Rock Candy

Some people did puzzles. Some people got really into doing TikTok dances. Some people baked bread. For me, the lockdown days of the pandemic found me getting baked for the first time ever.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “How does someone wait until their mid-thirties to explore the world of cannabis?” The answer is quite simple: In my late teens, I tried weed and it made me super-paranoid. As a result, I kept a safe distance from it for well over a decade and just rolled with alcohol if I was looking to unwind.

Cut to 2020, and like most people, I had a lot of time on my hands. Besides working from home (thankfully) and streaming TV shows and movies, I started reading more news and not just the normal music news I’d ingest in order to keep up with the latest goings-on in the rock world.

One day, I fell down an internet rabbit hole about delta-8 THC, the latest craze in the cannabis world. In a nutshell, delta-8 THC is derived from the hemp plant. It is a milder version of delta-9 THC that is derived from marijuana and is the compound with psychoactive properties that cause users to feel “high.” One of the big differences between both THC compounds, besides the cannabis variant from which they’re derived, is that delta-8 was found to be less likely to induce anxiety. The biggest difference, however, was that delta-8 fell into a unique gray area that caused it to technically be federally legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Per NBC News, “That legislation legalized hemp, which is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent delta-9 THC or less — levels considered too low to have a psychoactive effect. However, the bill does not address delta-8 THC levels, an omission that makes it legal for vendors to sell the compound, often as edibles, vape cartridges and tinctures, with no oversight.”

As of April 2022, the following states have passed legislation to make delta-8 illegal: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Utah, and Washington. As a resident of Michigan, delta-8 is legal but now falls under the same regulations as state-legal marijuana following legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in July 2021.

Once I read a lot of reports from reliable sources and consulted friends who were more familiar with the world of cannabis than me, I decided to try a delta-8 gummy edible. To my delight, the “high” was mild, very pleasant and I did not experience the paranoia that had scared the hell out of me in my late teens. It also helped me get a quality night’s sleep, and unlike unwinding with alcohol, I had no hangover-like symptoms.

The next step, of course, was obvious: Listen to iconic stoner albums while high! Naturally, the first one I reached for was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, an album I loved but never listened to while stoned.

So, what was it like to listen to Dark Side of the Moon high for the first time at age 35? Here were my five takeaways:

  • 1. The channel switching on the album is mental.

    There are a number of instances on Dark Side of the Moon where audio moves from the right channel/speaker to the left and back again. The most dizzying example comes courtesy of “One the Run,” which is rather intense sober, but when you’re high, I could feel the sensations of the audio move from the right and left sides of my body.

  • 2. Glad I invested in good headphones.

    Dark Side of the Moon is an album to be experienced with a quality pair of headphones. It enhances the aforementioned channel transitions immensely. Before listening to the LP high for the first time, I coincidently purchased a pair of Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones. They retail at $148, but fortunately, Amazon offered (and as of publishing, continues to offer) an option to split the cost of the headphones into three monthly payments of $49.34, which I was able to financially handle. (For those interested, you can check out the listing for those headphones here.)

  • 3. Clare Torry's vocals nearly moved me to tears.

    Singer Clare Torry is the force behind the acrobatic vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” They remain some of the most stunning vocals in recorded rock history, and even though I enjoyed the track before, it felt like I was hearing them for the first time. What an incredible achievement this song is on an LP already filled with incredible moments.

  • 4. I can't believe the groove on the verses of 'Time' hasn't been ripped off more

    Let’s just put it out there: “Time” is a bit of a downer of a song. However, that underlying grove that bursts through with the first verse (“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day”) just SLAPS! It’s uniquely seductive, and it’s amazing it’s not ripped off more. It’s probably due to very few, if any, having the hubris to out-Pink Floyd the actual Pink Floyd.

  • 5. 'Money' might be overplayed on classic rock radio, but it truly is money

    Could I get into trouble for saying “Money” is overplayed on classic rock radio? Yes, but this whole article may get me into trouble, so what’s the sense in stopping now? Anyway, while I wish more Pink Floyd tunes would get airplay, I have a new understanding and appreciation for “Money” after listening to the classic track high for the first time. Perhaps, it’s the alternating time signatures from 7/8 to 4/4, back to 7/8 and then back to 4/4 again. Maybe my own disdain for the super-wealthy is enhanced whist high. Either way, I get it now, and I’ll try my best to refrain from playing “armchair radio program director.”