Toking Up

I was at World Trivia Night on Friday, which is a huge trivia competition done in teams of 10 people here in Ottawa, once a year. There are a LOT of teams, and as a result we are usually crammed in there pretty tightly. I was sitting at the corner of our table of 10, and pretty much back-to-back with the lady on the team next to us who was at the corner of her team’s table.

Over the course of the evening, those of us at that end of the table (sending shoutouts to my poker buddy LuckySevens and Bibliomama) smelled the distinctive heavy sweet smell of weed. It took us a while but we eventually pinpointed it to the lady sitting back-to-back with me.

She had smoked enough of it beforehand to smell of it when she arrived. There were two 15-minute breaks in the three-hour evening, and during both she went outside and smoked more (evidence: whiff test).

It was just kind of an interesting thing. I’ve smelled it before at say, concerts, or in the parking lot outside the Circle K down the street from us. But this was a quiet sort of average public event. I guess this kind of thing might happen more often now that marijuana is legal.

The weirdest thing for me was how incredibly normal this lady seemed. She was about my age and about my size (read: starting to thicken out in the middle a bit and sporting some grey hairs). She looked like your average soccer mom. She was there with her husband/partner and they seemed really happy and cuddly. She looked healthy, although I know some kinds of pain don’t really have external symptoms.

It wasn’t a horrifying or icky thing or anything like that. Just curious and interesting. Is this going to be a typical thing now, or was it just a fluke? Are average soccer moms toking up several times a day, or is it still just something for people who are sick and/or rock stars?

I guess I just assumed that with the legalization of pot, it would be something people do in their homes, in private, quietly, with a small circle of friends. Maybe something you did in a party situation; not something you did three times in a three-hour window while at a public event. I wasn’t anticipating the general public to quickly start carrying it around and smoking it freely. Maybe I was naive.

But it does make me think it will be hard to keep it out of the hands of young people.

Have you had any experience with legalized pot so far? What have you seen?

(Also: free use of the phrase “toking up” in this post is meant to disturb my teenagers, who had never heard that term before and still deny that it even exists. I’m bringing it back, baby!)

7 thoughts on “Toking Up

  1. Zhu

    Full disclosure, despite smoking cigarettes and having the full Pink Floyd discography, I don’t smoke pot. I must have smoked the total of one joint during my teenage years, if that (mostly in concerts). Like drinking, it’s not my thing. I guess I don’t… like the idea of being drunk or stoned?

    I haven’t talked to my close Canadian friends about the recent legalization but I had to ask them if they smoke–the topic didn’t come up. I suspect most of them don’t but probably did try at one point or another. On the other hand, I was surprised to hear some (many…) of my professional contacts were like “duh, of course we smoke, and we didn’t start when it became legal!”

    Even for super liberal people like me, it’s a cultural shift. I don’t mind, prosecuting people for pot was just silly. However, I tend to find “true” stoners and people *really* into cannabis culture super annoying. Like, I get it, you’re super cool, can we talk about something else now.

    I’ve been smelling marijuana on people more and more since last summer and I saw quite a few people smoking in the street. Less now that it’s cold.

    How do you talk to your older kids about?

  2. Shan

    One of my very best friends works in the industry so there has been lots of conversations, just in general, around here about that topic. Myself I am pretty ambivalent about it. I don’t partake, but I don’t have a problem if others do. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out if there became a need for it medically. Since the legalization I have noticed it in our neighbourhood, but like you were describing, privately in their homes. I just happened to catch the smell while out on a walk a few times. Then it becomes a fun game of who’s house is it coming from 😉

  3. Lily

    I live in Colorado, so I’ve been around legalization for some years. I’ve never used marijuana and haven’t really seen it in use much when out. That said, I have a young child (under 3) and haven’t been out much at all in the last few years.

    I have a brother who lives in a state where it isn’t legal, but he’s been a fairly heavy user for years. I know for a fact that legalization is a big plus in his book when he comes to visit– there are pot shops all over the place. There was one within easy walking distance of my old house– which was in a very suburban area, and I’m sure there are ones pretty close to our new house, too. He really doesn’t smoke much when he’s here, though. He leans much more heavily towards edibles. My guess is that the oddball thing about the lady wasn’t her age or that she was using, but that she was smoking it and was therefore more easily noticed.

    My own point of view… that brother has his life much more together now, but I think he was pretty seriously derailed for most of his 20s because of marijuana and alcohol. He stopped drinking, which helped him pull into a better place…but I do think that his continuing level of marijuana use isn’t the greatest thing for him and his family. I’m not making an issue of it with him, because it’s his life and his choice, but it is what I think in my head.

    I think when I talk with my daughter about these things, I’m going to be talking about a bunch of different things– the correlation between being under the influence and being the victim of a crime, the idea that it’s generally unwise to mess with the brain, the philosophy that enjoying something sober is great (and that if you can’t enjoy whatever it is while sober, then is it really enjoyable?). I don’t know if any of it will reach her when the time comes. I hope it does. My brother isn’t the only one in her family tree with substance issues, and I’d hate for her to fall into that trap.

  4. bibliomama2

    I have no issues at all about pot being legal because I think it’s a stupid thing to jail people for. I don’t like the smell, but I don’t like the smell of cigarettes either and those are legal. As long as people aren’t blowing it in my face, I won’t complain. My kids seem on board with my opinion that no one under 25 should go near it (I realize some people will assume they’re humouring me, which is possible, but I don’t think they are). I’m cautious about the idea of trying it because I know how alcohol affects me but not how pot does, and I’m more interested in it for pain relief than getting stoned.

  5. I was just in Toronto for the weekend, staying in a hotel in the Entertainment District. I walked the sidewalks by the Rogers Centre / CN Tower, over to Union Station and to Scotiabank Arena and ALL the sidewalks smelled like pot ALL the time.

    Which, for me, is unfortunate because I happen not to enjoy the smell. Then again, I never found downtown Toronto to smell that great.

    In my residential central Ottawa neighbourhood do I notice a difference since legalization? Can’t say I do. But there are clearly places where there is a big difference.

    And that’s all I really have to say!

  6. Smothermother

    I saw my first commercial that said “don’t roll and drive.” I think that was the biggest cultural shift for me. While I don’t part take (it makes me feel paranoid believe it or not) I am surrounded by people who do. Some for medical reasons, some for recreational. It will be interesting to see who else “comes out of the closet” so to speak. I also think it will be the next generation that really feels no taboo around weed.

  7. Just commenting on my own post because I wanted to reply to everyone – such great comments! – so thought I’d do one big one. I’ve been thinking about it more and I realized I assumed that marijuana use would be more like alcohol for me. Like, something tied to home use or parties or special dinners, but people doing it randomly in public would only be people with a problem.

    Like, say someone showed up at a high school play or a dinner party or a PTA meeting smelling of beer, and then there were a couple of breaks in the event and they clearly went out front to have another beer in those breaks. I’d think – huh, a little inappropriate, a little weird. This is how I thought weed would be.

    But this event has made me think that people plan to treat it more like regular cigarettes – something you are free to do several times a day no matter what else you are doing, as long as you huddle by the doorway instead of doing it inside.

    I’m curious to see if this does become the cultural norm – smoke freely, baby! Or if the next generation does come to see it more like alcohol, something that is for special days and times only, with frequent daily use signaling a problem. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to talk over with the kids, I think.

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