A reader writes:
Count me as an in-the-closet user as well. Late-30s father of three bright, active kids. I have an MBA and work as an energy trader for an international company in Manhattan. Last Democrat I voted for was Clinton, in 1992. Six figure salary, vacations to the Caribbean, etc, etc... I also try to keep myself in good physical shape, lifting weights and running about 15 miles a week. Aside from sports I also enjoy music and am teaching myself the piano. I also consider myself an avid reader and am currently tackling some of Plato's dialogues.
I'm a bit embarrassed to write the above because it makes me seem like I'm bragging about myself, but that is not my intention at all. It is only to show that someone can smoke weed almost daily while completely destroying almost all of the myths of the harm of pot (Unmotivated Loser Syndrome, Lazy Overweight Mucher Syndrome, Gateway Theory).
I just wanted to add to the chorus of responsible, productive and engaged voices that enjoy marijuana. My wife and I mused just last night that we know so many professionals who are not only successful in their jobs, but also active in their communities and, most importantly, active in their families/kids' lives. I personally know of a highly-ranked orthopedist, a prosthedontist, a math/science teaching consultant, 2 teachers, several attorneys, and a city district attorney, among others. In fact, my DA friend says that half the attorneys in his office have medical prescriptions...funny times in California for sure!
Several years back I served on a jury that heard a marijuana case -- a classic "profile" stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. When we got into the locked jury room to deliberate it was obvious that only two of us did not regularly use marijuana ourselves. Even the bailiff was openly joking with us about how they had rigorously counted and weighed the "evidence" -- yes, it was locked up with us while we deliberated.
We obviously had to find the guy guilty; the evidence was overwhelming and the other two people in the car with him had confessed. But we were finding him guilty of a "crime" that almost everyone on the jury regularly committed. The whole thing was utterly absurd.
I am a 36 year old with an MBA. I do freelance work. Most of my friends are professionals with graduate degrees, and just about all of them smoke marijuana on occasion. Many, including my wife, quit in/after college. I didn't even start smoking the stuff until I was 21. I guess I believed a lot of the hype.
I am halfway out -- in the sense that my family knows, my friends know, and most of my work/peers know. They don't really care: no one really cares. I have never had a conversation about marijuana with anyone who asserted it was doing me harm. Hell, most of my family, at least Gen X and the Boomers, smoke too. (And many of my family-members are GOP true believers!)
I'm 50 year old man, full time parent to two beautiful girls, 5 and 11, and a loving husband for 16 years. We're solidly middle class in a diverse suburb on the northern edge of Cincinnati, Oh. I know many people my age who smoke weed. I've been smoking since I was 14 years old. I've never been a heroin addict or smoked meth. I drink very little. People think I'm smart. I'm in good physical and mental health and the ladies at Girl Scouts and the other parents at Catholic School have no idea about my cannabis usage.
I'm not really in the closet, as I'd freely admit to it, but I do submit to a weed smokers version of "don't ask, don't tell." I hide it from my girls, and since my wife is allergic to all kinds of smoke, I respect her wishes and smoke in the barn or the yard. Of course I don't see anything wrong with it -- well, except I have to pay for the pleasure when it's easier to grow and cultivate then a tomato.
I worked as a Capitol Hill staffer for 4 years, covering legislative affairs ranging from domestic to international affairs. I am now gainfully employed at a humanitarian agency in DC. I play sports regularly, volunteer, organize fundraisers, and participate in community events. I have friends who smoke who work as doctors and lawyers, as engineers in the army, and as special education teachers. By virtue of my having been employed by rational reasonable people, and by virtue of my socio-economic status (whereby i can afford a lawyer if something happens, and have a strong family network to support me), I am comfortable being open about my habit.
The truth is I began to be public about this with my parents who were very "anti-drug". And to be fair, the conversations with them were difficult at first, as they tried to understand why I chose to smoke, and why I was so blase about it. But over time, they have really softened their position - they now support the use of medicinal, and even make jokes about my habit.
The longer people stay in the closet, the longer the stereotype of marijuana smokers as wasted hippies will perpetuate. It seems to me that its incumbent upon all of us who can afford to be open about it, to be open about it - we need to keep opening that door wider and wider.
(Photo: Ryan Bushby/Wikipedia.)