When I was younger and dumber, I used to read High Times and agitate for the legalization of marijuana. Now that the day has come, I realize just how bad an idea that was and is.
This thought occurred to me while I was browsing through the weed at Planet 13, which proudly bills itself the world’s largest marijuana dispensary in, where else?, Las Vegas. The ostensible reason for my visit was to procure some medicinal herb for my wife, who suffers from incurable migraines (precipitated, no doubt, by being married to me), but in reality I just wanted to see what, exactly, the very model of a modern major marijuana store looks like these days.
Well, it’s a far cry from the old head shops of my youth. At first glance, it seems like a high-end retailer on the wrong side of the tracks, which it literally is, being a couple of blocks off of the Strip. Like the rest of sin city, it looks a whole lot better at night, when the lights come on to illuminate a giant blue globe/fountain in the parking lot and a “garden” of towering fake flowers on the rooftop (if that seems tasteless to you, welcome to Las Vegas).
You enter through a phalanx of security guards and under a metal detector into the voluminous vestibule. There, you’re greeted by a young, enthusiastic, and attractive associate (they all are in this place-it’s like they hired out a McDonald’s crew to sell pot). She asks why we’re here (duh), and directs us through another door into the actual store, where, she says, we can either take a number (yes!) to see a sales rep or just browse on our own. We elect the latter option.
The store itself is a mall-like experience. It’s modern, spotlessly clean, and well-lit, with tall tiled ceilings. There are glass display cases throughout and plenty of room to meander among them. You can look as much as you want, but if you want to actually buy something you must go through a commissioned sales agent.
There are entire cases filled with all kinds of marijauna neatly displayed under brand names like Nepalese Kush, Fire Angel, and Rocket Fuel. The THC content (the active ingredient that gets you high) is posted along with the pricing, which averages about $20/gram. I, of course, never knew how powerful the joints I used to smoke were, since they were of nefarious and illegal provenance, but I am very certain they didn’t even come close to the potency of this stuff.
Each case has its own product offering. In addition to the straight-up buds by the gram, you can buy all manner of ways to get yourself high: disposable vapes, pre-rolls, hemp blunts, cartridges, and something called a “pax pod”. But you don’t have to necessarily smoke to get high: there are sugars, “badders”, “shatters”, resins, sauces, and edible “crumbles” as well. There are applicators and syringes, animal cookies and pretzels, taffies and candies, waffles and cereals, teas and brownies, chocolates and tinctures. It’s a veritable cornucopia of dope.
We finally decide to try the gummies because one of our friends had good luck with them curing her own headaches. I pull a ticket and we stand in line about 15 minutes waiting on a salesman. I’m amazed at how busy they are on a Tuesday morning, but at least it gives me time to people watch. The crowd is under 30 for the most part. A pair of what looks like teenage girls is flirting with one of the sales guys. An older woman is buying over $100 in goodies. “This is a great choice for you,” says her rep, as if she’s buying a pair of shoes.
When it’s our turn, the associate asks specifically what we are looking for. When we tell him, he points us instead to an overpriced CDB product which we know from past experience doesn’t work for us, and is, in any case, already legal in our home state. He then tries to direct us to some golden buds and suggests we take a look at the “Glue on Fire” product. We tell him no, thanks, as we don’t smoke. When we again tell him we’re mainly looking for gummies he seems disappointed but shows us a ten pack for $30.
At this point I’m getting the feeling he isn’t happy with selling us anything under that price and that we’ve wasted his precious time if we don’t. When I insist on the 3 pack of gummies for $10 he grudgingly relents but intones that we should be “careful and only eat a half a gummy if we’re not used to it”. After some discussion, he jots down our choice on an order form and we take it to the cashier. I think he’s glad to be rid of us.
We pay up (without the suggested tip) and head back to our suite at the Trump hotel (a b-e-e-eautiful place BTW). I chew a half gummy as suggested. After about an hour, all I can say is I got a mildly pleasant feeling-more like a slight change of mood than anything else (but I’m happy to say that there were no side effects of drowsiness or munchies, either). Lora didn’t register anything at all (when we did almost an entire gummy each a day later the results were about the same).
I suppose this may sound hypocritical, since I did buy and try reefer from Planet 13, but I don’t think recreational sales of marijuana through venues like this is a good idea (for the record, we could have bought ours in Florida for medicinal reasons if our insurance wasn’t so bad). I have no issue with properly prescribed medicinal marijuana (yes, it’s too easy to get a scrip from unscrupulous docs, but that’s another story), but I think to sell it as if it’s just another consumer item like a choice of beverage is irresponsible.
Part of the problem is the level of disinformation and outright lies being spread by the well-financed marijuana lobby, which is something I have a personal familiarity with. They will try to tell you with a straight face that marijuana is not only a cure for cancer but a potential fuel for automobiles in an attempt to convince you that their “cause” is just instead of just admitting they want to get stoned. I despise the dishonesty of the sales pitch, and I don’t think most of them have any idea that they are simply being used as tools for the benefit of the anarcho-oligarchy we have become. The USA is legalizing marijuana not for medicinal purposes, or for some misguided libertarian philosophy, but rather to increase profits for big businesses and tax revenue for the government.
And there’s nothing wrong with profits, so long as they’re not harming the country. But in this case they are. They are hurting, especially, young adults. I know it hurt me. I used to laugh about how cool it was to get high and skip classes; to miss whole sections of my life because I was so “toasted”. In reality, I was desperately trying to avoid the need to confront the challenges of growing up. It was easier for me to escape into my drugged out dream world than face reality…a coward’s choice, really. I didn’t think about the lost opportunities back then-chances to learn, build relationships, or develop as a human being, nor did I think about the fact that, eventually, we all must grow up whether we want to or not. I wish I had earlier. I might have made something more of myself.
Marijuana stores are a harbinger of a sick society. Their mere presence and popularity proves that, for far too many of us, the post-modern, anti-Christian, mercantilist world that we have constructed is a monster that we’d rather escape from than confront. That’s too bad, because it will take all of us, sober, to fight the culture war that’s ahead.