PopSci's Drug Week stories

It's Drug Week at PopSci! They've reported on a 1884 PopSci writer's "dramatic first-hand account of marijuana overdose," a reporter's description of an LSD trip in 1967 ("He notes that under LSD, the sunset looks gorgeous, and bemoans the likelihood that he'll never see a sunset that stunning again."), and more.

I especially enjoyed Paul Adams' report about Green Dragon - a powerful tincture of cannabis created by a New York Bartender dubbed "Jon."

"Ten years ago, I had gotten my hands on this ungodly amount of hash. We couldn't smoke it all. So we started putting it into neutral grain spirit, and it dissolved in, but the thing was, we couldn't get as high. So we gave up and forgot about it for a week, and meanwhile it sat in the car in the 120° sun for a week. The next time, we took a couple of drops and it destroyed us."

"What happened? THC [the main active ingredient in cannabis] normally has a carboxyl group that's attached to it. In order for it to fit into the lock-and-key mechanism of our bodies' cannabinoid receptors, you have to break off the carboxyl group. That takes 30 years--or heat."

The carboxyl group starts breaking off as the temperature gets higher, so Jon heats his Dragon as part of the infusing process. Toasting the cannabis before infusing can drive off some of the delicate aromatics, giving it a cooked flavor, and also runs the risk of vaporizing the THC itself. So Jon heats his only to 100°C (212°F), which gives the infusion a delicate flavor and just the strength he wants, no more.

Nitrous Green Dragon

Here's how Jon does it:

  • a one-liter whipped-cream whipper
  • two nitrous oxide chargers
  • a double boiler large enough to accommodate the whipper bottle
  • 750 ml mezcal at room temperature (Jon uses Vida or Sombra)
  • 3.5 grams (1/8 ounce) of cannabis (Jon uses "indoor high-grade sativa")
  1. Roughly break up the cannabis.
  2. Put the cannabis and the mezcal in the whipper bottle.
  3. Close the canister and charge it with two charges of N2O according to the instructions.
  4. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Vent out the pressurized gas. NOTE: you are venting aerosolized ethanol with THC dissolved in it, as well as laughing gas. Jon says "Probably nobody would want to inhale this."
  6. Stir the liquid and let it sit until the gas boils off.
  7. Place the sealed canister in a double boiler and let it simmer for an hour.
  8. Strain the solids out of the liquid and discard them or dry them for other uses. The liquid is nitrous green dragon.

Drug Week



  1. Aha! Nitrogen Cavitation.  see also: http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/08/11/infusion-profusion-game-changing-fast-%E2%80%98n-cheap-technique/

    1. Seriously. Anyone who writes an article like this and then says “probably nobody would want to inhale this” doesn’t really understand their audience.

  2. So…so this is better than the Put A Bunch Of Hash In A Bottle Of Bacardi 151 And Leave It In The Car For A Week method? Because I, I really like the Put A Bunch Of Hash In A Bottle Of Bacardi 151 And Leave It In The Car For A Week method, it’s…


    Butterfly? Hello there!

  3. I have heard of this as a meso-American thing, and made by a more ancient process. The concoction is called damajuana, which is just the name for the jug it’s in (like a demijohn).  http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damajuana

    Anyways, it’s grain spirits infused with mescal, marijuana, peyote, and then weird voodooey shit like turtle shells and hair of dead relatives & whatever else.  Then it’s left to BAKE IN THE SUN, which is the temperature gradient needed to activate the decarboxylation.  Anyways…  have fun kids.

        1. Yes, butane extraction is a way to really dangerously catch fire if you’re not careful.  I was once at a hot spring in Northern California and met some guys who were making hash oil, evaporating the butane by letting a bowl of it sit in the hot water.  No fire involved.

          But even though a whipped cream maker can handle reasonable amounts of pressure, and would be much more likely to blow out through the lid instead of turning the metal bottle to shrapnel, it still sounds like a bad idea. 

          1.  Yeah, choosing equipment designed with fail-safes for vapour pressure seems like a good idea.  Maybe a pressure cooker as the inner vessel in a double boiler – the vapour pressure shouldn’t be enough to lift the pressure vent, but it’s there in case…

          2. Actually,  looking some numbers up it seems rather less scary – ethanol’s vapour pressure at 100C is 202 kilopascals, or about two atmospheres.  A bottle of champagne is carbonated to around 5 or 6 atmospheres, so a champagne bottle with a wire cage over the stopper should be safe as the inner vessel in a double boiler with simmering water to keep the temperature steady.

  4. Super intense stoned for at least 4 hours?  Scary, I’m with Brian Eno on this one, “If drugs had an On and Off switch I’d take them all the time.”

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