Southern Oregon Good Herb | Fall 2019

Page 1

INSIDE: What Glut? Oversupply worries ease

FALL 2019




SCIENCE OF CHAMPIONS Alter Farms makes a habit of growing award-winning bud

Cannabis Cooking

Creamy Carrot Potato & Soup T

his easy to make soup is perfect for the fall, when nights get cooler and the rains begin. We Oregonians know how to chill out, and the addition of cannabis gets that done. The cumin and the caraway seeds flavor this creamy, soothing soup. Carrots and potatoes are such a great pair. Alternatively you can make the soup with sweet potatoes instead of the russets, which adds a lovely sweetness. That version deserves a dollop of sour cream. One Thanksgiving I served this soup in tall and thin 2-ounce glasses. Anticipating a hearty meal, this soup was a perfect appetite whetter. And we were all buzzed by dessert. I went with my current favorite strain, Pennywise, by the folks at East Fork Cultivars. With parents like Jack the Ripper and Harlequin, this strain takes care of both the body and the mind. 4 teaspoons canna-olive oil ½ cup chopped sweet onion 1½ cups chopped carrots 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon ground cumin 3 cups vegetable stock ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper Chives 1. In a medium soup pot heat the canna-olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for 7 to 9 minutes. 2. Add the potato, smoked paprika, and cumin and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. 3. Add the vegetable stock to the pot and simmer for 35 minutes. H2  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

Add more stock if needed. 4. Puree the soup in the blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper

Serves 4

Recipe by Laurie Wolf of Laurie + MaryJane



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Sunday, October 13, 2019 |


Straight Dope

Rip this Joint on your way back to your room. I’m sitting there, thinking, “please, please, please, will he pay attention to me today?” But nooooooooooooooooo. You didn’t, did you? And, in fact, later, you walked right by me in the ashtray, without one word, on your way to your precious vape pen. WTF, man? What does she have that I don’t? OK, I am trying not to take it personally, but she’s younger, but I mean, shit, does it help it’s really challenging. Because whether you write your little articles better than I you want to see it or not, you’ve changed, did/could/still would/should? man. You aren’t the same anymore. Bottom I’ve heard all that fake news about how line: You pay way less attention to me, and I you’re breathing in less toxins without burnfeel like my place in your world, shit, in the ing the whole flower, but I don’t buy that whole world, is slipping away. Remember the 20th century, man? Or, hell, crap, just like I don’t buy that our president even the early 21st? The first thing out of bed, is not a serial nutjob. “Ssh, ssh,” you say to me, “Don’t get political, this is my job you’re and you couldn’t wait to sing my praises: I putting in jeopardy.” smoke two joints in the morning, I smoke Well, once again, excuse my French but two joints at night, I smoke two joints in the F--- that. afternoon, and it makes me feel all right. BTW, I used to like it when you’d get your Do you know how truly important that french fry grease all over me. When you made me feel? What it did for my self-esreached for me the moment after that last teem? Juxtapose that with this morning, fry was in your mouth. So sexy. So sensual. dude, and the low-of-lows I’m feeling. I And, from the bottom of my Zig Zag, thank heard you get up, make your little cup of tea you for not ever calling it an “American fry.” and tip-toe through the tulips right by me By Rick Cipes


’m just hurt, that’s all I’m saying.

I ask you this: Does everything have to be American for the world to be right? Kind of seems that way. And, oh yeah, FYI: They still smoke a lot of me in Morocco, or the Congo, or, I don’t know, a lot of shithole countries that have not been invaded by the T.V.A. (Terrorist Vape Army). I’m now — like a lot of other objects, people, the environment, social mores — feeling afraid and left out. Like someone wants to do me/us harm. Like past history doesn’t mean anything. Some of your kind are even questioning the point of teaching stuff like history, science or the arts anymore. The irony is, the only thing they want to save about the past is the part where they were in total control. Listen, I know I am only one f---ing joint. But I’m afraid, bro. Because this “new normal” looks pretty damn frightening to me. And, ya know: Put that in your damn vape pen and smoke it. Rick Cipes has been published a lot and encourages you to check out his 420 T-Shirt Collection on Amazon at


H4  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

Quick Tokes

A roundup of cannabis briefs

Curleaf product aimed at helping veterans

Deschutes County enacts moratorium on marijuana Voters in Deschutes County will be asked in November 2020 whether recreational marijuana growing and processing operations should be allowed in the future. A unanimous vote by county commissioners in August triggered an immediate moratorium on any new applications for grow sites or processing facilities in rural, unincorporated Deschutes County until the issue is decided by voters. Existing businesses, as well as any kind of marijuana operation in a city, will not be affected regardless of whether voters decide to opt out of approving marijuana business. Medical marijuana also would not be affected. Recent conversation around opting out of permitting marijuana have gained steam in response to the concerns of residents who, through public comment, said growers and processors are disturbing their way of life. It could also help curb the number of land use appeals the county faces regarding rural marijuana operations.

A Portland company is selling prerolls aimed at helping veterans get access to cannabis. Curaleaf has teamed up with the Veterans Cannabis Project, an organization that advocates for legal and supported access of medical cannabis for veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Curaleaf is selling boxes of prerolls that contain five joints each (total of 2.5 grams) of UKU flower for $13. A portion of all sales benefit the VCP, according to a Curaleaf press release. “Raising awareness of veterans’ access to cannabis is an important issue for Curaleaf,” said Tim Fitzpatrick, Curaleaf Oregon president. Curaleaf can play an important role by educating veterans and consumers on how cannabis may be of great benefit for veterans. We are

proud to be able to support our veterans as they look to improve their quality of life.” “There are millions of veterans, but federal law makes it illegal for Veterans Health Administration physicians to recommend cannabis as a treatment,” said Doug Distaso, VCP executive director. “This is something we are looking to change. Our partnership with Curaleaf will help veterans gain legal access to cannabis.”

Tainted CBD products found


Pierce Prozy uses a centrifuge to test CBD vape oil samples at Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, in July.

Dirty Arm Farm markets THCA Dirty Arm Farm, which has a processing plant in White City, has released a tincture containing THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, a close molecular relative of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Owner Jamie Syken says THCA is good for people who want pain relief but don’t want to feel stoned. THCA is almost identical to THC, but the molecule is slightly larger so it doesn’t pass the blood-brain barrier, he says. Most flower purchased at a store has THCA in it, but it converts to THC when heated. The fresher the flower, the higher the THCA levels. Under the Dirty Arm Farm label, a THCA tincture known as “Restorative” is available at Rogue Valley Cannabis, which has three locations in Jackson County. “THCA gives you the body high, but not the head high,” Syken says.

