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High Minded: Blow This Joint High Minded: Blow This Joint

High Minded: Blow This Joint

by Tess Lynch, Beth Hoeckel
November 20, 2011


Enter High Minded, where Tess Lynch revisits previously forgotten epiphanies, drags her lazy, leaden body on adventures and—whoa. I think this pudding's texture might improve if I added a handful of popcorn and some, like, canned blueberries:

About a week ago, I read an article in The New York Times by Ethan Nadelmann about the tension between the federal authorities and states that permit the use of medical marijuana (states whose residents make up almost a third of the U.S. population, by the way). This legal disagreement isn’t new; it’s what defines our current marijuana landscape, after all, but recently it seems that things have reached a spookily unpleasant pitch, like a forgotten Halloween sound machine that makes the noise of two entangled gnats.

On Tuesday, federal agents raided medical marijuana storefronts across Washington State; the day before, a Colorado Springs dispensary was robbed. This fall, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came to the conclusion that medical marijuana patients can’t purchase firearms (Fine! I didn’t want any anyway!). The disappointment potheads feel upon hearing this kind of news is sort of like the depression that sinks in on a late-February day in the northeast: It’s not that you expected it to be 80 degrees and sunny, but enough already.

When I pretend that someone asked me the question, “Who is your favorite fictional character?” I respond (to myself), “Randy Marsh.” South Park’s Randy Marsh, father to Stan and owner of a great mustache, is not only a stoner (he microwaved his testicles to get a prescription). He’s also a fan of cooking shows (cartoons: they’re just like us) and celebrated Obama’s election much like many of us did. He let his joy overtake him so much that, in retrospect, perhaps he made kind of an ass of himself. Without focusing on the presidency as a whole, let’s assume that one of the thoughts that spurred Randy to sing “Celebrate good Obama come on, it’s Obama bama” was that this might be a president who would end the war on drugs. He admitted to inhaling. He admitted that inhaling was the whole point! We never expected, nor wanted, to legalize the Quentin Tarantino movie drugs, the exploding-chemical-tray drugs, the Intervention drugs: just the not-really-a-drug-drug. The drug that Randy took before he ate all the crème fraiche he heard about on Iron Chef.

Last month, federal prosecutors sent out letters to California dispensaries warning landlords that if they continue to allow medical marijuana to be sold in their properties, they could be sent to prison. If you use medical marijuana for insomnia, it sucks to think that you may be without it soon. If you use medical marijuana for something more serious, like fibromyalgia, or to ease the side effects of chemo, it may even qualify as something that fucking sucks. It seems like it should be the springtime of marijuana acceptance. What’s up with this wintry mix?

I imagine what Randy Marsh would do if he was arrested because of his medical marijuana card. He’s a dad, after all. Probably not the best dad—I remember him once being addicted to filming everything, which is awfully annoying—and he doesn’t seem to have the steeliness to do well in a prison setting. He’s a serious hypochondriac who just wants to play Guitar Hero. He has a prescription for the pot, unless he’s let it expire, and thinks, like so many of us do, that he’s not doing anything wrong because he’s adhering to the laws his state grants him. He might try to explain that to the South Park officers, but they’d pack him into crudely-drawn police cruiser and haul him off. And he’d be clinking a metal cup against the bars of his cell, singing every song from Les Miserables. He would not be singing the "Obama bama" song. The "Obama bama" song is now in all minor keys for potheads, or, if you’re really high and getting a little nervous, it sounds like the static mewls of the Emergency Broadcast System.

What is the point of continuing to talk about marijuana, its benefits and mysterious medical properties (which wouldn’t be so mysterious if we invested more in exploring them), when what so many of us take comfort in is met by this tone-deaf use of force to halt any progress we make on the road to legality? I believe it’s important because, like Randy Marsh, I’m an idealist. Words just kind of come out of my mouth when I believe something to be true. I hope that these essays have made some of you more confident in joining the discussion about medical marijuana, since the people who represent pot users are by no means indicative of the huge array of people who do so. There are reasons to keep mum, unfortunately. But it feels good to take a page from the book of Randy, to expressively embrace the things you enjoy and believe in, the things that define you even when they make you into sort of a cartoon to some of the population. It’s also important, as a human being instead of a cartoon, to know when to put a sock in it.

And so this is where I stop writing about pot, hand the vaporizer over to you fine dudes, and start writing about other things. I will always believe marijuana to be a beneficial herb, a powerful medicinal tool, and an awesome time. I look forward to seeing it in another life, when we are all cats.

Collage, as always, by Beth Hoeckel.

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