Dear Senior Stoner,
I’m addressing any of you who know your way around cannabis, and aren’t naive about it’s drawbacks or potential. Now that states are finally decriminalizing and in some cases legalizing the individual purchase and use of this herb, a question, largely unconsidered by the mass culture and its media, remains: “What kind of Cannabis Culture will we create?”
While the emphasis in the news has revolved around themes of revenues for the state and no more jail time for “recreational users”, those of us who have traveled some of the deeper dimensions of this plant’s by-ways know there’s more to this than popular culture may acknowledge.
Let’s not forget that our junior users have been brought up in a zero tolerance culture with severe penalties, restricted access and for the most part very limited approaches to the true potential (or unexpected hazards) that cannabis can offer. Some of us at least had the opportunity to explore this plant in refuge communities and situations leading to a deeper appreciation of its true nature. We learned that how you approach ganja tends to determine what you’ll get out of it.
If we want a cannabis culture beyond what commercialism will structure and encourage, its up to us elder stoners to do something. A few of us idealist, have been around long enough to realize capitalism can even ruin a wet dream if left unfettered and uncultured. It’s not hard to predict how commercial forces will treat this new opportunity: “All for profit and profit for a new 1%” most likely.
And so, if falls to you my brothers and sisters to begin to show there is a different way.
First, lets be prudent in the messages we give about safe use. Now is the time to share, how the use of vaporizers, micro dosages, and edibles, can cut down on those racking smoker’s coughs we were afflicted with back in the day. Now is also the time to encourage common sense use: no smoking in bed, nor while driving, nor at work, nor during competitive sport situations where short term memory is bound to be called on, etc. Let’s keep those coming into legitimate use of this plant, safe through common sense use. It’s a common place that anything that gives pleasure can be abused. I”m sure some of you, like me have at one point or another attempted to smoke your body weight in herb, and though a bit woozy were none the worse for the wear as long as we didn’t make a habit of it. But a few of us have gone off the deep end or seen others move from use to abuse. Science may not know the signs, but we do from experience and reflection. We should be honest and say that for most folks, there’s no worry about use. But for others, this substance will ring that special bell that will obsess them the rest of their life, and make them think of little else except the refuge of those intoxicating fumes and that high that seems to take away cares, worries, disappointment... Or alternatively, gives them the heebie jeebies with every toke. You get the idea. If that’s you in this description, our advice should be, “Be wary and judicious or just don’t use”. Let’s not be shy about our cautions even if we’re enthusiasts for pot power. My hope is this generation of users will be better educated about all aspects of cannabis and won’t be shy about going to sites like The Vaults of Erowid (www.erowid.org) for general knowledge and to hear others experiences.
Second, let’s not let our bud be confined to “recreation”. Yes, it is that. But, there are those who have used it to spark creative writing, inspire painting and other visual arts, and of course music. We can cite Baudelaire, Yeats, Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Ginsburg, Jimi, Bird, Bing Crosby and many others. Let’s remind our new users there are many dimensions to this plant that we can help us uncover our creative expression, if we approach it correctly. And if you are elder stoner artist who has found a method or gained an insight for its creative use, share it!
Third, there’s the whole relationship building piece of cannabis. Some have used kif collectively to bond, enhance intimacy, explore new ideas and vistas of touch together. And a few of you (couples?) have actually mastered its use for relationship building and enhancing sex. It’s time to come out of the shadows and find ways to share what you’ve learned.
Lastly, there’s this whole spiritual dimension of this entheogen. Now, personally, I found this to be a rather limited path for me, but it was an early door that led to a deeper path of meditation. However, I’m a big enough fan of Stephen Gaskin and the Rastafari to realize that for some of you, it was more than a beginning and remains so. Please. Find ways to get your wisdom out there.
I think, to begin with, we have a natural obligation to coach those in our immediate networks about “set and setting” and its impact on the experience of cannabis. But my hope is that each of you, who have learned a “wise use”, will think on how you might widely disseminate what you know through public access TV shows, talks at homes and smoke-ins, seminars, cannabis tours, books, art, music, and experiential workshops to re-introduce users to cannabis in its varied dimensions. In other words, whatever it takes to create our kind of cannabis culture: safe, creative, relational, and spiritual.