The Associated Press recently commissioned laboratory testing of 30 vape products sold as CBD around the country, which authorities or users had flagged as suspect. Ten of the 30 products contained synthetic marijuana, which is commonly known as K2 or spice. “It’s Russian roulette,” said James Neal-Kababick, director of Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, which tested the products. The results of AP’s testing echoed what authorities have found around the country. At least 128 samples out of more than 350 tested by government labs in nine states, nearly all in the South, had synthetic marijuana in products marketed as CBD, according to information the states provided AP. Gummy bears and other edibles accounted for 36 hits, while nearly all others were vape products. Mississippi authorities also found fentanyl, the opioid involved in about 30,000 overdose deaths last year. Because testing by both authorities and AP focused on suspect products, the results are not representative of the overall market. None of the products were sold in Oregon. Vaping in general has come under increased scrutiny recently because hundreds of users have developed mysterious lung illnesses, and several have died, including two in Oregon.

Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | H5


NITROGENMedford’s Grown Rogue has a patent for its nitrogen-sealed preroll flower technology

By John Darling


rown Rogue of Medford has started marketing Nitrogen-Sealed Pre-Rolls, which it creates by sucking out all the air, then introducing inert nitrogen, thus “ensuring customers they’re getting it as close as possible to the state it was in at harvest,” says CEO and founder Obie Strickler. The half-gram joints, which hit the shelves in September, come two to a tube or similarly sealed flower jars — both of which offer a satisfying “poof” sound when you open them, letting in air, which is 21 percent oxygen — and that’s the stuff that, over time, breaks down weed and just about everything else in the world. “As a consumer, you want it fresh, not old,” says Strickler. “A lot of product out there is put

in plastic and it dries out. We use glass, and it not only lets you control what gas is inside, but glass is much more environmentally sound, and we also accept returns for reuse.” Grown Rogue is distributing the product, which eliminates light, moisture and oxygen, in dispensaries all over Oregon, as well as from their branch in Eureka, he notes. The product received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., which cost an investment of about $10,000, including the cost of a patent attorney. Pointing to Oregon’s volatile up-and-down market in recent years, Strickler says Grown Rogue has ridden it out well, proving it can thrive in any market — and having the patent on nitrogen-sealed weed should

Obie Strickler, CEO of Grown Rogue, demonstrates the technology that makes the company’s nitrogen-sealed prerolls, for which the company has a patent.


| Sunday, October 13, 2019 |

Southern Oregon Good Herb


Grown Rogue has a patent for nitrogen sealed preroll.

help revenues for years to come as consumers learn — if they do — to accept cannabis they can’t smell or touch. “Oregon consumers like the bulk model. They like to purchase weed they can see, feel and touch, so we’re trying to change that perception, which will take time. Consumers are concerned about bait-and-switch, like what they get might not be what they felt and smelled. But our quality is consistent.” Reflecting on today’s Oregon market, Strickler said the glut of last year is gone, prices are way up and the media haven’t written about declining inventory and “the compression of prices that drove many people out of business when they couldn’t make ends meet.”

Showing stats on his phone, he notes Oregon weed prices are up 100 percent from last year. “I can’t find product in Oregon,” Strickler said. “Everything’s gone to hemp. The flower market has dried up. Sun-grown product is now $700 to $800 a pound. But those with good business plans and smart management are making it.” Strickler demonstrated his vacuum-generating machine — the size of a large microwave oven. You put joints in test tubes in a rack, with rubber seals on top, suck out air and gush in nitrogen, then equalize pressure, which sucks tops down. In a few moments — viola! — you’ve got “certified fresh” weed, with all terpenes intact, and that’s a claim Strickler believes no other packaging can say.

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Sunday, October 13, 2019 |


Culinary Cannabis

Canna Infusion By John Darling


aking cannabis butter — with CBD, THC or both — is not rocket science, but it’s also not a walk in the park. That became clear during one of the twice-a-month cooking classes offered at Market Street Wellness in Medford. There’s a fair amount of important information you want to master, starting with the need to decarboxylate your green matter. Now, don’t let that five-syllable word scare you off. It just means you have to heat it up to activate the useful cannabinoids for edibles. The process is the same whether you are using CBD or psychoactive THC or anything in between. Doing this is simple. You break up your cannabis with your fingers and spread it over parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 240 degrees for 45 minutes. Keep the foil on while it cools. It’s best to have an oven thermometer to make sure of the temperature. “This is the stinky part, so have some ventilation,” teacher and budtender Amy Harper said during the Saturday class in August. While you’re lightly baking your green matter, boil 1.5 quarts of water and pour it into a preheated crockpot. Add 2 cups unsalted butter, melt. Reduce to a low simmer. Once the decarbed cannabis has cooled, stir it into the hot, buttery water. Simmer for 3-4 hours. During this phase, the THC and/or CBD is being cooked out of the marijuana and being absorbed into the butter. When it’s done, let it cool enough to handle without risk of burning yourself, and strain the mixture into a glass bowl; then further strain the green matter through a large piece of cheesecloth, squeezing the cheesecloth to get as much liquid out as you can. Refrigerate the bowl for several hours until the butter has floated to the top of the water and become solid. At this point, skim the butter off the top and store it in a container for future use.

Market Street Wellness in Medford offers cooking classes twice a month


Above: Amy Harper shows off her canna butter during a cooking with cannabis class at Market Street Wellness in Medford. Top photo: Ann Shepperd shows a tray of cannabis that has undergone decarboxylation, a process using low heat to activate THC before it is cooked into foods. 8  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

Culinary Cannabis


Instructor Ann Shepperd, right, and apprentice Cynthia Pohlman discuss cooking methods using cannabis during a recent class at Market Street Wellness in Medford.

Once you’ve got your green butter, you, as chef, can go in many directions, Harper said. Any recipe that takes butter can be turned into a cannabis recipe once you have a batch of green butter. She rattled off a handful of ideas, including chicken pot pie, green eggs & ham, cake, rice cookies, mac & cheese, pesto pasta and of, course, brownies. “The most common mistake is how much cannabis goes in it,” says Harper, referring to the recreational sort. You want to be careful about the volume when using THC — but with CBD, it doesn’t matter.” She suggests eating 2 mg to 5 mg of THC to start, and give yourself a couple hours to see where it goes. Often people think nothing is happening and eat more, only to find out they are already getting high. To help take the guesswork out of this, search Cannabis Edible Dosage Formula and enter the grams, potency per milligram, strength in percent and number of servings desired. A couple tries and you should have located the

Market Street Wellness Market Street Wellness, 633 Market St., Medford, offers cannabis cooking classes twice a month. Topics that followed the cannabis butter lesson included hard candy and salves. For more information, call the store at 541-622-8340 or see

