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02/05/2007 16:00:00

Canada: High and mighty embrace cannabis culture



---
Once the drug of choice with hippies and burnouts, marijuana is joining
fine wine on the list of indulgences with serious snob appeal.

Although illegal, the controversial drug counts Canadian doctors,
lawyers, corporate leaders and untold members of the chattering classes
among its fans. And if the watermark for "making it" amongst the
millionaires is a picture in Forbes, then reefer has achieved that
cachet: In advance of Saturday's Global Marijuana March, which will be
held in major cities worldwide to promote the legalization of pot, the
conservative business magazine has published a photographic countdown of
the world's most exotic varietals of weed on Forbes.com, complete with
information on each brand's origin, bouquet and cost per gram.

Grass has come a long way since Woodstock, baby.

"Serious cannabis consumers often exhibit the kind of connoisseurship
typical of wine lovers," writes Forbes reporter Saabira Chaudhuri.

Vancouver-based weed expert Ian Mulgrew agrees, saying in an interview
that "as many versions as there are of red and white wine, there are
versions of the major strains of cannabis."

Adds Mulgrew, author of Bud Inc: Inside Canada's Marijuana Industry:
"The same way people who buy wines are looking for bouquet, nose and
finish, (pot smokers) are looking for epicurean qualities to their
marijuana."

Varietals cataloged by Forbes.com include Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough,
Mass Skunk, OG Kush, Chemdog, Jack Herer and Haze. Each "brand" is said
to have a street value of $25 to $35 US per gram — equal to about 0.04
ounces.

According to the print version of Forbes, rising popularity and price
have driven marijuana to trump wheat, cattle and timber as "Canada's
most valuable agricultural product." Mulgrew estimates the drug
generates between $6 billion and $8 billion Cdn each year, and upwards
of $2 billion in B.C. alone.

"Let's stop kidding ourselves. The yuppies aren't growing heirloom
tomatoes in their gardens," he observes dryly. "It's a really
sophisticated market."

The average Canadian isn't likely to debate whether a joint's contents
were grown on the sunny side of the slope or the shady. But among the
cannabis cognoscenti, High Times columnist Jorge Cervantes says, no
nuance is too obscure.

"People are so snobby about this stuff. They get real full of
themselves, claiming they've got the best dope in the world," says
Cervantes, author of the bestselling book Marijuana Horticulture: The
Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible. "They tie it to their manhood."

In Vancouver and Amsterdam, annual harvest festivals are held in which
aficionados blind taste-test various cannabis plants to see which grower
has the best product. In some cases, a win can be worth more than a
half-million dollars in subsequent sales.

Failing an official victory, many guerrilla gardeners rely on improvisation.

"Since it's an uncontrolled industry, lying and cheating are rampant,"
explains Cervantes. "Growers might just think up a different name (for
an old brand) and all of a sudden it's the coolest one. People make
stuff up about as fast as they can talk."

True cannabis connoisseurs, however, operate much like sommeliers in
discriminating between varietals.

Cervantes says a product must first be eyeballed for maturity and
development. Then it's touched to judge moisture content, stickiness or
dryness — foliage that's too supple, for instance, won't burn properly.

Because cannabis can produce up to 200 different terpenes or essential
oils, breaking open the plant to unleash its fragrance is also key.
Finally, the plant's potential high is gauged by examining the colour
and quantity of its resin glands using a small microscope.

Unlike wine tasting, in which sommeliers spit out the alcohol after
sampling, evaluating pot requires a person make as many judgments as
possible before experiencing the product.

"What happens is you get high and you can't remember all the stuff,"
explains Cervantes. "It's hard to make good decisions after you've
smoked some of this."

mharris@canwest.com
http://www.canada.com/


Source: http://www.ukcia.org/news/shownewsarticle.php?articleid=12516
Author: canada.com via UKCIA

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