Something to Puff on: An Open Letter to Public Pot Smokers.

Via Lynn Shattuck
on Mar 7, 2014
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Source: via Magazin on Pinterest

The other night, a dear friend treated me to a concert.

With two small children, I get out of the house after dark approximately once per quarter. I even donned a skirt and earrings before heading out into the night (okay, it was 5:45 PM) to pick up my friend. We enjoyed a sushi dinner, then hustled down Portland’s Congress Street in the windy, arctic air to get to the venue.

As we listened to the opening band, an entertaining frenzy of fiddles and guitars, I caught a familiar whiff. I turned to my friend, shaking my head. I told her about one of the last times I went out, which was to a literary event. One of the authors passed a large Ziploc full of earthy green weed to the audience. It was quickly lit, and the thick, pungent odor spread through the audience, which included a couple of children and at least one pregnant woman. (Why were there children out so late? Don’t know. I’m not here to judge those parents. Unless they were the ones who lit up the weed, in which case I could find myself getting quite judgy.)

I’d been grouchy about it. Some of my favorite people in the world are in recovery for alcohol and drugs, and I felt indignant about the inconsiderate smoking on their behalf.

“I don’t care if people smoke,” I said to my friend at the concert. “But should I have to, too? You can’t smoke cigarettes inside anymore—“

“Yeah, why should that be different?” she pondered.

I feel the need to assert that neither of us are prudes. In fact, that’s one of the reason I get agitated when people smoke pot in enclosed, but public environments. I smoked my fair share in my 20s. But I’m almost 40, now. I can’t afford to lose any more brain cells! And I have small children, so I’m already sleepy, lacking focus and I watch too many cartoons. I can eat compulsively without the aid of pot. I already drive freakishly slow and my memory is already like a dark, hazy cavern.

I shook my head, frustrated. We sat in the dark audience, starting to sway a bit in our seats as the sound of strings filled the room. Every once in awhile, a puff of smoke would intrude. It smelled strong and close. I attempted to shield my face by pulling my sweater up over my mouth and nose, but I felt a bit self-conscious, and it didn’t really seem to work.

The band we’d come to see, the Avett Brothers, came on stage. As the intermittent drifts of smoke continued to wind our way, I noticed my mouth had set into a lazy smile. I looked at my friend, swaying next to me, and she too was smiling. It felt like the music was enveloping us, moving through and around us, and I thought I should go to concerts all the time. 

I also thought about my music-loving son, and had a little daydream about how in a few years, I could bring him to concerts like this and that made my smile rise even higher. My daydream was, however, dampened by the possibility that I’d have to worry about you, public pot smokers, getting my little guy high.

At one point, the band members invited the audience to sing along. “La la la la la la la,” the singer crooned, then pointed the mic towards the crowd. From behind us, a loud, burly, “LaLaLaLaLaLa,” burst forth. My friend and I giggled. “Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo,” from the stage. “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo!” from behind us.

I laughed harder and squeezed into a slight squat to prevent myself from peeing my skirt. “Sorry,” the burly voice apologized to us. He stood directly behind us, a plastic cup sloshing with beer in his left hand. “It’s okay,” my friend and I both said—and it was.

My eyes drifted from open to closed, from the band to a couple in the row ahead of us. They were in their early 20s, clearly in love. He looked a bit like the actor from Rushmore, and she was curvy with long, smooth blonde hair teasing toward her waist. They kept turning to each other, mouthing the words to the song as if they’d practiced this routine many times. It seemed like there was some invisible magnet hovering in the small space between them. I felt a little burst of love for them, and imagined them warm and curled together in a small bed in a small apartment at the night’s end.

The dark-haired boys on the stage played on, and on and on, and despite enjoying ourselves, my friend and I decided to leave at 10:30, knowing our kids would be waking us up with the first hint of sunlight the next morning.

I drove us home, very, very slowly. I found the remainder of a bag of popcorn on the kitchen counter and inhaled it before slipping into a foggy, contented sleep.

