Category Archives: Opinion
Every once in a while I come across a site that genuinely tries and just can’t quite figure it out, one of those deals where they do indeed do their best, but the best isn’t nearly enough. It instills a rather paternal sense of pity in me and I just sort of want to pat them on the proverbial head and give them a glass of warm milk and one of those ribbons you find at craft stores that say things like “Great Effort” or “I Can Dress Myself” (my favorite was always “Bedtime Champ”). Herbalaxation is very solidly in this camp. They try, they really do, and bless their heart the effort shows, but the effort, though in earnest, still falls short. It’s a good effort, but is it good enough?
Have you ever considered the idea of dualistic culture? Mirror culture might be a good way of thinking of it too. Basically, I’m talking about how you have one part of culture creating a class of people that is a) exclusive and b) desirable. What this sometimes results in is a cultural vacancy, a sort of holding area or crust just below the upper crust, if you will. Consider the Legal High market and all the products it contains. It’s not as though someone sat down and said “Hey, I want to find some bath salts to snort” or “I would really like to find a herbal incense sachet that can get me high”. Something instigated that. Namely, the want for (and apparent inability to get) weed and other drugs. In addition to emulating the experience, the people who fall into this sort of mirror, not quite counter, zone often try to emulate the lifestyle and culture of the source as well. And while not every dude out there is going to throw on Fog Hat and take incense rips, without actually sniffing some bowls, you might have a hard time distinguishing the true stoners from those not quite as fortunate.
I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, and the comments on the last post have only served as impetus to do this sooner, rather then later. We’re going to revisit Am-Hi-Co and see just how hard the once great behemoth has fallen. After all, they were operating under a similar model before they brought in the American team to run things, but there was a reason they brought in the American team: the model they were using was hemorrhaging money. Perhaps under the tutelage of the Americans, using the example they’d set, the previous team was able to at least maintain the momentum enough to keep ahead of trouble. Somehow, however, I doubt it. Old habits die hard, especially bad ones.
I don’t really like credit cards. I’ll get that out of the way now. It’s too easy to be irresponsible, and I’m more than a little unammused about the idea of entire companies that exist and make money by doing nothing but giving me access to money that is not only imaginary, but is money I don’t actually have. That being said, given the prevalence, indeed the preference, of online commerce that I and most other people seem to have, it’s obvious that credit cards aren’t going anywhere any time soon. So faced as we are with the challenge of using these things, it behooves us to educate ourselves a little about who exactly we’re giving our digits to and what exactly is being done with them. I’ve written before about the actual process of paying with credit cards, so you can go read that for a primer. What we’ll do here today is take a look at 3 different vendors in comparison. We’ll examine what is being done right, what is being done wrong, and how to recognize trouble waiting to happen.
This is one I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Back when, one of my first articles was about a little outfit called Da Brand. I had a sort of love/hate relationship with them. They had a great brand presence (the likes of which I hadn’t seen again until Super Fun Cave) and, by all rights and reviews, a great product to go with it. It was almost enough to forgive them the fact that their site would spout trashy hip hop at me whenever I refreshed it or navigated to a new page. And then, one day, they vanished.
I have been buying herbal incense for about 6 months. I’ve been buying Rip its by DeBrand both at local stores and online. I first bought it at herbal insence connection. When I returned to buy more, the site was down due maintenance. After a couple weeks the site was back, but Rip its were no longer offered(only had 6 new products offered). I found Rip its at the K2 spice site at that time. But now, I can’t find it in stores or online. Went to DeBrands’ site. Rip its are there for sale, but when trying to pay (both credit card & PayPal) it says no payment gateway. I’ve sent DeBrand 2 inquiries. No reply. I went to another site and bought ten 1gm variety pack. TRASH & WASTE OF MONEY! Rip its aroma was so trippy and mind expanding, like no other. Does anyone know anything about why Rip its are impossible to find? Or where I could buy it?
The last time I got a sizable correspondance from a reader, it turned in to a fascinating, multi-post odyssey detailing the lying lies and dirty secrets of what was, at the time, one of the larger and more well established legal high companies, Am-Hi-Co. A company which since has started a meteoric fall due to it’s own neglect and disregard for standards. The irony is that all of their problems could be solved with a minuscule amount of logistical planning and elbow grease, we’re talking maybe a weekend of notebook paper and moving some boxes around. I mean, how hard is it to devise an efficient system wherein you look at an order, fill it with the appropriate product in a timely fashion, and mail it? Apparently, very. It doesn’t help matters much when the postal system they’re dumping into is damn near as inept. One collector decided to share his account, which follows below in an unedited version, both for journalistic reasons and also because it’s just plain amusing.
It’s been a busy week, and I have news. Soon, I will officially be joining the ranks of the Legal High Network. It’s a little sparse over there right now, but I’m going to be remedying that soon enough.
