BY EMILY PINKOS
When people think about smoking weed, there are the usual images that come to mind — Cheech and/or Chong, Snoop Dogg’s string bean body, Abi and Ilana from Broad City, Sean Penn spilling out of his van in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman.” Bill Clinton swearing to the people that he didn’t inhale, Obama declaring he did (“frequently”). But when it comes to my own life, I think of hands. Different pairs, reaching out to take the joint, passing it to the next pair, a flick of the lighter, excited gesturing. I hear the laughter, the coughing, the “um…what was I talking about??” I picture a brief family forming, all jammed into the time it takes to finish that joint.
For me, cannabis began with connections.
First, in college with That One Friend Who Knows About Weed — or at least more than me. At night, we’d post up at a picnic table between our dorms (in full view of campus security, had they been good at their jobs) and there, she taught me how to smoke a joint, how to inhale so you don’t cough so hard you want to vomit, and how to sink into the high. It became a sacred, creative experience for the two of us, a way to end the day on our terms, regardless of what had happened in daylight. Just like suburban moms and dads, who for nearly a century have enjoyed a pre-dinner drink (or two, or three); adult-use cannabis is seamlessly transferring into daily routines. Some friends and I began sampling good New York City weed and wandering our sleepy campus at 1 AM. A pack of six would-be stoners, roaming around in winter parkas and passing a hastily rolled joint back and forth, laughing so hard we choked.
When we moved to New York as adults, we would light up in our apartments, draped over couches and each other, debating who’s hotter between Danny Zuko and Kenickie (obviously Kenickie). The best 4/20 I ever had was spent in Tompkins Square Park, surrounded by a few friends and hundreds of strangers; the entire park shrouded in smoke clouds, countless speakers blaring, everyone lounging on blankets, everyone munching on snacks, everyone high as kites. One group of women, completely topless. We kept our shirts on, but…
The whole afternoon felt like freedom. And community. Which, together, is a deeply fulfilling combo. All this to say, cannabis provides a space for us to let go, together.
The ritual of meeting up, rolling up, and lighting up is a time-honored tradition. Generations before us have been getting high at muddy music festivals, outside of French cafés, on futons at house parties. Not to mention the origins as an ancient form of plant medicine. The difference is: we can get our hands on it more easily these days. TERPS is a recreational cannabis dispensary for the people. Popping into our Attleboro dispensary after work, or making a stop at our Cape Cod dispensary before heading to the beach…it doesn’t get much easier than that. Chances are that if you’re smoking, you know the etiquette: who lights up, which way to pass it. You know the lingo: don’t bogart the joint, a corner hit on the bowl is economical. Maybe you learned what terpenes are, or you recently became a dab wizard who can wield a blowtorch with the best of ‘em. This knowledge in itself is a cultural connection: now you’re in the know. Welcome to the cannabis community. And for dessert . . . brownies.
Mary Jane? She’s a bond-builder.
Have you seen That 70’s Show? What is that but a group of friends that get super high and laugh their asses off in a basement? Part of the reason we enjoyed watching those scenes is because it felt like we were being let into their club. We as viewers ate that shit up; we wanted to be high with them and get in on the shenanigans! That’s because there’s something exceedingly special about watching our friends get goofy and loose, in seeing people we love enjoy themselves in an uninhibited way. You’re opening the door to a different version of yourself, and they’re doing the same. That paves the way for laughter and joy and memories…even if it’s because when you leaned down to inhale from the bong, a liiiiittle bit of your hair caught on fire for like a second. Everybody relax about it!
Adding cannabis to your life can make shared experiences richer. It’s taking the edibles you got at your favorite Massachusetts marijuana dispensary before you all go to see Cats the Musical in theaters; hitting your pen with your best friend before going to the Natural History Museum’s astro-show; lighting a joint and watching the stars with your family; a few bowl hits before everyone sits down to dinner; huddling in a circle to pass around a joint before going downtown to dance. Marijuana gives moments something extra. And isn’t that what we all want? More?