Pot Culture

DCP plays with fire…uh, smoke…man

By Mary Jane

Disclaimer: This article was written by no one. The facts, tips and opinions herein have been verified by no one, unless directly stated. The consumption of marijuana in any form is illegal in the state of Ohio. Mmkay?

Weed the people

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Apparently, 19.8 million folks had rocked the ganj within a month of taking the survey. It was the only drug used by 64.7 percent of those “illicit drug users” who had taken the survey. Now, imagine for a moment asking a group of illicit drug users to please fill out a survey for an organization sponsored by an agency (the snappily-named Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA), under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that attitudes about marijuana are changing in this country. A slim majority—53 percent of Americans, according to the Pew Research Center—support legalizing this illicit green drug. That’s a drastic change from the 12 percent who favored legalizing marijuana use in 1969, when Gallup first popped the question. Four states—Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska—and the District of Columbia have passed measures to legalize.

And yet while Ohio may indeed be for lovers, it is apparently not yet ready for the leaf. Last year’s efforts to get legalization on the ballot were unsuccessful and no one knows if this year’s will be any different.

But just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it. Thanks First Amendment! So, let’s talk about it.

How to stay a-head

While it’s quite illegal in Ohio to smoke that sticky-icky, you may have noticed Marley-blasting incense stores boasting large displays of alien glass thing-a-mabobs, hose-laden whosits and—what is that? A dental tool?

Hold on to your shells, Ariel, you’re in a head shop, and there’s a lot to learn before you can become part of this world.

Even though it seems pretty clear what these trappings are used for, it’s not as simple as walking in, asking for a bong, paying for your purchase and walking out.

Here’s why: “head shops,” actually referred to as “smoke shops” or “tobacco accessory shops” (just a taste of what’s to come), are licensed to sell tobacco products and accessories. Period. That means these shops often have a blanket restriction on terms that they consider indications of intent to use their products for illegal activity (like, I’mma use that for weed).

If they knowingly distribute to someone who will use their wares for illegal drugs (not just weed), they are breaking the law and risk losing their license, getting shut down and paying a major fine. So, if they hear you saying something to that end, they’ll probably ask you to leave.

The result is a speakeasy culture where winks, nods, grunts and euphemisms rule the day, freedom of speech be damned.

So, you’re interested in successfully navigating your head shop visit, you say? You’ve come to the right place.

The first thing to keep in mind is that these places are legally tobacco shops. So, shop for tobacco products. As one Reddit-philosopher muses, “So long as you [shop] with the intent of using their products to inhale some legal carcinogenic insecticide, you’ll be more than welcome.”

Let’s start with a (non-comprehensive) vocabulary lesson:

Bong: (n) a water pipe used for smoking marijuana or other drugs. Call it: water pipe.

Bowl: (n) the part of a marijuana pipe in which the marijuana is placed (packed) to be smoked. Sometimes used to refer to the entire marijuana pipe. Call it: different shops have different restrictions, but to be safe, call it a pipe, or a piece.

Chillum: (n) a narrow funnel thought to have originated in India or South America. Contains a filter stone to prevent product from falling into the user’s mouth. Call it: tasting pipe.

Roach Clip: (n) a metal holder used to finish a joint when it becomes too small and hot to hold. Call it: note holder.

Joint papers: (n) thin pieces of paper used for rolling small joints. Call it: tobacco papers, or just papers.

Kief: (n) the crystals that contain T.H.C. from a marijuana cannabis plant. Kief or crystals can be compressed, heated and rolled to create hash/hashish. If smoked in powder form, it will create a more intense high than regular marijuana. Call it: pollen. As in, a pollen box, a pollen press, a grinder with a pollen catcher.

Anything with a hose: Despite that bong-like appearance, call it a hookah.

Anything that has to do with passing a drug test: There’s no reason to pass a drug test, because you’re not partaking in anything illegal, right? So call it detox, a system-cleansing product or synthetic urine.

Oh, and the stuff you’re putting in there? Call it tobacco, or product.

Got it? Great. Now that you’re talking the talk, here are some additional head-etiquette (headequette?) pointers from respected contributors:

Bring cash. It will help you budget effectively, but it will also increase the chances of getting a discount on the item you wish to buy. Discount, you say? Yes! Always ask for a discount. The head shop industry is allegedly notorious for high mark ups on their items (supply and demand, right?), so most shops will grant you a 25-35 percent discount if you haggle a little.

