Topics The Pot Hole The High Life

The High Life: Weed Maximalism

My dealers have mostly been selling mixes and weed hybrids lately. I have taken to calling this kind of experimentation with weed, this mixing and matching and mashing-up of strains, weed maximalism. It dovetails with maximalism in the artistic sense1—a response to there being too much (as a tribute to the kind of maximalism and distracted nature of weed strains this column has been footnoted, duh). It makes sense that the maximalist impulse has come to weed growing. Thanks to recent adjustments in marijuana legalization and evolution in medicinal marijuana2, there's more of a variety of weed out there and it's moving around the country more and that's wonderful and the result is people fucking with all these types of weed. You're also seeing weed maximalism with, say, Taco Bell's stoner-catering menus in which it finds infinite ways to combine all the foods it sells (I mean, Sriracha Chicken Crunchwrap Sliders), or even increasingly baroque bongs, pipes, and vaporizers3.

One of my dealers had a "mix" that they couldn't specifically identify what it was a mix of (I'm omitting the obscure name because it might easily expose them) and whatever it was, it gave me a hobnailed high that was simultaneously a bit slight. The weed couldn't make up its mind about what it was trying to do to me. Meanwhile, this eighth of OG Diesel—a mix of Sour Diesel and OG Kush—has been the go-to from another guy and the results have been appropriately mixed. OG Diesel overwhelms. It's actually kind of zen, being totally zoned out, but it neither comforts you nor affords you any kind of insight. And when the high is gone, you're left with a responsibility hangover—all the stuff you forgot about, all the anxiety that disappeared (as opposed to subsiding which is what other kinds of weed will do to you) comes back and you feel very doomed. OG Diesel isn't my thing, for right now at least. I hesitate to call this a "bad high" because apparently, it's a very good strain for anxiety and I can see why: Someone who is more afflicted than me could greatly benefit from feeling like they're somewhere else and nothing matters for a little while4.

There's something fun about being knocked the fuck out for sure, but there are individual strains of weed—like Romulan from last month's column which I praised immensely—that do this in a cleaner, sharper way. These mixes lead to a high that sends you all over the place and it seems to me that mixes, save for very specific medical reasons, are not all that great of an idea. It certainly isn't necessary, though that's kind of the point5 of weed maximalism isn't it?

1. There is a correlation, I think, between maximalist weed and maximalist art. A great deal of recent great pop art has been maximal and it's very enjoyable when you're way too high. We're inundated by too many things—"everything happens so much," as @horse_ebooks once said—and art that stares into the cluttered void works well. In a way, it started more than a decade ago with the chaotic comedy of Tim & Eric (I'd also add Paper Rad to this). A lot of music from last year feels maximalist: the Americana-tinged, space jazz of Kamasi Washington's "The Epic"; the giddy rage of Grimes' "Art Angels"; Oneohtrix Point Never's terrifying bro-down parody "Garden Of Delete." Locally, there are Sondheim Award winners Wickerham & Lomax, the explosive evacuative dancing of FLUCT (incidentally I did get too high and ended up bailing on their recent performance at Platform Gallery), the collage rap of JPEG Mafia, and the blown-out folk of Greydolf, to name a few. It's all post-psychedelia, really.

2. I want to retire the word "marijuana" in this column. According to those more involved in the complexities of pot, it's a racist pejorative. Its origins are in Mexican slang but it was employed by publisher William Randolph Hearst in conjunction with Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics (Johann Hari's book "Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs" focuses heavily on Anslinger's aggressively racist anti-drug policies and all but says he killed Billie Holiday), to harbor anti-Mexican sentiment in this country. It is not a technical term for weed but we have all been using it that way for a while now. Let's stop.

3. Unrelated but worth highlighting: Last week, the Maryland General Assembly overturned five of Gov. Larry Hogan's vetoes, including one that decriminalizes the possession of drug paraphernalia. You can't get criminally charged for having rolling papers, pipes, or a bong as of next month. Mostly it makes sense to be consistent; The Sun reported that state Del. Ann Kaiser of Montgomery County explained it like this: "not decriminalizing paraphernalia would be like making eating blue crabs legal, but not Old Bay seasoning." It's also another step toward reducing the racist profiling fueled by drug laws. One less way to put people in jail is worth celebrating.

4. This, it turns out, is what's rather complicated about reviewing weed. You want to be mindful of how others experience weed because this is essentially medicine and trashing that which helps someone get through the day is not a good look. Taking a strong stand on art or food is useful (yes, food and art also get people through their day, but exploring that subjectivity confidently is a conversation starter rather than a conversation ender) but hell, saying some kind of weed sucks even though it might help someone wake up every morning and deal with the weight of the world is boorish.

5. I've also been doing poppers a lot—and not necessarily for fucking but like, hanging around and using them to feel everything a little more—so I'm more than guilty of stacking my highs unnecessarily. I can't recommend it to everybody, but having your brain crushed by a weed mix and your whole body too relaxed by poppers is something else, folks.

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