It’s hard to believe that, a mere decade ago, the only exposure I had to marijuana was through my television set whenever I would watch the notorious pot circle on That 70’s Show. Today, weed is taking America by storm, thanks in part to film and television, in which it appears not as a prop to serve a higher purpose, but as the main recreational attraction. As a result, the nation is gifted with a new icon and culture: a 5-bladed green leaf known scientifically as Cannabis.
Throughout my high school career, my relationship with marijuana heavily resembled that of Eric Foreman and his band of misfits. It was a source of rebellion. For my friends and I, there was nothing more remarkably defiant than sneaking a bowl in the basement of my parents’ house on a Saturday night, followed inevitably by feasting on bags upon bags of Cool Ranch Doritos. This was normal adolescent behavior, I assumed, as surely the recent generations’ affiliation with pot barely differed from ours. However, since moving from my suburban New Jersey hometown to attend school in San Francisco, I quickly learned that, while the decades-long call for marijuana reform barely echoed along the East Coast, it had been booming in the West.
Weed was not only pungently wafting through the Bay Area fog, but it appeared to be the topic of every political debate, the source of every intellectual discussion, and the glue that held the residents together. It became clear that while my friends and I had utilized weed for the sole purpose of getting high, Californians had been consuming the drug in the hopes of initiating a “Limitless Effect.” Students would opt for a quick puff-puff-pass as a source of revival (in lieu of a cup of coffee) before their morning lecture. As my philosophical peers would scratch their heads in pondering thought with their left hands, they would be holding on to a joint in their right ones. I learned that people would rarely go through a dealer to get their fix, but rather through a magical medical card that condoned their actions; and although I had perceived medical marijuana as a loophole for stoners to gain easy access, it appeared now as the precious means for many to clear their minds and grow exponentially.
Since adopting a West Coast mentality, I subsequently hopped onto the bandwagon of attempting to use weed as a tool to both feed and free my mind. My experimentation with seeing the world through a green lens has resulted in a lot of truly wonderful moments of self-reflection and realization. Simple pleasures, such as listening to my favorite songs, have made transcendental leaps into my newfound definition of beauty and significance. Admittedly, however, there are times when I set out to finally tackle the daunting novel that is David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, but somehow curiously end up watching Adventure Time without recollection of how it happened; and there are times when I unabashedly revert back to high school ways and simply just get high for the sake of it.
In the bizarre world of peace, love, and herbal teas, is it possible that marijuana could simply be a hyped fad, like Zumba Fitness or kale? With an open mind to nearly everything, I believe you can accomplish nearly anything, even if that means somehow transforming the simple ebb and flow of the ocean into a metaphor for life. Of course, when you say it like that, the romance seems to dwindle a bit. Can weed become the new foundation of intellectualism and social change, or will the movement be later defined as a trend that died out within a decade?
Even if the romance of marijuana were to fade, this highly controversial drug has made quite the national impact over the past few years. Colorado’s decision to legalize the recreational use of Cannabis was a pivotal moment in America’s association with the drug. Furthermore, the mayor of Washington, D.C—one of the most notably conservative regions in the country—signed a bill to decriminalize marijuana only months ago. Each day, individuals are moving their habits from their secluded basements to open public spaces. When you are able to witness police officers shut down traffic on April 20th in order for pedestrians to smoothly make their way over to Golden Gate Park to partake in the festivities, it is hard to imagine the rapid demise of a drug that has become so iconic over the years. Only time will reveal the fate of the little green plants that are now making a huge impact on society.