I will admit it—the contact high was fun.

But I would’ve had fun, anyway. Just leaving the house after dark these days is fun! Missing my children’s bedtime is fun.

I enjoyed myself, but it doesn’t make it okay.

Smoking pot is a personal choice, and in some cases, a medical choice. It’s something that I decided, for many reasons, to leave behind in the blur of my 20’s. When it becomes more personal is when you take my choice to refrain away from me.

So I respectfully request that you do like most smokers do and get high before the concert. Or bring little chocolaty brownies that you can discreetly slip into the hands of your friends who want to partake. But don’t just light up in crowded public places. (I will again mention the children in the audience. The pregnant women. The people who have worked hard to get sober and really don’t need your wafting weed.)

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives




About Lynn Shattuck

Lynn Shattuck lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two young children. She blogs about parenting, imperfection, spirit and truth telling—you can connect with her through her website or find her on Facebook.


20 Responses to “Something to Puff on: An Open Letter to Public Pot Smokers.”

  1. Guy fawkes says:

    Don’t go to concerts if you don’t want to smell pot, these things go hand and and no one is going to change just because you are ridiculous

  2. lynnola says:

    Seriously? I shouldn't go to concerts because I don't want to get high? How is that ridiculous?

  3. sarah says:

    Seriously? What about common courtesy? I live in Washington, where recreational pot is legal. I have to smell it all the time…in fact, my boyfriend and I had to move because our neighbor wouldn't stop smoking pot in his apartment (even though there is a no-smoking rule). Pot smokers, and yes, I used to be one of them, seem to think that the rules don't apply to them. The one place I smell it the most? When I'm driving. Yes, people are smoking pot while they drive. Oh, but I shouldn't be bothered by that, right? If I am, I should get off the road, because smoking pot and driving go "hand in hand".

  4. guy fawkes says:

    i'm saying it is ridiculous to go to a concert especially one where most fans probably partake(avvett bros) and expect said fans not to toke- unfortunately mj is illegal and there are not designated areas for users- because of this they have to do it in the safest place possible which just happens to be in the densest area of the crowd (i'm not even going to address that most studies show that contact high is impossible)- so if you wish to avoid it stand somewhere that is less populated- as for the pregnant lady and kids she/parents should know that pot will be smoked at a concert(i mean seriously have you ever been to one where it wasn't?) so they should take similar precautions- as for recovering addicts, if their sobriety is so fickle that they cant be around it they should avoid places that it will be & places where alcohol is easily obtainable until they have enough control to look past these things

  5. lynnola says:

    As you pointed out, it IS illegal, but I'm being ridiculous? And yes, I've been to concerts where I haven't noticed people smoking pot~ this was an indoor venue with assigned seating, so unfortunately I couldn't simply move somewhere else. To me, it'd be no different than going to the theater and having someone light up. The recovery issue has nothing to do with "fickle sobriety" or control.

  6. spiritthrive says:

    I agree with you. As someone who is highly sensitive to cigarette smoke, I will say that given a choice between the two, I'll take pot smoke.

  7. Keith J. Gasaway says:

    interesting blog

  8. Lynnola says:

    Me too, spiritthrive. But ideally, I'd take neither! 🙂

  9. Linval Kingston says:

    What is so common about courtesy?

    You can be upset about people driving and smoking. In fact, the statistics allude to a wide range of possible activities or states of being that appear realistically more detrimental than cannabis consumption. I'd hate to see the type of questioning you're smattering across the alcohol, pills, donuts, cell phone, and bad weather forums! Those people are gonna get the finger shaking of their life!

  10. Linval Kingston says:

    I agree. Since you asked me, do not go. It's like sarah, below, questioning whether she should exit the road because people are driving and smoking pot. That's her choice, yet she poses the question to us in a feeble dose of sarcasm.

    You cannot control the actions of others without giving up your own.

