By Chez Pazienza: I've never been a big fan of smoking pot. Yeah, I've done it a few times, but being that I seem to have lived by the motto "Go Big or Go Home" when it came to kicking off my storied career in drug use -- diving directly into LSD and ecstasy rather than going through the various "gateways" -- I always kind of found pot smoking to be a bit anti-climactic. Great, so you laughed a lot and ate too much shitty food and were often forced to hang out with idiots who spent hours engaging in long-winded discussions that employed a lot of stoner logic. Sounds like a blast. That being said, I don't begrudge anyone their habits as long as they're not hurting anyone else in the process, and I accept unequivocally the absurdity of demonizing a plant simply because it happens to make people feel good; the political pressure to keep marijuana illegal amounts to nothing more than the senseless perpetuation of a puritanical blue law. If alcohol is legal I see no reason why pot shouldn't be as well.
Over the past couple of weeks, though, Bob Cesca and I have had a little debate going on our podcast and radio show about the merits -- or lack thereof, in my opinion -- of the "culture" of marijuana. I'm not talking about the folks who simply enjoy smoking it on occasion; I'm talking about the organized effort -- as organized as a bunch of stoned people can be, anyway -- to celebrate marijuana and its many supposed merits in an effort to help it gain wider social acceptance and to essentially destigmatize it. You know, the "movement" full of people who basically take the diametrically opposing side of the argument to those who feel that pot is the devil's weed, mythologizing it rather than castigating it, claiming that it heals all wounds and has near-magical properties that can be used in the service of mankind if the closed-minded politicians would just give it a chance. The people who actually kind of consider "4/20" a holiday. The people who always have a dissertation ready on the history of hemp and how it's different than the part of the plant that fucks up you. The people who swear that marijuana is medically necessary for millions and that they can prove it.
Yeah, that crap.
Here's my issue with the marijuana culture -- the, ahem, "fight" to gain national acceptance of pot beyond the fact that a hell of a lot of people use it or have used it at one point in their lives: it's for the most part disingenuous. It's based on a lot of near-comical rationalization, the kind of reasoning a four-year-old comes up with and rattles off when he or she wants to do something a parent won't allow. Sure, maybe hemp can be made into all kinds of wonderful products; maybe pot smoking can ease the pain of terminal cancer; maybe there are religions that require it as part of their ritual; maybe it's been used throughout the years by brilliant minds and its history is so interesting that university-level classes can be taught on it; the fact is none of that would make a damn bit of difference to those who advocate loudly for the legalization of marijuana and who rally around it if it didn't get you really fucking high. If you removed the "it gets you high" element of the equation, the rest of it would pretty much fall apart because no one would give a damn. Pot is popular because it messes you up good -- everything else is incidental.
Again, I have no issue with people wanting to make themselves feel good -- I did drugs for years for exactly that reason, although I never felt the need to concoct a "holiday" honoring my use or to create a feeling of solidarity with other drugged-up idiots just like me -- but for fuck's sake be honest about why you like weed. You like to get high. That hemp-is-beneficial-to-mankind and I-need-it-as-medicine horseshit is exactly that: horseshit. If you require proof of the farcical nature of the latter argument, you need look no further than Venice Beach, near where I live in Los Angeles. Got a hundred bucks and a headache? Congratulations, there are 800-some-odd "doctors" available right on the shore who'll be happy to give you a medical marijuana card -- because it's, you know, medicine.
Yesterday, the front page story at the Huffington Post was, for a time, a mildly outraged report on how the feds had cracked down on a popular Oakland pot business with the amusingly high-clever name "Oaksterdam University" and how it represented the most pronounced salvo yet in "the Obama administration's nationwide assault on medical marijuana." The article detailed the ways in which President Obama's justice department had targeted medicinal marijuana dispensaries and users and even included the inadvertently hilarious line, "There's no question that Obama is the worst president on medical marijuana," from Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project. While I couldn't agree more that expending federal resources and tax dollars on fighting marijuana use is a monumental waste, I also can't work up a whole lot of indignation over the fact that Barack Obama isn't doing right by the pot bloc. Hitching your political wagon to the singular question of whether or not the President of the United States is friendly to your desire to do drugs is way beyond ridiculous. And again, you can attempt to couch it in whatever supposedly principled terms you'd like -- in the end, you're pushing for the legalization of pot because it makes you feel good.
There's nothing wrong with feeling good and the government shouldn't play nanny and decide how good is too good to be permitted. But those who excitedly ballyhoo weed and the use of it like they're doing important, necessary or admirable work need a serious reality check. You like to get high and it's nothing more noble than that. Admit it.