As we move fitfully and sometimes painfully toward realizing social justice for LGBTQ folk, we are moved to remember another long-marginalized group whose own quest for acceptance has been slow and difficult: marijuana smokers. If the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, it surely has no business in the nation’s basement dens, either.
Despite recent advances that have seen relaxation of prejudicial cannabis laws in various jurisdictions, members of the 420 community still face victimization and ignorance. Individuals who have come out as buzzed have lost jobs, been shunned by their schools, churches, families, and co-pilots, and have faced criminal prosecution simply for being high. For decades, marijuana enjoyers were forced to live a shadowy, secretive existence, sharing their identities only through coded expressions like “Waiting for my connection,” “I’m holding,” and “Is there anything happening there?” Indeed, we know now that some celebrated historical figures from the arts and sciences were actually heads, including poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, astronomer Carl Sagan, actor Robert Mitchum, and every popular musician of the last eighty years, with the exceptions of Bruce Springsteen and Ted Nugent.
Sadly, psychedeliphobia persists – but there are seeds of hope sprouting under carefully monitored light and watering systems. Cannabis cafés and medical marijuana dispensaries have liberated tokers from the shame and stigma of being forced to congregate in illicit locales like back alleys, custom vans, and the far ends of high school playing fields. Businesses retail 420-friendly products and services to a high clientele, finally rendering obsolete those makeshift symbols of oppression the stash box, the bottle toker, and the Dark Side of the Moon LP cover. And annual parades, where stoners from all walks of life gather to share support and spliffs, celebrate the colorful, loving, and forgetful PGWDHO (Pot, Grass, Weed, Dope, Hash, Oil) culture.
Yet more awareness is needed. Our educational curricula should introduce lessons in joint-rolling and reggae to confused adolescents, and school administrators can enforce zero tolerance for anti-freak bullying by jocks, narcs, and other bigots. Employers and merchants who discriminate on the basis of pharmacology must be boycotted and, if necessary, penalized through stern application of human rights standards. Prominent figures who denounce the 420 lifestyle, or who claim marijuana use can be “prevented,” are to be ostracized from polite discourse. Politicians ought to emphasize that truly free and enlightened peoples do not judge their citizens by race, sex, religion, who they love or what they smoke. Public bodies, including legislatures, should designate mandatory positions reserved for high, stoned, or totally burnt members. Only when we attain complete equality of color, gender, faith, sexuality and toxicity can we call ourselves a progressive, forward-thinking society.
Who could possibly object?