MyHighCrDarrin Harris Frisby-Drug Policy Alliance

My High: Elder Flower

I’ve been using marijuana to get high since 1966.

In the beginning you smoked what there was, mainly cheap Mexican dirt weed. We didn’t know any better, not until Thai sticks came along.

Now, when you walk into any dispensary, you are confronted with a supermarket array of flowers, some of which will knock you out when the budtender opens the jar. I’m glad I don’t smoke pot anymore because that array is too confusing and sends me into an autistic episode having to decide.

But that’s not the reason why I no longer smoke.

It took me a couple of near-death episodes with galloping bronchitis — where I spent the whole night gasping for air and debating whether to call 911 — to finally get it through my thick skull that if I still wanted to get high, it had to be via a healthier method.

I experimented with all sorts of pipes and bongs, but they all led to harsh coughing — and the stronger the bud, the worse the coughing.

Then I discovered the hammerhead glass pipe, which has a long stem and a one-inch barrel at the end set at right angles to the stem, no carburetor, a smooth draw, and a fairly cool inhale.

But still I coughed. And, you had to use this pipe skillfully and keep it clean, or it would be really bad.

I tried a couple of early vaporizers but they were unsatisfactory. They hadn’t yet developed to the precision-engineered little machines we have now.

One day, when shopping at The Apothecarium in the Castro, I mentioned my coughing problem. My budtender, Sarah, recommended the Ego-t pen vaporizer. I immediately went around the corner to buy it, and I found that it was a much better way to smoke my usual 50/50 mix of good kief and honeycomb hash. But, the darn thing still required a lot of upkeep, and I managed to break various parts of the device in using it. The principle is good but needed an upgrade. 

What I vaped made a pretty thick sludge when heated, so you need a lot of juice in your vape. That in turn presents a constant need to recharge. Worse, the delicate titanium coil that does all the vaping would burn out or break frequently. It’s possible to cobble together a modified homemade kit from the various interchangeable parts but you have to know what you’re doing. That way, you can customize things, and you’d be surprised how much variety there is in the specs of what can be home-jiggered.

I finally found a solution in an atomizer with a better design and slightly beefed up coil. The Yocan EXgo atomizer kit (around $30) screws in just as the pen vape atomizers do and, drawing on the Eleaf base with its juiced up batteries does a very efficient job with hash, kief or a hash/kief mixture. No sludge or leftovers, very clean.

But the absolute ultimate solution seems to be in a combination of the EleaF 30 watt series base which I’m using with a replaceable CO2-derived hash oil screw-on cartridge. This base has the more powerful and longer lasting batteries and all kinds of electronics for varying your draw and is a very fine little machine at around $80.

For heat setting, I have it set at 6.7 watts as per the advice of Sam of the Twilight Zone shop.

The one gram-sized replaceable cartridges can go for as low as $55 plus tax in SF, and if I sometimes get a hankering for a full-fledged old school fire toasted deep hit of actual smoke I still have the hammerhead pipe and I keep it clean and ready.

Here’s one other consideration: With the EleaF vaporizer/atomizer combo I had been using only about 10% of the product I used when smoking conventionally. I expect similar economies in using the cartridges, of which there are many brands. The one I am using, GOLD Cart from Bloom Farms in the 1 gram size (500 mg of THC) is said to last for about 250 hits. There is no muss and fuss using the cartridge, just screw it on, push the power button on your base (any base can take the cartridges) and draw. Nothing to load, no residue, nothing to clean or break. The capsules come in Sativa or Indica dominant strains. Genius.

In fact the only flaw is that it’s too good. In your hand that gizmo feels like a magic wand and it’s hard to stop using it, frankly. I don’t see any way to improve on the vape experience, though you could try.

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Photo by Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance