Boomerang Smokers #2


Don't ruin your Vegas vacation by consuming the wrong weed or the wrong amount of the right weed.  Pay attention to THC and pay attention to how much you consume. This is the second installment of "Boomerang Smokers."

When I obtained a permit in January to purchase cannabis products for medical use, I had not purchased marijuana of any kind since 1982. In the new world of legal weed, I had no idea what I wanted, what was available or what I was doing. 

I was a "Boomerang Smoker":  A fan of weed in high school and college... then my consumption dropped to near zero for over three decades. And now... set loose in a complicated world of "flower," dab," shatter," "wax," "tinctures," "vaping," "edibles," THC, CBD and terpenes, I was at once confused and curious.  

Since January, I have learned some things. And, while I'm not an expert, I can tell you two or three things I learned.

For the purposes of this posting, I will assume you are all as ignorant as I am/was.

One important thing any boomerang smoker must know is that 2017 weed is nothing like 1982 weed. And, of course, buying it (legally) in 2017 is nothing like buying it (illegally) in 1982.

In 1982, I had no idea of the THC content of the weed I was buying or smoking. 

I was familiar with THC-- it was the villain in all those 16mm films they used to show us in high school and grade school. It was, after all, "the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis," or to put in simpler terms, it was the stuff that made you "high." 

NOTE: There are benefits to consuming THC other than "getting high." THC, says Wikipedia...:
...is used to treat anorexia in people with HIV/AIDS as well as for refractory nausea and vomiting in people undergoing chemotherapy... and as a botanical drug in the United Kingdom in 2010 as a mouth spray for people with multiple sclerosis to alleviate neuropathic pain, spasticity,overactive bladder, and other symptoms.
But, the casual observer can be forgiven for getting the impression that THC is sought after mainly to get high... and that marijuana is mainly noted for it's high-ification qualities-- good and bad.

One time, in 2005, I found myself in the back of a coffeehouse/art gallery in the suburbs of Calgary, during a comedy show that was part of a comedy festival. The locals in the back of the house were passing around a joint packed with "Matanuska Thunder Fuck"--a hybrid strain of marijuana originating in Alaska and said to have a THC content of 21 percent. The retailers often refer to simply as "MTF." 

As I wasn't driving, and as I had not partaken in any cannabis for years, I took a hit. I was a runner, my system was not accustomed to weed and not accustomed to strong weed. I was high, but I was also paranoid and anxious to the point where I quietly (and half-kiddingly) said to my spouse, "I think I might be dying." To which she replied, "Are you really dying? Or do you just think you're dying?" Always helpful, she is. 

Turns out that I was merely suffering a common side-effect of certain strong (aka, high-THC) strains. (There are other factors to consider when avoiding anxiety and panic-- is this an indica? Is it a sativa? Is it a hybrid? Is there CBD to be had? Like I said, I am not an expert, but it seems that these are the questions that are reasonable to ask when buying or smoking a brand/strain/variety of weed for the first time. But it's a good idea to proceed with caution and find out for yourself which strains affect you in which ways. For example: I do not find indica strains to be "relaxing." But more about all that in a later post.)

My main point: Use caution and pay attention to the THC content of any cannabis product you might consume. 

There are three or four popular websites that post the THC (and CBD) content of the products offered by Vegas dispensaries, along with descriptions of the strain's "attributes." But quite often precise and up-to-date information regarding THC is missing. Which leaves one to rely on descriptions.

One popular site, Leafly.com, provides such descriptions and also provides rudimentary bar charts that purport to give consumers and idea of what to expect in terms of "Effects" and "Negatives." But the charts are assembled from "crowdsourced strain data" and are hardly scientific. The descriptions are also all over the map. For example, a reviewer going by the name "spacejunkOG" said:
MTF or ATF is another one of those strains that has a hazy history and a lot of different accounts of where / what it actually came from. Half the dispensaries are listing it as Sativa and half are listing it as Indica, roughly. Personally I've tried it at a few places and it was completely different every time. 
This --and other reviews like it-- are what the crowdsourced strain data used in the bar charts is based on. So, you can see how there might be some inconsistencies or problems with reliability. 

In their ads and in their text messages and in the choices that they make when offering discounts or specials, local dispensaries tend to emphasize high-THC varieties. They will often emphasize strain (Indica, sativa, hybrid, etc.), but, let's face it, they're mainly interested in offering weed that will make the buyer baked.  (Of course, this might be a recent development brought about the legalization of recreational pot, and a possible indication that dispensaries might be de-emphazing their medical-use customers. Or growers might find that their low-THC product is not flying off the shelves. I don't know. I do know, however, that my quest to find high-CBD/low- or no-THC flower is not as easy as I thought it would be.)

Here's the takeaway: Use caution. If you just dropped $100 on tickets to see Joe Walsh at the House of Blues, you do not want to miss it because you find yourself in an urgent care insisting that your heart is about to jump out of your chest.

THE NUMBERS:
Remember Acapulco Gold? It is often available at area dispensaries and it is alleged to have a THC content in the 10 percent range (with a CBD content of 15 percent or so). But call ahead. Quite often, the menu of a dispensary will be outdated by the time you arrive.

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