“sweet spot” for future wake-andbake journeys. In any case, notes a Market Street Wellness info sheet, “If you get too high, don’t panic. Rest, drink fluids and distract yourself until the feeling passes, which should happen within several hours. Consider having a dose of (high-potency) CBD on hand to balance your system.” The class, curiously all female, was quite high-spirited, even giggly. Afterward, Linda, one of the attendees, said she plans to use the new skill to ease her neuropathy. Chelsea said

she plans to use it on “tasty treats,” such as brownies and cake. It will go in Peggy’s pesto pasta, while Ann plans to put it in snickerdoodles to help with arthritis pain. “A cookie a day keeps the pain away,” she said with a smile. Apprentice budtender Cynthia Pohlman said she will bake with coconut oil instead of butter and mix it with coffee to help her epilepsy — recovery usually was 13 hours and now, with CBD help, it’s half an hour, she notes. It’s important to keep the oven temp below 240 degrees during the decarb phase because, if hotter, it starts burning off vital cannabinoids. You also don’t want to boil the butter-water mixture too vigorously. You can use a saucepan instead of crockpot, if you watch the temps and keep it at a low simmer. As for the weed you wrung out in the cheesecloth, it (and the water) still has some good stuff in it and can go into tea, said Harper.

Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 9

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Cannabis Community


The Rogue Valley Chapter of Toketivity formed early this year

Medford’s first Tokeativity featured crafts, food, tarot card readings, product samples and a place for women to connect.

Stacie Jenkins writes a love letter to herself, to be mailed in six months, at the Tokeativity craft table.

“There are generations of female farmers who have been working with the plant for so long, and we are excited to honor and uplift them.” Samantha Montanaro

Kelli Harbison helps Zoe Byler try a product called CBD Crumble at the first Tokeativity event in Medford.


By Liz Gold


new women’s cannabis group formed in the Rogue Valley early this year. The Rogue Valley Chapter of a group called Tokeativity welcomes women from all over Southern Oregon who are in the cannabis industry — or who just love the plant. Becky Frieze, co-owner of TreeTop Gardens in Cave Junction, is the Rogue Valley Chapter leader. Tokeativity is a cannabis community for women that started in Portland with founders Lisa Snyder and Samantha Montanaro at the helm. Now there are seven chapters — Eugene, Bend, Rogue Valley, Denver, LA, Seattle and South Africa, with more than 115 women waiting in the wings to host. “We met Becky through Tokeativity Eugene events and we knew right away she was a leader in the industry,” Snyder says. “Her and her husband, Kale, have been growing in the Rogue Valley for years. It was clear that TreeTop Gardens was the perfect partner for this chapter.” Adds Montanaro, “Rogue Valley is the heart of cannabis culture, and we always dreamed about having a chapter there. ... There are generations of female farmers who have been working with the plant for so long, and we are excited to honor and uplift them. We were so thrilled when Becky said she would like to start a chapter here, and the response has been amazing.” Frieze found Tokeativity via Instagram and

traveled five hours roundtrip to Eugene to attend three different events during the last year. She said she knew it was something she wanted to pursue. “I knew from the start that Southern Oregon needed something like this for our cannabis community,” Frieze says. “I have lived in the Rogue Valley and been in cannabis for nearly 20 years. “My farm is very excited to help bring all of us ladies together to feel a sense of community and support. My interest in the Rogue Valley chapter came at the right time, and everything has come together since.” Frieze said the group plans to hold a social event every other month, with get-togethers such as hikes or meet-ups at local woman-owned businesses. “My goal is to have all kinds of events in the Rogue Valley, such as the Love Yourself Social, brunches, meet-ups, classes on cultivation, and so much more,” Frieze said. “Any way we can come together to support each other and feel supported as women is something I feel so many of us are missing in this busy world. Connecting with women in my community and normalizing cannabis use is the big vision.” For more information about the Tokeativity Rogue Valley Chapter, email roguevalley@ or see @TokeativityRogueValley on Instagram. You can follow Liz Gold on Twitter or Instagram @ lizstacygold or read her blog Southern Oregon Good Herb   |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 11

Business: The Family Farm



The Murdochs are bringing back family farming, growing hemp at Horn Creek Farm in Jacksonville — where they produce high-quality CBD on their 15 acres. COURTESY PHOTOS


| Sunday, October 13, 2019 |

Southern Oregon Good Herb



Four generations of the Murdoch family are growing hemp in Jacksonville and loving it

Business: The Family Farm


emember the good old days of the family farm, where kin of all generations showed up each day to plow, plant, weed, water and harvest crops and share in the fruits (biological and financial) of their labors — and the sense of security and community that brought? We’ve lost most of that to urbanized living and corporate ag — but, say the Murdochs of Jacksonville, hemp is helping their family bring it back. It’s a crop with the potential to do a lot of good in the world, so demand is high, and the long labors on their 15 acres have brought together a family that might have followed careers elsewhere, says Paul Murdoch. On a recent Saturday, his family was taking time off from their “day jobs” to tend their plants, strolling the fields and culling the males, which produce pollen that causes female plants to make seed and stop flowering. The family includes his dad (a retired physician), wife, Whitney, their son and two daughters and their partners, along with a fourth generation of toddlers and babes in backpacks. “This is farming, so it’s hard,” says Paul. “It’s a huge focal point for our family. We’re all psychologically invested, and we all share in the profit. It’s really been a unifying experience, and we’ve all grown a lot closer.” SEE MURDOCHS, 15

“It’s a huge focal point for our family. We’re all psychologically invested, and we all share in the profit. It’s really been a unifying experience, and we’ve all grown a lot closer.”


The Murdoch family as been growing hemp together for three years. Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 13


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| Sunday, October 13, 2019 |

Southern Oregon Good Herb

Business: The Family Farm


Paul Murdoch checks out the growth of hemp plants on his family’s farm.


