Search Results For cannabis closet

A reader writes:

Like many readers, I satisfyingly came out in the second edition of The Cannabis Closet, although I got a smackdown for talking about my two-year-old daughter’s help in the garden. I have since tripled the size of my grow and quit my teaching job. By now my children are bored by my “plants,” and I don’t let them help me.

I work part-time at a hydroponics store in Western Massachusetts, where the first medical marijuana dispensaries are set to open next month. As the laws evolve rapidly, there is a cracking open of the closet that is beautiful to watch. Middle-aged couples come in to the shop to learn about their first grow, and you can sense their relief and excitement that I’m cheerily (and vaguely) helping them grow something that was once hardly spoken of outside of criminal associations. Although some chronic smokers in the scene clearly need to take a month to clear the pot fog from their brains, the vibe is of a positive, mature, and healthy community wanting to make the world a better place.

I want the Dish community movers and shakers to know that we have fears that our grassroots capitalism, entrepreneurship, and peace-loving culture may be squashed by the over-the-top regulation of the industry and the inevitable hoop-jumping abilities of big money firms who can follow the regulations despite the investment cost. The culture has been thriving economically in the free (black) market for decades, and it would be deeply disappointing to “Walmart-ize” that away from the very beginning.

In the meantime, I do what I love, I raise and feed my family like all the other dads on my block, and I occasionally smoke a little pot to calm my nerves after a hard day of farming organic herbal medicine for my community. Wish I could send you all out a free sample.

Carl Sagan’s Cannabis Closet

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 30 2013 @ 2:40pm

Perhaps the greatest highdea ever:

Sagan wrote eloquently – but pseudonymously  about the joys of weed. As his friend Lester Grinspoon recalls:

As much as [Sagan] loved marijuana, he was always very concerned about people finding out. For instance, one of the early pieces I wrote on the subject appeared in The New York Times Magazine, and in it I said something to the effect, “People have the idea that only these hirsute young hippie kids use marijuana, but in fact a lot of ordinary and even extraordinary people smoke it, including professionals.” Then I mentioned doctors, lawyers, etc. Well, in that list I included astronomers. And when that came out, it was the only time Carl ever expressed any anger towards me. Because he thought mentioning astronomers would give him away based on our friendship.

Grinspoon recounts the time the two got baked on a cruise to the South Pacific to see Halley’s Comet:

I smuggled about an ounce of marijuana on board, and we had a wonderful time. Carl had the top cabin on the ship, including a deck where we could sit and smoke and talk and eat—for hours on end—while watching the beautiful cloud formations over the Pacific. When the cruise was over, we still had some marijuana left. I didn’t want to go through Customs with it, so I told Carl that I was going to toss it down a companionway I had noticed was marked “Crew Only,” trusting that it would be enjoyed among the mates. But he asked me not to, because we might somehow be found out. So we weighed the baggie down with one of those old glass ashtrays, and tossed it overboard. I hated to let this precious stuff go down to the bottom of the sea, and didn’t really see how we could ever have gotten caught passing it along, but I had to respect Carl’s objection. Really, it was very important that he not get in trouble. He was testifying before NASA and Congressional committees all the time.

Previous Dish on Sagan and marijuana here.

We recently sat down with the Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert, author of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?. In the following video from Mason, he reveals the size of the cannabis closet and why he thinks people “coming out” about their personal use isn’t enough:

Jeff Winkler thinks we should ditch the term altogether:

‘Cannabis closet’ is an intentionally loaded term. In 2009, Andrew Sullivan, the editor of The Daily Dish blog and a proudly ‘out’ gay man, solicited a series of pot-smoking testimonies from readers under that heading. In the introduction to his subsequent book, Cannabis Closet: First-Hand Accounts of the Marijuana Mainstream (2010), Sullivan wrote:

I wondered whether the humor and laughter around the subject were not some nervous way of coping with the vast discrepancy… Like homosexuality, pot use was … accepted as part of reality, but rarely spoken of in public. It carried a stigma.

