Hello, my name is Aimee, and I'm a stoner. Or so I thought.
I've lived a mildly double life for as long as I can remember. My square friends and family are oblivious to the fact that I have a significant other, and her name is Mary Jane. Everyone else knows she's my No. 1 gal, the one I get in bed with every night.
Concealing my true stoner self is exhausting. That's why I was stoked on attending the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, California. There would be no judgment, no hiding, just toking up with good people who love pot as much as I do.
But soon after arrival, it became apparent there would be barely any toking up and barely any pot. My enthusiasm was put on hold. I was confused. How could the Cannabis Cup have so little actual cannabis?
Sure, the festival featured an abundance of products extracted from cannabis—shatter, wax, crumble, oil … you name it. But flower, it seemed, had lost its appeal. I had envisioned people passing around a joint in a circle, sharing conspiracy theories and a mutual loathing of “the man.” Instead, attendees were lining up single file to take dabs.
I meandered about in a daze. Despite having been an avid smoker for nearly 13 years, I felt like a newbie. My conversational gambits were limited to constantly reminding exhibitors to give me “baby dabs.” I'd still cough my brains out.
Arriving at a booth with no sign of concentrates or scary-looking extraction machines, I felt at ease. It was just good ol' weed-infused gelato, to be sure. I rooted around for my credit card to purchase a scoop, until I heard how much THC was in each serving.
“50 miligrams?” I asked the vendor, astonished.
“Is that too much?”
“Um, yeah. I'm on my ass with 20 milligrams.”
“How about I give you a sample?” The vendor handed me a spoonful of cookies and cream gelato, followed by a spoonful of the salty caramel flavor.
“I don't know if I should try both,” I said. “Will I be OK?”
Everyone laughed at me, not in a cruel way, sort of how you might chuckle at a child for asking a silly, innocent question about something obvious. I thought it was a perfectly logical question. I'd been dabbing all day and was already 100 times more blitzed than I'm accustomed to.
The process of breaking up bud, rolling it into a joint, and then passing it around was extremely therapeutic.
It occurred to me that habitual dabbers may not understand my predicament. Their tolerances are much higher that the average weed smoker's. The potency of flower is somewhere in the 10 to 25 percent range. The potency of concentrates falls somewhere between 50 to 80 percent. For this concentrated breed of pothead, downing a 50-mg edible is no biggie at all.
Disillusionment took over. Am I not as big a stoner as I thought? Have I grown too old to participate in and appreciate contemporary stoner culture? Do I not deserve to be at the Cannabis Cup?
Marijuana has always been medicinal to me. Something about the process of breaking up bud, rolling it into a joint, and then passing it around was extremely therapeutic, a way to escape the tedious minutiae of everyday life. It was a ritual with its own set rules, the closest I ever came to a religion.
Legalization measures are inching forward—24 states have legalized some form of marijuana. The American people may at last come to terms with cannabis as the plant that it is, rather than the plant it's feared to be. But will they be chill on the THC issue once they catch wind of what dabbing is, or more explicitly, see a video of it?
The process of dabbing looks hella terrifying; that's why I resisted trying it for so long. Sometimes referred to as the “crack of pot,” dabs necessitate the use of complex glass bongs (called “rigs”) and blow torches, which were once reserved for hard drugs.
Also, the extraction process itself, while not so much a hazard to professionals, can be an explosive mess for amateurs, who aspire to learn through online forums and videos. Most of the time, their final product just turns out to be crap. On occasion, they blow up houses, leading to comparisons between dabbing and drugs like meth.
This is not the Mary Jane I know. If smoking marijuana is like sipping on a beer or glass of wine, dabbing is doing shots. One gets you significantly more "zooted" than the other.
The dejection I experienced following the realization that Mary Jane was no longer the girl I'd fallen in love with was short-lived. The evening following the Cannabis Cup, the marijuana-infused lubricant company, FORIA, hosted a cannabis-laced shindig at a home in Topanga Canyon. Dabs, rigs, and torch lighters were nowhere in sight. Phew.
The stoner culture I grew up embracing wasn't dead after all. It had just broken off from the stoner culture so prominently on display the day before.
Partygoers were indulging in actual flower, vaping, eating edibles, socializing, laughing. This, albeit smaller, was the Cannabis Cup I'd always imagined attending.