In this interview Ritual Colorado founder Patrick talks to Stoney about his approach to cannabis growing and consumption. Stoney is a wealth of marijuana information and has great tips for visually impaired stoners and growers as well as tons of wisdom applicable to all weed fans. The interview was conducted via voice messages and has been edited for clarity.
As much as you’re comfortable, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you, where are you from?
I’m 44 years old from Southern California, born and raised. I live in the shadow of the mouse right by fuckin’ Disneyland. I’ve lived here my whole life.
As to the current state of my vision I have less than 4 degrees of visual field whereas most people have 180 degrees. Meaning it’s kinda like looking through a drinking straw, I can see a very narrow region in the center of my vision. I’m statutorily blind now because of that, once you’re under 12 degrees you’re statutorily blind. Generally speaking, I tell people that I’m blind and then when they say “well how come you don’t look and act like a blind person?” I tell them ‘oh sorry, I used to be sighted so I have all the mannerisms’. And then they’re like “well I can tell that you’re tracking me right now” and I’m like ‘well I can see your outline so I’m not technically blind blind, but it’s just easier than trying to explain that it’s like trying to watch a scrambled tv channel from the 1980s at all times’. And cannabis really helps with that, it helps me kind of tone out the static in my visual field and zone in. It’s a side effect that has benefits for me.
When did you first use cannabis? Did you enjoy it the first time?
First time I smoked I was 12 years old with my friend’s mom who was an old tweaker hippy lady. And ya, uh, that was pretty much it for me I’ve been at it for the last 32 years. Back in the day, prohibition era as I like to call it, I was a prohibition era grower back in the ‘90s. It’s been a long journey for me and cannabis, we’ve been buddies for a while.
The thing that I can never understand as a logical minded person is how you can have a drug like alcohol that was perfectly legal that caused horrible externalities to society. Then you have a drug like cannabis that is completely illegal, schedule 1, naughty naughty, ultra-felony, and that shit has zero negative impact on society aside from the black-market implications of it being illegal. That’s just the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen, and it’s the same way with psychedelics. And thankfully I feel that as the old guard dies out and the new guard takes over the people who are deeply entrenched in the old propaganda are gonna be dead and the people who have reality-based and actual experiences with these substances will start making policy.
What about dry herb vaporization, what was your first experience with that? Have you had things you really liked or didn’t like through the years?
My first experience with dry herb vaporization was with one of those, I don’t even know if you’ve seen this kind of rig, it had a wood burning pencil or soldering iron with a bowl or little cup on the very tip instead of the chisel tip. Then it had a glass dome that went over the whole thing. So this wood burning pen sat inside of a wood box and the pen tip stuck up out of the box on the top and you had a glass dome that would sit over that. So you put your nug on the little plate, heat it up with the glass dome and inhale from a whip. Needless to say, it was a novelty, but it was just shit grade. So that was my first experience. Next experience after that was my buddy brought over a heat gun that he took from his mom’s craft supplies, this would be in 1999 or so, and we were taking rips with that. And that was pretty epic, I always remember that as being the highlight of my dry herb vaporization DIY.
With regards to commercially available dry herb vaporizers, I bought a Pax several years back in an attempt to quit combustion and was just underwhelmed with it. Then I shelled out $700 on a Volcano and was in love with it for about 5 minutes and then once again was underwhelmed by it. Until ball vaporizers came along it was pretty much the same story with everything that I tried.
With your current vaping setup and ritual would you say it is safe and comfortable to use as a blind person? Do you have any improvements in mind that would improve those aspects?
Well, I’d definitely say a ball vape is probably like the nuclear option for a blind person haha maybe if they’ve been smoking bong rips for the past 30+ years, ya this is what it’s going to take, but I would say most blind people would probably be better served by some kind of a pocket vape.