The idea of the Legal High Network is, to me, a great one. Those of us who enjoy highs of both the legal and the illegal sort have to stick together, and having a place where we can trust that we’re among friends, and trust the information we’re getting, be it reviews or suggestions or warnings or what have you. That, and it’ll be convenient to have one singular place to pop over to without having to go hunting all over the web. We have a few exciting people on board and grand plans for the future, including a possible store front.
The other practical upshoot is that I’m going to be migrating off of WordPress and on to my own servers. You won’t, or at least shouldn’t, notice any down time or changes, but I’ll keep you posted none the less, and you will be able to keep up on reviews and discussions about all our favorite pastimes.
It’s kind of interesting, having to hide something so innocuous and harmless as an affinity for highs of various natures. A friend of mine, SWIM if you will, had this conversation with me the other day. You see, SWIM has the enviable job of being a clerk, part time, in a medical marijuana dispensary. Obviously, he is a patient as well, and it seems like a great gig. He gets to walk into a store and get an employee discount on primo weed. He was quick, however, to explain the other less enjoyable side of his particular good fortune. He looked at me and said, frankly, “This must be what it feels like to be gay.”
Now understand that he wasn’t being flippant when he said that. After all, it’s not like anyone has ever been tied to a fence and beaten to death over liking to get stoned. What he is talking about is that feeling as though you have to hide something about yourself that is, for some people, an important part of who they are. Consider, then, the stigma attached to, in this case, smoking pot. You get labeled a stoner, a high on, a pot head, and all of a sudden people are making all kind of assumptions about you and assuming they know all about you simply because they learned a fact they consider to be all encompassing, wholly defining. Simply put, you wind up judged quickly and unfairly and there is little you can do to ever change that opinion.
“Now take that,” he said, “and ask yourself how your family and close friends would react. Sure, you tend to think they would be cool with it. I mean, they like you already, right? But really think about it. Would your mother be cool with it? Your siblings? The folks at your church or your bridge club or whatever?”
And he’s right. You would like to trust that we know how our closest friends and family would react to choices we make, but at the end of the day there are some choices that people can’t wrap their head around. He told me a story about one of the patients who came into the store who had all but been shut out of his church when he admitted he used medical marijuana to help cope with his cancer treatments. All of these “Christians”, who had been helpful and supportive up until that point, wouldn’t even talk to him or acknowledge him unless absolutely necessary. When he found out that the few people who write most of the big checks to the church (many of whom take a daily cocktail of Xannex, Prozac, and a host of other strong psychoactive drugs) had been pressuring the other members to give the cold shoulder to “that dirty hippy”, he obliged and is looking for spiritual salvation elsewhere. Fair? Not at all. But a fact of life.
“Some days,” he said, “you feel like a criminal just for being who you are.”
Well, it happened. As of last Friday, the DEA finally got around to actually implementing that ban on the 3 biggest bath salt ingredients and bringing the banhammer down hard. These three chemicals are now classified as schedule one narcotics, and anyone caught selling, possessing, distributing or basically anywhere near these things is in for a world of hurt. While, to my knowledge, no one has yet gone down under the federal law. State laws are a different matter, having been in place for some time, but it remains to be seen how much of this new DEA emergency act is in earnest, and how much is just posturing. The problem is, until the DEA actually decides to do something to someone, we have no real way of knowing. Sure, they’re a few days late getting the emergency action placed in the federal register, but it would be foolish to assume that this single instance of sluggishness is representative of how they’ll play the rest of their cards. For the time being, one can only offer advice.
And that advice is “Don’t be Stupid”.
It’s been 30 days or so since the supposed ban was announced. Round about now it should be hitting. Strangely, there seems to be little information about what is actually happening. The DEA website doesn’t have any news other then a few several month old “alerts”, and there has been nothing new on any of the news outlets that I’ve seen. Instead, the Obama administration has announced a crack down on medical marijuana industry in California, something they have until today explicitly said they would not do. Perhaps they’re trying to send a message to all those people protesting in New York, or maybe someone needed a quick PR boost. At any rate, no one seems to be saying anything about this DEA bath salt ban. That doesn’t mean it ISN’T happening, simply that no one is talking. After all, when has any government agency, especially one that is little more then an extortion happy brute squad, ever been keen on keeping the public it lords control over educated about it’s policies. I mean, what better way to catch you doing something wrong then by not telling you it’s wrong.
While I cannot locate the exact place, I believe at one point I have referred to the legal high market as the Wild West. Here, a few months in, it is obvious and apparent that the description is apt. In the past few weeks, let alone the months that I’ve been writing this blog, things have rapidly changed. As I said, however, it’s par for the course. Companies I review one week are gone the next, products disappear almost as soon as they are released, emergency bans and legal action take out whole sections of the industry in single strokes. Change is truly the only constant. So where do things stand now, at this point in time? Who is still going strong, who is gone, who has made heroic comebacks, and what do legal high aficionados have to look forward to in the coming months? This seems as good a point as any to take a breath and ponder what we’ve learned. Read the rest of this entry