Not Your Grandfather’s Cannabis
Despite the fact that most of my followers know me for my blogs on cannabis and working as a creative professional, I’m not exactly a risk-taker. I’ve never been one to push back against the rules — or one to do anything that would get me in trouble. So, despite my relationship with cannabis over several years, I have a confession to make: I never touched weed until it was legal.
You might gasp. You might blink back your shock. But, it’s true — and it matters.
In this blog post, I’m going to explain everything that I have learned about the cannabis experience before and after its prohibition in Colorado. I’m sharing this because it matters.
Reader, your opinion of cannabis might just be outdated.
My Introduction to Cannabis
Even though cannabis is now a part of my daily life, you should know that I didn’t always feel that way. Before cannabis was legal, I didn’t even entertain the idea of it. I had no problem with people around me doing it, but it was something that I simply would not do. A lot of people did, but I wasn’t about to end up with a criminal record just to relax (no, I had absolutely no idea about what cannabis could really do back then).
Because it was illegal — and for me, that was all I needed to know.
But, in my junior year of college, everything changed. Colorado put the legalization of marijuana on the ballot — and the United States became a different place.
Even though I wouldn’t smoke weed because it was illegal, I had no problem with it. Plenty of the best people I knew were known to imbibe. I didn’t think that it was going to ruin any lives or that people should be criminally punished for it, so of course, I voted yes when I cast my vote.
After it became legal, someone close to me brought some to my apartment. Being who I was, it was no surprise that some people wondered if I might be too uptight about it — but, I wasn’t. It was legal. And, even though I was relatively uptight and didn’t love being out of control, I wasn’t opposed to trying it.
So, I did. It was fun. I laughed a lot. Life felt easy. I realized that some stuff I was worried about wasn’t as big as my brain made it out to be — and I moved past problems my brain had been puzzling over for days. It was pleasant, and my relationship with recreational cannabis began.
The Other Side
In general, a lot of people meet my cannabis use with surprise.
When they learn that I use it, there is kind of a wide-eyed shock. Sometimes it is because the person I know is subtly against it and thought I was more like them, and sometimes it is because I’m very much a rule follower — and even though cannabis is legal now, there is still the unspoken rule about whether or not it is acceptable.
So, when I told someone I knew that I had started smoking, it came as quite a surprise for them. This person was a cannabis user before its legalization, like many. And, when I told them about my experience, they became curious.
They wanted to know what a dispensary was like — and they made endless remarks in pure disbelief as I spun my tale. We all knew that cannabis was legal, but I learned very quickly that for the people who spent time fearing the law over it, the mere idea of its legalization felt like a trick, like the government was just trying to get a list of people to arrest.
I didn’t understand it then.
Back then, I had no idea about the history of cannabis. I had no real idea of what it felt like to be at risk over it. At the time, I had just become legal to drink, so the concept of new legalization felt very normal for me.
I spoke of my experience with it and the aforementioned individual decided to give it a shot. They went to a dispensary and legally purchased weed for the first time.
Holy shit! That is not the kind of weed we used to smoke.
And so my understanding of the differences in weed surrounding prohibition began.
The ‘Skunk Weed’ Phenomenon
There seems to be an age gap in cannabis users, and I think that really matters.
From what I can tell, a lot of people tried a completely different kind of cannabis. When I talk to people who smoked weed before it was legal (particularly people in their late 30s or older), there is this common theme of skunk weed.
As a new-age cannabis user, I was put off by this term. But, ultimately Leafly taught me that skunk weed is a common term for weed grown in the 70s and early 80s (though it persisted after that) — and apparently this style of weed was different.
Based on the conversations that I have had, this weed was kind of muggy. It smelled weird. It calmed you down and made you a little too relaxed. It was heavy in its own weird way. And, it is unclear if it was this specific kind of weed or just what people used to get from those that sold it. Either way, it’s old weed — not the stuff in stores.
So, how do these same users feel about this new fangled cannabis?
The first remark that I often hear when old school cannabis users try the cannabis from dispensaries is: wow, that’s strong.
Objectively, I can see how this would happen. So many older cannabis users are used to weed that was grown by some guy down the street, right? Weed was illegal, so it wasn’t like there was a way to report someone who was selling crappy cannabis, you know? There wasn’t an official BBB rating for dealers with bad weed that made you feel tired.
And I feel bad for the experience that some people must have had with it. It would be like if I had to rely on my neighbor to provide me with high-quality allergy medication. Sure, some people might be awesome at it — but the rest? Well, I’m just buying something from some random guy and hoping that it works out.
I’m absolutely certain that throughout the years, some people have been growing amazing strains of cannabis — do you know why? Because so many of the creators of successful cannabis brands now are people who were growing it before it was legal (though they won’t all admit it).
But, science changes industries, and it is time more people understood that.
The Wonder That is Scientific Innovation
As a general fun-fact, my grandmother tried one of the first birth control pills ever invented.
It made me sick as a dog, so I stopped taking it. Nine months later, your uncle was born.
Cannabis might not stop conception, but there is a lesson to be learned here. Medicine — no, science — routinely makes things better. Cannabis is absolutely no exception.
When cannabis first became legal in Colorado, it was a mess. Sure, the flower was fine. People knew how to do that in a large-scale way, but edibles? Oh, that was a different story.
I’ve loved edibles since I first tried them, but when they first became legal, it was like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans — but with dosing. You never knew how much you were going to get.
Right after I graduated from college, I moved back home for a few months. One morning, I decided to take an edible while my parents were at work. Six hours later, I still couldn’t stop giggling when my dad got home.
Another time, I got so high that the music I was listening to was coming in at half-speed and I threw up.
From one edible.
The point is, it took a minute — but, science did what science does: it made it better. Now, our cannabis is so refined that I can predictably dose it out for specific use cases.
I have the luxury of deciding if I want to relax or sleep, if I want to dive into a flurry of creative genius, or simply calm down after a bad day. Now, cannabis is created and regulated in a way that is fairly clinical — and the experience is incredibly controlled.
Times Have Changed
I’m not here to tell you if you should or should not try cannabis. Like any other substance, weed isn’t for everyone. But, I do ask that you keep an open mind.
If your entire experience with cannabis happened even ten years ago, you don’t know cannabis. The cannabis at dispensaries is not the weed that you grew up with. It’s not going to make you lazy or turn you into a hippie. It won’t make you freak out (your weed was probably laced, I’m sorry).
Modern weed. Real weed, is the product of scientific advancements. It is botany. It is food science. It is pharmaceutical in nature.
The weed you grew up with is not the weed we’re selling in stores, I promise. So before you brush it off — before you voice your opinion — recognize the difference.
There is a reason that we don’t give out the same medications we gave out ten years ago.
As science evolves, we learn more and we make better creations. This isn’t your grandfather’s weed. It is something entirely new, and it deserves a little more respect than we give it.
So, don’t brush it off just yet.