Tuesday, April 06, 2021
Wonderland Burlesque's Cannabis Quiz
Looking all around me, because... where there's smoke... wink, wink.
It's legal in 15 states and Washington D.C. It's been decriminalized in all but six states.
Today, I thought we'd take a look at your experience with marijuana and your thoughts about its use and decriminalization.
I don't know why this feels risky... but it does! How uptight am I?
1/ At what age did you realize there was such a thing as marijuana? What were the circumstances?
So, there are three stages to learning about marijuana. First, it is an abstract idea about something that happens somewhere else.
In this case, I was in fourth grade and we had something called Drug Awareness Week. The big deal was creating an anti-drug poster. And in order to do that you had to learn all about drugs. So, in fourth grade, the week after we finished reading Charlotte's Web in class and I sobbed like a three year old who was told Xmas had been canceled, we proceeded to learn all about shooting heroin, mixing speedballs, packing a bong, and dropping a tab of acid.
Surprisingly, some of the other kids were way more informed than I was. One kid in particular, we'll call him 'Jack', because that is his name, knew all about drugs, so much so that he could have taught the class. Jack knew so much about drugs because he had a much older brother who was a drug addict. Now, I, on the other hand, was such a naïve country mouse turned city mouse that when Jack told me his brother was an addict, I thought he said 'attic'. And, given my limited knowledge of drugs, I could not figure out why his parents would allow a bunch of dirty hippies to live on the upmost floor of their house and do that sort of thing.
Because, in fourth grade, I may not have understood the difference between 'addict' and 'attic', and I may have sobbed like a little girl when I learned a fictitious spider who knew how to spell better than I did would be dead at the end of the damn book, but I did know all about how to place a sugar cube of heroin in a common table spoon, place a lighter beneath the spoon until the cube melted and bubbled, take a syringe and draw the bubbling liquid up into the syringe, wrap a rubber hose around my arm and inject the needle into a vein in my arm in order to escape the messed up world we lived in.
The reason why Drug Awareness Week suddenly became an important thing in my hometown was because drug culture had invaded the Pamida store in a neighboring town.
This was accomplished by taking a single aisle of the store and creating an entrance on both ends by using beaded curtains on one end and grass curtains on the other. Also, for some reason, they chose to forgo the flattering glow of the institutional fluorescent bulbs lighting up the rest of the store and, after placing a grass hut roof over the top, instead chose to light the space using lava lamps, and black lights. Inside this aisle were candles in the shape of toadstools, velvet black light posters featuring seductive women and mythical castles, incense and incense burners also in the shape of seductive women and mythical castles, t-shirts featuring a fern leaf and Captain Zig Zag, exotic grinning Buddhas and an assortment of glass vases with one large hole at the top for most of the flowers and a tiny arm that jutted out at an angle that would hold a single flower. At least that's what my mother told me when I brought it over to her in the lady hosiery aisle to ask her what it was.
The next day my mother decided to pay a visit to my grade school dragging our priest, old Father McNally, with her. I proudly pointed to my poster depicting Jack's dirty hippy brother and his friends doing smack, dropping acid and overdosing in the attic of Jack's parent's house. I was very proud of it, especially the pool of vomit I drew leaking from Jack's brother's dirty hippy mouth. All the posters were taken down the next day and I do believe that was the last Drug Awareness Week my grade school ever participated in.
My personal theory? It was Jack who pooped on the floor in the Pamida dirty hippy aisle - because his brother was a drug addict, and those people will poop anywhere. (I saw Woodstock!)
The second stage of learning about marijuana is the day you actually know someone who smokes marijuana. My older brother, we'll call him 'Jack', because that is not his name, was a starting varsity football player and state wrestling and track and field contender. Your typical midwestern jock, he was big, strong, handsome and dumb as a box of pet rocks. In the summers he would work for various people. One of these people happened to be a distant cousin of ours who was crushed between two railroad cars, paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. There was a lawsuit and a lot of money awarded.
