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Essay on The Art of Being a Stoner: Mangling the Mythology of Marijuana Users

Updated August 9, 2022

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Essay on The Art of Being a Stoner: Mangling the Mythology of Marijuana Users essay

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“I need smoke. I need to smoke” (Cudi). Kid Cudi’s longing words release from his lips in a cool foggy vestige almost as smoothly and in the same transience of the loud hit he lifts up from his water pipe. Potheads, defined by Merriam Webster as being “a person who smokes a lot of marijuana” (Webster 1), are becoming less and less strange and rarely to society. Every day it seems as though there’s a new petition outside of your venerable Kroger, or more news of a state that has gained favorability for legalization in released polling results. Undoubtedly, the discourse community surrounding regular recreational marijuana use has established its own lingo, tools, and ways of distributing weed (or rather, the THC within the plant). And interestingly, they have developed a culture all their own that doesn’t match the stereotypes that have been casting shadows over the weed smoking community for decades. They’re not all talking about peace and love, they aren’t struggling to find employment, most of them don’t flock to harder drugs and narcotics, and they’re all able to quit whenever they want.

But what is a stoner exactly? They’re all just regular human beings. Ultimately, it should be known that the pot smoking community is a tight-knit group of people that have existed within society for decades: they all smoke marijuana, they have a special smoking language and unique tools to accompany their practices. Furthermore, when all’s said and done, they’re only people, not the bums and hippies that society has identified them as.

In order to gain a true understanding of the marijuana world, I sat down with a few friends of mine who consider themselves “marijuana connoisseurs,” but are mostly normal individuals. For their own protection, I’m going to refer to them as Cheech and Chong. Both of them are students at the University of Cincinnati, maintain high GPAs, work decently paying jobs (to help pay off school), and are well-liked by all those they interact with. Not to mention they hail from suburbia and both went to highly rated high schools. On paper, these are two well-rounded individuals. However, according to the law in the United States, they are criminals of a high offense. In most states, possession of marijuana and smoking paraphernalia could result in jail time, let alone the classification of a misdemeanor or even a felony on your record. Cheech and Chong may be contributing positively to society, but their recreational choices could put all of this in jeopardy. So I had to ask them: why get high?

“That’s a question I ask myself a lot. Part of it is because I like it. Part of it is because it does a lot for me… in terms of managing my stress and anger levels and helping me live a happy life” (Cheech).

My other friend Chong had to say that “[weed] makes you feel good inside… It makes you feel at one with nature when you go outside… It makes every activity you could possibly name more enjoyable. It lets you bond with people” (Chong). For Cheech and Chong, smoking is just another way to enjoy life. They smoke for the same reason people really get into mountain climbing, go on nature walks, or even produce content like writing and composing… and interestingly, all of these activities are really awesome under the influence of pot.

Clearly, learning is everything in the smoking community: to understand and be a part of the smoking world involves knowing how to smoke, where to smoke, when to smoke, and what to smoke with. Cheech is a daily smoker, and before we sat down to interview, he presented me with his water pipe. He has many different methods of smoking, as well as many different types of marijuana in his home, all with different names and uses. He told me that smoking marijuana involves first picking a species, which is easy enough, as there are only two: sativa, and indica. According to Chong, “sativa is a type of marijuana that comes in larger buds and is more of a body high, an energetic high. This is very different from indica, which comes in smaller buds and is more of a couch high. I say this to remember: indica is in-da-couch” (Chong).

Basically, you chose a strain that matches your current vibe, as well as the vibe you plan to feel after the whole smoking ordeal is complete. Once you’ve selected a strain of weed, Cheech says the bud (the flower of the plant) needs to be removed from the stem. You could pick them off, which takes a significant amount of time. But Chong let me in yet another piece of the smoking puzzle: the grinder. Grinders probably liken their design to the venerable blender or cheese grater. All of the sharp, slicing pieces of these two devices are rolled into a small or large (depending on your tastes, Chong tells me) cylindrical device which takes only a few twists to grind up your pot before it makes its next trip to the bowl. The bowl is where the marijuana is packed into. In the case of my friends Cheech and Chong, both were using a water pipe or bong to smoke their weed. Here, the bowl is a detachable part that is removed once the shaft of the pipe is filled to top to smoke. Once the weed is ground up and packed into the bowl, it is time to take a light to it and inhale.

