and if it’s used repetitively in this way, extremely counter-productive and even harmful to mental health. 

Cue-induced or stress-induced drug-taking (whatever kind of drug it is) is almost always indicative of addiction. Whenever that stressor presents itself, it is very easy to fall into the habit of deflection with drugs, cannabis and alcohol.

Working your way out of boredom-induced cannabis use.

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The thing is: it’s okay to use cannabis and alcohol with friends as a way to socialise and pass the time in a fun, positive way. But when you’re the kind of person who experiences boredom regularly, that kind of cue-induced cannabis use can lead to addiction. 

So how do you work your way out of that or avoid that all together?

This is kind of existential. It could be as simple as checking around the house what needs to be done and doing that instead. But we know it’s not that simple or that easy, and that the problem is more profound than that.

I think boredom is, more than anything, an existential crisis. A battle, if you will, between the absurdist view that life is futile, and the desires that form the basis of human life and evolution. Overcoming boredom requires finding a purpose, something that interests and engages the brain in a challenging way. It absolutely has to be challenging, otherwise, it doesn’t work to cure the boredom.

There has to be a real-life way to make what you’re doing fun, rather than just trying to find fun things to do. And it really is all in the detail. If you’re a musician who’s bored by your music, it’s perhaps time to learn a new skill within your musical genre or instrument. If you’re a professional who has become bored with their work, it might be time to aspire to new achievements such as a promotion or starting your own business.

The whole idea is to create the sense that the things you do in your everyday life are meaningful enough without the addition of chemicals. Going for a walk is interesting enough when you can pay attention to the flowers and the birds and families walking their dogs. Studying is interesting enough when you have a passion for the topic.

And so we see that boredom isn’t really a lack of something — it’s the lack of connection to… well, everything. In ancient Greek medicine, that connection (or desire) is called the Vital Force. It is the same “fire” that drives creation, progression, and life as a whole. Without the “desire” for life, life simply doesn’t occur, and neither do experiences. 

As cliche as it might sound, falling in love is the best remedy for boredom. Having someone or something to care about and to take care of, is in my opinion, one of the most necessary ingredients for overcoming boredom — especially the kind of boredom that leads people to drug abuse. It’s because love is the least boring thing in this whole world. When you’re in love, you simply can’t be bored.

Are you a boredom prone person, and do you find yourself inclined to use cannabis or other drugs when bored? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

It’s probably the most overlooked therapeutic property of cannabis — it makes you laugh. 

Sometimes uncontrollably. 

It’s easy for modern science to get caught up in the nitty gritties of therapy — receptors, biological markers, tumour reduction, inflammation reduction, etc. We too often neglect the timeless truth that laughter is the best medicine. And that, by the way, cannabis is the single medicine we have in this world with this giggly side effect. So why does cannabis give us the giggles?

Laughter is an incredibly complex human behaviour that activates so many parts of the brain, neuroscientists don’t really know what causes it. Laughter uses parts of your brain that govern locomotion, auditory interpretation, memory, language, and logic. Humour as a concept itself, is more psychological than neurological, as it is the amalgamation of our cultural context and our life’s experience. 

Even with all of these complicating factors, MRI scans have indicated that perception of humour and laughter originate in the frontal and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex. And just maybe, cannabis might have something to do with those brain parts too.

Cannabis tickles giggle points in your brain.

In 2006, researchers made an interesting discovery into blood flow in certain brain regions in the brains of cannabis users. They found increased blood flow to the frontal and temporal lobes and the cerebellum. The study itself wasn’t designed for the purpose of studying cannabis-induced laughter, but it lends itself to hypotheses. Perhaps increased blood flow to these areas paves the way for laughter.

There’s surprisingly little research on the topic of why cannabis makes a person laugh. Given that cannabis is the only medicine in the world that can induce spontaneous laughter, and given that we know how much mood has a medical impact on long term recovery, it’s a mystery this hasn’t been questioned more. 

Feel-good belly laughs are part of the medicine.

A child expresses laughter while soaked in water.

One study took place in Japan in 2016 that sought out to study the effects of daily laughter on cardiovascular health. The researchers analyzed data on 934 women aged over 65, and found that daily laughter decreased the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, even in the presence of confounding factors. It’s a small sample size, but it highlights something that should be part of the way we treat medicinal cannabis — laughter is part of the medicine.

