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

Should I buy black market cannabis or only legal weed?

Tough question. I think it is important to support legal cannabis businesses, and not just because I have one (please try my line of pre-rolls from Mothership Cannabis Company).

But there are times when the legal industry is just not convenient. Cannabis clubs have to close by 10 p.m. What do you do if you want a joint at 11? The black market has a solution. Cannabis is still prohibited in 77% of the cities and counties in California. What do you do if you are in a prohibited area and you want some weed? The black market is more than willing to help you. What if you require a large amount of cannabis for your medical needs and you can’t afford the high prices (and taxes) at a dispensary? The grey market holds weekly “sessions,” which are a sort of farmers’ market for people with recommendation letters from their doctors. They have everything you need at rock-bottom prices.

Weed has only been fully legal in California for a year and change. I am sure that the state Bureau of Cannabis Control (and all the cities and counties still toeing the prohibitionist line) will eventually get it together, and we will have a statewide, open-late, consumer-friendly, legal cannabis system. Until then, you have a choice to make.

What is the best alcoholic drink to pair with weed?

This is a difficult question. Mixing cannabis and alcohol—“getting cross-faded”—can be pleasant, but if you do too much, you get spins and the vomiting, and no one wants that. So with moderation in mind (a good rule of thumb is to get stoned first or to do it at the same time), I like a Chocolate Hashberry joint paired with a good scotch on the rocks. The smokiness of the scotch and the smooth mild sweetness of the Hashberry make a great pairing. And citrus flavor weeds (Tangie, Lemon Haze) are great with lagers, IPAs and sunny days. Blueberry goes well with a good Malbec, but indicas and red wines will probably put you right to sleep. I wonder if any readers have any favorite booze and weed combos. Let me know.

Does a stronger smell necessarily mean a more potent strain?

Nope. THC is odorless. However, a strong smell indicates fresh terpenes, which are what gives weed its flavor and some side effects. You can learn more about terpenes and their effects at Also, weed should smell like weed, and not hay or chlorophyll. I always advise folks to follow their nose when it comes to picking a good weed, but today’s regulations make it almost impossible for the clubs to offer consumers a good sniff. Bring back the deli-style cannabis dispensary.