Aside from High Times and the Denver Post’s nascent Cannabist section, there are few knowledgeable resources for the marijuana connoisseur. The former suffers from a giggle-and-cough vibe—if High Times were a magazine for drinkers, it would offer the best methods for stealing from your parents’ liquor cabinet—while the latter assumes too credulous a readership. Yes, under ideal testing conditions (HEPA-filtered room, virgin vaporizer, Neti-potted nose) Afghan Kush may indeed offer notes of cardamom, but this occasional cannaphile suspects the emperor wears no hemp clothes.
It is a curious problem, not only because weed has been cultivated by humans since at least around 3,000 B.C.E., but because using marijuana is so much fun. More fun than drinking and more fun than other recreational drugs, all of whose potential for abuse mitigates whatever brief euphoria might be found in their swirling depths.
When I think about my experiences with cannabis, I find no fewer than 10 outstanding rules for enjoying the perfect bowl of weed. Orwell had 11 rules for his cup of tea, and he claimed at least four were controversial; I have no comparison. Controversy, as one would expect among marijuana enthusiasts, is soon lost in a warm, smoky haze. Or vapor, if I’m being literal.
Here are my 10 rules, every one of which I regard as both unassailable and subject to dismissal:
- Firstly, if possible, choose Cannabis sativa over Cannabis indica, unless you are using marijuana for pain relief. Sativa invigorates, uplifts, and inspires. Indica dulls, muddles, and caresses. Indica is more common, due to its short, dense, bushy plants (making it easier to grow incognito), and pure Sativa is rare as moon rock. Still, insist on hybrids with at least a 70–30 split, in favor of Sativa. Music will never sound better, peanut butter never more peanut-buttery.
- The weed should be strong. Economics aside, if you are inhaling anything, you want maximum effects with a minimum of irritation. Two puffs are superior to three—anything more, and you risk a scorched throat. Anything less, and the ritual is truncated. Smell is no indicator of potency, nor is the presence of orange hairs, red hairs, purple hairs, or glistening trichomes. How to determine potency? Sampling. Take nobody’s word but your own.
- A wooden pipe is aesthetically the most pleasing way to inhale marijuana—especially a well-burnished Savinelli churchwarden—but the flavor is awful and the smoke is harsh. Forget those silly glass pipes; fragile, awkward, and difficult to clean, they are always overpriced and often decorated with embarrassing graphics. Same goes for ceramic “sculptures” of dragons, skulls, Buddhas, et al. You would not drink wine out of a llama’s hoof. Do not smoke weed out of a frog’s ass.
- Fourthly, rolling the perfect joint is a welcome skill across generations, social classes, and political affiliations. The perfect joint is made from one sheet of rolling paper, filled with no more than three grams of finely chopped weed, is free from seeds and stems, packed to medium density, and twisted shut, with a stiff tail providing a wick for lighting. Organic fibers and glue are a luxury, not a necessity. Avoid filters—they remove T.H.C., not particulates. The perfect joint, coupled with a potent strain of Sativa, can entertain a party of five.
- Forget bongs. Without exception. They are the sound of unemployment.
- Sixthly, weed should not be ground but rather chopped with a sharp, well-balanced kitchen knife. Grinding scours resin off the bud, making your bowl/joint less potent. Kief-collection screens are inefficient and difficult to harvest. Instead: chop your batch on a glass surface, then use a playing card to collect the psychoactive dust. Sprinkle as needed.
- Seventhly, remember that marijuana magnifies the user’s mood. A more poetic way of saying this: weed reveals and obscures the group’s intentions. Buried resentments will surface; sublimated desires will materialize. Choose your companions with care—avoid especially the excitable novice who delights in pointing out, ad nauseum, how high everyone is. Marijuana narrows bandwidth, which is terrific for artistic and sensuous pleasures, and terrible for conflict resolution. Keep it light.
- And if paranoia strikes, remind yourself that overdosing is impossible, as most medical experts agree. Retreat to a warm, quiet place, and sip something sweet. A hot bath can help, along with dark chocolate. Relinquish control. Let your emotions flow and visualize muddied water pouring from a spigot; eventually, it will run clear.
- Vaporization is the exception to the rule that the oldest ways are often the best ways. A brief primer: vaporizers heat the marijuana just enough to extract its psychoactive compounds, but not enough to reach combustion, meaning that vaporizing will get you high without smoke. Proper vaporization (no hotter than 365 °F) offers the ideal experience: minimal coughing, minimal residual smell, maximum efficiency, and increased flavors (yes, even cardamom, if given the right strain). Portable vaporizers are easier to operate than desktop models, while desktop models are ideal for childless households, where the vaporizer may take up semi-permanent residence alongside other helpful appliances.
- Lastly, eat marijuana with caution. Aside from titration difficulties, the effects are so long-lasting as to be uncomfortable, and what begins as potent fun usually becomes tedious. Pot brownies should be reserved for open weekends, not dinner parties.
Whoever said, “A little marijuana warms the heart, but too much burns the soul,” was refreshingly self-aware. Do not get high at the expense of social interaction. Do get high with your significant other. Do listen to excellent music and eat excellent food. Do share your stash, as such generosity is always appreciated and often rewarded. Do watch movies but do not recommend them to your friends unless you’ve seen the movie sober. The perfect bowl of weed is limited more by the user’s essential nature than any other factor; adjust accordingly.