When Did Weed Get So Complicated?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

When I was a teenager, you know how you could tell who the real potheads were?

They checked for stems in the baggie before they bought their dime bag.

That was it. That was the sole criteria.

Oh, I mean, some people knew vaguely where their pot was from – “like, Jamaica” – but those guys were so into pot that jarring them away from weed-related conversation was like trying to hip-check a locomotive off a track. They were the kind of folks whose decor consisted entirely of Grateful Dead posters and bongs.

Mostly, weed was just, you know… weed. You knew a guy who could get it for you. You paid your money and you got a tiny packet full of weed – not Pineapple Kush, not some superhero name like White Widow, just Weed. And you smoked your Weed, and it was either good or not depending on the dealer’s sources that month, and that was pretty much the consumer experience.



Thanks to legalization and fetishization, I no longer speak the language of marijuana – which, if you’ll recall in my caveman days, used to be just one grunted word of “WEED.” There’s strains, and sativa levels, and sleep-marijuanas and pain-fighters, and all sorts of other aspects I’m completely unaware of.

Marijuana’s always made me paranoid. But now I’m paranoid when people merel discuss it, because they’re discussing these elaborate breeds and I’m trying to pretend that I’m the sort of hip guy who’s not going to interrupt their 301-level discussion with my kindergarden questions.

Yet interestingly, I don’t feel guilty about not knowing this stuff.

Instead, I find it fascinating that a culture’s grown up around it.

I mean, when I was young, there was pretty much “BOURBON” and you drank one of three brands. Now, in this beautiful hipster world we live in, there’s small-batch and single-barrel and mashbills and favored distilleries, and I speak the language of bourbon fluently. And it’s not that culture didn’t exist when I was a kid, but it was mostly confined to the snobs and the makers.

Now everyone’s a snob and everyone’s a maker and it’s kind of wonderful, seeing this exploration.

I mean, certainly someone knew the marijuana strains (in their infancy though they were) when I was a dumb teenager, but that sort of knowledge was hard to get – you either had to buy a book, which meant you were interested enough to pay money for a book on a topic you didn’t yet know, or you had to know a guy who could educate you. (And man, lemme tell you, when I was growing up, pot dealers were not the sort of people you wanted to have give you an education.)

Now? If you’re interested in marijuana, “weed strains” will get you a list that you can traverse at your leisure. The Internet demolished the barriers to learning, so now you can become reasonably educated on marijuana or bourbon or film noir in an afternoon.

Wonder why everyone’s a hipster these days? It’s because knowledge has become so wonderfully free. You don’t have to trudge to a library – you can roll around in endless knowledge on obscure topics and come out a winner.

Which, in turn, is a stimulant for further knowledge. Because you have more people able to look up their topic of choice you have more people who can get excited to become experts, and then the knowledge grows like a sativa strain, or whatever the fuck it is.

Which means that yeah, sometimes I wake up and find myself completely ignorant on a topic that used to be pretty simple, yet evolved into a dizzying complexity. But I find that joyous. It means people are exploring and playing, and that delight is creating all sorts of subtleties I might not have noticed before.

It means I’m an idiot when it comes to weed, of course. But if I liked smoking pot better, I could learn.

That’s actually a joy.


  1. Anonymous Alex
    Jun 14, 2019

    Yes, except for the part where you implied that going to the library is some sort of hurdle to knowledge. (“You don’t have to trudge to a library”)

    Most of my misspent youth was misspent in the library, so I was there already. And lemme tell ya, I did not get bored flitting from one topic to another. Yeah, I do that from the comfort of my home now, but I was doing it before learning got all popular.


  2. Gayle
    Jun 15, 2019

    If you’re the kind of person who loves learning, which you are and I am and most of the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with are, the Internet is miraculous. The other day, my husband was telling me all about the physics of glass. That’s the kind of thing he finds endlessly fascinating, and he never would have learned about it in the world we grew up in. The access to knowledge is as close as our phones, and I love it.

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