Euphoria is the most commonly reported effect of cannabis use. To put it simply, it makes you feel good. A healthy mood and appetite for life are the baseline conditions for health, and health is extremely difficult to achieve without it. 

The ways in which cannabis improves mood is a big matter of scientific curiosity. We know that through indirect pathways, CBD increases serum levels of anandamide, the endogenous cannabinoid known as the “bliss molecule”. In other hypotheses, cannabis may promote neurogenesis that leads to anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects

Feeling good, in and of itself, is a precursor to laughter. The fact that cannabis makes you feel euphoric and uplifted could be the very reason it makes people laugh. 

Cannabis brings people together.

A group of African-American men sharing laughter.

Think about it — how often do you find yourself in a hysterical giggle fit alone? Well, it happens from time to time with the right meme or YouTube video, but laughter is, by and large, a social affair. Laughter is contagious, and in a room full of people, it doesn’t take long to spread. Cannabis is enjoyed socially by many people, and that also contributes to why it makes us giggle.

Humans are 30 times more likely to laugh in the company of another person, especially if that person is someone they know. Laughter, a lot like joints, is something that humans like to do together. 

From the pantry — strains that make you giggle.

If a giggle is precisely the kind of medicine you need, we have it under control at My Supply Co. Check out our store’s best giggle-inducing strains.

Jack Herer Sativa Vape Cart

Ahh, Jack Herer, the strain that lets you delight in childish imaginations. Shared with friends, this strain almost always ends up in giggle fits. Or if alone, it’s time to throw on some comedy and get vaping.

LSD

As you’re probably judging by the name of this strain, giggles are a consequence of psychedelic confusion. We definitely don’t recommend this strain for newbies or individuals that are particularly THC-sensitive. But for those up for a psychedelic adventure, LSD is bound to end in a giggle fit.

Sometimes, we don’t need to do all of the sciency stuff to understand the mechanisms of cannabis. It can be really simple — if we look at it that way. Cannabis makes us feel good and brings us together in groups to feel good together. It’s a recipe for laughter. And the very same reason that cannabis is the world’s most versatile medicine. 

“Ego death” — or the dissolution of the ego or sense of “I” — is a common experience reported by psychedelics users. By some, it’s referred to as a terrifying experience, enough to make them abstain from using it again for the rest of their lives. For others, it’s an extremely profound experience that makes up the crux of the psychedelic experience and the reason they go back again and again.

Modern experimentation with psychedelics largely revolves around psilocybin — a compound found in magic mushrooms — and LSD — a chemical compound synthesized for the first time in the 1930s. But traditional usage of psychedelic plants far exceeds any modern “experimentation,” with ancient civilizations in the Amazon region practicing with psychedelic plants for thousands of years

Scientific research kicked off in the early 1900s after the discovery of LSD, and psychedelic compounds were showing a lot of promise for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. A pharmaceutical company called Sandoz laboratories even marketed an LSD medicine called “Delysid” in the 1950s.

If you’re reading this, you know that this research has neither lasted for long, nor has it caught definitive hold in the medical community. As soon as LSD was associated with the anti-war hippie movement, it was demonised; research came to a standstill, and it was the end game for psychedelics.

Until now.

Fortunately, 2020 is here, and there are some curious, eager minds out there wondering where psychedelics fit into the grand scheme of psychiatric medicine. Magic mushrooms are now decriminalized in Colorado and efforts are underway in California. In Canada, it’s still illegal to use magic mushrooms, but exemptions are made for medical use. So now, there are even magic mushroom dispensaries in Canada.

So what’s behind the ego death of magic mushrooms and what causes it?

Scientists now think they have a lead on what it is under that tiny mushroom cap that might be a game changer for psychiatry of the future.

The Netherlands Maastricht University study.

A magic mushroom growing in the forest.

It was only recently in May 2020 that researchers from the Netherlands Maastricht University published a paper in Neuropsychopharmacology that might explain how psilocybin mushrooms break down your sense of self. They think this discovery could help explain the difference between a “bad trip,” or terrifying ego dissolution, and a “good trip,” a profound dissolution experience. They think this information is going to open doors for understanding how psilocybin can be used in psychiatry.

