One great thing about driving somewhere specifically to buy cannabis is that you can take your time. I took the long way to get to Shift New Mexico—following NM-14 north past the tourist towns and through some of the most vivid country I've experienced. I generally have a crummy attitude about driving to Santa Fe, but adding 20 minutes and a few miles seemed to actually make the drive much more pleasurable. The back road comes right up next to the dispensary, too, meaning you can avoid all of that nasty commuter traffic.
If I haven't sold it to you yet: This is the only way to drive to Santa Fe. You will never see me on I-25 again.
Immediately upon reaching civilization, my phone started chirping directions. Shift has a completely different vibe from the rest of Santa Fe's dispensaries. I found no incense burning, no statues of Hindu deities or Eastern tapestries. It seemed more like a MVD or a tax office. After signing papers in the waiting room, I was led into another room where partitioned windows separated me from the budtender. It was darkly painted and had the quiet but hurried vibe of a doctor's office.
The menu was fairly small, but it was full of strains I'd never heard of. The 'tender was somewhat unresponsive when I asked about strain specifics, but he did light up when talking about 707 Headband, one of the few names I recognized. Apparently it was a hot item that had been getting strongly positive responses from patients. He showed me samples of all the strains in their packages. I couldn't smell them, of course, but the buds looked fluffy and were covered with trichomes. I picked a few strains and headed back to the car.
After an incredible return trip, I arrived home and pulled out the attractive buds that had been deposited in my white paper sack. The first one I cracked into was called Chupacabra (THC: 15.52%, CBD: 0.09%—$11/gram). I bought it because I've been a longtime fan of the goat-sucking cryptid it's named after. A sativa-heavy hybrid, it owes much of its unique scent to the aptly named Golden Goat found in its lineage. From my notes: “The smoke smells and tastes like a real chupacabra's breath. Flower smells earthy, woody. Effects are immediate and uplifting. The sun is setting. I feel so light and happy, I could pop. Check and see if that cop's dash cam footage of a real chupacabra turned out real or fake.”
After some time trawling the internet, I sat back unsatisfied and packed a bowl of the sativa-dominant 707 Headband (THC: 22.93%, CBD: 0.11%—$13/gram). It smelled fruity and tasted sweet. It instantly induced muscle relaxation, showing its indica side plainly, but the dominant sativa end of this hybrid won out in the long run, leaving the mind sharp and clear while the body went into torpor. For the next hour, I called my wife to the computer every 10 minutes or so to watch clearly fake YouTube videos of chupacabras. “You think that one's real?” I asked her after each one. “I don't know. Could be,” she'd say, as though she was speaking to a child about Santa Claus. From my notes: “Talky. Lazy. The perfect after work meds. But a reporters [sic] work is never done. Godammit I am that reporter.”
I finally slammed the laptop shut and rubbed my eyes. Despite my calm exterior, my mind churned. Thankfully, the last strain I'd picked—which you'll remember was at random—was the indica-dominant Hell's OG (THC: 23.65%, CBD: 0.04%—$13/gram). This strain has a sketchy past. Supposedly, the strain was engineered in the '90s by members of the dreaded Hell's Angels biker gang. Its lineage is highly disputed, and apparently the bikers aren't talking. From my notes: “Tastes sour. Hints of berry. Smells like soil and fresh breezes. Eyes heavy. Forgot about the bowl. Left it on my chest half smoked.” Hell's OG was heady and heavy. It laid like a brick on the back of my neck and pushed me into the couch. Its anti-inflammatory properties were noticeable, and my entire body seemed to disappear under its power. I was sleepy immediately and in bed within the hour, dreaming of strange creatures slipping into dark forests.
Update: The dash cam chupacabra was probably a dog with mange. Probably.