I can smell the sickly sweet scent of marijuana long before I turn to see who is taking a toke. I am walking down the Plaza Independencia in Montevideo, Uruguay, and it is about two weeks before that country’s historic decision to be the first in the world to (gasp!) dare to legalize the evil weed. To my surprise, the source of the haze is from an extraordinarily attractive young woman seated on a park bench. What surprises me is not how good looking she is, but how well she is dressed (fashionably languid but steaming hot), and the fact that she is smoking it as openly as you would a Marlboro, without a care in the world in a country where, at that point at least, it was still illegal to do so.
Uruguayans are justifiably famous for their casual and relaxed manner, which extends into their laissez-faire attitude toward drugs in general and marijuana in particular. This is of course in sharp contrast to the USA, where in most states it is still illegal under any and all circumstances to even be in possession of pot, and so naturally this is how we have managed to accumulate more people behind bars than any country in the world, including the 2 billion strong Communist Chinese, and even more as a percentage of our total population than North Korea, though most of the people they arrest in that Asian dung heap are simply fed to starving dogs, so maybe they don’t count. Still, USA number one, Hell yeah!
This got me thinking again about a conversation I had in the living room of a friend’s house wherein a guest took the opportunity to use our little party as a platform for her PAC (Political Action Committee), which basically focused on the wonders of marijuana, not just as used as fiber for hemp, which every college freshman at my alma mater knew, but also to cure just about all that ails ya’, from runny noses to brain cancer to rheumatoid arthritis and everything in between. She expounded at length on anecdotal cases in which patients with incurable diseases miraculously recovered from their illnesses and others turned to the weed as the only means of pain relief. At one point, she even mentioned that marijuana could be used as a type of fuel for automobiles.
Now, here I have to call bullshit. Yes, if you try hard enough, you can turn just about anything into fuel for a diesel engine. I suppose if you took enough steps in the refining process your old gym socks would work too. I get that she’s a salesman, but when you go over the top like that you lose some credibility. No, let me rephrase that: when all you can talk about with any degree of passion is a single subject, whether what you’re saying is true or not, you have lost credibility as a human being. Where is the balance in your life, after all? But I have met these types in Tallahassee before, and, whether you are talking about saving the sea turtles or affirmative action or legalizing pot, they are all one-trick ponies-a walking paid political advertisement like you see on TV, and ordinary people should rightfully avoid them with the same vigor they would reject a one-night stand with Oprah Winfrey.
In any event, at one point in this diatribe the (seventy something) hostess whispers a question to me: “Do I mind if they smoke?” I am still naïve and stupid enough to think they are talking about cigarettes at first, but then the light bulb slowly comes on in my dim reptilian brain and I acquiesce to what is, essentially, a pot party, which I haven’t really taken part in with gusto since college, so this is reminiscent of many a long and wasted night at McGill dormitory wherein my “studies”, especially concerning obscure Russian literature and 19th century German philosophers, were greatly enhanced by the clarity of my drug enhanced stupor—I mean, vision, which I shared with slack-jawed and equally stoned co-eds.
Now, the PAC animal is a stout pleasant female who says she has some kind of permit to smoke pot, so I guess that’s OK, though I doubt this will keep me out of the pokey if the cops break down the door, SWAT style, and turn us all into instant felons. I mention she is a little chunky because she’s told us that she suffers from some unknown malady, but I guess that has had no effect on her appetite, and she’s incredibly perky and spry even before she gets to tokin’, though I remember well eating a tall stack of pancakes, a quart of ice cream, and a pepperoni pizza one night in an effort to quell my own case of the munchies, so maybe her shape isn’t so strange after all. And I guess we have an entire generation of our young people who also suffer from some kind of incurable diseases, because she has a group of collegiate lobbyists that traipse around with her, and they all partake in the smoke fest as well. One of them was Latino. A smokin’ tokin’ token? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂
One curious aside to this event is that they are using a smokeless pipe, which until that moment I had no idea existed. I can tell you that this contraption actually works and creates no discernible smoke or odor whatsoever, even from across the table. Oh, I wish I’d had one when I was younger! It would have certainly saved me a lot of paranoia when I was driving down the county roads of Alabama while it looked like the inside of my car was on fire. I’m told it costs about $200, though I’d imagine you could do better at Sam’s Club. Ms. PAC Man also tells me she has used one, unnoticed, in the movie theater before, which I kind of view like a wino that can’t make it through a flick without a surreptitious hit of booze, but who am I to judge? Smokeless pipes: what a great country! Only in Amurricah!
Now, here’s the thing: I don’t smoke pot anymore and I haven’t for a very long, long time, but I’m honest enough to tell you that (unlike Bill Clinton) when I did I inhaled mightily and often and at all times of the day and night. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it. I view it as a youthful diversion, like Led Zepellin played to pain-threshold distortion levels or Frisbee golf tournaments. Yes, it was a silly waste of time, but we didn’t hurt anybody and we didn’t carry any of that stupidity into our adult lives, for the most part. It’s just something fun and sophomoric I did when I was young. Then I grew up.
I can understand that some people never grow up, and I can understand why, that being the case, they still want to get high. What I can’t stand, though, is this absurd posturing about how marijuana is some noble cause on a par with world peace or pollution control. One, it ain’t that important even if all of the ridiculous claims for its medicinal uses are true, but two, we all know the biggest reason you people want to legalize it is to get high! Just Own it. Personally, I’d have a lot more respect for these lobbyists if they just came clean and admitted that fact, instead of hiding behind this miracle cure BS. Man up, people! Make your slogan “Got Pot?”, or some such nonsense with a celebrity blissfully taking a hit on a print or Internet ad.
Legalize marijuana? Absolutely! I have no interest in who gets high or why, I hate the police state we are becoming, and we can’t afford to throw everyone in jail anyway. So go ahead, light up. Just don’t tell me it’s for your health. I’ve got a feeling your lungs are going to tell you otherwise, sooner or later.