Marijuana mainstream: American as Mary Jane

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jul 25, 2003.

  1. James Sullivan Thursday, July 24, 2003

    The latest issue of Rolling Stone featured a sobering report about the Drug Enforcement Administration's recent raids on head shops, those bastions of 1970s commercial kitsch: the smiley faces, the feathery roach clips, the blacklight posters. The feds are seizing bongs, water pipes and other smoking accessories from mini-mall storefronts across the country.

    Ten pages later in the same issue began the cover story on Eminem, headlined "The Voice of America." The lead image: a full-page close-up of the paleface rapper sucking in a monstrous hit from a hefty orange bong.

    The DEA may be winning the occasional battle. But when it comes to marijuana, the government is clearly losing the big war in the popular consciousness. Even the names of the agency's own undertaking are catchy and wry: Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter.

    Culturally, we may be more permissive about of pot smoking than ever before.

    "Saturday Night Live" has a recurring skit called "Jarrett's Room," a mock dormitory broadcast in which a crew of addle-brained best buds mug for the camera, shamelessly brandishing their favorite bong on network television. On the same show a while back, the hip-hop group Cypress Hill smoked pot openly during its musical performance.

    In "Half-Baked," the movie that introduced comedian Dave Chappelle, the dudes call their most precious domestic accoutrement "Billy Bong Thornton." The movie features comical, knowing cameos by some of the country's favorite entertainers, including chronic vipers Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg.

    Chappelle's girlfriend is named -- what else? -- Mary Jane. When she tries to convince him his habit is a bad one, a "gateway" drug, he blanches.

    "Everyone knows it leads to other stuff," she hectors.

    "Yeah," he drawls. "Mostly junk food."

    In San Francisco, some Haight Street proprietors have been more furtive than usual. By most accounts, though, they're less concerned than their counterparts in the suburbs of Middle America. One smoke-shop owner near the Castro said business is down about 25 percent, but that's because of the economy. Customers who might have bought a few hundred dollars' worth of gear a couple of years ago are now shopping on the cheap, he said.

    He recited the cynical rumor making the rounds -- that one of the Bush daughters allegedly ordered a pipe online, thus triggering her dad's fury and the current crackdown.

    "A lot of the wholesalers we used to buy from are out of business," said the owner, who declined to give his name, not wishing to attract more than his share of attention. He still had a full stock on hand behind the counter, including several giant hookahs, bongs modeled after Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's bug- eyed Rat Fink character and a fist-size pipe in the shape of "South Park's" Cartman.

    Peninsula paraphernalia distributor Sands of Time, he noted, was recently slapped with an enormous fine.

    "In my opinion," he said, "the government should crack down on alcohol."

    Neil Young seems to agree on his forthcoming concept album, "Greendale." At one point in the narrative, environmentalist Sun Green runs afoul of the law.

    "Next day Sun Green got busted for pot, and it made the headline news," Young warbles. "But then the judges all got drunk, and the story got confused."

    E-mail James Sullivan at
  2. Jay Leno makes a "pot friendly" joke or reference almost every night.

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