Puff

Puff: Ode to a bong

PUFF Recently a dear friend gifted me his glass bong. It is a beautiful green piece, heavy and sturdy. My first reaction was, “Don’t give that to me! I will break it!” His response, “Well if you do, you do, but enjoy it until then.”

The bong has always been my preferred method of smoking flower. As a beginning stoner, I surmised that you save the most smoke for your lungs with a bong. You can keep unused smoke trapped inside until you take the next hit.

You light a joint and it just starts burning with good smoke just floating away… lost for use. Of course this is also probably the most social way of smoking cannabis, handing it over, hand to hand, sharing. The preroll is nice especially if it is infused with hash or shatter. At that point, it doesn’t matter if smoke escapes because an infused preroll will probably fuck you up no matter how much smoke floats into the ether.

Like every good Bay Area resident, I have my pipe, which I dutifully stand with outside of bars, businesses and movie theaters and pack to pass around to friends. It works. Pipes are cute. They can get a little ashy and clogged up, and every once in awhile you get that bitter, acidic hit that chars the back of your throat.

In the end, give me a nice big bong. The water cools and filters the smoke as it enters your lungs. You can always add ice to the water for an even smoother hit.

It turns out the term bong is an adaption of a Thai word “baung,” a cylindrical, wooden tube cut from bamboo. It is a cousin of the hookah and is also known as a water pipe, billy, bing or moof. Bongs have been used in Laos, Thailand and all over Africa for centuries. ​One of the earliest recorded uses of the word in the West is in the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary, published in 1944, which describes one of the meanings of ​bong​ in the Thai language as, “a bamboo water pipe for smoking kancha, tree, hashish, or the hemp-plant.” 

There are two kinds of bong etiquette. You have the solo smoker where each person is given a bowl of weed to smoke all on their own, and then you have the group pass and smoke, where everyone takes a hit off a giant bowl and passes it around the room. If this is the case, always clear your bowl. Do not pass a bong that still has your smoke left in it!

I have a preference for glass bongs. Other common choices are plastic and ceramic. Of course, my main problem is breakage. I am a major breaker of bongs! My favorite head shop in San Francisco is Jeet Big Times on Polk near California. Years ago, I told the owner, “If you give me a good deal on a glass bong, I promise you that when it breaks, I will return and buy another one from you.” After the fifth or sixth time this happened, the owner would chuckle and walk to the water pipe section of the store as I entered. I did not lie, it was a good deal for him in the end.

One way to combat this senseless breakage is silicone. I discovered the Roll-Uh-Bowl, a portable, folding, silicone bong that is unbreakable! It comes in many colors (including glow-in-the-dark!) and a couple of sizes. You can even adapt it as a dab rig. It runs from $35 to $60, and you can just stick it in your bag for travel, pull it out and smoke it anywhere, and then just rinse it out and tuck it away for the next time.

Roll Uh Bowl’s Big Green bong

Now I have this beautiful glass piece gifted to me by my friend Birdie. I brought it home and found a secure place for it, and it has endured (knock wood). I try and keep to the rules. Do not leave the bong on the cheap tv tray by the couch. Do not leave the bong on the very edge of a desk or table. Do not leave the bong on the floor where I could kick it. It seems so simple until I walk into the room and find it exactly in one of those precarious places. What is my problem! (I’m a stoner, would be the obvious answer).

I did have a close call. I moved a giant CD tower out of my living room. Yes, I still have CDs. I had to go get something in the other room, and as I left I brushed against the tower. Well it decided to go all Towering Inferno on me and fell forward crashing into my side table sending CDs spilling across the room. A favorite pipe took a direct hit and was crushed. The new bong was hit as well! I inspected it. It wasn’t leaking or cracked, but I couldn’t get a hit off it. The inner glass stem had shattered. A quick $8 visit to Jeet who was obviously a little disappointed I didn’t buy a new bong, and bingo, the Birdie bong was like new again!

I think the lesson learned was a cheap glass bong will always easily break, but a nice heavy glass piece is worth the investment and will endure. In the end, of course, it will break someday too. So goes life. Just enjoy it until then.

Puff: Growing like a weed

Mary Lou is growing up!

PUFF My little Mary Lou is growing like a weed. Of course she is weed—she’s the cannabis plant I have been raising from a seed from my www.apotforpot.com kit.

