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santa cruz weed

Editor’s note: This story is part of Good Times’ annual Home & Garden 2019 magazine. Read the full issue here.

Let me pull out my razor blade and whittle on this hash block while I tell you whippersnappers about the then and the now of weed.

I was born in the deep south—Bakersfield. I started smoking pot in 1965. We were told that pot was a gateway drug to harder drugs. Really? I’ve smoked my weight in weed and have never tried heroin or smoked a cigarette. 

Back then, weed was so intensely criminalized that merely using it was a revolutionary act. I knew a guy who went to prison for having one joint. The government, the doctors, the school administrators, and the cops—I knew they were all lying through their teeth about pot. It made me wonder, “What else are they lying about?” 

What weed did do was to open my doors of perception. The psychotropic effects of THC made me understand that there are other ways of seeing reality, and that my experience of external reality was influenced by what goes on inside my head. As John Lennon said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”

A lot certainly changed when recreational pot became legal in California on Jan. 1, 2018. Since then, I can use without worrying that cops will suddenly appear. I am by nature hyper-focused on productivity, and my wife Julie encourages me to get high: “Richard, do less and have more fun.”

Because of the fantastic array of strains available, it’s exciting to dial in how cannabis can help my creativity. I’ve got a strain of sativa for when I edit my comedy writing and practice guitar. I’ve got a strain of Indica to feel my body power and lift weights, do yoga and work on my Airstream. I’ve got a mixture of both for when I’m alone with Julie.

I do love the potency of the new, high-THC weed. Mind loosening? More like jumping through a portal in the wall to a new universe. Back in the day, if there was a kilo on the table I could smoke anyone under the table. But with the potency now, I’m a one hit wonder. The new, super-potent strains can lead to creative euphoria, but they can also make you paranoid. I vaped some powerful THC oil and imagined I could walk on a beam of light—but I was also afraid that someone would turn it off and I’d fall down.

Legalization has opened up the discussion on how we can make the most out of this mind-loosening plant. Latest Gallup poll: 64 percent of Americans support legalization. But most thrilling is the cornucopia of medical benefits. I have a rare auto-immune disease called chronic idiopathic urticaria … hives, baby, hives. My hives had hives. Weed got me through until they started injecting me with Xolair, a genetically altered mice protein. The mice protein does have some side effects (like when I see a cat coming and cross to the other side of the street). But the new, potent weed turns me back into Mighty Mouse.

So now there’s nothing in your way to explore this new weed wonderland. Except maybe your wallet. Still, I would definitely recommend the high-end dispensaries in Santa Cruz.

If you want to explore psychedelic levels of THC for mind expansion, go with oil vapor or even farther with edibles. Start slow with the edibles, though; lunatics like me look for the overdose edge, but that’s not for most. If you’re in pain, you can load yourself with a massive amount of THC and CBD with edibles. It got me through the worst of my urticaria. (If you have serious medical issues, join WAMM, or for the uninitiated, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

When you do find a strain of cannabis that improves your emotions, creativity or health, it makes sense to grow your own. You can grow the same $400-per-ounce flower sold in the dispensaries for dimes on the ounce. 

It’s late this year to start from seed, but it’s a great time to plant clones. You can legally grow six plants in Santa Cruz County, and dispensaries sell awesome clones that you could plant right now; by fall you’ll have more amazing bud than you’ll know what to do with.

At any level, this is an amazing time to change your mind and heal your body with weed.