A reader writes:
I was raised in a virulently Mormon community. I served two years as a missionary, but left the faith soon after returning home. My first encounter with herb was in Taiwan in 1994, with some friends over the holidays. That first high was simply amusing, but I continued to used cannabis over the years. While in Banares, India, I smoked Bhang and talked religion with a wandering Sadhu. In Goa, southern India, I rolled spliffs with a crowd of East Germans. I arrived late to the Camel festival in Pushkar, Rajasthan. All the rooms were sold out, and I was graciously given the personal quarters of a hotel owner. We spent many evenings over the next two weeks conversing. He would bring in a bit of hash, and we would puff and talk - a better cultural exchange I cannot imagine.
I was in Jamaica and in my quest for the perfect cup of coffee visited the famous Blue Mountain. While I was there I was invited to smoke ganja with some traditional Rastafari. One of our party - a 60 something woman from London who had never smoked before and decided it was time to try - was convinced by the sincerity of our guests. The experience that day is still vivid in my mind.
I've been through Anchorage, Key West, Seattle, Tucson, Salt Lake City, and everywhere I go I find that people enjoy lighting up and settling down, into conversation. In short, in each place I've traveled I'm confronted by the availability of herb. People like it, and for strangers, it is one of the best barrier-breakers I've yet to encounter.