Reminiscence on the days before legalization, before weed became too strong for me

click to enlarge Reminiscence on the days before legalization, before weed became too strong for me
Be careful what you wish for.

Recently, a friend asked me if I wanted to go for a toke outside of a bar. It's an old ritual that I have usually happily agreed to. But lately, I have started getting better at politely declining.

Don't get me wrong, I want to partake. I just know that it will only be a matter of minutes before my mind starts racing, my heart is pounding, and whatever upbeat mood I may have had becomes totally withdrawn and introverted. I can't think straight, let alone carry on a conversation. Don't lecture me on the difference between indicas or sativas because this happens with both.

I am too damn high.

This happens to everyone who partakes from time to time, but it has happened to me with increasing frequency over the last several years. As I have inevitably marched further into my 30s, products in the legal cannabis market have seemingly only gotten stronger. And I have almost completely stopped using as a result.

Call me crazy, but I sometimes miss the days before weed was legal.

I don't miss the paranoia of getting busted by disapproving authority figures. I definitely don't miss the days of waiting around Walmart parking lots late at night for shady dudes to sell you a loose baggy of (what was hopefully just) weed. I really don't miss the sneering social stigma that still persists almost 10 years since its legalization.

I miss the weed. Smoking was a subversive experience, but it was also a social one that you made friends while doing. Sometimes the herb had a cool name, like "Diesel" or "AK-47" or "Purple Haze." Sometimes it was blue, or covered in tiny crystals. But it was still just weed. Nobody had any idea what the hell a terpene or cannabinoid was.

I'm not knocking the legal industry.

Legalization made accessing weed as easy as going to the liquor store, and it made the experience just as safe. The cannabis industry has thrived off of its diversity of products. Its budtenders and scientists have done a great job of creating and selling products with different types of highs and different flavors, wrapped in stylish branding and endorsed by celebrities.

Consumers can buy flower, or vacuum-sealed packaging filled with cookies, gummies and chocolates that you might find at a convenience store. Want a THC-infused lemon cocktail? How about a peanut butter cup? Tincture? Transdermal patch? Suppository? Flavorless powder? It's amazing to think any of this stuff was illegal to begin with.

The problem? None of these things are any fun.

Not for me anyway. Finding a product that serves a social function and provides a normal relaxing high is not easy, especially when most of the shelves are stocked with products engineered to blast you into another plane of consciousness.

Weak weed doesn't exactly market itself very well either. Newbies or people looking to try cannabis for the first time want "the good stuff." People with high tolerances and medical prescriptions probably feel the same way. There isn't a good answer for people who just want a mellow high. Dad Grass, a California company that specializes in low-dose high-quality cannabis, has capitalized on this idea, although they haven't made it into Washington's weed market. Budtenders can help, but it's tough to find weed my speed. For now, I'm content going without.

The older I get, the more people I meet who agree. It could just be an unfortunate coincidence that the legal weed market is producing stronger product as I get older, as my life gets more stressful and as general anxieties increase. It could also just be that marijuana isn't really for me anymore. It seems like more people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, are coming to the same conclusion.

Legal cannabis has come a long way in the United States since Washington and Colorado voters first approved it almost a decade ago. Sixteen other states have fully legalized recreational cannabis, and most states have some form of legalization on the books. I will always be proud of Washington (and Colorado) voters for taking a sensible approach to cannabis. There's still a lot of work left to do, especially in Washington, but it's work in the right direction.

You don't have to be high to appreciate that. ♦

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