Take time examining what you want to purchase. You should never feel rushed looking in a shop, and some of the glass pieces for sale are seriously works of art. Shops often work with local artists or artist communities to provide unique pieces. Also, since most shops have a no-return policy once you walk out the door, you want to make sure your item is free from cracks or imperfections.

Finally, if you liked your service, or found the sales associate to be nice and knowledgeable, leave a tip. If you become a regular and are friendly, you may get special treatment. Hello, discounts, free samples and a spot in the circle!

Know your ‘dro:

Just like anything worth enjoying—food, wine, beer, spirits—there’s both a science and an art to marijuana. Repeat after me: all bud is not created equal. There are different strains of marijuana—it is a plant, after all—and it’s important for anyone using marijuana to understand the differences.

So, let’s go back to botany class, shall we?

The two main taxonomic strains of marijuana are Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. The distinctions date back to the 18th century, when differences between their structure and resin production were first noted. Later, a hybrid category was added to the mix, as growers began playing with the genetics from different geographic regions. These different strains look different, smell different and can have vastly different affects on users. They also have very different medicinal benefits, meaning different strains can be targeted to treat specific medical problems. You know, where medical marijuana is a thing.

Indicas are believed to have originated in the Hindu Kush (see where that came from?) region near Afghanistan. They have thick coats of resin that may have protected them against the harsh climate. They are short, densely branched and have wider leaves, and are better suited for indoor growing.

The Indica effects are described as relaxing and calming, often providing a body buzz, or “couching” its user. It’s the stay-at-home-and-play-video-games kind of high, best used at night. Because of those qualities, Indicas are effective for overall pain relief, and are used to treat general anxiety and insomnia and relieve spasms, seizures and body pain. Indica strains, or hybrids that are Indica dominant tend to have a strong sweet or sour odor. Indica strains you might have heard of: Kush, Northern Lights, White Widow.

Sativas thrive in temperate areas closer to the equator. They are taller than Indicas, with loose branches and long, narrow leaves. They’re usually grown outdoors and can get as tall as 20 feet.

Sativas are best suited for day use, producing an uplifting, energetic high that can make the user feel creative and cerebral, or even spacey and a little hallucinogenic. Sativas are generally used to increase focus and creativity, and spark new ideas. Medicinally, Sativas are used to treat depression, ADD, fatigue and mood disorders. Sativa strains you might have heard of: Purple Haze, Sour Diesel, Mauwie Wauwie.

How to make friends and smoke pot

Now that you’ve got your equipment and you know your product, it’s time to partake. Rather, it would be time to partake, if marijuana use were legal in the state of Ohio. Which it is absolutely not.

Say you’re somewhere else, however, and you’ve been invited to, for example, get ripped with your homies. You’d want to know how to do it, right? Allegedly, there is proper etiquette for all of the most common weed-smoking situations. If we knew anything about that, we’d let you know.

Smoking a blunt or a joint: If you’re offered something rolled in cigarette papers (a joint) or in cigar paper (a blunt), and you decide you’d like to smoke it (no peer pressure here!), there are a few things you should, apparently, know. First, if you’re offered a lighter, don’t stick it in your pocket after use. It may sound simple, but lighter thievery is a common practice, and not just a rookie mistake. Because of the calming and sometimes forgetful qualities of good weed, it’s easy to see how a user could accidentally pocket someone else’s lighter. On the flip side, if your lighter has been mistakenly pocketed, it’s important to treat the offense with the proper amount of energy. Aka, don’t overreact and harsh everyone’s buzz. Lighters are like, a dollar, dude.

A far more egregious offense, and one much more common among newbies, is making the blunt or joint wet with saliva. This causes a number of problems. First of all, gross. Second, if the blunt or joint becomes too wet at the mouth, it may begin to stick and close, making the smoking experience more difficult for the rest of your homies. Again, this is only what we’ve heard.

Smoking out of a piece: Everyone has their preferences, and some prefer to carry a little extra equipment. Allegedly, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone hasn’t used a bowl or a bong before, so if you don’t want to look like a first-timer, it’s important to study up. Even more importantly, if you’re unfamiliar with the kind of equipment you’re using, feel free to ask its owner how it works. Pieces can be expensive and carry personal meaning, so just remember to be respectful.

