As we approach the 100th issue of DGO (we’re at 99!), and the 100th installment of Seeing Through the Smoke, please indulge me with a moment to reflect on what I have learned on this near-two-year journey with Mary Jane.
Couple years ago, I remember it was around Halloween, my good friend, our esteemed editor Mr. David Holub – who is wise, witty, and younger than he looks – called with more than a little concern in his voice. He was starting a new free weekly. I thought that was great.
One of the sections would be called “Weed” and the two guys who had been slated to write the column had apparently evaporated; their first installment was going to discuss spliffs – a worthy enough topic … I don’t know if I would have launched with it.
Long story short, he asked if I could write a column to get him started. I said I would love to and jumped online to begin researching.
About six hours later, I called him back, explaining that it was going to take more space than one column would fit and could we look at a three-or-five part series to get things rolling?
The first thing that I learned was that this particular skunk-scented rabbit hole is deep. The story of cannabis and humanity together is beyond ancient: There are cannabis seeds in 12,000-year-old Chinese archeological sites, Egyptian pharaohs’ tombs containing cannabis pollen, a mummified body found after nearly 3,000 years buried in the Gobi desert with over 2 pounds of herb. And when we turn the page of the history books to the last 80 or so years of the plant, especially here in the good ol’ USA, things get intensely weird and wondrous.
Shortly after the Great Depression, just before World War II, the United States government decided that it would make a plant illegal and remove it from American life, a plant that had not only coexisted with our species but greatly benefited us by way of food, fuel, fiber, medicine, and as a lovely intoxicant further back than reliable recorded history.
And, it almost worked … for about a generation. Then came the 1960s.
Flash-forward to 2017 and Colorado residents (along with folks from Oregon, Washington, and Nevada; soon to be joined by three more states, all of whose citizens gave themselves the right via ballot initiatives) can head down to a marijuana store (a marijuana store?!?!) and grab about as much flower, oil, hash, cookies, brownies, and gummy bears as we can carry – and this stuff is powerful beyond the imaginations of the Americans who were living when the laws against it were passed. Prohibition was good for cannabis.
Going underground, it turns out, is perfectly natural for plants. Out of the clutches of a system that seeks to over-moderate, over-standardize, and remove the soul of things by way of regulatory boards, committees of politicians, and the power of law enforcement and the prison-industrial complex, this weed gathered its constituency in places like Colorado, in northern California, in the Pacific Northwest, in the hills and hollows of Kentucky, in Hawaii, in the woods of Maine, and shared their knowledge with like-thinking people from the Netherlands, from Jamaica, from South Africa, Mexico, and South America, from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and India, and together, they fanned the flames of a worldwide revolution under the banner of that iconic seven-fingered leaf.
Going on 100 editions of this column, I have learned one thing above all others: This plant is here to stay and I, for one, am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]