Cannabis fans are freaking out for the eclipse
This Summer’s stoniest special event isn’t a concert, festival or Cannabis Cup. In fact, it’s not even (technically) taking place on this planet—though we Earthlings will be privy to an amazing view.
On August 21, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible in the mainland United States for the first time since February 1979. The eclipse’s 73-mile wide “path of totality”-- or total darkness -- comes ashore at Lincoln Beach, Oregon and makes its way across the country to Charleston, South Carolina.
Many within the cannabis community have mobilized to make the most of this rare opportunity. None more so than San Francisco resident Clint Werner, author of Marijuana: Gateway to Health and a serious eclipse chaser who hasn’t missed a total eclipse anywhere on Earth since 1994, and plans to catch each one for the rest of his life. Calling his travels “shamanic pilgrimages” in search of “peak experiences,” Werner has journeyed as far and wide as Mongolia, Zambia, Antarctica, the Arctic Circle, Fiji and, most recently, Borneo in search of “the absolute awe and amazement that an eclipse inspires.”
So what makes witnessing an eclipse such an ideal cannabis pairing?
“Marijuana sometimes encourages shifting thoughts from the commonplace to the metaphysical, and that can also enhance the total solar eclipse experience,” Werner explains, “Each eclipse is, for me, a mandala of cosmic intentionality. Marijuana enhances my reflection on existence and our relationship to the Universe and infinity, while a total solar eclipse gives form and expression through nature to those stoney musings.”
Below, GreenState collects the most heady eclipse events in the nation.
ALL ABOUT OREGON
Oregon sits the center of America’s cannabis-eclipse intersection in more ways than one. The path of totality comes ashore in one of the most robust of America’s eight legalization states.
Joy Beckerman, founding president at Washington Hemp Industries Association and member of the National Board of Directors at NORML tells GreenState that “masses of folks will be heading straight to Oregon from the 26th Annual Seattle Hempfest” Aug. 18-20.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates sales of both alcohol and cannabis, has advised all marijuana stores to order extra supplies in advance of the eclipse to make sure there’s no weed shortages when an estimated one million tourists descend on the state. A dispensary called Oregon’s Finest told local KGW in Portland that in addition to stocking up, they’ll also be offering customers special eclipse glasses, along with recommending Moon Puppies—a hybrid strain of Chem Dog and Lemon Skunk—to enhance skygazing. The state of Oregon even activated its National Guard to respond to crowd issues and potential fires.
- Oregon Eclipse Festival
The likely best pairing happens at the Oregon Eclipse Festival, a massive, week-long music and arts gathering at Big Summit Prairie, a private ranch located in Oregon's Ochoco National Forest.
Chosen by organizers for its ideal viewing conditions—including a “big sky” and being outside Oregon’s “fog belt”—the typically remote location (16 miles as the crow flies from the nearest neighbor) will draw tens of thousands of revelers to a large prairie surrounded by old growth forest and bordering a 52-acre lake. A once-in-a-lifetime collaboration of eleven different festival creators from around the world, the event will also feature lectures and seminars on how best to optimize your eclipse, and one of the most high-profile electronic music line-ups of any US music festival this summer, including Bassnectar, String Cheese Incident, STS9, Polish Ambassador, Shpongle, OPIUO, Emancipator, Random Rab, Beats Antique, and many more performing on seven stages.
Promoters even produced this totally trippy web video (featuring a talking unicorn, of course) to explain what exactly to expect when the moon moves fully in front of the sun.
- The Stoner Eclipse
Meanwhile, Portland’s High 5 Tours will host “The Stoner Eclipse,” taking tourists and locals alike on a three-day cannabis-infused road trip that includes roundtrip transportation (6-hours each way) to a special “eclipse camp” in Unity, Oregon—with cannabis tastings (supplied by Homegrown Apothecary) and education along the way.
- Atlas Obscura Total Eclipse Festival
For a slightly “headier”gathering—with a side of Sun Ra Orchestra—check out the Atlas Obscura Total Eclipse Festival, organized by the popular highbrow travel magazine, which will be held on private land in Eastern Oregon’s Snake River Valley and will feature “celebrated scientists, writers, musicians and explorers.”
THE REST OF THE NATION
We got to be honest -- outside of Oregon, the path of totality generally traces an arc through cannabis prohibition country. Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina? Total bummer states when it comes to cannabis law reform.
- Athens, Georgia
That said, on the East Coast, the liberal college town of Athens, Georgia sits just outside the path of totality, but may be the hippest place for many miles around to take in the eclipse.
