For the Advocate

I don’t know anything about weed gummies. I warned my editors about this. They shrugged and reminded me that I was a food columnist, so gummies were my territory. I nodded slowly.

My gummy quest began with an educational visit to a local cannabis testing lab, whose weed wizards explained that there are three main types of gummies, divided by how the plant is “extracted,” or turned into oil.

Cheapest and most common are distillates. These gummies are infused with a single cannabinoid, THC, that’s chemically isolated using ultra-intense heat that strips away the plant’s many other psychoactive compounds. Weedies say this translates to a woozy, one-dimensional couch-potato experience.

The pricier alternative is “whole-plant” or “live” extracts, which preserve the full spectrum of cannabinoids and aromatic terpenes. Live resin is extracted from the whole plant using a chemical solvent like butane, whereas live rosin, the most expensive, is ”solventless,” extracted using heat and pressure alone.

Live rosin may be new to the North American legal weed market, but it’s nothing new. Across the city streets and plazas of the whole Eurasian continent, you’ll find plenty of easy-to-transport live rosin in its most popular form: hashish.

For my tasting, I bought gummies from four recreational weed stores in Northampton that I could walk to: Resinate, Balagan, Honey and NETA. With budtenders’ help, I chose one distillate, one live resin, one live rosin, and one more live rosin that calls itself “hash.”

Gummy potency is measured in milligrams THC. Each of my packages had twenty 5mg gummies – 100mg total THC. Prices were $20 to $30 per pack plus about 20% tax. I do not expect to be reimbursed by the newspaper for these expenses.

I will now recount my tasting notes chronologically.

Day 1: Kiva Lost Farm Silver Kush Sour Cherry Gummies (Live Resin)

Dose: 5mg + 5mg

Kiva Lost Farm Sour Cherry live resin gummies, 5mg THC each, purchased from Balagan in Northampton.

I started with a single 5mg gummy, taken at the Northampton train station as I boarded the Vermonter for New York. It was pink and supple, more Turkish delight than gummy bear. A dusting of sugar granules added textural counterpoints. The artificial cherry aftertaste reminded me of amoxicillin antibiotic syrup from my childhood.

5mg THC is a modest serving for most, but people’s tolerance varies wildly. Some lightweights could fly on half a 5mg gummy, while some connoisseurs could down the whole 100mg package and still make it to work at Cinemark.

Newbies must always be warned that edibles, unlike smokes or vapes, take up to two hours to kick in, then last several more hours. If you don’t feel anything after an hour, do not eat more. Someday you will disobey this advice. It will happen exactly once.

This time, the opposite happened to me. After eighteen minutes, my behavior was already spotty. I gave the café-car-tender the wrong credit card, then had significant trouble switching the cards. Was this lightning metabolism, the placebo effect, or just the life of an ass-hat?

An hour further south, I felt first strangely detached from, then compelled to eavesdrop on, other passengers. Another hour sailed by, and I experienced a gentle acceptance of the world’s flaws and my own. The conductor informed me of Amtrak’s outrageous laptop ban in the café car, and I responded with graceful obedience. I liked this side of me.

Thirty minutes before we got to the city, I popped another 5mg. At the exact moment when I entered my friend’s dinner party, the onset curves of the two gummies summed into a pleasant peak. I was starving. My first two slices of Joe’s meat lover’s pizza were two of the greatest things I had ever tasted, each in their own way.

I went home in a great mood, full of energy, and stayed up all night chatting with an old friend.

Day 2: Smokiez Sour Peach Fruit Chews “Sativa – Uplift” (THC Distillate)

Dose: 5mg + 5mg

Smokiez Sour Peach Fruit Chews “Sativa – Uplift,” 5mg THC each, purchased at Resinate in Northampton.

Day 2 was a disastrous day. I was still sitting on the couch with my friend when my alarm rang at 4:45 a.m. Suddenly I realized that not going to sleep was an inconceivably bad idea.

I stumbled into Penn Station at 5:30 a.m. in a foul mood, and boarded my sleeper train for Chicago. I had bought a ticket from a model-train company to travel on a vintage private car that was hitched onto the back of the Amtrak Cardinal. How this happened is a long story.

I was escorted to a glossy, lumpy booth in a mid-1950s train car. My bleary eyes were melted shut, but I was wide awake. An older man sat down by me. He looked like an alien. I skulked off to an empty booth and ate a 5mg Smokiez. It was smooth and very chewy, with a Snapple aftertaste.

From the moment we squeaked out of the station, I had little comprehension of what was going on around me. We were tilting and shaking and rattling like no train I had ever been on except Big Thunder Mountain. There were butlers wearing white tie, speaking in old-time train lingo. Tea and crumpets were flying across powder-blue carpets.

Disconcertingly, the train was speeding directly away from Chicago, heading south toward DC on a 29-hour route that would traverse both Virginias before turning back up through Indiana.

