Confessions of a Cannabis Smoker

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Oct 26, 2001.

  1. By Lauren Booth
    Source: Independent

    The announcement that possession of cannabis will no longer be an arrestable offence was as surprising to me as it was welcome. Who'd have thought that David ("I'm even tougher than Straw") Blunkett would be the one to admit finally that smoking spliff is groovy, not deadly? What can it all mean? One thing's for certain: cannabis is officially out of fashion. I presume that the Home Secretary and his advisers have chosen now to reclassify the drug because (as the young spinners in Downing Street know perfectly well) the public's love affair with weed has been fading for 15 years. For kids with no hope on sink estates, the "buzz" from smoking cannabis isn't harsh enough to combat their reality.

    For professionals between 18 and 50, meanwhile, its gently sedative effect is completely incompatible with our busy lives.
    That's not to say that I've anything against cannabis. On the contrary, despite being too busy and "grown-up" to enjoy it properly these days, I'm still a great fan. There have been too many occasions when I've been afraid for my own well-being because drunks (some strangers, some not) have become violent when under the influence of a few pints of the legal stuff; no one has ever intimidated or threatened me after a couple of spliffs, though. So I naturally have a soft spot for the latter.

    But while the occasional joint can be brilliantly relaxing, just getting to that first drag can take hours, even days to organise. First, there's the call to the "mate" who sells it. Then you wait ages for them to bring it over or for them to be at home so you can pick it up. This is an anxious time. Not because you come into contact (as in Blairite nightmares) with hardened druggies desperate to shove a needle into your eyeball, but because it's polite to share a smoke with your dealer. This means spending an awkward half-hour sitting on a raggedy sofa and feigning interest in Chelsea's away record in 1987. When you get home, there's the fiddly ritual of rolling a spliff to contend with. Finally, when you do get a rewarding lungful of smoke, you lose two hours of your life lying on the sofa surrounded by the entire contents of the fridge watching Rikki Lake.

    If there is a potentially dangerous side-effect to the Government's new legislation it may be a sharp increase in obesity. Doctors dealing with anorexics have long accepted that where all else fails, the magic ingredient in marijuana gets even the most stubbornly controlled appetite raging again. I can't help feeling that if the Ministry of Health had run an ad campaign saying "Just say FAT" instead of "Just say NO" in the 1980s, featuring a fat Feltz surrounded by roaches and pizza crusts, then most teenagers would never have touched spliff in the first place.

    As it is, we did. I once got horribly stoned in Sydney with a Vietnam vet. We staggered to the shops, starving. "Twenty fags, a packet of red papers, eight KitKats, four Bountys and a Creme Egg please," I asked at the petrol station checkout. The Aussie behind me started giggling, then the man behind the counter joined in. The next thing I knew I was writhing on the floor in an agony of euphoria and hysteria, unable to stand up for laughing.

    Grass, cannabis, dope, spliff. With only two exceptions, just about everyone I know has tried it, inhaled it and got on with their lives. I've been an on-off toker since my best friend nicked her mum's stash when we were 14 years old. How fantastically daring we felt gluing dozens of Rizla papers together and imitating her mum's rolling technique. With supreme concentration and determination we gently flaked the grass into a single saggy joint. It was only afterwards that we realised one vital ingredient was missing – tobacco. For six hours we stumbled around her flat in a marshmallow-headed horror. Years later, her mum said she knew what we'd done but had found our antics so amusing that she decided the joint was punishment enough. She herself was a sometime dealer to rock groups. We were just second-generation dopeheads.

    Perhaps the real question isn't why has this happened now, but why has it taken so long for a natural herb to be given the same legal status as questionable anti-depressants and violence-inducing steroids? It comes down to control. The most frightening thing for the ruling class is that after a smoke, potential voters either don't listen to what the politicians say or, far worse, listen too carefully. It's impossible to sell the idea of war to people singing "Give peace a chance", and Blair and Bush are about as easy to take seriously as Cheech and Chong when you're stoned.

