Philly Pot: What Are You Smoking?

In the new pot culture, a dime bag isn’t just a dime bag. Here, a seasoned smoker tells how he separates the weed from the chaff

I’ve been smoking in the Philly area since the 1980s, and I’m a middle-aged white guy who looks like a cop. If I can score decent smoke here, anybody can. Let’s begin. First off, marijuana can mean a lot of things. It can mean a nice thick fluffy bud covered in sticky crystals of pure THC, or it can mean a clump of dried weed full of seeds and stems that won’t even make you fail a piss test. Like any plant product — think tomatoes, or wine — you need to know how to tell a quality smoke just from look and feel. And to do this, you need an idea of where your weed is coming from.

The Bad Stuff

At the bottom of the Philly market is Mexican commercial. This is the Boone’s Farm of the local pot scene. It smells like a combination of dried grass and cattle urine, the things that most likely surrounded it on the Mexican plain where it was grown, and it looks like it’s been compressed by a centrifuge. It probably was; a lot of pot from Mexico is smuggled over in car tires, a process that adds a not-delightful burned-rubber flavor.

Also, Mexican gangsters never bother to kill the male plants when they reach maturity, so they fertilize the females, resulting in buds full of seeds. Since the energy the plant uses to make the seeds is the same energy that would give an unfertilized plant its potency, Mexican commercial weed is cheap for a reason.  

The Good Stuff

At the high end, we have Northern Lights and BC (British Columbia) buds. Canada and the Pacific Northwest are to good pot what the Rhône Valley is to fine wine. These strains are called “sinse” (“sin-say”), from the Spanish sin semillas, “without seeds.” Someone has taken the time to kill the males or clone the females, so you’re going to pay more for this, probably around $50 for an eighth of an ounce on the low end. Think of it like buying your veggies at the farmers’ market … a really weird farmers’ market where the people who work there will stop selling you anything if you ask too many questions.

The higher-end strains have different flavors and effects, and a much higher THC content. Sticky, resinous pot, like BC and Sour Apple, will give you a slow, heavy high, perfect for moviegoing or an evening of sitting on the porch and drooling. This is the pot that gives you the munchies, so I stock the fridge when I get a taste for resinous smoke. Lighter buds with a lot of crystals, like Northern Lights, will give you more of an “up” high, good for a night on the town. I’ve always liked lighter strains for working out. A good smoke beforehand helps you “feel” your muscles better and keeps you more aware of when you’re straining them. But that’s just me.