|Read the cover story at the Psychedelic Library.|
This only goes to show my advanced age. I was one of the first 12 million or so who had tried pot by Oct. 31, 1969, if one can believe stats in the esteemed Life Magazine (see above).
Public school kids turned on this Catholic school kid to demon weed (figures, doesn't it?). We all worked together at a combination pancake house and Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Daytona Beach, Fla. They asked me if I wanted to get high and go see a concert. Sure, I said, thinking we were going to get some adults to buy us booze and see one of the local rock groups play.
On our way to the concert, Ronnie took out his marijuana stash. He taught me how to smoke a joint. It was quite a ritual, one that spoke to my Catholic roots. I always enjoyed the ritual more than the high -- maybe that speaks volumes about my life. Once we were suitably stoned, we went to a club and saw a group called the Hour Glass in concert. Only later did I realize that these guys would become the Allman Brothers Band, they of "Live at Fillmore East" and the legend of Duane Allman. The Allmans had grown up in Daytona and attended Seabreeze High School, where my pot-smoking pals all went to school.
So now I was 17 and had tried pot. I thought it was pretty cool. It was a different high than Boone's Farm or beer. I liked it, but not enough to keep smoking. I was a jock, after all, and smoking anything was verboten, as was hanging out with hippies, surfing during basketball season, indulging in premarital sex, taking God's name in vain and coveting my neighbor's ass, which was pretty fine if I remember correctly.
My first two years of college, 1969-1971, are kind of a blur. I was trying to smoke as much pot as possible in order to remain firmly entrenched in the minds of the Life Magazine editorial staff, most of whom were the same age as my parents and equally clueless. And I continued smoking for some reason. By the late 1970s, I had left marijuana behind, realizing that it's tough to engage fully in an adult lifestyle while slackin' with Dr. Ganja. I had moved to Denver by then, the future capital city of the 420 legal pot crowd. Strangely enough, the drug of choice in Denver in 1979 was cocaine. Ah, there's a drug for you. A rush that blows off the top of your head and expensive as hell. One more likely to lead you to the pokey or the poor house than to nirvana. I even recall cheering to J.J. Cale as Red Rocks when he strummed into "Cocaine," which became a big hit for Eric Clapton whose own drug jones almost landed him in the morgue.
On Sunday, Denver celebrates "420 Day." I won't be there. It's Easter. I won't be hiding Easter eggs for the kids as they are all grown up now. Chris and I are cooking some steaks with tea totaling friends, so won't even be imbibing a Colorado craft beer or a California wine. Boring old age.
I have mixed feelings about legal pot. Both of my kids have had problems with drugs and alcohol. Both have been in treatment and are now clean and sober. One lives in Tucson and one in L.A., the latter not the best place for people with an inclination for drugs. But we hear now, this time from Al-Jazeera America, that heroin and other opiates are now a deadly plague in rural areas, notably Vermont, better known as the Portlandia of the east. I've known junkies, and don't care to again. Heroin was around when I was in college. Most of my friends had enough sense to avoid it. Even my friend Rick avoided smack, and he rarely met a drug he didn't like. He's now some sort of backwoods preacher in central Florida with a zillion kids. I was best man at his wedding back in the 1980s.
Wyoming won't legalize pot anytime soon. We like our booze, though. The Legislature just got around to banning open containers in vehicles a few sessions ago. And it wasn't without a huge debate about whether the ban applied just to the driver or all of the passengers. I remember fondly a decade ago pulling into a liquor store drive-up in Sheridan County and ordering gin-and-tonics all around. We were off to a summer cowboy polo match and gin was the drug of choice. I wasn't driving, so I ordered two to go. That was the most fun I ever had at a cowboy polo match.
Happy 420 Day to all of my friends and relatives in Denver. Enjoy!
If you're interested, the Denver Post Cannabist blog has a list of 420 events. And Time mag has an article about the brouhaha in Denver over lighting up in public.