Unmistakable Smell Grabs Your Attention

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Aug 9, 2002.

  1. By Richard Roeper, Sun-Times Columnist
    Source: Chicago Sun-Times

    So I'm walking in the Loop early Tuesday morning when the breeze carries a strong scent to me and nearly stops me in its tracks because it's so . . . unexpected.
    I know that aroma. I can't figure out where it's coming from--but I know that scent. When you smell this particular smell you immediately recognize the smell for the smell that it is, even if you're not someone who participates in the activity that creates the smell in the first place.

    I'm talking about marijuana. Cannabis, dope, pot, Mary Jane, chala, reefer, ganja, skunk, kif, herb, gage, grass, Aunt Mary, smiley, mull, Chronic, diggity dank, King Bud, or as they say in some parts of Brazil: Malacachafa.

    (At least that's what J. Peterman told me.)

    Somebody was toking up on a weekday in the Loop.

    I'm not going to pull a Billy Clinton and say I've never inhaled--but the truth is that I've never been a regular pot smoker or even a casual user. My "experimentation," as the politicians like to put it (as if they were chemistry majors working in a lab and not college kids getting wasted on spring break), was confined to some communal pot-smoking way back when. The last time I even toked on a joint, Kajagoogoo was topping the charts, OK?

    Based on those sketchy, long-ago experiences, my impression of smoking pot was that it makes you feel sleepy, silly and hungry; it burns your throat and pierces your lungs and elicits great fits of coughing; and it robs you of all ambition and drive. But hey, at least you're giggling up a storm while you're planted on the sofa, eating Nacho Cheese Doritos and Zingers while trying to come up with the full names for all the characters on "Gilligan's Island," right?

    Yet even with my half-baked contact with pot, I can readily identify its sweet-herb pungent aroma in a heartbeat. It's like the interior of a new car or a freshly cut lawn or a Bears defensive lineman after a scrimmage in full pads--nothing else smells quite like it.

    I never did see anyone smoking a joint Tuesday morning, but I know that somebody in the area was getting high outside. It's not as if I'd become aware of someone shooting up smack or prancing about nude while singing "God Bless America" at a major intersection, but there was something startling and mildly subversive about it.

    If you smelled pot in the air in Denmark or the Netherlands or Luxembourg, or even France or Italy, it would be no big deal, but here it's still as surprising (and illegal) as a topless woman on a beach or a guy selling shots of tequila on the sidewalk.

    Nor was this an isolated incident. I won't claim there's some kind of getting-high-in-plain-sight movement going on, but I can think of at least three or four other occasions within the last year in which I saw or picked up the scent of someone smoking pot.

    A few months ago, I was walking on the Near North Side when I picked up the strong scent of pot in the air. On that occasion I did see the culprit--a guy walking just a few feet in front of me.

    By all appearances he was a manual laborer of some kind. He had an oversized lunchbox in one hand--and a joint cupped in the other. If you saw him from across the street you might figure he was smoking a cigarette, but this was no Kool Mild. And though this guy wasn't chanting "Irie!" and offering strangers to take a hit, it wasn't as if he was really trying to hide what he was doing, either.

    Entering the outdoor patio of a Chicago restaurant recently, I picked up the distinct scent of pot--as did the friend who was with me. Maybe it was coming from a nearby backyard, or maybe someone had surreptitiously lit up at a back table, forgetting that the aroma would dominate.

    And of course, the scent of weed continues to hang over many a concert venue, whether the onstage act is a 60-year-old dinosaur with a leather vest and a snow-white ponytail or a 22-year-old rapper wearing an oversized jersey.

    (If anything, the concentration of pot smokers seems greater at the oldies shows, as aging Boomers have more cash and can buy a better grade of weed. I was at a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert a few years ago and there was so much dope in the air that the building got the munchies.)

    I'm not shocked by these episodes any more than I'm shocked that you can see movies on airplanes. (That's another columnist.) Although I don't agree with pot and pot doesn't agree with me, I wish we'd take more of a Western European attitude with our laws about marijuana use, and save the prison space for more serious offenders.

    I am, however, a bit taken aback that anyone would light up in public and risk getting pinched. Let's not kid ourselves, there are tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Chicagoans who get high on a regular basis--but 99 percent of them have the good sense to do it in the privacy of their own dwellings.

    As for the more brazen types who are firing up the joints or the one-hitters in the great outdoors, maybe they're getting high a little bit too often and they're forgetting where they're at. After all, this stuff can mess with your head, especially if you smoke it too often.

    Why do you think they call it Malacachafa?

    Newshawk: Nicholas Thimmesch - http://www.norml.org/
    Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
    Author: Richard Roeper, Sun-Times Columnist
    Published: August 7, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 The Sun-Times Co.
    Contact: letters@suntimes.com
    Website: http://www.suntimes.com/

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