About a year and a half ago, I found myself in an awkward conversation with friends.
It went something like this:
“So how old were you the first time you lit up?”
“You mean a cigarette?”
“No, I mean a joint.”
“Oh, I. . . Well, you see, I’ve never actually smoked pot.”
“What? You haven’t?! Oh my God! How?!”
I don’t quite remember the rest of it, but I vividly recall the awkward silence that followed. Still, my dirty little secret was out: I was a 36 year old woman who had never inhaled.
I didn’t set out to be a pot virgin. I actually have no problem with those who toke. In fact, I support the legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. However, I wouldn’t know how to use a bong if my life depended on it.
Part of me blames it on my atypical up-bringing. Despite growing up in an area where a lot of people (including my cousin) grew and smoked the stuff, I grew up in a completely dry household. Alcoholism ran in my mother’s family, so she wisely kept away from the stuff. There were also no illegal drugs of any sort to be found there either.
Furthermore, I came of age in the 1980s-1990s, the era of “Just Say No” and D.A.R.E. I figured that if alcohol was legal and “bad” then pot had to be up there with the devil.
I was scared to death of it and all drugs. (I have no doubt that Nancy Regan would have been proud of me.) I also thought that if I somehow ever obtained pot or any drug, I would immediately get arrested and thrown in jail. Indeed, the thought of jail scared me even more than O.D.-ing on drugs.
Later on, as I got older and Bill Clinton got elected despite the admission that he had tried pot, I began to question the anti-drug propaganda fed to me during my childhood and asked aloud why alcohol and cigarettes were legal whereas pot was not.
I ended up at a pretty conservative college where the drugs of choice were cocaine and ecstacy. Pot was widely looked down upon there and associated with those flaky art school students across town. I had neither the desire nor the budget to try cocaine or E, so I graduated not only a pot virgin but a drug virgin as well.
Eventually, when I was finally offered pot by a friend at the age of 27, I decided that I had missed that boat. Plus, I thought there was something a bit sad about being on the wrong side of 25 and smoking weed.
(Granted, my view may have been colored because the guy who offered was older than me and seemed to have his bong permanently cemented to his hand.) I politely declined.
Therefore, it was a bit of a shock when a few years ago seemingly out of the blue, I began wondering if I had missed a rite of passage of sorts by never inhaling. Logically, it made no sense. However, with the legalization of marijuana in some states and blog posts by soccer moms older than me talking about how they inhaled to unwind, I felt like I was being excluded from a club that everyone and his grandmother was a part of.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I asked myself: did I want to be part of a club that took in everyone? Wasn’t pot’s allure, at least once upon a time, that it was outlawed, risky, and the people who used were rebels? (Think of all those cool jazz musicians from the past.)
Somehow, that all seemed to evaporate when I read Maureen Dowd’s account of taking a pot candy bar in Denver. Wow. Now everyone—including the most mainstream—was doing it.
That, along with other practicalities (I am notoriously frugal to the point of being cheap), made me finally realize that I really hadn’t been missing anything for all those years.
While my attitude toward those who do smoke pot is still laissez faire—and I am still very much in favor of seeing it legalized in all 50 states—much like NASCAR, football, and jogging, it just isn’t for me.
Smoking pot will never make me cool or hip. It won’t take me back to my youth and frankly, I have better things to do with my time.
In many ways, I have never been particularly mainstream, so it seems silly to start now.
Therefore, to those who enjoy their reefer, smoke if you got it. For those that do not, though, come sit next to me. Just like being a virgin in the traditional sense of the word is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is being a pot virgin.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
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