And marijuana nostalgia.
In honor of the announcement today that stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong are going to reunite let's talk about dope. I don't get high anymore, but I sure as hell used to, and I'll always take an interest in whatever's going down on the high side. As Ken Kesey used to say near the end of his life whenever someone asked him whether he was still a Merry Prankster, "Nobody quits dah mob alive!"
The use of drugs for recreational or mind-expanding or otherwise non-medical purposes is not without risk. But how dangerous is it, and which drugs are the most risky? A new study by the The Academy of Medical Sciences starts from scratch in evaluating the relative harm of various commonly used drugs, and did not exclude alcohol and tobacco.
The new system was based on the first scientific assessment of 20 legal and illegal stimulants used in contemporary Britain.
Alcohol was rated the fifth most harmful drug, ahead of some current class A drugs, while tobacco was listed as ninth. Cannabis, currently rated a class C drug, was below both those legal stimulants at 11th.
The MPs said including alcohol and tobacco in the classification would give the public "a better sense of the relative harms involved".
What is interesting is that marijuana, LSD and Ecstasy rate lower on the danger scale than alcohol and tobacco. Personally I think that the only reason alcohol and tobacco are legal is cultural, we have traditionally used them in the past. However, if we were starting from the beginning in devising which drugs would best be made legal for recreational use the way alcohol and tobacco are today, I believe we would dismiss legalizing alcohol and tobacco out of hand as being far too dangerous. Logic would dictate that the drugs that should be legal are marijuana and the psychedelics, and when we are a wiser society than we are today, those are the drugs we will make available while making alcohol and tobacco against the law.
Roman is a student who works with us at the Amherst Survival Center. Today was his last day before leaving to spend the rest of the summer traveling.
Sheesh, the kids these days live a lot better than I did when I was their age! However they do not have the righteous herbs at the reasonable prices my generation did.
I used to have this dealer who lived in the neighborhood behind Duggan Jr. High School in Springfield. He was a biker about ten years older than me with a beautiful blond wife and the finest sticky icky primo kush in the Acres. Let's say his name may or may not have been Leon.
One day when I was around 19 years old I walked over Leon's unannounced to pick up some weed. That was fairly common for me to do and it was a night when I knew Leon was usually home. However, when I got there and rang the front door no one answered. Yet there were lights on in the house and I could hear a TV. Then I recognized a splashing sound coming from the backyard.
Leon had a beautiful swimming pool in his backyard with a nice big deck. No doubt his dope dealing had helped pay for it. Walking around the back of the house I saw Leon's wife swimming in the pool. She was totally nude.
I tried to sneak away without being seen but she spotted me and cried out a friendly and hearty greeting. "Hey Tommy, where ya goin'? C'mere!" She laughed when she saw how awkward I was about the circumstances. "Whatsa matta, Tommy? Ya never seen a naked lady before?" She was laughing at me thinking I was some shy virginal kid, unaware that ever since I was thirteen or so I'd been one of the best fucked kids in Pine Point, only it wasn't with girls.
I went over to the edge of the pool, where she was frolicking bareass with no inhibitions, putting on a bit of a show for me. If I'd been straight, I would've been thanking Jesus and all the saints. As it was I just told her I was hoping Leon was home so I could score some weed.
At the sound of Leon's name she frowned. On some occasions when I had come over I had witnessed them sniping and even yelling at each other. Most often she accused him of being a no-good drunken stoner and he in turn would accuse her of being a no-good cheatin' tramp. One time when Leon wasn't there his wife had sold me some weed and we had talked a bit and she said that she would leave Leon but for the money he made between dealing and working at a motorcycle shop on Bay Street. Me, I tried to stay completely out of their marriage troubles, since I wanted nothing to go down that would interfere with my access to their magnificent marijuana.
"Leon's still at the shop," his wife explained, "I'll get you some herb but hold on will you? I mean what's the rush? Why don't you get undressed and take a little dip?" I might be queer but it was hot and the water looked inviting and hanging out with Leon's wife was always fun. So I climbed up on the deck, got nude, and dove into the water.