  11. JustBeingHonest says:

    I sympathize and empathize with your situation, as well as other recovering addicts. With that being said, pot smoking is illegal, and especially so, If people are willing to break that law to enhance their experience, It will never be something that can be regulated. Even more so in a concert environment, and if you're actually in Nola.well… weed.

  12. wow says:

    Marijuana is technically legal in city of Portland, Maine. Voters made recreational marijuana use legal in 2013. I also think you are massively over-estimating the effects of second hand inhalation. People have been smoking pot at concerts before any of us were born. Petty issue. There are so many bigger and better ways to try to change and improve our world.

  13. Rachel York says:

    One, you mentioned recovery. Some, including myself, have been through recovery and today choose to smoke marijuana as an alternative to other substances.. And there is nothing wrong with that, as you mentioned, it is used for medical purposes. Also having been in recovery, I have been on many visits and been around people smoking marijuana and had to be tested upon arriving back, it was always negative. So, I'm not sure how actual your "contact high' was. (Maybe just mental) Lastly, just a differing opinion to ponder… Marijuana is a natural medicine, in a way it can be called a "herbal remedy" right? Why does it need to be treated differently than other herbs and plants? To smoke marijuana is a choice, there are good and bad effects, so why should it be seen as all bad? Should we make it the norm to push teens and kids so far away from it, like we do alcohol, that they will be more enticed to try it? Or can we just respect it for what it is and all it's amazing properties, regardless if you smoke it or not.

  14. Laura says:

    Darling, there’s no such thing as a contact high. Not to mention you spoke of being judgmental, this article screams of that. You are a mother so you must understand how others need to relax, sorry if you don’t enjoy the smell but that is your small opinion. I hate the smell of beer, the loud music bars play, the shitty cologne most men wear. Does that mean when I go out to a venue I let it ruin my night? Of course not.

  15. Anastasia says:

    You lost me at "I can’t afford to lose any more brain cells." There is no conclusive study that proves that marijuana kills brain cells.

  16. Sarah Hemlock says:

    I can't take this article seriously when you say things like "contact high" and "lose more brain cells". A contact high IS possible…if you're in a small room FULL of pot smoke and happen to be a small child or something…but otherwise, not much evidence to go on. Same for killing brain cells.

  17. dea says:

    "I can’t afford to lose any more brain cells!" then I suggest you stop watching children's cartoons and mage smoke some more pot to help the regrowth of the ones that are already missing … 😉

  18. Trigger Alert – the real world!! It’s not the responsibility of anyone but the one in recovery to be in recovery.

    There is NO medical or scientific evidence for “contact high” but the placebo effect clearly worked.

    If I accept your version, you were most cogent and likable when high, and really a dramatic freak when sober.

    Light up, lighten up, get off your high horse and get your horse high.

    I don’t like it when you fart and I smell it – your shit is literally in my nose – stay home!

  19. andrewparkkila says:

    Just because she made one ill-informed statement about losing brain cells does not mean that there aren't valid points in this. I am a huge advocate of marijuana, but I think it is absolutely, 100% reasonable to point out that smoking it affects more people than just yourself in an enclosed space. The smell is incredibly strong and the smoke can be as well. It's completely fair for this woman to point out that it's bothersome to some people. Because that's all she's doing. Pointing it out.

  20. Panerita says:

    I can't believe how inconsiderate pot smokers are. Maybe smoking it doesn't kill brain cells, but it really does change your personality and you start believing pot trumps everything. Even another person's right to breathe air instead of your smoke. I used to love attending concerts in Japan. I love love love loud and live music. There I don't remember any pot smoking at concerts. But I come back to the US, and it's at EVERY concert. Not just ones for artists you might expect it from. I HAVE considered buying a gas mask to "enhance" MY experience, since others are so keen on destroying it, but they are too expensive. Instead, I think I'll spend my money to go back to Japan (and don't you fucking pot smokers follow me! Sometimes I feel it's my last refuge on earth, but even there people are becoming pot addled. Thank god they aren't as far down the toilet as in the US though!)