Thursday, July 2, 2009

My First Column - The Original Going Green

I was in a nostalgic mood so I felt like hunting down my first column from Sept. 29, 2008:

Hi, I’m a pothead. It’s an odd thing to say, to admit and take responsibility for a drug habit, but I am one. I originally approached the editor with a pitch for this column because I think marijuana and the culture that surrounds it is no longer at the fringes of our society. It is no longer in jazz-dens and hippie communes. It’s in our homes, our schools, our lives.

The majority of Americans have tried it, and it’s easily available. Campus cops turn a blind eye to its use on certain days and many professors puff. Still, it is the white elephant in the room, a taboo that lead to the construction of a still expanding and, in my opinion, soon the be majority counter-culture.

Some consider my use, knowledge, and defense of marijuana despicable. Even the word ‘Tufts’ on my diploma wouldn’t get me a job with a respectable background-checking company. Because of this, many intelligent reefer-smokers have not come out and freely admitted to consuming a substance that has, historically, been present in almost every culture.

I’m going to avoid making claims like pot is less harmful than alcohol (it is) or throw out wild claims that elements of the drug war were being used as a cover for organized racism (they are and always have been).

Rather, I’m going to try in this column, to offer a window into a lot of the more intimate details that the members of the community who don’t consume illicit substances, or even those who don’t do them frequently, aren’t exposed to.

In later installments I will detail the campus culture surrounding the drug, and how the people for a large metropolitan area interact with it and one another. Instead, I will know tell you more about myself and my habit.

To qualify myself as a trustworthy source on such matters, let me describe my career as a drug user. I didn’t try smoking grass until 11th grade, and didn’t really begin using it with any frequency until the end of 12th grade and the summer before Tufts. I was always predisposed to it, a neurotic Woody Allen-esque child who thought too much for his own good (sound familiar, Tufts student body?).

As of now, I’ve probably smoked pot every day, except for a few days on vacation (when I couldn’t get it) and of course, Yom Kipur. I’ve toked with well over 300 other students since I came to Tufts, as well as two faculty members and the coach of a sports team.

I first began smoking consistently as a freshman. It was a social drug, perfect for the cool nights of late Fall. I was living within a mile radius of thousands of students who, just like me, were looking for a good time. Pockets of students tokin’ dotted campus every night, and I was amongst them. I made new friends and caught a buzz.

Pot quickly became more than just an icebreaker. It became a way to cope with the all of the day’s tedious peccadilloes towards me. Living in a tiny, cinderblock-walled dorm room can drive even the soberest of stoics to sparking one up. Pot relaxed me. It was, and still is, the main reason I smoke.

As the work and stress mounted during my first semester, so too did the smoke intake. I still did all the things that I would usually do: exercise, socialize, try to get laid, fail to get laid, and plan what to do in the future, but I smoked.

Here I am, a few years later, technically a criminal and working my way towards s degree from one of the best academic institutions in the world. Not too bad for a pothead.

My story is just one strand in a long strain of hybrids. Each member of the marijuana community, whether knowingly apart of it or not, has his or her own story. There are a lot of us here on campus, some smoke more, more smoke less, but we are here.

I think marijuana and its tag-along culture can harmoniously exist with the Tufts community. Look no further than the library roof for proof that it is becoming a drug of the masses, a new brand of cool made cool solely by the fact that there are squares that oppose it. We at Tufts are a strange bunch—we get our rocks off racking our brains over issues most people our age don’t care about. We ponder philosophy, program code, solve equations, analyze policy—and I think we’ve earned the right to spark.

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