If I was going to suggest a certain type of ball vape for a blind person, I would definitely suggest that the MiniNail coil cover completely covers the coil. One of the 20x20 coil rigs or something like that. That 20x40 coil sticks out maybe a half inch at the bottom and you could definitely brand yourself on that section. Generally speaking, I chuck mine in a tall mug that I have and I have a handle on it. It stays in the mug and is pretty safe in terms of brushing up against it or something. Also, blind people have a pretty good sense of when something is putting off heat haha so we don’t tend to stick our hands in if we feel that warmth so that hasn’t been super intimidating. But I use power tools and shit so I’m used to handling dangerous stuff. I still use my power saws even though I shouldn’t haha so that’s a little about me and my risk assessment.
As a visually impaired person I have static in my visual field at all times. When I first got my ball vape, I had never greened out in my entire life and I greened out pretty freakin’ close to a full pass out. One of the stages of the green out my vision went completely black which was amazing because it was like being in a room full of noise and all of the sudden it’s real quiet, as far as the static in my visual field went. But I was still fully cognizant of what was going on and talking to my wife and leaning back so I wouldn’t eat shit. Thankfully, sitting in the zero-gravity chair at the time haha
I find the 360 Series is easier to get lined up with the metal bowl and it doesn’t tug on it or snag like I was having problems with the glass ones. And if you Keck clip that sucker down and then you keep your coil in a mug it’s a pretty usable setup. I still have the MiniNail coil cover on as well which covers some but not all of it. I was super intimidated by the thing at first, it felt like I was waving around a lightsaber or something haha but the more I use it the more I get comfortable with it so it’s not totally unheard of, but I would say I’m probably a rare case.
What about growing, do you find that difficult to navigate?
Growing as a visually impaired person is definitely a challenge, like for things like labeling your plant you have to find workarounds. I use a piece of blue painters’ tape around the stem, what I like about that is that it will keep letting go as the plant gets bigger. I actually just pulled down one of plants with a stalk that’s like the size of my calf and it still had the piece of blue tape around it, completely unraveled but still stuck on. And on the flag where the two pieces overlap, I’ll hole punch it a certain number of times and I’ve got a key in my phone telling me how many hole punches is which strain. And then I’ll actually hole punch all my clones as well, I label my clones right off the mother plant before I cut them so I know there is continuity. Because that’s the biggest challenge is just keeping all your shit straight.
As far as how I’ve had the most success, I’ve done all kinds of different shit. I’ve done indoor grows, anything from like a closet up to like 100 100,000W lights and everything in between. Thankfully I’m in California now and I just grow out in my backyard. I’ve got some 4’x4’ pallets with some 2’x4’x4’ cloth pots that are roughly 200 gallons each. They’re square so they fill up the whole pallet. I just have my 6 cloth pots and my 6 plants, I play by their rules, but my shit is fucking massive. I have one right now that’s maybe like 10-foot wingspan, maybe haha I can’t even reach the top of the nugs and I’m 6’3” so maybe 8’ or so tall. That should be a fun one to trim haha
As far as hacks go for blind growers here is some golden shit. The more that they grow, the more that they’ll learn to smell the subtle differences as it ripens. Because I think picking the shit at the right time is the biggest challenge without a visual person to check it. I’ve noticed right around the 5th week you’ll start to smell some smell and right around when it finishes it will go through an array of scents. If you get to know your strain you’ll know like ‘oh when it hits skunky it’s just starting’ or some of them ‘when they hit skunky they’ve gone too far’. I keep little notes on all that shit. Then I always check in before I make the final call with someone sighted just to loop them out.
