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Mariah Hagenbach: Cannabis and the Art of Visual Storytelling

What does it take to have a fire Instagram? Oregon-based photographer, Mariah Hagenbach, shares the inspirations behind her cannabis journey.

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Mariah Hagenbach
PHOTO | Mariah Hagenbach
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Starting her photography journey capturing the breathtaking natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon-based Mariah Hagenbach transports her 50,000 Instagram followers to an atmospheric world of moody landscapes, confident women enjoying the pleasure of the herb, and, of course, stunning cannabis shots. Cannabis Aficionado spoke exclusively to Hagenbach about visual storytelling and cannabis in her home state.

Cannabis Aficionado: How did you get started as a photographer?

Mariah Hagenbach: I bought my first “big kid” camera when I was twenty to take on all my hikes and adventures. I was really interested in capturing long exposure waterfall shots when I first began shooting, just kind of as a hobby. That is really what started it all though.

What connected cannabis and photography for you?

I helped open a dispensary back in 2014 where I worked a bud tender, social media manager and photographer. It all kind of stemmed from taking nug photos for our Leafly menu and social media platforms. I was inspired to combine cannabis and humans a few years ago when I saw Jennifer Thomas doing it. I loved the way she was capturing the beauty of the plant and person without sexualizing either.

What do you look at for inspiration of your unique style?

I get inspired by everything; other photographers, nature, songs, memories. I try my best to make my audience feel something when they look at my images. Sometimes they tell a story, but other times they are just meant to make you feel.

Your Instagram account is beautiful. What’s the importance of social media for you?

We are living in a time of exponential growth and change and having the ability to reach tens of thousands of people is so incredible. I’ve been using my platform to not only post my art but to spread knowledge. I love being part of this cannabis prohibition movement.

I’m hoping what I do is helping normalize the cannabis industry while ending the stigma associated with cannabis and the people who consume it.

Do you have any favorite cannabis photographers?

So many! The list keeps growing as other states continue to legalize cannabis and the cannabis photography world grows. Morgan Leigh English is one of the main people who inspired me to go this direction with my photography. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot with Oleg Zharsky a few times now and I just love his style/uniqueness. I feel like Bess Byers kind of started it all. She paved the way for a lot of us.

What are your go-to strains and why?

I love all things kush! Sativa strains make me a little anxious/paranoid so I tend to stick with indicas and indica dominant strains. My preferred method of consumption will always be smoking out of my bong but if that’s not available, or I’m traveling, I love joints.

Do you have a favorite strain to photograph?

Anything colorful really. I love the purple strains.

Do you have favorite strains from specific growers?

Resin Ranchers flower is always incredible, I don’t think I could pick just one from them.

Do you have a favorite ever shot?

That’s so hard. Every time I try something new, I end up with a new all-time favorite. I think that’s my favorite thing about photography though, I’m constantly growing and changing my look. I love that there are no rules with art.

Nature plays a key role in your Instagram. Where are your favorite places to get away from it all?

I love hiking in the forests around Oregon. I’m absolutely obsessed with the moss and the fog we have here.

How do you rate Oregon cannabis to that of other states?

Since I live in Oregon I may be biased/haven’t tried every states cannabis. With that being said, Oregon has the strictest testing laws and a sincere commitment to craft and sustainable growing. I’m proud to support these farmers and their terpene-rich strains. Also, our laws allow us to choose the nugs we like! This promotes a more dedicated trim and cure which brings out the full potential of our varieties.

Any thoughts on the reported saturation of cannabis in the state?

It’s great for consumers who are looking for some of the best cannabis in the world for the lowest price, but it’s unfortunate for farmers who are barely able to make it by, especially the ones who have been in the industry since the beginning.

Any advice for budding photographers?

Photograph what you’re passionate about-. Find your own niche. Make sure you’re doing it for you and not a following on a social platform.

What do you never leave the house without?

My phone, my planner, and my weed.

See more of Hagenbach’s work in her curated gallery above. Want more? Follow her at @muh_riah.

