Weedy Weedy Weed
It’s rather a la mode these days to be in favour of legalising weed, particularly if you’re as young, socially concerned, and American as your typical St Andrews student is. Weed (or “cannabis” for the pretentious) is generally held to be nearing the end of its long march to respectability, with the question being when, not if, it will finally be legalised. Indeed, with polls showing that opposition to legalisation is concentrated in the older generations, it has become received wisdom that a heady concoction of demographics and democracy will eventually prevail, leaving a nation of tokers free to blaze away at their heart’s content. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard from the horse’s mouth: the wild-eyed, herbal types who populate our park benches are surprisingly knowledgeable about such things. They can spool off statistics, convincingly reference “Colorado”, and get pernickety about acronyms (THC? CBD? BHO? FML?). They artfully engage in subtle intricacies and semantics. Decriminalisation vs. legalisation. Medicinal vs. Recreational. Portugal? To be blunt, these nocturnal Gnostics know their stuff, and can put forwards a pretty well-informed argument for their cause.
Such an argument naturally deserves a riposte of a similar calibre. An article which discusses science, statistics, and government policy. But you’re not going to find that here. Instead, I’m going to rely on the shiniest tools in the journalistic toolbox: anecdotes, stereotypes, and common sense. So let me start with a hypothetical. Imagine that the crusty-hair brigade are correct, and we do indeed end up living in a society where the “sweet cabbage reek” of a zoot is no longer met with blue lights and sirens. Quite the opposite in fact. Imagine that everybody is at it. Students. Pedestrians. People outside Greggs. It would be like living in a Bob Marley album. The smell would hit you first: anecdotal evidence from the wrong side of the Atlantic suggests that it’s pretty hard to find fresh air in some areas of the bigger cities since legalisation. But I suppose with the assistance of a clothes peg, cigarette, or spacesuit you could get around that problem. Next, you’d probably be somewhat surprised to notice that everyone would be considerably fatter: apparently, a 2015 University of Montreal study found a direct correlation between weed usage and weight gain. If you’re scratching your head about that one, try queuing outside a kebab shop at three in the morning behind a gaggle of hungry hash-heads.
And then you’d have to deal with the people themselves. This is where my major “gripe with the green” really gets going. Weed has a unique ability to make people utterly insufferable. Previously decent blokes turn into later-day messiahs, amateur film critics, or “bud” philosophers; whereas usually redoubtable girls come out with insightful gems of the “aren’t-the-stars-pretty” variety. Stoners speak a lot, say nothing, and giggle at everything. It’s a truly selfish drug: people retreat into a world of their own, droning on with little concern for their achingly painful predictability.
In short, smoking weed is simply not a social activity, and is the best way to kill a party short of turning up dressed as Prince Andrew. Aside from this, weed usage also comes at a considerable opportunity cost. Frankly terrifying studies in the States have shown that legalising weed has led to a precipitous decline in alcohol consumption. This is the true crisis of our times. Alcohol is everything that weed isn’t, but wished it was. Whereas weed makes you doze, booze makes you dance. Weed makes you insufferable, whereas alcohol makes you irresistible. Weed puts you to bed, alcohol can land you up in someone else’s. Quite simply, alcohol makes us better people. For better or worse, a pint or two makes us funnier, more outgoing, and more creative — it’s called the “social lubricant” for a reason.
In a world full of raging, internet-fueled individualism, alcohol is surely one of the great levellers of our time: an uniter of disparate peoples, and a source of universal joy. Why on earth would we encourage a society where people shun the bacchanalian communalism of the pub for the solitary peculations of the joint? For this reason, and perhaps this reason alone, we must resist the dull, grinding advance of weed. Yes, it may be relaxing. Yes, it makes you feel “spiritual”. It may even be medicinal. But for Christ’s sake, it makes you act like a complete knobhead. So let’s put out the zoot, and raise a glass to the true king of intoxicants: a good old-fashioned pint of lager. Go forth and get pissed, mes enfants.
Image: Unsplash, Jeff W