Purple haze

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

What makes weed purple? Is purple weed better?

—Violet Flowers

This is a tricky question, because in the weed world, “purple” can mean two things: The color of the cannabis or the flavor of the cannabis. This can lead to confusion when your bag of “Granddaddy Purple” is full of tight green nugs. But it won’t be a problem once you get the hang of it.

Some cannabis strains are genetically predisposed to produce high levels of a compound known as anthocyanin, which is also found in eggplants, grapes and other purple plants. It’s what makes the plants turn purple. Sometimes, cold weather or growing conditions will trigger anthocyanin production in a plant, causing it to be more purple than usual.

Flavorwise, “purple” can best be described as a sort of violet or lavender flavor. Very flowery, or like that violet gum and candy you can still sometimes find at old-school candy stores. Believe it or not, purple-colored weed, such as “Forbidden Fruit,” doesn’t always taste “purple,” and some strains, such as Purple Candy Cane, aren’t purple at all, but full of “purple” flavor. I know. It’s weird. You will get the hang of it.

Purple cannabis used to be relatively rare, and so finding a weed-man with access to purple flowers was considered a treat. After a while, purple weed became a sort of legendary thing, and now, the color purple has come to represent quality. It makes sense; purple weed is very pleasing to the eye, and purple is the color of royalty, so on a subconscious level, purple weed always looks like the best weed in the world. However, purple weed is just purple weed. These days, breeders can create any sort of hybrid that will turn purple in the right conditions. And for some strange reason, most deep purple cannabis strains usually have a lower THC count than greener weed. I don’t know why. Which is not to say you shouldn’t smoke purple weed. You should smoke whatever color weed makes you happy. Just don’t get too excited if the bag looks like it’s full of grapes.

Did I just hear that there’s lead in my vaporizer?

—P. B.

Yeah, kinda. But there’s probably always been a little lead in your vape cartridge. What happens is the oil in the cartridge interacts with the heating element. If the manufacturer uses lead to make the heating unit, chances are there’s a little bit of lead in your cartridge. Just a little though. California lead limits are the lowest in the country at 0.5 parts per million. That’s hella low. But maybe you feel like any lead is too much. I understand. According to Leafly, many manufacturers are ordering lead-free carts. They will probably be here after the Chinese New Year. Until then, stick to flowers.