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Sex & Sinsemilla: The Pleasure Enthusiast on Using Cannabis to Reduce Pain During Sex

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reduce pain during sex
PHOTO: amixstudio

For many a cannathusiast, sex and weed make the best of bedfellows. From helping you unwind and taking you out of your head, to increased sensation and pleasure, for some, the herb can be a natural aphrodisiac. An entire sub-category of cannabis products has been developed to help people enjoy sex more, whether it be to reduce pain during sex or to increase their connection with their partner.

Of course, cannabis and sex aren’t a great combination for everyone. There have been reports of the herb contributing to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

However, there is also research that suggests smoking herb increases orgasm length, raises sperm count, that cannabis improves their experience and people who partake in weed also partake in sex more frequently.

Enough sexy data talk. Valentine’s Day seemed like the right time to debut the sex and sinsemilla advice column from Cara Cordoni, Cannabis Aficionado’s resident Pleasure Enthusiast, who will be answering your questions around cannabis, intimacy and sex, as well as offering up product reviews and suggestions to help you maximize your sexy times.

Dear Pleasure Enthusiast,

I want to have a sexy night with my partner, but I’ve been experiencing pain during penetration. I’ve heard that cannabis can help… can it?

– Sexy ‘n Suffering

Dear Sexy ‘n Suffering,

You’re not alone in experiencing pain during sex — and the first order of concern is to explore the root cause. Has there been an injury? Are you emotionally comfortable and safe? Is there an underlying condition like an infection, endometriosis or fibroids? Have you been to see a medical professional? Understand the source before addressing the symptoms. Once you know what’s up, then yes, cannabis could help reduce pain during sex.

Many of us gals feel pain due to lack of lubrication, which can be addressed with relaxation, foreplay and the use of a sexual lubricant like Intimate Oil by Privvy Peach, Smooth Operator by Quim, Awaken by Foria or Quiver by HerbaBuena.

These lubes combine cannabis, in the form THC, CBD, or both and known herbal aphrodisiacs like passionflower extract to provide pelvic relaxation, increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Many women experience enhanced sensitivity with these infused lubricants, as well. Quim is aloe vera based and safe with latex, while Foria is coconut oil-based and not latex friendly. Luckily, there are many options on the market in legal states, or with CBD for everyone. I always recommend a patch test before applying to your privates. And if the first one you try doesn’t suit you, don’t give up, try another as each is unique.

I applaud you on your journey of pain reduction and pleasure enhancement.

The Pleasure Enthusiast at Work

QUIM: Smooth Operator

Squirt squirt; a slippery, opaque, white liquid coats on my fingers. Smooth Operator reminds me vaguely of semen, which is both titillating and disturbing. I apply it liberally to myself for a solo test flight. I wait for the 5-7 recommended minutes for the serum to penetrate and take effect feeling hopeful and skeptical. Yet as I read Quim’s elegant pamphlet, the slippery serum feels fantastic on my clit and labia and I notice that blood flow is visibly increased. Everything is gently engorging and I like it.

Foria: Intimacy CBD Lubricant and Awaken

I apply four squirts of Awaken directly to my vulva. I like the smell: it’s faint, the slightest edge of thin mint. The feeling is almost immediate, a coolness, very subtle and engaging, then a warmth. I see and feel blood flow increasing.

I then pour Foria’s clear coconut oil-based lube into my palm — it’s messy, some runs down the bottle. Coconut oil is my preferred lubricant when there’s no latex involved, so this liquid oil feels nice. After some experimentation, I find Foria’s products are super helpful with anal play, where the relaxing and slightly numbing qualities work best.

Do you have a question about sex that you’d like the Pleasure Enthusiast to answer? Get in touch: contact@cannabisaficionado.com.

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Cannabis Aficionado’s Guide to a Luxurious Valentine’s Day

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Luxurious Valentine's Day
PHOTO | Maria Valentino in her luxury cannabis-inspired fine jewelry.

Treat yourself or that special someone with the Cannabis Aficionado guide to partaking in a luxurious Valentine’s Day. From precious jewels to pleasuring lubes, silky robes to stylish home decor, the dankest weed to delicious chocolate treats, there’s something for all you lovers out there.

