Seeing Through the Smoke: The facade of negative propaganda is crumbling

by Christopher Gallagher

First things first (because there’s a lot of ground to cover here), my bona fides: I’m 43; I’ve been smoking weed since I was 14. For the first couple of years, I picked up quarter-ounce bags from older students in my high school at what I came to find was about a 300 percent markup. By the time high school was over, I’d found a real connect, driving down to the Charter Oak projects of Hartford, Connecticut, for ounces of good ol’ Mexi brickweed. Mostly brownish, with just enough green to be recognizable as an actual plant, crushed and smashed down to roughly one-fifth its natural volume … Whatever – it’d get you high. But, we’re getting ahead of things.

Let’s bounce back to elementary school – I came to social consciousness during the Reagan days. Officer Luby would come to see us a couple times a year in his D.A.R.E.-mobile with his kit of fake drugs. Everything I was taught in school, every commercial I saw or heard, every character portrayed in movies or on TV demonized this plant, Cannabis sativa L. Officer Luby would light that pellet of organic material, telling us that this was the smell of “drugs” and asking us if we recognized it and from where. I knew that smell. It smelled like home: my dad, my uncles and aunts and their friends, like the Fourth of July out behind the beach house, an Easter Sunday walk around the reservoir, like no big thing.

That cognitive dissonance continued as I made my way through high school doing just fine for myself – .06 GPA points south of graduating with honors, high SAT scores, experience in three varsity sports, including all-conference honors in lacrosse my junior and senior seasons, and early acceptance to college; I was not exactly your average stoner. I wasn’t lazy, foggy, or dopey in any way, shape or form, and I never felt like an addict, a criminal, or any other negative stereotype associated with cannabis. None of that tracked.

And here we approach the crux of the biscuit. No matter what anyone one told me about marijuana, I knew what I knew. I never got in trouble smoking weed. There was none of the out-of-control craziness and violence like when I’d drink. I never lost a friend because of it. It made music sound even better, took the edge off enough to make me more comfortable around the fairer sex, made chores less onerous, and when I’d smoke during school every once in a while, it was no big deal; I’d sit and take notes and maybe scribble some dancing bears in the margin of my notebook. The bottom line: Mary Jane always treated me right.

There’s something about a systematic lie, something that, when it’s finally exposed, leaves the hearer like the ocean on a windy day – confused on the surface but still below.

Twenty-five years later, we stand at the edge of a Golden Age for American Cannabis. That dirt weed from the ’hood is a thing of the past. We’re on to bigger and better things. The facade of negative propaganda is crumbling. Prohibition is ending, with Colorado in the vanguard. As accurate information about this plant replaces the tired old lies, I, for one, am ecstatic for the opportunity to repay some of the kindness Mary Jane has always shown me. Next week we’ll look more closely at the plant itself, Cannabis sativa L. and establish a baseline for future discussions. Be well ’til then.

Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good.


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