It's thousands of years old, yet for the purposes of this discussion, it started in the 1960s when Bob Dylan got George Harrison stoned. The Beatles made pot okay. Not openly. Young kids looking at the album cover of Rubber Soul, Revolver, or Magical Mystery Tour saw images of the world's most successful band. There was creativity, self-expression, color, excitement. Nothing wrong with any of that. The songs were so great, the style so original, before anybody knew it, the Beatles had changed the world. But the drug references were subtle. Speaking in code and hiding was a big part of the fun. The sheer superstardom of the Beatles was crucial in legitimizing drug experimentation. They weren't dregs slobbering on the sidewalk, they were four of the world's richest entertainers. Young people were entirely justified defending their right to sit cross-legged in a college dorm and take a couple of puffs of weak pot while their parents got blasted on booze. Peace was in the air with pot smoke, peace and love. Boozers with crew cuts hated to see it. That was the Golden Age.
Fifty years later, that's all but forgotten.
And in Humboldt County, more dregs slobber on the sidewalk than ever. Not because of pot, but because of money. They come from far away hoping to clip bud. And when they don't get that--which is pretty much all the time--they figure they can forget their problems for a few minutes if they can scrounge a roach. They wouldn't lounge around the sidewalk though if there weren't so many growers. Nor would there be so many growers if there were lots of real jobs. Not minimum wage crap. Actual careers. People want respect, not drudgery. People want stimulation and meaning, not repetition and slavery. Mostly people want security, not always barely getting by from paycheck to paycheck.
This is why pot growers grow pot. Currently, the fashion for posers is to call pot "cannabis." It's a word generally said with much self-righteous pretension. Ignore it. Adding syllables doesn't help.
Yes there are problems with pot. Everything has problems. Sunlight's a problem. Life is a problem. But the problems with pot aren't what most people probably think. It's not gonna kill you. You won't die from it. You won't hallucinate and jump off a cliff. You can have great conversation with a pot-hater, as long as that pot-hater doesn't know that you're stoned. A pot-hater has to sniff you before determining that the great conversation is over. Kind of like a racist who was great friends with you until learning your ethnicity.
One of the main problems with pot around here is the ever-decreasing infrastructure. We used to have this and we used to have that, but with so many people growing, not anymore. For sure, you can find big desperate-looking banners in front of supermarkets proclaiming NOW HIRING. Guaranteed they wouldn't have a problem filling positions if they slashed the application process, paid better, and showed the workers real respect. Most people say forget it because as soon as you try to work at a place like that, it takes about fifteen seconds to see that the management sucks. People don't want to wear stupid little smocks or put up with getting dicked around on their hours. Bad customer service does abound. Sometimes that's because so many customers were so rotten first.
So people grow pot instead. Try to, anyway. More often than not, what takes root is the sense of isolation. It's hard to make friends in a place where so many people are afraid of being caught. Lack of community creeps like the Sahara Desert.
Fifty years ago, cross-legged with a candle and some albums. Maybe a little incense and a copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Journey to the East. Today though, diesel spills and sucking the river dry. Peace and love aren't even factors anymore.
It's hard to grow pot. It's a whole lot of work with no guarantees. No assurance it will grow, no assurance it will sell. Most people keep a foot in both worlds, simply wanting to supplement the income that regular lousy little jobs won't cover. Everybody knows we're living in a bubble. At some point, the bubble will burst. Mainstream big business, corporatization, the real problem from the start, having profoundly lost the drug war--billions of dollars so very wasted--has already slipped into people's homes through the television with the purpose of pushing pills. Even now, Big Nurse, with her cold dead eyes like uncooked beans, sets up her stadium-size grow-ops.
These are the problems, and the solutions won't come with legislation. Not unless there's legislation for genuine, respectable careers around here. And the only way that would ever happen is if legislators switched from crack to pot.
I haven't had any pot in two months and I feel great. I love focusing on proper life and being responsible. It's every bit as much of a kick as getting stoned. I didn't need any group therapy, or higher power, or any sort of consultation or help. I certainly have nothing to apologize for. Far from it, because I've always been extremely productive even vaporizing high-power weed every day for years. Passing around a spitty joint has never been high on my list of fun things to do because it's just a great way to share germs and get sick. Plus, smoking means ingesting a carcinogen. Vaporizing with a volcano--not those plastic-tasting pens--is way healthy. Boosts the immune system and provides amazing health benefits. I doubt that most people do pot right. It's not like it makes people become writers. For someone who is already a writer--and writers are born, not made--it can even be a useful tool. But I haven't had any in many weeks, and I'm not missing it at all. I'm living the dream in a big way. For years all I've wanted is to be near my kid every day. And now that I finally have that again, everything else is a piece of cake. I've got a nice job, a nice place to live, I'm self-sufficient, I'm still writing, and I think I'll apply for my MFA so I can teach creative writing at the university. Pot never hurt my life. Writing books did that. But I don't need it anymore. I've been there before.