It was Friday night at Da Kine, Vancouver's first Amsterdam-style licensed coffeeshop.
Pot smokers from around the world, many of them from the USA, were gathered in the stylish potshop, discussing the whirlwind events taking place in the fabled Canadian city that weekend. A fleet of Humvees, emblazoned with advertising for marijuana fertilizer company Advanced Nutrients, were chauffeuring stoners from Marc Emery's Toker's Bowl on Hastings Street to Da Kine on Commercial Drive.
The Humvees were being driven by marijuana grow expert Remo and his sexy partner Sharon. They're part of Advanced Nutrients' new "Urban Grower" video series features professional cinematography and fast-break editing, along with scintillating examination of BC's phattest grow rooms.
As Remo drove blazed people back and forth and around the city, he discussed his new show, which is based on his years as a Health Canada-licensed medpot grower who works with an Advanced Nutrients program that provides free nutrients and expertise to impoverished medical marijuana patients who need to grow their own medicine.
"We're gonna teach people how to make a perfect room so they can get two or more pounds per light, with the most efficiency and know how to beat any bugs or diseases that they might encounter," Remo explained. "The show is being shot by a professional who has worked on feature films. We've got rockin' music. We've got equipment reviews and insider grow tips. We've got lots of happy well-fed plants."
Remo mentions that his Urban Grower shows also include Big Mike Straumietis, Gino, and Rob, the three musketeers who founded Advanced Nutrients. All the men have their own unique look and persona, Remo notes, but Big Mike is the most vocal. His "Big Mike's grow tips" are raucous infoblogs that give people special secrets designed to increase yield and avoid getting busted.
Back at Da Kine, Remo and other guests took hits of the megastrong new cannabis concentrate product that is creating a major buzz- it's called Budder.
On Friday and Saturday evening during the Toker's Bowl, Da Kine visitors were able to get free Budder hits from the man who created Budder. He calls himself BudderKing.
During the hours that I observed the King giving Budderhits, I saw him get 167 people high. Many of them sat down in front of his royal chair, claiming that they were "chronics" who could handle any amount of marijuana. One inhalation later, with eyes instantly glassy and a soaring 82% THC high lifting them into the upper atmosphere, many of the inhalers had a sudden revelation, which was expressed over and over: "I've never been so high in my life!"
BudderKing laughed as he described how various people had come to him with hashish oil, bubblehash and other concentrated pot products.
"Some of them are trying to tell people that they know how to make Budder too," the King said, while firing up his propane torch, heating a knife, applying a pinch of Budder to the knife, and sending another person into the stratosphere. "But I'm the guy who makes Budder. We trademarked the name. There's no Budder but the Budder you can get here at Da Kine. The Budder has been tested and it tested pure. It's a pure hit of THC. You won't get higher than this. If you think you have some hashish or other cannabis product that's stronger than this, bring it on. We'll have it tested. Let's get higher!"
Taking up the challenge, a young researcher named Bubba brought a sample of his own concentrated cannabis product to Da Kine. The product looked somewhat like Budder, which has a golden color and the texture of amberish paste. Bubba was encouraged to get his product tested by Dr. Paul Hornby, a famed cannabinoid tester who uses specialized equipment to measure the purity and potency of cannabis products. Apparently, the race is on-researchers are refining their solvent-extract and waterhash techniques, seeking to perfect a pure THC product with no impurities, and they have created cannabis products that are far stronger, tastier and cleaner than those available just a few years ago. Da Kine seems to be a magnet for cannabis researchers, which means that super-potent hits of radical products are always on tap at the ever-popular potspot.
Some Budderhitters had spiritual revelations, others made love, some bowed down at BudderKing's feet and wept with gratitude, others went to the local gelato shop and ate a gallon of chocolate ice, others wandered across the street to the Melting Point, where hashmeister Bubbleman was running a glass pipe art show featuring beautiful bongs and pipes that cost several thousands of dollars each.
Then, they found a Humvee and took off again, heading to Wreck Beach, where naked people play, to Deep Cove, where the kayakers paddle, to Stanley Park, where towering forests border the ocean, to world-class nightclubs and restaurants, to sex clubs for boys and girls, or back to their hotels, where they argued about what was the best weed at the Toker's Bowl.
The Toker's Bowl weekend happened without police interference. According to Don Da Kine, one of the courageous founders of the city's most vibrant potshop, the city government appears to have embraced marijuana tourism and businesses.
"And why not?" he asks. "You can see that Da Kine fits in well on Commercial Drive. Our customers get the munchies when they smoke Budder, and then they go spend their money at the gelato shop, health stores, and gourmet restaurants that are all around here. This isn't like a bar, where you'll find cigarette smoke, fights, and aggravated people. It's a kind environment, with the best bud, hash, and the Budder, pipes, drinks, pot foods, and friendly staff. Our customers are everyone from young hippie kids to lawyers and doctors. It's a very medicinal environment!"
By the end of Toker's Bowl weekend, there was no question why this Canadian city is called Vansterdam. Hundreds of visitors smoked dozens of kilos of pot, partied safely without getting busted, hobnobbed with Marc Emery and servants of his Hempire, and lived to tell about it.
Remo and Sharon pointed the Hummers out of town and sped off to another grow shoot, with Remo valiantly determined to unveil the secrets of carbon dioxide, increased yields, new Advanced Nutrients organic fertilizers, and a long-awaited line of Advanced ferts made in conjunction with grow wizard and Cannabis Culture advisor Ed Rosenthal.
But even though the Advanced Hummers left town and the Toker's Bowl's cruises, dinners, tours, and marijuana contests ended until next year, Vancouver's pot summer did not end. The BCMP bookstore and other pot businesses report an increasing stream of visitors as warm weather holds sway in July. Weed growers are having a hard time supplying domestic retail weed delivery and caf? services- they can't keep up with demand. Numerous festivals and concerts are happening across the Vancouver region. The city's massive four-night fireworks competitions, held on English Bay during the last week of July and the first week of August, are ready to explode again this year.
"The way to make a free world is just to live like you are free, just to create the reality you believe should exist, don't let unjust laws affect your behavior, don't let fear rule you," explained Don Da Kine when I expressed amazement that Vancouver's pot scene was so accepted and fun. "The pot laws are based on lies, we don't accept the laws, we just act like pot is legal, the police and mayor see that our business is no problem, and we just keep on winning."
For more information:
DA KINE: 1018 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, Canada. Phone: 604 215 1018. www.dakinesmoke.ca.