The last time pot smacked me that hard was in San Francisco in the summer of 1976 when a lover twelve years my senior told me she was pregnant with my child the very night I had planned to tell her that I was gay. We had smoked a fatty of some Hawaiian strain, and my knotted up and confused body reacted to this emotional shock with the same testicle- squeezing retching that felled me in Denver. I always presumed that the stonking amount of THC in that Hawaiian weed had sparked the convulsion, but now I wondered if something else, such as the compound that produces the dark-green civety smell prevalent in so many of the Colorado super strains, was to blame.


Once my head cleared from Denver, I began Googling for answers. One search turned up “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome,” a spurt of cyclical vomiting that extends for days and is accompanied by the compulsive need for warm showers. Chronic smokers who light up six times a day complain about this, but it doesn’t appear to be my problem. Message boards were dotted with amateur hypotheses about “greening out” from overeating, but the Denver dabbers never even snacked, so my stomach was consistently, and unhappily, empty. One post on Weedmaps, a strain directory and the nearest thing to WebMd for cannabis, suggested that violent coughing might have thrown my stomach into reverse peristalsis. Unlikely. Another post echoed my own confusion: If pot allayed nausea why did it induce vomiting?


I was facing a common problem in the new world of cannabis: a dearth of consistent reliable information. Much of the “expert opinion” on the web is produced by self- anointed experts or backyard chemists, which makes it suspect, tinged by wishful thinking, or fiction masquerading as fact. There have been an avalanche of experimental studies-over twenty thousand to date- but few definitive clinical trials. As a result, the science can seem like a thicket of contradictions. Cannabis cures cancer! It causes it! It protects the brain! It causes schizophrenia! It’s addictive! It helps alcoholics wean themselves off booze! The only drug that treats everything is either snake oil or a miracle, and I don’t believe in miracles. So what’s the truth?

An excerpt from Brave New Weed

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