Smoking herbs is as old a human tradition as, well, smoking cannabis. Our ancestors tossed flower petals and dried leaves into fires to alter their mood and perspective, much like we use cannabis to relieve stress and find inspiration now. And as research proliferates around the effects of the complex compounds found within this plant, so too does an understanding of what it has in common or in complement with other herbs.
So when Barbari, a lifestyle brand with an online boutique of cannabis accessories and mood-setting home decor, wanted to make a product that brought them inside the smoke circle, they realized that didn’t necessarily mean obtaining a license to grow or handle recreational marijuana.
Now the brand is most known for its smokable herbal blends: the restorative and relaxing Blend No. 1, with rose and blue lotus petals, raspberry leaf, lavender and sage, and the invigorating Blend No. 2, containing peppermint jasmine flower, raspberry leaf and sage. Their customers take the fragrant mixtures home with them and combine the herbs with ground up cannabis to roll a sort of botanical spliff.
Available at dispensaries and essentially meant to be smoked with cannabis, Barbari’s blends allow them to be a cannabis brand without requiring a license regulated by state authorities. They won’t have to worry about the illegality of doing business beyond Oregon, their home state. It’s a financially-savvy move made by many innovative brands hoping to enter the cannabis industry without the risk (and red tape) of being a business that touches state-regulated cannabis.
That being said, this approach means betting on that product becoming an integral part of pot-smoking sessions, often making this angle more of a financial risk. People want to smoke cannabis–that’s why they walked into a dispensary–so the odds are already against you in them purchasing something that doesn’t contain any. Barbari addressed that dynamic from a couple directions, marketing the many ways to use the herbal blends. Since they are comprised of food-grade materials, they’re safe to drink as loose-leaf tea or sprinkle into a bath for a fortified soak. A few pinches of the herbs can be used like incense to set an ambiance or deodorize a room. That versatility makes it an easier sell to consumers who can be preoccupied with the costly sales tax on cannabis.
Barbari’s blends also help to demystify the use of herbs beyond the culinary realm. These beautifully-packaged mixtures help remind people that cannabis is just another herb–a plant like coffee beans or arnica that we can use to enhance the quality of day-to-day moments.
Personally, I happen to be a cannabis enthusiast of the spliff variety, who’s had difficulty getting over the pleasant, stimulating combination of cannabis and tobacco. But I saw a magnificent light at the end of my tunnel of tobacco addiction with my first Barbari spliff. The added herbs created a different kind of burn than marijuana alone, one more akin to the sensation of smoking a traditional spliff–without the heaviness of tobacco. One with much more flavor, smoothness, and uplift. Turns out, I wasn’t the first to express excitement for a healthy tobacco substitute to complement cannabis to Barbari co-founders Meryl Montgomery and Valerie Šakota.
“The raspberry leaf–a base ingredient for both blends–is commonly used as a tobacco substitute by people trying to quit smoking,” says Montgomery, “not just because of how it burns, but because it has properties that can nullify a lot of toxins left behind by nicotine. The magic of herbs, right?”