In April I wrote a column about the company and its kit which was a way for anyone, especially urbanites, to grow their own cannabis plant and harvest it. I started my own at that time and have been tending to Mary Lou (Mary Jane’s cousin) since then.

At the time, I had reservations because I never had a green thumb or the urge to garden. Although all that may still be true, I am happy to report that I have been an avid and devoted caretaker to Mary Lou.

I have watered her, sprayed her with a special potion and carried her outside daily for a sun bath.

I’ve been posting pictures on social media about her growth like any devoted new parent would. “Isn’t mine just the cutest!”

First she was a little seedling wrapped in a paper diaper. After a while I transferred her into her own pot. It was such a day of celebration. Then came the day she needed training wheels, so I slid two chopsticks in the earth on each side of her and tied her up with a piece of twine. Now she could learn to stand tall.

In the beginning I sprayed her every couple of days with a mixture of water, Neem Oil and dish soap to keep the bugs away. I was aware of every new millimeter of growth on that plant. I feared that I was a bad parent and my weed plant wouldn’t grow any buds. Luckily, my friends in the cannabis community have calmed my nerves, kind of like a cannabis Dr. Spock.

Baby Mary Lou

I am her Sunchaser, pushing her on a cart from sunny area to sunny area all day to insure her buds grow big and strong. I am lucky to have a backyard area to do this in, but a couple of sunny windows can have the same effect.

Of course it hasn’t been all sunshine and happiness. A few days ago, someone broke through my security gate and ransacked through all my stuff stored outside. This jerk also assaulted Mary Lou! During the scuffle, he grabbed my beloved pot plant and yanked her up! When I found her, she looked bad. Luckily enough, the assaulter grabbed only the two chopsticks. The twine that had been holding her up was actually still on the plant holding her together at the top like a umbrella. Once I pulled down the twine, the plant was fine. The buds were safe! What a close call.

The last few days I have been watching her bloom into her adulthood. She no longer needs her training wheels and is standing tall. Puberty has brought mini buds under her leaves and they have begun to smell.

Now it is lots of water and sun and patience. I’m even leaving her under my oven light at night, just in case. I also talk to her and play beautiful music for her to grow to.

Where does the time go …

People have asked me whether I know the strain of the plant or whether I want to find out ahead of time and you know, I don’t care. It’s all weed to me. I will love Mary Lou if she is a sativa or an indica…or even a hybrid. I will love her, and harvest her, and smoke her like any proud grower would.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. There are many exciting things for us to enjoy together before harvest. She has much more developing to do, and I more lessons to learn.

I will always think of these sunny days and nights in 2018 as one of the best times of my life because I am a first-time grower, and no one can ever be that again.

Now it’s time to light up!

Happy trails! Checking out portable cannabis dab kits

PUFF My good friend Philippe found a portable mini dab kit for $40 on, of all places, Walmart.com. That is right, you read it correctly, Walmart. That’s where we are the cannabis revolution.

We were talking at a party about making a rig on the cheap, so Philippe started investigating. He found something called the Happy Dab Kit. He conferred with some experts at the party and was told, yes, it was a nectar collector with everything needed to dab. Ecstatic, Philippe ordered it. (Happy Kit offers a variety of “discrete travel kits” for cannabis users.)

We have been using the Happy Dab Kit for a few weeks now. As a matter of fact, Philippe is spreading dabs like a minister passing the good word to his flock. The other weekend at a backyard BBQ, I tried chatting with my friends only to discover happy, stoney zombies in Philipe’s dabbing wake. They loved that BBQ though!

You simply take a small dab of concentrate and put it in a silicone cup provided in the kit. The the metal end of the collector is heated to glowing red hot by a blow torch. You count down from 8 and then use the collector to suck up the small dab which is immediately turned into steam. It’s like a line you suck up rather than snort up. Yes, it is a little druggy, but I have enjoyed dabbing out and about. I find the high to be more social than smoking flower can sometimes be.

My review of the product would be a solid B. The nectar collector is great and easy to use. It all fits into a nice, small, well-made case with plenty of room for all your concentrates. The problems are the dabbing tool included which is used to scoop up concentrates was way too small and delicate, and the mini-blow-torch lighter was a piece of junk that barely made it a week.

So Philippe bought a fancy portable blow torch. An added cost to that original $40 investment. A proper dab tool would cost another $10, so now the total investment is $65-$70.

The Happy Dab Kit

I started thinking, are there even better deals out there? So I checked.

