Using cannabis to cope with the holidays

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      (This article is sponsored by .)

      The holiday season can elevate anxiety levels, even for those with the most charming relatives. Fortunately, Vancouver’s mom-and-pop organic pot shop, , has some terrific products and gift ideas to take the edge off family get-togethers.

      “We’re here to help with that stress without you necessarily walking into a meal unable to keep your eyes open,” says cofounder Mike Babins with a chuckle.

      He and his wife, Maria Petrucci, founded the store two years ago at 2868 West 4th Avenue after they found that other dispensaries were often not able to help them when they had important questions. They encourage patrons to take their time and ask about everything from extracts to vaporizers.

      Babins points out one of those extracts from the cannabis plant, CBD, is very good for stress. It’s also not psychoactive. This means those who use it will keep their wits about them no matter who might be at that Christmas dinner table.

      He emphasizes the importance of visiting the shop and talking to the staff in advance of making any decisions, including about dosage.

      “We have quite a few members who work in public services, including the retail industry,” Babins says. “They’ll say to me ‘Today I had the most annoying customers all day long but I had taken a CBD capsule and they didn’t faze me at all. I just smiled, went on with my work, and did a better job because of it.’ ”

      What if someone wants to get high but doesn’t want to pass out on the couch?

      “You would go for a sativa, which is better for stress than indica is,” Babins responds. “It helps you focus. It helps you stay positive.”

      The next issue is how to consume your cannabis. Nowadays with modern vaporizers, tinctures, oils, and cannabis-infused bath products—which all make great gifts, by the way—there’s no reason for anyone to meet the relatives smelling like a character in a Cheech and Chong movie.

      When it comes to vaping, Babins and Petrucci are ideal teachers. They proudly explain that thanks to vaporizers, neither has actually “smoked” in over four years.

      “We only use vaporizers,” Babins said. “You’re getting all the flavours and positive effects of cannabis without the carcinogens from the smoke.”

      Evergreen obtains its cannabis from a small number of trusted craft growers who don’t use pesticides or artificial fertilizers. So combining these products with a vaporizer delivers the cleanest, safest effects. The store’s shatters (cannabis concentrates) are all PHO-based and butane-free.

      Babins proudly notes that Evergreen carries the lowest cost PAX 2 batttery-operated portable vape in the city. The shop also sells the brand-new PAX 3, which he describes as the “Cadillac of portable vaporizers”.

      “One of the best features is the minimal odour, which is gone in seconds,” Babins says. Then with a wink and a smile, he quips, “I may or may not have used a vaporizer in a movie theatre once or twice.”

      His preferred home model is the Arizer Extreme Q, a reliable, remote-controlled, made-in-Canada beauty. It comes at a quarter of the price of the far more costly German-made Volcano. “It’s a great gift idea for someone in their first college apartment, and it’s a life saver for anyone who recently moved into a non-smoking residence,” he says.

      Anyone who’s been smoking joints for years will have to get used to the transition to a vaporizer. Babins recommends that neophytes develop new rituals—and after a week, they’ll never go back.

      “It’s like switching from whole milk to skim,” he says. “The first day, the skim milk tastes like water. But a month later, the whole milk tastes like coffee cream.”

      If you’re going to have a Christmas dinner party with friends, you can liven things up by basting the turkey or the salad in cannabis-infused olive oil.

      “When we host parties, we go around to each person with a salad and say ‘How big a dose would you like?’ Then we measure it out for them individually, based on tolerance.”

      The couple has even produced a microdosing guide, which is available at Evergreen well in advance of New Year’s Eve. It teaches how to properly use capsules and a vaporizer to feel great all night while only having one or two drinks. An added benefit—no hangover!

      Petrucci is the in-house expert on cannabis-infused bath balms, soaps, and topicals. She says that bath products with THC increase that sense of relaxation. Some bath balms include another extract, CBD, which can help with pain relief and relax muscles.

      “We’ve had people come here on their way to Whistler,” Petrucci says. “They said they’re going to be throwing these bath balms in their jacuzzi after their skiing. That’s a great idea.”

      She confesses to being a fan of the organic sativa tinctures in the store, saying that when dosed properly they take the edge off without making her high.

      “It could help you with anxiety, ADHD, depression, and energy levels,” Petrucci says. “It’s a get-your-chores-done kind of product. You have energy. You’re alert. And it’s not euphoric or sedating unless you take too much. If you stay within your proper dose, you can use it consistently…and if you are looking for a more euphoric high you just need to take a larger dose!”

      Keep in mind that some tinctures with sativa and indica are in an alcohol base, whereas others are in coconut oil. The highly trained staff at Evergreen is always available to answer any questions about how each should be stored, as well as anything else on members’ minds.

      As for the true cannabis connoisseur, Babins recommends their “top-shelf” strains that are cured in-house for weeks—something no other local dispensary is doing. It takes extra time to bring out the terpenes, which makes for a much superior flavour. Babins suggests these high-end buds make a great gift for the “chroniseur” in your life.

      “We do the extra work that growers don’t have space or time to do. Think of it as sipping a single malt instead of a shot of Jack.”

      For more information, visit at 2868 West 4th Avenue at the corner of Macdonald Street in Kitsilano or call 604-900-1714. It’s accessible by the Number 2, Number 4, and Number 7 buses. Evergreen is holding its annual canned food drive, where every donation puts you in a draw to win great prizes.