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Live Man Talking

Pot Shots

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I’m on my way up to Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort, which I’m told I can call “Smuggs,” now that I’m a local, though I have a very hard time saying it with a straight face because it sounds so damn cute. I’m sorry, it does. But I have a Bash Badge discount card for the season, and that means I’m going to ski at least two and a half days this year up at “Smuggs,” even if it kills me and leaves my broken body with a floppy anterior cruciate ligament.

The reason I’ve turned the tape recorder on, and why my shouts and gestures are drawing stares from other drivers and livestock, is because I am stuck behind a carload of snowboarders who are as baked as can be. They are barely hitting 40, and keep weaving slowly back and forth, making it impossible to pass. God, hurry up, people. I am really about to blow.

I know a fair number of people who smoke pot — I haven’t in years, I want to point out right now — and in recent conversations with some of them, they rambled on for what seemed like hours, at an unbelievably slow pace and without hearing the two words I tried to get in edgewise. This has led me to address today — since I’ve obviously got some time and these guys up ahead just reminded me — an issue that parents and pizza delivery guys everywhere should be concerned about.

That issue is denial.

I really don’t care in the least if people want to burn one once in a while. As far as we know, especially from what the people at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws tell us between bong hits, dope is not only safe, but it can cure most cancers, restore perfect vision to people with glaucoma, and clear up gonorrhea within weeks — as long as it is prescribed in concert with penicillin. But that makes the point for me that pot is a drug, for chrissake. It’s high time these people call it what it is.

There is a fascinating tendency among righteous four-twentysomethings to prattle on endlessly about the person who’s had a few drinks and climbs behind the wheel. This is indeed dangerous and wrong, I’m not disputing that. The beer in my back seat is for when I get home, honest. But all that pontificating would seem a lot less hypocritical if they didn’t do it while searching blindly for the lighter on the floor of their car as it slowly crosses the shoulder toward the Lamoille River. Good thing the car’s been signaling left since they entered the highway at 10 miles an hour about 15 miles back.

There is a difference, of course, I’ll concede: The consequences of a smoking accident tend to be considerably less severe than the average drunk-driving collision. Smokers’ speed rarely exceeds 30 or 35 miles an hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone. Thus, if they bump into another smoker — not unusual in these parts — they generally don’t even bother to exchange insurance information. Not only is it unnecessary, but the insurance card tends to be kept all the way over on the other side of the car in the glovebox, tucked snugly behind the bag and the Hackysack. Nobody wants to go to that kind of trouble. So no one’s the worse for wear, the drivers hug tearfully and part ways, returning to their quest for that bakery called Grateful Bread that they’re sure is out here somewhere.

Still, that doesn’t make driving stoned right. And I can tell you from experience that the mental-health cost of being stuck behind a stoned driver on the road to Smuggler’s N — I mean Smuggs — far outweighs any satisfaction from watching that drunken asshole who cut you off on Main Street, a few minutes later, trying to perform the field sobriety test in a parking lot.

I understand all you stoners want to get out and see the pretty colors in fall, or chill out to the winter wonderland during board season, but take a bus, or get a designated driver.

God almighty, these guys are going slow! They’re getting me spitting mad. And here’s another pot-related peeve: the anti-smoking smoker. I rarely smoke cigarettes anymore, either, except when I’m drinking beer, which is no more than five or six days a week. So it’s not the pothead’s bigotry against tobacco that gets me so much as the double standard. A remarkable number of my toking acquaintances strongly believes that smoking cigarettes is a filthier habit than heroin or violent pornography. And, I swear to God, they’ll tell you that smoking marijuana is much easier on your lungs because you don’t smoke as much of it, and because of all the clinical research reported in High Times that just proves it.

I’ve tried to point out that the lack of any sort of filter, and the practice of inhaling as much smoke as possible and holding it until their extremities change color, cannot be considered a healthy thing. And that none of the research addresses the deaths and injuries caused from choking on muffins because of the cottonmouth. They just stare at me, blinking, trying desperately to open their eyes a little wider and get a little moisture flowing in them.

“But it’s natural, man,” they’ll offer. Sure, it’s natural — except for the pesticides growers use to help plants live in unnatural environments, and the left-over Agent Orange the government sprays on them. Show me some certified organic pot and maybe I’ll smoke it — if I’ve got seven or eight beers in me and I’m not driving.

So I hope you see what I mean by denial. God, just talking about it really pisses me off. Screw skiing. I’m going to turn around right now, go home, crack open one of these beers and fire up a big, fat Camel.

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