But when I got to Southwest Organic Producers' (SWOP) nondescript tan building, the sketchiest part was walking around the side to find the front door facing away from the street. Inside, instead of a security guard, I was met with green and purple walls, potted plants and an open check-in desk with a smiling receptionist behind it. With shaky hands, I filled out my first-timer forms and acted casual. I sat on a couch in the waiting room and pretended to be occupied with my phone while I waited for my name to be called. On the wall, a classy LCD screen flipped through the menu, separating products by composition—flower, edible or extract—as well as by the dominant sub-species.
When my turn came, I was led into the shop area where water pipes and other accessories were on display in glass cases. A few jars were out on a counter containing buds for customer inspection. The gentleman who had called me back was all business. I had some questions about edibles, and his answers were short and curt. No small-talk here, please. He never asked if I knew the difference between sativa and indica, but I'd done my homework. Cheers.
A few problems currently persist with the struggle to define proper sub-species. Although retailers and cannabis enthusiasts will happily tell you the differences between sativa and indica, the truth is that due to obvious restrictions on the study of these plants, a scientific distinction between the two types (and even a third sub-species from Russia: Cannabis ruderalis) is fuzzy at best. The sub-species' names themselves were originally used to distinguish between the psychoactive form of the plant found growing in India (Cannabis indica) and the non-psychoactive European hemp (Cannabis sativa). However, for the sake of simplicity, we'll stick to the same conventions used by the industry and refer to the tall, thinly branched plants with narrow leaves as sativa, and the squatter and denser plants as indica.
The descriptions of the specific effects of each of these sub-species are therefore muddy as well, often overlapping in areas and using disingenuous words like “up” or “down.” While sativa strains tend to be described as a stimulant and indica as a depressant, it must be remembered that these terms are often used subjectively, and cannabis has never actually been nailed down as a stimulant, depressant or hallucinogen.
Indica is typically the more relaxing of the two. You slow down, get sleepy, sink into the couch, watch cartoons for hours. If you've never gotten high (shame on you), then all of those stereotypical ideas you have floating around in your head about lazy, do-nothing stoners probably comes from the effects of an indica strain. But slow, bovine movement is only a trait of the outward appearance. Inwardly, the patient will be experiencing a form of awareness that’s often scoffed at in the Great Modern West. A disembodied focus that can be found only at this slack-jawed frequency.
My choice of indica strain from SWOP was White Bubba Kush (THC: 15.53%, CBD: 0.03%—$5.99 pre-rolled 0.5g). After an earthy and aromatic hit or two, the body melts away, leaving the eyes to float in space, unencumbered by gravity and time. The eyelids become slate-heavy and sleep tugs at the corners of everything. The brave psychonaut will push past this moment and find their consciousness focused into a beam that can be trained upon any subject and left there for seemingly superhuman lengths of time. This beam is particularly useful for watching documentaries, listening to lectures, meditation and anything involving lengthy bouts of staring at stationary objects or nothing at all.
Although retailers and cannabis enthusiasts will happily tell you the differences between sativa and indica, the truth is that due to obvious restrictions on the study of these plants, a scientific distinction between the two types is fuzzy at best.
Some of the medicinal benefits of indica strains should already be obvious: pain relief, sleep aid, sedation, treatment of anxiety, muscle relaxation, reduction of inter-ocular pressure, migraine relief and the minimization of spasms and seizures. Due to the physical effects, this one is better enjoyed during the evening, when the pleasures of sleep are less intrusive.
I used it to listen intently to the great work of the Tom Tom Club. I played “Genius of Love” over and over. “Whatchoo gonna do when you get outta jail? I'm gonna have some fun.” There are probably better ways …
Sativa—so often referred to in terms of stimulation—
Sativa strains are associated with spikes in creative thinking, an increase in alertness and mental acuity and positive feelings of euphoria. It's useful to patients suffering from depression or social anxiety. It is also known as an excellent expectorant and can be used in supporting the immune system. Sativas are recommended for daytime use.
“Ugh,” she said. “I do not like that.”
I shook my head. “You don't have to do it. It's not mandatory. You opt in. Like Facebook. You'll get a notification from your friend: 'Come join in the fun at T-Mail! Just stick this chip up your nose!’ And it's not like everyone is going to be watching you every minute. You have a friends list. You can edit your privacy settings. Turn off 'bathroom cam,' or whatever.” I paused and thought. “But it would really suck if it was just like Facebook, and you wake up one morning and the terms and conditions have changed and there's a notification: 'New PeeView add-on.' And the box is automatically checked ...”
But despite the awful-tasting edibles and the terse bedside manner of the pharmacists, the overall relaxed atmosphere of the SWOP clinic and the high quality of its medicine will have me coming back. My one serious complaint is the lack of first-time patient freebies. The practice is almost standard locally, and it seems strange not to at least throw in some kind of token gift. It can also have practical application outside of simple business 101, coupon-style thinking. Often the complimentary gift is an edible—a form of cannabis that may be new even to long-time smokers. Offering a free candy or brownie here and there could be the tipping point of bringing those smokers over to the new frontier.
But that's hardly a deal-breaker. Otherwise, the place is beautiful and the weed is wonderful. “Who needs to think when your feet just go?”