Three Cannabis Enthusiasts Reflect on Their Highs of the Year

The best moments weren’t so much about being stoned to the bone. They were about the connections we form in the community.

2023 was probably not the greatest year for cataloging best highs since, generally speaking, this era has been a nightmare. But shining moments of cannabis euphoria still occurred, though maybe not in the most expected ways.

For example, my best high of the year happened during Barbenheimer weekend. I was waiting for concessions with the squad, the theater overwhelmed by femme moviegoers in varying intensities of pink gear, when my edible activated. The staff was enthusiastic but wildly underprepared for the crowds, and as a result, my squad and I missed the first few minutes of Barbie. But rather than feeling annoyed, my edible distracted me by turning my attention to the experience I was sharing with all of those color-coordinated strangers. We were embracing bright pink femininity while reveling in our connections to Barbie, and therefore, each other, reflecting on our younger selves. It was, in so many ways, one of the highlights of my year.

And despite this year’s challenges, I was able to score stories about favorite cannabis moments from an industry admin, a trippy Portland artist, and even a PDX expat and former WW contributor whose weed writing has made them a global icon. Spoiler alert: In 2023, the best highs weren’t so much about being stoned to the bone. They were about the connections we form in the community, so pass the theoretical dutchie already and let’s keep that energy going for 2024.

Jonny Sischo, director of retail for Oregrown Industries, @oregrown

This holiday season, we picked 16 kids off of the Salvation Army giving tree list to provide clothing, shoes, art supplies and toys for them this Christmas. We created an in-store fundraiser in which we matched all donations given by customers to help purchase these gifts. Last year, we had 12 kids and are super thankful for the contributions put forth this year by our loyal customer base to be able to buy gifts to support four additional little ones.

We are always trying to do our best to give back to our communities, be it road cleanups, beach cleanups, pollinator planting park projects, or fundraisers for the Humane Society, Q Center, Out Central Oregon, or drinking water relief for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Our hope in giving back will inspire other companies and individuals to do the same to make the places we live in more enjoyable for everyone. Take care of your communities and they will, in turn, take care of you.

Caitlin Donohoe, author of Weed: Cannabis Culture in the Americas, @byrdwatch

I live in Mexico, where at the federal level, cannabis has found itself in a very frustrating legal gray area (sound familiar?). Still, prohibition’s lingering stench only made my trip to Querétaro for a national women’s cannabis conference more special—particularly the last night of its all-women growers cannabis cup, Copa Santa María.

As a presenter, I got to sample the flowers being judged—strains from all over the country that made it clear that, even if elected officials are dragging their feet when it comes to the rights of cannabis consumers, Mexican women haven’t let that stop them from cultivating absolutely delicious marijuana.

As the night wore on and we got higher and higher, a rainstorm tore open the sky, forcing everyone to pack into the tiny gazebo where the judges’ table was set up. After so many years of being marginalized by machismo in cannabis spaces, it felt very powerful to be elbow-to-elbow with Mexican weed celebs like Sisters of the Valley’s Sister Camilla and Victoria Xochipilli, sharing knowledge and generally getting stoned AF—a beautiful reminder of this plant’s ability to foster community and fuel resistance.

Steven Ochs, creator of immersive art installation Goose Cube, @qbist_style

So here I am, an artist/janitor—the mastermind behind Stereo Layering artwork and also the man ensuring The Portal [the nickname of Ochs’ Lake Oswego Airbnb, which houses his groundbreaking immersive art gallery] is clean for guests. The problem with only having the work at The Portal is my double life. I’m scrubbing away and then, *bam* I’m presenting my masterpieces to VIPs and quickly shooing them out before Airbnb guests arrive. It’s a high-pressure mix of crunch time, quizzes from important people, and the glamorous life of toilet cleaning that sends my stress levels into overdrive. So, what’s an artist to do? A little Rick Simpson Oil (for the uninitiated, a highly concentrated, highly potent, therapeutic-grade cannabis oil) to take the edge off, that’s what.

Picture this: I’m floating on a cloud of calm, armed with rubber gloves and a mop, when I managed to lock my car in the garage. There I was, having a full-on face-palm moment, thinking, “Great, now I’m stuck here like a modern-day Rapunzel, minus the hair and the prince.”

Plot twist: When the patron of the day came, rather than a raised eyebrow, I got a laugh that echoed off The Portal walls. So, when I thought my afternoon was dead in the water, he offered me a lift back to my place. In the end, we’re rolling down the road, sharing laughs and stories, and I’m thinking, “Maybe I should lock my car in the garage more often if it leads to adventures like this.”

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.