You be the judge

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

What do you do to clear your senses between strains when judging flowers? Perfume counters have coffee beans when you’re trying out scents.

That’s exactly what we use. Coffee beans are an excellent way to cleanse the nasal palate when tasting strains. Since harvest season is here, we hope that everyone will get a chance to attend a tasting or harvest festival.

Use a clean pipe. Some people like to smoke joints when judging, while others say the flavor of the paper will affect the flavor of the weed. I am in the latter group. Take only a few hits, since you probably have a bunch of weed to smoke. You don’t want to get hella faded on the first sample and be useless for the rest of the event. Two or three tokes should be enough for you to get a feel for the flavor and effects. Wait 15 to 20 minutes between samples to let the effects of the previous sample fade away. If you feel too high, coffee is a good way to recover, since caffeine slows THC absorption. A large dose of CBD will smooth you out, but CBD also blocks THC absorption, so you may not be able to feel high again. Drink water. Cotton mouth is the devil, and water will cleanse your palate. Pace yourself. Have some healthy snacks on hand. Take notes. Oh, and invite me over because I love a good cannabis-tasting party.

How is it legal to grow “CBD” plants everywhere in the U.S.? Aren’t those the same plants that contain THC?

Kinda? Not really, though. The new federal farm bill allows people all over the country to grow hemp. Hemp, according to the federal government, is any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC. There are companies that specialize in creating low THC-high CBD cannabis plants. You can even order hemp seeds online and start your own little garden.

The legality and booming popularity of hemp containing high CBD is causing some trouble with law enforcement. Earlier this year, a truck driver hauling hemp from Oregon to Colorado was arrested in Idaho (surprise!) for possession of marijuana. The driver is out on bail, lawsuits are pending and Idaho is working to amend its laws. In Texas, four counties have stopped prosecuting misdemeanor cannabis cases because police field-test kits can detect the presence of THC, but can’t quantify the amount. Fewer cannabis arrests are always a good thing.

Should people worry about inhaling butane from lighters?

Meh. If it was that dangerous, we would all be dead already. Butane lighters (like a Bic) burn pretty clean, and if you do it right (light your bowl indirectly, don’t just suck up all the flame) you shouldn’t really inhale any butane at all. If you are super worried about it, use a hemp wick.