Though not quite the same, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement has succeeded in equating its cause to that of the civil rights struggle. Sullivan uses the gay middleman to suggest the same for weed. It’s a rhetorical trope increasingly used by weed proponents. However, even if we acknowledge the inherent prejudice of the first pot prohibition laws, it’s still dubious as an argument.

When the former congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich invoked Martin Luther King Jr at the 2011 Seattle Hempfest, the comparison rankled.

Teacher Bob uses weed to manage his post-traumatic stress syndrome (he is a two-tour Iraq veteran, ‘not some crazy hippie from the hills’) as well as the side effects of some of his prescription medications. But he made it clear he also likes the stuff. I asked why he and the other teachers would risk their livelihood for a hush-hush toke or two behind closed doors. In reply, Teacher Bob cited Henry David Thoreau. ‘It’s an act of civil disobedience,’ he said. …

Choice is great! But it is dishonest to suggest that choosing to ingest a drug is anything more than that. To compare it with ending the persecution of homosexuals or the fight of black activists seems like an insult to those legacies. Why not just come out and say: ‘Weed gets me high and that’s OK’? Or, to borrow more superficially from the LGBT movement: ‘We’re blazed! Unfazed! Get used to it!’

I take the point, and would not want to take these analogies too far. My argument was that, as in the past with illegal sodomy in many states, the illegality of pot-use crippled a public discussion of the pros and cons of the drug – hence the “closet.” My other point was simply to note that both sodomy and pot use – as long as they are by consenting adults – harm no one else, and are about freedom over one’s own body. Of course these movements are not identical. But I don’t regret initiating a new trope of conversation about the issue – even if it leads to a sensible conclusion that we should not conflate distinct causes too glibly.

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Tracie Egan Morrissey articulates it well:

Last year I wrote a post about how I’m a mother that smokes pot, but I published it anonymously because I wussed out at the last minute. It struck me as a pointless measure, even at the time, because it’s not like I’d ever kept my weed habit a secret before [see above, and also in Pot Psychology the book]. But that was back when I was a new mom and cared about the kind of new-mom shit that I roll my eyes at now, like sterilizing binkies that fall on the floor or having a couch without stains all over it. Frankly, I’m ashamed of my own shaming. (BTW, this is your official notice that “stoner-shaming” has been added to the shame docket of feminism.)

When people think of a “stoner” they think of someone who sits around all day, with greasy hair, in pajamas on the couch, watching TV or playing video games, laughing at stupid shit, and eating junk food. It’s a method of relaxation for males that is totally acceptable and even kind of endearing. For women, it’s a different story. We aren’t allowed to be lazy and we sure as shit aren’t supposed to be sitting around eating junk food.

Previous Dish on women in the cannabis closet here. Update from a female reader:

I agree with Tracie’s point that society thinks women aren’t supposed to be lazy; we’re supposed to be cooking and cleaning and keeping house. And that’s SO MUCH more enjoyable when stoned.

by Chris Bodenner

Canadian Parliament, in fact:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has smoked marijuana since he became an MP. … The Liberal leader said he last smoked marijuana about three years ago. It was at his house in Montreal, outside on a patio by the pool. “We had a few good friends over for a dinner party, our kids were at their grandmother’s for the night, and one of our friends lit a joint and passed it around. I had a puff,” he told HuffPost.

When will a member of Congress finally admit the same? For a review of US politicians who said they smoked pot before entering office, go here. Two names that might surprise you: Newt Gingrich and Clarence Thomas. By the way, the best part of the Trudeau interview:

Once, in British Columbia, he suspects, friends added hallucinogenic mushrooms to his spaghetti, but he never confirmed it. The mushrooms in his pasta seemed to have a bit more of an impact than they should have, he said.

Yes, who among us hasn’t confused indigestion with hallucinations.

Women In The Cannabis Closet

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 22 2013 @ 2:03pm

A woman wears a Marijuana hair slide dur

Ann Friedman ponders women’s hesitancy to identify as marijuana users:

In pop culture, “stoner” and “slacker bro” are practically synonymous. The modern slacker-stoner, [professor of sociology Wendy] Chapkis writes [pdf], “resists the conventional expectations of manhood” to be an ambitious breadwinner, as well as the sixties political, countercultural associations with weed. He’s just kinda … hanging out. “The slacker attitude relies on a mismatch between expectation and condition; this is why it is most available to white heterosexual men with some measure of class privilege,” Chapkis writes. “The slacker’s refusal to work hard and assume ‘adult’ responsibilities doesn’t function quite the same way for people of color and women who are already saddled with a stereotype of dependency.”

