In Defense of Schwag
Today is a big day in the history of weed, with Colorado becoming the first state in the nation to have legal recreational marijuana. All across the Centennial State, fluffy buds twinkling with crystals are being loaded into swirled glass pipes and sparked in celebration. There is no pretense of medicine. People are getting stoned, as they have for years, but now it's legal under state law.
Coloradans and the rest of Marijuana America are smoking some of the best nugs in the history of ever. This is pot that's been lab-tested, groomed, pruned and doled out in a sterile room. This is the kindest bud. Today is a high point for weed. But it's a damn shame no one smokes schwag anymore.
I'm talking about dirt weed, the dried-out marijuana that's flattened and trucked in large bricks. I'm talking about the weed a lot of people over 30 grew up with. This is the bud of Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." This is Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," Neil Young's "Roll Another Number (For the Road)." This is the Doobie Brothers, dude.
Is the quality as good as the weed being peddled by New York bike messengers and California dispensaries? Hell no. Not even close. But schwag gets a bad rap because everyone focuses on the potency instead of the process.
The high is only part of the appeal of doing drugs. Just look at any movie about heroin. The baggie, the spoon, the lighter, the needle, the rubber hose—the ritual is integral. Cokeheads love playing with their little piles of powder, making lines, sliding the particles back together, making lines again. Smoking weed is the same.
A bag of schwag comes with big ol' stems and lots of seeds. You've gotta pull the buds off the stems and break them up. You've gotta put the weed on a magazine and tilt that magazine over a big shoebox and drag a credit card across the weed so the seeds roll down the magazine and land in the shoebox. You've gotta save those seeds in a film container and tell yourself you're going to plant them later.
It's a big pain in the ass. But it's part of the process. You and your friends can share the work. And afterwards y'all can keep smoking on and on and on. Puffing on kind bud is more like taking a pill, and that's not just because it often comes in those little prescription bottles. You pull out a little pinch, you take a few hits, you're done. No ritual, no work.
High-grade marijuana is just too powerful. This might sound spoiled, like bitching about a great cup of coffee because it's so rich, but the potency has a direct effect on how often you can partake in the ritual without getting completely and utterly blazed. Smog out a car with kind bud, and you're all really, really dumb when you exit. Feel free to pass around a half-ounce spliff of hydro, and good luck when someone important calls. But you want to sit around with your friends and roll joint after joint of schwag and listen to records? Sounds like a chill afternoon where you won't freak out too much when the doorbell rings and you've forgotten you ordered a pizza.
Am I saying you should quit smoking kind? Nope. That shit is incredible. Just don't forget about schwag. It's the spaced-out uncle you ignore at Thanksgiving who actually has something to teach you. We should listen to that old dude every once in a while. He has all the good albums.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.