On Tuesday, the first retail marijuana store opened in Seattle. As this coincided nicely with our weekly date night, I made the executive decision that my husband and I should head on down to Cannabis City to buy some historic bud.
I should mention that neither of us actually smoke weed. That wasn't really the point. Our country's relentless war on drugs has won us mass incarceration and stunning displays of racism in America. Three in four Americans say we have lost this war. Some venture to say its a total failure, causing more harm than good. Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana provides small, but important progress in our "troop removal" from the war on drugs. It's kind of a big deal. I don't want to miss it.
Plus, I have what I refer to as The Writers Defense. As an artiste, it's my job to experience life to the fullest. I would be slacking to let this historic day pass by without notice.
Enough rationalization. Here's exactly how it went down...
Imagine its a regular Tuesday night. My husband and I, two respectable, not-quite middle-aged professionals are going to score some weed from our friendly neighborhood cannabis store.
Hoping to avoid massive lines and intrusive media cameras, we rolled up pretty late, about 8:30pm. Despite the opening hoards long ago dispersal, a bevy of media trucks, personalities and mobile video techs milled about on the side walk outside. At this point, the line was pretty short, only about twenty people or so. It felt... awkward, as though a has-been rock star threw a surprise concert and more media than fans showed up as audience.
All of this leads me to a very important decision I had to make earlier in the evening: what does one wear when going to legally buy weed for the first time? A quick look at the meager line showed the consensus as slim jeans and ironic t-shirts, possibly accessorized with a ball cap. I, however, chose to wear a summer dress and high heels. I straightened my hair and made up my face. My husband came in his business casual work clothes. We looked out of place. For this, we were rewarded with the attention of the cameras. My poor, long-suffering husband. He still works for The Man. I, a consultant and author, have no boss or corporate policy to worry about. My husband turned his back to the camera, free to make all kinds of faces at me as I struggled to not wuss out and retreat to the Kia. We simply have to hope his accompanying me on my mission doesn't come around to bite him later.
It still felt wrong - standing there, in broad daylight, our intent to buy a drug that's been illegal for years very clear to all who saw us. It doesn't matter that it's legal now. It still feels bad. Which is also why buying the first day was so much fun.
After about a 25-minute wait in line, the door man checked our IDs and we were free to enter the shop. Five or so clerks stood behind glass counters with bemused smiles, ready to assist. We approached the display with faux-confidence.
"We're here for weed," I said in a loud, clear voice.
"What are looking for?" asked the friendly clerk.
"I have no idea."
Turns out, it didn't matter much. There were only three choices - three different strains vacuum packed in 2-gram packets, all priced the exact same at $40. I chose the one with the lowest THC content - 19%. The highest was 21 point something. I paid in cash because I am still not convinced all of this will be illegal again next week. My husband took a picture of me proudly holding my little baggy up for the camera, then the clerk put it in a nondescript paper bag, stapled it shut and told us not to open it in public. On the way out, I took a picture of the Q13 Fox news cameraman filming us. He immediately put down his camera and smiled sheepishly.
We were in and out within five minutes. There was barely enough time to smell the new paint on the walls or admire the polished wood planks the store owner had thoughtfully laid in at an angle which references 420 in some obscure way I still don't quite understand. Back in the car, we examined our purchase carefully, reading every word on the label.
"How are you going to take this?" My husband asked. "Do you have to get a pipe or bong or something?"
"No, no," I said. " Keep it simple. I'll get rolling papers and just make joints."
"You know how to do that?" he asked.
I puffed out my chest with pride. "Of course! My parents were hippies. I've known how to roll a joint since I was about eight, even if I didn't know what it was."
I registered both awe and horror in the look my husband gave me.
Curiosity getting the better of us, we opened the little vacuum pack to take a whiff. Oh yeah. There it is. We laughed, sealed it back up and stashed it in my dashboard compartment, then walked arm and arm to dinner and bingo. (No, not joking about the bingo.)
Imagine our horror when we slid back into the car an hour or so later. Sniff. Sniff. "Oh my god! The car smells like pot! What will the kids think?!"
Here we came to a major dilemma. Now that we have it, what the heck do we do with it? I didn't want to smoke it that night. Date night is just a couple hours away from the kids. I don't want to smoke anything altering when I must take care of kids. That means I have to keep this for some later time. We have to stash it!
(Notice how I switched to the plural "we" as I instantly assumed my problem now also belonged to my husband, my ever reluctant co-conspirator.)
We drove home with the windows rolled down, experiencing the side effect of paranoia without taking a single puff. We discussed all the possible hiding places, the parent-child role reversal acutely obvious to us both. Really, no place will be safe for long in our household of curious, and (suddenly inconveniently) self-possessed kids. I'm going to have to smoke it or trash it soon. Throwing it away would be such a cop-out. As such, I've been reading the guides and hoping to avoid an experience like Maureen Dowd's.
What happens now that weed is legal? I am very curious as to how this will all play out in the next few years. Will marijuana remain an illicit substance kept to basements and backseats? Or will pot appear in our parlors, where we may offer our guests white, red or weed?
My favorite uncle happens to be a retired cop. While enjoying grilled meats and fireworks on the 4th, I asked him what he thinks will happen. He said that while he views pot as less harmful than alcohol, he's certain we'll see a sharp rise in impaired drivers on the road. He attributes this to our general lack of experience with the drug. We may know our limits with beer or cocktails, but what about weed? He said that today's strains are much stronger than those of 20 years ago and folks that haven't used it since their college days are in for a shock.
As for me, I have one main problem with pot that will keep me from being a regular user. Marijuana sucks you dry of motivation. I'm an ambitious person. I have books to write, kids to raise, and all kinds of dreams I chase with relentless abandon. Weed just doesn't work with my desired lifestyle.
That said, I bought pot the first day it was legal in Washington. I'll be proud to tell my kids all about it... in about fifteen years or so.