    Dope-smoking paraphernalia are also used to carry an alternative political message. Take last month, when a journalist colleague had a dinner party. On the table were two bottles of Pouilly Fumée and some of the green stuff. Four of us thirtysomething parents started chattering, fairly lucidly, about the situation in the US. Suddenly the record company rep leapt to his feet and shouted: "Shh, shhh, listen to me everybody." He held aloft one of those ready-made cardboard roaches that come with sayings printed on them. "This says it all," he said with the gravity of Tony Blair in one of those endless recent press conferences; and he read out the writing on it: "The 21st-century pharaohs have the slaves begging for work." We sat, awestruck by the truth of the soundbite. Occasionally one of us muttered "Yeah" or "So true." After some time, the journalist announced: "Right, that's it, I'm definitely not working for Murdoch any more." Such are the mellowing powers of cannabis.

    The thing about smoking dope is that it never really felt illegal. Being both white and middle class, I've never been arrested for possession despite my sometimes blatant offences. As a 15-year-old in my school uniform, I walked past the same two policemen every morning. We'd exchange nods and I made only a cursory effort to hide the pre-school joint I was smoking. They never said a word. It depends where you do your smoking, though. Cocaine is fine at private Soho clubs, but only Blur guitarists or modern artists dare to smoke in such establishments without fear of reprimand. I'm always nicely pleased by the amount of sweet-smelling fumes floating across the lawns at Kenwood House during the midsummer classical music concerts. The chattering classes of north London like a bit of Leb with their pain and Boursin.

    There have been studies that appear to show that even short-term use of cannabis can be detrimental to parts of the brain. The long-term effects can include damage to the cognitive skills. Would these killjoys please, please, tell me which legal habit doesn't have seriously damaging side-effects when taken in excess? Both smoking and alcohol are taxed and therefore some might say have been "endorsed" by successive governments, and the figures for the physiological and neurological damage caused by both are well known. If we go down the "careful of the brain cells" route, then let's ban mobile phones right now. Yes, it's probable that I have lost the odd brain-cell over the years with cannabis. But I have also, as a result, inflicted on myself less of the other kinds of damage that people like to inflict on themselves: not just from alcohol, say, but from stress-related illnesses, the inability to relax or connect with others and, worst of all, from just taking themselves (and life) too seriously. Cannabis-users have been through the looking-glass and can be more rounded human beings as a result. This is not a side effect that society should undervalue.

    As usual, simple economics shows us what is acceptable to the powers that be and what is not, and the tacit acceptance of cannabis as part of mainstream culture has been visible on our high streets for decades. In 1996, I bought a brilliant game called "Grass" from a well known newsagent's. "Grass" consisted of a pack of large cards in a mock-hemp string bag and a very complicated set of instructions on how to play. The basic idea of the game was to "peddle" as much grass as possible and retire before the police put the "heat" on you or one of the other players "stole your stash". I can recommend it as fun for all the family, and that's not me being subversive: the newsagent in question was WH Smith.

    These are strange days indeed, and – once past the initial euphoria and foolhardy hope that maybe, just maybe, there's a liberal streak at the heart of New Labour – I have realised that reclassifying cannabis is still a fairly hollow gesture. At a time when human rights are once again being threatened in the name of "liberty", this feels like a sop to quieten us liberals. It changes nothing of any importance, and looks kind of groovy on the front pages of liberal newspapers. But at least, for once, New Labour is willing to let us have our hash cake and eat it.

    Newshawk: puff_tuff
    Source: Independent (UK)
    Author: Lauren Booth
    Published: October 25, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
  2. Amen my Son you have said it all I have printed your post and shown it to my father when he caught me. And now he is cool with the whole thing, he knows its just a phase and also he knows that with my mother dying a month or so ago i NEED to. So thanks.

  3. Wel man, that is one hell of a feel good story you just told me. Good for you! I gues this proofes the power of the written word.



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