Posted by: bkivey | 12 May 2015

Riding the M Train

Marijuana has been the darling drug du jour the last several years. Several states have legalized it, and in much of the US and some European countries, it’s a non-issue. For decades it’s been legal to smoke it up in The Netherlands, while in the US very few cops would bust you for a joint. On the crime spectrum, possession under an ounce wasn’t worth the hassle.

Full disclosure: I started smoking dope at 16, and continued for twenty years. I stopped when I realized that 1) it’s an expensive habit, and 2) it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go. I smoked dope while attending and graduating college for a technical degree, working professional jobs, and in general acting as a functioning member of society. ‘Reefer Madness ‘ wasn’t in it. I was able to pass drug tests because they were announced, or I knew I’d be tested, well in advance. Not to say there weren’t some close calls. And I dealt for a time in San Francisco. The statues run, so no harm.

Of the drugs I’ve had experience with, marijuana is pretty low-key. I had a high school math teacher state in class that they’d run someone up to the office for being drunk, but wouldn’t bother them if they were high. His reasoning was that teenagers tended to become disruptive on alcohol, but were passive on grass. And I’ve never heard of anyone beating their wife while high. Humans like to alter their conscienceless, and the skunk is a civilized way to do it. I haven’t used for many years, and I don’t miss it. Dope makes you stupid, and I have enough concussions to do that for me.

As marijuana moves toward acceptance at the state level, if not the federal, it’s been interesting to see how people react to the legalization of a black market product. Well, really a grey-market item, as law enforcement generally didn’t worry too much about it. It has been fun, in a schadenfreude-esque way, to see the dawning consternation on people who are just now realizing the implications of legal weed.

When marijuana was underground, everything was cool. If you wanted some, you were likely to know someone, or the friend-of-a-friend, who could supply. If you were a regular user, it wasn’t too hard to establish a connection. you might meet the dude (and it was almost always a guy) once a week, smoke a joint, make the transaction, and you were on your way. There was a distinction between regular friends, and ‘weed friends’, although sometimes the two would coincide.

Now that the State’s involved, things are a whole lot different. I realize that the last time I was in market was some time ago, but the cost of legal weed is eye-popping. Rather than invoke taxes over time, communities and the state are jumping on the tax wagon all at once. The State is rightly concerned that the black market will undercut them, and so they’ve instituted Draconian penalties for illicit dope peddling. The days of the casual dealer are numbered. There will always be a black market for marijuana: the underground network is too well-established to simply go away; but a number of once illegal grows are going mainstream because the money is just too good. This will restrict the black market supply, and at some point, legal and illegal dope will reach a rough price parity.

Over the last couple of years there has been an increasing culture of what I’ll call ‘artisan weed’. Because I live in the Portland, OR metro area, my perspective is skewed, but there is a growing weed culture in the same vein as wine culture. It is by turns cute and annoying. Cute, because the nascent dope industry is finding its footing, and annoying, because the guy you knew who bored you to tears with his expositions on marijuana now has mainstream presence. Portland has a tendency to overdo anything, and marijuana is no exception.

And so you’d think that with the incipient legalization of dank, the disaffected would be happy. Ha! Proving yet again people don’t know when to quit, there was a ‘protest‘ march 2 May in Portland for weed. Considering that dope will be legal on 1 July, what were they protesting? The main concern seemed to be that medical marijuana users will be ‘lumped in’ with recreational users. This is a problem? Well, if you’ve been special before, I suppose that not being special would be a concern. Things just aren’t the same when mainstream society includes you. If your identity has been as an outsider, insider status might rankle a bit.

Here We Go  Again

There is a demographic, who usually work in an office, have a liberal or soft science education, and long for the days of meaningful social activism, who seem to invent problems so they’ll feel relevant. Such would be the folks who are trying to expunge ‘marijuana’ from the vocabulary in favor of ‘cannabis’. Reading the article in the Portland Mercury, one might think ‘marijuana’ was an oppressive term. This is all bullshit. If you asked 100 people about the marijuana, almost none of them would expound on the oppression of a word, and a fair amount might ask you for a hit. This is rent-seeking behavior. This is a group that has nothing better to do than create historical grievances so they can feel empowered. They are children, and should be treated as such. More to the point, they should be ignored.

Word Watch 

A guy I work with turned me onto the word ‘loud’ in connection with marijuana. He related that one of his friends was smoking, and a neighbor came over and informed them that their smoke was ‘loud’, in the sense that it was pungent. I like this.

“Hey, man.Your smoke is loud. Maybe you can tone it down.”


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