Using brain scans of subjects under the effect of psilocybin, researchers discovered that the ego dissolution effect is caused by a substance called glutamate. Glutamate is the king “instigator” in the brain, in that it assists the movement of impulses between neurons. In a normal brain, it plays a huge role in learning and memory. 

Scientists observed that those in the middle of a “good trip” had lower levels of glutamate activity, while those in the middle of a “bad trip” had higher glutamate activity. And interestingly enough, psilocybin can do both: either increase glutamate or reduce it.

In and of itself, this doesn’t reveal much about mushrooms. But it sure as hell reveals some bizarre phenomena about human consciousness: just change the activity of one biomolecule in the brain, and the entire subjective experience of reality changes. That’s a pretty big deal for the study of psychiatry.

David Nutt, and his commentary on psilocybin.

A toxic amanita muscaria mushroom growing in the forest

David Nutt, the infamous professor who lost his job on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, has a lot to say about psychedelic drugs. In fact, the reason he lost his job there was because he pointed out in a paper he published in The Lancet about how government scheduling of drugs doesn’t at all express the dangers of certain drugs. 

The neuropsychopharmacologist contributed to a film called Magic Medicine which outlines his clinical trials on the use of psychedelics.

Nutt talks about the psychology behind depressive and anxiety disorders, and refers to those thought patterns as “memories”. Essentially, Nutt believes that psilocybin and LSD give us access to those “memories” so that we can stop the cyclical thought pattern. They also give those with depression and anxiety an opportunity to think about other things that otherwise don’t have space to express themselves.

In an interview with NQ, Nutt said the most exciting thing about psilocybin mushrooms was “your generation” — meaning us. He also said that drugs should be taken out of the Home Office, which is about law and order. But drugs — they are for the Department of Health according to Nutt, and for obvious reasons, too.

With the movement towards medicinal psychedelics well and truly underway in America and Canada, there’s a lot of promise for the future of psychiatry and psychology. Groundbreaking research is showing us not just that psychedelics might be effective in treating psychiatric disorders, but how they are effective.

Have you experimented with psychedelics? Did you experience an ego dissolution, and was it positive or negative? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

Pregnancy is a sensitive time — not only does mum have extra needs while she’s turning gametes into a human, but there’s the little human to think about. In the world of medicine and pharmaceuticals, there’s an entire scheduling category for pregnancy. It means that one of the ways pharmacists cateogrise drugs is by how they affect pregnant women. Because it’s serious, sensitive, and there’s a wee-little life at stake. So what about cannabis use during pregnancy? 

Cannabis, until now, doesn’t have a schedule with respect to pregnancy. Science has confirmed that the active compound in cannabis, THC, can move through the placental barrier and into the fetal bloodstream. But the evidence for what happens after that, or later on in the child’s development, is limited. For that reason, cannabis remains a no-no during pregnancy — but not because we know it’s harmful. It’s more because we don’t know that it’s not harmful.

That doesn’t mean that cannabis use during pregnancy is altogether uncommon. You’d be surprised how many women use cannabis during pregnancy for a variety of different reasons.

In this article, we’re going through some of the known dangers and known benefits of using cannabis during pregnancy, as well as some of the reasons that make this topic a hard one to research. Let’s check it out.

Why is cannabis use during pregnancy so understudied?

A pair of hands touch a pregnant belly.

One of the first things that pharmaceutical companies typically have to do before releasing a medicine is assess its usefulness or caution during pregnancy. The medical industry acknowledges that pregnancy is a particularly sensitive time for both mum and baby, and not all medicines are conducive to a healthy pregnancy.

Why does cannabis lack this research?

To begin with, the body of scholarly cannabis research as a whole would have been much richer if we hadn’t abstained from cannabis research during prohibition. The second reason is that, since prohibition, cannabis was scheduled among the most dangerous drugs on the planet. The general consensus was that cannabis wasn’t good for anybody, ever.

Finally, collecting data about cannabis use during pregnancy, even now, is difficult because of the stigma associated with cannabis. For example, in this Californian study, researchers found that pregnant women were twice as likely to screen positive for marijuana during a drug test than they indicated in self-reporting. It’s obvious that there is some fear associated with revealing to your doctor that you use cannabis, especially if pregnant. In some parts of the world, screening positive to a drug test during pregnancy warrants a child abuse charge.

So it’s really important to talk about these limitations in research, which boil down to three main points.

