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Remembering All the Dirtbag Ways We Smoked Weed as Teenagers

Pretty much on a weekly basis, we’re inundated with emails raving about the latest “revolutionary” vaporizer—it’s the size of a thumb, comes in silver and gold, and leaves no trace of smoke or smell, so you can light up at a goddamn daycare undetected if you please.

While we appreciate how far we’ve come, there’s weed called Caviar now, and we can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia for the all old school, jerry-rigged, downright desperate methods we once employed to get high when marijuana was unequivocally illegal.

For the purposes of reminiscing, and so future generations know just how fucking easy they have it, we’re taking a stoner’s stroll down memory lane:

Yeahhh, this feels familiar. Photo via Flickr user oddmenout

I can’t remember the last time I hot-boxed, but holy shit were we obsessed with it as teenagers. Camping in British Columbia once, my friends and I brought an extra tent solely for the purposes of blazing in a cramped, enclosed space. It didn’t mix well with booze. I woke up around 3 AM, alone, head sticking outside of the tent on the dirt, and proceeded to vomit for several minutes—loudly enough that everyone else on the grounds was asking who that was the next morning. But my favorite hot-box story coincides with my first time bungee jumping.

My friends and I piled into a car and made the two-hour trip from Vancouver to Whistler in my crappy white Toyota Tercel we nicknamed Casper. We smoked joint after joint the entire drive. When we got to the jump-off point, a bridge about 150 feet above the Cheakamus River, we were told we’d have to wait another 15 minutes. So we wandered a short distance away into the woods and smoked yet another j. When it my was my turn to go, I remember hearing the instructions again and again and thinking, I don’t know what he’s talking about, but also being too mellow to inquire further. The bungee dude then started counting me down from ten. I was so high I jumped prematurely, probably when he got to around “seven.” I didn’t die, but even if I had, I honestly think I would’ve been too baked to notice.

While it might be a fun arts and crafts project if you’re a stoner, you have to admit that making a gravity bong is kinda sus. The summer after I turned 21 and much to the dismay of my apartment’s floors, I used an empty two-liter of cream soda and a tiny metal bit I found in a tool kit to turn my only mop bucket into a smoking device for the entire season. There’s something slightly romantic about being such a massive pothead that you’ll kneel over a bucket on a dirty kitchen floor and put your mouth on a literal piece of trash just to get high.

Hot-knifing was introduced to me by my most perma-fried friends—i.e. my drug dealer and my manager at Canadian Tire. To that end, I associate hot-knifing with apartments that reek like chronic and fast food. I remember feeling nervous about burning myself—that glowing red stove top is intimidating! On one occasion, after hot-knifing, I watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and was convinced I had just witnessed Oscar-worthy comedic gold. Another time, and this was much more common, I woke up in my friend’s house hours after hot-knifing hash and didn’t know where the fuck I was or what was going on. In addition to being completely unnecessary, hot-knifing is pretty difficult these days with the influx of gas range stoves. Sometimes I miss that image of the two butter knives sticking out of the coil, though.

OK, first of all, this is like one of the most pointless processes to go through to get high and requires several different materials, not to mention you ruin a perfectly good piece of produce in the process. If you’re underage or in a rural area, maybe it makes a bit of sense, but it’s really just more of a novelty otherwise. Using a soda can or a plastic water bottle to make a smoking device is arguably worse, but if you’re an adult, you should probably have invested in something a bit more advanced at this point since we’re not living in the dark ages of weed smoking anymore.

Rolled Page from a Bible

There was this one time when I was visiting my parents while on break from college, had no smoking supplies, and got desperate. I’m sorry, mom.

