Mike Powers
News-Bulletin sports writer

This may be difficult to believe, but in high school I wasn’t the “coolest” kid around. Sure, I did all the sports stuff — football, baseball, basketball, track and tennis — earning a certain amount of cache with fellow students. Want to check out the medals on my letterman’s jacket?  

But to be hip in some circles, like with some of my best friends, smoking marijuana was part of the gig. In truth, the thought of pot scared me, even without ever watching “Reefer Madness.” Would I go berserk, rob a bank? Would it pump up the paranoia, already flowing through my veins?  

No, thank you. But abstaining meant missing out on bonding with my buddies, like when they would slip out of school to listen to Jethro Tull, the rock group. “Jethro Tull” was code for “meet in the car to light up a joint.” I can’t listen to “Bungle in the Jungle” without chuckling, thinking about what I may have missed.  

I was rebellious in more traditional ways. There were regular appearances at Saturday night keggers and the occasional streaking episode. Not proud.  

However, the urge to stay out of trouble and focus on athletics was too strong to try the devil’s lettuce. Plus, my parents had negative health impacts from smoking cigarettes, and who wants to end up in the clink for getting a buzz?   

Even now, as the smell of marijuana wafts regularly through the air, my first thought is, “Somebody is going to get busted.” That’s quickly followed by, “Who is roasting green chile?”     

For many of my generation growing up in the ʼ60s and ʼ70s, there is a certain fascination with marijuana. You have got to love the terminology: weed, Mary Jane, bong, ganja, roach clip, stoner. It’s almost enough to find the old bell bottoms and head to the disco.  

A half-century later, a marijuana cigarette has yet to touch my lips. A loaded gummy, cannabis oil and related products have been off-limits.   

However, with pot’s changing perception and with Weed Day, also known as 4/20, on the horizon, is there a better time to seek knowledge about something that is a bit of a mystery? With that in mind, I decided to visit several Valencia County cannabis dispensaries to get educated.  

It wouldn’t be my first time in a pot shop. Walking down Main Street out of state a few years ago, I wandered into a store to cure a hunger pang. Instantly, I knew that “Cookies” was not a bakery. The aroma was certainly unexpected. Everyone inside turned and stared at this fish out of water. After giving a sheepish smile and a little wave, I backed out the door.   

A few days ago, with a deep breath, I walked into a local dispensary. A bell alerted an employee, who made a copy of my driver’s license. It was a reminder that regulation and security are concerns.   

The clerk, who appeared to have just arrived from Woodstock, was very helpful. I learned about the cost, how cartridges work and that pre-rolls are joints ready to light.  

My main interest was medicinal. Do sleep aids work? Is there an oil to ease shoulder pain? A firm “yes” was the answer, on both counts.   

A few days later, I headed to another dispensary across Valencia County for a different perspective. Here, I learned that all the marijuana is exclusively New Mexico grown.   

The cost of the various options appeared reasonable, although I couldn’t be sure without trying to see how long it lasts. Salves and creams seemed like possibilities for my shoulder.   

The employee said that gummies are very effective for insomnia, although he warned to ease into it. That was a reminder of a friend who was suffering from a debilitating illness. To ease the pain, he took several gummies at the same time, unaware of the cumulative effect. The result was a traumatic experience before it wore off. In the marijuana universe, gummies are not candy.   

At both dispensaries, I was told most consumers use products to get high, not as much for traditional medicinal purposes. Although, “chilling out” after a rough day at the News-Bulletin would seem to have health benefits, for sure.   

Overall, my head has been spinning. Way more possibilities, with way more ingredients than expected.  

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) for starters. A chemical degree would be helpful.    

With research completed, it is clear I am not clear about what my next move will be, if any. Stay the course, or venture into this brave new world?   

As this column ends, I hope it was focused enough. Did it make a point or wander too much? One thing is for sure, all this writing has given me a case of the munchies. Anyone have a bag of Doritos?   

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.