Everything You Need to Know About Pipe-Weed, Death Sticks, and Other Made-Up Drugs


Yeah, yeah—Earth has a ton of substances that can numb and distract us from the excruciating pain of existence. They’re fine. But you know what would be better? If we could take drugs from the magical worlds of fantasy and science fiction! Please, join me in my TARDIS for an exceedingly questionable survey of the ways people get fucked up in fantasy novels, sci-fi movies, and that part of Universal Studios that looks like Hogsmeade.

The Lord of the Rings

There are an infinite number of annoying things about Tolkien nerds (stop speaking Sindarin, unless you are actually as elegant and erudite as the High Elves of the Undying Lands, which you are not), but number one with a bullet are their jokes about pipe-weed. Also known as “Halflings’ Leaf,” and with a particular strain known as “Old Toby,” pipe-weed was enjoyed by Hobbits all over the Shire because they were dull-witted deadbeats who, aside from literally only five of them, accomplished nothing of worth in their entire useless existence.

That’s all canon (pretty much), but what isn’t canon is people snickering whenever a Hobbit sparks up a pipe or zones out staring at Gandalf’s smoke rings. “Get it?” nerds giggle, except in Sindarin. “Pipe-weed is like weed!” Yes, we get it, and no, Tolkien didn’t mean for it to be weed. Tolkien was square as hell. But if partaking in Old Toby will get you to shut up about second breakfast, by all means, please.

The Stormlight Archive

Drugs aren’t a huge part of Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy series (Start with The Way of Kings! See you in three years!), but wine plays a role in the narrative—yellow wine has practically no alcohol in it, and thus no reason to exist, while violet wine will seriously fuck you up. Since reading about wine in any context is incredibly boring, Sanderson also includes a few other intoxicants, like firemoss, which smokes when you rub it between your fingers, and the Thrill—a bloodlust that turns warriors’ vision red, filling them with fury and an unquenchable thirst for slaughter. Uh, I’ll stick with firemoss, thanks.

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Hundreds of Students March to City Hall on Anniversary of Columbine Shooting

Kelly Kenoyer

Roughly 300 high school and middle school students from across Portland showed up at Portland City Hall this morning, calling on lawmakers to enact stricter gun control laws across the country. The student walkout—which took place in cities across the country today—coincides with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. It's the second major protest organized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students since a gunman killed 17 of their classmates on February 14.

Despite warnings from Portland Public Schools that students will received an unexcused absence if they leave campus today (and that Portland Police won't protect them), hundreds of students joined in today's walkout.

We followed the students as they trekked through downtown—beginning at city hall and ending at Pioneer Courthouse Square—to hear why they decided to skip class today and what kind of changes they'd like to see at the state legislature.

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The Leafly Guide to Cannabis Is Dope


Leafly is an app and website that, along with Weedmaps, should be fairly well-known to cannabis consumers, whether they be medical or recreational. Based in Seattle, Leafly is great for finding nearby dispensaries, and can show you the menus, prices, and customer reviews of individual businesses and their products. And Leafly’s super popular, receiving 13 million monthly visitors and 40 million page views on both its app and website platforms combined. Yet for many, myself included, the real value lies in Leafly’s “News,” “Strains,” and “Products” sections.

The content in the "News" section is well researched and written—a great way to keep up with all that’s happening around the globe with cannabis. But the “Strains” and “Products” sections are goldmines of information. With “Strains,” you can sort through hundreds, if not thousands, of types of herb, and filter your search by strain name, medical conditions, “moods & activities,” and nearly a hundred other filters. With user reviews and rundowns of benefits and effects, it’s a comprehensive repository of information that you would otherwise need a number of different sites to compile. The “Products” section is similarly useful.

Now Leafly has assembled a “book,” which, for the post-millenials, is like a super analog Kindle, from which you can consume content, but it uses dead tree pulp to make “pages” that you “turn” using your “fingers.” It’s kind of like swiping. Ask your parents.

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There's Marijuana Growing in Mills End Park

Hey, bud!
Hey, bud! Alex Zielinski

Portland's resident tiny park has fully embraced 4/20.

