I dabbed once. I know that’s nothing special to the majority of the cannabis world, but in New York, a global capital of cannabis enforcement, most of us still do things the old fashioned way. Never mind that smoking is the least healthy way to use cannabis, in New York cannabis has no recognized healthy properties anyway, unless you have cancer. As of 2016, New York has finally allowed terminal cases to use cannabis. Forgive me for not applauding: New York likes to boast of its progressivism and melting-pottedness, but right now out west there’s a state where I can find a right wing militia on federal land with automatic weapons, colorful language and big, fuck-off beards, and without crossing state lines I can also find a storefront where far luckier people than I legally purchase cannabis in a marvel of progressivism in action. Meanwhile in my hometown I’m a criminal every day.
What makes New York both less progressive on pot and more progressive on so much else? I’ve already touched on the city (and state’s) slavish devotion to the status quo, but that status quo means that while our west coast friends are living above-ground lives in which their cannabis purchases go towards civic necessities, New Yorkers may as well be waiting to pick up bud in an alley beside a disco, dressed in tan leisure suits and listening to Eight-Tracks of Hot Chocolate.
Which brings me back to the dab. It was on a dirty rig and lit with a sinister-looking torch, and I remember thinking that anyone peeking between the blinds of my first floor apartment would think they were witnessing the reemergence of crackheads on the block. It was strong, but somehow not harsh. It seemed like the wax took a great deal of effort to create. It got us very high. I didn’t ask how expensive it was: It was a curiosity, like pre-pressed hash, that occasionally you can find in New York through sheer luck. You happen to call your guy on the day he himself lucked into such a rare item, and you feel obligated to buy it and share with your friends.
Calling your guy is still the only way in New York. If you happen to live in Manhattan (or Williamsburg, which for all practical purposes is a non-contiguous, ever-growing and malignant enclave of Manhattan) that might mean a delivery service. You call a number and between 30 and 120 minutes later a bicycle delivery person rides up to your building and fleeces you in the comfort of your own home. This fleecing takes place with the aid of small plastic cylinders like the ones that used to hold a superball or jawbreaker in machines outside markets and barber shops. They contain about 2.5 grams of good quality strains, imported from the legal markets out west at great cost and risk. They cost $50 each. When I see pictures of California vending machines with $25 weight, I want to cry.
For those of us in the outer boroughs—or god forbid the suburbs, but that’s another column—we’re picking up bud like it’s still grass. We call the friend of a friend. We pay $400 for 24-gram “ounces” of a strain whose name is almost always conjured from wishes and verbal diarrhea rather than horticulture. We spend Sunday afternoons waiting. We spend a great deal of time worrying about the odor. Some of us need indicas for pain and get sativas. Some need sativas and end up asleep at their desks. We sit still and watch a cannabis revolution fly past.