But getting into the stoner stuff's easy. After all: It gets you high. When CBD (cannabidiol)—the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana—became the trophy-darling of the pro-weed lobbies, I said the same thing about its proponents as I did about straight edgers in high school: “You don't want to get high? Who doesn't like getting high?” Ghastly.
But those were different days, and besides, punk rock is dead. These days I care more about reality and results than looking cool at parties. And despite the fact that CBD is indeed non-psychoactive (and is actually believed to counteract the psychoactive properties found in THC), research suggests that it might be one of the main reasons for cannabis' overall medical efficacy.
I've heard of CBD's use as a treatment for epilepsy, inflammation, joint pain, and a ton of other health complaints, so I've been curious as hell to try a CBD-rich strain, but weed's expensive, and it isn't covered by my insurance at all, so I generally make my decisions based on ROI (return on investment—how stoned I get). Which means I've been curious about this buzz-killing cannabinoid, yes, but it's been from a distance.
Then I went to High Desert Relief, where the first-time freebie is a gram of any strain—your choice. Compound that with a low-THC, high CBD strain called Sour Chem (THC: 6.14%, CBD: 10.49%—$8/gram) at the lowest price I've seen so far, and suddenly it seemed criminal not to give it a try.
And the CBD strain wasn't the only one wearing a low-cut price tag. I stared at the handwritten menu on a dry-erase board and squinted. “You guys got a sale going, or something?” I asked while the 'tender got my new patient forms rolling.
“No, man. We believe the patient comes first, here. And we'll work with you. If you only have five bucks, we'll give you five bucks worth.”
“That's … um.”
I felt my face twitch with surprise, and ducked away to look into the glass case next to the register. It was full of water pipes and bud grinders and vapes—and all of it was shit-cheap. I'd overheard one of the employees in the lobby tell someone else that there's next to no mark up on the paraphernalia, but this was ridiculous.
“Joshua?” I looked up in a daze. The 'tender looked like some kind of glowing pot angel, wings spread—one made of sativa, the other indica—and emanating pure love. “How can I get you started?”
I pointed to the Sour Chem and grunted. I also picked out an indica-dominant strain called LA Confidential (THC: 25.29%, CBD: 0.23%—$11/gram) and a sativa-dominant called Blue Dream (THC: 24.47%, CBD: 0.32%—$11/gram).
As I waited for my order to be filled, I looked around the showroom. It had a totally different vibe from all the other places I'd been to. More like a dorm hangout than a pharmacy. The green walls were decorated with prints depicting superheroes and pop culture movie references. A ping-pong table took up half the room along with a mini basketball hoop. Out in the lobby, the doorman—who'd introduced himself to me as Pancho—was laughing loudly with someone as he opened the door for them when my order came up. I left, noting the pleasantness of the entire experience, which lasted maybe 15 minutes in all.
Back at home, posted up on the couch with Bart Simpson skateboarding across my television screen, I lit up a bowl and balked a little at the strange taste. Mossy at first, with a strange hint of bathroom cleaner—the reason for the strain's name was suddenly clear. Despite the ickiness, the hits were smooth and buttery, causing not even the slightest sputter.
It was a sad Homer Simpson saying: “Oh, I wish, I wish I hadn't killed that fish,” and the riotous laughter that mysteriously erupted from the bottom of my face that made me realize I was high. In retrospect it's not that surprising, since according to Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, the director of the Marijuana Potency Project, street-level black market cannabis (rudely abducted by law enforcement agencies) has gone from having a THC content of less than 1% in the 1970's and 3 to 4% in the 90's to the seemingly small 13% today—meaning anyone buying the stuff on the street is probably getting something with a comparable THC percentage as the one I was smoking. And since most people using the drug illegally are doing so for recreational purposes, it only stands to reason …
That being said, the high was completely manageable, and even easy to forget. But most impressive about Sour Chem was its effect on my back, which had been sore for a few days. For at least a few hours, the pain seemed to retreat, becoming a slight ebb and proving (to me, at least) that high CBD strains deserve all the hype.
They also might be good for any mythical creature out there trying to avoid becoming too high. The mellow ease of the effects of Sour Chem would easily fit into a busy work day without being debilitating in any way. So, if you're a patient that's new to the game, and you're mostly interested in the physical benefits of cannabis, a high CBD strain might be the best place to start.
I, however, was in this race for a completely different reason. I waited a good hour for the Chem to fully wear off before diving headfirst into the hilariously-named LA Confidential. This earthy dope had me coughing quick and blasting off into the stratosphere. It was heavy—bringing on that dreaded red-eyed squint that haunts Cheech and Chong movies and slowing time down to a rhythmic pulse. I became quiet, introverted. I was suddenly thinking about a friend of mine I haven't seen or talked to in at least a year. How was he doing? Shit. Why haven't I kept up? How could I be such an asshole?
I texted him.
That was last night. This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and smooth as silk. It's funny: No one ever wakes up after a drinking binge talking about all the positive things they did the night before.
As I'm writing this, I'm sucking on a pipe full of Blue Dream like it's full of mama's milk. It smells like candy when you pop the top and tastes like it, too. Like Necco Wafers. It makes my mind open up like a flower. Inside, countless trains of thought writhe and multiply. I can reach in and grab any one of them, pull it out into the light and examine it at length. If you're a medical marijuana patient, and you're already feeling the immense medical benefits of smoking cannabis, it's my suggestion that you quit fucking around and take advantage of an even more valuable aspect of the plant: It's ability to put you in a euphoric and open state where you have room to cultivate a better version of yourself.
But for some reason, our culture has demonized this wavelength. Wanting to be high is a sign of weakness. Maybe it's that “protestant work ethic” that managed to ease into the bones of a budding America—hating all things that don't immediately provide dividends. Maybe it's the systemic racism that most likely drove the decision behind cannabis and psychedelic prohibition—and the forked-tongued white man's habit of labeling any lifestyle other than his own as “lazy.” Who knows?
Criminy. What was I on about?
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