3 Amsterdam Coffeeshops, 3 Types of Vaporizers, 1 Sensitive Guy
Joints make me puke. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.
I’m certainly not against marijuana.
Every once in a while – say, bi-annually – I will even smoke a bit. Just to see if it still makes me retch. The occasion is usually a bunch of foreign friends visiting me in Amsterdam, wanting to go on a coffeeshop tour. Once they light up, I can’t just sit there and watch. Invariably, I decide that this time things will be different, and invariably, after a girly puff or two, I have to make a beeline for the bathroom and vomit. As the residual nausea passes, I relate the story as above, everyone shakes their head and another cycle on the wheel of stupidity is complete.
It had been about two years since my last visit to coffeeshop Siberië and I swore to myself, that this time things would be different. No, really!
The guy on duty, a friendly poet named Justin, suggested that rather than switching to another exotic weed, I try a different method of ingestion. He took me to the back of the shop – outside the smoking area in fact – where a couple of tables were outfitted with Arizer Extreme Q’s – a type of vaporizer that looks a bit like an oversized candlestick. Though I had seen them before, I always assumed that vaporizers were just glorified bongs, so Justin had to educate me a bit.
First, he showed me that little herb is actually needed to get a nice high using a vaporizer. Nothing goes to waste: the hits are so pure that Siberië nowadays lists THC percentages on their menus.
Second, he gave me a quick vaporizer-for-dummies introduction, explaining that rather than just crudely burning it, the Arizer heats the herb to a very specific temperature. With this method the THC and other psychoactive goodies are delivered to my lungs without the suspected agents / toxins (like tar, toluene and benzene, which are released at higher temperatures) creating the nausea I have felt time and time again.
He then tipped a surprisingly tiny amount of organic purple haze in a little glass chamber, mounted it on the Arizers base, connected a thin, transparent rubber tube and switched the thing on. A few minutes later it was ready for use.
As a true virgin, I picked up the tube and sucked with a mix of reluctance and hunger. I watched the herbs tumbling around in their little compartment. The vapor that came out was cool and nearly invisible – only the subtle piney flavor gave away the fact that I was actually inhaling something. And then, faster than I thought and without a trace of the nausea I had come to expect, I got high.
The delight that had escaped me for so long was finally mine. No longer a virgin, I wanted more.
And so the tour continued. The next stop was Any Day, a tiny coffeeshop with about a dozen Verdampers – big glass contraptions straight from a crazy scientist’s lab.
Like in a bong or a shisha, the vaporized herb of choice is filtered through water, but instead of using a lighter or a piece of red-hot coal for combustion, the temperature is controlled by an electric heating element on top.
As an added bonus, but just for show, the Verdampers at Any Day are lit from below by color-shifting mood lights, presumably to ease you into a psychedelic stupor.
It worked fine – I was starting to feel right at home in my spaceship – though it seemed that the vapor was a bit sharper in flavor and heavier on my lungs.
The gentle gurgling of the water had a soothing effect, but the constant threat of being scorched by the exposed heating element worried me a bit.
I mean I was getting stoned. How cautious was I going to be? Luckily I was in an area of town with several shops that use vaporizers at walking distance from each other.
I moved on to the Greenhouse. Here, the most idiot-proof alternative was presented to me: a balloon filled with vapor coming from the Volcano, a heavy-duty vaporizer installed at the bar. As its name suggests, the Volcano has a conical base that belts out fumes – in this case, the good kind. These are captured in balloons large enough to pass around, reintroducing the social aspect of sharing a spliff, that if I’m honest, is a bit lost with a piece of electronic equipment in front of you.
A balloon is festive. And so is not throwing up.
by Jurriaan Teulings