So, suddenly... I knew someone who smoked pot. My brother was a dirty pothead. Yes. my dad's golden boy was looking a little tarnished. Jack's senior year in high school was a total disaster. Oh, he still played football and wrestled and ran, but now his coaches yelled at him... a lot. And when it came time to cast the school musical, I ended up with a larger part than he did and he didn't like that idea because he'd expected he would be cast in the lead, so he quit. Then his girlfriend, who we all adored and expected him to marry, up and dumped his dumb azz and the dirty pot-smoking douchebag barely graduated high school.
On top of all that, my mother never let up on him. So to escape, he joined the army. Now he's a staunch Republican living in New Mexico and a total asshole. So, see kids? That's the real danger of drugs. You get yelled at, your girlfriend dumps you, you join the army to escape your mother and you end up a Republican living in a state that smells like a pile of dead cows.
And, an aside, the album was terribly scratched, but still played. It remains one of my all-time favorite albums.
2/ In high school, there was always that one crowd referred to as the stoners. Did you interact with them? What did you think of them?
As one of four gays in my graduating class (That I know of.) (Brad, if you're reading this, it's okay, you can come out now.) (And when you do? Call me!), I was very fortunate. Because of my musical and theatrical abilities, the jocks all protected me and never bullied me.
You see, I was that guy who made it all the way through high school without realizing that everybody else was drinking, smoking pot and having sex... like they were supposed to be. There were keggers every weekend and I... never found out about them until years and years later. Needless to say, because of my Family Variety Hour demeanor, no one bothered to invite me to these keggers because they knew I wouldn't come (or because they were afraid I would tell an adult!) So, I had 90 percent of the school fooled.
The stoners were the only ones who knew what a sick little perv I was... because I think a steady diet of Mary Jane, free love, 3.2 beer and self loathing gives one extra sensory perception when it comes to the goody-two shoes hiding his boner with a three-ring binder between classes.
Oh, and by the way, guess who was king of the stoners? That's right! It was Jack the Pamida Pooper. Proof that drugs ARE bad.
3/ Have you ever tried it? Circumstances surrounding your first use? What did you think?
This would occur shortly after I turned eighteen. I was in a motel in Minneapolis, with my 36 year old boyfriend, an actor from NYC, who was in town working at the Guthrie. He decided that I should try smoking some weed to reduce my anxiety.
That was not a good idea.
For the next two hours I laid on the floor flitting between a state of abject terror and crying hysterically. I was terrified because I kept thinking I was going to shrink until I disappeared. You know, like how in the super hero comic books they draw those graduating silhouettes around someone to indicate they're shrinking? That's what I kept seeing in my head, so that's what I was convinced was happening to me. And then, when I was not thinking that, I was sobbing my head off because I was so insecure and terrified of everything, but I was especially afraid that my 36 year old boyfriend would dump my stupid 18 year old ass.
4/ Do you smoke on a regular basis? When was the last time?
Gawd, no. Are you kidding? I mean, I like the idea of it. But no, I am not wired that way at all. I wish I was. But even when I can, I rarely do.
The last time I smoked was when I'd arranged my schedule so I could stay overnight at this massage therapist's apartment. We'd fooled around a couple of times and I always thought he was a lot of fun. I also suspected he wanted more than just a some time thing. I... did not. He always smoked a little pot when we got together, which I refused because I knew I had to drive home. He convinced me to arrange my schedule to spend the night at his place so I could imbibe, and I thought that sounded fun.
It was not.
My companion, on the other hand, had built up quite a tolerance. He kept rousing me, making me do things with him. On and on and on. See, I had also made the mistake of taking 10 mg of generic Viagra, so he took my constant hard on as a sign that I was always good to go.
I was so not good to go.
In fact, after a point, the only thing I did was sleep.
In the morning he was very sweet, bringing me orange juice. And all I could think of was the sight of him from the previous night, lying in his leather sling with this stocking sock on over his hair and me thinking to myself... he looks like Weezy Jefferson from Good Times in that sock. Damn, I'm fucking Weezy Jefferson in a sling with a sock on her head. Where my keys at?
I ran into him during the beginning of the Covid pandemic at the local gay store where I went to purchase my first dildo. He was very friendly.
And I was very polite.
Throughout our conversation, the theme from Good Times kept playing in my fool head.
5/ If you're at a party and someone offers you a toke, what do you do?
If I'm driving, I tell them thank you, but I'm driving.
If I am not driving, I will take the tiniest of whiffs and then move to the other side of the room before it comes back around. I don't want to be offered a second.