A wee marijuana plant was spotted this morning in Mill Ends Park, poking up among the the colorful pansies currently blooming in the World's Smallest Park. An anonymous tipster emailed us about the plant around 10:30 am, and when we went to check it out ourselves at noon, it was still standing tall.

Mill Ends, which sits in the middle of SW Natio near its intersection with SW Taylor, is no stranger to solidarity. And for some delightful reason, I specifically have written about it a lot. In 2011, during the heyday of Occupy Portland, I wrote about someone setting up a tiny campsite with protest signs to officially Occupy Mill Ends.


A New International Harvester Box Set Illuminates Their Droning Rock Freakouts

Silence Records

In the late ’60s, a group of Swedish hippies got together to attempt to play a rock ’n’ roll version of the minimalist, droning music pioneered by avant-garde composer Terry Riley. First calling themselves Pärson Sound, then International Harvester, members of those bands later went on to become Träd, Gräs och Stenar (“Trees, Grass, and Stone”), a more conventional rock-jam band that became a fulcrum of the eclectic, left-wing movement of Swedish music known as progg—not to be confused with prog.

But before that happened, International Harvester released a pair of strange, dark, droning albums: 1968’s Sov Gott Rose-Marie and, under the shortened name Harvester, 1969’s Hemåt. A new, five-LP box set from Sweden’s Silence Records collects both albums along with a bevy of contemporaneous recordings, and they sound as arrestingly batty today as they must have in the late ’60s.

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Tips to Take the Edge Off When You’re Too High

Jason Sturgill

One beautiful Saturday, I was lying on the couch in my living room playing guitar solos. I’d just eaten a piece of weed brownie the size of my thumbnail and my evening plans included nothing but guitar skronk noises and maybe ordering Thai at some point. Then my phone rang and holy shit my best friend was back in town! She’d been traveling for months so I got on my bike and rode over to her house where she immediately started telling me she was breaking up with her long-term boyfriend so she could date a travelling circus guy. It was at that point, sitting on the floor of her room, I remembered the brownie. Oh no, the brownie, I thought. I was really fucking high.

My friend stalked her room, listing the reasons her current relationship wasn’t working, and I pulled a heavy art book off her bookshelf. I began turning its massive, colorful pages—hoping that somehow the art would calm me. I do not remember anything concrete about the book. I only remember an unreasonable terror that I was about to ruin an important friendship because I was so thoughtlessly stoned.

I bet the whole internal ordeal that felt so epic to me lasted 10 minutes, tops. I looked up, interrupting her. “Hey, I have to confess something,” I said. “I ate a weed brownie before I came over—before I knew you were back in town—and I haven’t understood anything you’ve said since I got here.”

“Oh,” she laughed. “You’re so stoned.”


I like to use cannabis responsibly, but I have, as evidenced by this anecdote, misjudged my tolerance from time to time. Although the heart-racing panic of feeling way too stoned never seems to lessen with frequency, I have developed some approaches for calming down or managing my high when things have gone, as the professionals say, all higgledy-piggledy.

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Today Is My Last Day at the Mercury. Bye!!!

Im Photoshopped onto New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers here, but this is really what my desk looks like.
I'm Photoshopped onto New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers here, but this is really what my desk looks like. Suzette Smith

Dearest Readers,

After almost four years of dedicated feminist rants and the only job that has ever taken full advantage of my multiple dubiously useful arts degrees, today is my last day at the Mercury. I KNOW. It's sad. We're all feeling a lot right now. But don't cry! I'm starting a new job at The Seattle Times next week, so I'm not going far, and because I have a hard time with transitions, I am keeping my Portland hair colorist, so I'll be back regularly. (I guess it's time to get real about that too: I'm only kind of naturally blonde. Sorry to disappoint everyone who called me "Blonde Alison" for the first three months at my job.)

When I started at the Mercury, I set up an email folder called "Praise and Grudging Respect," and friends, IT RUNNETH OVER. I have made so many old men SO, SO MAD. I have disappointed many a brocialist. I once even received a hand-written admonishment of Tonya Harding in full-on serial killer script. I've also gotten to do so many things at the Mercury that I can't imagine getting away with elsewhere.

