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Virtual Puffery

Legal designer-drugs muscle into hash market via the Internet

By Dara Colwell

SO MUCH FOR THE days when Bob Dylan openly proselytized "Everybody must get stoned." Today, it's illegal to buy it and it's illegal to sell it; many have smoked it but few, if any (at least those planning political careers), actually inhale it. But today's politically correct weed seeker, thanks to the Internet, has an array of legal alternatives to choose from. That's why this reporter decided, after receiving one such electronic missive, to taste-test "Seventh Heaven" Katmandu Temple Kiff--a herbaceous hash promising a "scintillating, cerebral" high--straight from the exotic confines of Woodland Park, Colorado.

After doling out 69 bucks for a solid, pungent bar of what I can only describe as botanical hashish, this intrepid consumer checked out the list of ingredients, a confusing jumble of arcane Ayurvedic and Latin terms. Among the collection of "synergistically/synesthesia conglomerated, uncommon herbs," in the accompanying literature were "viripotent concentrations" of Drachasha, Chavana Prash, Wild Dagga, Capillaris Herba, Papaver Rhoes and Salvia Divinorum. If the reader is drawing a big blank, not to worry. Even herbal "experts" were dumbfounded. Campbell's Whole Foods shelf-stocker Dyan (whose last name wasn't cleared with management) flipped through several comprehensive herbal guides, attempting to decipher the mix before ruefully suggesting I "look it up on the Internet."

The ingredients were seemingly obscure, but technology triumphed and this soon-to-be legal smoker discovered her block of Kiff was wackier than traditional wacky backy. Not only did the hashish contain the makings for potential "blissful regressions" (as its makers promised); its resins could also treat gastric and abdominal disorders, flatulence, colic and hysteria, reduce cravings for sweets, aid kidney and bowel dysfunction and, alas, help with my "woman's complaints." Perfect. Thrown in were two psychoactive euphoriants used by Shamans, no doubt meant to counter those "vexatious depressions" the label assumed would-be smokers wanted to assuage.

The next step now was to try it, and what better venue than a weekend poker game with a handful of men swigging beer. Early on in the evening, this reporter attempted to ply her masculine friends with reasons to smoke the flowery, incense-laden concoction: it was legal, it was probably like taking a Nyquil geltab, it was supposed to be uplifting and, like, cool. Four men eventually acquiesced and stoked on the little brass and wooden pipe, which came in the Temple Kiff starter kit. The response was immediate and unanimous.

"Yech, it's like smoking aerosol!" one guinea pig spat out, scraping his tongue. "Why would you smoke this when you could smoke a tea bag for free?" another said dryly.

While the boys returned to drinking, claiming nil effects, this prepared smoker took a few hits on the pipe and, despite the floral aftertaste, actually felt mildly euphoric. Perhaps the buzz was due to those ingredients geared specifically toward regulating female troubles, but the buzz was real, in all its legal glory.

"I don't want this to affect our friendship," one of the smokers wrote in an email a week later. "But have my lawyers called you or Metro? Ever since I smoked that chemical hash, I have been fainting, unable to concentrate and have had whiplash symptoms. Fortunately, this syndrome cannot be disproven by any doctor."

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From the December 7-13, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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