My Cannabis Odyssey: To Vaporize or Not To Vaporize Dr. Grinspoon by Sebastián
Sebastián Marincolo, Ph.D (philosophy) (*1969) is a former student of the renowned philosophers William G. Lycan and Simon Blackburn. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind, neurocognition, and on the positive mind-altering potential of the cannabis high. He has published numerous articles and three books on the subject. His most recent book is the essay collection “What Hashish Did To Walter Benjamin” (Khargala Press 2015). Marincolo currently lives in Stuttgart, Germany, and works as a writer, researcher, and photographer. His cannabis essays and his art photography can be found at his blog www.marijuana-insights.com.
A few years ago, Lester asked me in one of our many Skype conversations about the cannabis high if I ever had the chance to try the cannabis strain Dr. Grinspoon, which the Dutch seed bank Barney’s Farm had created and named after him. I was surprised and a bit sad to hear that he had never used it himself. Obviously, he was curious to know more about its psychoactive and medical potential.
Since then, I have been to Amsterdam several times and tried to buy either some seeds or some Dr. Grinspoon marijuana to try it myself and to vaporize it – but it was always out of stock, not even available at the original Barney’s Farm store. I had heard from various users and professionals in the cannabis business that the strain would generate a magnificent high. However, they also said that the strain would not bring much yield, would be hard to grow, and it would be almost impossible to get because the demand was so high. I tried to order the seeds over the internet, with no success. My mails to Barney’s Farm did not get answered. When I called, they said it was temporarily out of stock. For a while, then, I gave up.
During my last trip to Amsterdam a few weeks ago I decided to make a last effort and went on another mission to get some Dr. Grinspoon seeds – what followed was a two hour long Odyssey through various stores selling seeds from Barney’s Farm, again with no success. I finally went back to the original Barney’s Farm store only to hear that they would not sell those seeds anymore. A very friendly employee behind the counter confessed to me he would have some seeds at home for himself, but that he would not give them away for anything in the world. ”It’s that good, hm?” I asked him and he gave me a bright, knowing smile, nodding his head. He told me, though, somewhat apologetically, that I could now get some Dr. Grinspoon marijuana at their coffee shop Amnesia a few blocks away.
When I arrived there, I was relieved to hear they actually had some Dr. Grinspoon and bought a tiny amount of the expensive marijuana, which allegedly has a 100% Sativa heritage.
I was extremely curious, but I didn’t want to try it right there. I wanted to sit down in a more relaxed and peaceful environment with C., a good friend of mine and a true cannaficionado. He loves to smoke marijuana in a joint with tobacco, but this time, I told him, we need to vaporize – I didn’t want to waste that precious green gold after this long hunt by burning it in a joint. I have researched the difference between a high resulting from burning versus vaporizing marijuana for quite a while and came to the conclusion that vaporizers generate a high which leaves you much more functional, cognitively speaking. Especially at lower temperatures, a vaporizer generates less CBN (cannabinol, an oxidative breakdown product of THC) compared to any process that burns marijuana. CBN brings some interesting medical effects, but you should avoid it if you want a clear, mind-enhancing high, because it tends to have a sedative, confusing, and disorienting effect. So, we vaporized Dr. Grinspoon with a precision vaporizer at a lower temperature (around 320-340F). For experiential reports, I believe that it really matters to be precise and let others know at which temperature you vaporize a certain strain with its distinctive chemotype. Cannabis contains around 100 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes/terpenoids and some flavonoids, which all have different medical and psychoactive effects. Each of these chemical compounds boil and vaporize at different temperatures and different strains contain different proportions of these compounds. So, by setting your vaporizer to a certain temperature, you extract a distinctive chemical profile from a strain, and each strain contains a unique chemical mix.
Before we inhaled, we wanted to analyze the scent of Dr. Grinspoon to find out more about its terpene profile – the compounds that give cannabis strains their unique scent and which also have distinctive psychoactive and medical effects (cannabinoids have no scent or aroma).
We found that, surprisingly, the small pearl-sized buds had a dominant pine tree scent, which could point to a higher level of the terpene alpha-Pinene. It also smelled like hay, not very sweet and we could not perceive much of a citrus note (which is officially described as one of the defining scents), it was more herbal, and a bit earthy. A very unusual, fine scent.
C. started to vaporize first. We talked about the manuscript of my new book about the marijuana high for a few minutes, knowing that a vaporizer high usually needs a while to take effect. After a few minutes, C. suddenly looked at me with a happy, surprised, and shining smile and said: “I can’t feel the cognitive effects of the high, yet, but I feel a remarkable change in mood; it makes me happy, a very gentle feeling of euphoria.”
A few minutes later I felt exactly what he had described. Not the euphoric rush accompanied by laughter or giggling which so often comes with the quick onset of a strong high along with other changes in cognition. There was only this wonderful change in mood completely separated from any other effects on the mind. No confusion, no silly mishaps that would make you laugh, just happiness. I was beginning to feel very calm, happy, and mentally relaxed. There it was, this profound feeling of euphoria, a state of pure bliss, warm and energetic. What a Sativa queen! The high had not even begun to kick in and it was already obvious that this would be special, majestic.
And then, the high came, slowly, subtle, very gentle, and crystal clear. I never experienced anything like that before. We both felt incredibly focused. In my books on the marijuana high, I often wrote about this “hyperfocus” effect of attention, but this hyperfocusing-effect was truly special. It did not feel so much as perceptually in a “tunnel” of attention, where you focus strongly on something selectively and forget about everything else. It made both of us feel aware of everything around us, calm, clear, highly functional, mentally very sharp and focused, yet open, and thoughtful. Perfect for an ADHD person like me, I guess, and I am sure this mental focus could help a lot of others, too.
There were no disruptions of short-term memory, not even once during that whole evening. Neither C. nor I lost the thread while talking or listening to the other.
The enhanced flow in thinking was amazing. Not too much speed, no mind-racing. I didn’t fall off from the back end of a speeding train of thought. Also, remarkably, there was practically no effect on the body. We felt energetic, yet neither agitated nor physically relaxed, and definitely not physically “stoned”.
When C. left for the kitchen to prepare some food, I felt an amazing stillness and clarity. I felt confident, strong, sharp, happy, very much myself, nobly elevated, and my intellectual abilities enhanced. This strain is like a rare champagne, a whole new experience.
C. came back and we talked for hours, generated great ideas, we had such an amazing evening! Later, walking home, I came up with some more great ideas for my new book.
After describing the effects of Dr. Grinspoon on my mind I was curious to read about whether the terpene alpha-Pinene which seemed to C. and me to be one of the dominant scents in Dr. Grinspoon. The cannabis information resource Leafly says that alpha-Pinene “helps counter short-term memory loss associated with THC and promotes alertness.” That makes perfect sense to me, but I could not find out so far whether the strain really contains high levels of alpha-Pinene.
In the last years, when I felt I need more clarity and get that elevated and euphoric feeling of insight, I often called Lester Grinspoon on skype to talk to him about the marijuana high. So, now, if he’s not available because he is busily giving interviews or consulting cannabis activists I can just go and vaporize Dr. Grinspoon. From now on I have the Grinspoon twins to talk to.
What a blessing.