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Silver Linings of Cannabis in 2020

Nikki Lastreto deleafing cannabis before drying
Nikki deleafing cannabis before drying.
Photo Noah Rubin

Joint Opinions

Silver Linings of Cannabis in 2020

Swami Select co-founder Nikki Lastreto reflects on the benefits of cannabis and slowing down during a challenging year.

It’s easy to sit back in seclusion and complain about what a difficult year 2020 has been. Yes, we have all encountered great tribulations and changes we never expected. But as an old hippy, I highly recommend you get comfortable, smoke a fatty, go with the flow and consider the benefits of living during a pandemic. There is always a silver lining, if you just take the time to look.

Of course, in the world of cannabis, the number one reward for Californians was issued last March when Governor Newsom announced that all licensed marijuana businesses in California could continue with business as usual during the imposed lockdowns, deeming it an “essential” business. Wow – from illegal to essential, thanks to COVID-19. Cannabis sales sky rocketed, although now they are primarily executed by delivery services or curbside pickup services at dispensaries. More time at home equals more time to get high.

Thinking Outside the Bowl

During these singular times, many people experiencing loneliness have undoubtedly turned to cannabis as a companion to heighten creativity and elevate their mood. While the old-fashioned art of sharing a joint may be gone forever, here at the Swami Select farm, we have been learning how to smoke out of our own bowls or personal paraphernalia. We’ve even had Zoom calls where we pretend to pass the doobie. And the cool thing is, we can do this with friends all across the globe! Having a big imagination helps a whole lot during lockdown.

It’s funny how quickly a word can become so ubiquitous. Take “Zoom” for example. It’s a noun (“Are you on Zoom?”); a verb (“Let’s Zoom”); and even an adjective (“She has Zoom burnout”). We found that Zooming is a great way to have a seshin’ with your friends, share stories and music, and even check out cannabis together. 

While the traditional December Emerald Cup is cancelled for the first time in 17 years, we do still plan to hold the contest virtually in March. Judging will happen with the help of some sort of Zoom arrangement. It’s simply the time to think outside the bowl.

Another benefit from the shelter in place orders is recent studies indicate that alcohol use and cigarette use is down, complementary to the increase in cannabis use. Seniors who gave up smoking marijuana in the past are taking it up again and exploring other means of ingesting, and embracing the medical use of tinctures, salves, creams and ointments. Pain relief, sleep aid and anxiety relief are a major reason more people of all ages use the magic herb. 

And while you are staying home, you’re probably eating better than ever before, as home cooking is generally healthier than most highly salted restaurant fare. Even if you’re not a great cook, when you get high and sit down to a meal you made yourself, it just tastes better. And while in the kitchen, many stoners, including myself, have begun to make their own edibles. Here’s a great recipe for canna butter and now I enjoy tasty cookies with a solid buzz. Before coronavirus, I never would have taken the time to do that. 

Slowing It Down

Of course, the other benefit of being stuck at home is more time with your animals, your plants and your hobbies. Even your favorite TV shows! For us on the ranch, it meant we had more time in our gardens this summer which was a real plus. Before the coronavirus, life was so busy, and we were constantly pulled away by the responsibilities and go-go-go of the outside world.  It’s fun and wonderful, but it keeps us away from the cannabis plants during the growing season. This was a real bonus! 

Photo Mike Rosatti

I’ve heard from friends who live in the city that things have slowed down there too. They can hear the sounds of birds singing, and the skies are a brilliant blue that hasn’t been seen in decades. What a great lesson to know we truly do have the ability to heal our planet if we all become conscious of our fossil fuel use and recognize what’s needed from us to survive.  

Working from home has taught so many people how nice it is to avoid a long commute or dressing up for the day, and it spares the costs associated with transportation and eating lunch or dinner out. Instead, we stay comfy at home with our computers working harder than ever — what else is there to do? But the benefit is that “Safety Meetings” throughout the day are so much more admissible! 

Consider cannabis as your best companion during these quiet times. Let her guide you into sitting in meditation, doing exercises, reading that book that’s been sitting on your shelf, or doing something creative. If we can look at this down time as a gift from the universe, it has a whole different feel to it. Open your heart to those in need around us all, whether they be ill or in need of support. The cannabis culture has always been about sharing. 

The Power of Community

Our hearts go out to those who have personally suffered or lost a dear one from COVID-19. Plagues and pandemics are as old as life on this planet. In the Great Plague of the Middle Ages, from India to Scandinavia and the British Isles, nearly two thirds of the population died. 

Thankfully, while the number of deaths is high, we are still nowhere near that number. By acting together to protect ourselves and those around us through socially distancing and wearing masks, we can see that it really does make a difference – we really can slow the progress of this pandemic and ultimately bring it under control. 

This is a great lesson in the power of community, similar to the power we have discovered over the years as we have struggled to free cannabis and erase the stigma around this most beneficial plant. When we act together for the good of all, it makes a difference.

Swami, Tipu and Nikki at home.

As we all learn to live with less and recognize our true priorities in life, we can thank this most unusual year for teaching us that. So, whether you stay cozy at home or enjoy a quiet walk in nature, getting high while you do it will calm your nerves and put a smile on your face. And when we can freely gather again, I pray we retain these lessons and appreciate the love we share even more.

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