Every now and then I like to share a particularly good cannabis experience. One of the great revelations of my life was that cannabis makes me work more productively. It focuses my very hypomanic mind without dulling it.
My go-to daytime strain is Durban Poison. It delivers a steady, even focus that comes on quickly and last a solid hour-and-a-half before slowly easing off. It platforms very well on top of itself (hits every 30 minutes or so to keep a steady flow of DP’s THC & turpines flooding the brain) but also makes for an excellent companion to hybrids like Trainwreck or Dutch Treat.
I found Strawberry Diesel Durban and paired it with White Widow this morning. The StrawbDD was a great combination of Durban and NYC Diesel — the same focus with a hint of the Diesel’s hum. The White Widow brings a quick hit of euphoria and mental energy. The combination has been lovely and — isn’t this most important for a daytime strain — productive?
I love mornings. I didn’t used to love them but these days my day doesn’t so much “start” as spark to life. My morning routine feels a lot like the lights suddenly going on inside a factory.
That’s the caffeine in the coffee of course but even more than that? It’s the cannabis.
I hope there are heads nodding as they read this — those who know whereof I speak. As those same people also know it can be damned hard to explain to people with no experience of cannabis what cannabis does for us.
Here’s the tricky part. No one knows how anyone else feels. That’s a fact. Unless you can crawl inside someone else’s skin and see the world literally through their eyes, you cannot really know what they’re seeing, hearing or feeling. By the same token, no one can walk a mile in your shoes either.
The best any of us can do — if we care to — is pretend to know what others feel. Cannabis has the same problem. No one else can ever actually know how cannabis effects each of us. No one else can actually know how cannabis makes us feel. It’s especially tricky to to explain to those who’ve never tried cannabis that the cannabis experience is nothing like the bullshit mythology that was built around it for racist purposes.
I can predict with Swiss clock precision the head tilt, furrowed brow and genuinely taken aback “Really?” when I tell people I use cannabis (Durban Poison specifically) to play tennis. I actually do. DP’s a sativa. It delivers a smooth, soft focus to everything I do (writing, driving — yes, driving — tennis). On the tennis court the DP slows me down (my bi-polar brain is very hypomanic) so that I can stop thinking about everything else and focus just on tennis — on the court — on the point I’m playing — on the ball — on its spin — on where I want to put the ball on the other side of the net — on attacking the ball aggressively and following through.
I process every bit of that distinctly (but much faster of course) when Durban Poison is in my brain. The improvement to my game — to my consistency and focus — is distinct. I don’t see it as gaining an advantage over my tennis partner, I see it as losing the disadvantage of unfocused inconsistency. My tennis partner gets a better game out of me. Better games equal way more fun. I don’t know if cannabis’ effect on my brain lifts it to the level of PED, but I’ve never heard my tennis partner complain that she has less fun on the court after I stop to smoke a bowl.
Cannabis improves my mornings, my morning routine and the whole rest of the day that follows. Cannabis’ focus — even its mild euphoria — marries well with a caffeine buzz. I like to start my day (my mornings begin around 5 a.m.) with a hybrid. GG4 has always been a favorite. Dutch Treat, too (though it’s way, way harder to find regularly). The caffeine delivers its familiar jolt of energy. The cannabis however feels like warm syrup pouring slowly from the crown of my head downward. The syrup feels lovely all by itself — its warm, enveloping. But there’s more to the syrup than just its euphoria. There’s the focus. And there’s cannabis’ version of mental energy — it’s distinctly different from caffeine’s.
Caffeine’s jitters are familiar to lots of people. Decaf coffee solves that problem but you don’t get the jolt. Cannabis strains like Moby Dick, Super Lemon Haze, Jack The Ripper open your eyes but they don’t suddenly turn you into Gene Krupa — tap-tap-tapping away on the drum kit furiously. It’s more a feeling of being imbued with knowledge. You find it as much as it finds you. It’s like your mind has simply become more open — more cognizant and aware of details that, without the cannabis in your brain — you would probably have missed (as usual).