I got to write a cover story that was really just a lengthy personal essay about how single I am and how much I love ballet and how afraid of death I was when I turned 30.

Back when we still did Worst Night Ever, I was sent to a witchy camp-out for followers of the goddess in Vernonia, where I lived out my Mists of Avalon and Loreena McKennitt-derived dreams, even though I was supposed to have a terrible time.

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How to Make Cannabis Extract at Home with the Source Turbo

Mercury Staff

Cannabis is often consumed in its unprocessed form—smoked or vaped as a bud, mostly—but that certainly isn’t the only way to partake. For a lot of medical cannabis patients, and for those adverse to smoking, something that contains a concentrated version of cannabis is preferable. Think tinctures, topicals, and concentrates, which in some cases can also offer greater potency.

You can make any of those at home fairly easily. (Insert obligatory disclaimer that making concentrates at home using butane is a great way to end up as an 11 o’clock news story called “Local Dipshit Making Hash Oil Blows Up Self, House.” Don’t use butane outside of a regulated, professionally overseen production facility, ever.)

But “fairly easily” is relative, and time, effort, and the quality of your final product are all considerations. Which is why many forgo making their own tinctures and edibles for the same reason many forgo brewing their own beer—it can be messy and time-consuming, you need lots of equipment, strong smells can ensue, and so on.

I’ve made cannabis tinctures and water-extracted concentrates with varying degrees of success for years. But stirring a pound of weed trimmings in a five-gallon bucket filled with ice water for 10 minutes straight loses its charm quickly, and the alcohol tinctures I’ve made resulted in a effective potion, yes, but one that blended the flavors of a garbage bin of lawn trimmings with a hint of burning feet.

On the flipside, cost is a big factor in purchasing premade cannabis tinctures and concentrates. Taxes and other high-cost regulations placed upon the cannabis industry lead to a much higher price for a finished product than what you would make at home. And hobby recreational growers, especially those with plants grown outdoors, often end up with Ziploc bags of surplus bud and trim that they can’t use.

I was intrigued by a new product by Colorado-based company ExtractCraft, who make the Source Turbo. What's that? (Deep breath.)

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Food & Wine Calls Portland "America's Next Great Pizza City"

Pizza Jerk
Pizza Jerk Natalie Behring

Ask any Portland old-timer and they'll tell you that the major food conversation of the early '00s revolved around the lack of decent pizza. They would pine longingly for the New York or Chicago-style slices of their pasts—and frankly? It got a little annoying! But oh, what a difference a decade makes, because now on the tail-end of the city's restaurant boom, Food & Wine magazine has a new article titled, Portland Is America's Next Great Pizza City.

Singing the praises of Portland's pizza chefs of today, the article covers most of the city's hottest places to score pie, including veterans such as Ken's Artisan Pizza, Apizza Scholls, and Escape from New York, as well as newer models like Lovely's Fifty Fifty, Baby Doll Pizza, and Pizza Jerk. Charred pie entrepreneur and Apizza Scholls founder Brian Spangler talked at length in the article about educating the public on his particular style of pie, and pizza's growth in the market:

"Today's scene is nothing like it was 10 years ago. There are a ton more pizzerias now—options for all kinds of palates, whether it be a pizza's style or toppings. Portland consumers are on the winning end due to the increased competition, which only leads to better quality across the board. If someone doesn’t like my style, they'll most likely finding their favorite somewhere else in town. I think that’s awesome."

Check out the article, it's packed with interesting stuff and will surely get you salivating for a slice a pie—and perhaps the best way to experiment and fill your belly is by taking advantage of the Mercury's Pizza Week which features over 30 slices from Portland's best pizza makers... and for only $2 each! Whaaat? BUT HURRY! The last day to enjoy Pizza Week is TOMORROW, Saturday April 21!

Timbers v. New York City Match Preview

Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers got their first win of the season in their home debut last weekend against Minnesota United, but the degree of difficulty will be ratcheted up on Sunday afternoon when league-leading New York City comes calling (3:00 p.m., TV on Fox Sports 1).

