I’ll begin by saying that I’m a currently recovering stoner. I’m not talking about a blunt or two here and there: I mean that I would do multiple dabs a night in addition to smoking several bowls and eating a couple edibles.
PMAN aptly compared marijuana to soma. Huxley’s soma kept a population passive, peaceful, and happy in his Brave New World. There is no more apt a description for marijuana than that. As a depressant, marijuana has a stultifying effect on a person’s mood. It slows down a person’s mental processes, acuity, affects memory, and has a numbing effect on the body. It leaves its user in a near catatonic state of passivity. In physical terms, potheads have a term for this: “couchlock”. When a body high is so intense that you feel you are glued on or locked into the couch. Weed also tends to not only slow down mental faculties, but it is associated with increased feelings of paranoia. This is most evident in strong sativa strains, and stronger body highs with indica strains.
It is worth mentioning that the old story about some pot smoking, free love Baby Boomer toking it up with a group of young guns and passing the f**k out because weed is so much stronger nowadays is more or less 100% true. What we have now is not the same Mexican ditch weed that Gary and Linda smoked at a Grateful Dead concert. These strains have been worked on for decades to produce more potent, tailored highs for the consumer. The good dispensary weed can usually be anywhere from 20-35% THC. That’s just bud. This is ignoring edibles and the various forms of concentrates. Once you get into concentrates, you are looking at 80+% of THC, easy. The Holy Grail of THC potency is a diamond dab: 99% or more. These little crystals will knock experienced smokers on their ass. Dabs are a concentrate so powerful that most first time users will need only a small speck on the end of their tool to get an intense high that really cannot be mimicked by smoking bud. These concentrates are getting more popular; largely because stoners looking to escape the doldrums of their daily existence are seeking out greater highs.
Marijuana use is, of course, no different than any other narcotic use. Stoners generally do not believe that they are drug users, however. “At least I’m not using like, hard drugs man,” is such a common retort by potheads that it is its own cliché. Pot smokers use drugs for the same reasons any person uses drugs. In today’s climate, this is primarily to escape the psychic anguish of living in a heavily atomized, SCALED society. I highly suspect that areas in which opioid use is high also see heavy marijuana use. If there is any doubt as to whether potheads are drug users, you need only witness him trying to score a dimebag at 1 AM on a Wednesday. But weed takes the edge off. The overwhelming state of numbness, both mental and physical, that is characteristic of marijuana makes it a highly sought after substance because it is a perfect coping mechanism. Anxiety disappears, worries float away, pain subsides, and euphoria sets in.
If there is truly a drug for our times, it must be marijuana. Not only does it have a pacifying effect on its users, but weed even encourages the consumption of a host of other ills that characterize the modern world. What is the stoner archetype known for? Sitting on the couch, watching retarded television, and eating copious amounts of chips. Physical inactivity. Mass media. Processed food. All of these are married perfectly in a vaguely remembered, slightly happy haze. Interestingly for a depressant, weed (or perhaps just weed culture) encourages users to continue to attempt to hyper-stimulate themselves despite being in such a relaxed state. This leads to a depressing cycle of constantly chasing highs while simultaneously indulging in many other destructive vices. While there may be an argument to be made about how smoking weed is a social activity much in the same way that smoking tobacco used to be, I don’t put much stock into it.You might pass a bong between a group of people, weed usually handicaps a person’s ability to engage in social activity. Again, even stoners make fun of the stereotype of a group of friends zonked out on the couch passively staring at a blank television screen. I’d say that getting high is rather an intensely personal feeling in comparison to something like drinking. It’s just too much of a depressant to really spur any kind of genuine social interaction.
Weed culture is its own curious thing. While the term pothead no doubt conjures up images of a red-eyed slacker wearing a beanie who buys Bob Marley shirts, increasingly pop culture is bleeding over into stoner culture. The two are now inseparable. Since I live in a state with legal recreational marijuana, we’ve had an explosion in glass blowing and headshops continue to pop up all over strip malls. What is immediately apparent is how much of weed culture is dedicated to pop/nerd culture. Most headshops will sell not just paraphernalia like glass pipes or bongs, but clothing or other various sundry bits of kitsch. All of these items are dedicated to things like adult cartoon shows or vidya gaymes. Naturally, Millennials make up the majority of the weed market so it is tailored to my generation’s arrested development. You will find butane torches with pop art of the Super Mario Bros. (high), you will find pipes made in Pickle Rick’s likeness (PICKLE RIIIICK), you will find bong bowls made to look like Pokeballs. This additional aspect of consumer culture means that weed use in Millennials is now intrinsically tied to the same corporate consumption goods that have dominated our lives. Only now as a legal adult, you can enjoy the same childish things but drunk and high.
Apologies if this is somewhat disjointed, but I felt like bringing up at least a few points of discussion was worth it. I do think that something worth looking into is what will likely be the increasing corporatization of the marijuana industry. There is money on the table there, and changing attitudes along with what appears to be society’s increasingly desperate need to seek out substances to combat psychic pain means that we will soon begin to see a greater corporate presence in this nascent industry.
I only see drug use/abuse increasing in the coming years. Only be restoring meaning into the lives of people will it begin to curb. Healthy societies don’t reach for psychoactive substances to push away the pain. I believe that this is primarily the cause for the drug epidemic that has been sweeping across America for decades. Truly happy, contented people don’t try to fill a void in their lives by using drugs.
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