When I get my first bag of marijuana home, I have no idea what to do with it. Unlike most medicine, cannabis doesn’t come in a “dosage” so much as in “servings.” I have opted not to smoke the stuff, so I walk into my boyfriend’s apartment with two beads of THC wax and an assortment of “edibles”: a chocolate bar, a cup of vegan ice cream, a peanut butter cup, and a piece of pound cake. Given the rumors of munchies and the insanely fatty things marijuana is available in, it seems impossible that people with low or healthy BMIs are more likely to use marijuana. But in fact, marijuana users not only have healthier BMIs but also better blood sugar levels, despite consuming more calories overall. I stare at the chocolate bar and wonder if it’s going to somehow trim off the seven pounds I’ve been trying to lose for a year (and by “trying to lose,” I mean running the quarter mile to my local Los Burritos).
“Will you watch me take this?” I ask my boyfriend, “I’ve never done it, so I am afraid I’m going to get paranoid or something.”
“I want to be used to it the first time I have to take it for that,” I explain, “And besides, it’s supposed to be preventative too.”
Milo agrees this is a good idea, and turns on Kitchen Nightmares to comfort me as I ease into delinquency. Professional angerball and chef Gordon Ramsay is yelling at two plump twins about the failing Italian restaurant they own as I heat up my THC oil and pour it into my TriStick vaporizer. The “vape” looks like a nice pocket pen, with a pink shell and a glass compartment on the end, which contains a warming rod and eight wicks to facilitate heating the wax and creating smoky vapors. When I finally get the wax in, I press the heating button and take a puff. It’s easy! It’s so easy, I can’t believe I’ve never smoked before. I’m puffing away like a pro: five, six, seven times, blowing the smoke out in dense clouds of badass. I am going to have fancy parties where I dress up like Audrey Hepburn and vaporize my marijuana and talk about Truman Capote’s best short stories. This is going to be life-changing, and I am already feeling the effect of—
“Babe, you’re not inhaling,” Milo interrupts.
“What?” I say, incredulous.
“You’re not inhaling the fumes. You’re just keeping them in your mouth.”
“Yes, I am inhaling! How would you know?”
“Because that’s way too much smoke, and it’s all coming out of your mouth too fast.”
He’s right. What I thought was expert vaping was actually amateur cigar smoking. I haven’t been filling my lungs at all. I try to tell my lungs to open up and accept the fumes of burning herbs, but they are too smart for me and refuse. After several minutes of projecting my frustration on Milo, I finally inhale my first puff. It requires me sucking on the vaporizer, opening my mouth, and then taking a big gulp of air. It’s like swallowing pool water.
“Jesus Christ, my lungs!” I cough, throwing the TriStick at Milo.
“You’ve just experienced what every eighteen year old experiences when they smoke the first time,” he says.
“Not every eighteen year old,” I say.
Twenty minutes later, I emerge refreshed and ready to read a book and go to sleep. Except it’s not twenty minutes later, it’s sixteen hours later; time has become a hypothetical concept that can be opted in or out of, and I’ve done nothing. I haven’t eaten, cleaned my kitchen, worked, or gone to the party my coworker promised she would hold on the condition that I attended. I’ve been in Nowhereland, hovering between Milo’s couch, bed, and toilet, pondering the unprecedented shape of the human hand. Oh my god, I’m a stoner.
I hadn’t meant to get high. I had only wanted to learn how to vaporize, and how much, but the combination of the vaporized THC and a tablespoon of vegan ice cream had been way too much for my system. Milo spots me sobering up.
“What a productive weekend!”
Over time, I learn to take small, brief drags on my vaporizer—enough to benefit from the analgesic properties without having any effect on my mental state. My headaches are decreasing in severity by a lot and, other than when I catch a bug, decreasing in frequency as well. The THC also works wonders on the migraine-induced nausea.
I decide to take one more go at edibles. Every treat I got at the last place was so dense with marijuana, the servings made no sense.
“This brownie is eight to ten servings.”
“So, I eat a tenth of a brownie?”
“Maybe not the first time. Maybe half that.”
Perhaps another place would have more reasonable offerings, which I could better dose. I try the Greenhouse, which is conveniently placed between Milo’s and my apartments. I stop by on the way to his house, still nervous about partaking without a chaperon. They buzz me into another dark building with warnings that if I use a cell phone, I will go straight to Hell. Unlike the other dispensary, this one has sparse walls and actually feels like a business office, despite the obvious smell. The woman at the counter takes my information and leads me to the back, where I wait to be called to the medicine counter in yet another room. Again, I am the only woman.
When they call me back, a gregarious young man is thrilled to see me.
“Heeeeey! First time!”
“Yes, hi, I’m Carrie.”
“Great! I’m Jeff!” he might have said. He definitely looked like a Jeff.
Jeff shows me the assortment of options. There are plenty of jars of straight-up pot, and he immediately runs down descriptions of each, using words like “mellow,” “active,” and “just awesome.”
“I actually don’t smoke,” I explain, “I am learning to use a vaporizer for my migraines. And I thought I’d try some edibles, too.” He leads me to the fridge, which is full of cakes of every kind, and I choose a vegan pound cake. He says that, this being my first time, the pound cake is on the house. Then we get to talking about Jeff’s favorite chewable candies, each about a bite’s worth, at the steep price of $12.
“This one is like WHOOOOOA! And this one is like, mellow, you know? And this one is, like, no head, right? But this one is all ZOOOONK!”
I try to picture a proper pharmacist describing their medicines this way. “This morphine is all WHOOOOOOOA and this Prozac is like YEAH!”
I explain that I am not going for a psychological effect, but just to prevent my headaches. It’s very clear that no one has ever said this to him.
“Oh! Uh, hm. Okay. Well, you could vaporize, I guess, then. We only carry one oil for that. It’s $40.”
“That’ll be fine. By the way, how many servings is that little chewy candy?”
“Oh, four to ten.”
About a month later, I am able to use my vaporizer regularly, significantly decreasing my migraines, though not eliminating run-of-the-mill headaches. I guess I can always thank last year’s BossFromHell® for giving me those.
On summer afternoons, I like to walk around our neighborhood with Milo and puff on my vaporizer once or twice while we walk to the grocery store for popcorn and Jello. Audrey Hepburn probably wouldn’t be seen wandering through New York City with a TriStick, but Milo no longer compares me to eighteen-year-olds, which is a step in the right direction. Neither of us notices any changes in my mental state when I use my medicine, either. On one of those summer walks, we pass by the inexplicably-titled Thai restaurant, Crunchy Pig Team, and Milo points out the even-less-explicable addition of a King Kong picture on their sign.
“Look what it says underneath,” he says, pointing at Mr. Kong.
Beside enormous red letters reading “Crunchy Pig Team” and underneath the picture of King Kong, it says “King Kong.”
I burst out laughing. I have never seen anything so funny in my life. Milo gives me an odd look.
“It’s not that funny,” he says.
He takes my hand and we go get popcorn.
This article is second in a series of two. Read the first article here.