Though it’s more of an accessory than a method of smoking weed, if you ever lived in a dwelling where you had to hide your habit, then you’ve probably come across this technique. After someone from my group of friends got kicked out of the college I went to when security caught him hitting bongs in his room, I became increasingly paranoid that my stoner habit was going to ruin my life. But since I couldn’t resist the chronic, I started using a spoof: an empty toilet paper roll with one side covered in like five dryer sheets fastened on with a rubber band. When I wasn’t playing World of Warcraft or gin pong, an almost daily activity of mine was huddling in a single bathroom with my friends, stuffing towels under the door to prevent smoke from getting out, hitting a gravity bong in a mop bucket that lived next to a toilet, and blowing hits out through the spoof, filling the room with fresh laundry-scented smoke. Thank fuck these days are over, and I am free to fill my apartment with as much weed smoke as I please like a normal human.

Photo via Flickr user thelefthandman:

“What the hell are you doing! Save that!” my older brother would shout at me when I first started smoking joints and didn’t understand what a roach was, or that they could get you high. Being a broke teenager, though, I learned quickly. And then shit got sad. My friends and I were too poor and dumb to purchase a roach clip, so we would literally burn the tips of our fingers in an attempt to smoke every last bit of bud residue. One time, we put a half-centimeter-long roach on the ground, because all of our fingers were in so much pain we could no longer hold it. But we didn’t give up and walk away. We lit it yet again and pressed our faces down beside it, ALONG THE PAVEMENT, and continued to try to inhale whatever was left. I’m glad I have a job now.

Wiz may actually be onto something here

When I was in high school, I smoked blunts at least two times a week on what my friends and I called “hill cruises”: basically driving around in the middle of fucking nowhere blasting hip-hop and getting super high. We’d start off by bribing someone who was of age to buy us a blunt from a gas station, pitch on some sub-par shwag, and then nominate someone to roll. I still have images I can’t get out of my head of a girl with Janis Joplin-like hair slobbering all over a white grape-flavored blunt that I somehow convinced myself to inhale from afterwards. While it seems like hip-hop has moved away from its association with blunts and onto better things like vaping and THC concentrates, I still am not really over this method. Admittedly, I have three Game blunts sitting on my dresser at this very moment because I can’t let go of the past.

Remember that time your friend tried to make edibles and didn’t know what the fuck she was doing? You ended up with a mouth full of crumbles of charred weed masked in box-quality brownies, and the only thing that got high was your oven. Or, on the flip side, you had no idea the dosage you were consuming and got shrooms-level tripped out. A classmate of mine once went through a “baking” phase, and I ate a bunch of his Smarties weed cookies cause I was straight up hungry. Then we watched the Daft Punk movie, Interstella 5555, I lost my mind, and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I went to go pee and fell right off the toilet, onto the bathroom floor, and passed out for another hour. I was still high. Now that pro bakers have entered the game and you can choose from a variety of gourmet sweets likes chocolate truffles and white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies, you know exactly how much THC you’re getting in each bite.

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RIP to hot-boxing mom's bathroom and literally smoking out of pieces of trash.

Science Reveals The Cannabis Industry’s Greatest Lie: You’re Buying Weed Wrong (And So Is Everyone Else)

There’s much more to cannabis than THC—for solid proof, look no further than the CBD boom—but when it comes to moving product on the legal recreational market, only two numbers matter: the list price, and the THC content.

Super-potent cannabis flower, with THC percentages of 25 percent and up, dominate dispensary shelves. High-THC cannabis will sell out very quickly while lower-percentage weed gathers dust.

When cannabis tests at more than 25 percent THC, dispensaries can justify charging $75 or more for a store-bought eighth—because there’s a very good chance people will pay it, confident that they’re taking home the best and most potent weed available. If the weed’s in the teens, well, it had better be cheap.

The problem is that this is all wrong. All of it.

Dried flower buds of legal cannabis in Switzerland. CBD cannabis like this may be an excellent . [+] smoke, but that’s how American consumers shop for pot. Meaning they’re doing it wrong!

AFP via Getty Images

THC shopping is almost as bad and dumb as buying wine based on how cool the label looks (which is also how some people buy weed).

Not only does THC content have nothing to do with how “good” the weed is, as recent research conducted by the University of Colorado and published in JAMA Psychiatry found, THC content is also a poor indicator of potency.

