Newsgroups: alt.drugs From: Whizz@sound.demon.co.uk (Whizz) Subject: Skunk power Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1993 17:42:11 +0000 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Super Grass - by Mandi James. (reproduced without permission from UK Mixmag, October 1993) Skunk power! Forget spliff that sends you to sleep, there's this new, genetically-bred superweed that gets you rushing, say some users, like you're using ecstacy. With so many people getting burnt out on class A's, puffing, as Mandi James reports, is becoming a way of life in Britain. IT'S reefer madness. In case you hadn't noticed, like you've been out in the country or hibernating for the last 18 months, weed is suddenly every- where. Photographed on front covers, written about with relish in style magazines and probably partly responsible for most of the upfront and innovative music to come crawling red-eyed from the underground, spliffs are suddenly all around. A recent issue of Mixmag featured Mr C grinning like a village idiot on the front cover, blocked to the max and, unlike all the teeny bop magazines such as Smash Hits who usually touch up the whites of the eyes for the pure vir- ginal effect, proudly displaying a pair of delicately pink eyeballs. Walk into any decent club in the country and guaranteed one corner will always be unofficially designated to the serious smokers where the pungent smell of skunk lingers and the smoke hangs heavier than that of the dry ice. One reason for this is a sudden change in quality as hash (main ingredients, boot polish and Oxo) has been superseded by weed. Proper weed that is. Plant stuff, the right gear, that doesn't knock you out but lifts you sky high. In other words, that does all the things marijuana is supposed to do (but never did in the past because what you were being sold was cut and diluted with so much shit). Leaving you side-eyed, wide-awake, and stoned, stoned, stoned. Thai grass, Jamaican sensi, it's everywhere. But the weed amongst weeds, the real supergrass, is skunk. Apparently genetically developed in Amsterdam, skunk is a man-made species of weed with a THC (THC is the active ingredient in marijuana) content roughly twice as high as normal weed. It stinks, but it's strong. This isn't the gear to puff last thing at night to give yourself sweet dreams, because the chances are you'll still be sitting there red-eyed at dawn counting sheep. You can go out all night on a bag of skunk and stay awake. Who, then, needs dodgy E's ? In some areas of the country such as Liverpool, if the police catch you in possession of a bag of weed chances are you'll be let off with a warning if the amount is deemed to be for personal use only. The police there take a more tolerable view of smoking, simply because they know it's so widespread and they have more serious drug related offences to be dealing with. It's a handy attitude for such a serious smoking city as most tokers tend to forget where they are - short-term memory loss being one of the more serious side- effects of getting blocked on a regular basis - and skin up everywhere all the time. It's a dramatic reversal of fortunes for ganja. Perceived as something of a drippy hippy indulgence during the adrenalin driven rush of punk rock, relegated to second divison during the coke n' ecstasy fuelled 80s, weed has been evevated to something of a spirital status, the extent of its use cross- ing all social barriers, leapfrogging crass youth cultures and slowly seeping back into the mainstream. And it ain't the block of black or hash, which makes you sluggish and burns the back of your throat, that is shifting but acres and acres of lovely fresh green plants. What used to be a once a month treat for the odd serious smoker is now another item to be added to the weekly shopping list. Unlike any other drug, indulgers tend to collect facts and information about weed like they were collecting stamps or train spotting. Everyone's an expert. How many people who still take ecstacy actually know how it's synthesised, what ingredients are used and what the historical context of the drug is ? But smokers know their weed. What plant it came from, what the THC level is, what effect it will have on you. "PEOPLE can't trust E's no more," says Paul who grows and smokes his own. "At thirteen pound a tenth I don't see it as a bag of weed, I see it as a #13 E that's gonna last me ten hours when I hammer the whole bag. You can't tan black or hash like that 'cause you'd just completely mong out. But six, seven spliffs of good weed I can reach the same level as if I'd popped a pill. It lasts longer 'cause weed is pure, natural like, you get no nasty comedown the next day." Unlike any other drug, marijuana is becoming an integral part of everyday living for not just the privileged few, the cultural makers and shakers, but whole cross sections of society from bricklayers to doctors, secretaries to soldiers. Scratch beneath the surface, dig a little deeper and there's a whole secret society of tokers and smokers, people who skin up to chill out yet fall well outside the stereotype of the recreational drug user. Although buying, growing and supplying weed is still against the law, an activity punishable by a maximum of 14 years imprisonment, more people smoke it than go to church or attend football matches. And it's unique in that it's a drug that's managed to shake off much of the stigma of being illegal as both smokers and non-smokers become aware of the medicinal benefits of ganja. It's now well documented how in the past the pharmaceutical uses for marijuana ranged from acting as an appetite stimulant for anorexics to reducing labour pains during child birth. It was available on prescription for cancer patients to reduce the toxic shock of chemotherapy and as an aid to relaxing muscle spasms for multiple sclerosis sufferers. America's dope smoking bible High Times not only swaps excellent recipes for dope cookies and milkshakes, but is stuffed