It's high time to put down the bong

    Few substances have as prominent a place in American culture as marijuana with anything from subtle to overt references in music, television, movies and just about anywhere; the once socially unacceptable act of smoking pot has taken a rather public place in our collective psyche. Clearly, this does not thrill everyone, and some have taken direct action against the hundreds of thousands of people who are lighting up all the time. Yet for most, even those who don’t themselves burn one now and again, getting high is hardly a reason to freak out.

    Admittedly, seeing a 420 issue in a self-respecting paper like this (stop laughing) only points to how accepting we have become to the discussion of people taking a green, sometimes white, sometimes purple, hopefully not brown, sticky plant, smoking it and then sitting around and trying to make sense of Dark Side Of The Moon as played in sync with “”The Wizard Of Oz,”” or building a bong out of your coffee table.

    Many popular forms of music have a sub-genre that is centered on the production of music done on and meant for you to appreciate on “”the weed.”” There is stoner rock, of which Queens Of The Stone Age have gained prominence, hydro-grind (referring to hydroponically grown marijuana) out of heavy metal, much of reggae, most of rap (with Dr. Dre’s seminal album The Chronic, among so many others), and these are just the more direct developments of music’s more recent shapes. There are certainly older songs, found in early blues, which could be read as having just a little to do with reefer, and of course with groups like Black Sabbath, it all became a little less veiled; I mean, “”Sweet Leaf,”” that is such a stretch to make a drug reference.

    So sure, smoking pot has been around for quite sometime, but when did we become so … blase about it all? With the legalization movement, one can see that the ball got rolling a while back, but I can actually remember when the marijuana culture seemed to seep into my awareness: I was a junior in high school, and I started seeing all these kids who scrawled “”4:20″” on their backpacks. Finally, I took auto shop, where some of the kids would go down to the unsupervised section of the parking lot for a while and return a little gigglier then before. I assumed nothing, but noticed that they had this “”4:20″” on their person in some form or another, so I decided to just up and ask what it meant.

    “”Its time to smoke pot,”” my droopy-eyed classmate responded, as though that in itself was explanation enough. I was, however, left with little cleared up, and many, many more questions about this oddly ritualistic notion of intoxicating one’s self. Why the need to specify a time? Isn’t any time a good time for a Miller? Why then is 4:20 the right time to get high? When you get right down to it, no one really knows. Sure there are the stories about a group of central California kids who were searching for a lost grove of free-growing marijuana, but that really speaks nothing about why and how it caught on with such universal appeal and acceptance of meaning. Furthermore, no one really seems to care, unless they themselves don’t smoke and remain baffled by the whole experience. In general, where and who is smoking determine a good deal about the formality of marijuana. Some people only smoke joints, while others are strictly bong people. I’ve heard that some will be offended by being passed a partially smoked pipe and can only accept getting a fresh “”packing.”” A friend once told me that he and his buddies adopted the no shoes rule from “”Half Baked.””

    Ironically, it is pot’s very illegality that makes it so readily available to surfers/skaters and would-be carpenters of all ages. No 16-year-old is going to get carded or turned away from their dealer, but if they were trying to get one of these 40s the kids are so crazy about, they might actually have to become resourceful and get someone else to do their dirty work for them. Since illegal drugs have no regulation, this means that anyone who has the money and knows a supplier can get down. The end result is that you don’t have to look very hard for very long before you stumble across a stoner, even here at UCSD. Considering how prevalent the use of marijuana is, take a look around in your next large O-chem/econ/math class; someone probably has a couple of baggies they could sell you. Or next time you’re walking through the Student Center, keep your eyes and nose open; If I had a dime bag for every time I’ve stumbled on a group of people casually smoking out in plain view, well, I would be a very popular student. Our fellow students must be down right brazen, or maybe they’ve just smoked enough to not care, but the number of people who have no problem lighting a doobie as they walk to class never ceases to amaze me.

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