I hate weed.
It’s April 20th–4/20–which I suppose is as good a time as any to explain why I hate weed.
I don’t know anything about the origins of 4/20 as a holiday celebrating marijuana, but I do know a fair amount about the drug itself. Well, enough to know I hate it!
I hate weed because it gets you in trouble. The first time I smoked pot was my junior year of high school, in the late 1980s. I was at a cast party for a high school theater production, and somehow I found myself in a parked car with two boys trying marijuana for the first time. Of the sensation of being high for the first time, I don’t remember much. But I distinctly recall that the smoke felt like a wolverine scraping the back of my throat, and the cotton mouth was terrible. I also got in Big Trouble, for not calling my parents when I got to my friend’s house, where I was spending the night. I suppose I forgot to call because I was hella high, but I don’t remember. I didn’t smoke weed for a long time after that, in part because I was terminally grounded.
The last time I smoked pot was the summer of 1993. On my way back to school from a summer job, I was pulled over in rural east Texas by the Tex-Ark-La Narcotics Police, on the pretext that I was not wearing my seatbelt. This was A) not true, and B) not a primary offense, but, as the trooper in mirrored shades screamed at me, “YOU. DON’T. ARGUE. BY THE SIDE. OF THE ROAD.” The police were looking for drug mules, I had out-of-state plates, and I guess it was my turn. The encounter was terrifying. They separated me and my passenger, the ne’er-do-well, one-legged biker I’ve promised to tell you about, and interrogated us. Thankfully, we did not say anything that gave the officers probable cause to search the car because, unbeknownst to me, the boyfriend did have weed in the car. After that close call, which could have cost me my entire future, I vowed never to put myself at risk again. If only I could have stuck to my guns!
I hate weed because it is so undignified. People debase themselves for drugs, and they look like morons while they do them. That thing where you inhale and then talk while holding your breath to give the smoke time to penetrate your lungs? It is an embarrassment to adulthood. And then there’s the spit-swapping. The one-legged biker would put his entire mouth around the bong when he inhaled, like some kind of toked-up, wide-mouth bass. And then pass it to the next loser, who would latch on without so much as a wipe. So gross.
I am guilty of undignified behavior too. I once smoked weed out of a Pepsi can at a desolate spot behind my high school called “the flats.” Somehow my friend had weed, but no pipe, so we improvised. We emptied a Pepsi can (god, I hope it was ours, and not one we found on the ground!) and folded it in half, then my friend used her earring to poke holes in the crease. I think we placed the weed on the holes, then we inhaled through the mouth of the can. To a third-party observer, I am certain we looked like complete trash.
I hate weed because it makes me sick. Yes, a substance known for alleviating nausea makes me puke. It wasn’t every time, but it was often enough. And there was one time when I became epically ill, vomiting again and again in the kitchen sink of a vacant apartment while my baked friends sprawled on the floor. That night I prayed for death.
I hate weed because it turns otherwise decent people into assholes. Marijuana causes people to dissociate, which is a fancy way of saying that they check out. They do not perceive social cues as unaltered people do. The experience of being high can be wondrous and absolutely hilarious to those who are having it, but to sober people, high people look like tools. And if there are people counting on them, the wonder and hilarity of being high is selfish and cruel.
I actually only smoked marijuana a handful of times–perhaps three times as many as I have recounted here–and I never bought it, never rolled a joint, never packed a bowl. Not once, ever. It was easy for me to leave it behind, because it so often made me sick. And even if it hadn’t, I didn’t especially like being high. It was fun for a hot minute, then I wanted it to stop. Weed also made me profoundly sleepy and hungry, which are my default states anyway. Why spend money or risk jail time for the privilege of being your worst self? Despite all my antipathy for weed, I ended up spending a lot of time around it in my late 20s, thanks to the most addictive drug of all: love.
The relationship did not end well, so let’s call him Cheesefart.
I met Cheesefart a year after my roadside encounter with the Narcotics Police, and one of our first big fights was over my refusal to allow him to transport marijuana in any quantity in my car. Even so, I fell in love with him, and we dated for several years. By the end, he was growing marijuana in our basement and selling it on the regular. That is when I went from merely disliking weed to outright hating it.
My relationship with Cheesefart was fraught, especially after I moved in with him. We fought over common issues like household chores and how to spend our meager, grad-student funds. The short version was, Cheesefart had no money if I wanted to take a trip with him or go out to dinner or buy groceries other than ramen. But he always had money for CDs, guitars, and weed.