First of all, the Happy Dab Kit is no longer available at Walmart.com. (You can still get it on the Happy Kit site.) After some investigation, I found evidence it had been available at Walmart through a Pinterest posting, but that link was dead. Funny, they were also selling a Rosineer RNR-MV2 Manual Rosin Press last year which is used to squeeze concentrates out of cannabis plants. It is not currently in stock. Were these listed out of ignorance of their use or is the nation’s biggest retailer branching out into cannabis with these test items? The mind reels. After all, this is the Walmart that would only sell censored versions of music.

Something like the Happy Dab Kit is available on other sites. Amazon has a couple of interesting items, but the first item that came up when I filtered “dab kit” was a $14 blowtorch which made me chuckle. They knew what was what. I found a cute nectar collector kit for only $16.88. It is interestingly labeled as a “Great Holiday/Birthday Gift Box” but it came up in my filter anyway. Just add the blowtorch and a dab tool to that, and you have a bargain. But how portable is it? Not very, it seems.

Vape pipe by Anlerr Homles

Next was this groovy portable vaporizer from Anlerr Homles. It promises you can vabe herb and also dab concentrate, but investigating the pipe’s specs, I found that the chamber doesn’t get hot enough to actually dab concentrate. The pipe goes up to 149-224 degrees Celsius and you want around 377 degrees Celsius for dabbing. You always need to check these things out, no matter what the pitch is. 

So it looks like Philippe did indeed get a very good deal with portable Happy Dab Kit. It is a great way to try out dabbing and do it almost Old School (that would be hot knifing) with a blow torch.

When I was in Mendocino at a cannabis event recently, I met a CEO of a cannabis company who had his own electronic dab pipe made to his specs. It looked like something Sherlock Holmes would have smoked out of, and it hit great with no blow torch needed. I snapped a pic of it and was immediately asked to delete it. Top Secret! So there is definitely more portable dab madness coming our way soon!

Now it’s time to light up…or dab!

Giving your pet some CBD love

Tallulah, the official Puff mast, taking a nap after a My Best Bud treatment.

PUFF I was on the phone with my sister Rebecca the other day catching up. She lives in Seattle with her husband Jim and their dog Maya. I mentioned I was trying to think up a column idea for Puff, and seeing she is cut from the same journalistic cloth as myself, it tickled her fancy, and she just started rattling off one good idea after another.

My favorite idea was talking about giving our pets CBD (Cannabidiol) to keep them calm when taking them to the doctor or groomer. I flashed immediately back to every Fleet Week here in San Francisco, where the Blue Angel jets go zipping over the city giving our pets and a few residents conniptions. My first time, I was ready to take my cat Tallulah to the vets because I was convinced she was going to die, but she was just freaking out over the jets. She would body-crawl under the bed or in the closet not to be seen for many hours, poor thing.

Of course, the 4th of July is just around the corner as well, and that means fireworks, BBQs, and guests which could also put an emotional strain on our pets.

With this in mind, I hung up with Rebecca and started doing some research.

Well, she did too, and the first thing I saw the next morning was a text and pics for a Colorado Hemp Honey Chill Stick from Frangiosa Farms. “Experience the power of raw honey and hemp extract. Supports anti-inflammatory and antioxidant response. Terpenes, Vitamins & Minerals. Omega 3 and 6.” 

According to Rebecca, it’s $2.75, and was recommended by her Doggie Daycare to give to Maya one hour before bringing her in to get bathed and clippered. Evidently, it had the desired effect, and the dog loved it. On further research, humans can enjoy these honey hemp treats as well!

My research led me to My Best Bud, which sells a formula that has a 4:1 CBD to THC ratio (a 1:1 formula is available as well). It is a triple-tested, organically grown, pesticide and solvent-free, non-GMO cannabis liquid supplement combined with a proprietary blend of cannabinoids, terpenes, and organic MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil made from 100% coconuts.

According to the website, it’s available locally at Bay Care Delivery on Cesar Chavez and Waterfall Wellness Cooperative on Ocean Ave.

My Best Bud is listed as helping with anxiety, arthritis, allergies, behavioral problems, digestive issues, GI problems, inflammation, skin conditions, joint and mobility issues, loss of appetite, pain, restlessness at night, seizures, and pancreatitis. (Of course, this supplement does not take the place of any veterinarian prescribed medicine.)