I was beginning to sense that I had made a monumental mistake, that I was trapped for the next 28 hours in an Ayn Rand re-enactment where I would formally dine four times and possibly derail with a group of model train collectors in bow ties.

My reaction was to panic. The distillate was really kicking in at this point. I found the dapper bell captain and politely asked to disembark at Philly. He and his colleagues were stunned. After the technical ordeal of opening the door was done, I was paraded off by a butler who rolled my suitcase past an incredulous crowd in the parlor.

I started to regret my impulsive actions within fifteen minutes, but the train was gone and the deed was done. I wandered across an empty Union Station and waited two hours in shame for the late-morning Vermonter to take me back to Northampton.

My premature return trip was lonely and wistful. I was filled with regret. I felt I’d insulted a group of perfectly kind and decent vacationers. Plus, I wouldn’t get to see my good friend Steve in Chicago tomorrow. From the safety of my luxurious northbound recliner, I called Steve and told him I’d never realized how much I loved Amtrak. He understood.

That evening, after my second 5mg of the distillate, I felt like a new man. I went on a dinner date at Tellus in Northampton, a buzzy haunt beneath Thornes. We talked and laughed. I felt a great vibe.

I didn’t mention the gummies, because my date was a devout Christian who believes that weed is Satan’s herb, and I think she’d agree that it would have killed the moment. Maybe she will forgive me after she reads this column, maybe not.

Day 3: Nova Farms Hashables Watermelon Jolt Solventless Hash Infused Bites (Live Rosin)

Dose: 10mg

Nova Farms Hashables Watermelon Jolt Solventless Hash Infused Bites, live rosin, 10mg each.

Unlike Day 2, Day 3 was an uneventful and forgettable day, marred by gummy exhaustion. I took two Hashables, and my sister took three. They made us both hungry but also sluggish. We went out to eat, where I stuffed my face and said little. I came home, collapsed into bed, slept for at least 10 hours, and still woke up groggy.

Day 4: Day of Rest

Day 5: Coast Cannabis Tropical Punch Gummies (Live Rosin)

Dose: 10mg

Coast Cannabis Tropical Punch Gummies, live rosin, 10mg each.

Coast Cannabis was recommended by my friend Damaris, the entrepreneur behind Holyoke’s upcoming Blossom Flower weed-delivery service. She steered me well.

Coast’s tropical punch gummies are delicious, like chewing a weedy passion-fruit colada. I took two in the early evening, then went for dinner with a friend at Homestead in downtown Northampton, where I had a visceral reaction to rare duck breast but ate a huge amount of ricotta and enjoyed it immensely.

Afterwards, we went to Bishop’s Lounge and danced like middle schoolers. Then we went home, started playing music, and ultimately recorded a novel synth-pop version of “This Land is Your Land” on two keyboards.

Later, I developed an obsession with Lady Columbia, our national symbol before her patriarchic overthrow by Uncle Sam. Just before my friend left (perhaps not coincidentally), I played “Hail Columbia,” America’s original National Anthem, several times in a row.

Day 6: Mix and match

Dose: 5mg Hashables Live Rosin + 5mg Kiva Silver Kush Live Resin

Pairing foods with wines is an important aspect of fine dining. Could pairing gummies with other gummies be an important aspect of fine gummy dining?

To answer this question, on Day 6, my sister and our friend got together for a mix-and-match. My sister took two Hashables, one live resin, and one live rosin. I took one Hashables and one live resin.

Our friend took two Hashables and one live resin. Her evening later took an unfortunate turn when she locked her keys in the car and ended up having to meet her husband somewhere off I-91, halfway to Enfield. But she remained in good spirits.

Back in Northampton, I wasn’t at full strength either. I was trying to finish this article, but my thoughts were strange and muddled. My end-of-day copy deadline came and went. By mid-morning, I still had nothing even remotely publishable.

The editors must have contemplated this possibility from the start. They took pity and gave me one more night.

Day 7: Coast Cannabis Tropical Punch Gummies (Live Rosin)

Dose: Unknown

My extra day was a gift, and the sunny early evening was perfect for a re-tasting of Coast live rosin. To get the fullest experience, I didn’t eat or drink all afternoon, and I convinced my 79-year-old dad to try some too.

When I re-opened the Coast package, I learned an important lesson: if you leave gummies in the sun, they will fuse into one giant conglomerate of jello plasma. This is why I list the Day 7 dose as “unknown.”

At 10:30 p.m., I called my dad to see how he was enjoying the live resin. Very much, he said. I could barely hear his voice over the partying at the Tunnel Bar, where he had taken my mom.

I remained in my apartment, where I spent all night rewriting this article one more time, from start to finish, desperately trying to cut it to size. I’ve had a grand old time doing it. But what about the quality of the writing – and, therefore, of the live rosin?

You’d be the better judge, because the sky is pale, the birds are chirping, and I’m still half-baked.

Robin Goldstein is a research economist and director of the Cannabis Economics Group at the University of California, Davis. He is also a 1% shareholder of Cambium Analytica, a cannabis testing lab.