This is perhaps why so many women are hush-hush about their kush. Most women I spoke with said they didn’t feel they could publicly own up to their marijuana use, even in cases where it was truly for medicinal purposes. “I do not feel part of a ‘weed culture,’” a Canadian woman wrote me. “I am not someone you would ever suspect smokes pot. I’ve always been kind of proud of that fact. I have my shit together.” This sentiment was covered in a great 2009 Marie Claire feature on “stiletto stoners,” women who dominate in the workplace and opt for weed over white wine when it’s time to unwind at home. “One in five women who admitted to indulging in the previous month lives in a household earning more than $75,000 a year,” according to the article.

Previous Dish on women and weed here, here, here and here.

(Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

A reader writes:

To the previous reader who took this woman to task for smoking inside her apartment: where is she supposed to go? Smoking Kush_closeoutside is a great way to get caught. Many MJ smokers, myself included, would vastly prefer to go outside for all the reasons mentioned, but in many places it’s just too dangerous.

This is just another irritating, pointless consequence of the drug war – if it were legal, people wouldn’t need to be afraid to go out to the patio or the parking lot. They wouldn’t need to be afraid to check with their neighbors to see if their smoking is bothersome, or to make arrangements to avoid causing a nuisance. Most of all, they wouldn’t fear arrest and prosecution for what is usually nothing more than a slight inconvenience or annoyance to others. To me that’s one of worst consequences of these stupid policies – the dissolution of trust and community you see when people are afraid to live openly and publicly, despite not doing anything harmful or damaging that would actually merit the involvement of the Law. And that’s bad for everyone, smokers and non-smokers.

Another reader:

I live in Montreal and despite the fact weed is not legal, it might as well be. Reading that story, completely crazy by our standards, reminded me of the two encounters I had with cops related to weed:

One night I was in the line-up of  a club on the Main smoking a big joint with friends when a cop car stopped right in front of us, I kind half hid the joint behind my back, the cop shouted to me, “Hey what’s behind your back”, so I went on and showed him the fatty, he said with a big smile: “Hey that’s a big one” and left.

Another night, I saw two cops watching a guy rolling a joint. The guy obviously didn’t see the two cops watching him. Smiling, they waited for him to finish the joint, and just when he was about to light it up, they whistled him over, took the joint and destroyed it on the ground and left. No fine, just a smile.

So yeah, that’s what the cops are like here when it comes to weed. The Montreal Police chief already said they don’t have time or resources to waste on smokers. They’ll go after dealers and growers, but that’s it. Smoke away!

Another had a much different experience in the US:

I no longer smoke pot.  Not for any significant reasons – I just prefer bourbon.  I find it more social.  However, back in the day, I did smoke on occasion. My story starts about two days before I left for college.  My friends and I were out having a last night together (it was actually the very last time I hung out with my high school friends, in part due to the events that happened after this story).  There were two guys and a girl.  The girl and I smoked on occasion, but the other two were heavy users.  We made our way out to the boardwalk where, against my wishes, the two heavy users lit up the tail end of a joint to kill it off.  Obviously this was dumb, and this is no excuse, but we did look around and all we saw (at 11 at night) was a homeless person on the bench about 30 yards away.

On the bench we were seated from left to right: heavy smoker 1, me, girl, heavy smoker 2.  After about three minutes of smoking, a very large van came speeding, and I mean gunning it, onto the boardwalk towards us.  Obviously this was disconcerting.  My first reaction was, “Oh my god, someone completely drunk out of his mind is speeding on the boardwalk” – we all started to scatter.  It turns out it was a van full of cops.  It also turns out that homeless person was a cop.  Well, they sped right at us, stopped short and got out and tackled us.  They thought we were trying to run away, which we were, but not from the cops.