Athens gave the world the best-selling indica strain ‘Green Crack’; originally dubbed ‘Mango’, ‘Lilly Coy’ or ‘Green Cush’ before rapper Snoop Dogg re-branded it. You’ll have to get high in secret, but the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium will be open for an eclipse viewing party. Also apropos -- the state botanical garden in Athens holds an event.
- Nashville, Tennessee
Lastly, the hard-partying country music town of Nashville, Tennessee decriminalized personal possession of cannabis in 2016. In 2017, the state legislature voided Nashville decriminalization, but the city remains a quasi-refuge for southern heads.
It’s a fair bet that closeted cannabis fans will find a way to space out at the space phenomena at events like the Howl At the Moon Indie Music Festival - a "Woodstock type" event where 40 artists perform over three days with food, drink, and camping in the natural outdoor Thomson Place. Tennessee also has eleven state parks which will experience full totality and relatively low law enforcement presence per square mile.
Eclipse ProTips for the High-Minded
Anyone can enjoy the eclipse where they are, even under partial totality. Here’s a few tips for getting your herb-friendly friends together and joining the cannabis community in making the most of this highly-inspiring cosmic event:
- Just Stay Put
Werner says he’s been warning weed friends for more than a year to make their travel plans well in advance of August 21st, as the roads will be clogged for days leading up to the eclipse and many hotels, campgrounds and Airbnb’s in the path of totality are either long-booked or jacking up their prices. So while stoners may love to be spontaneous, Aug. 21 is not the day. (The next total solar eclipse in America will be in April 2024 -- so you can get a jump on that one.)
Multiple jurisdictions are declaring states of emergency to handle the crush of tourists. According to reports, Nebraska might get more tourists than in any other time in its history.
From Carbondale, IL, to Perryville Missouri, to Clarksville, Tennessee, to Casper, Wyoming, the internet is awash in stories about small towns and local homeowners in the path of the eclipse looking to cash in. According to Forbes, airbnb says “35 percent of the houses listed for the night of the eclipse will be hosting for the first time ever,” with about 31,000 arrivals booked (compared to 11,000 a year earlier.) While Cheapair confirms a “near 100 percent increase” for airfares that weekend to optimal viewing locations.
- Gather Your Tribe
Probably nowhere on the planet will draw more high-minded “woke” wookies together for the eclipse than the Oregon Eclipse Festival, but wherever you decide to plant your feet for the big show, much like the herb itself, it’s best enjoyed with like-minded friends you can ooh and aah with.
- Create a Ceremony
Throughout history, eclipses have enhanced our understanding of the cosmos and led to strange rituals and historical events. Embrace this scientific and spiritual vibe by creating your own celebratory ceremony, or join in on an existing one, like the group of pot activists planning to burn cannabis oil inside the nation’s largest Roman Catholic church in Washington DC during the peak of the solar eclipse.
-- Select Your Strains (and Roll Your Joints) Well in Advance
The entire eclipse process lasts about two hours, but totality—when things get really trippy and it’s possible to look directly at the sun without any protective glasses—is over in about two minutes. You’ll want to have you weed game well worked out in advance. Set aside something special now, and roll up joints for everyone in your crew individually, so you can puff in peace at the peak without worrying about packing a bowl or passing a blunt when things get really psychedelic.
- Embrace Space/Time Distortion
A recent study by researchers at Yale looked at “distorted time perception,” one of the proven effects of cannabis, which basically means that when people get stoned they tend to experience time as moving slower than it actually passes. The study concluded that “a psychoactive dose of THC increases internal clock speed as indicated by time overestimation and underproduction. This effect is not dose-related, and is blunted in chronic cannabis smokers, who did not otherwise have altered baseline time perception.”
Translation: Getting stoned immediately before the eclipse will not only increase your sensory perception of the celestial event’s trippiest visual and psychological phenomenon, it will also make the whole fleeting experience seems like it’s lasting a lot longer. To heighten these effects, maybe take a break from cannabis for a day or two in advance of August 21st. The break will decrease your tolerance and thereby increase cannabis’ subjective effects.
- Enhance Your Eyesight
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Moroccan fisherman who ingested copious amounts of cannabis showed “consistent improvements” in night vision while stoned, suggesting smoking the right strain just before the daytime sun goes dark could enhance the trippy visuals at play during totality.
[WARNING: Do not look directly at the sun without special eclipse glasses, or you can do permanent damage to your eyes.]
- Weed is All You Need
While your mileage may vary, of course, Werner suggests foregoing any heavy-duty psychedelic use during a total eclipse, since “the experience itself is so strange and bizarre and awe-inspiring.” In other words, tripping out during the trippiest natural phenomenon in the universe might be overkill—and counterproductive.
Elise McDonough is a California-based freelance writer, the author of The Official HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cookbook, and former Edibles Editor at High Times.
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