I fear this will go the same way as so many crops, with thousands of acres. From Page 13 “What gives us (small family operations) a seat at the table is that people care about the source, how it’s With a chuckle, he notes everyone adores the big grown, cultivated, treated. I’m touched there are a fair Sunday brunches and joyful, group-created dinners number of 10- to 40-acre farms who care how they on the farm, but it’s far from the top-down business treat plants.” model with workers who obey the The Murdochs own Gary West To this end, Paul Murdoch Meats in Jacksonville, purchased manager’s plans. “We’re all very opinionated and has posted how-to videos from family members from the love to argue about how to do it.” generation, themselves and mentors visitors who previous Whitney chimes in, “Big fights! descended from pioneer ranching, come to see how the family farming and logging folk of the But we work through everything, because the plants don’t care. They does it — weed control, Applegate. need work right now — and there is Their love of family-on-the-land drying room, water-stingy is literally in their blood, and they no roadmap for hemp farming. This is new, and we’ve been figuring it out drip tape, biodegradable got savvy about how to trod carefor three years. fully in the present “green rush” of mulch, pests. “And at the end of the day, hey, we hemp. wander up to have beer on the patio, like ranch hands In the world of hemp, three successful years have coming up to the ranch house for dinner. It’s great!” made the Murdochs seasoned authorities on the The historical family farm of old had lots of kids, specialized art of this crop — and they claim a deeply also known as free labor, but, says Paul, that got so “it ingrained ethic from old-style family farming, that you didn’t pencil out” and the offspring migrated to city have a duty to share information and help neighbors jobs. and community, not compete with them. However, “hemp is a good revenue producer. Still, SEE MURDOCHS, 18 Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 15

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| Sunday, October 13, 2019 |

Southern Oregon Good Herb

Southern Oregon Good Herb


Sunday, October 13, 2019 |


Business: The Family Farm


Horn Creek Hemp Co. began selling hemp-based salve through its website this fall.

MURDOCHS From Page 15

To this end, Paul has posted how-to videos and mentors visitors who come to see how the family does it — weed control, drying room, water-stingy drip tape, biodegradable mulch, pests. It’s a work in progress, and “we’re always testing” in search of what works and is affordable. The family named its operation Horn Creek Hemp Co. “Located just outside Jacksonville, Horn Creek flows from John’s Peak through what was once an ancient lake,” according to the farm’s website, horncreekhemp. com. “The sandy loam of that lake bed is ideal for cultivation of organic high-CBD hemp plants. Healthy soil and healthy ecosystems support healthy crops. Natural predatory insect populations ride herd on others that might harm our plants. We maintain untouched enclaves where good bugs can thrive and do their work by night.” Having heard many stories of struggle from neophyte hemp farmers, the Murdochs shake their heads, with Whitney saying, “I ask them how many kids they have. If it’s five kids, I say get five acres. A lot of people are investing big money, but it’s such a challenge because they don’t

“It’s a harsh lesson. We have a lot of visitors, and they fall in two categories: savvy farmers who want to share information with each other and, second, people overwhelmed by the plants. … They want to see the equipment, the drying room, and their eyes glaze over and they say holy smoke.” Paul Murdoch have the skill or experience.” Paul adds, “People look at this opportunity and think, well, more acres is better. They get it in the ground, but getting it out of the ground is another story. They run out of money, labor, resources and luck with Mother Nature.” Whitney adds, “100,000 acres? That’s not real for people. That’s why we see them with all this debt hanging over you. Not to discourage people — you’re just not going to cut it all down and sell in on the corner the next day.” “It’s a harsh lesson,” notes Paul. “We have a lot of visitors, and they fall in two categories: savvy farmers who want to share information with each other and, second, people overwhelmed by the plants. … They want to see the equipment, the drying room, and their eyes glaze over and they say holy smoke.” Whitney says, “The lesson is: work your way up. Start with a small, manageable plot and learn the plants and procedures. Any one of those procedures, if done wrong, can destroy you. Disaster

18  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

happens fast in large-scale farming.” Her rule number one is: get your soil tested first. If it was sprayed with DDT in the prime days of pear orchards, that chemical in degraded form is probably going to show up, making the soil tainted for hemp. The couple say they have to deal with cannabis prejudice, that it “brings in the riff-raff,” — as well as viable complaints about smell and plastic mulch — but the Murdochs believe in the overall good of the plant, including the vast amount of carbon dioxide it sucks from the atmosphere. Paul displays a long gash on his leg, now healed, noting he was prescribed opioids, which just masked the pain. CBD ointment was another story. “I rubbed it on the first time and a half-hour later, y’know how it’s hard to notice the absence of pain. Well, that’s what happened. I realized it didn’t hurt.” The family planned to begin selling hemp salve — made right on the farm — through its website this fall.

“We have been selling salve to friends and family,” Murdoch said. “We had to get an ODA hemp handlers license and refine the recipe in order to be able to sell processed products commercially.” The salve sells for $15 per ounce and comes in 1-, 2- and 4-ounce bottles, with 2,000 mg of CBD per ounce. As the crop gets a name in our society, more and more people, notes Whitney, are turning to CBD for serious ailments, including anxiety, depression, inflammation. “It’s allowing us to create a farm economy,” she adds. “If it weren’t under production with hemp, it would be dry, dead and fallow, full of stickers, waiting for more houses to be built on it. “I got to grow up on a farm in the Applegate, with pigs, cows, wheat, and dad had Gary West Meats. It skipped a generation, and the kids now in their 20s and 30s, the millennials, don’t have the farm experience, but they’re diving right in and learning the farm life.”

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Sunday, October 13, 2019 |


Cannabis and Chemistry

How much pot is in that brownie?* By Carla K. Johnson The Associated Press


ow much marijuana is really in that pot brownie? Chocolate can throw off potency tests so labels aren’t always accurate, and now scientists are trying to figure out why. In states where marijuana is legal, pot comes in cookies, mints, gummies, protein bars — even pretzels. These commercial products are labeled with the amount of high-inducing THC. That helps medical marijuana patients get the desired dose and other consumers attune their buzz. But something about chocolate, chemists say, seems to interfere with potency testing. A chocolate labeled as 10 milligrams of THC could have far more and send someone to the emergency room with hallucinations. The latest research on chocolate, to be presented at a San Diego meeting this week, is one example of chemistry’s growing role in the marijuana industry. Besides chocolate’s quirks, chemists are working on extending shelf life, mimicking marijuana’s earthy aroma and making products safer. The marijuana business is at a crossroads in its push for legitimacy. The federal government still

considers marijuana illegal, yet more than 30 U.S. states allow it for at least medical use. Even in those states, there are no recognized standard methods for testing products for safety and quality. Chemists working for companies

* Chocolate can throw off potency tests 20  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

and testing labs are developing those standards and some are legally protecting their ideas. Scores of cannabis-related inventions have received U.S. patents, said Boston attorney Vincent Capuano, who holds a doctorate in organic chemistry. Inventors have patented ways of putting cannabis into milk, coffee pods, ice pops and chewing gum. “There’s a lot of flash and hipness, snake oil and marketing. But there’s still a lot of real chemical advance happening,” Capuano said of the industry. “It’s right in center field for chemists.” Marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, including cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, a trendy ingredient with unproven health claims. Some pose challenges when they’re processed. Chocolate is a good example. “The chocolate itself is affecting our ability to measure the cannabinoids within it,” said David Dawson, chemist and lead researcher at CW Analytical Laboratories in Oakland, California, which tests marijuana. The more chocolate in the vial, the less accurate the test results, he found. He thinks some of the THC is clinging to the fat in chocolate, effectively hiding from the test.

