Well it finally happened. Much to the surprise of every cynic, including myself, marijuana legalization passed in Alaska and reefer madness quickly ensued, destabilizing any remaining morals in our depraved society.
Well, not exactly. Actually the day passed with little to no fanfare, with Anchorage Police issuing only three citations for the public use of cannabis, and Wasilla (widely held as the hometown of grass-growing miscreants) had exactly zero citations. In fact, without the local news agencies posting about the subject to Facebook every five minutes, I probably would have entirely forgotten about the big day.
Like it or not, though, it looks as if the devil’s lettuce is legal, regulated and here to stay. So here are a few tips for those of those looking to responsibly enjoy their newfound freedoms.
If you live on campus, don’t smoke or store cannabis in your room. Those “fire drills” they do are often more about making sure you haven’t left a smoldering blunt in a roach clip on your desk than they are about ensuring that a group of adults can properly respond to a fire alarm. And your resident advisers aren’t idiots, either — they know damn well why your dorm smells like incense or why you’ve shoved towels up against the crack in the door. Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, and because this is a public university, don’t expect to legally light up during your time here.
Secondly, for the love of all rational thought, don’t drive stoned. I don’t care how many times you’ve seen Cheech and Chong do it, or how good you are at the weed mission in “Grand Theft Auto.” If you drive high, you’re getting a DUI — and that’s the end of it. Remember: Alaska is on the forefront of marijuana legalization. Don’t hurt your own cause by becoming a statistic to be used in arguments for prohibition. As much as Taco Bell loves the increased consumer base, they’d much rather have repeat customers than have a one-time order because you stupidly got your license suspended.
Finally, be careful how (and with whom) you share your love of trees with. While it may be legal in the eyes of the state, there is absolutely nothing keeping your employer from testing, and subsequently kicking your ass to the curb if you come up hot. That risk-benefit analysis is going to be different for every person and something you need to determine on your own — so don’t be so cavalier about your plant preferences before you’ve figured out how it may affect your career.
Notice that there’s a common theme here: Don’t let pot get in the way of your life. You know those people that drink excessively or seem to always have a beer in hand? We call those people alcoholics, and all the mental gymnastics in the world can’t rationalize why it’s a good idea to do the same with some Mary Jane.
I’ll admit, there are a lot of “don’ts” in this article, so before I get accused of harshing anyone’s mellow, let me outline what you can do in this new age of green: You can enjoy your herbs responsibly and revel in the fact that no one is going to bust in your front door over it.
If you own your own property, then feel free to grow a plant or two (though no more than six if you’re trying not to run afoul of The Man), or just enjoy your bud responsibly with some good friends. Stay home, order in some pizza or Chinese food and queue up that Netflix playlist you save for the weekend — you know, the one filled with old cartoons, wild nature videos or campy B movies like “Big Trouble in Little China.” Listen, if you want to watch “Fantasia 2000” three times in a row while feasting on Doritos and donut holes, then as an Alaskan you’re now entitled to do that.
Most importantly, as that guy who makes the rice once told his spider-nephew, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Don’t harass or pressure those who don’t smoke, don’t burn one at the expense of those around you, and don’t become a nuisance that gives people a reason to hate your newfound freedoms. There is a substantial stigma against potheads, stoners and jolly green giants alike, and if you’d like to help overcome that, then you better act accordingly. Be polite, be courteous and most importantly, be excellent to one another.
So go out, do your own funky thing, enjoy yourselves responsibly (note the repetition on that point?) and be ever-thankful that you live in one of the few states that grants you that right.
Finally, I just want to thank the voters of Alaska for giving me the opportunity to get paid to write a column using as many different euphemisms for cannabis as I can reasonably imagine. I can only hope that you find this as funny as I do.