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HEART OF DANKNESS by Mark Haskell Smith


Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup

by Mark Haskell Smith

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-72054-2
Publisher: Broadway

A personal quest for the world’s finest weed.

“Dankness,” a concept akin to  “awesome,” was first formulated by snowboarders to describe the ideal buzz from their favorite recreational drug, a notion that easily spread to other cannabis connoisseurs. In 2009, novelist, screenwriter and pleasure-seeker Smith (Writing/Univ. of California, Riverside; Baked, 2010) was sent to Amsterdam by the Los Angeles Times to cover the Cannabis Cup, a sort of Academy Awards for marijuana growers sponsored by High Times magazine since the late 1980s. The assignment (and Smith’s natural curiosity) inspired him to seek in the coffeehouses of Amsterdam and in the medical marijuana dispensaries and underground farms and grow houses in his home state of California for the strains that best illustrate the concept of dankness. A food- and wine-appreciating epicure, Smith was most attracted to strains that taste and smell good—fruity hybrids like Cup winners Lemon Silver Haze or Chocolope—as well as the psychotropic so-called “sativas,” which elevate mood, rather than the indicas, which induce stupefying couch-lock. Michael Backes, founder and curator of the exclusive Cornerstone Research Collective for medical marijuana (who incidentally Smith that every strain humans ingest is actually an indica) says the best strains are “pharmaceutical quality” and that the dopey effects of pot are due to impurities rather than the complex of psychoactive molecules, of which THC is just one, in the plant’s genome. “Anything that impairs me, I view as a side effect,” Backes says. “I want to get rid of the side effects.” Smith is an amusing and easygoing narrator with a talent for describing the sensations good weed brings on, but beneath the fun, he has a serious message: Criminalized marijuana is not good for anyone but criminals.

Witty, civilized and intelligent narcotourism.