1906

Luxurious Valentine’s Day

Lovers Edition

Lovers Edition combines five herbal aphrodisiacs with cannabis to create what they call “the best sex drug in the world.” It’s formulated for both a physical and psychological high, working to increase blood flow while also helping you relax and get out of your head.

Foria

Awaken

This multi-aphrodisiac blend is formulated for people with vulvas, to enhance tactile sensation and pleasure while decreasing tension, discomfort and dryness.

Genifer

14kt Yellow Gold Sativa Marijuana Leaf Diamond Pavé Pendant

Genifer Murray and Glenn Murray are expert jewelry makers as well as being passionate cannabis advocates. This beautiful sativa leaf pendant necklace is artfully crafted from 14kt gold and is available in a variety of sizes.

Jacquie Aische

Luxurious Valentine’s Day

1 Diamond Pave 3 Sweet Leaf Dream Catcher Hoops

Jacquie Aische designs jewelry with the intention of empowering women. Join her tribe with these stunning Dream Catcher Hoops from her Sweet Leaf collection.

Jonathan Adler

Botanist Ganja Urn

The Ganja Urn from Jonathan Adler’s Botanist collection is the perfect bougie scene-stealer — a must-have for all cannabis aficionado’s to stash their secrets.

Maria Valentino

Cannabis Leaf Diamond Ring

Maria Valentino is a cutting-edge formulator and leader of green beauty and wellness for conscious consumers. This statement ring from her fine jewelry collection features pave diamonds, emulating the plant’s natural trichomes, and is set in 14k gold.

Saka

Sparkling Pink

Toast to love with Saka’s luxurious sparkling pink wine. Based on grapes from Napa Valley’s terroir and infused with the finest craft harvest. The resulting experience is intended to leave the imbiber feeling invigorating, clean and relaxed.

Satori

Luxurious Valentine’s Day

Choc coated Strawberries

Sherbinskis

Pink Panties

Mario Guzman aka Mr. Sherbinski grows some of the finest cannabis you’ll ever experience. His Pink Panties cultivar is a cross of Burmese Kush and a Florida Kush backcross. It expresses dense, medium-sized buds that reek of tart and tangy citrus alongside a strong floral bouquet.

White Fox

White Fox on this planet is to formulate, alchemize and create specific effect driven medicine with the intention of showing you your own true greatness. Using a 2,000-year-old ayurvedic formulation, they have developed vape pens to increase your sexual energy and sensitivity.

Untamed is for women, to guide you to your greatest sexual expression and unbridled passion. Legendary for men will provide strength, vitality and legendary sexual performance.

Vintage Redeux

Luxurious Valentine’s Day

Cherry Mary Jane Smoking Robe

Vintage Redeux creates sinsemilla-inspired streetwear. Smoke, chill and bring sexy back to smoking in this beautiful satin smoking robe with a sultry hand sewn Mary Jane patch.

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Miss Marijuana: Canadian Beauty Queen Alyssa Boston on Ending Stigmas

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Alyssa Boston
PHOTO | Miss Universe Organization

Alyssa Boston is a woman on a mission. The 24-year-old Canadian beauty queen is using her platform to start a conversation on ending stigmas around mental illness, competing in pageants — and cannabis.

While she doesn’t actually smoke weed, Canada’s crowned Miss Universe caused a media uproar when she wore a sparkling cannabis-inspired look during the 2019 Miss Universe competition in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cannabis Aficionado spoke to her about breaking stigmas, social media and of course, that costume.

CA: How was your Miss Universe experience?

Alyssa Boston: It was an amazing 10 days in Atlanta. My roommate was Miss Israel. She was amazing, we had a really good time.

You caused a media frenzy with your national costume; a shimmery, glittery, beautiful cannabis leaf. Tell me more about that. 

Canada doesn’t have a set national costume, so we had to think of something that I wanted to do. We’ve had a Canadian maple tree, a snow angel and a hockey player. When we were deciding on the costume, we wanted it to be more than just 30 seconds on stage — we wanted it to be the whole movement behind it. It’s a huge representation of what’s going on right now in Canada. I thought it was perfect to shine a light on it at Miss Universe.

