A reader writes:
I'm in my mid twenties, and a PhD student at the Ivy League university located in the hippie town of Ithaca, New York. When I came to the United States a little over three years ago -- I was born and raised in the Netherlands -- I had never tried smoking weed, despite it being readily available. American friends of mine (fellow graduate students) introduced me to it and thought it was hilarious they were teaching the Dutch girl how to use a bong -- the same Dutch girl who used to ask tourists looking for the nearest coffee shop, "Do you want a cup of coffee or a joint?"
It is weird not being able to talk to many people about weed, especially in a liberal town like Ithaca, for fear of risking my chances of ever getting American citizenship, or being send back to Pot Heaven Holland.
So about a year and a half ago, my cousin got married and invited the whole family - no mean feat, considering we're Irish-Catholic and thus have a ridiculous number of cousins. At the reception, I went outside to have a cigarette with another cousin. Suddenly, we were flanked by my little brother and nine of our other relations.
The lot of us took a walk 'round to the alley behind the banquet hall, and three of us each pulled out joints. This wasn't a bunch of kids smoking dope, mind you. Among us were graphic designers, carpenters, businessmen, and artists; the youngest was my brother, who's studying to become a game designer.
Passing those joints around was, honestly, one of the best family-bonding moments ever, a moment in which we were all honest with each other. All the illusions about who was "clean" and who was a "druggie" evaporated, and for the first time, we put everything up-front. When we walked back into the hall, my brother went back to his table and sat down. One of our female cousins, seated next to him, sniffed the air a bit and said, "Dude... did you just go out for a... 'walk?'" He just kind of giggled and nodded. She rolled her eyes and smacked him upside his head, "What the hell?" she whispered tersely. "Why didn't you invite me?"
This has become a common occurrence in my family now, and at most family events, instead of drinking heavily as our parents and grandparents did, we'll smoke a bowl or pass a blunt around. It's quite nice to have something like that to share with my relations.