As Sandy pounded my home office in Southern New Hampshire this week, I was imagining how cannabis might play in a disaster movie.
Disasters happen, and shit like what Sandy did to the East coast is happening all over the world and with increasing frequency. In fact, for a time last week The Hurricane Story competed for media attention with news of a huge quake in Canada, and the tsunami scare in Hawaii that followed. No doubt about it; we are in the midst of a perfect storm that we ourselves have helped to create:
High-pressure environmental abuse of the industrial revolution meets geologic cycle from hell. Killer storms, tornadoes, massive quakes and tsunamis, heat waves, droughts, plagues, extinctions…and cooperation.
Imagine the scene.
It's late at night. The city is in ruins. Out of the debris a community of survivors emerges with that spirit of cooperation we call upon when the pain is shared: it comes on fast in the wake of crushed and broken fellow citizens--all in deep shock from seeing how quickly, how easily the earth can wipe away what we spend lifetimes and countless resources building up.
In this scene communications are down. Relief boats and planes are not on the way. These survivors are on their own, many in desperate need of pain relief, medicinal compresses, stress relief, sleep… What can they do? Empty the drug stores? Sure, but how sustainable is that?
One of the leaders jumps up on the hood of a crumpled Dodge, barking orders in the soft somber rain:
Listen up! Raid the liquor stores and gather all the dry weed you can. We’ll meet by the blackened Exxon sign…there’s a wholesale bakery nearby with a generator we can use…No; it’s not a party. We’re gonna make some serious medicine…
The liquor people finally arrive pushing shopping carts brimming with high-proof spirits. With so much damage on the shelves the order took awhile to fill. Being a progressive city, the weed gatherers had an easier time of it—finding dry green aplenty in the ruins of local dispensaries. Some are rolling and filling pipes for people who find relief with that, while the rest crumble the majority of their haul onto sheet pans for baking.
Outside under a tarp the organizers have set up a massive cauldron worthy of a Far Side toon. The lightly baked green from the oven area is brought outside and added to the vat of simmering alcohol.
One of the organizers explains the process to an inquisitive new arrival;
Heating the weed a bit first is called decarboxilation—decarb—it releases the active components. Boiling in alcohol is the extraction step. After thirty minutes or so we’ll strain it and then start to boil it down—all the way down to a sticky paste by the time we’re done…
After it's strained, people line up to begin taking a share of the non-toxic elixir. The first ones to fill their dropper bottles and canning jars will get the weakest medicine. Like a maple syrup boil, the mixture darkens and thickens as the liquid is reduced. And very much like maple syrup, the color changes are sweet.
After an hour or so the bubbling cauldron is yielding Green Dragon tincture, a Dionysian remedy from an ancient time (solid dose; 10-15 drops). When the alcohol has been completely evaporated, the resulting emerald green paste/oil/tar (possibly the stickiest stuff on the planet) can be dabbed onto a cracker, toked for fast relief, or reconstituted with honey or syrup for use in drinks and cooking.
That first day of making cannabis medicine goes well, and people continue to arrive with donations of edibles, spirits and weed for processing. The day after the first awful night is behind them. In the dim light of the fading sun on the second day away from the event that changed everything forever, thousands of people are suffering less because of a medicine they made together as a community while they waited for word from the outside world...
In the future, disaster relief, when help isn't coming, may take a village and depend on cannabis. That's just a theory, of course. But the scene would look pretty good on film.
Related article: Lights, Camera, Cannabis!
Related article: Lights, Camera, Cannabis!
 Alcohol of course is flammable. The vat is outside on the loading dock to avoid build-up of fumes. So as not to add to the fires ravaging their city, assume the medicine makers can heat this vessel electrically or with rocks heated in a street bonfire.