Black crowned night heron © Robert Sommers 2023

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weed follies

The Illinois Senate passed a bill this week to legalize recreational marijuana. Canada has signaled its intention to do the same in 2017.  Smoking weed is now legal in one form or another in over 23 states and the District of Columbia. Quite a few more are in the hopper.

Finally an Obama administration that has been not friendly at all to pot smokers is actually talking about maybe dropping the schedule classification down to a more sane level, Schedule 2. Way past time but I won't hold my breath. The original choom ganger done sold out his peeps.

Currently marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, "the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence."

In any case, pot is a billion dollar industry in Colorado and money talks loudly to cash strapped municipalities. Pot is everywhere and prohibition seems to be in its death throes. Everybody and their kid sister is getting on board. The people have smoken.

Is it safe yet to out myself as a pot connoisseur, a weed gourmand with an encyclopedic knowledge of the glorious herb? A near fifty year veteran? Maybe, maybe not. But here goes anyway.

Today we are awash in a world of weed, vape pens, tinctures, edibles, top shelf buds, etc. Kids have no clue what it was like in the dark ages. Ol' Uncle Rob is here to tell them. Today I guess the kids go out to buy a "bag." Well before there was a bag, there was a "lid" and before there was a lid there was a "can." Don't ask me what was before a can because I frankly don't know. Find an old bluesman. Ask Cab Calloway.

A can cost ten dollars. It was a measurement of marijuana of either four or five fingers in height in a quart zip lock bag. No scales necessary.

The pot itself was very ugly. A can was comprised of an assortment of marijuana byproduct that was at least 50% seeds and stems. Cans came from keys, a colored cellophane one kilo block of yellow, red or blue. They were usually wrapped with a lot of moisture left in the packet, and so you got a smoke that was slightly ammoniated and quite foul by today's standards.

I was in junior high when I scored my first can and remember switching it to five or six locations on my person before I finally got it home and hid it away in an American flag throw pillow so my parents wouldn't find it.

Anyway the stuff was pretty crude and it was pretty harsh. We used double album sleeves to separate the seeds from the tops, often with a card of some kind.  The roaches ended up soaked in an oily black tar.

You hear rumors and anecdotes of Acapulco Gold and Panama Red but most young heads never saw anything like that. But what we did start to see in the early seventies was beautiful gold and reddish Colombian from an area called Santa Marta. This was some of the sweetest, most pungent marijuana that has ever been smoked. A very chesty expansive smoke with a singular perfume. Doubt it even exists anymore for reasons I can go into later.

Then in 1971 or 72 somebody back east imported some stuff from Nicaragua that supposedly produced so much resin that it killed the mother plant. That part might be bullshit but that was the advertised line. The marijuana was given the name Wacky Weed or wacky tabacky. A one time shot, I was lucky enough to try it. Pretty amazing stuff.

And I will tell you that I was the hit of my high school when I managed to score some cuban weed. I visited New York decades later and an old comrade told me that it was still the best that he ever had.

Things marijuana stayed in a commercial doldrums for many years. Pot was decidedly low grade, some Oaxacan and what were known as long "mohawk spears" showed up and doubled the lid price to $20. Crappy Jamaican weed appeared on the east coast, not the vaunted lamb's bread that nobody on my puny level ever saw.

Somewhere around 1973 or 4 a new wonder appeared, "Thai Sticks," thai marijuana wrapped tightly with thread around a bamboo stick. This stuff was really good, had an almost apple fragrance, a curiously triangulated seed which was half the size of a Mexican seed and a powerful buzz. The flower tops were accentuated and definitely more loved.

Sometime about 1976 I got a call about this great new thing, sinsemilla. People in the North County of San Diego and the hills near Santa Barbara were taking the seeds of that Mexican bag weed and growing them properly, and separating and vanquishing the males. Ball jars of the luscious herb appeared for sale, for $100 a jar. Much classier delivery system. You'd break the seal and get hit with the most lovely aroma.

The weed was strictly sativa strains and it was glorious. A gamut range of honey, grape and all colors of the rainbow in between. It became a thing of legend. Home growers even resuscitated some of the Colombian strains but the long growing season made them impractical, since they couldn't be harvested until early December.

