Fake buds exposed!
You've seen the ads in High Times: "Real Budz! Stoney Hydroponic Smoke! Ultra-potent smoking mix!" Yet what is that stuff? The ads sure don't give you any indication of what you're actually buying, other than their trademarked names like Thai-Stix, Afghanish, BC Hydro, Inda-Kind, and Sweet Green.
At Cannabis Culture we decided to order some of this stuff and try it out for ourselves. (CC used to run ads for these products as well, but we stopped back at issue #6.)
So we ordered sample packs from International Oddities and Riverdale Organics, the two biggest pushers of fake pot products. I forced myself and other CC staff to smoke a quantity of each of the blends, in order to ascertain their effects.
We discovered that both companies rely upon deceit and ignorance to sell their products. The Riverdale Organics products list their herbal ingredients in such a way as to mislead the naive, and make them as pot-like and exotic as possible. International Oddities provides no ingredient information at all, making their origins and contents even more questionable.
Riverdale Organics' Hydro, sold for $35 per half-ounce, is the most palatable of their smoking blends. The Inda-Kind is full of chunks of stem, and the Sweet Green is a tangled mess of brittle stalks and roots which is impossible to put into a joint.
The Hydro's ingredients are listed as "cheshteya buds" and "lettuce opium". The Sweet Green is cheshteya and "arabian marachobah". Cheshteya also appears in the Inda-Kind, with other mysterious herbs.
A search for "cheshteya" on the internet reveals that the word appears only on websites selling these products, otherwise the term does not exist. Our resident herbalists concluded that cheshteya was in fact mullein, a herb commonly used as an alternate smoke. However, a fat bag of mullein can be bought at any herb store for a buck, while a bag of these cheshteya blends costs twenty times that.
"Arabian marachobah" is another mysterious herb which exists only in fake pot-land. The consensus was that this is in fact gotu kola.
This kind of mislabelling and using exotic, pot-like terms for their ingredients continues throughout all their smoking blends. The Inda-Kind contains "cannabaceae buds" which is hops (part of the cannabis family but non-psychoactive), along with mentha piperita (peppermint), passiflora incarnata (passion flower), and S. Officinalis (soapwort).
Strangely, some websites which sell Inda-Kind list different ingredients, including Wild Dagga (Lion's Ear), Indian Hemp (dogbane) and Nepeta Mint (catnip). I called Riverdale and asked the fellow on the phone why there were different ingredients listed for the Inda-Kind. He said that the formula had been changed within the last year, "but not significantly", and that I should just trust the label.
Smoking a big pipe-full of Inda-Kind gave me a headrush accompanied by mild nausea and the quick onset of a headache.
The Chocolate Thai Oil is the best-smelling product of the lot. It has a strong scent of herbal chocolate, which in fact it is! Among other ingredients it contains the exotic sounding "theobroma cacao" which is also known as cocoa ? chocolate. Other ingredients include myristica fragrans (nutmeg) as well as the cheshteya/ mullein and peppermint.
Putting a drop of Chocolate Thai Oil on the end of a joint, as recommended, resulted in the joint either flaring up or going out instantly. When we were finally able to get it going the delicious chocolate flavour was quickly replaced by an acrid taste. It produced no significant psychoactive effects, and a burning sensation in the lungs about 10 minutes after smoking.
Riverdale's herbal hash products include on the label a definition of hash: (noun) 1. a jumble or mixture. This is presumably intended to get them off any legal hooks. The Mean Green Irie Jamaican Formula includes ingredients such as Marybud (Marigold), Jamaican Tangawizi (ginger), and the "TH3 complex" of Lettuce Opium, Artemesia absinthum (wormwood) and cheshteya. The Turkish Brown Original Ultra-Chronic Blend contains many of the same herbs, as well as "Salvia O" (common sage) which is written as "Salvia O" to mislead people into thinking it's the psychoactive Salvia D ? Salvia Divinorum.
International Oddities' ads deride their competition, claiming that they sell "herbal tea" and "slut out the market." They even include a small package of Riverdale's Hydro with your order, calling it "cheezy shit".
Yet are Oddities' products truly superior to Riverdale's? They do look more impressive, long "buds" in sealed glass vials, chunks of soft Afganish stamped with the IO logo. Yet they are essentially the same products with better packaging and presentation.
The Thai Stix is described in the ads as being a "highly resinous 7 inch bud". Yet it's not a bud at all, but rather herbs pressed around a wooden skewer, soaked with some kind of resin. The smoke tasted the same as the Inda-Kind: thick, cloying and headache inducing. The Maui Wowie was exactly the same, without the resin dip.
Oddities' Killer Skunk is described as being a "1.5 gram bud," but it is actually moist leaves pressed together in a glass vial. It tasted like cloves, but was hard to identify in its mushed state after being removed from the vial.
The BC Hydro-ponic does look very similar to pot buds, but of course looks can be deceiving. The buds are not true buds, but rather herbs compressed together into bud-like shapes. What at first appeared to be glistening crystals was revealed upon closer examination to be some thing external applied to the compressed herbs, to simulate trichomes. Their ads describe this product as being "10x strength" without specifying what it's ten times stronger than.
The Ultra Wizard Smoke is not very smokable at all. It is mostly made up of stems with a few dried, wilted leaves clinging pathetically to them. It is hardly the "custom smoking hybrid" as advertised, and didn't get us baked at all.
The Black Opium is a tiny ball of gooey tar. The sticker on the baggie says "Please don't SMOKE our BLACK OPIUM." I obeyed the subliminal instruction and dropped a dollop onto the end of a joint. It was a very floral taste, but didn't induce any dream-like states or visions.
Questions and... questions
After their products arrived, I called up these two companies to ask them about their wares. Spokesmen for both companies refused to identify their ingredients. I asked the Riverdale Organics spokesman what cheshteya was, and he told me that "only the top, top people, our founders, know what these herbs are." He explained that they would not reveal that information, but that he believed that cheshteya "comes from the Caribbean."
The International Oddities spokesman told me that their products were all "unique plant hybrids, splices of esoteric herbs." I pressed him on this, asking how it was possible to hybridize and splice different plants together. He said it was a "secret process" known only to the highest echelons of the company. Yet their products are clearly not unique hybrids, but rather different herbs mashed together and smeared with resin.
There is an added irony to these products and their prominent placement within High Times, including Oddities' use of High Times' name and endorsement in their ads. HT promotes their magazine as being a publication aimed at adults, and they frequently claim in editorials that children should not be encouraged to toke up. Yet these companies almost certainly sell the majority of their wares to people too young to get real pot and too ignorant to know the difference.
If a youngster is going to smoke, isn't it better that they use real pot, known to be safe and non-toxic, rather than a blend of mislabelled herbs with unknown properties and effects?
It is irresponsible to sell and promote products for human consumption which do not identify what they contain. It is true that many of the herbs used in these blends are reputed to have medicinal and mildly psychoactive effects. Yet these herbs are not intended to be smoked, and are usually consumed in food, drink or oils. To promote and blatantly lie about the contents of something sold for smoking is irresponsible and dangerous.
I've got to lie down now, my lungs hurt.