Is it a coincidence, I wonder, that all these great CHEMICALS all with the letter “C”? Coffee… cannabis… chai… chocolate.
They all match up well with cannabis. At the very least, one always knows the coffee (or chai or chocolate) will taste amazing with cannabis inside of you. It’s the same effect. THC lets your brain process more information (that’s why it makes some people paranoid). There’s a lot to love though in all that additional info.
How does one explain to a non-user of cannabis how amazing even a simple cup of coffee can taste?
Okay — that’s probably hyperbole. I could remove THC from my life and continue living exactly as I am. But, because I live in California, I have a choice — and I choose to use cannabis for a boatload of very good reasons.
I turned to cannabis as a last resort. I wasn’t a big cannabis user in high school or college. If it was there, I did it but it always put me to sleep. Cocaine (by the time I got to college) was the drug of choice. When I think of all the time and money spent chasing an ethereal dragon — a moment or two of exhilaration followed by more lines, more bumps, more angsting about why the high wasn’t kicking like it was supposed to — I want to scream at myself. I wouldn’t have turned to cannabis instead. Being young and stupid, I wouldn’t have listened to myself.
In later life, restful sleep became hard to come by. I took OTC sleep meds for years — Simply Sleep mostly or its knock-offs. These are actually antihistamines. Sleep is a side effect. So is memory loss.
Between deep depression & memory loss — compounded by lack of sleep because the pills were only occasionally efficacious — I was on a downward spiral. I finally broke down and went for a cannabis prescription. What’d I have to lose, I asked myself. Dope was legal. Dope had always put me to sleep in the past. The worst that could happen was exactly what was already happening.
As some of you may know, I’ve written a 13-part series of articles for WeedmapsNews called “Blunt Truths“. The series delves into the mythology America’s first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, invented out of whole cloth to gain his little bureau (started in 1930) the money, manpower and mandate Anslinger wanted. I walked in the door of that first dispensary in Silver Lake, my head filled with Harry Anslinger’s bullshit mythology.
Virtually everything I knew about cannabis — aside from the fact that, in the past, it had put me to sleep — was based on lies (except I didn’t know it yet). I told my first budtender that I was there because of insomnia.
His immediate reply: “Skywalker”.
I chuckled at the name — thinking to myself, “Cute”. I had no idea that cute as the name was, Skywalker was not this one shop’s attempt at clever marketing. Skywalker is a recognized cannabis strain that is grown all over. The people who first started growing and working with Skywalker wanted to create a consistent plant with consistent qualities. The goal of the cannabis industry is to make Skywalker (or any established strain) as consistent a product as a Big Mac. Of course there will be variations from plant to plant — it’s a plant, not a robot. Or a Big Mac.
I’ve come to think of cannabis as a cross between a Big Mac and a good cabernet sauvignon clone. Just as the cab grape is bred, cross-bred and hybridized to bring out certain qualities while minimizing others, so, too, are cannabis strains manipulated. There’s more to cannabis than just its THC or CBD. There is a whole host of other active chemicals in cannabis — terpenes that give cannabis its flavor but also deliver a range of other distinct effects.
Mycrene, for instance, has a relaxing, calming, anti-spasmodic and sedative effect. Combined with THC, mycrene increases THC’s psychoactive potential. Limonene’s presence produces a distinct citrus smell to the cannabis it calls home. Limonene also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. This description comes from the web site Alchima — “It prevents the deterioration of the RAS gene, one of the factors that contribute to the development of tumors. It also protects against Aspergillus and carcinogens present in smoke. Limonene quickly and easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier, which increases systolic pressure. During testing on the effects of limonene, participants experienced an increase in attention, mental focus, well-being and even sex drive. Limonene is used sometimes in spray form, to treat depression and anxiety. It also has the effect of reducing the unpleasantness of gastric acid and stimulates the immune system. Plants use limonenes to ward off predators; for example, it repells flies like any insecticide.”
