A newspaper in Denver is looking for someone to review medical
marijuana. Read this before you apply
25 October 2009
I've always wanted to review marijuana for a living. So imagine my
surprise and sense of endless possibility when friends, colleagues
and even complete strangers started emailing to tell me that
Westword, an alternative weekly newspaper in Denver, Colorado, had
just placed an ad seeking a highly qualified medical marijuana
critic. My dream job just became a dream reality!
Let me be clear: I've already got something of a dream job. For the
last 35 years, High Times magazine has been the world's most trusted
name when it comes to getting stoned. As an editor, my journalistic
travels in search of Mary Jane have led me to the most interesting
people and places in the world, to share sessions with growers,
artists, dealers, lawyers, professors, scientists, smugglers,
prisoners, politicians and philosophers. And yes, in my official
capacity as an employee, I've several times been called upon to serve
as a judge at the magazine's annual Cannabis Cup, held each November
But this is different. By hiring someone to objectively critique the
offerings at Denver's cannabis healing centres, Westword will provide
an important and long overdue service to the medical marijuana
community. For too long, our nation literally treated those afflicted
with cancer, MS and countless other ailments as criminals, simply
because they chose to treat themselves with an all-natural remedy
that's incredibly effective and completely non-toxic. If it just so
happens to make the Grateful Dead sound a whole lot better, I've
never understood the problem.
On 19 October, the Obama administration formally announced their
previously stated policy of not applying the federal laws against
marijuana to patients and providers following state law in the 14
states with laws to protect them.
To understand the dream-come-true nature of allowing safe, legal
access to medical marijuana recommended by a licensed physician and
supplied by state-sanctioned non-profits let's remember that back
in 2005, the Bush administration went all the way to the US supreme
court to affirm their right to arrest Angel Raich, a woman suffering
from fibromyalgia, endometriosis, scoliosis, asthma and an inoperable
brain tumour, all because she grew her own marijuana, on her own
property and consumed it entirely herself on the recommendation of
her doctor and in complete compliance with California state law.
Raich and countless patients like her not only need medical cannabis
they need someone to tell the wheat from the chaff, to use a wildly
mixed botanical metaphor. So how, exactly, does one critique cannabis?
Like a wine critic, you'll need a solid background in all the popular
and even obscure varietals, a task made exceedingly more difficult by
the underground nature of marijuana breeding and genetics.
Cultivation methods also come into play, particularly for patients
who require organically-grown ganja, free from potentially harmful
pesticides and fertilisers.
Next, determine if the buds were harvested at their peak by using a
microscope to examine the oil-filled sacks on the surface called
trichomes, which contain marijuana's supply of THC and the myriad
other cannabinoids that combine to produce the plant's psychotropic effects.
Also, examine the interior of the bud to ensure it's free of mould,
fungus and insect infestation. Finally, check the texture for
excessive moisture or dryness. Medicinal-grade buds should feel like
cotton candy sticky and squishy.
Once you find a choice little nugget, grind it up, assessing the
aroma that's released. From there, it's a short trip to the
vaporiser, where taste and effect come into play. Does Purple Kush
make you extremely relaxed, even sluggish? Sounds like a good fit for
anxiety, insomnia or back pain. Does G-13 produce feelings of
giddiness and a major attack of the munchies? That should work for
loss of appetite or mild depression.
Unfortunately, upon carefully reading of the Westword job listing,
I'm not sure they get it. Here's a troubling passage: "Keep in mind
this isn't about assessing the quality of the medicine on site; it's
about evaluating the quality of the establishment. After all, we
can't have our reviewer be stoned all the time."
Overlooking the bit of snide, patronising humour at the end, I'd
still have to say that's like reviewing restaurants based solely on
décor, or choosing your doctor based on the selection of magazines in
the waiting room.
Guess I'll hang on to the dream job I've already got.