No one in the history of Miss Universe has ever done anything that controversial. One day, six of us girls were sitting at the dinner table at Miss Universe, all talking about my costume — it was the talk of the town! Everyone had an opinion on it. Miss Columbia loved it. Miss Uruguay was jealous she didn’t think of it first.

Alyssa Boston onstage during Miss Universe. PHOTO | Miss Universe Organization

I bet!

Miss Indonesia was like, ‘Don’t come near me with that costume!’ Because her country would not be OK with it. It’s kind of cool to have that conversation.

Definitely. That’s funny, though. Miss Uruguay…

She was so mad.

Did the people of Canada support it?

For sure the cannabis industry was very supportive of it. We thought the public would be 50/50 about it. But, actually, we saw about 95 percent of people supported it. I had a lot of positive comments, a lot of people thanked me for touching base on it. More people are accepting of cannabis now and were very happy that I was using my voice to spread the message about ending the stigma that surrounds it

How did you come to working with designer Neftali Espinoza?

Neftali is pretty well known in the pageant industry; he’s actually made Canada’s costume for Miss Universe for a couple of years. He does Miss Nicaragua, too. My director is also a good friend of his. The design changed a couple of times, as we wanted to work together with my team and the designer to create something we all liked. I thought it was a good finished product.

You focused your Miss Universe campaign on ending stigmas including mental illness and cannabis. Why is it important that you use your platform to highlight difficult conversations? 

I think it’s important to talk about these issues and use my platform for these conversations — especially since Miss Universe is such a high-profile, international pageant. I’ve been competing in pageants for seven years and during that time, I’ve learned what I’m passionate about.

My uncle suffers from schizophrenia, so ever since I was a kid, I’ve been surrounded by mental illness. I always thought it was important to talk about it — especially with social media being so prominent today.

Alyssa Boston repping Canada and cannabis. PHOTO | Miss Universe Organization

You started the #TalkAboutMe movement on social media to spark discussion around mental health. Can you tell me a little more about that?

When I hang out with my uncle in public, a lot of people are really rude to him because they don’t understand that he suffers from mental illness. I don’t think people are understanding and they are not open to accepting that. If someone had a physical disability, they’d be more lenient to help them. But a mental disability is not as apparent to some people and they don’t treat them properly.

It sparked my interested in creating a movement about just talking about what’s going on in your life, especially using social media. Lots of celebrities use hashtags in their movements that open people’s eyes. Competing in Miss Universe means I could reach a greater scale of people to talk about mental illness. With the #TalkAboutMe hashtag, a lot of people have been like messaging me, telling me about their experiences with mental illness and how they want to talk to somebody about it. I wanted to shine a light on the fact it’s OK to not be OK — and that it’s OK to talk about what’s going on here in your life. That is definitely a rising issue that I wanted to use my platform to talk about.

Speaking of celebrities… Some of the biggest celebrity stoners are Canadian; Tommy Chong, Seth Rogen and the Trailer Park Boys. Have any of them reached out to you about cannabis?

I haven’t talked to any of them. But I’m going to an event at a cannabis company in a month and Tommy Chong is going to be there. So I’ll definitely get to meet him there and hopefully, we can talk about some cannabis. David Spade mentioned the costume on his talk show. And Steve Harvey liked it when we were at Miss Universe and he saw my costume.

Alyssa Boston, Miss Canada 2019. PHOTO | Supplied

You recently toured Aphria, Canada’s largest grow facility. How did it happen? Did anything on the tour surprise you?

I want to learn a lot more about the largest cannabis firms operating here in Canada. A friend of mine knew somebody that worked there, so I talked to my team and pitched the idea to Aphria to do a video tour. So, the CEO took us on a tour. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe how many people worked there. And the smell when you walk in is so strong!

You hold a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Do you have any plans to launch your own line of cannabis?

I’m very interested in being an entrepreneur. I have a business background, so I’m very interested to learn more about how the cannabis industry went from being illegal to legal. I’m feeling out the industry right now but it’s definitely something I want to look into in the future. For now, I’m just doing as many events as possible, public speaking as much as I can. And hopefully, I meet the right people and create my own line.

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