When weed-loving Washingtonians whooped and hollered at the legalization of marijuana in our state back in 2012, I rejoiced along with them. Not because I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the stuff without going to jail, but because I’m all about safe civil rights—I credit that to all the ACLU fundraisers that my parents, both professors, took me to throughout grade school.
I’ll cop to having looked down my nose at the stoners in high school, a bit judgmental about clothes that reeked and grades that stank.
I never imagined that I would actually set foot into a dispensary, but I was glad my fellow citizens could if they wanted to. But then my midlife insomnia kicked in—and hard. Simultaneously, my adult son—a theater director—needed to relax after 15-hour-long rehearsals. Next thing I knew, there I was, walking into a dispensary practically before the paint had dried on the storefront.
Some background: Let’s just say that apart from a couple of lousy joints and a sad brownie-making session at the age of 17, I didn’t know weed from a dandelion. Those tall glass bongs? Not a clue how they worked—and still baffling to me why Chihuly-esque sculpture is required to get a good high when you can stick a perfectly handy joint between your lips and light up. I’ll also cop to having looked down my nose at the stoners in high school, always somewhat judgmental about the fact that their clothes reeked and their grades stank.
Welcome to the Weed House
So, needless to say, weed shopping as a grown up took a serious leap of faith. Armed with copious notes, I headed to what I was expecting would be a speakeasy-like shack with a peephole in the door. Instead, I stepped into a posh, beautifully appointed retail space with gleaming glass counters, plush carpeting, and an I.D. check at a front counter. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t a “stoner” in sight—instead, plenty of well-dressed couples who could have just as easily been choosing a bottle of Friday-night Syrah.
I saw plenty of well-dressed couples who could have just as easily been choosing a bottle of Friday-night Syrah.
I was nervous as I headed up to the counter—I have no idea why, since I wasn’t breaking the law. I guess old habits die hard. I launched into a TMI situation with the very patient salesperson, sharing details she didn’t remotely need. I began with my son’s request: “He’s 23 yada yada yada. He’s in tech rehearsal and they don’t get out till midnight yada yada yada. He’s been kind of stressed from the show and needs a little weed yada yada yada.”
After trying to legitimize why I was there, I next declaimed from a little shopping list I had in my hand: He wants a blunt (which apparently doesn’t mean it’s super honest or has a flat end … and I still don’t know why they felt the need to rename what looks to me like A JOINT). And he indicated Indica would be preferable. (See: WTF?)
I was nervous as I headed up to the counter—I have no idea why, since I wasn’t breaking the law.
Catching on to my naiveté, other employees were now obviously listening in … for entertainment value. “Well, we have several different kinds,” explained the salesperson, reaching for little plastic tubes of what appeared to be expensive hand-rolled cigarettes. “This one gives you a really great high … kind of amps you up and makes you giddy,” she continued.
But knowing my son and what he’s like after a 15-hour rehearsal, I asked, “Might you have anything that does the opposite and knocks a person right out?”
At which point, she reached for some joints that she described as the ultimate sleep aid and handed me a stash with the words, “Damn. I wish MY mom were as cool as you.“
The Insomnia Solution?
My needs came next. Feeling about 100 years old, I confessed that I suffer from Meniere’s Disease (an inner-ear disorder that causes, among other things, intense bouts of vertigo). I was on pills for these symptoms and for my sleeplessness, and I didn’t like feeling so reliant on prescription meds. So I was on a hunt for a natural option. Could bedtime cannabis do the trick?
I was on a hunt for a natural option. Could bedtime cannabis do the trick?
I ended up at the edibles counter, with the Rasta Gourmet character from the 80s SNL rip-off, Fridays, flashing through my head (“Do I wanna smoke it? No no noooo no!”) Perhaps a pot-laced treat would be just the thing to cure what ails. (And bonus: I wouldn’t smell like weed, which I’m firmly convinced is related to skunk.)
Staring at a huge assortment of pre-packaged snacks, everything from gummy bears to brownies, I suddenly became panicked at the idea of not being able to control the dosage. Once again, I found myself interrogating the “weed team member.”
“Okay, so what happens if I eat the WHOLE cookie?” I asked. “Should I start with just a nibble? Could the high from an edible actually make me feel dizzy, because that would be going in the wrong direction, you know?”
“Okay, so what happens if I eat the WHOLE cookie?” I asked.
And this is how I ended up walking out with a pricey ($48) apothecary bottle of marijuana tincture, an alcohol-based cannabis extract that is dispensed by the droplet on your tongue … or in my denial-laced, “I’m not doing any drugs!” case, a cup of tea. Sheepishly walking out with my brown paper bag of goodies, I was thrilled with the fact that I could regulate the effects by starting with a single, placebo-like squirt and bravely working my way up to four or five … or six or seven.
As it turns out, it didn’t take seven droplets for me to learn that the stuff gives me a groggy hangover—not unlike the morning after a big old dose of Nyquil. But I’m quite certain whatever’s left over in the kitchen cabinet will be eagerly dribbled onto something by one of my offspring when they come home for a visit.
While I may not be ready to join the newly legalized world of weed, I’m happy that I learned what goes on behind dispensary doors—and that I still qualify as cool.