They cuffed us.  And by us, I mean the three guys.  They let the lady go, saying that nobody saw her smoke.  Remember earlier when I told you the seating order?  Well, on that bench heavy smoker 1 did smoke, me and the girl didn’t, and heavy smoker 2 smoked as well.  The cops said they saw heavy smoker 1, heavy smoker 2, and me smoke.  How did they see me passing the joint across as me smoking, but when our girl friend did the same thing, it wasn’t smoking?  How does it get from one end of the bench to the other, passing me and the girl, but I get in trouble and the lady doesn’t?

Anyway, as they pushed me up against the van and patted me down, I explained to them that the thing they feel in my pocket is my asthma inhaler, which prohibits me from smoking anything (a bit of a lie, but can you blame me?).  They didn’t care.  We spend the rest of the night handcuffed to the seats in a van riding around picking up actual criminals. Then we spent the overnight in the local prison cell while they mocked us.  At one point, one of them came over and said something like, “Well I can see you and you are potheads (referencing heavy smoker 1 and heavy smoke 2) and you (referencing me) don’t smoke.  Too bad you got caught up with them.” They knew the whole time I did nothing wrong.  They let the girl go, but not me.

Fortunately, where I grew up, everyone knew a cop, so we were able to get six months probation and expungement thereafter. But it’s an easy collar for the cops and it fills their quotas with no danger.  It is absurd.

A reader quotes the previous one:

I was told that he did not need a warrant because he had “plain smell”.  I told him that I knew that wasn’t true, and that I was not opening the door without a warrant….

As a former apartment dweller, I would just like to attest that the above is nonsense.  If you smoke in your apartment, I can smell it in the hallway.  When you smoke, some of the odors are absorbed into your carpet, your drapes, your cloth furniture, and your clothing.  And it retains the odor long after you’ve put out your doobie.  Also, most apartments have exhaust fans for one apartment relatively close to intakes for other apartments, so probably your neighbors could smell it in their own units while you’re smoking. And don’t they have rights not have their spaces permeated by your illegal behavior?

Furthermore, many people, me included, have jobs where we get tested for drug use.  I don’t know if second-hand marijuana smoke can cause a false positive, but I sure as heck don’t want to be flagged because my neighbor is a pothead and hasn’t figured out that the smoke is airborne. I don’t think its my responsibility to find out.

My husband smokes regularly, and I find that until he has showered and gone for a pretty significant workout after smoking, I can smell it on him. I clearly don’t have a problem with it – hell, I’m married to someone who smokes regularly. But to try and pretend that it doesn’t smell or impact your neighbor? That’s just insulting. In the meantime, until you can get a space of your own, can I suggest you make brownies? Chocolate aroma bothers no one.

For the record, while I’m not fully on board with your reader’s take on being able to smell the smoke in the hall, I am fully on board with the fact that the cop’s apartment search was wildly inappropriate.


Your post from the reader whose apartment was searched enraged me.

It has taken me more than 30 years to accept that decriminalizing marijuana is necessary even though I don’t have much tolerance for pot smoking, but I saw no reason for the cops to behave the way they did. I kept wondering why someone hadn’t just complained to the tenant about the marijuana, either face-to-face or anonymously. That’s what I would have done.

But the more I thought about it, the more I became concerned that legalizing marijuana is going to lead to a lot more disputes between neighbors in attached housing. Here’s the problem: construction isn’t necessarily good quality and smoke and odors can go from one person’s space to another. Did this tenant’s marijuana smoke seep through the walls to irritate the neighbor’s asthma or waft up near the baby’s crib? Do some neighbor’s rugs smell like pot smoke whenever the tenant relaxes at home? Is the smoke not bothering the neighbor, per se, but is it making someone’s closet smell like pot, and is that person getting harassed with drug tests at work because they are a teacher’s aide or a crime-and-courts reporter or a hospital cafeteria worker and their supervisor can smell pot on their clothing?

