Take away the state lines between California and Oregon and you basically have the United States of the North Coast. Those familiar with the North Coast mindset know what it means to live locally and sustainably for the health of the community and the environment.
As a major city, Portland is no stranger to sustainability. In 1993, the city was the first in the country to publish a climate action plan, further reducing its carbon footprint by 29 percent since the 1990s. In 2011, the city stepped up its garbage and recycling programs, resulting in a reduction of landfills by nearly 40 percent. The Solarize Portland campaign even surpassed its own goal of adding 10 megawatts a year.
Ironically, when a state legalized cannabis, more healing happened instead of more people getting wasted, as is the popular misconception. Medicine makers feel comfortable to share, farmers get redeemed, and patients arrive in droves from illegal states to be healed.
Prism House: A Place For People
Samantha and Chris Montanaro came to Portland two years ago for this very reason, as Sam suffers from arthritis. They made the trek from Chicago, where Samantha ran the School of Rock in Evanston, a performance program for kids.
“We are hobbyists,” she laughs, with a broad, infectious smile. “My husband’s into woodworking. He just built a boat in the basement!”
The announcement of the boat’s completion meets howls of laughter around the couple’s large dining room table, where some of Portland’s finest women in weed are gathered for a crafting event in the couple’s home, which they now call Prism House.
The craft at hand is a beaded necklace with a roach clip as the centerpiece. The women in attendance are from every walk of life within the cannabis industry.
The boat in the basement represents the North Coast’s hands-on approach to everything sustainable. It also represents the couple’s intention of living life to the fullest, Portlandia style.
“There’s an island we want to camp on, but you can only get to it by boat,” Samantha laughs.
The couple came to Oregon for the freedom to medicate with the plant, but they also found an entirely new life.
“We wanted to create a space where we could do everything we want to, in an environment that’s friendly to my cannabis use as medicine,” Samantha shares. “Life is so much better when I can freely medicate in a legal state. This house is a blessing for us.”
Coming Together For The Greater Good
Prism House is a networker’s goldmine, full of some of Portland’s most connected cannabis professionals.
Jen Heduyma and her husband came to Portland from Montana. Initially in an apartment, the two slept in the living room and had a small, medicinal grow in the bedroom. Today, they are looking to expand their operations under the moniker Pacific Craft Gardens. They’ll breed six strains, including the popular Cinex.
“It’s great for daytime social situations!” Heduyma laughs, thoroughly enjoying her own handiwork rolled in a perfect fatty. “We provide all the flower to smoke for Samantha’s gatherings. This other strain is Jillybean—a mix of Orange Velvet crossed with Space Queen,” she says as she passes another pre-roll around the table.
Titrate CEO Deanna Patamia says her company sponsors “YoGanja” sessions at Prism House. Titrate creates micro-dosed smoking oils, blending terpenes from other beneficial plants into the mix.
Herbal mixtures in Titrate’s lineup are named after assumed effects. For example, Serene has a stimulating mixture of citrus, and Sexy is infused with a sweetly stimulating floral bouquet.
Laura Rivera is a newbie to Portland from Flagstaff, Arizona. After running cultivation for one of Arizona’s top dispensaries, she and her partner were offered positions at Yerba Buena in Hillsborough, a region known for its vineyards.
Yerba Buena operates a 15,000-square-foot greenhouse, licensed with the state for recreation.
“Hillsborough is a really nice area and the farm is beautiful,” Rivera shares. “We’ve been through a few medicinal runs and are just starting up with a recreational license to get ready to go into flower.”
Umbrella Of Opportunity
Swell Companies Limited representative Miranda Keenen’s journey to Portland reads like a novel, with every page turned leading her to Portland.
“My boyfriend has a dab extraction company and at the lowest point in my career he asked me to fill caps in an assembly line production,” she says. “The company is co-owned by three young men and they needed a woman to add warmth and compassion to the business and asked me to help.”
Swell has one farm that’s been Clean Green certified and is in the process of buying another. They grow and sell cannabis, but they also broker and market material and products for other farmers. Its extraction arm is the largest in Portland, but most of its business done through word of mouth.
“We are a big company with a small business feeling,” Keenen explains.
The umbrella concept gives power and safety in numbers against the ever-changing battle of ordinances.
In Our Lifetime
Heather Berry has been a healer involved in bodywork for many years. She and her grown daughter Sage came to Portland from Southern California just two years ago for the lifestyle Portland offers.
Sage is co-owner of a clothing line called Mind Honey. She also teaches yoga, while her mom teaches Reiki. Together they are creating a studio space with an earthen floor in their home in southeast Portland.
Now in her late 50s, Heather admits the plant has been part of her life for 40 years. Though it did not bring her to Oregon, she’s amazed at the progression from rec to meds in her lifetime.
“It’s so incredible to hear all of you living your dreams,” she observes. “The lack of ego in this group of women is wonderful.”
Another woman in the group added that knowledge of cannabis as medicine has helped the healing community in the city come together for the greater good—and that’s very Portlandia.
Heather agrees. “It’s as if the Goddess of Ganja is coming through and infiltrating everything you do. After being around the plant all these years, seeing its goodness flowering like this is very inspiring!”
“See, it’s an art form and medicine,” Samantha says. She smiles her broad smile, placing her new necklace around her neck and inserting a burning roach into the clip.