I fucking hated weed the first time I bought it off Charlie the Macedonian graffer from Balwyn. The stuff was so wet I could barely light it, and I got really paranoid. But when I was a scumbug teen, scoring from train stations, Australia's weed industry was very much still finding its feet. You could get bush choof or there was the Asian stuff.
It wasn't until later that I met a few people who knew a few people who put me in touch with some organic growers. They hooked me up with a batch of medicinal marijuana grown for cancer patients—every inhale was light, full of flavour, and sunk me into a lasting high. I was born again.
Fast forward 10 years or so, and I'm now having trouble deciding if I want indicas, sativas, or hybrids. We've got the luxury of choosing between an array of imported strains too, from kush to lemon haze, sour diesel, and strawberry Afghan.
I was curious to see if the passing of the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill 2016 had taken Australia's weed industry to another level. The law allows Australian businesses to apply for licenses to start cultivating medicinal marijuana, and marks the start of what some think will be Australia's next boom: the weed boom.
So I headed off to the Annual Hemp Health & Innovation Expo in Sydney on the invitation of a medicinal marijuana consultancy company to witness "the exciting evolution of marijuana culture in Australia." An assignment I was all too eager to accept.
My day started here, with this chocolate edible. To those of you who are stroking your chins and wondering if it was a good decision to begin my investigative reportage by getting high off candy, I say... define "professional."
When you walked into the expo building, this is the first thing you saw. Most people stopped to pose in front of the hemp plants for Instagram photos—there were mums with prams, businessman on their lunch breaks, habibs from da areas, and bogans with rat tails. My guide, Tim, told me not to because he didn't want to risk me looking like a fuck-boy. The plants weren't actually bud, he explained, they were just hemp. Good looking out, brother.
Unfortunately, nobody told the cops. On Sunday the police raided the expo and removed all the hemp plants. No one was sure whether they thought it was actually weed.
"Old Mate" was hanging about outside while the crew passed baseball bat-sized joints around. He asked us what we were doing—as if it wasn't already obvious—but we invited him for a smoke, warning him the stuff was very high THC. Old Mate proceeded to tell us about the first time he smoked DMT. The weed must have rocked him though, a few minutes into the story he derailed and started making no fucking sense whatsoever. Then he forgot what he was talking about.
Space Bars ice creamery is a vegan ice cream shop that sells the most delicious peanut butter banana split made from a hemp milk base. Fire emoji all day.
The guys from Crave were teaching noobs how to vape properly. They sold out pretty fast. I was just there to steal one. For research purposes, obviously. Not because I am a noob. I wasn't paying attention to their instructions anyway. Because I know how to vape. I do. I swear.
These two girls were lawyers posing for photos and educating people about laws surrounding marijuana cultivation and what the legislation means for the health industry. Important stuff, but mostly I just wanted to know where they got their tracksuits from.
This is Trog's stand, the dopest illustrator and choof aficionado Australia has ever produced. He has drawn up poster art for The Offspring, and Sly and the Family Stone. Trog's psychedelic style is inspired by the drug-friendly counter culture "comix" scene of the 60s and 70s. He also makes rad adults colouring books, his latest drop is called The Killer Weed Colouring Book.
Back outside, I met the "Maverick," a young entrepreneur who told me he'd lived most of his life in Thailand and had moved back to Australia to start consulting. I asked him why he was in a suit, and he said he wanted to deconstruct the stoner stigma, an image problem that makes it difficult to be taken seriously in the business world.
This dude was selling Magical Butter cookers that turned your weed into delicious butter for cookies and cakes. Also he wins the award for best dressed. Sorry Maverick.
This is "Indica Queen," an Instagram famous choof connoisseur who basically gets flown around the world to advertise for different weed companies. A very lit lifestyle. She also rocked a cute Gucci backpack with matching shoes, which made her look even cooler when she smoked the burly boys under the table.
Indica Queen's dab collection.
Out the back of the exhibition centre they had industry professionals and academics giving some pretty interesting lectures. Dr Teresa Towpik was talking about the healing proponents of cannabis, specifically about her own experience with breast cancer 16 years ago.
What are you? And more importantly how do I smoke you?
This guy was selling plastic bongs. I asked him if they were better for you than glass bongs, but he didn't give me a convincing answer. Luckily, two guys called Jordz and LL invited me to the carpark for a quick glassware sesh.
My dude LL and Jordy were straight fucking Gs. Jordy was a tall, ripped jock looking guy, and LL was a short, low-key sneaker head that looked like a gamer. That is not how these dudes rolled. Perhaps the coolest duo I've ever met.
LL invited me back to his joint. On the way I took about 50 photos that look just like this. Dat creative high?
LL showed me his incredibly rare bud collection, hooked me up with Birthday Cake Kush fresh from LA, and played me a bunch of trap beats in his own private recording studio. I've never celebrated Christmas, but boy did these dudes make me believe in Santa.
Slung me a couple of weed gummies.
Then proceeded to rip out this pelican case on some Desperado shit.
We passed around the firearm and he asked me if I wanted to go to an exclusive party where all the cool kids from the industry were smoking up. Hell fucking yeah.
This is a very expensive bong. Technical, sublime, and monolithic.
This is an organic bud. Amidst the chaos, Ricardo told me about that he grows it to make CBD caps, that he provides for free to cancer patients and children that suffer from epilepsy. The real MVP Australian of the year, seriously risking his own freedom in order to provide free medicine.
The boys then set out to find the best dab for my first ever hit. Super lemon haze, I will never forget you. My first dab felt like I had washed my face with a whole marijuana plant, but it infused and washed out all the atoms and molecules with terpy goodness. Everything I thought I knew about being a choofhead came undone. It was as though I'd experienced some kind of out of body weed transfusion. Single tear.
This joint was made from a strain called Gelato and I swear to God it smelt exactly like all the varying gelati flavours that you'd buy from shifty suburban ice-cream trucks.
More lemony buds. I was so chopped I could barely hold a conversation. I wasn't even hungry. My spirit was too busy bouncing against the roof and every time I closed my eyes my mind felt like that woke meme.
At last, it was time to go back to the hotel. The same hotel I thought it would be wise to check into after the expo. The same hotel I had booked the wrong dates for and had to explain, ripped off my head, that I needed a room tonight. My suspicion is that they just felt sorry for me because I was so confused and upset that I just stood there, peaking, while dapper guests wandered around asking for directions to the Italian Ball.
I passed out in my hotel robe. Game, set... match.
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