Of course, I don't know what the etiquette regarding the passing of a doobie will be post-covid.
6/ What do you think about people who drive past you with a car full of smoke, reeking of weed?
I am amazed at their bravery.
Not because I think they are brave to smoke pot so openly, but because I marvel at how they are able to drive and smoke at the same time. That's a mystery to me; a skill not in my wheelhouse.
See, I did that twice. Both times driving back to my house in North Minneapolis from St. Paul. It's a straight shot on 94, but you have to manage to find an entrance onto 94 in order to do that.
Finding that entry? Nerve wracking. I was terrified of entering the freeway going the wrong way, so it took me several attempts before I committed to actually entering the freeway.
Now this was a good 25 years ago. I have since adopted a no drink and drive policy. If you have one drink with a full meal, you may drive. But otherwise... no. That's what Uber is for. And smoking pot and driving? That will never, ever happen again.
7/ What do you think of the film industry's commonplace/casual take on cannabis use?
I am always amazed. Like it's just part of their everyday life and everybody is cool with it and it's no biggie. Nobody protests. Nobody is looking around to see if it's okay... it's just accepted.
I realize it's legal now in California and and 14 other states (and D.C.), but is it widely accepted? I mean, what if you have to take a drug test?
It does not feel like a natural part of life yet, so I am always taken aback when someone whips out a doobie and lights it up. I suppose it's no different than having a martini.
But, based on my experience? I'd rather have the martini.
8/ What do you think about the argument that it is no worse or better for society than alcohol?
And if it were legal, it would create revenue and could be totally legislated the same way alcohol is currently legislated and monitored.
And also, if we did with pot what we did with the casinos, it could be a means of making reparations for the black community. Let their community profit from it. Let them control it. The state would still rake in revenue based on how highly taxed it would be... the same tax currently levied on alcohol.
The only people who lose in this situation are the Republicans, because suddenly they have one less hot button issue to terrify old people with.
At this point, with 15 states having already legalized it without any repercussions - I mean have you heard any stories about crazed mobs of potheads storming the local 7-11 and stealing all the Cheetos and Slurpee machines? - it is a non-issue. Grow up, grow a pair and get out of the way of change.
9/ Is it legal in the state you live? If not, and it came up on a ballot would you vote yay or nay? Have you ever done any work to make it legal in your state? Would you move to a state where it was legal?
I am all for legalization and would definitely vote in favor of it. However, it's not a cause I feel compelled to work for. There are those who are already very passionate about it. In fact, there is a whole political party whose sole goal is to legalize marijuana. One of the reasons I would like to see it legalized? That party is currently siphoning off votes from Democratic candidates in my state - which pisses me off, because the last thing I need to live to see is Minnesota become a red state.
I would totally move to a state where it was legal.
Those assholes terrify me.
10/ Has the war on drugs been a huge waste of time? What do you think about Oregon decriminalizing all drugs?
Right now? It's the wild, wild west... which I know appeals to stupid Americans who love running around with assault weapons and 'winning', but it's a dangerous shit show that's resulting in the death of thousands of people a year. Not to mention all the resources that are being wasted on this ridiculous effort.
So, Oregon is smart. And I think it's time we all got smarter.
11/ Do you own a t-shirt, stocking cap or other clothing that sport a marijuana leaf? What do you think of such clothing?
I would never own or wear such clothing. But to each their own.
I laugh when I see someone so dedicated that they parade around with a leaf on their clothing or have a tattoo of one. It all still strikes me as 'dirty', as in dirty hippy crap. I know, I know... judgmental much? It's something I'm working on. To each their own and if that's what's important to you? Go for it.
Well, those are my thoughts. Share yours in the comments section or post them on your blog and leave a link here.
I have to say, it is so ingrained in me that drugs are bad, that I hesitated to actually write this quiz. I looked up blogger's photo policy and it doesn't say anything about photos depicting drug use, but I am still terrified that this post will get cited. Smoking weed is legal in 15 states and D.C. - so how is it any different than showing pictures of people smoking or having a cocktail?
Anyway... this has been an interesting experience for me. I hope it hasn't offended anyone.
Thanks for reading!
Mary Jane - Rick James