For one, we never bothered to do such research in the past, although cannabis was used to assist child labour. Secondly, before we knew anything about cannabis, we labelled it as dangerous, and never fully acknowledged its therapeutic potential. And thirdly, the stigma surrounding it is still so strong, even in the legalization era, that some pregnant women are still too terrified to report cannabis use to their doctors. 

These are essentially the reasons why we can’t say with any certainty whether cannabis is dangerous to an unborn baby. And that’s a big problem – especially since there are still so many soon-to-be-mothers out there using it. 

What the science says.

One animal study that took place in 2012 investigated the effects of cannabis use in very early pregnancy. They found that it only took very slight changes in endocannabinoid levels to affect embryonic development. Activation or inhibition of endocannabinoid signalling at the CB1 receptor in pregnant mice altered the rate at which new placental cells formed and migrated. Scientists haven’t replicated these results in humans. However, because of the similarities between the endocannabinoid systems of mice and humans, researchers concluded that cannabis use during early pregnancy could negatively affect embryonic development.

In another study conducted at the Christchurch School of Medicine, researchers took to studying women well into pregnancy. The researchers made an association between cannabis use during pregnancy and a detectably lower birth weight. Overall, babies of cannabis-using mothers weighed in, on average, 90g less than the babies of non-cannabis-using mothers. They considered this a statistically insignificant result. 

It’s worth comparing the Christchurch study to another one conducted in 1986. In the 1986 study, researchers found that white women who used cannabis regularly during pregnancy were more likely to have children with a lower birth weight than black women who used cannabis regularly during pregnancy. 

And lastly, in a study that compared alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use during pregnancy, researchers found no association between cannabis use and symptoms of psychosis in offspring.

How culture and socio-economics plays into the research 

Jamaican man and woman in cultural clothing

The aforementioned 1986 study is particularly interesting, because it shows a difference between races. Now, after cannabis legalization, we can definitely see a difference in the way that different races use cannabis. 

Another interesting study took place in 1989 by Dreher, and is often cited in relation to cannabis use during pregnancy. It was conducted on Jamaican women, many of whom smoked cannabis regularly. In fact, in Jamaica, it is common to smoke cannabis among members of the community as a way to strengthen bonds and connections.

Interestingly, researchers found that children of cannabis-smoking mothers displayed cries that were shorter in duration, they were more hoarse, and had a more variable frequency. It is thought that cries with these characteristics present in children who were exposed to perinatal risk, and they often express developmental disorders. 

However, the study observed this in cannabis-smoking mothers. If cannabis was delivered in a tea or otherwise, newborns expressed normal cries.

Dreher then went on to investigate further into the later development of children of cannabis-smoking mothers in Jamaica. Exposed neonates showed no significant birth weight differences compared to non-exposed neonates. When the infants were assessed for neonatal behaviour, there was initially no difference between the exposed and non-exposed. However, 30 days later, when assessed again, exposed infants’ scores were significantly higher on reflex and autonomic stability than their non-exposed counterparts. They were found to be less irritable and more social.

It’s important to realise the different cultural perspectives about cannabis use around the world, and how they manifest in different socio-economic situations. For example, in Jamaica, a  woman who smokes cannabis is more likely to have a tighter social circle, and is less likely to be socially or economically challenged.  However, in the USA, cannabis use is linked with lower educational achievements and a higher dependence on social welfare.

We can therefore consider the different socio-economic factors that play into the research results. According to the data presented, Jamaican cannabis-smoking mothers are more likely to come from higher socio-economic demographics. American cannabis-smoking mothers are more likely to come from lower socio-economic demographics. This might help to explain some of the variation in results, and how other factors play in.

Cannabis use during labour and midwifery

Needless to say, cannabis isn’t typically prescribed during child-labour. However, there is a lot of historical evidence that shows it was once used successfully during child-labour. Ethan Russo alludes to this kind of cannabis use in his book, Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynaecology: A Historical Review.

It was also commonplace before prohibition for cannabis tincture to be stocked on shelves. It was most commonly prescribed for menstrual pain, morning sickness, and child-labour. 

How to make a real-life decision about your real-life baby

An urban woman holding her child on an urban, cobblestone street.