There’s a reason why a lot of people dream of owning the detached house in the suburbs. I have one, but I was widowed a couple of years ago before I hit age 60, and I’m not happy that I may have to live in a townhouse or apartment because I can’t afford this house. I do have problems because my neighbor’s wood smoke sometimes comes down my unused fireplace chimney (even with the flue closed) and fills my first floor with smoke that makes my eyes water and my upholstery smell. I worry that if I rent an apartment I will have noisy neighbors, have to deal with cigarette or cigar – or now, marijuana – smoke, other penetrating odors or volatile chemicals from air fresheners or cleaning products, neighbors who are hoarders, neighbors who burn candles and are careless about fire hazards, or neighbors whose pets cause any of a number of problems.

Now I think there needs to be some candid discussion about marijuana smoke. I am glad smoking tobacco is so restricted these days, and I do think any kind of smoking should be confined to places where it won’t bother someone else. That means if an apartment building is nonsmoking, the nonsmoking rule applies to more than tobacco.

What the police did in Alexandria was despicable. The tenant never deserved such treatment. But maybe the tenant was unaware of some unexpected side effects of their behavior, and so what should have been a polite discussion between tenants turned into a confrontation by proxy by involving the police.

A reader adds to the classic Dish series:

I’m a long-time reader for many reasons.  I’m a writer, Anglophile, was raised Catholic, and have a gay ex-husband whom I love dearly.  I’ve also been a long-time crusader against the IMG_1ridiculous war on marijuana.  About a month ago, I experienced firsthand the persecution that comes from these terrible laws.  I want this story to get out, so that I can help open eyes in any way I can.

For starters, some background.  I’m a 34-year-old woman, divorced in 2006, who has since struggled to put my life back together and garner some stability.  I feel like I’ve done a pretty damn good job, and quite frankly, in the absence of therapy, marijuana has been helpful in managing stress and thinking through issues stemming from childhood abuse so that I can be a whole and healthy person.  I don’t do it in the street, or in cars, or in public at all.  I keep it to myself, behind closed doors, in the privacy of my own home.  I don’t sell, and only have enough on hand for personal enjoyment.

A few years back, I was able to get my financial life together and go back to school to (finally) finish the BA that has eluded me due to these personal and financial issues, with a plan (still in the works) to follow my ultimate dream: moving to England to get my MA and PhD and make a go at a career as a historian and writer, so I can leave the restaurant industry behind.  Well, after 17 years (!!), I graduated with honors in May.  I easily worked 80-90 hours per week, with a two-hour commute to school each way, to make this happen.  I can’t tell you the triumph I felt walking out of my last final.  Too bad it was short lived.

I live in an apartment building in Alexandria, which as a former DC person, you know is the liberal bastion of northern Virginia.  Apparently this does not extend to police harassment.  In March, I was at home, minding my own business, when I heard a knock on my door.

It was a forceful knock (everyone knows how the police knock) and when I looked through the peep hole, I saw a person I did not know wearing blue who claimed to be “building maintenance”.  My father is an attorney, and I interned at the Marijuana Policy Project a few years ago, so the first words out of my mouth were “do you have a warrant?”.  It was amazing how quickly Officer “Building Maintenance’s” attitude changed.  I was told that he did not need a warrant because he had “plain smell”.  I told him that I knew that wasn’t true, and that I was not opening the door without a warrant.

I was then told that if I did not open the door I was “obstructing justice” and that I was “under arrest right now” if I didn’t open the door.  I informed the officer that he was violating my Fourth Amendment rights and that I was not opening the door without a warrant, so we seemed to be at an impasse.  I also informed Officer “Building Maintenance” (who never identified himself as an officer) that I was not clothed, and he told me to open the door anyway.

IMG_2I ended up climbing out of my bathroom window to end the harassment, and eventually he went away.  I was astounded that this happened, and took steps to contain the smell even better.  I started exclusively using a vaporizer and burning candles and spraying absurd amounts of air freshener.  I was worried, though, that I became some sort of white whale to Officer “Building Maintenance” because he didn’t scare me into opening the door that day with his threats.  I was also disgusted that some busy body in my building couldn’t mind their own damn business.  This is MY PERSONAL SPACE and what I do in it should be none of your concern.  But my attempts to be as inconspicuous and inoffensive as possible while still living my life the way I choose weren’t good enough for these crusaders.