I had no idea whatsoever that these attributes existed or were a very real part of the product I was so tentatively sniffing, my budtender extending a giant mason jar filled with Skywalker buds toward me. I bought a couple of grams. Took them home and (before I had the sense to purchase a grinder), broke off little, sappy bits of leaf that I stuffed into the cheap little glass pipe I also bought.
In one night, I went from being a problematic sleeper to a half decent sleeper. I still sleep too few hours but the quality of my sleep went from broken and restless to deeply satisfying. Whereas I used to wake up every morning feeling exhausted as my feet found the floor, now I get up ready for whatever. In time, I learned how to use edibles; a combination of smoked flower and edibles produces as much as 7 hours of rock solid, restful sleep.
So — right off the bat, cannabis brought a positive impact to my life that Big Pharma couldn’t. A healthful effect.
On subsequent visits to that first dispensary, I grew curious. I loved the Skywalker. What was in all those other mason jars? That’s when I learned the difference between indicas, sativas and hybrids. And, yes — there is a marked difference.
For the uninitiated — indicas (the majority of available strains by a long shot) are the strains most people know about or have experienced. They induce euphoria, bliss and sleep. Sativas, on the other hand, produce euphoria, bliss and mental focus. Hybrids combine sativa and indica qualities or multiple sativa qualities or multiple hybrid qualities.
Let me describe my first experience with the hybrid Dutch Treat. Keep in mind — these are psychoactive drugs that work differently inside each of us depending on our individual brain chemistry. The first feeling is warm syrup coating everything. It doesn’t create distance, it just swathes everything in contentment. A feeling of evenness and calm. Whatever comes at me, I can handle it. This was followed by a sense of my mind coming into focus. Or focusing on everything around it.
Our thoughts are created when electricity flows between synapses in our brains. Our synapses are like digital circuits. They’re either open or closed. The more synapses that are open — the more information our brains are receiving. THC causes more synapses to be open rather than closed. The reason some people feel paranoid is because so much more information is coming at them. That sudden influx of more info and raw data than they’re used to can feel oppressive. Though the info is disembodied, we attach a body to it — we feel like we’re being spied on by “someone” who seems to “know” more about us than we’re comfortable with. It’s not an outside person “spying” on us of course — it’s just us processing more information.
For whatever reason, my brain (like a lot of peoples’) doesn’t react to all that additional information with paranoia. Instead, I feel as if I’m more aware. My thoughts are clearer, cleaner. More cogent. The reason jazz musicians took up cannabis back in the early 20th century is because all those clear, clean thoughts can be translated into music. Or, in my case, words.
Dutch Treat made me incredibly productive — not in a coked-out, shotgun kind of way but in a focused, electron-microscope kind of way. Dutch Treat was the tip of an iceberg I’ve come to adore and rely on.
I’m hypomanic (as I’ve written here). The inside of my head is like a black box theater (think of a shoebox, painted all black inside). Walk through the door and you’ll find a dozen or more movies being projected from every conceivable angle. Some are color. Others black and white or even sepia. They’re old movies, ideas, memories. Laser lights flash on and off, too — and music and sound. It’s quite a show — but distracting as hell. While indicas shut it all down, putting me to sleep, sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, merely slow it all down. Rather, the THC drops a kind of mental scrim in front of most of the projections, giving me the chance to focus on two or three at a time — so I can work productively.
In time — with lots of experimentation — I made strains like Durban Poison, GG4, Clementine and Pineapple Express part of my daily THC regimen. I start my work day around 5 am — with a little coffee and a good solid hit of GG4 (formerly Gorilla Glue #; they had to stop calling it that cos the Gorilla Glue company threatened to sue). Between the coffee, the GG4 and the Durban Poison, the world comes into very sharp relief.
Let’s be clear. Just like no one thing is uniformly good for everyone, cannabis isn’t for everyone. But I bet it’d be good for far more people than even currently use it. Hell — if they stopped selling beer at sporting events and sold cannabis instead, there would never be another riot following a sports match. There would, however, be lots of hugging and high-fiving.