High-THC weed doesn’t even get you “more high”!

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Cognitive Science documented the experiences of 121 cannabis users. Half the study participants were users of cannabis concentrates—very-high THC cannabis extracts—and the other half preferred cannabis flower.

Both groups received cannabis at varying “strengths”: flower users tried cannabis flower at either 16 percent or 24 percent THC, and extract users received oil at either 70 percent or 90 percent THC. Researchers checked study participants’ blood and monitored their mood, cognitive function, and intoxication level before, immediately after, and one hour after use.

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As the researchers expected, the concentrate users had very high levels of THC in their bodies after use. But they weren’t “more high.”

In fact, every participants’ self-reported “highness” was about the same—“as were their measures of balance and cognitive impairment,” as CU noted in a news release. Medium THC flower, high-THC flower—all the same high! This was not what the researchers were expecting.

“People in the high concentration group were much less compromised than we thought they would be,” said coauthor Kent Hutchinson, a professor of psychology who studies addiction, in a CU news release. “If we gave people that high a concentration of alcohol it would have been a different story.”

Consider the cannabis flower users. Sixteen percent THC compared to 24 percent THC is a big difference—50 percent “stronger.” How can users of such differnet “strength” products report such similar psychoactive effects?

The short answer is a theory that cannabis connoisseurs and cannabis scientists have been saying for years: There are many more factors at play than THC. Put slightly longer: Judging a cannabis strain on its THC content is not unlike judging a film based on the lead actor. The THC number isn’t going to be an indicator of the performance.

(One very large exception to this: edibles. If one edible says it has 100 milligrams of THC, and another says it has 10 milligrams, and you eat the 100, you will absolutely be higher, longer, than if you ate the 10.)

There are a host of cannabinoids, including CBD as well as more than 100 others—most of which aren’t even tested for. (Even if they were, would the average buyer know what to do?)

There are also aromatic compounds called terpenes that dictate how cannabis affects the mind and body. All of these work in concert, a phenomenon known as “the entourage effect.” This is why synthetic THC simply didn’t have the same medical effects as smoking weed.

A good way—maybe the best way—to determine if cannabis will be good, or at least good for you, is to smell it. But in legal markets like California, that’s now impossible. Pot is sold in prepackaged containers. And the coronavirus pandemic eliminated what limited opportunities there were to smell cannabis. Some shops let you wave under your nose a designated “smell jar”—a few buds in a container with a perforated lid. No longer.

But back to THC numbers. Cannabis researchers know it’s not an indicator. Cannabis growers and sellers know it’s bogus. And yet, here we are. The market simply hasn’t caught on—and merchants, by putting high-THC cannabis out on the shelves to satisfy the misdirected market demand, are ensuring that the misunderstanding continues.

“It’s a shame,” said Neil Dellacava, the co-founder of Gold Seal, a San Francisco-based cannabis brand that specializes in high-end flower. “I find stuff that’s absolutely amazing that I have to throw in the trash because it tests at 18 or 19 percent.”

At that level, despite “an amazing terpene profile, the best smoke I’ve ever had” simply will not sell, he said.

“People just don’t understand,” he added. “When people go shopping, they look for two things: they’re looking for price, and they’re looking for THC percentage.”

The THC fallacy persists despite everyone’s best efforts. Both Instagram influencers as well as cannabis entrepreneurs and advocates have tried to explain that the THC number is, at best, a rough estimate (and a number that, depending on the lab that came up with it, might be inflated or suspect).

With this much momentum, it’s unlikely science will change anything. It will take a long time for buyers to adjust their habits and realize THC content isn’t like alcohol by volume on a beer label after all. Until they do, connoisseurs can take advantage of the market inefficiency, and take home superior pot with lower THC levels at a reduced price. It will just require a little more work on the consumer’s end.

But it will also require cultivators of lower THC, higher-high weed to have demand high enough to keep them in business, and that’s far from guaranteed.

Do high THC numbers matter? Only for sales: as researchers recently found, more THC doesn’t necessarily get you more high. ]]>