Cannabis and Chemistry Dawson’s research is on the agenda at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego. The conference includes 20 presentations about marijuana’s technical challenges, said Markus Roggen, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based chemist organizing the program. That’s a big change from a few years ago when presenters didn’t get much beyond the basics such as: “This is THC. This is CBD.” Some in the marijuana industry hold “a mythical belief in the goddess of cannabis,” Roggen said, but chemists view marijuana more objectively. For its part, the industry is learning to accept the “new guard of scientists with a different approach to the plant,” he said. Another focus of research is a group of chemicals called terpenes that give the marijuana plant its pungent aroma. Many terpenes get lost or changed in the process of making a THC or CBD extract. But users want a certain smell and taste, said chemist Jeffrey Raber. Raber heads the Werc Shop, a Los Angeles company that mixes terpenes from lavender, oranges, black pepper and other plants to mimic the flavor and scent of cannabis varieties. The mashups are sold to companies who

But for now, exactly what happens in the human body with most of these products is unclear, Vialpando said, because there’s been very little safety testing of cannabis emulsions in animals, much less in humans. In Ottawa, Ontario, a Canadian government lab is working on a sensor to help police identify stoned drivers. The goal is to detect cannabinoid molecules in saliva or breath droplets, using light and nanoparticles. Still years away from roadside use, the technology might someday also be used by marijuana growers to determine the peak time to harvest, said chemist Li-Lin Chemist David Dawson gives a demonstration on testing for THC Tay, who leads the work for National and other chemicals at CW Analytical Laboratories in Oakland, Calif. Research Council of Canada. To do his work with chocolate, PHOTO FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Dawson grinds a THC-infused chocolate bar in a commercial food processor, weighs samples, adds soladd them to oils, tinctures and foods. Chemists solve the problem by vent to the material (“It starts looking Monica Vialpando, a San Francisco increasing the surface area of the oil chemist, is working to prevent drinks particles and adding ingredients, called like chocolate milk,” he says), before with CBD and THC oils from sepasurfactants and emulsifiers, to prevent measuring the THC potency. He’s tested cocoa powder, baking chocrating into unappealing layers while separation. olate and white chocolate to try to sitting on the shelf. The oils don’t She said consumers should be determine what ingredients are hiding dissolve in water, a problem for comskeptical of outrageous claims for the THC during testing. panies trying to create new drinks. edibles and beverages, including that This will lead to better testing stan“We’re fighting against the true all the THC or CBD in a product will be dards and safer products, he said. nature of the THC,” said Vialpando, absorbed. Some potency will always “We need good ‘capital S’ science,” who came to cannabis from the pharbe lost in the digestive system before it he said. maceutical industry. hits the bloodstream, she said.

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Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 21



a of the future?

Outside Lands music festival allows cannabis for the first time By Anita Chabria and Patrick McGreevy Los Angeles Times



n a misty August morning Saturday in Janna Lutz, 65, of Ohio, and her son Brian Lutz, 24, of San Jose, make a bong out of vegetables for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Janna a Farm to Bong contest at Grass Lands in August at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco. Lutz sat sheltered in a grove of Monterey pine Lutz called “a long time coming” — the largest event and eucalyptus trees carving a bong from an in California, and the country, to allow legal sales and eggplant. Lutz, 65, was on the West Coast visiting her son, Brian consumption of cannabis. It is a preview of what may Lutz, 24, a software developer in San Jose. He’d brought eventually become commonplace for other big gatherings such as Southern California’s Coachella Valley Music his mother, an interior designer and former city council and Arts Festival (though no such permit has yet been member in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, to Outside Lands, the requested) as marijuana rules solidify. Northern California music festival that draws about On this second day of the festival, the Lutzes were 200,000 people over its three-day run. They were taking part in a milestone moment, one that checking out Grass Lands, a cordoned off, 21-and-over area where about two dozen vendors were, for the first attendees called “historic” and “cool” and that the elder time, hawking joints, infused chocolates, THC-laden nonalcoholic beers and more. Grass Lands is a test case for California regulators trying to create boundaries for the expanding marijuana industry. For marijuana brands, it was a chance to woo new customers as cannabis morphs into an everyday commodity. The Lutzes had purchased a pre-rolled joint earlier, but decided before partaking they would compete in a contest to create the best smoking device from vegetables. The winners would be chosen at 4:20 that afternoon. “We’re saving ourselves because if we smoke right now the bong is going to look like sh —,” said the younger Lutz. “So we’re going to wait until we finish more of it.”

The Grass Lands Smell Wall allowed visitors in August to try various smells. Licensed marijuana sales were approved for the first time at Outside Lands festival in San Francisco. Thousands came to try products in a legal outdoor setting.

22  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

Entertainment Their restraint made them a minority in Grass Lands, where enthusiastic crowds filled “consumption areas” on raised platforms, posing for selfies, painting on a communal mural and exhaling thick billows of smoke to add to the light fog lingering into the afternoon. Though cannabis has been legal in California since voters approved its recreational sale and use in 2016, it remains illegal to consume it in public or sell it outside of licensed dispensaries without a special event permit from both state and local authorities. While more than a dozen such licenses have been issued for mostly cannabis-centric events across California, Outside Lands broke new ground through size and scope, and because alcohol was sold widely at the event, a mix state lawmakers have placed strict rules on. “It’s kind of surreal,” said Kaydee Perreira, 29, as she passed out squares of white chocolate mixed with matcha tea, a non-laced sample of candy bars sold by Nug, a dispensary with locations in Sacramento and Oakland. “I think this is a good start for what’s going to happen in the years to come.” Retailers and sponsors at Grass Lands saw the event as an opportunity for branding as much as profits. The largest-growing market shares for cannabis products are among those seeking something more refined that offer a quick high, said Sheena Shiravi, spokesperson for cannabis-delivery company Eaze, which sponsored the festival and a lounge inside of Grass Lands. “Parents, soccer moms, women and baby boomers” are target demographics for her company, she said, instead of the stereotype of the “couch-locked videogamer.” “There is a huge push for wellness, to make consumers understand this isn’t just a recreational drug,” Shiravi said. “What Eaze is trying to do and what the state is trying to do is create something that is sustainable to combat the illegal market. By Outside Lands doing this, it is a huge moment in history.” “It reminds me of like sommeliers,” said Caleb Lee, 22, a geography student at the University of California, Berkeley. Lee was standing in front of the “smell wall,” a display that allowed passersby to pump puffs of scent from metal


Licensed marijuana sales were approved for the first time in August at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.

