It’s fair enough to say that I’ve been fucked up a few times in my life.
I point that out because, with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, it has become de rigueur for some pundits to suddenly announce that they smoke, or have smoked, a bit of weed. Of course they have. They’re American human beings living in the 21st century. Pretty much everyone has at least gotten a contact buzz by this point.
And I point that out using crude language because the whole thing seems rather too proper, relying on either vague stories of youthful indiscretions or soothing proclamations that the occasional after-work toke is just the equivalent of a glass of good red wine after a long day. Few mainstream writers aside from Andrew Sullivan seem willing to admit that weed — legal or not — is also a great tool for thinking deep stoner thoughts, giggling madly with friends and bingeing on Froot Loops. And bless Sullivan for it, since there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, the same as there’s nothing wrong with tossing back a few cocktails and live-tweeting cable news talk shows.
If you ain’t hurtin’ anybody, have fun.
Unfortunately, I’m not much of a marijuana person myself. First, it’s just never been my thing. Second, I’m terribly awkward at it and always manage to eat too much of the cookie and launch myself into an hour of stratospheric paranoia or take an over-aggressive hit that wipes out the last of the host’s stash. So for me, blazing up is like watching Sex and the City: If people around me are doing it I’ll join in, but I’m not seeking it out on my own.
Now, none of this is surprising to anyone who knows me or anyone who’s read me for more than a couple of years. I’ve always been pretty open about my past drug use, which in my younger days included more than weed. That’s partly because I got some really hilarious stories out of it. It’s also because I never really faced any consequences for it.
To be clear, when I say ”consequences” I’m not talking addiction, I’m talking the law. I knew a couple of dealers who went to jail for a bit — cops were certainly following dealers, but the customers had little to worry about when privately popping some ecstasy. I was politely asked to leave a gay nightclub once, I politely complied, and I just as politely showed up again the next Friday night, no problems.
We were young, gay, mostly professional and largely white. We did our business in Dupont Circle where if we followed the unspoken rules we were fine.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city there were a lot of black people living in a completely different story. It’s not hard to look at conviction and arrest data and see that if you’re well-off and white — even if you’re gay — you’ve enjoyed de facto decriminalization for a long time, whether you took advantage of it or not. Something to remember the next time you’re chatting with a relative, co-worker or airplane seatmate going on about racism being over and white privilege being a myth.
This drug war went on — still goes on — for so long and at such great cost because too many people simply refuse to speak the truth about themselves and what they see going on in the world around them. Bully for those columnists and ”thought leaders” who have greeted one significant victory in ending the drug war by finally admitting that they’ve been toking all along. Perhaps it will speed up some needed next victories. Perhaps if more people had done that earlier, rather than silently sitting by as the media dismissed decriminalization with jokes about stoners and the government built a policy on the propaganda of lies, that first victory would come earlier. And fewer people would be in jail and fewer lives would have been ruined.
I don’t mean to be a buzzkill. But one thing we should already know as gay people: Closets don’t just hurt the people inside them. They also hurt the people we refuse to see. More honesty, especially from those of us who can afford it, can only help.
Sean Bugg is editor emeritus of Metro Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seanbugg.