How I learned about Weed.

I grew up in suburban New England during the 70s. At 10 years old, I watched the 60s transition into 1970 as the youngest of 4 boys. With curious eyes and a sponge-like brain I observed my brothers from the safety of my youth as they tested my parents, enraged their teachers and challenged society just like every other teen in America.

I knew about drugs at an early age watching my older brothers experiment with the vast selection of substances that were available in the 70s.

It wasn’t until an assembly at school when I would discover marijuana would have a special attraction for me.

I was a wide eyed fifth grader when Officer Grassy came to Cole Elementary School to teach us about drugs. On the stage of our gym/auditorium, the Officer opened up a magical trunk filled with mysterious stuff. As he opened it up, I smelled the familiar odor that also lingered on my brothers’ jackets. Inside was a curious collection of confiscated contraptions: hookas, roach clips, bongs, a gas mask with a bowl, even a trumpet converted into a pipe.


I could not keep my eyes off the Officer as he explained how hippies would make “steamboat” pipes out of toilet paper tubes and foil. As he spoke he twirled a beautifully decorated cardboard tube in his hands. He picked up a large bag of marijuana, held it up high with a disgusted look on his face and continued… “Always needing their fix, the crazed hop heads smoke their reefers and then go on crime sprees.”

Hmmmmm. My brothers smoked that stuff all the time and all I ever saw them do is listen to music, eat lots of food and laugh a lot. But more important than that, I never realized there were so many cool toys marijuana smokers got to play with.

I had no desire to get high, having no idea what that even was. I did want to see how that trumpet pipe worked and that gas mask looked like a whole lotta fun.

The next day I had crafted my own “steamboat” toilet tube pipe just like the fine Officer taught me. Hiding in the woods behind my parents house, a friend and I smoked random dried leaves until we were dizzy. We pretended we were hippies as we coughed ourselves red faced and wiped smoke induced tears from our eyes.

Clearly, smoking “weed” was the coolest thing EVER!


Walking Through That Gateway.

The biggest argument I hear against the legalization of marijuana is that weed is a gateway drug. Smoking marijuana, it is argued, leads to harder drugs like heroin.

As a pot smoker for more than 40 years, I can understand why pot is perceived this way.

I tried all the drugs I could. I never used any drug intravenously, but I freely took just about anything handed to me for a few “wasted” years.

My first “high” was hyperventilating on purpose to feel that “head rush”. Cigarettes and cigars were another “high” for a curious preteen. I remember stealing my dad’s table pipe with a handful of Borkum Riff. I remember throwing up in the woods after a lungful of that nasty stale tobacco.

Another reason I was throwing up in the woods? That would be my dad’s well stocked liquor cabinet.

It was only natural for me to seek out marijuana. My bothers were doing it, the Beatles were doing it, even my own mother was doing it. Once I established a “connection”, I could get a bag of weed easier than an unopened bottle of booze. My dealer was always available to fill my pot order, even though he was usually late.

small_signEvery suburban neighborhood had a “dealer”. Often clad in an olive drab army jacket and flying a freak flag that flowed over hunched shoulders, the dealer was usually easy to spot and easier to smell. Back in the 70s, it was not uncommon for your local drug dealer to offer a selection of recreational drugs. Of course, any good businessman will tell you, the key to profits is the upsell. Mushrooms, LSD, hash, cocaine… there were lots of choices in his pocket on any given day. As he was taking my money and handing me a “dime bag” in a suspicious exchange, my dealer would always offer up other drugs that were on his “menu”.

My dealer introduced me to many drugs. As if he was doing me the biggest favor, my dealer always used phrases like “I saved this just for you” or “You’re gonna love this”. When the dealer was out of smoke, there was alway a back up “tab” of something.

My trusted dealer kept me wasted whether or not he had weed. It was his “job”.

Legalization could remove this “middleman” and allow me to purchase my pot stash without the that upsell. Buying from a regulated and secure establishment could effectively put the weed dealer out of business and reduce the exposure to the illegal dangerous drugs. The movement to keep marijuana illegal is a movement to keep the dealer in business.

Marijuana isn’t the gateway to drug addiction so much as the drug dealer is the “gate keeper”.

Think of the children, people… As voters, we have the opportunity keep this salesman away from the kids and help to keep that “gate” closed.