canisters filled with different terpenes, the oils that give cannabis its odor. Similar to recognizing the flavors in wine, cannabis companies hope to educate users on the nuances between the aromas, the herbal character of alpha-pinene, for example, compared to the earthy tones of myrcene — two common terpenes Outside Lands consumers were sniffing. “It’s like a whole industry now,” said Lee. “The smell, the quality, the origin.” Though Grass Lands offered the same polished authenticity of the rest of the festival, it came together at the last minute. The license to sell cannabis at the festival is part of a pilot program authorized by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors earlier this year that made it possible for seven large events in the city to apply. Started in 2008, Outside Lands has grown over the years to become one of the nation’s largest music festivals, in the same league as

“Let’s be clear — this is not the first time in history that cannabis will be consumed at a music festival.” California state Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco

Coachella and Lollapalooza. The name refers to the fact that Golden Gate Park once belonged to Mexico, which transferred it to the United States by signing the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Events previously known for illegal cannabis consumption were targeted for the pilot permits, with the idea that legal sales could help regulate behavior that was already taking place. State leaders said California, by issuing a permit with restrictions, is simply regulating the use of a drug that has been ubiquitous at rock concerts since before Woodstock, which took place 50 years ago. “Let’s be clear — this is not the first time in history that cannabis will be consumed at a music festival,” said state Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco. The pilot program runs only through the end of the year, putting pressure on the city to approve a test case before it expires. Other events in the pilot, including the cannabis-centric 4 / 20 at Hippie Hill in April and the Pride celebration in June, have already passed, narrowing the options further. “We are running out of months, so we have to do this,” said Marisa Rodriguez, a former prosecutor who took over as head of San Francisco’s cannabis office five months ago.

Though Outside Lands organizers applied for a state permit months ago, the city didn’t finalize its application until about 67 hours before the festival started, due to ongoing changes to address concerns. Those rules were still being tweaked as the weekend progressed. Hours before opening, regulators requested more fencing to block views of the consumption area, and the removal of large pot plants. Employees were asked not to wear their festival ID badges while smoking. Later, the wireless connection kept failing, forcing some sales to be recorded by hand to meet the strict state guidelines for documenting every step of the production and sale process — but making it harder to enforce purchasing limits. But both regulators and sellers said they worked to make the weekend a success, and by Sunday morning, Rodriguez said there had been no security or medical issues associated with the cannabis sales. “We are all learning together,” said Abel Charrow with Kiva Confections, whose pineapple habanero and wild berry gummies were drawing long lines at $5 for a package of two. “We all want to be able to represent to everyone that … we are above board.”

Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 23

Business / Cannabis Over-Production

WHAT GLUT? Diana Calvert, manager of River City Retail Marijuana Dispensary in Merlin, stocks the shelves with product. TIMOTHY BULLARD / THE DAILY COURIER VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cannabis prices rise as oversupply worries ease By Maureen Flanagan Battistella


regon legislators established a moratorium on new recreational marijuana producer licenses earlier this year to manage an oversupply of product in the state. But not everyone agrees there’s an oversupply. SB 218 authorized a producer moratorium through Jan. 2, 2022, based on a January 2019 OLCC study that said in part, “As of Jan. 1, 2019, the recreational market has 6.5 years’ worth of theoretical supply in licensees’ inventory accounted for and contained within Oregon’s Cannabis Tracking System.” Some wholesale and retail outlets at an OLCC listening session in July in Ashland said they were having trouble sourcing quality product. They were also concerned that the moratorium was a short-term fix that would cause market swings with unintended consequences.

24  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

Business / Cannabis Over-Production “Across the board in the last 3 to 6 months, everyone is reporting a shortage in a significant portion of the supply chain. Either they’re not able to find flower at the conditions they’re looking for or they can’t find the lower-price flower they could find six months ago, and the prices are starting to rapidly rise.” Brad Bogus, vice president of marketing at Confident Cannabis, a company that analyzes Oregon’s metrics through its sales and inventory management software

“They [the Oregon Legislature] wanted a moraprocessing and warehouse infrastructure, and Some say that in late 2018 and early 2019, protorium because we had a glut of marijuana in this prices for flower dropped in 2018. cessors bought up available marijuana inventory at state and a lot of the industry itself was asking for “Small mom and pops to really large scale, really low prices and processed bud for concentrates and controls on reduction,” stated OLCC Executive well funded companies collapsed because they edibles, because these products store well and can Director Steve Marks at the listening session. underestimated the amount of money it would take wait in inventory for price increases. “Our study said there’s 6.5 theoretical years of to survive through the crash,” explained Mullen. One problem, says Spencer Mullen, who runs supply inside the system, and there wasn’t,” Marks Pharmer’s Market in White City as a wholesaler “You saw people who were barely staying alive in admitted. “That’s all products, and that didn’t 2018; even indoors cut way back on their producand Rogue Valley retail stores called Pharm to include waste. So people’s understanding was Table, is that cannabis molds easily, so warehoused tion. Now that the market is stabilizing, we’ll see conflated.” what happens,” Mullen added. bud or “fresh” product may be lower quality, and “Across the board in the last 3 to 6 months, Confident Cannabis metrics suggest that the curwhile it can be stored, it is expensive to do so. everyone is reporting a shortage in a signifiStable temperatures, lower storage temperatures, rent shortage is more than a mid-summer seasonal cant portion of the supply dip — indoor grows can’t chain,” said Brad Bogus, vice produce the volume needed president of marketing at for the current market, and Confident Cannabis, a comoutdoor harvests won’t come pany that analyzes Oregon’s to market until January. metrics through its sales Bogus says that many and inventory management greenhouses have shut software. “Either they’re down, savvy rec growers not able to find flower at the have reduced production conditions they’re looking for and countless growers have or they can’t find the lowdiverted agricultural producer-price flower they could tion to hemp. find six months ago, and the “By limiting the market it prices are starting to rapidly might fix the problem right rise.” now, but when the market Higher prices for recreopens up [with federal ational marijuana means deregulation of interstate better margins for produccommerce], I’m concerned ers and everyone else in the that we won’t be able to find seed-to-sale continuum. any product,” Mullen said. Consumers are feeling the “It’s going to be messy, and pinch as retail prices go up for a lot of money lost until we mid-market, premium and have a larger market to give ultra-premium product. us more stability.” “Three months ago I could As of Sept. 19, there were find marijuana as low as $250 1,147 active recreational a pound, and I’m seeing that marijuana producer licenses COURTESY PHOTO same pot today at $600,” said statewide, with another 2,216 Confident Cannabis uses its sales and inventory management software to analyze the recreational cannabis market. Jeff Dillard, who runs West new producer license appliCoast Organic in Brookings. cations in the OLCC backlog nitrogen injection and low humidity can help preserve — meaning the number of growers statewide would “But if you want a quality product, you have to pay freshness and smokability in warehoused marijuana for it.” triple if OLCC approved all of the applications in for up to about two years, according to Dillard, though the backlog. The recreational marijuana market is driven by others suggest 8 months is the maximum storage time flower, big perfect buds for retail and the thouJackson County had 237 active producer licenses before weed turns dark and loses potency. sands and thousands of pounds that processors as of Sept. 19, with 438 applications in the OLCC Regulating a new controlled substance is comrequire weekly. backlog, the most in Oregon in both categories. plicated at best, and predicting market demand BDS Analytics, which monitors aggregated Josephine County had 171 active licenses, with is never easy. The cannabis industry and OLCC industry data, reported that for 2019 2nd quarter, 358 stalled by the moratorium, the second-most in expected some early disruption and market adjust- both categories. Oregon had $197.34 million in recreational marment. With Oregon’s easy entry to the market ijuana sales with 29.99 million gram units sold, Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan 46% in flower, 30% in concentrates, 12% in edibles in early years, more recreational marijuana was Battistella at grown in 2017 than could be absorbed by Oregon’s and 11% in other products.

