Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: The end of being a closeted stoner

I expected melancholy to settle in toward the end of my recent vacation, but I was surprised by the rage that overtook me as I prepared to return to Atlanta. Potheads are not used to being mad, which may have been a part of the problem.

I couldn’t help feeling resentful after spending six days in Denver, where less than five minutes after arriving I walked into a deliciously smelling storefront and purchased marijuana using my driver’s license and debit card. My friend and I started our shopping spree with four pre-rolled joints, including a couple of Larry OGs, the 2014 Cannabis Cup winning brand.

After that we went to Dank dispensary, where we bought a couple of T-shirts and a 4/20 goodie bag that included a souvenir pin, shot glass, lighter, one-hitter, THC-infused chocolate bars, a pre-rolled joint and an eighth of an ounce of top-shelf weed—for $60. In case you can’t appreciate what a kick-ass, life-changing deal that is, let me be clear:

I fucks with Denver. I fucks with Dank. I regularly smoke marijuana, and I no longer give any fucks about how morally or socially objectionable anyone considers that.

My emotions while waiting in the Denver airport terminal reminded me of the train ride home from my first Gay Pride in 1999. Chill out, I’m not drawing universal comparisons between sexual orientation and recreational drug use, though it’s worth noting that in 1999 I was living in Alabama, where sodomy was still illegal (and where a man was improperly sentenced to a year in prison for having homosexual intercourse in 2010).

I am referring to the familiar feeling of having briefly experienced liberation, authenticity and the world as it should be, and knowing it was time to return to an absurd facade. I am talking about receiving messages while in Denver from well-meaning friends, including fellow stoners, urging discretion in what I thought were already coy social media posts.

Their concerns were valid. There is danger in admitting, let alone celebrating, illegal behavior. But I burn with uncontainable rage, and I refuse continued participation, in any way, in a scheme that has allowed millions of people to be incarcerated, and exponentially more to be fired from their jobs, over a substance that I put on par with coffee.

Yes, coffee. And I’m certain I spend an amount on weed equal to many people’s weekly tab at Starbucks.

Marijuana is more commonly compared to alcohol, and that is useful in showing how hypocritical and illogical marijuana prohibition is. However, it’s a blasphemous analogy considering the breadth of weed’s superiority to booze—medically, spiritually and behaviorally.

If anyone drank alcohol at the frequency and dosage that my friend and I consumed THC—two ounces of platinum-level dank in less than a week—I would be a better human being than that person. Suspend disbelief for a minute by pretending the drinker didn’t die, and imagine how lucid, functional and personable someone on a six-day bender might be.

If anyone drank coffee every time we toked, he or she would be intolerable, including to him or herself.

Upon extinguishing the last blunt of my Denver binge, I could literally have run a marathon, passed any sobriety or aptitude test, or written a column. Yet, I’m the one who is lectured to for celebrating 4/20, while everyone is free, and even encouraged, to get shit-faced for St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, weekends and family gatherings.

Fuck that, grandma; pass the blunt. It’s time this insanity ends.