with fascinating facts about the hemp plant which provided the wick for Florence Nightingale's lamp, the material for the first Stars & Stripes flag and the parachute rope for George Bush when he had to eject from his plane during the Second World War. Putting the influence of skunk and all its manifestations into a contemporary, cultural context, it's possible to detect a profound effect on dance music as consumption has risen both in and out of the studio, behind the decks and on the dancefloor. Contrary to popular myth, smoking doesn't just leave you a giggling wreck slumped helplessly in a corner, it can be used constructively and creatively, its hallucinogenic properties sharpening the senses. There's even a record label called Skunk, dubby British house run by one Simon from Big Life Records. Major label Island Records, too, have started a new house/ techno offshoot, called simply Blunted Vinyl. Rastas, although manifestly whacked out on spliffs, have still been able to get their heads round creating some of the most beautiful, spiritual music to have come out of the synthetic environment in the studio. Musically, marijuana has always been as vital an ingredient in the deconstruction of dub reggae as the echo chamber and reverb, and where it was once exclusively the property of dub warriors who inbued it with a religious significance, now everybody appears to be sampling its creative benefits. "YOU can spot a smoker on a vinyl a mile off, they're the one's not so concerned with the structure of a record, but more its texture and sound," opines a musician who's hot on the dancefloor but pretty cool about revealing his identity in case customs catch on - paranoia being another negative side- effect of constantly spliffing up. "Having a puff doesn't necessarily incapacitate you. Listening to or making music opens your receptors up, it makes the treble seem brighter, the bass seems deeper, more dangerous. If you're working on a track for ages, you get to a stage where you're not really listening to it anymore. Weed is a good way of stepping outside what you're doing. Because it sharpens your senses it makes you look at things from another angle, like sizing up a painting." "It does open up your mind to ridiculous ideas," confirms Andrew Weatherall whose tracks are always infused with a stoned ambience whether it's full on trance or great washes of dub. "It's kinda inspirational in that you can be sat in the studio without a clue what to do, have a skunk spliff, suddenly the light bulbs are flashing like mad and you can't get things down fast enough." AN antidote to modern times, the alcohol of the 90s, it's conceivable that before the end of the millenium you'll be able to purchase several brands of grass over the counter like you can liquor or cigarettes. But until that happy day dawns, scoring draw is still a covert business. Yet in keeping with the laws of supply and demand, there are none of the 'droughts' experienced a few years ago and skunk is far more widely available. More and more people, cottoning on to the idea that everybody has the potential to supply themselves, have started growing their own. Because it's relatively cheap and rarely presumed to be a dangerous drug, in these recession hit times cultivating skunk provides the ideal opportunity for a productive cottage industry. Many are now growing their own and yielding crops in their spare bedroom or attic and turning over a nice tidy profit or just reaping and smoking the rewards. You can make a lot of money growing skunk, if you're naieve enough to think you can keep getting away with an attic full of stinking plants. Innumerable sharp- minded smokers have already realised this, which is one reason different breeds (Northern Lights, Superbud) of skunk are literally everywhere. You're not buying this stuff imported from Afghanistan any more, it's probably coming from just around the corner. "I've been growing me own for about a year now," says Jay, the proud owner of two budding skunk plants. "Basically 'cause it did my head in, all that hassle of waiting around for a dealer to show up. I don't grow much, just enough for a personal supply and to sort a couple of friends out at mates' rates. I know people though who have turned into serious farmers, right Scallies who've now got green fingers. They've got houses where every single room has been trans- formed into like a mobile greenhouse. They're making a fortune, man." IMAGINE, if you will, a picture. A living room carpeted wall to wall in plants. Say, for argument's sake, each plant grown yields about five ounces of grass, there's about 70 plants per room and the street price for an ounce is approx- imately #140. Providing all goes according to plan, that you're not nicked or raided by a rival firm, that's a turnover of 50 grand every three months. That said, the risks for such a high turnover are enormous. The UV lights needed to grow crops are not only expensive, at #170 a pop, but also eat electricity. And bills which suddenly increase tenfold a quarter can be traced by the police, as can the huge amounts of heat generated by UV lights. You'd also have to have very understanding neighbours because the stink from a crop of skunk permeates everything, walls, ceiling and clothes. Serious farmers often have to invest in ion generators to take the dust out of the air which is what carries the smell. It's a complicated, time-consuming business, and then there's the constant paranoia of someone knocking on your front door. "Some people go to extra- ordinary lengths to cultivate the best plants with the highest yields," says Jay. "It can be an incredibly complex process involving pH levels in soil, understanding the acidic and alkaline contents in the earth. The best way to grow it is as nature intended, just put it in the ground, let it go and leave it alone. It's a hardy crop, it'll look after itself and all you have to worry about is whether you've got enough skins put by to smoke it."