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Your Weekly Food and Drink News Round-Up: Do You Want That With or Without Charcoal?

Its free taco Friday at Taco Pedaler.
It's free taco Friday at Taco Pedaler. Melanie McClure

Happy Friday, everyone! Here’s a couple of quick PSAs to get you started on your long (possibly cannabis-fueled) weekend.

First things first: The Mercury’s Pizza Week 2018 is drawing to a close this weekend, so this is your last reminder that Saturday’s the final day to take advantage of $2 slices at 34 pizzerias scattered across town. Good timing, too. As the week kicked off, Food & Wine named Portland “America’s Next Great Pizza City.”

And speaking of screaming food deals: The new Taco Pedaler in the old Pollo Norte space on NE 42nd is celebrating its grand opening today, and to thank you for your patronage, it’s giving away one free taco to the first 100 eaters who step up to the counter. RUN.

Chef Swaps: Right now, several kitchens are getting the proverbial shakeup. Here’s what’s new: As Eater reported last week, Verdigris' Johnny Nunn is replacing himself with former Tanner Creek Tavern chef Trevor Payne while he focuses on his new Italian joint, Corzetti. Replacing Payne is Nel Centro-by-way-of-Napa Valley chef, Jeff Larson. Also, per Eater, Farm Spirit’s Aaron Adams has promoted his understudy, Kei Ohdera, into the executive chef’s role while he focuses on the business model. And PoMo reported that Scott Dolich has stepped back into the kitchen at Park Kitchen following the departure of David Sapp.

This week, our crack reporting team signaled that the workers at a second Burgerville, this one in Gladstone, has voted to have the National Labor Relations Board recognize their workers’ union, too. The plot thickens. Also in this week: Our critic, Andrea Damewood, took a deep enough dive into the current “charcoal is a natural detoxer, which is why we’re adding it to some of our dishes” craze that seemed to have gripped Portland restaurants in its grubby grasp. Her takeaway? After interviewing a naturopath and a professor, Portland’s charcoal-mania is a trend that should and will eventually pass because, according to the professionals, adding charcoal to foods and drinks is quite likely misguided.

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Good Morning, News: Weed Day, Student Walkouts 2.0, and Rudy Giuliani's Back?


Good Morning, Portland.

It's 4/20, ya stoners!



High & Mighty: Ol' Chuck Schumer, the Senate's top democrat, has officially become the first member of Congress to endorse federal legalization of marijuana. In an interview with VICE, the Senate minority leader said he will submit a bill that will decriminalize marijuana.

Green Light: An FDA advisory committee has unanimously recommended the use of a plant-derived cannabidiol medicine for epilepsy patients—making it the first marijuana-based drug approved for prescription use in the US.

ICYMI: This week's Mercury is all about weeeeeeed. A potpurri of dope articles about what to do when you're TOO HIGH, DIY cannabis extractions, and chronic uses for chronic pain.


Walkouts Continue: April 20 is also the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. To commemorate this tragedy, students organizers from Parkland, Florida have traveled to the Colorado campus to hold a rally calling for tighter gun control laws. They've also helped organize students across the country to participate in yet another national school walkout—and Portland high schools are joining in.

Election drama: An update on the lawsuit against Multnomah County Comissioner Loretta Smith on her city council run.

This Charming Man: The US Department of Justice released redacted versions of the memos former FBI Director James Comey took after interacting with President Donald Trump. Highlights: Trump is very interested in Russian prostitutes and wants to jail reporters to teach others a lesson. Great news.

You've Got Mail: Lance Armstrong agreed on a $5 million settlement with the feds over a lawsuit that could cost him $100 million in damages. The charges specifically come from the U.S. Postal Service, which had sponsored Armstrong's team. The federal agency argued that Armstrong defrauded taxpayers by accepting millions from the USPS while secretly using steroids during his races.

Today in That Guy, Huh: Rudy Giuliani is one of the few lawyers who has agreed to join President Donald Trump's legal team. Related:

Crazy Idea: Illinois lawmakers are pushing a measure that would financially reward schools that replace armed security guards and campus officers with unarmed behavioral health specialists and social workers.