Fast forward to May, the day after my last final.  The week that was supposed to be full of triumph for achieving a goal that had eluded me for half my life, and to celebrate my perseverance.  I got home after a long shift at work (after midnight), to an apartment that looked as if a hurricane had blown through it.  I honestly thought that I had been robbed (photos attached).  Then I noticed that my TV was still there, as was my computer.  I was confused.

Then I looked at my wall.  There was a search warrant tacked to it with a cop’s card that says “call me”.  The mix of emotions that washed over me were overwhelming: fear, anger, relief (that I wasn’t there and that my poor kitty had died a few months earlier before going through that kind of trauma), and what the hell am I going to do?

I texted a friend for support, started attempting to clean up (I’m still not done with that, by the way), and searched the Internet for “marijuana lawyer”.  I’ve always known that justice in this country depends upon the representation that you can afford, and I knew that at this point my amateur’s knowledge of the law wasn’t going to cut it.  I also wasn’t going to cut any kind of deal with these bastards to rat anyone out for leniency, because I have principles.

Luckily, I have been saving for two years to make my dream of graduate school come true, and what they found was laughably minor (a coaster with literally a pinch of weed on it in my freezer … another part of my attempt to be as unobtrusive as possible).  At about 3AM, totally exhausted and stressed, and having not made a dent in the destruction, I knew that I had to get out of my apartment.  I had to work for the next three days, and there was no way I would be able to get any kind of rest there.  I also didn’t want the police to come back without my having legal representation.  So I took pictures of the apartment and the warrant, then packed my bags and walked to a hotel in the middle of the night, with a supportive friend on the phone.

The next day I heard back from the attorney, and spent all of my savings ($3000) to retain her, IMG_1014while at the same time being afraid that I would be evicted.  I sent her pictures of the warrant and gave her all of the absurd information about what was “seized”.  She told me to be prepared to be arrested at any time (even at work … god what a nightmare) and to keep my phone on me.  She told me that she would try to arrange for me to “turn myself in, but that if it went to trial we could probably get the whole thing thrown out”.

I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I had never even heard of search warrants being obtained for busting up “smoking weed alone on your couch watching Mad Men” rings. And the justification for the warrant was ridiculous in itself.  The incident where the officer did not identify himself was cited, and another incident was simply made up.  Dirty police work all over the place.

A little while later, I heard back from my lawyer.  She noticed that my name wasn’t on the warrant, which most likely meant that the officer’s information was scant and that there was not likely to be a warrant for my arrest without a name.  So instead of calling the officer, she emailed him with the attitude of “what the hell”.  She immediately heard back, and told me that she thought he was looking for information on me to escalate the situation.  She told me if anyone approached me regarding this situation to tell them to speak to my attorney and give them her information.  I spent a week living on friend’s couches, mostly because I was scared to go home due to the unbelievable personal violation.  What a way to celebrate my graduation!

However, just like I already knew, justice depends on the kind of representation you can afford.  My hiring an attorney effectively ended this once they knew they could not intimidate me into flipping on anyone, and that the pinch they found in the freezer would not stand up in court.  So this turned out as “well” as could be expected, I suppose.  I’m only out my dignity, celebrating my graduation, the savings for making my dreams come true, my sense of security in my own home, and any sense of respect for the police.  I also am not free to relax behind closed doors in the way that I choose because some asshole in my building doesn’t like it.  Also, they sliced up my bedspread in their “search” (god knows why).   That’s being “fortunate” in this type of situation.

So that’s my story.  Keep up the good fight.  I know that I intend to.  I’m going to finally get to England, too.

The Cannabis Closet, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 18 2013 @ 11:36am

Republican lawmakers are in it as well:

Assemblyman Steve Katz, a 59-year-old Republican who voted no last year on a bill to legalize medical marijuana, had been traveling 80 mph on I-87 through Coeymans, N.Y., where the speed limit is 65 mph, state police said. During the speeding stop, police said a trooper noted the odor of marijuana and found Mr. Katz in possession of a small bag.

Maybe copping to the pleasures of weed is a little like acknowledging you have a gay son. It could help change the non-libertarian right’s rigidity on the question. More on the long-running Dish series here.

(Hat tip: Cord Jefferson)