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The last decade and a half have been good to marijuana (or kind to bud, if you go for that kind of joke). More and more states have passed medical marijuana laws since California blazed the path way back in 1996, and just last year, Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. That was a dream come true for both proponents of legalization at the federal level and the long-suffering residents of Colorado, who have absolutely nothing else to do but smoke pot. You shouldn't be punished for living in a boring state, it's about time politicians understood that.

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This guy gets it.

Now that Colorado has kicked the legal weed door down, expect several more states (including yours) to follow suit in the coming years. That means you might have access to more marijuana than you've ever seen in your entire life very soon, and you can enjoy it all you want without the worry of falling afoul of the law.

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Or having to sit in this dude's living room.

If you decide to partake, you might be surprised to find that, like so many other things you haven't kept up with since high school, marijuana has changed a lot over the years. At least that's what my friends who smoke weed told me when I interviewed them for this article.

Here are five ways marijuana has changed since the last time you got high.

5
Weed Does Not Always Make You Sleepy

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I wrote about medical marijuana once before, because I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty to make the wheels on this column go 'round. As with any other subject, while researching that article I came across a few fun facts that I like to toss out at gatherings and parties and such whenever an opportunity to turn the talk toward me and what I do for a living presents itself. The marijuana fact that seems to come as the biggest surprise to people is that, contrary to popular belief, weed does not always make you tired.

If you ever hear someone say that they tried weed once and then gave it up forever, ask them why. You'll almost always get one of two answers. It either made them terrifyingly paranoid or it just made them fall asleep. In fact, if they give any other answer, stop hanging out with them. That person is probably a total bummer.

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"Sometimes I wonder if you even want friends, son."

Anyway, it's the latter of those two experiences that happens to the majority of people (thankfully), so the generally accepted stereotype about marijuana is that it makes you sleepy. Think about those two reactions for a second, though. Extreme fatigue or extreme paranoia. Those are basically opposite ends of the mood spectrum. How does the same drug have such vastly different effects on people? Simple: There are two vastly different types of weed.

One, indica, is the kind that makes you tired. The other, sativa, has the opposite effect. I know it seems counterintuitive, but there is some marijuana out there that, when consumed in whatever fashion you prefer, will give you laser-like focus and concentration, even if the only task at hand is the regrettable one of selling the rest of the room on your theories about why 9/11 was an inside job.

Unfortunately, that's also the type of marijuana that is capable of producing what's commonly known as a "bad trip," so it should come as no surprise that, on most marijuana dispensary menus, indicas make up the majority of the available selections. Additionally, "hybrid" strains (crosses between indica and sativa) tend to be indica-dominant as well.

So, it's not that weed always makes you sleepy; it's just that the kind that does is also the one that's most readily available and most commonly used. And that brings up another question. If you've talked with your doctor and decided medical marijuana is right for you, how will you know what kind to buy to fix your particular ailment? That's easy ...

4
Medical Marijuana Has Its Own WebMD

Leafly.com

Marijuana wouldn't be legal for medical use if there wasn't at least some evidence that it's effective at dealing with the problems for which it's "prescribed." The thing is, that list of ailments is fairly extensive ...


I might have added a couple of those myself.

... but it's nowhere near as long as the list of available marijuana strains. If forced to choose between, say, an eighth of Cat Piss or an eighth of Girl Scout Cookie, how will you know which is best for treating your depression?

You may note that each of those excellently named strains is a link. If you click them, you'll be taken to a site called Leafly, which is basically WebMD for medical marijuana. Sort of. You can't use it to diagnose your medical problems, but you probably shouldn't use the real WebMD for that either, no matter how much fun it may be. What you can do with Leafly, though, is find the ideal marijuana strain for just about any ailment that "doctors" might "recommend" you "treat" with a bong shaped like the space shuttle.

Leafly.com

For example, are you wondering which strain of marijuana will finally rid you of those pesky muscle spasms? Obviously, a toke of the Django is what you need.