I was curious. Does it help a pet to use a CBD treatment? How would I figure this out? Simple, I volunteered my 15 year-old tortoise-shell cat Tallulah as a test subject.

Tallulah is in good health, but I have noticed lately she slowly gets up and lays down like she has a little arthritis happening. Plus she has always been a bit of a grouch. (All my friends who know her are laughing right now.)

So for the last two weeks I have been giving her 1 drop from a syringe every 24 hours into her nighttime meal. The directions said to start small and watch your animal. Well, Tallulah is from a stoner household. She has had second-hand cannabis exposure her entire life and will occasionally walk into my bong exhale and then chill on the couch for a few hours, so I knew she would most likely react in a positive manner to a mere CBD supplement.

As predicted by the instructions, she slept a lot the first few days which is not exactly a jaw-dropper—she is a cat after all. She has been mellow and friendly. I feel like her fur is a bit softer. After the first week, she started stretching more, which I was told is the animal feeling some looseness in their bones from the CBD.

Nothing earth-shattering, but I am still interested in continuing the treatments to she how she continues to react to it. If it provides her a nice chilled attitude and less pain in her joints. I am thrilled. Time will tell.

Tallulah and Daddy

There are a lot of CBD animal products out there—tinctures, oils, sprays, cat and dog food, snack bites, creams. Consult with your veterinarian and local dispensary for more information. If your vet does not know much about these treatments, urge them to do some research. I know what CBD has done for pain relief in my human family, so I know it has to be beneficial to my pet as well.

So when the jets go “zoom,” the fireworks go “pop” or you have to take your pet to the vet or groomer, think about helping the little critters chill out using cannabis. Anytime I can use a natural product and not a chemical from a lab to help them out weighs well on my soul. We love them, they give us so much love and companionship in return, so let’s all get high and chill together.

Now it’s time to light up!

Puff: A little dab will do ya

PUFF Recreational and medicinal cannabis users are flocking to the world of concentrates. A few you might have heard of are kief, hash, wax, resin, and shatter. They are super-strong in comparison to smoking actual flower and can add a bit of HIGH to your high.

A lot of people just like to sprinkle a little on top of their bowl or in a joint. This is especially good for kief and wax because they are easy to crumble over your weed. Smoke gently to enjoy all the terpy goodness.

When it comes to the shatter and resin, however, you’ll experience something more oily which will stick to everything. The most popular way to smoke them is dabbing. I had not heard of dabbing until a couple of years ago. I thought I knew it all about smoking weed until this came up.

Visualize pot farmers stuck in the middle of nowhere watching their crops growing, looking for something to do. How about figuring out how they can get even higher? Sounds good.

So hot-knifing was born. You heat up two knives with a blowtorch, place a nug of concentrate in the middle and you compress them together. The resulting smoke or steam is collected in a plastic container and inhaled.

Nowadays, the knives are gone and the process is now called dabbing. In a bong-like pipe with a nail that is lit until glowing red. This can be done with the classic blowtorch method or even better with an e-nail which plugs in and you can control the heat.

According to Extraction Magazine, dabs can be unhealthy if you dab at too high a temperature. The higher the heat, the higher you get, but you lose the flavor of the terpenes and can create methacrolein and benzene. These are toxic substances also found in cigarette smoke. Keeping the temperature at 377 degrees Celsius or below should keep these toxins from forming.

So if you go to a dab bar, make sure and ask them what temperature their rigs are set at. You can always ask for a lower temperature and still get the psychoactive high you want.

We shouldn’t freak out too much yet because these tests were done on terpenes which flavor marijuana and not the actual marijuana oil. So until we get a definitive study, keep your dab temperatures lower, just in case.

My first time dabbing was at a dispensary. I walked to get my bus, and I just stood there as my bus came and went time after time. I guess after 20 minutes or so I snapped out of it and actually walked on to the bus. I made it home in time for a big face-planted-in-bed nap.

Since then, I have become better at dabbing.

An array of dab and flower choices.

If you want to try it, I suggest starting small. When you walk up to the bar, you will probably be asked what concentrate you want to try. I suggest a nice sativa to keep everything upbeat and peppy. Dabbing an indica guarantees me a nap within a couple of hours. At this point, the budtender will wipe off the rig’s mouthpiece with alcohol or hand you a swab to do it yourself. Then the budtender will slice a small amount of concentrate off and hold it over the nail.

