An Old Fashioned High

Opium expert Steven Martin downplays the chances of the drug’s resurgence:

For one thing, despite its having all but disappeared, regulations against opium smoking are still on the books just about everywhere. But another major reason is the difficulty involved in smoking opium—or, more correctly, vaporizing opium—in the traditional way. You need chandu, opium specially processed for vaporizing, and you need a set of this very specific and distinctive paraphernalia, and it has to be in working order. And once you have all that, you need somebody who can teach you how to use it.I think anyone nowadays who happened to get hold of some raw opium would probably end up mixing it in their tea—but that’s just not the same thing. Not even close. Imagine somebody soaking a dried tobacco leaf in hot water and then drinking the result in hopes of replicating the experience of smoking a fine Cuban cigar. That’s what drinking opium tea is compared to vaporizing opium with the proper accoutrements.

Previous Dish on Martin’s experiences with the drug here.