So Long, Castro Cuba: It's the first time in nearly 60 years that a Castro is not the president of Cuba. Miguel Díaz-Canel has been sworn in as Cuba's newest leader, replacing Raúl Castro. He previously served as Cuba's vice president—and remains a staunch opponent to capitalism.

Money Moves: Arizona teachers—the lowest-paid teachers in the country—have voted to walk off the job to protest low wages, large class sizes, and generally shitty support (read: crumbling classrooms, sub-par supplies). It'll be the first statewide teacher walkout in Arizona history.

Your Weekend Longread: The kidnapping of a 11-year-old girl on Navajo territory has revealed serious problems at the axis of tribal sovereignty and police funding.

Pickathon Starlight Series, Episode 7: Wolf People (Featuring Reine Fiske of Dungen)

Emmanuel Cairo

We've been awfully lucky to host monthly highlights from Portland's Pickathon festival with our ongoing Starlight Series, which features standout performances from the most recent installation of the festival. But today's video is something really special indeed—perhaps the single most personally electrifying moment that I've experienced in (my god) 10 years of attending the festival. I don't know if every last ounce of its magic translates to video, but I'm very pleased to be sharing it all the same.

During their second visit to Pickathon last summer, English rock band Wolf People played a triumphant, howling set on the Starlight Stage. But it kicked into a stratospheric level when guitarist Reine Fiske of Swedish band Dungen joined them for an extended rendition of "All Returns" that became a triple-dervish of fretwork and riffage. Perhaps the best part was seeing the big grins on Wolf People's faces as one of their legitimate heroes and inspirations happily entered their tangled scrum of guitars, and seeing all five musicians improvise the lengthy jam at the end is something pretty wonderful to behold.

This is just one of the many great things about the Pickathon festival—there are collaborations and one-offs that you simply can't see anywhere else. Wolf People with Reine Fiske was a pretty unforgettable experience for those who witnessed it last year, and this year is sure to afford similar opportunities for spontaneous moments of magic. The festival recently announced some new additions to its lineup, including Shovels and Rope, Sheer Mag, Sunflower Bean, I'm with Her, Rasheed Jamal, and others, so head over to Pickathon's site for the full lineup and to get tickets for this summer's fest.

Check out previous episodes of our ongoing Pickathon Starlight Series:
• Episode 1: Marlon Williams
• Episode 2: Brent Cobb
• Episode 3: Huun-Huur-Tu
• Episode 4: William Tyler
• Episode 5: Jalen N'Gonda
• Episode 6: The Last Artful, Dodgr

Lawsuit Against Comissioner Loretta Smith Moves Forward—Slowly

Comissioner Loretta Smith
Comissioner Loretta Smith Multnomah County

The lawsuit alleging that Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith needs to resign in order to run for Portland City Council has been temporarily dismissed. But it's not dead yet.

The case hinges on what qualifies as "running" for a political position—is it a candidate's announcement of intent, or an official filing with the secretary of state? Seth Woolley, the man behind the suit, argues that because Smith began campaigning to fill outgoing City Comissioner Dan Saltzman's city council seat last year, she's required to give up her current seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.

This morning, Woolley's case went before Judicial Officer Michael Greenlick, who dismissed the case due to a technical issue with the filing, though it's likely to be right back in court soon. “What this does is [Greenlick] dismisses the original and he says come right back with a new writ," Woolley says, "then it goes back to the same judge and the same process with an extra 10 days to respond.”

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Portland’s Problematic Government Is Still Problematic


Mayor Ted Wheeler is feeling increasingly iffy about his role at the Portland Police Bureau.

“One of the great oddities of our form of government is that I am... maybe the only person in the United States who is both a mayor and the police commissioner,” Wheeler said at last week’s city council meeting. “And I will write a book on this subject someday, because it is fraught with peril and contradictions.”

It may be the only thing Wheeler and his critics agree on: That the guy elected on a platform of police reform shouldn’t also be running the police bureau’s internal operations.

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