The other thing that I tend to do is I grow my shit kinda ‘organi-ponic’. The plants have their own momentum and I don’t stress a ton about pests because we have a good balance in my back yard. We have a ton of praying mantis this year, it was awesome. I have like a John Wick series going with my friend where we keep seeing them around, I found one dead in the pool and was like ‘oh shit, he got whacked’. Outside, I do have visual people, when they’re over just take a look for any webbing or stippling on the leaves that I may have missed. Generally healthy plants take care of themselves. It’s even easier in a controlled environment if you maintain your sanitary practices, because then you can in theory control anything introduced to the zone. That’s all I can think of right now, trimming is a bitch. I fucking hate trimming! Everybody hates trimming. Everybody just needs to buy a dry herb vaporizer and a good grinder and get over the whole fucking thing haha
One other one, after years of just being frustrated by the amount of visual shit involved in keeping a hydroponics reservoir, I just started gravitating more towards super soils. That would be my suggestion for a blind person who wants to go for it, build yourself an organic super soil. It’s a set and forget proposition. You can even set it up with a timer on drip irrigation and not have to deal with liquid nutes at all. Just put some shit in a shaker and shake it on your thing every couple weeks and cruise into the finish line. So that would be my suggestion to a blind person that didn’t know where to start. Start by just building a good soil that’s going to give you a plant that’s so healthy you can’t not lose, or not win, sorry a little medicated haha the 360 is doing its job a little too well. Plus, it’s harvest time and finger hash is in the house what what!
I also remembered while playing with my plants that you can kinda tell how ripe they are from how sticky they are. Around the fourth or fifth week they’ll first start to show some stickiness as far as the trichome caps starting to fill out. You can feel that to the touch and you’ll get some scent transfer on your hands. And then when it gets closer to ripening it goes through this phase where it’s almost greasy when you touch it. Like if you touch it your hands will feel like they’re coated in oils. That’s how you can tell you’re approaching peak THC. Once you cross over that into where you’re getting some ambers the plants will transfer some pungent scent but it’s not as greasy and it’s almost like a waxy buildup on your hands at that point and that’s how you know you are fully ripe.
With all of your experience, I’m curious if you have advice for anyone picking up cannabis for the first time? Any wisdom you’ve learned over the years that you can share?
As far as first-time cannabis users go, I’d say start realllly slow because shit is so fucking potent now. And there is this weird inverse relationship where the more you smoke, the less it affects you. Virgins will be best served to take like half a puff and call it a night. Then come back in a couple days and take half a puff and call it a night. And then maybe they work their way up to a full puff. My advice would be to start slow, don’t look at those pros taking huge bong rips and one gram fucking solid 360 hits and concentrate and everything else. These people need to start really slow and build their way up. Dip their toes in, get a vaporizer and just take a sip here and there. Start with micro-doses and work your way up, try not to cross that threshold into high tolerance-ville. Then you’re constantly working in the other direction where you’re trying to force yourself to take days off just so you can feel something again. Try not to cross that threshold. THC has 30-days for 50% of it to leave your system so it takes quite a long time for the half-life of THC. Once you get into those high tolerance zones, you’re kinda fucked.
Overall, I mean it’s not for everybody, but I think at the right dosage it can be for anybody. I have some friends who are like alcoholics and I ask them why they don’t smoke and they say “ah when I smoke I get too introspective about how I’m fucking my life up”. And I think that’s very telling about why certain people will not smoke because it makes you think about the decisions you’ve made and be reflective and insightful and tuned into your feelings and that’s the exact opposite of what alcohol does haha
Any parting thoughts?
For anybody thinking about getting into growing I say start with super soil and a good, solid hydroponic nutrient. I use the HVP, which sounds suspiciously like HPV, at the moment just because it was cheapest and you can buy it in powdered form. Just start with solid soil and nice consistent nutrient, avoid all the tweaks and all the little flavor enhancers and bullshit because that is some advanced shit for once you get your shit together on some basic level. I would say start slow, use organic super soil, don’t get discouraged, don’t expect your shit to look like dispensary shit every time, and just keep going. It will get better every year and you’ll eventually learn to pick it right where you want it. And that’s the sweet spot. Every grower knows exactly what they want out of their own herb and every grower prefers their own shit over everybody else’s shit.