You’ll need to lean over the rig and have your mouth just over the mouthpiece. Give him the nod or say you are ready, and he will drop that dab on the nail where it will sizzle and melt. You immediately start sucking up the vapor. Once the steam is gone, you are dabbed. Say thank you, get out of the way for the next person, and look for a place to sit.

After my weekend at the Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa, I am a dabbing pro. I dabbed 20 or more times in a day and came to realize that you can only get so high—and you also build up a tolerance over time.

People ask me if I want to own a dab rig. I say “No” because I don’t want to get used to it. Too many people have told me after dabbing for a while that they don’t get high on regular flower anymore. I want to experience the full range of cannabis products in all their glory, so dabbing is for parties and special events. That makes it more fun and special to me.

Get me to the party, and I am first in line for a dab. When I am at home, I prefer a nice bowl of flower to gurgle in my bong, but it is nice to have a little wax or shatter on hand for those times when I want that little something extra.

Now it’s time to light up.

Puff: More joys of microdosing

Somatik's revved-up, chocolate-covered goji berries and coffee beans.

PUFF I’ve sung the praises of microdosing before. Gummies, sprays and mints can deliver a small amount of of THC and/or CBD, 2-10mg per dose, so you can control just how much cannabis is in your system. Lately, I discovered three new small dose products that taste great and deliver a mild boost needed to relieve me of hangovers! That’s right, microdosing helps you fight that morning-after hangover.

Let me take you back to Easter. I had a fun Saturday night celebrating life with friends at a local watering hole with a bartender who possessed a heavy pouring hand—and I wasn’t saying no. I was supposed to be going to the Sisters of Perpetual indulgence celebration in Golden Gate Park the next day. As my eyes opened that bright and sunny Sunday morning at the crack of 11am, I could feel that pulsating headache beginning in my head. As I sat up, it swirled down into my stomach. Ugh.

At first I was just going to turn over and go back to sleep, but then all my friends started calling and texting me to see if I was ready. I struggled out of bed and into the bathroom where I threw back a couple of glasses of water and pain reliever. That didn’t do much, so I grabbed a Kwik Ease from the fridge and downed it.

Kwik Ease ($5 at Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, $12 for the 100mg) is the new 10mg cannabis shooter made with honey, lemon juice, ginger and quillaja bark put out by Manzanita and Madrone, known for delicious infused sodas and effective Fire Cider Tonic. Boom, a few minutes later the hangover was lifting. It didn’t go away completely, but just rose enough off my shoulders to be manageable.

I hopped in the shower and then got dressed. On the way out the door I grabbed my box of Sparks, the medicated chocolate coffee beans from Somatik (​​Sava Delivery for $19 a box, also Purple Star, CBCB and Barbary Coast). These pack a light but lifting punch at 3mg of THC each plus caffeine. (Somatik just released a new Spark, a chocolate goji bean with 2mg CBD and 1mg of THC. Available at Society Jane and Barbary Coast.) Three or four of those babies and, bang, I was walking with a skip in my step. I was actually hungover and in a good mood.

I made it to brunch. I didn’t actually make it to Golden Gate Park, but we did make it to Dolores Park and had a wonderful time enjoying the splendors of the City. I kept popping another Spark in my mouth (maybe 2) every hour or so, and I not only made it through the day, but I felt good. I had energy. I fully believe that microdosing saved me that day.

Kwik Ease from Manzanita and Madrone

It doesn’t have to be a hangover. Anytime you feel tired or a little out of sync with the day, pop a couple of these low dose cannabis products, and you will not feel high like smoking a joint, but just a little more revved up. Of course, you can always eat the whole box and get plenty high. They are made of marijuana after all.

People have also experimented using low dose cannabis to help with depression. A friend on Facebook did this and reported feeling better. Still, the government makes cannabis a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance that “has ​no currently accepted medical use in the United States” along the lines of cocaine and heroin.

So who do you believe? Your own experience or what the ill-informed (biased by Big Pharma, I am sure) government tells you? I believe the government is on the wrong side of history. So I’m going to pop three Sparks into my mouth and shoot a Kwik Ease and feel good about my decision on how to feel good. 

Puff: In Mendocino, Flow Cannabis Institute dreams big (and artisanal)

Press and marijuana luminaries gather for a tour of the Flow Cannabis Institute.

