I come from a small town and went to a very small high school. I remember during my sophomore year, three boys were suspended for a week for getting high during lunch. Shortly after, another boy was suspended for only one day for knocking another kid out cold and sending him to the hospital. I couldn’t understand this at all. It wasn’t that I thought a week was too long of a sentence, necessarily. (They were kids, after all.) But I couldn’t fathom why smoking a joint at lunch was five times as punishable as physical assault. This memory always stuck with me.
Oregon’s legalization of recreational marijuana went into effect the same summer that same-sex marriage became the law of the land. I felt secure and confident about the future of the country because the passing of these laws just made such practical sense.
I know most states still don’t allow recreational use of cannabis (or medical use, for that matter), but it just seems so absurd now to think about having to contact a drug dealer to buy some pot. A couple years ago, you’d have to wait two hours, hope they don’t flake out, and then just accept whatever strain of weed they were currently holding.
“I couldn’t fathom why smoking a joint at lunch was five times as punishable as assault.”
Can you imagine if it was like that with wine? Like, what if you had to get it through an illicit dealer and you couldn’t choose what type you bought? You’d have to just accept whatever shitty wine they had on them that week. (Well, we all know why prohibition didn’t last long, don’t we?)
Recreational legalization has changed the whole culture surrounding marijuana. It’s no longer this sneaky, disappear-for-20-minutes-at-a-party, counterculture, type of thing. The billboard ads are what we literally dreamed and joked about in high school.
And here we are. It’s 2017. Pot has been recreationally legal for two years in Oregon, and assault is still against the law (thank god.) The legalization made me feel hopeful that society is beginning to lean towards policies that actually make the most sense.
Now that pot is legal, the stereotypes are shifting. Everyone’s father-in-law and uncle are just handing it out for free. People are loading a bowl, taking one hit, and throwing it out because they have 8 mason jars full of weed to smoke.
“Recreational legalization has changed the whole culture surrounding marijuana.”
And what’s most amazing to me is how much of the stigma was only associated with its illegality. I know plenty of people who never even tried it before it was legal. This is respectable, in a way, but what I also find respectable is people who are willing to change their stance now, after trying it, even if they didn’t vote yes on the measure before it passed. Conservative tourists from the south and other parts of the country don’t think twice about lighting up when it’s legal. When it’s legal, it becomes avant-garde.
I remember before it was voted in, some people were afraid that the fun would be sucked out of smoking pot if it were legalized. But in reality, people don’t want to break the law. And they shouldn’t have to if they’re being responsible.
We should be careful with legal libations, of course, but it’s silly to think that this can’t be done. We should be responsible with cars, guns, fast food, and sun exposure. Adults like being treated like adults. Drink if you wanna, smoke cigarettes if you wanna, and eat a THC gummy for your back pain (or just for fun!) if you wanna.
Let’s teach kids to be good to one another, to not drive high or drunk, to chill out a little, and to not be violent. It can be done.
Theresa Healey is a contributing writer for BARBARI and the author of a health and lifestyle blog called The Taboo Textbook. Theresa is a full time writer, mom, and sometimes comedian. Her blogging journey started with a poorly-designed tumblr account in 2014 and evolved into an accidental online personality. Theresa likes telling jokes and writing weekly movie reviews on Instagram. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.
Follow her on IG @TheTabooTextbook.