Okay – the jury is well and truly out. There are a few more studies out there, but they generally represent the same mixed bag of results. So it seems it’s really not that easy to measure the effects of cannabinoids on an infant. We do know that the endocannabinoid system is part and parcel of the fetal developmental process, and given that, cannabinoids must alter that function, even if only very slightly. 

So how do you make a decision?

The evidence suggests that there is only a really small likelihood your child will suffer if you ingest cannabis from time to time to deal with morning sickness or anxiety. However, that’s still just a suggestion. Plus, does having more make it worse? We don’t know.

It’s really important to weigh up the evidence, even if there’s not much of it. What are you using cannabis for, and how does that ailment stack up against the potential dangers? This is how you have to stack up the evidence.

Finally — you must talk to your doctor. A cannabis-friendly doctor should be able to guide you through those choices so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your baby. Don’t be shy to have conversations with experts and professionals. And if in doubt, cannabis can always wait until after childbirth.

Despite stay at home orders from virtually every government in the world, protesters have congregated in the tens of thousands on almost every continent to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Thousands turned up in Vancouver, Victoria, and Montreal, plus a scattering of smaller protests across smaller towns and cities in Canada. 

What started as a protest against the death of George Floyd in police custody has turned into a global movement against worldwide systemic racism. The infuriating, cheerless reality is that George Floyd’s case isn’t isolated. The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 with the death of Trayvon Martin after the offending police officer was acquitted. There were thousands before him, and many more between 2013 and 2020. And for that matter, the USA isn’t the only place where Black people often die at the hands of police — it’s a worldwide issue that affects virtually every country on earth. 

So yeah, this protest was a little bit different. Unlike previous Black Lives Matter protests, this time we had looting, brick throwing, and straight out arson. Banks and police stations were burned, huge corporate chain stores like Target were looted, and a lot of people were shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed.

Some would say that looting and setting things on fire isn’t a good way to make a point — it also makes a point that’s completely contradictory to the point in question. How can you ask for peace while setting Chase Bank on fire? Needless to say, a lot of people around the world aren’t okay with the Black Lives Matter movement, and a lot are even protesting against the protest with their own “All Lives Matter” signs. Which is just plain wrong.

Let’s unpack this shall we?

There are a lot of controversies about this topic. For one, it’s about racism, so it’s touchy. And for two, it’s coming off literally hundreds of years of white settlement of indigenous civilizations across the globe. So, we’re also talking about the entire modern economical and political structure. And yes, our entire lives pretty much revolve on that structure, so it gets touchier. 

I like to think that humans have a special deliberative faculty that allows them to form opinions after a lot of discussion and thinking. So let’s use it.

What is the Black Lives Matter movement?

A woman holds a Black Lives Matter sign at a Montreal protest
© Rana Prana Photography

#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 after the deplorable death of Trayvon Martin in police custody. After the offending (guilty) police officer’s trial was acquitted, the Black Lives Matter movement began. It has made multiple resurgences since 2013, and George Floyd’s death was the instigator of the 2020 protests.

#BlackLivesMatter also followed Canadian cases including Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby. For those who don’t know, Andrew Loku was the hammer-wielding African Canadian who was shot by police. Jermaine Carby was shot after wielding a knife at police as the passenger of a car pulled over for drunk driving concerns. 

However, the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t just about following Black people through police brutality. Black Lives Matter fights for all matter of community projects that help to increase the safety and quality of life of coloured people. Programs in education, law reform, and mental health are all aspects of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The media makes it really easy to think that the Black Lives Matter movement is about protesting, looting, and hating on police. But the movement has much more impact than that — in Canada, the movement led to a policy about school uniform codes that wouldn’t violate the rights of students. In the USA, BLM activists went out to the San Diego border to demand justice and human treatment for refugees and  asylum seekers from Mexico.

There’s a lot more going on here than just brown people being bashed up by police. Black Lives Matter acknowledges a systemic kind of racism that goes above and beyond what happens when a brown person is hanging out with cops. BLM recognizes the kind of racism that coloured people face on a daily basis, from comments in the streets, to being less likely to get work, to having less access to public health.

Do #AllLivesMatter?

Police stand, armed, in front of protesters at the Black Lives Matter Protest.

Let’s get into some of that controversy, then. Well, it’s obvious that all lives matter. But why is the #AllLivesMatter hashtag so infuriating for members of the BLM movement? There are a few reasons for this, but let’s start with the most obvious.

