Introducing Our New Pot Columnist: Piper Courtenay

"Am I imagining this? It was a long shot, but heck, this was my dream job."

September 8, 2017

By Piper Courtenay

As I break up a tough, dense nug of Harlequin, the deep woodsy musk hits my nose and I can’t help but feel a twinge of nostalgia. Being a pot columnist for VanMag.com wasn’t originally in the cards, and this weed takes me on a jaunt down memory lane. Today, I would place the world of cannabis as my number one passion, but it wasn’t always that way.

Like most of my generation (born in 1992), any information regarding cannabis fed to me during my childhood was still deeply rooted in prohibition. In elementary school, countless D.A.R.E. presentations insisted weed was a gateway to crack and came with a terrifying list of impending psychological malfunctions. Pot was branded as an epidemic sweeping through the halls of high schools, leaving a wake of fried teenagers and empty snack shelves. Then, in journalism school, I was repeatedly coached through countless workshops in which I scrubbed my social media of anything related to drug use. How could I ever expect to get a job if anyone knew I had even touched the stuff? (Oh, the sweet, smoky irony.)

It wasn’t until 2013, when I used cannabis to treat my depression, that I really began to understand a world that had been so overshadowed by fear and stigma. To this day, I credit high-CBD strains, including Harlequin, with my shift from recreational (and very occasional) use to a passionate obsession.

After experiencing firsthand what cannabis could do for mental health, I immediately fell headfirst into the works of pro-cannabis journalists like Jake Browne, Ricardo Baca and Abdullah “T. Kid” Saeed, I decided to ride the wave of information developing around the plant so I too could one day contribute to the public expansion of marijuana knowledge.

It wasn’t until 2013, when I used cannabis to treat my depression, that I really began to understand a world that had been so overshadowed by fear and stigma. To this day, I credit high-CBD strains, including Harlequin, with my shift from recreational (and very occasional) use to a passionate obsession.

Always a diehard Vancouverite, I completed my journalism degree in Toronto and decided it was time to return to the motherland. As I began sifting through various writing gigs I found my window of opportunity. A headline flashed across my screen that would set ablaze an excitement I hadn’t felt in a very long time: “We’re Looking for a Pot Review Columnist for VanMag.com.” A column for one of Vancouver’s top lifestyle magazines that reviews the city’s cannabis offerings. Am I imagining this? It was a long shot, but heck, this was my dream job.

The risk paid off, because now here I am. I get paid to smoke and write about it. I am thrilled to announce that Vancouver Magazine readers can look forward to bimonthly anecdotes about my top strains and THC-laden experiences, all sourced from this city’s best dispensaries.

It was important to begin this column stoned on the same type of strain that helped me first discover the beneficial side of cannabis, beyond the recreational joy. Harlequin, a patchwork medley of Colombian Gold, Thai and Swiss landrace sativas and a Nepali indica, is renowned for its ability to alleviate pain and reduce anxiety.

The rich earthy smell with light, lingering notes of a juicy stone fruit greet you upon impact but don’t quite translate into the flavour of the smoke. It has a dull, herbal taste and offers a very soft pull. The high leaves me present enough to sustain almost complete mental clarity while the steady body buzz reduces pain and gives all the benefits of a deep tissue massage, without the intolerable torture that a particularly apathetic masseuse may offer. This strain in particular is a godsend when it comes to functioning with anxiety. The sativa elements keep you awake and alert while the CBD helps you disconnect with negative thought patterns. A simple shake of my head snaps me back into reality. It’s the perfect daytime bud for anyone looking for pain relief, anxiety reduction and relaxation, without the potentially inebriating cerebral effects of THC.

Though I rarely use it anymore, Harlequin is a strain I occasionally revisit for bad hangovers, long workweeks or the odd body ache. Now, I use weed to get high, but smoking this bud certainly took me on a gentle guided tour of why I fell in love with the flower in the first place.

The breakdown: Sativa-dominant hybrid. Grown by Island Organic Gardens. $8/gram. The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary. 880 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC. V6A 1R6.

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