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Photo by Jamie Lusch

Plain Jane hemp cigarettes

Plain Jane

Say you want to smoke a little bud but not get stoned and not create that strong pot odor. Or say you want to have a cigarette and get that relaxed feeling that seems to handle anxiety, but you don’t want nicotine and you don’t want to create that strong stench of tobacco.

There’s probably a market for something like that, thought two young, ambitious graduates from MIT — and they just opened a shop on Main Street in Medford as the launching pad for their hemp prerolls, which they call Plain Jane.

Get it?

It’s Mary Jane but plain: “smooth, clean, tasteless” and looks just like a normal ciggie, but it’s made of hemp.

The inspiration for developing the product came from student days at MIT, when roommates Duane Dennis, an operations research major with a mechanical engineering background, and Evan Marshall, a data analysis major, realized they couldn’t toke any cannabis product without being a pest to others.

From old-time growers, they’d heard about a water-cleaning process that could reduce the smell, but no one had tried it commercially. Using superchilled distilled water, CO2 and nitrogen gas, Dennis said, they refined the process and “removed the terps (terpenes), chlorophyll and random plant matter, making it 30 percent lighter by weight.”

The product delivers 50mg of CBD and less than .2 percent THC, so it won’t get you high and it’s legal to buy online.

Plain Jane prerolls come in two-packs for $2.99 and eight-packs for $10.99. The company also sells vape cartridges and bulk flower.

Marshall, the cyber wizard, markets through many sites online, with Instagram (tryplainjane on social media) being the main one. A consumer on IG, says Dennis, had a typical reaction, that “a wave of calmness comes over you.”

In addition, he adds, the product allows you to participate in the “ritual” of smoking at bars, parties, sports events — or just standing outside buildings — where it’s not normally allowed.

Ironically, this new smoking product can help you quit smoking tobacco, says Lindsey Holthaus, Plain Jane chief of budgeting, finance and legal, “because you can only pound people with the old stop-smoking warnings so much. This gives it a softer approach vaping has been a success because people have an oral fixation, and this is a good social ritual that satisfied that.”

CBD is known for having a range of healing properties, but Plain Jane makes no claims for its cigs — other than mentioning the benefits of CBD in general. Time will tell whether it brings the benefits of CBD-rich gummies, tinctures, oils, etc., which, they say, cost a lot more than their cigs.

They are working to build brand awareness, especially at colleges, and have reps on campuses in California and Massachusetts. They launched Plain Jane in Oakland, California, but picked the Rogue Valley for a base because, “Oregon has the most mature hemp program,” says Dennis, and has licensed hemp farmers since 2015 — the only West Coast state to do so.

The work takes place at an Eagle Point hemp farm and barn — and they also buy hemp from local grows.

Another target demographic, he adds, is baby boomers, now well into their role as elders of our society and are “the generation that wants to heal.”

Their website, tryplainjane.com, offers bulk hemp flower in “ultra smooth or full flavor.”

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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