1974 🌿 Marijuana

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I was an experimental kid, that was far more aware of many things than adults knew, and they knew I was pretty precocious. One of our early discoveries was the joy of the marijuana.

My neighbor (John) was the guy that would get me into trouble. Not that I wasn't already a kid that would do things I shouldn't, I just did different (less destructive) things than John got me into. And John had a way of getting caught. If John wasn't around, I tended to be smart enough to get away with it.

John had an older brother Craig. And Craig was about 14 and had Cheech and Chong albums, and toked up, when the parents weren't looking. Since ours was the latch-key generation (where Parents worked until 5-6, and kids got home at 3:30 and were on their own until then), it was lord of the flies in my neighborhood.

John and I had tried beer (bleck), hard alcohol (bleck), cigarettes (bleck... though, honesty, I tried them when I was 7, well before John -- but we re-tried, every now and again). And we decided to try some pot. So we searched Craig's room, found his stash and stole it. It wasn't like he was going to complain to the authorities... and John had another Sister, Brother and potentially single Mother that gave us plausible deniability. Plus Craig was a bit of a stoner, so he might have forgot where he left it. And he could be a dick (kicking us when he walked by and we were watching TV, make us do things for him, like we were his slaves), so there was no moral compunctions against stealing from dicks.

Getting it wrong

So we nabbed his stash, but we weren't smart enough to nab or be able to operate the paraphernalia. Lighters and cigarettes were everywhere (Parents all smoked). But while we knew the concept, we did have papers or a bong, what are enterprising young kids to do?

We rolled our first joint in toilet paper.

This went about as well as one would expect. We lit our little fatty, and got barely a baby hit before it was up in flames, and the grass ended up in the grass. Well that was a fail. We picked out as much as we could (along with a little Kentucky Blue Grass) and put it back in the baggie for later.

We went on a second rummage run, and stole some papers, figuring out that it took a special kind of paper, and re-rolled. I don't know if the mixture of Kentucky blue mellowed it, or we hadn't fully figured out the magic of the inhale and hold, but we most definitely got little effect. It smelled different, and was sweeter than tobacco, but not a buzz to be found.

Oh well, nothing to see here. Move along. We weren't in a big hurry to get stoned, as it seemed like a lot of work for no real effect.

Getting it right

Then about a year or two later (summer between 6th and 7th grade), we were walking in our creek (which had some abandoned Orange groves, and were actually walking through one of them), when we realized, we were pits deep in the kind of plant that adorned the posters in Craig's room. Holy shit, we found a growers stash. Quite a lot of it.

We ran home, grabbed a full sized trash-bag, and ran back. We pulled like 20 plants out by the roots, and filled the trash bag with say 10 pounds of the stuff? (We took about 1/4 of the field). I'm not sure of the density/weight, but I know that a double-bagged 55 gallon trash-bag was full like Santa's sack. And we non-chalantly carried it back to one of the communal forts that we kids had made. (There were about 3 in our neighborhood, made from pilfered building supplies from the housing complexes going in, plus I later made a bomb shelter style underground one in the creek a few years later).

We didn't wait for it to dry, and our prior failure with Craig had made us far more aware of drug culture, enough to research what to do, and how to do it. Coke-can bongs, Apple Pipe's, we had all sorts of things to try, and now have the supplies to do it.

While our first experiments had failed, the second try was a charm. We got so wasted on this skunk weed, we discovered the spins, the giggles, the munchies, dry mouth, and all the other effects that come with getting lit. After a few days of getting wasted, we took a few other kids in the neighborhood to our fort that had pot plants hanging and drying in it like a Cuban Cigar Factory. And by the end of that summer, all the kids in the neighborhood knew of the fort where everyone would go to get baked.

For some reason, we knew it was illegal, so didn't want to walk around with any pot on us. When our mellow would ware off, we'd all run back to the fort, and get re-lit, then got back out. There were pounds of the stuff, and everyone just left it there, and we all raced to smoke it by the end of summer.

Smoking on a plane
I remember coming back from my one freezing semester at an Illinois College in 1982. Back then spoke-and-hub meant it was cheaper to fly from Chicago to L.A. via NYC's JFK airport (no direct flights for you). So I'm on a 747, in the middle of its 3-4-3 seating, and the girl next to me sparks up a doobie in honor of Nancy's "just say 'no' to drugs campaign", and we start passing it around like it was a Willie Nelson concert. But alas, they started outlawing smoking on planes after that. What's America become that you can't get lit on a trans-continental flight?