Leafly.com

Feeling nauseous? Don't reach for Pepto-Bismol. Roll up some Dopium instead!

Leafly.com

Is your woman stressing you out because it's "that time of the month" again?

Leafly.com

Break up with her. You wouldn't be smoking weed if you welcomed stress like that into your life.

So, you've read my hard-hitting expose on how to obtain a medical marijuana card, and you've researched Leafly and decided on the perfect configuration of frosty nuggets to cure your diseases. Now, how do you decide where to shop? That's also easy, because ...

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3
Medical Marijuana Also Has Its Own Yelp

Weedmaps

In the age of the Internet, no service is immune from having to answer to the often deadly online review. Websites like Yelp not only give commoners like us a place to have our voices heard when we feel we've been wronged by the shitty service at a store or restaurant, but they also provide a means of exhaustively researching every available option before making a buying decision.

A website like that also exists for medical marijuana dispensaries. It's called WeedMaps.com. Well, because nothing says "We're chillaxed, bro" like airtight search engine optimization, the actual URL is legalmarijuanadispensary.com. "WeedMaps" is just the stage name.

Weedmaps
Those purple dots are places near the Cracked office where you can legally buy weed, for the record.

How does it work? Well, say you've done the research and decided that the best hope for curing your anxiety is to fire up a bowl of Afghani Bullrider. Just type the name of that strain into the handy search function and you'll be presented with a list of dispensaries that sell what you need. From there, you can not only compare prices ...

Weedmaps

... but also read reviews of each dispensary. As you might imagine, medical marijuana reviews are a special kind of wonderful to read:

Weedmaps
Dispensaries be trippin' sometimes.

Granted, you can find reviews of marijuana dispensaries on Yelp too, but you won't find updated weed menus, which are usually worth reading just for the names.

Weedmaps
Of course there's weed named after the president.

In case you're wondering, "DOGO" is short for "donate one, get one." To avoid having their doors kicked in by the feds, dispensaries use words like "donation" instead of "price" so as to not imply that they're operating a for-profit marijuana business. So, in the regular shopping world, that abbreviation would be "BOGO," or "buy one, get one."

What I'm saying is, there are weed stores that have buy one, get one free sales, and this website helps you find them. Welcome to the future. Wait until you see what else has changed.

2
They Make Weed You Can't Smell Now

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images News

Over the past few years, e-cigarettes have become all the rage with people who still want to inhale nicotine into their lungs but want to do it without also taking in the arsenic and motor oil and other assorted nastiness that cigarette companies use in their products. Some of them even look like real cigarettes (from a distance):

Rosa + Rosa Studio, Inc/NJOY via Bloomberg
Not the kind Stephen Dorff endorses, though, if that matters.

The best part? They have almost no smell. The "smoke" they produce is actually just a vapor that leaves behind no noticeable scent. That means you can smoke them pretty much anywhere without eliciting many complaints, if people even notice at all. Now, can you guess what this e-cigarette has in it?

LASpeedWeed
More Stephen Dorff?

If you said "the equivalent of a quarter-ounce of marijuana," then you are correct. That was an amazing guess. Also amazing: Just like regular e-cigarettes, the ones filled with pot have virtually no smell. The cruel twist of marijuana being the most harmless "controlled substance" on the planet, aside from the fact that it's absurdly easy to catch in a drug test and sometimes necessitates interacting with fans of the band Phish, is that its aroma is so pungent that smoking it discreetly is pretty close to impossible.

That all changed when someone discovered that the same means used to vaporize nicotine can also be used to vaporize weed. Except saying that an e-cigarette is vaporizing actual "weed" is a bit misleading. Anyone who's actually seen a quarter-ounce of marijuana knows it would take about 25 of those e-cigarettes to hold it all. What's actually inside there is (usually) something called hash oil. And that's fine, hash is just a concentrated form of marijuana, after all.