The All Lives Matter movement was actually created in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. And the Black Lives Matter movement was created to protect the safety and well being of black people. So #AllLivesMatter directly opposes a noble organization that’s fighting to end racism. Black Lives Matter is a real organization with a website, and funding, and clear goals about what they do. All Lives Matter isn’t, and doesn’t.

We know that all lives matter. But, as far as history is concerned, white colonization happened to virtually every indigenous community… in the world. Canada and Australia are fighting to save what remains of their indigenous communities, with Australia’s Aboriginal people facing extinction. So, the Black Lives Matter movement is literally a manifestation of the concept that all lives matter. 

The way we see it, the Black Lives Matter movement is about saying – “all those black lives that were taken so that we could build the white power structures we have in this world matter.” And that’s another way of saying “all lives matter, not just white people’s lives.”

That’s really hard for a lot of people to listen to. There’s always the response, “Well, I didn’t build this darn thing, I’m not racist”. But at the very root of it, if you’ve never had to fear a police confrontation just because of the colour of your skin, or if you’ve never had to wonder whether you’re going to get a job or not because of your name, then you don’t really know about systemic racism.

Plus – there are other things to consider. Like the fact that black Canadians make up nearly 9% of who’s in federal prison, despite only comprising 3.5% of the population. Between 2003 and 2013, black incarceration went up 90% in Canada. In the USA, black Americans are more likely to have mental health conditions than Hispanic and non-Hispanic white Americans. There is a nearly-direct correlation between mental illness and poverty. To put that in perspective, as much as 39% of African American children and adolescents live in poverty. On top of all of that, if you’re a black man on drug charges in the USA, you’re likely going to serve as much time in prison as a white man on murder charges

These are pretty serious statistics. And someone must bother to ask, why?

If all lives matter, then getting Black people out of danger should be pretty high on the priority list. If all lives matter, we better start focusing on getting Black people out of danger, because the way I see it, they are in great danger.

The reason it’s so hard for non-black and non-indigenous people to accept or even recognize systemic racism is because it’s systemic – it’s occult. If you have a systemic infection, it’s not really clear where it originated because it became systemic – it means that it’s now running through your blood. It’s the same with racism. It’s so systemic, in fact, we often don’t realise it until we take a step back and look at the statistics.

If there truly was equal opportunity in the Western world, would we see such disparity between Black lives and white lives in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia? Would we see such an overrepresentation of blacks in prison and in poverty if there was really equality of opportunity? 

Does violence achieve anything?

All’s fair in love and war. Most of us have heard that statement, and probably thrown it around at least a few times. Violence doesn’t achieve anything on its own, but we’re talking about war, right? If you contest violence, you contest war. But there’s more to say about that.

You could argue that white power structures (note how I didn’t say white people) actually started this war. How long ago that war started is impossible to tell. Did it start with white settlement? Or was it black slavery? Or did it start with the West systematically robbing Africa of all of its resources, then forcing it to borrow money from the IMF and World Bank? Well – who knows? But you could argue that all of these events essentially instigated the race war. And now, black people aren’t going to cower down. They’re “warring” back — in self defense. 

Yes, this is self defense. It’s survival. It’s self-preservation.

We will never condone violence. As long as there is violence, there will never be peace, and for that reason we can never fully support the violence that has happened during this protest. At the same time, we don’t contest it, because we’re talking about war. Asking one side of the war to lay down their arms and be trampled all over isn’t really what war is all about, is it? Plus, who decides which side should surrender? 

You get the point…

Where’s it all going, and what will it achieve?

A masked woman holds a sign at the Black Lives Matter protest in Montreal.
© Rana Prana Photography

There’s another critical voice out there that says “protesting doesn’t achieve anything”. We challenge that. In and of itself, protesting achieves nothing, but it’s a precursor to other forms of activism. Protests generate public interest in an issue, and that makes their voices heard. The many forms of advocacy and law reform that follow are part and parcel of the protest. Just because they happen behind closed doors doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by or inspired by the protest.

Secondly, the people who hit the streets are everyday people. They might be nurses, check-out clerks, waiters, accountants, bus drivers, street cleaners, window washers, teachers, or ticket inspectors. These are the people who take to the streets. The majority of people who protest aren’t sociology experts, economists, psychologists, and lawyers. It’s not their job to be the experts. They are the roots of our society — the platform on which everything operates. You have to consider, for one moment, that this is the only way these people know how to instigate and initiate change. And that’s totally OK.

