Ryan f. Johnson

"YOU HAVE GOT to be fucking kidding me."

This came from my girlfriend, and while it's practically her catch phrase when addressing my many questionable decisions, in this instance, I was inclined to agree. I was, after all, attempting a Snoop-level canna challenge, and I was struggling.

"It's for... uh... work," I replied, glassy eyed and dry mouthed. "There's this... event, and samples arrived... late, so I need to... vape all this." I launched my bulletproof defense while sunk into the couch, surrounded by a vape whip, 14 pill bottles of weed, an overflowing grinder, and a yellow legal notepad.

She stared at me and blinked.

"Hands off, ladies, he's aaaaaaaaall mine," she cracked, shaking her head and leaving my Den of Questionable Choices.

It all started a few weeks back with an email from Leah Maurer, co-chair of Women Grow Portland. She asked if I would be interested in serving as a judge for an event at the Refuge on December 12. "It's called the Sungrown Cannabis Festival, and I recommended you as a celebrity judge," she wrote. Never mind that she was stretching the very definition of the word "celebrity" to its breaking point—I do enjoy consuming and reviewing cannabis flower. The organizers then called me to explain that my judge's pack, complete with an array of sun-grown cannabis, would be delivered to me the Wednesday before the event, which fell on a Saturday.

I gave them an address for delivery, and waited.

And waited. Wednesday became Thursday. Then, as it so often does, that led to Friday.

I phoned the organizer to check in, and was told the weather had slowed the delivery of the samples from Southern Oregon, but that they were still arriving and to just keep the faith.

On Saturday morning, I got an email saying the samples were ready for pick up at the venue, which opened at 2 pm. But, um, the ballots were due by 6:30 pm. I quickly cleared my schedule for the next few hours, and called a Radio Cab. The driver was a super-psyched-on-life young woman who chatted me up on the way over, asking why I was headed to the Refuge. I detailed my newly planned schedule for the day.

When we arrived, she turned around. "I'm not sure if 'good luck' is the right thing to say to someone attempting what you just described, so let's go with 'Godspeed.'"

I grabbed my samples and chatted briefly with Hugo, the event organizer. "There are a few indoor samples as well," he said, "and all the bottles are labeled between one and 14. The ballots weren't ready in time, so just judge them by any criteria you think is best." I thanked him and headed home to begin.

I fired up my Herbalizer vaporizer, ground up a bud from bottle #1, and inhaled deeply. I wanted to give each sample its due, and decided on 10 deep inhales per sample. I used a star system from zero to five, and made notes about the trim job, cure, smell, and taste. I knew that 140 hits wasn't going to allow me to sense much of a difference between the samples' effects, so opted out of that aspect.

By the eighth sample, my handwriting resembled something scrawled by a person with a pen in their mouth. I got up and went to the kitchen three times to grab something, each time failing to recall what it was when I arrived.

Around the 10th strain, I got a text from Hugo. "Hey, we just got four more strains, any chance you can sample and include those?" "Of course," I texted back, realizing this was the first time the thought of smoking weed had filled me with dread.

I arrived with 20 minutes to spare before the results were to be tallied. I was whisked into a back room and given the four additional samples. I packed my pipe and started power-hitting them, one after another. Ten minutes later, I handed over my ash-covered page of rankings.

The epic munchies session that followed redefined the term "gluttony." But we aren't going to talk about that.