BDS Analytics, which monitors aggregated industry data, reported that for 2019 2nd quarter, Oregon had $197.34 million in recreational marijuana sales with 29.99 million gram units sold, 46% in flower, 30% in concentrates, 12% in edibles and 11% in other products. ... Jackson County had 237 active producer licenses as of Sept. 19, with 438 applications in the OLCC backlog, the most in Oregon in both categories. Southern Oregon Good Herb   |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 25

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Southern Oregon Good Herb

Growing Championship Bud

Alter Farms is cranking out award-winning cannabis year after year


By Rhona Nowak

uring a recent visit to Alter Farms just outside of Grants Pass, a late summer rain began to fall lightly, cooling the day and intensifying the pungent aroma of cannabis flowering in the field. I was on a mission to meet a few particular cannabis plants at the farm, and I didn’t mind getting a bit wet in order for introductions to be made. Last May, Alter Farms was honored at the fourth annual Cultivation Classic in Portland for three of its sun-grown strains. The company, headed by Cody Alter, Jodi Haines and Jason Rambo, took home first place in the Sungrown Type 1 (THC) category for a strain called Purple Wildfire, as well as the top prize in the Outstanding Terpenes: Diversity category for a strain called Fire Runner. In the Sungrown Type 2 (mixed ratio THC/CBD) category, Alter Farms took home the bronze for its Pineapple Thai CBD cultivar. It was the third time cannabis grown at Alter Farms has won top prizes at the Cultivation Classic, which hosted its inaugural event four years ago to pay tribute to organically grown weed in Oregon, and those who cultivate it.



Marijuana is processed at Alter Farms in Grants Pass. he farm won several awards at the annual Cultivation Classic in Portland.


In 2016, the year Alter Farms harvested its first recreational crop, the company won first place in the THC Outdoor category with Purple Hindu Kush. Then in 2017, a cultivar called Cherry Wine earned first place in the CBD Outdoor Category. “We’re deeply honored and thankful that our cultivar selections were so well received by the judges,” Alter said. “It’s especially gratifying to win at the Cultivation Classic when in the company of so many great growers.” Alter, who grew up gardening and farming in Southern Oregon, said the Cultivation Classic competitions help move the cannabis industry forward by recognizing the craft and the science behind breeding and growing high-quality cultivars. In turn, cannabis consumers are beginning to ask new questions when they visit dispensaries: “What are the dominant terpenes?” and “Who are the growers and what are their growing practices?” Terpenes are organic compounds produced by plants to ward off predators and attract pollinators. Terpenes are the primary component of essential oils. Some plants, like conifers and cannabis, produce a lot of terpenes. Depending on the cultivar, cannabis plants produce different combinations of terpenes in the flower resin that work together with cannabinoids (THC and CBD) to give each strain its unique fragrance, taste and effects. SEE ALTER, 29

Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 27

Growing Championship Bud In a given season, Alter Farms grows about 25 different varieties for sale to dispensaries in Oregon, including Redwood Cannabis in Grants Pass and River City Retail in Merlin.

Marijuana is processed at Alter Farms in Grants Pass. The farm won several awards at the annual Cultivation Classic in Portland.

Jody Haines works with a plant at Alter Farms in Grants Pass.

Fire Runner won the terpene diversity award at the Cultivation Classic in Portland.

Photos by Jamie Lusch 28

| Sunday, October 13, 2019 |

Southern Oregon Good Herb

The company also holds the genetics for more than 80 cloned varieties and over 300 seed crosses. One goal is to expand research in pursuit of the “Holy Grail� of hybrids and phenotypes.

Growing Championship Bud

One of Cody Alter’s goals is to expand research and development at the farm in pursuit of the “Holy Grail” of exciting new hybrids and phenotypes. JAMIE LUSCH PHOTO

ALTER From Page 27

In addition, terps influence how consumers process cannabinoids by interacting with receptors in the body — this is called the entourage effect. The most prevalent terpene in cannabis is myrcene, which gives off an earthy scent and enhances absorption of cannabinoids into the bloodstream. However, cannabis strains produce many other terpenes that not only affect the recreational user’s experience, but also influence how medicinal users are able to process cannabinoids for different mental and physical ailments. For example, limonene has a citrusy aroma and increases the level of serotonin in the body, which affects mood, cognition and memory. Caryophyllene is a spicy, peppery terp that reduces anxiety and inflammation. Alter Farms’ Fire Runner, the strain that won first place for terpene diversity at the 2019 Cultivation Classic, as well as the People’s Choice Award at the Oregon Growers Cup in 2018, tested for 21 terpenes at Cascadia Labs in Oregon. The dominant terpenes in Fire Runner were terpinolene, a-pinene, limonene and b-pinene.

