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The Swiss Smoke Effect

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

With several countries legalising the growing and using of cannabis lately (not recreational smoking but food and medical use) I’ve been reminded of something that happened while I was in Switzerland many years ago. It’s still illegal to supply cannabis there but some cantons allow a small quantity to be grown for personal use. In the small town where I was working a colleague told me the local policeman had given him some plants of exceptional quality.

It was a joy to travel for work and to share in workmate’s lives. One evening my partner and I, along with several others from the company, were invited to an archery session and dinner at a place in the country. The long twilight was lovely as we drove past orchards and beautiful gardens, finally arriving at a house in the hills. I’d never tried archery and found it quite challenging but managed to acquit myself reasonably well.

There was a large teepee in the front yard, something I’d noticed in a few places. After dinner we took our glasses of wine or cups of coffee into the teepee and our host, Stefan, made a fire in the middle. It was soon rather smoky although a lot of the smoke found its way out through the hole at the top.

We were all pretty happy; chatting, telling stories and even bursting into song. I surprised everyone, and mainly myself, by giving a word-perfect rendition of The Gambler.

Suddenly one of the young staff chefs stood up and demanded quiet. ‘Listen. Just listen.’

‘What are we listening for?’ someone asked.

‘Can’t you hear it? Thud, thud, thud. Something sinister is coming, I can feel it!’ He became quite agitated and took himself outside to check on the approaching monster.

When he hadn’t returned after a few minutes I went out to check on him. He was lying on the ground under an apple tree.

‘It’s wonderful here. The apples are falling all around. So peaceful.’ He was perfectly content so I left him there and went back to the others. The fresh air had made me a bit woozy although I had had very little to drink.

‘He’s fine,’ I reported back. ‘But has he been taking something? He seems a bit out of it.’

Stefan looked sheepish. ‘Could be the smoke,’ he suggested. ‘It has that effect on some people.’

Finally he admitted that he’d cut back his cannabis plants recently and had been burning the prunings.

We all went outside then and breathed deeply of the clear, pure air until we felt composed enough for the drive back to town.

With Tosca the St Bernard, and some cow bells I souvenired.

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