If you’re handed a small glass piece with a bowl, you’ll need a lighter. Our research indicates that it’s bad form to torch the entire bowl of marijuana with one light, because the herb is its most powerful when it’s first ignited. Try to corner a small section of the bowl for yourself, and leave some green for everyone else. Now, that small hole on the side? That’s apparently called a “carb.” Hold your finger over it while you light the bowl and breathe in, then release your finger and keep breathing, to let the smoke enter your mouth. Puff, and pass. If you have to cough, be careful not to cough into the piece, as you’ll end up shooting product everywhere. And, again, gross.

The same basic principles apply to a bong, but some bongs and other gadgets not listed here (vaporizers, glass blunts, etc.) can get pretty complicated, so just ask if you’re unsure.

Also, if you’re invited to smoke with the same group again, bring some product to repay the favor! If you don’t have that, snacks or drinks are always appreciated.

Meet The Candidates

Where do the candidates stand on marijuana? We’re glad you asked.

John Kasich

– Governor | Ohio | Republican

Gov. Kasich is “totally opposed” to marijuana legalization. In fact, he referred to marijuana as “a scourge in this country.” Not very wishy-washy. But, he also has stated he believes states should “probably” have the right to establish their own policies and has promised he would not challenge state laws regarding marijuana. On the topic of medical marijuana, Kasich is also generally opposed, claiming, “Doctors that I know tell me we don’t need that, there are other ways to [treat pain].” In February of this year, when asked about medical marijuana at a town hall meeting, he was so liberal as to say, “I think we can look at it.”

Donald Trump

– Businessman | Republican

There was that one time in 1990 when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he favored legalizing all drugs. That was a good decade. More recently, however, The Donald has said he opposes legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use. What he does support, however, is legal access to medical marijuana and the ability of states to set their own marijuana policies. “Marijuana is such a big thing,” he said. “I think medical should happen—right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

Ted Cruz

– Senator | Texas | Republican

“If the state of Texas had a referendum on [marijuana legalization], I would vote no,” Senator Cruz told a local news outlet in Denver, Colorado. “But, I think it is the prerogative of the states to make that determination.” He’s opposed to marijuana for adult use, but he’s keen on watching what happens in Colorado and letting those states that have already legalized serve as testing grounds for what could happen in others. But Cruz is in a little soup for being inconsistent with his policies. He’s never actually added his name to any Congressional bills that would support his apparent position, and he’s also called out the Obama administration, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, for allowing state legalization to go forward and not enforcing federal marijuana laws.

Bernie Sanders

– Senator | Vermont | Democrat

Having become a hero among the college-age demographic, it’s no surprise that Sanders is also playing well with the legalization movement. Yet, his statements on the subjects of use and legalization have been surprisingly minimal. Sanders is firm on his belief that marijuana should be removed from the federal governments list of outlawed drugs and last year introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category of controlled substances. He also supports taxing and regulating marijuana, allowing businesses in states where marijuana is legal to fully participate in the banking system without fear of federal prosecution. Some voters wish Sanders would push it more—and adopt a more radical plan to legalize marijuana, rather than leaving it up to the states. But other cannabusinesspeople are definitely feeling the Bern. Last month, some shops in Portland, Oregon, launched a “Burnie One for Bernie” promotion, donating 10 percent of proceeds from the sales of one-gram joints to Bernie’s campaign. Another Sanders supporter, Ariel Zimman, is selling homemade ceramic pipes and chillums (“Burners for Bernie”) sporting Sanders’ presidential logo and pledging 10 percent of her proceeds to the campaign.

Hillary Clinton
– Secretary of State | Democrat

The most concrete position Hillary Clinton has taken on marijuana is that it should be reclassified as a Schedule II drug to allow greater access for researchers. After that, it’s research, research, research. “We should be learning what works and doesn’t work,” she’s said. Although she has said she does not believe people should be imprisoned for marijuana use, she is apprehensive to support legalization, frequently calling for more research. In the past, Clinton has claimed to support legalized medical marijuana and believes in Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ mantra that “States are the laboratories of democracy.”

To reach DCP freelance writer Mary Jane, use smoke signals.

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