On New Year’s Day, long-clandestine cannabis will join the ranks of beer, wine, mixed drinks, cigars and other adult indulgences in California.
It’s easy for a newcomer to feel overwhelmed by this new purchasing power. It’s like cruising the aisles of Costco without a game plan. For those who may choose to imbibe, here’s a cannabis primer, based on interviews with marijuana growers and retailers, physicians and drug abuse experts.
Premium marijuana is sticky, fluffy, dense, leafy, covered in hairy crystalline sprinkles or fine hairs.
Only buy cannabis that’s been tested for purity, potency, pesticides and contaminants (although the marijuana available on Jan. 1 may not meet that standard). Look for a testing certificate. And make sure the packaging is child-resistant.
Today’s weed is the product of generations of selective crosses, grown in fertilized soil, protected to prevent wind stress and contamination and packaged in air-tight containers soon after harvest to ensure freshness.
FINDING GOOD STUFF
Learning to appreciate good cannabis is no different than learning to appreciate good wine, music or art. Customers should steer clear of bad cannabis, often the result of poor growing conditions or careless storage.
Long gone are plastic baggies filled with harsh and dry Panama Red or Acapulco Gold — grown in the dust, hung from hot roofs, shipped in the back of smugglers’ trucks and then warehoused for months.
Judge cannabis on these four criteria: Sight, smell, taste and feel.
If the marijuana looks as if it’s been stored in a coffee can since the 1960s and smells like hay, don’t buy it.
TYPES OF CANNABIS
Just like wine, cannabis has varietals. The species called indica is short and stocky with dense buds, native to the chilly mountains of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Another species called sativa is tall and lanky with spindly buds. It comes from warm places like