PUFF A few weeks ago, on a beautiful, sunny day in the rolling hills of Mendocino County, Flow Kana opened the doors of its new venture, the Flow Cannabis Institute. Nestled inside an old winery in Redwood Valley, the institute’s mission is to help small, local farms keep up with their larger competitors in the exploding marijuana market.

With its “Respect the land and the medicine that it produces” mantra, Flow Kana is positioning itself as a leader of “artisan cannabis.” (It’s also got some canny marketing ideas: For Mother’s Day, a current marketing campaign suggests, why not help mom find a favorite strain by gifting her some pre-rolls or eighth jars? Of course they’re calling it  “Mama’s li’l helper.”) The new institute will be a center of processing, manufacture, education, and leisure—a full complex of cannabis bliss.  

But I was here to see how how its small grower process worked. The proposition is for the institute to serve as a kind of umbrella company that will shepherd a farm’s cannabis crop, after it’s harvested, to established market. A tour for the press and marijuana luminaries gave us a sneak peek.

Basically, a farmer delivers their marijuana crop to the institute for storage in a temperature and climate controlled environment. When the time is right, the institute will test, trim, sort, weigh, package, label, box, and distribute the marijuana to dispensaries for the farmer. The institute also hopes to showcase the best sustainable farming techniques available.

Inside the processing room at the institute

I asked some of the experts at the event if this was a good model, and they all agreed it was. It just depended on whether the institute could pay the farmers enough while still having money for everything else they want to do.

The sprawling 80-acre property houses the 85,000-industrial-square-foot institute, a number of historical buildings, some giant art pieces, a pool, spa, and the infamous Mad-Dog Saloon. Companies can have retreats, throw parties, or use it as a weekend getaway to relax and learn the newest in cannabis horticulture.

At the opening ceremony party, there was a Wild West theme to go with the saloon, with free food, a bar and live music. Inside the saloon, patrons ordered pre-rolls made to their specifications or used available bongs. This was a far cry from saloons of yore, but it sure was fun and educational sitting there watching the budtenders roll joints.

Off to the saloon

(Side note: This is where marijuana party rules kick in. 1. Do not smoke all of anything at one time when you first get there. 2. Eat in stages because once you get too high, eating brings you down. I made multiple trips to the pizza oven throughout the event. 3. Drink more water than booze. 4. Don’t eat or drink any tincture or edible given to you by a really buzzed stoner. If that concoction made a pro that messed up, just imagine what it will do to you! Say “Thank You” and put it in your pocket for later.)

At the end of the event, it was easy to see how much work and effort Flow Kana made getting this far with their dream institute. The testing facility and storage spaces were still under construction, and there was still plenty to complete.

As we see so many marijuana farmers and companies going under because of the changes brought on by legalized adult usage, it’s nice to see a company trying to do something to save the small farmers and help them flourish.

I’m eager to see what comes next at the Flow Cannabis Institute. Now, it’s time to light up!

Puff: Grow your own at home? You’ll need pot(s)

Inside the A Pot For Pot kit. Photo by Dan Karkoska

PUFF I do not have a green thumb, nor have I ever wanted to have one. My grandfather was a farmer, and my dad always had a giant garden in the backyard when I was growing up. They provided me with enough terrible tasks and duties in their gardens to make me never want to get dirt under my fingernails again. Until I met Joshua Mezher….

Mezher and his partner Jason Levin created apotforpot.com, where you can grow your own cannabis plant in the comforts of your own urban dwelling. Both worked in the industry and wanted to find something beyond just growing weed. Mezher told me they were in Home Depot, walking through the planting supplies and they thought, “Hey, wait a minute, no one has ever sold a grow-it-yourself marijuana plant kit before.”

Now running the company from their apartment in the Tenderloin, the two are setting out to teach us all how to grow our own weed. The slogan is “just add water,” and there are two kits available: the Windowsill two-gallon kit (Marked at $100, currently on sale for $59.99) and the Balcony five-gallon kit ($99.95). I  chose the Windowsill kit and was told to expect anywhere between two to three ounces harvested from my plant. 

Items included in the kit. Photo by Dan Karkoska.

I opened my box and discovered everything I would need to grow, including a fungal root pack, coco brick, and aeration mix. I have no idea what some of these things are (well, I recognized the fabric pot), so I am relying on the instructions that came in the box. I have read them several times and feel prepared for the task at hand. Joshua also assured me that he would be on hand for advice if need be.

