Marijuana was demonized throughout my youth. The Boston police treated reefer smokers as harshly as junkies. John Sinclair, the MC5's radical spokesperson, was sentenced to ten years of prison for the crime of ‘giving’ an undercover agent two joints. The severity of his punishment did not deter the millions of marijuana smokers of the 60s from burnign the weed and the herb found more and more disciples after the Summer of Love.
Cute girls hit the bong. John Lennon was arrested for possession. Football players got high.
I remained straight.
Drugs were for someone else.
I liked beer.
My friends were converts. They smoked in my VW Beetle. In the summer of 1969 John Gilmour lit up a joint of Columbian Red on the way back from Nantasket Beach. I opened the sunroof to avoid a contact high.
"You're missing out on a good thing." He sat in the front seat.
"It's against the law."
"So is speeding, but you're ten miles over the speed limit."
"That's different." I slowed down, because the town cops on Route 3A loved busting teenagers.
"Your loss." John passed the joint to Frank Ames. He had just returned from Vietnam. Only John had long hair.
NO TIME LEFT FOR YOU by the Guess Who was playing on WMEX.
They were having a good time. I felt left out. We pulled up to a red light in Hingham and I said, “Let me have some.”
The three of them argued briefly that one of us had to be straight.
They didn’t have a good answer and I grabbed the joint from John.
I had smoked a cigarette in 1964 and coughed like I was losing a lung then.
I feared the same result from the joint, but inhaled deeply on the joint.
I was a long-distance runner. I didn’t exhale for 30 seconds. The plume of smoke from my mouth clouded up the VW.
"I don't feel anything."
“That’s normal,” John said in a dream.
"Wait. This pot creeps up on you," Frank warned from the back seat.
The light turned green.
"That color is so beautiful."
"Yeah." John agreed with me.
"Someone got high." Frank closed his eyes.
The radio played The Misunderstood' CHILDREN OF THE SUN. We didn’t move for the entire song.
A horn broke the trance. We were holding up traffic. I shifted into first and we drove to John’s house in Wollaston to smoke another joint.
I was no longer straight.
“I’m hungry,” Frank announced after listening to FREAK OUT. He had another week of furlough before returning to Vietnam. “What about fried clams?”
“Tony’s or the Clambox?” I could go either way.
“The girls in bikinis hang out at the Clambox.” Frank rolled another joint.
“Tony’s has better clams.” John was a picky eater.
“Let’s eat at both,” I suggested, since they were only a short distance apart.
It was a good choice.
And so was turning on to marijuana.