I recently produced an event—of which the Portland Mercury was a media partner—called Toke Talks. And while I used the magic that is social media (#pleasecometomyeventorIwilldie), I also recognize that not every single person with an interest in cannabis is on Facebook or Instagram. Some people still get their information through old-fashioned analog channels. And few things are as analog as pole-postering.
It had been a while since I’d done it, but I grabbed a stack of 500 11- by 17-inch posters, two boxes of staples, and an industrial staple gun, and hit the mean streets of Portland. I did this for three days, and my Fitbit (shut up, it was a gift) calculated that I had walked nearly 40 miles in that time.
Good for me, but hauling a 20-plus pound bag around for that long resulted in aggravated murder on my back and legs. I’ve never had back pain that made every step a new stereophonic experience in agony. To say I was hobbling would be an understatement. I vaped a combo of strains, but wasn’t getting much in the way of relief. (High? Yes, I was getting high.)
So it reframes the term “fortuitous timing” that one day into my excursion in Painville, I had a package delivered by the good people at Leif Goods (formerly Leif Medicinals) with two new products under their new brand, Physic, bearing the oh-so-Northwestern names Field Balm and Wood Balm.
I’ve tried a wide variety of topical cannabis products and gotten mixed results, although two standouts—Luminous Botanicals and Empower Oils—have never let me down. And lord knows I have a soft spot in my heart for Leif Goods’ edibles. But this was some serious pain, and I questioned whether his balms would be able to help, as I was nearing the stage where an opioid pill might be my best shot of finding some relief.
First off, the Physic balms look great. The packaging and presentation is beautiful, and would look at home at any of the chichi boutiques I passed while postering on Southeast Division and Northwest 23rd—the ones that carry items I can rarely afford.
They also smell great, and if I had been a tad more stoned, I would have tried eating them, as the Field Balm has lavender and bergamot, while the Wood Balm contains cedarwood and orange.
Physic’s website breaks it down—the products are 100 percent organic, plant based, vegan, and bee free. (Which is great, as nothing throws off a topical like finding out it’s filled with dead bees, or worse, live bees.) They contain the addition of arnica flower and aromatherapeutic essential oils. Arnica flower is a strong topical pain reliever I’ve used in other non-cannabis products, so I had some hope. Leif Goods states that the balms are suitable for not only skin conditions such as eczema, dry skin, and mild irritations, but also pain relief of the kind I was experiencing.
I slathered some on and winced over to the couch. A few minutes passed, and I started to feel a mild relaxation in my muscles. Ten minutes later, I was able to stand up without making wounded coyote sounds. Within the hour, I could navigate stairs with a laundry basket.
One thing the Physic balms did not do was get me high. In my experience, that’s one of the most common misconceptions about cannabis topicals—that a substantial application is going to get you stoned. I had zero impairment, and continued liberal applications every hour for the rest of the day.
The next morning, I was able to regain mobility, and the stabbing pain had been downgraded to a mild ache. I stuck with hourly applications of the stuff, along with vaping some high-CBD flower. By the morning of the third day, I had no issues with my back.
Leif Goods’ Carrie Solomon told me that Physic will be launching a full product line in the coming months. While I hope to never need them again, I plan to keep some on hand for friends and family with chronic pain issues. And with god as my witness, I will never pole-poster again.