The High Life: The days of a summer weed drought are no more

City Paper

The cop asked if he could search my car. Though I later learned not to consent to searches, I knew he wasn’t going to find shit because I was driving two hours away in the hopes of finding a quarter bag. It was the great weed drought of 1991. I had just finished high school and there was no grass anywhere to be found. Every bowl in the state had been scraped, every stash scoured, and all the heads were drinking too much and taking acid and doing other drugs. But really, we just wanted some pot.

Summer is the perfect time to get a little lit—herb has just the right level of chill to go with a hot summer afternoon or a breezy summer night. The thing is that, until recently, because of natural agricultural cycles and legal impediments, summer was always the dry season. Back in 1991, say, most of our weed was grown outdoors, probably in Mexico, and smuggled across the border in big dried-up bricks. Outdoor-grown weed is harvested in the fall, which means that, by summer, the previous year’s harvest is gone and everyone is waiting on the current crop to mature.

The summer memories of most stoners involve a lot more driving around and looking for pot than they do the glorious sensations of stonedness. Think of Cheech and Chong—as often as they are high, they are jonesing, looking to score a joint, as when they visit Strawberry, Cheech’s Vietnam vet cousin in “Up in Smoke.”

But things really started to change in the late ’90s as more production moved indoors, creating an artificial cycle of life with grow lights. After 9/11, there was an ill-conceived, short-lived advertising campaign to make us think we were funding Afghan warlords when we smoked a joint, when, in reality, we were moving further and further from imported weed and warlords of all sorts.

Now that some states have legalized and indoor growing has become even more predominant—along with much higher levels of THC—summer is as stoney as every other season. Right now there are probably dozens of potent strains—many of which bear the name of fruits whose flavor they resemble—floating around town. Who knows how accurate the names and varieties are, but every other week some newfangled flavor comes around with its own high points.

I’m especially fond of Grapefruit Diesel, an indica hybrid with an up-and-stoney buzz that is high on energy and low on paranoia. It’s a perfect buzz for those long summer evenings sitting outside somewhere with a couple of cold ones.

And while we’re talking about sitting outside, it’s important to remember that you’re not totally in the clear. There was a big debate in the legislature and outdoor smoking—and smoking in a vehicle—were almost recriminilized. As it happened, the bill that went to the governor imposed a$500 fine on such infractions, but you still don’t go to jail. It’s the same bill that decriminalizes your paraphernalia, and though Boss Hög hasn’t signed it yet as of press time—you’d think that was a blunt in his mouth, he’s moving so slow at this—we’re guessing that he will (who knows, though, he has been utterly apocalyptic so far). So be careful and burn indoors and then step outside, kick back, and chill, and don’t forget that Baltimore is on the water. Find a place to sit beside it and stare for a while.

And while we’re talking about staring, I’m not really one to wax poetic on porn-y descriptions of hairs and secretions and stuff on  marijuana buds, but this Grapefruit Diesel really is an exemplary example of this great plant, with a really light green hue shimmering with crystals and bright orange hairs. It’s hard not to get a little excited, imagining what we would have made of this future as we drove around looking for our dried-up shitty brick weed back in the great draught of ’91. 

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