Mjpresson
Concentrated to look terrifying.

A lot of e-cigarette-type devices also include a liquid called propylene glycol as part of the vaporization process. That's alright to smoke too, right? Maybe. The technology that went into making propylene glycol and delivering nicotine through the lungs such good friends in the first place has only been around since 2000 or so. It's been mass marketed for about half that time, and e-cigarettes have only taken off in popularity in the last few years. So who knows? More importantly, if you're talking about the difference between e-cigarettes and a pack of Newports, who cares? Unless e-cigarettes give you some faster, more aggressive form of cancer, they can't be a whole lot worse than their "natural" counterparts.

Not so much the case with weed, though, right? It's not like your friendly neighborhood grow operation is spiking their Afghani Kush with tobacco company chemicals. Introducing something like propylene glycol into the mix kind of flies in the face of what weed is supposed to be about, right?

Right. And that's not the only recent development in marijuana technology that's bringing scary-sounding chemicals to the party.

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1
It's Not Always "Just a Plant" Anymore

The talking point most frequently brought up by those who preach the benefits of cannabis use is that, ultimately, marijuana is just a plant. It's all-natural and grows in the ground, so how bad can it really be? God made dirt and dirt don't hurt, as the saying goes.

That's mostly a sound argument, even if everyone stops listening when a stoner starts talking. That said, it's also a hard argument to make for an insanely popular new way to enjoy marijuana. It's a concentrated form called "ear wax" or just "wax" and it will fuck you up. The only question is, "In how many different ways?"

If we're talking the "420" kind of way, wax will definitely do the job. The THC content of most strains of marijuana falls into the 15 to 25 percent range. THC is weed's active ingredient, meaning the ingredient that gets you high. The THC content of wax, on the other hand, usually falls into the 65 to 90 percent range. That's an insane difference. It's basically the Four Loko of marijuana.

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Like Four Loko is the horse tranquilizer of beer.

And now for the scary part. How do beautiful green leaves like these ...

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images News

... turn into a product that comes disturbingly close to living up to the visual promise of its "ear wax" name?


Why shouldn't this be in your lungs?

The THC is extracted with motherfucking butane, that's how. Butane is fuel, ladies and gentlemen. You use it to make fire. If you've kept up on your Breaking Bad episodes (as the terms of your Internet membership require), you know that making drugs by way of a chemical extraction process can be far from an exact science.

When the process goes wrong as it relates to wax, the result is that some of the butane stays behind in what you eventually smoke. Is that good for you? Probably not, but willingly inhaling butane has only become commonplace with marijuana smokers in the last couple of years. That's even less time than we've been cutting our Marlboro juice with propylene glycol, so the science on the matter is still pending. There's probably nothing to worry about, though, it's not like a marijuana dispensary would be unscrupulous enough to sell wax that they knew still contained butane, right?

Weedmaps

What you're looking at there is a snippet of the menus from two different dispensaries. Wax generally sells for $45 to $65 per gram. Both of these dispensaries carry the exact same strain of wax (Sour Diesel) and are in the same general area, but one of them is selling their product for half the price of their competitor (and most other competitors, for that matter). In light of how wax is made, it borders on terrifying to think about what might account for those savings.

Still, there isn't any hard proof that concentrated wax forms of marijuana actually do any harm, so it's premature to say for sure that they pose a threat to public safety. At least that would be true if butane extraction accidents weren't causing motel room explosions galore throughout California right now like so many Midwestern meth labs before them.

That's video of a news story about an explosion that happened when a man was using butane to make a wax-like product called "honey oil" in his garage, and it's definitely not an isolated incident.

So, if you're looking for the biggest way marijuana has changed since the last time you smoked, here's hoping you don't find out by way of your dipshit neighbor blowing the entire apartment building sky high trying to make gasoline-powered super weed in his kitchen.


Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.


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