Back in the early and mid-1970s, it seemed as though everyone smoked pot, or marijuana. I vividly recall seeing other high school students toking on joints just outside the fence that defined the property line as my bus would pull into the lot. As classes began, I could easily still smell the rather pungent but yet sweet aroma on their breath. It was during this time that I also began going to rock concerts to see bands like Kiss, Aerosmith, Black Oak Arkansas, Ted Nugent, and others. All of these indoor shows carried a common theme. Chances were good that a complete stranger sitting either next to you or nearby would be smoking a joint. When he or she finished taking a hit, it would get passed around to others! They all looked like crude cigarettes, but some were quite colorful as the contents were wrapped with flavored rolling papers. As an impressionable 14-year-old, I actually enjoyed the smell and noted the cameraderie among those strangers who passed these odd-looking cigarettes around. It should be noted here that many people smoked regular tobacco indoors in those days as well. The “secondhand smoke” hype that has ostracized 20% or our adult population was still years away.
Nevertheless, I didn’t try my first joint until January 31, 1975. I was 15 and attending my first “boy-girl” party. The circle of friends I attended this party with got bored about halfway through the festivities. Understandably, it was being chaperoned by the host’s parents, and thus no smoking or spiked punch was present! These friends of mine decided to take a walk to “get some freah air,” and asked if I would like to come along. As soon as we were about 50 yards away, one of them pulled out a joint and lit it. As it was passed to me, I took a hit. I was surprised to find that the smoke was far easier to inhale than that of tobacco. One of the friends then told me that I had to hold it in my lungs for a few seconds before exhaling if I wanted to get high. I took her advice, and soon began giggling at everything. When we returned to the party about 30 minutes later, the parents didn’t say anything, but gave us questioning looks, to say the least.
For the next 7-8 years, I smoked the occasional joint, but never considered myself addicted. Truth be told, I liked cigarettes better. However, I was exposed to pot and many other drugs on a regular basis by this time, for I had become a rock musician myself. It has been said that when a person begins to smoke marijuana, this ultimately leads to experimentation with harder illicit substances such as cocaine, speed, acid, etc. Fortunately, save for one instance when I unknowingly smoked some reefer laced with LSD until after the fact, I never dabbled in anything stronger than hashish; which was essentially a slightly more potent variety of the popular “weed.”
I would by lying by not commenting that this sole LSD experience was quite interesting. For about an hour or two, everything around me appeared to be animated as if I were in a cartoon! At the same time; however, I was smart enough to realize that I was lucky this time, and I never touched acid again. Nor did I ever try coke, heroin, or any of the other stuff that was going around in those days. Take a look at Keith Richards today. Enough said.
As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, I smoked less and less marijuana. Eventually, it began to make me sick. I would get “the spins,” as one does when consuming too much alcohol. This in turn resulted in nausea. I took my very last hit of reefer in 1983, and have never touched it since.
I now have a teenager myself, and both my wife and I have admitted to experimenting with drugs when we were young. In fact, our daughter requested this information for a school project. As products of the 1970s, we were certainly not alone!
With that said, I find no harm in legalizing this plant for smoking and treating it in the same manner as alcohol. On a personal level; however, I’ve learned to live without it.