As a Coloradan, I suck. I don’t go outdoors if I can help it, much less ski, snowboard, hike, or bike. I can’t name a single Bronco other than... you know, that one guy. And worst of all, I can’t handle weed; it makes me feel like the paranormal investigator in Poltergeist who pulls his own face off. So when I heard that a company in Boulder, Chooze Corp., was beta-testing a vape product designed to take the sting out of getting buzzed, I had to check it out. It’s called Cannabis 2.0. Would I finally find my Rocky Mountain high?
Although the story of its inspiration is hilariously complicated -- involving an acid trip during the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival up in Nederland -- the elevator pitch for LucidMood: Cannabis 2.0 is simple. You strip marijuana down to its essence, the combination of primary cannabinoids and terpenes (the aromatic compounds that differentiate strains), and then rely on a two-part delivery system in the form of infused hemp-felt “pucks.” The base component is a 5mg dose of pure THC and CBD (cannabidiol) in a 50/50 ratio, which the founders believe is ideal for producing an inner landscape of blue-sky euphoria, unclouded by a dysphoric dark side of dissociation, confusion, and paranoia. Then they bring four terpenes into the picture one by one via “mood” pucks, which allow you to “change the station on the radio of your lucid high, from blissful contentment to keen focus and back again.”
We’re not looking for a cure for MS, after all -- we’re creating a recreational drug here.
Or so says Chooze COO, Dave Georgis, who explains that their research methodology has also been surprisingly elementary: “We’re not extractors; we’re not doing double-blind clinical studies. We’re not looking for a cure for MS, after all -- we’re creating a recreational drug here.” Basically, after reviewing the literature on not only cannabinoids’ capacity for mitigating pain, but also terpenes’ ability “to direct the THC experience toward various moods,” cognitive scientist and CEO Charles Jones brought a team of six people together with all the raw materials, including a Silver Surfer vaporizer, to experiment one day last year.
After they vaped the first terpene, “I observed that three of us were leaning back on our elbows on the living-room floor, very laid-back, and the other three were all leaning forward and talking a mile a minute,” Georgis recalls. “I said, ‘Hey, has anybody else noticed what’s happening here?’ And Jacob, our budtender, admitted he’d given half the room linalool, a terpene for relaxation, and the other half d-limonene, known for energy. Then we each vaped the other terpene, and the effect reversed itself -- the guys who were previously talkative weren’t saying anything and vice-versa. And we said, ‘Whoa, we just changed the direction of our mood midstream!’”
Ever since, they’ve been making a beeline toward product launch: within the next couple of months, LucidMood should be available for sale online and on dispensary shelves (the estimated price is $15 for a box of five bases and $10 for a package of five moods). During this time, they're also building a brand that celebrates crowdsourcing. The website has a forum where users can share their recipes for combining terpenes to enhance every activity from painting to partying to sports. For instance, Georgis is constantly tinkering with the best ratio of base to d-limonene for skiing: “Eldora had a foot of snow yesterday, and after several hours of deep powder on steep terrain, my friend was whooped, but I wasn’t fatigued at all!” That kind of input will be especially invaluable as they expand the line of terpenes. “An Arousal mood will surely be the next one up for formulation -- and we’ll need testers," he promises.
Within 10 minutes my head was spinning, I was sweating buckets like Ted Striker in Airplane!
To increase feedback, the company has also been hosting weekly mixers at Boulder bud-and-breakfast Castle B. As I stepped into Castle’s tea room for the first time, I was admittedly nerve-racked. Here I was, standing in front of a table lined with vaporizers and herb as Dave recited his spiel. Amid a crowd of obvious connoisseurs discussing the relative merits of Magic-Flights and herbalizers (whatever those are), was I about to collapse into the usual giggling fit of fear and loathing at their feet? Would I wind up in the corner in a wild hand-gazing stupor, or perhaps wake up on a couch hours later, disoriented, confused, and generally terrified?
There was only one way to find out.
Surprise! The first base hit didn’t go so well. Within 10 minutes my head was spinning, I was sweating buckets like Ted Striker in Airplane!, and all the wild-eyed claustrophobia I typically feel when smoking bud was setting in. Figuring the only way out was through, I decided I’d better try a terpene boost, and fast. Confidence, based on the alpha-pinene also found in rosemary and orange peels, sounded promising. And it was, because then the weirdest thing happened. Almost immediately, a soft breeze seemed to begin wafting beneath my skin. My mind finally stopped racing. I suddenly felt cool, collected. Is this what being high is like for most people? This was fun. As far as I was concerned, that was a high-enough note to end the night on.
The second mixer I hit a couple of weeks later went much more smoothly. After the base vape, my brain still grew fuzzy and my face flushed, but not to the point of feeling like an extra in Reefer Madness. Encouraged, I sampled a puck infused with beta-myrcene, a terpene found in hops and lemongrass, which Chooze markets as Body Buzz. Spot on. From the neck down, all my muscles began to tingle. It felt like a full body massage, but on the inside. This was good. I was good.
My torso and limbs promptly stopped pulsating; a gentle warmth spread through them, and a sense of peace overtook me.
A colleague also in attendance that evening looked at me and laughed. “You’re very smiley right now,” she said. She said a lot of other things, too. In a rush I couldn’t quite follow, her teeth flashing like Farrah Fawcett’s back in the day. Turned out she’d just tried the Confidence puck (now called Energy). Finally, I vaped some Contentment -- aka beta-caryophyllene, also present in cloves and black pepper. My torso and limbs promptly stopped pulsating; a gentle warmth spread through them, and a sense of peace overtook me. I wasn’t baked... I was content. Or at least I felt like I was.
Was all this actually happening, or was I under the influence of brand-name suggestion? I couldn’t say for sure; all I could say was that I felt a hell of a lot better than I usually do, sober or high. I arrived around 10pm at the nearby home of a friend whose guest room I was crashing in; the night air was chilly, but I was still warm. I wound up taking a moonlit walk around the block. It was the closest I’ve ever come to mountain living.
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Ruth Tobias fully expects to get an earful from the peanut gallery for this one. Go on and give it to her @Denveater.