Artisanal ash

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Will legalization turn weed culture into a joyless corporate wasteland of Marlboro joints?

—Wallmar McDonald

Nope. While the new legalization will definitely create an uptick in mass produced, inexpensive, midgrade weed, there will always be space for top-shelf cannabis.

Think about craft beer. Out here in Sacramento, hardly anyone drinks mass-produced beer. Sure, folks might bring a case of Budweiser to a party once in a while or get a can of PBR at the club when trying to be frugal just before payday, but we mostly drink fancy-pants artisanal beer out here.

Hell, Sacramento can’t go two weeks without someone opening a new craft brewery. Craft beer and high-grade cannabis are very similar, so I would expect similar things to happen. The way the new rules are supposed to be set up, growers aren’t allowed to have super-gigantic-mega-grows. Craft farmers and smaller businesses are supposed to get a five-year head start. Hey, maybe someone will open a fancy weed lounge next to a good brewery and call it the “Hop ’N Good Weed” Club.

A friend of mine insists that, contrary to pro-cannabis apologetics, smoking pot is harmful to the lungs. He challenged me to blow smoke through a damp cheesecloth. Sure enough, it left an ugly smudge of tar. Can this tar possibly be harmless?

—Bronk S. Alveoli

Meh. Cigarette smoke and tobacco smoke aren’t the same thing. A study done at Harvard ( shows that moderate cannabis smoking can even improve lung function. So there. Also, lab experiments ( have shown that THC is effective at shrinking lung cancer tumors and inhibiting growth. Yes, any kind of smoke can irritate the lungs, but cannabis does no lasting harm.

I really wish folks would check the latest science before spouting all kinds of anti-weed ridiculousness. Cannabis activists have been fighting against all kinds of ignorant propaganda and pseudoscientific fearmongering for 70 years. Maybe your friend should do some research instead of just blowing smoke.

I am a practicing Buddhist. One of the insights I got from meditation was that true happiness cannot come from outside me, only from within. I realized that relying on marijuana to feel good ultimately had the opposite effect. How do you respond to those who say, “What goes up must come down”?

—Nona Tashment

I say anything can be used as a crutch. Mindful, responsible cannabis use is possible and prevalent. True cannabis “addiction” is extremely rare. One does not have to rely on cannabis for a mild sense of euphoria in the same way that one does not have to rely on coffee for a kick-start in the morning, or on Buddhism to find inner peace. Enlightenment comes in many forms, and there are multiple paths.