Ode to Smokin’ a Joint – Cannabis Style

In the new world of cannabis, the herb is not just for smoking, not just for joints. There are salves and ointments, topicals, orals, capsules, sublinguals, anal suppositories, tinctures in oil, alcohol or glycerine. There are edibles ranging from candy to cake, from soft-drinks to savory treats and lots of infused chocolates. Luckily, for all the people I know who have struggled to quit smoking tobacco, and, thus, do not want to smoke anything at all, there are now exists myriad other ways to ingest this fragrant herb. But, for me, I’ll always be a Joint kind of guy.

When Susan Soares, producer of events such as The State of Cannabis, asked me for a quote about why I prefer to smoke joints, my mind spun into gear to come up with a clever soundbite, a quotable quote. I’m still working on that part, but it got me to really thinking of all the reasons that I love to smoke joints. The more I thought about it, the more reasons came to my mind. Maybe by the end of this essay, I’ll have my purple passage.

As an old hippie from Haight-Ashbury days, I still simply prefer hand-rolled joints—with no filter, thank you. I can always taste the cardboard of the filter, like when we used to roll up a matchbook cover to use as a crutch to hold the roach. Back then we used to save all the roaches so that when we ran out we could roll up El Roacho Supremo. My motto was (and still remains): “Always smoke the last joint! If you do, the next one is already on the way.”

Of course, when the next one comes along, roll her right up! Nowadays, though, it is with extra respect, as we are so much more aware and conscious about every part of the plant and the dynamic work that goes into one’s full experience. We now know it’s all about the totality of the encounter with the beneficent herb, for instance. As an athlete in my youth, I was never a tobacco smoker, but later in life, I did smoke a pipe for a while and on rare occasions enjoyed truly fine cigars. There is something about a “good smoke.” With cannabis flowers, however, you get to roll your own and this inestimably enhances the total “smoking experience.”

The first sensation is always the initial hit of pungent terpenes as they jump out of the jar right up my nose. I’ll pull out a bud—appraise the color, shape, trim job and sparkle—and slowly bring it to my nose, inhale deeply and let my mind trip out on associated smells stored in my olfactory consciousness. Next, I’ll break up the bud and feel the texture, the stickiness, dampness or dryness; chop or grind it, run it through my fingers, play with it. Roll it up, take a dry hit so as to once again savor the terpenes. Then, with a blessing to Ganja Ma, I fire it up. All this is preparatory to the smoking, but it provides me a much deeper appreciation of the flower I’m smoking, since I enlist the senses of sight, smell and touch throughout the process. That calling is mindfulness of smoking cannabis in action.

The sense of taste is the last to be engaged in the evaluation and enjoyment of the flower. Now begins the journey of smoking the joint. Notice if the flavor is also an expression of the fragrance. Be aware of the flavor changes as the joint gets smaller, bringing new taste memories to the fore. Oft times, one of the most flavorful inhalations comes when the joint is about ¾ of an inch long and all the resins that have been decarboxylated are amalgamated together in the oil at the end of the joint—sort of a summation and culmination of all that flower has to offer.

All of this is subjective evaluation, yet I have discovered there is some science behind my preference for fresh ground hand rolled joints. Some years ago I was told about a patent that had been issued by the U.S. Patent Office for a device that vaporized cannabis flowers at two distinct temperatures. At the lower 150-160°celsius (302-320° Fahrenheit), the THC component is vaporized, while CBD vaporizes at 180-200° celsius (356-392° Fahrenheit), which is quite a difference.

Logically, then, by extension, every one of the over 400 compounds in cannabis vaporizes at a different temperature. The only way to inhale every one of these components is by smoking a joint.  A vape pen, a bong or bowl, a volcano etc. work in a very narrow temperature range. Many use extracts or concentrates which are not full spectrum, heavy on the THC.

When you smoke a joint, with the dry hit you are already inhaling some terpenes at roomtemperature. Once ignited, the cherry coal moves through the joint, vaporizing before combusting the flower millimeter by millimeter. As you puff on the tip, the temperature on the cherry-lit side rises gradually in a continuous scale from room temperature to over 370 degrees before combusting.

This means that every different compound, at every different temperature, is vaporized at some point as you smoke a joint. As a result, even the trace elements that comprise the minor notes of the entire ensemble of compounds are ingested in the proportion that Nature and the Cultivator co-created organically under the full sun.  

And with an exhale, I encapsulate my Ode to Joints, Cannabis Style.

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