So far, I have seeded the feminized pot seed by soaking it. (Actually, I am lying. Joshua gave me a seedling because he was out of seeds that day, but I am just creating the full experience for the sake of the story). I took the coco brick and soaked it in water. I mixed Perlite and diatomaceous earth with it. Then I took the provided felt growing bag and filled the bottom with Super Soil, then the coco-perlite mix, then the seed-plant.

Planting begins! Photo by Dan Karkoska

I had the luxury of doing this in my own back yard, but it can be easily done in your kitchen. Just put down newspaper because it is very messy. I recommend having a big five gallon bucket ready for mixing the Coco and Perlite mixture. I used a large pyrex bowl, and it was way too small.

How exciting! If I can pull this off and grow a nice marijuana plant, ANYONE can do it.

My father was supportive and a bit amused. I’m sure he remembered the younger me constantly avoiding any kind of garden duties like pulling weeds or picking vegetables. It was a torture chamber for me, withering under that incandescent Texas sun where rotten vegetables, icky worms, insects, and irritable snakes waited to pounce on me at every turn.

Say hello to Mary Lou. Photo by Dan Karkoska

Here I am, all those years later. I never garden or grow anything, except maybe in the back of my refrigerator in a leftovers bowl, but that is purely unintentional. I step back into the arena because the power of weed compels me. If there is one thing that would make me ever garden again, it is cannabis.

So, I named my plant Mary Lou (She is Mary Jane’s sister). I am hopeful and excited to watch her grow and flower. There will be updates to follow. Joshua, I have you on speed dial.

Puff: From Peron to Prop. 64

Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary, photo by Dan Nicoletta.

PUFF History was made in the Castro on a bench at Cafe Flore in 1974. Dennis Peron shared a joint with Mary Jane Rathburn aka Brownie Mary and the two became friends. That friendship would lead to a shared devotion to bring cannabis medicine to cancer patients, and later AIDS patients. It would lead to the passing of Prop 215, creating medicinal marijuana, and changing the world.

Brownie Mary passed in 1999, and we lost Peron recently to cancer. I was lucky to be part of the memorial in his honor on March 11. It was a fantastic affair. The street was blocked off on Noe Street at Market. There was a giant tent erected with an amazing altar to Peron inside as well as music, a light show and giant blown-up photographs of his life’s highlights. Free food and drinks plus plenty to toke.

Noe Street was blocked off on March 11 for a celebration of Dennis Peron’s life. Photo by Marke B.

Then there were the speakers. They came from far and wide. Some were active participants in the history of medicinal marijuana. Some were lifelong fans and patients. Of course, there were the politicians to pay homage to the man who defied the law when he co-founded the very first medicinal dispensary at Church and Market called the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.

DJ Steve Fabus warms up the crowd at the Dennis Peron memorial. Photo by Marke B.

There were tributes to Peron everywhere. Everyone had wonderful things to say about this man and the legacy he left. But where is that love now for the cannabis industry he helped create? Politicians had no problem showing up and praising Dennis Peron; all the while the city and state have shown little of that kindness to the people continuing the fight.

Many people are feeling like they got a raw deal by Prop 64, which legalized marijuana this year. They say that it was pushed through by key members of the community who supported it because it released people from prison and was a stepping stone to a better law. That’s good; but these same key members already had a firm financial standing in the cannabis community. So when January came, they were just fine and could pay for all the crazy licensing fees and tests necessary to comply with the legalization standards. But lots of other people who followed all the official guidelines and advice given leading up to the change found a hostile environment.

Some California cities are not allowing edibles makers to rent any kitchen space to prepare their products. People who at one time ran very successful and profitible businesses are being reduced to cooking in their own kitchen, or worse. One friend of mine followed all the advice given to him, had a great space available in Oakland that he was paying rent on, and then he was fined and kicked out because of new regulations.

Of course not every story ends that way. There are lots of companies that have leaped over every hurdle put in front of them and made it through the gauntlet relatively unscathed. But when you look at the fact that only 1% of marijuana growers are currently licensed to grow in California, you know something is up.

You take a rebel group that has maintained its existence outside of the law for years. You finally get them out in the open and talk them into going legit for recreational cannabis. Then you throw all these rules and regulations at them which they grudgingly agree to. After the law goes into effect, lots of bad things about the new law pop up all over the place and their world turns toxic. What happens then? The rebels go back home and take their marijuana plants with them.

