Malcolm Jolley presents GFR’s first cannabis review…

The French say a man must be of his times, and I see myself as no exception. So, in the interest of serving the good readers of Good Food Revolution, on October 17, I made a purchase from our newly formed, if prosaically named, Ontario Cannabis Store of 3.5 grams of Haven Street Blueberry Kush for $40.30 (plus $5.65 shipping via Canada Post, plus $4.64 HST), with a view to report on the product for GFR. I picked the Blueberry Kush as the potential subject of our inaugural pot review because earlier that morning I had received an email from Lifford Cannabis Solutions, the new offshoot of the established wine and spirits agency, founded and run by a great friend of this website, Steven Campbell. In other words, I literally bought the first legal brand I had heard of.

I should interject the narrative of this review to explain that while I was, and remain largely, a neophyte on cannabis brands and what is now called The Business of Cannabis, I have been occasionally ingesting what was once quaintly called marijuana for the better part of 30 years. The main thing that separates those preceding, prohibition era, times with these freewheeling ones is not so much that there are cannabis brands now for sale online from the government (no less!), but that I am paying for the effects of THC and CBD at all. As a teenager I perfected, very quickly, the art of mooching pot. No matter how crowded the room, or wide the field, if someone lit a joint within a 100 metres of my presence the would soon find me standing next to them with expectant eyes focus keenly on the burner. As a more or less grown-up man, these opportunities became less frenetic since tended to happen around a dinner party table, à la Justin Trudeau, with friends happy to pass the dutchie. I realize that this admission of moochiness probably makes me out to be a bit of a cheapskate, but I assure you that the reason I didn’t buy pot for decades, until the morning of October 17 had nothing to do with money. It was simply about self-preservation mixed with a good measure of snobbishness: I didn’t wish to have (literally) dealings with drug dealers. In any event my days of mooching ended conclusively on the 17th, and I was very happy to make a purchase and begin paying back all those who had, from time to time, put me into an elevated state.

Buying the Blueberry Kush was easy, especially since I knew what I was looking for thanks to Lifford. Notwithstanding the grumbles about the OCS, I think their user experience, up to the point of inventory fulfillment (which many others have commented on), is pretty good. If I hadn’t been working on a tip, I’d like to think I would have found something that more or less fit my criteria: pot ‘flowers’ that can be smoked in a pipe that won’t render me in the proverbial wheelchair. I think so largely because of the wealth of information displayed about each product, as well as the informative guide to that information, on the OCS website, most importantly about THC (which gets you high) and CBD (which keeps you from being paranoid*, or otherwise promotes content calm). It also tells you the strain: Sativa (for a giggly head high) or Indica (for a body high). This information is also given in and on the packaging of the product, much like the degree of alcohol can be found on a bottle of wine**. I am told by connoisseurs that at 18% THC and 2% CBD, the Kush ought to be relatively temperate and pleasant. I have also been told that the distinction between strains of cannabis is a little blurry, since nearly everything on the market is hybrid of the two.

Anyway, what about the review? I’ve long believed context is a wholly underrated factor in food and wine reviews. Maybe less so in restaurant critique (if that’s even still a thing?), since the ambience of the room, and the character of the service weigh heavily on the conclusions of the reviewer. On the other hand, in wine writing, a pursuit I have been hacking away at for the better part of fifteen years, context is never mentioned, and all wines are Platonically examined for their inherent qualities, which presumably will be evident in all environments. I decided that to review a psychoactive drug, context was as important as anything, so I used the occasion of an intimate dinner party, comprising of three couples, all friends and neighbours, to test it out.

When the last Ontario government was putting together their plan to retail marijuana, much fuss was made that it wouldn’t be sold at the LCBO because it would be obviously very dangerous and irresponsible for citizens to mix alcohol and cannabis, and only the most degenerate low life death-wish reprobates would dare combine the two. Or something to that effect. At the time this position struck me as amusingly absurd since I don’t think I had taken cannabis without first putting back at least three or four drinks since I was a teenager and couldn’t get anyone to buy me beer. Sufficed to say, some bottles of wine were opened before we opened the the white plastic, pharmaceutical looking, jar of Blueberry Kush, and a glass of wine was not far as we tried it out. This was by design: this is how bourgeois middle aged people like me (and at the risk of repetition, reportedly our Prime Minister) take our THC buzz. In the same way that car companies take their new models up to The Yukon to try them out in winter conditions, I believed it was necessary to try the Blueberry Kush in an action context. If the evening turned out to be a disaster of legless paranoids who had to excuse themselves early, or what have you, then so be it, and would be time to try another brand. Since I am now over 1,000 words on the Blueberry Kush, you may correctly surmise that the product’s effects, even when consumed with a standard amount of wine, were altogether benign.

Our small group split along gender lines: the gentlemen volunteered to try the Blueberry Kush before dinner, so the ladies (wisely) could observe our behaviour and decide if they wanted to partake after. Out to the back deck we went with the Kush, a lighter and a small metal pipe. We opened the jar to find a bunch of healthy looking buds. Our first response to the flowers’ smoke was the only very mild disappointment of the evening: it did not taste like blueberries. If you asked me, it just tasted like hot pot smoke. If I am going to really get into cannabis reviews, Maybe I ought to invest in some kind of bong apparatus to cool the smoke seek out the flavour notes I am missing. Or, I guess, a vape thing. Or, take Pat Crocker’s lead and start cooking with it. But I am not there yet, and I find enough flavour in wine that I don’t really need to pursue it in cannabis, nor wish to populate my house with paraphernalia. What I want from cannabis is to get high.

High is what we got from the Blueberry Kush. First the gentlemen, for whom a small amount carried us through dinner pleasantly and without dulling our wits in any perceptive way. This likely disappointed our wives a little, as they missed the opportunity to mock us, but it was generally accepted as a very good thing, and the ladies decided it was safe to get into the Kush. What happened next was utterly boring, at least in terms of narrative development. We had a pleasant time around the table, talking about the usual bourgeois things and maybe laughing a little harder at our jokes. The Blueberry Kush presents a very clear headed high, a pleasant feeling of well being throughout one’s body. It’s social pot that, all things considered, doesn’t render its consumer into a dribbling mess, or a paranoid wreck, or any of the bad other things that can happen to someone who takes their chances with street drugs. In subsequent trials, I discovered it works exceedingly well in a dance party, or a Netflix and chill situation. I suspect it would suit a good deal of the GFR readers interested in the new cannabis culture. So, thank you Steven, I couldn’t think of a better way to dip my toe into the pool of legal marijuana.

*More or less, I know: see my interview with cannabis cookbook author Pat Crocker here, for a more detailed and accurate description of the two psychoactive ingredients.

**I wish it were also mandatory to list additives and grams per litre of sugar on wine bottles, but that’s for another post.