Beyond smoking out of bongs are countless different ways to enjoy herb- among them I became familiar with are vaping, smoking from a pipe, dabbing, and eating baked goods with oil extracted from marijuana. All of these methods are extremely specific and detailed, and all of them are cherished and talked about in the marijuana community. One tool that is used to discuss these different methods is the popular pothead forum, Grasscity Community. This community site, which discusses everything from how to smoke, to all the different ways to grow pot, to legalization politics, to what the best weed is for different scenarios. Users are easily able to generate posts, comments, and so much more in this convenient online discussion board. The website refers to smokers as “tokers’ (Grasscity). Many of the posts are from first time smokers: average, every day people who just want to get high. One such discussion in the forum is titled “Why are dabs so harsh?” and asks why the process of dabbing is so considerably harsh compared to other methods of delivering THC to the body.

The process of dabbing involves taking a literal dab of wax with high potency of THC, and applying heat to an oil rig “nail” (usually through the use of a butane blowtorch) held within a water pipe. While “dabbing” the wax into the high-temperature rig, the user inhales from the mouthpiece of the pipe. Because the dab smoke being inhaled is essentially only vapor laced with THC, it actually tends to be a little harsh to the throat. According to Cheech and Chong, as well as most authorities on marijuana such as those from Grasscity, dabbing is perhaps one of the most tedious ways to smoke. It seems more and more that all of these mechanical instructions for smoking and using marijuana are too complicated and precise to be undertaken by an uneducated hippie.

“There’s almost an art form to smoking. The process is beautiful and cherished, and not everyone can master it. It takes a lot of time and focus to learn the right way to pack a bowl, to roll a joint, to take a dab. There’s nothing simple about any of it” (Chong). More and more it becomes clear that those who smoke are just regular folks with a different hobby. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (also known as NORML), over 14 million Americans regularly use marijuana. Out of over 318 million Americans, 14 million may not be the majority, but it is still a significant number of people who are involved. The underground community they have formed is arguably one of the most impressive in size, depth, and variation.

For the past forty-odd years, prohibition of marijuana has been deeply-rooted in the perception that those who use it and distribute it also perpetuate criminal activity that creates chaos within society. Out of these members of the stoner community, what is the breakdown of these so-called criminals? When The New York Times published a serialized staff editorial calling for the repeal of marijuana prohibition, the statistics they found were baffling. In the United States, a black man is about 3.7 times more likely to be arrested than one of his white counterparts. The highest percentage for a US state? Iowa. The Times found that “blacks in Iowa are 8.3 times more likely to be arrested” (NYTimes Staff). Clearly, there is a connected stigma with using marijuana and being of a different color.

Later on in the piece, The Times tackles some of the myths behind marijuana. In this section, the editorial staff states “The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of ‘immoral’ populations who were promptly labeled ‘fiends” (NYTimes Staff). A well-known term for those who regularly smoke is a “fiend.” But where exactly did this term come from? As it turns out, like many other associations with weed, this term has racial origins. Law enforcement and government has clearly taken to using race and fear to perpetuate the notion that marijuana users are evil, despite the reality that proves otherwise.

Although this country has taken steps to finally legalize marijuana throughout all states, there is still a lot of work to be done- not only towards legalization, but also towards reinventing the stigma of who smokes and why they smoke. Earlier in the piece, I discussed that many people smoke because they feel it enriches their lives. Many others smoke because it is a necessity. While only five states in America have legalized marijuana for recreational use, twenty four have laws allowing for the use and distribution of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana can be used to treat or give aid in conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C, Huntington’s Disease, Arthritis, Ashtma, depression, and hundreds of others. Marijuana is so much more than a drug- is it the bonding element of an entire community. Call them what you want, potheads, stoners, tokers, fiends, druggies, bums, hippies- at the end of the day, they are a collective of people. This pothead discourse community is diverse, rich in culture and knowledge, and unique.

Essay on The Art of Being a Stoner: Mangling the Mythology of Marijuana Users essay

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Essay on The Art of Being a Stoner: Mangling the Mythology of Marijuana Users. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from