For so many of the people protesting, this is the only way they know how to participate in the change they want to see. It’s up to the lawyers, sociologists, and psychologists to do the administrative part of this protest — to create real change from within the system. But that doesn’t mean the protest is a waste of time. It’s what generates the need for changing the system. It’s what inspires the sociologists, lawyers, and politicians to affect any actual change.

Yeah. Let the people make enough noise that the government might actually fear a complete upheaval. That just might get politicians and policy writers off their lazy bums to think of new ideas that would mitigate racism issues in our communities. 

If you look at this situation as though a bunch of dark-skinned people decided to loot Target and burn the police station, then it certainly doesn’t look like violence achieves anything. But if you look at this situation as though it’s a retaliation to brutality against blacks for centuries, then maybe it does achieve something. At the very least, it’s an attempt at self-preservation.

Time to dismantle white supremacy

A sign being held up against white supremacy at Black Lives Matter protest.

If you don’t believe that white supremacy exists, it’s time to wake up. If you think that white supremacy is something that only happens in the USA, this is your wake up call. If you don’t think the fact that black Canadians have less access to health services than white Canadians is white supremacy, then you’re part of the problem. If you don’t think the fact that 1 in 4 Indigenous Canadians lives in poverty is white supremacy, then you’re part of the problem. We don’t just believe it — we see it — that the world is dominated by white power structures, structures that were formed during a time where black people were seen to be inferior. It is exactly these power structures that make it impossible for the black people of this world to thrive. 

The way we see it, it’s all the same war. Whether we’re talking about black people dying at the hands of police or whether we’re talking about war in Syria, it’s the same war. Whether we’re talking about indigenous Canadians dying in police custody or whether we’re talking about forced testing of vaccines in Africa, it’s the same war. Whether we’re talking about black people in America working for less than the minimum wage or children in sweatshops in India making clothes that will sell for 2000 times the price in Australia, it’s the same war.

Wherever you look, white power structures dominate over brown people. The economy allows for cheap, inhumane labour in India and China so that the companies who manufacture those products can roll in profits most people don’t dream of. The modern paradigm allows for a stockpiling of vaccines, medicines and masks in China despite the fact that they are desperately needed in Africa and the Middle East. The system we live in lets Western organizations invade parts of Africa, steal their natural resources, and sell them to the rest of the world at an exorbitant price. The international organizations that are meant to protect human rights never get there. And the point is that nowhere, anywhere, do we see brown power structures dominating white ones. We live in white supremacy.

2020 is a different world from 1920. The world has become globalised. It’s time to start acting like it. It’s time to start acting like what we do affects everybody, everywhere. It’s time to realise that the longer you ignore what’s going on in this world, the longer the war goes on for. The sooner we realise the imbalances between blacks and whites on a global scale, the sooner the race war can be over, and we might actually see justice. 

Get involved & support the cause for justice

You can help in more ways than stepping out to protest and raising awareness on social media. Here, we’ll give you some resources for getting active in the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.

If you’re in Canada

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation develops, shares, and applies expertise to help end racism in Canadian society, while supporting and promoting the development of effective policies and programs to eliminate racial discrimination.

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations provides educational programs and research which are critical to addressing racism in society.

The Black Lives Matter, Toronto office is a platform upon which black communities across Toronto can dismantle anti-black racism, provide support for black members of the community, and advocate for law reform.

Police funding and accountability

The Black Lives Matter Global Network fights for racial liberation and justice. They are calling to reappropriate funds from police departments to institutions that support safety and well-being for black communities.

The National Police Accountability Project, a nonprofit project of the National Lawyers Guild, works to protect human and civil rights in people’s experiences with law enforcement and put an end to police brutality.

Campaign Zero pursues data-backed policy solutions to address police violence in America.

Reclaim the Block has been organizing the Minneapolis community to move public funding away from the police department and into the budgets of public institutions that promote public health and safety.

Politics and legal action

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is America’s foremost legal organization on the front lines of the fight for racial justice.

Black Visions Collective is a political organization seeking to secure liberation, justice, and safety for black communities in Minnesota.