I’m a practical gal, and I love to garden. I have no moral qualms about weed, and I oppose its criminalization on principle. Further, purchasing weed supports criminal enterprises that trade in murder and human suffering. So, it seemed to me that the most responsible way to free up funds for couple-time was to stop buying weed–and start growing it.
Oh, the things we do for love! Growing weed, in our house, was my suggestion. But boy did Cheesefart run with it.
He set up shop under our basement stairs in a secret little room tucked behind the washer & dryer. At first, I found the process fascinating and regarded it as an elaborate craft/garden project. You can’t just buy weed seeds–at least, not back then–and information about growing it was hard to come by. There was an elaborate process of sorting seeds, soaking them, and sorting again, to ensure the proper gender. After they germinated, they required artificial light. I was so proud of the solution he devised, which involved fluorescent lights hung in a panel under the stairs that you could lift and lower at will. To maximize growth, he hung washers on the branches so that they would leaf out more broadly. He experimented with fertilizers and found bat guano to be the most productive. He added fans to simulate wind, which strengthened the plants. This went on for over a year, maybe more than two, resulting in multiple yields and a shit-ton of pot.
When you have a lot of pot, you have a lot of “friends.” But they aren’t real friends; they are weedfriends. Weedfriends don’t want to get to know you, and they certainly don’t want to help you; they are just around. They come over to buy weed, and of course every time they buy some, they have to smoke it too. But weedfriends often have no money, so they just come over to hang out and “help” with the plants–another overture to smoking. As a result, my home had an endless parade of losers coming and going at all hours.
They were not discrete. Some concerned friends–real friends–told me that they could smell weed from the street when they drove past our house. Add the constant sound of live music or over-amplified acid rock coming from Cheesefart’s fantastically expensive stereo system–given to us in payment for, you guessed it, weed–and the situation was just begging for police involvement. I read with horror in the news about women just like me, who ended up serving multi-decade prison sentences for allowing pot to be grown in their homes. I researched mandatory minimums and learned that the presence of an elementary school around the corner from our house would tack years onto a sentence. I scrutinized our electric bills, because I knew that the police did so as well, in search of homes that used unusual amounts of electricity. I lived in fear of a break-in when Cheesefart was out of town, because I knew that calling 9-1-1 was not an option for me. I was risking my safety and my future for those plants–and I hadn’t smoked pot in years.
Cheesefart and I fought all the time. We fought about the time the plants were consuming–the watering, the weighting and grooming, and elaborate trimming rituals in which sticky weed leaves covered our dining room table. Sometimes he would disappear into the tiny grow room for hours. Cheesefart’s commitment to the plants bordered on obsessive, and it prevented us from ever going out of town together because someone had to look after the plants. We fought about weedfriends knocking on our door, peering in our windows, and skulking around the yard. We fought about the future, and whether he could continue his habits with children in the house. We fought about weed smell, which necessitated the purchase of equipment to mitigate it. Then we fought about the electric bill, which was as high as Cheesefart. And of course, we fought about how much pot he was smoking.
I suggested he grow pot to save money, not to fuel a burgeoning habit. But that is what happened. The more weed he had, the more weed he smoked. The following activities required getting high:
- waking up
- going to bed
- having sex
- watching TV
- all household chores
- all yard work
- cooking and doing dishes
- driving anywhere
- grocery shopping and other errands
- playing ultimate frisbee
- playing or listening to music
- petting cats
- brushing cats
- social gatherings of any kind
By the end of the relationship, he was high pretty much all the time. He told me, when we broke up, that he smoked so much because I made him miserable. I believed that for a long time, until I saw him at a Sunday morning pickup game a couple of years later. It was 10 AM, and he was tapping the contents of a bowl out onto the tray of his infant daughter’s stroller.
I thought to myself, “Thank heaven that is not my life.” And also, “I fucking hate pot.”
I loved Cheesefart dearly and hoped to make a life with him. But over the years we were together, he disappeared into a private world that was insulated with weed. He imagined that marijuana made him funnier, more musically creative, and a better ultimate player. What it actually did was make him an insensitive jerk. We lived together, ostensibly because we loved each other and were going to make a family. In reality, though, he lived with a nice lady who was emotionally present, loving, and trying to be a good partner. And I lived with a man who was high literally all the time, because he loved weed more than he loved me.
I support legalization of marijuana, and I think the War on Drugs is a shameful waste of resources that criminalizes poverty and exacerbates longstanding social inequalities. I also think marijuana is addictive, I think it makes people who smoke it boring and cruelly insensitive, and I loathe the way it smells. I simply hate it.
Enjoy your 4/20, smokers and tokers! But please do it far away from me. Because I think you look dumb, and the smell of your blunt is dredging up bad memories.