The wife stopped her little aquatic nudie show once I was in the pool with her, and we just sort of horsed around like kids. There was a beach ball in the pool, and I kept chasing her and bombarding her in the head with it, as she squealed with laughter trying to get away. It was as innocent as two children at play. But who knows what would have happened if our nude water romp had continued much longer. Neither Leon nor his wife knew I was gay, so perhaps she might have made some type of move on me at some point, us being together naked and all. Ya just never know. But our play came to a dead stop at the sound of a stern voice.
"What's the fuck is going on here?" Only it wasn't asked in the tone of a question, but in the tone of one who is very certain of what is going on, and is very, very angry. There on the deck stood a man with a goatee, shirtless but for a leather vest. It was Leon, and he was standing with his legs spread and his hands hanging at his side. In one of those hands was a gun.
I was paralyzed with anxiety. I don't think I pissed in the pool, but if I did it was understandable. I was not reassured when Leon's wife broke the terrible silence by speaking and I could hear a tremble of real fear in her voice. "Leon, honey," she said, genuinely pleading. "Baby, it's not what you think!" Thus far Leon had ignored me, never even looking in my direction. Instead he slowly raised the gun to point in the direction of his wife. "NO!NO!NO!" she screamed, in a tone I had never heard before outside of a horror movie.
Then for the first time Leon looked directly at me, his eyes burning into mine. I did not shit in the pool, but if I had it would have been understandable. Leon winked. Then he laughed. He laughed and laughed. Nervously his wife softly giggled. So did I only louder. Then we all laughed, louder and louder. Leon was fooling. Leon was just playing with us. Leon got undressed and jumped in the pool. Later his wife got out and cooked steaks for us, standing naked by the grill. We sat around the picnic table nude, eating and drinking and smoking the righteous weed, as if two of the three of us there hadn't seriously believed, at least for a moment, that this would be our last night on Earth.
I remember the various kinds of marijuana I used to buy in the old days. These are the types of herb that were most common in the Springfield area in the 1970's and early 80's.
Columbian - The standard high quality weed. Whether it actually came all the way from Columbia or not I have no idea. Probably, because that's where all the coke was coming from. I kid you not, I remember paying Leon thirty dollars for an ounce bag of Columbian buds.
Mexican - Sometimes called ragweed, no one wanted to buy standard Mexican weed, which was harsh and had only a mild buzz. Still, I found myself buying it when nothing else was available. In the words of those wise philosphers, The Furry Freak Brothers, "Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope."
Jamaican - A step above Mexican, but of unreliable quality. When it was good it was very good, but you could also get burned.
Michoacan - Sometimes called "lambs breath" because it was supposedly as gentle on the lungs as the breath of a baby lamb. I thought it was overrated, and have you ever actually smelled a lambs breath? Neither have I, but I'll bet its nothing too pleasant.
Thai Stick - Did it really come from Thailand? Who knows, but it sure was powerful and tasty, coming wrapped around a thin reed. You had to be careful, there was some versions that were Mexican ragweed dipped in the animal tranquilizer PCP.
Opium Hash - Sent overseas at regular intervals in a standard letter envelope by a friend while he was stationed in Germany. He wanted me to hold it for him until he came home on leave, but it was so good more than half of what he sent was gone by the time he arrived. A beautiful, dreamy high.
Panama Red - It was rusty rather than red, but it sure did kick ass.
Lebanese Hash - It was everywhere for a long time, then vanished almost entirely. Very tasty and very effective. I once had a big block of it with that squiggly Arabic writing pressed into it. It's a miracle I didn't ruin my lungs before the block ran out, but if I had it would've been worth it.
Mauwi Wowee - Allegedly from Hawaii, it was so stupefying you forgot to laugh at the silly name.
So those are the main brands I can remember smoking. Have I missed any you used to smoke?