Later people were bringing more asian varieties in, including "Cush," an indica strain and also fat leafed cannabis ruderalis. This was good and bad. Indicas, many of which came from Afghanistan, were skunky and savory and had a much higher thc content. But they lacked the sweetness and cerebral qualities of the fine sativas.

So many growers hybridized to the indicas that the early purply sativa strains were lost, probably never to reappear again. Commercial growing operations have taken over and you can't even find Santa Marta Colombian in Colombia anymore, they are all growing imported indica strains, which are heavier and fetch more in the market.

A person would have to find the original strains from Mexico and start a very laborious process to ever taste those flavors again. Doubt it will or could happen.

Leslie and I once stayed at a hotel in British Colombia called the Sativa Sisters, location undisclosed. Many years ago. The manager would bring you a menu and you would pick the pot you wanted to smoke. The freezer was full of pot waffles. Our fellow residents sometimes would never leave the hotel. It was there that I discovered the blueberry strains. Aromatic, grapey, beautiful, a distant relative to todays Blue Dream. It was a thai blueberry cross to be exact. Tasted a lot like Snowcap.

I don't want to sound like a Cassandra but things really went down the hill somewhere along the way. Many fantastic strains have been lost as people started relying on the same old Diesel, White widow, Ak47 and similar strains. Never to return.

Where once there was an organic process where some brave grower mixed sunlight, seeds, water and soil, the move to indoor created a whodunit where massive fertilizers are pumped in, toxic mite spray is applied and plants are inadequately flushed. I rarely smoke at all nowadays but if I did I would make sure exactly what I was getting and make sure that I trusted the grower implicitly.

People are using a product called wax that has been linked to brain lesions due to improper reduction of butane inherent in one type of production process. Why would anybody risk their health ingesting something like that? I am so old school on the weed thing...

I am pro pot. I fought cancer for over twenty years with the help of the herb, was able to undergo three major operations and completely forgo the use of pain killers and narcotics, have seen so many people help themselves medicinally in the least harmful manner imaginable.

But a world where practically everybody is toking, many of them legally, where things are so commercialized, well it sounds like a little something has been lost too. The danger is gone. Its kind of become boring. Something's missing. Pot's a big yawner. Perhaps I'm getting old. F-f-f-f-t.


Jon Harwood said...

Fear not. As yesterday's radical act of rebellion fades and becomes as common and bourgeoisie as a Mc Muffin, something new shall be discovered that allows one to proclaim to the world: "I am not a brown mouse! NO! I am Gregor Samsa in his cockroach iteration!

Anonymous said...

Great read. I remember when....

Anonymous said...

A friend used to call it being "terminally unique".

Anonymous said...

Ahh memory lane. When Columbian came around we didn't say lets get high we said lets go to Columbia. The Thai sticks were alleged to have been dipped in hash oil and had a memorable smell and taste. We never saw a zip loc only sandwich baggies. Zip was soon to be invented probably by Larry Von Zipper😪😪 thanks for a 420 tale. I'm a Bloom Pax man now. No fire.
Deli guy✌️✌❤️❤️

Blue Heron said...

I always got a nice apple smell from the thai sticks. And I remember perfectly manicured golden sticks from hawaii dipped in hash oil. Memories...

Anonymous said...

Have you watched any of the "Strain Hunters"?

While they hybridize, they're keeping the strains alive!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Glad you have the balls to admit you are NORML
Marijuana is still illegal. God forbid what Ted Cruz will do if somehow he gets elected.......

Anonymous said...

Make the price of weed go back up...

Anonymous said...

I still have daydreams about those bigass splifs dipped in paraquat, what a rush!

Douglas Keller said...

You forgot products from Hawaii -- like Maui-waui...and black primo hash. Late '70''s also saw a spurt of Blond Lebanese hash. Also, Thai-sticks were marketed to us as dipped in opium...if you were lucky. And, since PCP was big in the day...we sometimes suspected that the scariest trips were due to it being mixed in with mediocre pot. All good...even if I got them damn lesions. And damn paraquat to hell -- what a sign of the (high) times.

Mike Roger said...

According to medical science and research weed is very good for health. Medical marijuana is safe and effective for body pain. BTW keep on writing Great Job! Online Marijuana Dispensary in Canada