The black market for marijuana is insane right now. No one in the industry wants to pay all the taxes, and for many, the bad outweighs the good. Sure, the dispensaries are full of new patients buying guilt-free, legal weed, but soon the unhappiness in the vendor/grower world is going to have an impact on that.

Basically, the state is taking all the good that Dennis Peron spent his life working on and tearing it up to make room for something ore sinister. Gone is the compassion and caring that go with the medicinal cannabis movement, and now we have cold, unemotional business taking over. That was in part expected, but the soul of the marijuana movement is truly being tested. There are still many compassionate people in the industry, and we need to center their voices again.

So I hope all those politicians hailing Peron in public at his memorial will bring those thoughts with them to their offices, and try to bring a little of the caring back into the law.

California needs to look at the detrimental impact Prop 64 is having and make changes now!

It’s time to light up!

Puff: Cannabis sample boxes are perfect for newbies and connoisseurs alike

A nice full Kannibox. Photo by Johnny Kat

PUFF Walking into a marijuana dispensary can be intimidating, especially if you’re not sure what you want, or what will affect you in what way. The best way to learn these things is through sampling. When I first started hanging out in the canna community, sampling was what you did at every gathering. Now, with Prop 64 in place, no samples are allowed (a move that strikes me as odd and should have been struck down in the first meeting about it). I’m told that they’re currently trying to change that in Sacramento as I type—until then, I’d recommend some 420 box sets to get your feet wet. 

The idea first came to me last December when I read about Coast2Coast Medicinals in Canada creating a Cannabis Christmas Calendar where you opened a new box with a different gram of weed each day of the month; a kind of advent calendar with benefits. “What a great idea,” I thought. Then I read that they were inundated with more requests than they could fill, and I knew they were really on to something.

The Weekend Box is already all over Nevada and is attempting to make waves in California. You either order it ahead of time online or visit a dispensary that carries them and voila, it’s a party in a box!

A snazzy Weekend Box. Photo by Johnny Kat.

The Weekend Box I sampled came with an eighth of sativa flower, an eighth of indica, a vape pen and cartridge, a pre-rolled joint, a bag of gummy edibles, a jar of Papa & Barkley CBD topical, a glass pipe, lighter, assorted stickers, and a booklet.

Three avid marijuana enthusiasts sampled the box with me. We argued whether or not it was actually enough product for a full weekend’s party considering we were big stoners—and eventually decided it was more than enough. We enjoyed all the products. They were all good quality although they didn’t label the strains of flower beyond Rise for sativa and Rest for indica. I especially liked the terpy, sweet flavor of my Maui Wowie vape pen and the tangy watermelon gummy strips.

Inside the Weekend Box. Photo by Johnny Kat.

For beginners, the booklet is key. It describes each item in the box and its uses, strength, etc. It’s a wealth of information to help the buyer learn about the product, so on their next trip to the dispensary, they will come in with more knowledge about what they want to purchase. For the regular user, it’s an informative and well put together refresher course.

The Weekend Box can be filled with whatever themed products you want: The CBD Box, The Wedding Box, etc. They even recently teamed up with Caviar Gold for a special limited edition box. The options seem endless.

Another box set idea coming to you soon is the Kannibox. Michelle and Randy Dizitser have created a monthly box service that will give you the chance to taste and sample a whole array of cannabis products. 

Kannibox special delivery! Photo by Johnny Kat.

You simply sign up for the monthly service at $45/month and create your personal profile. Every four weeks you get a new box of samples and then you can let them know what items you liked and disliked. The next box will keep your new preferences in mind. If there is something you simply love, you can order the full-size product and have it delivered.

Each company that Kannibox represents gets their own page to post reviews and explanations of their product.

The box I sampled had a couple of nice edibles, two Lolas pre-rolls, Papa & Barkley CBD ointment, a gram of flower and a breath spray. I enjoyed all the products, but the real winner was the Gold Seal flower. It was a beautiful, frosty bud and a real pleasure to crack open with friends.

A frosty Golden Seal flower from Kannibox. Photo by Johnny Kat.

Kannibox is a one-stop sample shop and delivery service. They will begin service soon. Sign up today to be first in line.

There are many other cannabis box options coming your way, soon, especially around holidays—why not start thinking up your own cannabis boxing idea for gifts and to introduce newcomers? We’re on the vanguard of legalized marijuana, so the options are unlimited to what you come up with. We are all making history here. Go for it!

Now it’s time to light up!