High Times

My Traumatic History With Pot

Although a lot of my friends get high, I'm forever stuck in the disturbing past

The other night, I went out for drinks with a lawyer friend and when it came time to pay she said in a regular anyone-can-hear voice, "Damn, I gave all my cash to my friend for pot."

I looked around furtively, in case anyone heard.

"Never mind, I'll pay," I said, while trying to conceal my surprised annoyance that yet another friend smokes.

Is it my imagination or are more older people being open and casual about smoking pot?

Before I go any further, let me say that I am a hardcore liberal. I believe that marijuana should be legalized, and have voted in Massachusetts for its legalization (although I wouldn't be caught dead at a rally). And medical marijuana should be legal nationwide immediately, especially for children.

However, I keep my holier-than-thou attitude to myself. I tell people I'm allergic to it (I am, but then again, I do take allergy medicine) if they offer me a hit. "No thanks" just makes me feel like my pot prudishness shows, so I say the allergy thing and look a little sad that I can't partake in all the hazy fun.

RELATED: Dazed and Confused: The Later Years

I've always really liked the ceremony of pot—the communal joint passing and such. I can't think of anything else that is collectively shared like that. You don't pass around a glass of scotch. But I can't help feeling, on some moral level, that marijuana makes people dumb. More than dumb—goofy and imbecilic. Like Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." I think of marijuana as so "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice"—the days of wife-swapping and swinger parties. I know this is ridiculous.

I'm reading a book now, "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara, in which a protagonist is repulsed by sex because of sexual trauma in his past. After the incident with my friend in the bar, I thought about the issue I have with marijuana and my history with it. If I too am stuck in a disturbing past.

Just before I started hitchhiking to Hollywood, to rock stars' hotel rooms, to Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, and graduated from Slurpees to quaaludes, my mother sent me to group therapy for troubled teens. Sometimes I didn't go into the session and instead went through the multilevel parking garage next door looking for open car doors and something to steal. I was a troubled teen.

RELATED: Still Crazy About Pot After All These Years

One day in the parking garage, I ran into a kid from the group—a slovenly, sarcastic boy, a little older than me, maybe 16 or 17, who made me laugh but who I didn't trust. His defensive self-confidence made me edgy. He asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint. I had never smoked before and he showed me how to inhale and hold it. Then he said, "It's time for therapy," so I followed him.

The high hit at the start of the session and I completely freaked out. I cried and screamed that I couldn't move my legs. They went rigid and I kicked over a coffee table, spilling everyone's drinks. The therapist asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and then the boy admitted that we had smoked pot. I still remember watching the waddle under the therapist's neck shaking because he was so furious.

For the next year or so, I did every drug imaginable—quaaludes, uppers, downers, crystal meth, angel dust, heroin (snorting), lots of cocaine—but never again smoked marijuana.

It wasn't until my early 20s that I stopped taking drugs altogether. And soon after, I stopped associating with anyone who did. I've always been afraid of adults who are out of control and unpredictable.

The problem is that I've lumped pot smokers in with the "people who take drugs" category. I suppose it's hypocritical of me to vote for the legalization of marijuana and at the same time put it in the same category as heroin. I almost sound like a conservative!

There are two things that I want to change: one, is to think of marijuana as I do alcohol, that to depend on it throughout the day is a problem, but to use it to relax with other people or alone is no big deal; and two, I have incorporated the traumas of my childhood and teenage years into my adult life by being aware and dealing with the repulsions, obsessions or repressions that still plague me. I'll work on this.

Tags: lifestyle