Terpene analysis is just one aspect of technological innovations that have progressed the cannabis industry and, increasingly, its market. New methods in genetic and chemical analysis allow cannabis breeders to work with labs to thoroughly map out the characteristics, called phenotypes, of different strains. Breeders can also keep track of the genetic ancestry of different strains by adding to a comprehensive genetic database, an important step toward eliminating confusion over cultivars with the same name and for protecting heirloom varieties. In a given season, Alter Farms grows about 25 different cannabis varieties for sale to dispensaries in Oregon (including Redwood Cannabis in Grants Pass and River City Retail in Merlin); however, Alter said, the company holds the genetics for more than 80 cloned varieties and over 300 seed crosses. One of his goals is to expand research and development at the farm in pursuit of the “Holy Grail” of exciting new hybrids and phenotypes. An important component of the R&D program at Alter Farms is utilizing complex soil analysis to inform their practices. SEE ALTER, 30 Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 29

Quick Toke

U.S. awards $3M to fill gaps in medical marijuana research The U.S. government will spend about $3 million to find out if marijuana can relieve pain, but none of the money will be used to study the part of the plant that gets people high. Nine research grants announced in September are for work on CBD, the trendy ingredient showing up in cosmetics and foods, and hundreds of less familiar chemicals. THC research was excluded. The science is strongest for chronic pain, the most common reason people give when they enroll in state-approved medical marijuana programs. But little is known about which parts of marijuana are helpful and whether the intoxicating effects of THC can be avoided. Human test subjects will be involved in only one of the grant projects. University of Utah researcher Deborah Yurgelun-Todd will scan the brains of human volunteers with lower back pain to see

how CBD extract — mixed with chocolate pudding — affects pain-signaling pathways. Half the volunteers will get pudding without CBD as a control group. In July, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said it would grow 2,000 kilograms of marijuana this year at the University of Mississippi, which holds the sole federal contract for producing research cannabis. But those plants won’t be used in many of the new projects, which instead will use lab-made versions of the chemicals. Researchers in Illinois hope to create a library of useful compounds found in cannabis plants. “We make them from scratch and test them one by one,” said David Sarlah of the University of Illinois. Marijuana contains such tiny amounts of the interesting ingredients that it’s too costly and time consuming to isolate enough for research, Sarlah said.


and minimizing their impact on the environment. You won’t find heavy machinery or commercial fertilizers and pesticides at Alter Farms. What you will find are folks working lovingly with the land, and cover crops of peas, mustard or buckwheat growing alongside cannabis that continually add organic matter and micro-organisms to build healthy soil. If you look closely, you’ll also see lady beetles and other beneficial insects happily providing natural pest control. By the time I was ending my visit to Alter Farms, the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to poke through the clouds. Everything smelled fresh, which matched my new perspective of what it means to consciously cultivate award-winning cannabis in today’s evolving marketplace. For Alter Farms, the ingredients for success are sun, water, soil — and science.

From Page 29

As with viticulture and winemaking, the characteristics of soil play a critical role in the terroir of cannabis crops, combined with climate, topography and several other environmental factors to infuse the flower with a unique sense of place. Terroir is what high-quality craft cannabis in Southern Oregon is all about. In fact, Alter Farms has been working with Portland State University geologist John Bershaw since 2017 to study the terpene/cannabinoid profiles of a single clonal variety grown in five different soils found in Southern Oregon. Soil testing is particularly important for sustainability-minded growers like those at Alter Farms, who are dedicated to continually replenishing their native sandy loam

30  | Sunday, October 13, 2019  |  Southern Oregon Good Herb

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Growing Tips


Pot plants are being grown in bags (left) in an Ashland indoor garden. Lucas Olsen of The Factory in Ashland uses one-gallon bags from Charcoir (center) for his indoor grows. He has also used Planet Natural’s Roots Organics 707 mix, which comes in ready-to-use 30-gallon grow bags with 20 gallons of potting soil. Growers need only cut holes in the bag and plant directly into it. Derick French (right) checks the growth of pot plants at The Factory in Ashland.

POT in a BAG Grow bags are alternative to pots for home growers

By Rhonda Nowak


any home cannabis growers who opt for containers have switched to using grow bags (often referred to as Smart Pots) as an alternative to plastic pots. Many grow bags are made of sturdy, breathable fabric with durable stitching. They come in a variety of sizes, and some have handles that make it easier to move around heavy plants. Because root development, and thus plant size, is restricted in any container, growing experts suggest that you be sure to select grow bags for final plantings that are big enough to accommodate the size of the mature plant you want. Patrick Scroggins of In and Out Ag Services in Medford said many growers use 100- to 200-gallon bags to grow individual plants, “but they will grow into trees” at heights up to 20 feet. Some growers use these larger bags for multiple, smaller plants. Grow bags between 20 and 30 gallons will suffice for growers who want to keep individual plants less than 10 feet tall, Scroggins said. Most grow bags are black, but light-colored bags reflect the sun’s heat better. However, even dark-colored fabric reflects several degrees more heat than traditional plastic pots. Because the containers stay cooler, the roots grow better during hot summers. The porous fabric of grow bags prevents the soil from becoming too wet, which is a common cause of disease and poor yield. The porosity of the bags also allows more air to reach the plant’s root zone, and this added oxygen helps keep plants vigorous. The downside of using porous bags is that plants will probably need to be watered more often, which increases the risk of overwatering. Also, some fabric bags don’t drain well,

Pot plants are grown in bags in an Ashland indoor garden.

so holes might need to be made in the bottom and sides. Another big benefit of using grow bags has to do with air pruning. This means when the plant roots reach the edge of the bag, they make contact with air, and this triggers a natural pruning process. The result is that plant roots branch out and grow stronger, rather than girdling the bottom of the container. A healthy root system is more effective in drawing moisture and nutrients from the soil, and this significantly increases the plant’s health and yield. Cost is another factor to consider when choosing plant containers. Grow bags are typically less expensive than plastic containers. Fabric bags are washable and reusable, and they flatten for easy storage. On the other hand, traditional plastic pots usually last

longer (but they also last longer in landfills when they are discarded). Grows bags are more environmentally friendly than plastic pots. Some grow bags are even made from biodegradable materials; for example, Root Pouches are made from 100-percent recycled materials that will break down in landfills. Making degradable grow bags from recycled materials requires no new fossil fuels and leaves a smaller carbon footprint; however, degradable grow bags may have a shorter life span than other fabric bags, particularly when exposed to sunlight. Some growers like using coconut coir bags. Lucas Olsen of The Factory in Ashland uses one-gallon bags from Charcoir for his indoor grows. They come in many sizes and are compacted for shipping and storage. “We just have to hydrate them and plant right into them, which is a huge labor savings,” Olsen said. “No pots to wash, and the bags are biodegradable, so we just toss it all into the compost.” Olsen has also used Planet Natural’s Roots Organics 707 mix, which comes in ready-touse 30-gallon grow bags with 20 gallons of potting soil. Growers need only cut holes in the bag and plant directly into it. Although Roots Organics bags are not biodegradable, they (and the soil that comes in them) are especially good for light-deprived and full-season growing, Olsen said. There are many kinds of containers and grow bags to choose from when it comes to growing plants. The best strategy is to experiment in order to learn the kind that is best for your growing needs and conditions. Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email her at For more about gardening, visit her blog at blogs. Southern Oregon Good Herb  |  Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 31



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