Later parties

There's a couple memorable events from later "partying". His abusive parents had left for the weekend, so party at a friend's house (Mitch). We got a bit drunk, and a few of us wandered over to a church to get stoned. (Not sure why, seemed an appropriate place). One first timer was a chatterbox, "Are you feeling it, I'm not feeling it..." and blah, blah. A few minutes later, we hear, "Oh my God. Oh my God... I can't control my mind...." and then a fit of giggles by the virgin who just had his pot-cherry popped. Smooth guy. Play it cool.

We went back to Mitch's house, and watched Flesh Gordon. When you're like 15 and stoned, that has to be the best movie ever made. Whenever I think of being fully-baked teenager, I have flashbacks to that movie. With little flashes of getting stoned and seeing movies in the theater like: Heavy Metal, or Led Zeppelin's: The Song Remains the Same.

One of the last times I got stoned was in my 20's and one friend at a party (Fran) said, "come with me, we're going to go outside and toke a bowl of hash". OK, fine... friend two (Dave) tagged up and said, "watcha doing?" when he saw us exiting for some illicit drug use. I told him we were going to smoke some weed, and he could come. We went out back, and sucked on a pipe -- and he took some monster hits. We went back in, and he said in a slurred voice, "what the hell was that?". I replied, "Hash?" He was a bit outraged, as he thought it was, "just pot", and he totally wasted himself. He climbed half up stairs (to the landing), slid down the wall, and remained there watching the party through the banister rails, from a semi-vegitative state on the landing. Meh, to me, hash is just boiled pot (pot from concentrate), it's the same THC no matter which form -- but I guess the stronger format put him on his ass for the evening.


It was weird. Summer ended, we'd finally gone through the stash, and that was it. Most of us went back to School, and left our Rastafarian summer behind. That was fun, but now it was school season, and we were good without it. We only had one kid (Ricky) that decided to become the community pot-head (stoned all the time, went from A student to D's, and became more and more the fuck-up for a while) -- they eventually moved away, and I never found out what happened to him. But it was a lesson seeing someone switch tracks from being an over achiever to wanting to do nothing but get baked and eat Doritos. As far as I know, all the rest of us, just didn't care. It was fun, and when it was available, we'd partake. There were parties and the like where it would show up, but none of us seemed to really go out of our way to get more than occasionally stoned. It's sort of a game of Russian Roulette, heads you have a little fun, tails, you become a substance abusing loser.

A couple years later, I spent the summer with a friend in Silverado Canyon (which had a lot of growers), and they had deals with the local kids -- you could run things for them, or they'd give you some to just NOT take their stuff and keep an eye out. So I spent part of that summer baked too. But other than that, it was always an "occasionally" at parties sort of thing. I was never a pot-head... but because I would occasionally at parties, and knew a few stoners, I was able to hang out with the stoners at will (and was pals with a bunch of them), without really being one of them. I did that with a lot of cliques in High School -- they knew me, and didn't reject me as an outsider, but I wasn't bonded or regular enough to be completely in or out of the circle. I was a friendly drop-in.

Grower: years later, around the time I was ready to move out (already had an income that would afford that), and was more living at home for savings, I grew a pot plant in my bedroom.

It was in a planter and got to be about 3 feet high and pretty bushy: it added to the decor or waterbed, light Oak furniture, and my computer and hacking gear. I liked doing things that weren't immoral, but I wasn't supposed to do. So I wouldn't do things that would hurt people, but things that broke some bullshit rules? I was all over. Like playing Black Sabbath at a Christian College, hacking or cracking, or growing pot in my bedroom. Not to mention making explosives and guns. But I'm getting off track.

My Mom noticed one day, and did her usual hypocritical tizzy fit:

  • Her, "WHAT is that?"
  • Me, "It's a plant"
  • Her, "But what KIND of plant?"
  • Me, "If you're asking, I suspect you know. How do YOU know what kind of plant it is?"
  • Her, "Um, uh, never mind about me. Are you some sort of pot-head?"
  • Me, "if I was, the plant would be gone and smoked. The fact that it's healthy and not picked to ribbons, should tell you that I'm not".
  • Her, "Well what kind of influence do you think you are to your younger brother?" (Who was standing outside the room, making faces and enjoying the drama, smugly thinking, "I told you, she'd notice, and you'd get in trouble" written on his face).
  • Me, "Where do you think I got the seeds?" (Which was true, I'd gotten them from one of his stoner friends, Johnny Buchman -- and my brother was making all sorts of gestures over throwing him under the bus. Who's smug now?).
  • Her, "you lie!" (My Mom always had a double standard: I was transparently NOT the preferred child).

In the end, it was fine. The argument diverged, she forgot about the plant, and I think I moved out soon after... and forgot the plant. And by the time I came back to get it, my brothers friends or my Mom had picked it to stems. Now her live-in boyfriend is the guy that gets stoned daily, and plays bridge. They claim it's medicinal... while I haven't taken a hit in 25 years.