Out of the Basement: A Manifesto

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The basement in the house where I grew up was unfinished, crammed with woodworking tools, a full drum kit, shelves of books and photo albums and records, filing cabinets containing decades worth of paystubs and utility bills, boxes of toys and porcelain dolls and art projects. Always cold, always dark, it smelled like dirt and was covered with sawdust. It was absolutely what you would call dank. But there was a couch down there, and a turntable and a Nintendo, and it was the only place we were allowed to smoke cannabis when we were home from college. My parents were also casual smokers, but only down there, only in the basement.

 

For most of the year we lived in a New England town on the campus of a liberal arts university. Dorm rooms, porches, and the stretch of hilly lawn by the library were all popular venues for cannabis use. Pot smoking was commonplace and unconcealed; it was an element of our protest mentality, our rebellion against the status quo (a rebellion that, ironically enough, was basically sanctioned by our progressive institution). We didn’t drive cars or use deodorant, we chalked the sidewalks for Coming Out Day and in solidarity with striking food service workers, and we staged a demonstration when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke at a foreign policy symposium on campus. Accordingly, we once lit a joint on the front steps of the public safety office on our way to a Mos Def show in the cafeteria.

 

In the spring of 2000 we took our first trip to Amsterdam and instantly became enamored with the city and its culture. It was not just the prevalence of cannabis and the ease with which one could acquire and enjoy it; what we found even more remarkable were the open, tolerant attitudes and lack of judgment regarding lifestyle choices made by consenting adults. (These were liberal times in Holland; the socio-political climate there has changed significantly in the 21st century, and it may be said that the perceived tolerance does not accurately characterize the opinions of much of the Dutch population.) We avoided the Red Light district and crowded tourist shops, sought out quiet spots where the locals gathered because the weed was better and the atmosphere was mellow. After visiting coffee shops we took picnics in Vondelpark, admired the historic canals and Dutch Renaissance architecture from cafes with tiny cups of espresso, and reveled in the artistic offerings surrounding the Museumplein. We felt a part of the life of the city, filled up by the flow of things, whole.

 

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Our self-concept affects our attitudes, behaviors, interactions, habits, and, ultimately, our worldview; the way we define ourselves shapes our reality and our future. The same activity, in three different contexts, generated three distinct self-identities: criminal, activist, and citizen. Regardless of how ridiculous we believe federal cannabis laws and the corresponding attitudes to be, as long as prohibition exists, these three roles will continue to comprise an ambivalent cocktail of emotions and ensuing choices for many marijuana users. And we will continue to feel stigmatized.

 

Because we know that some people still associate cannabis use with deviant or criminal behavior, and because we don’t always know who those people are, we’ve spent most of our adult lives hiding our cannabis use from friends and family. Or we qualify it with such statements as, “I smoke pot but I’m not a pothead” and “I like marijuana but I still go to my job every day.” We worry about what our neighbors and colleagues and the parents of our children’s friends will think when they learn that we enjoy cannabis recreationally; we fear they will define us by stereotypes of cannabis use and won’t see our intelligence or our work ethic or our compassion or our commitment to our communities.

 

What if we didn’t have to think, even at the smallest, back-of-our-minds level, that enjoying cannabis is something we should feel criminal about? What if cannabis just became another part of our society, the glass of wine after work? The craft beer at a Saturday potluck BBQ?

 

We’ve read several articles recently, even some by supporters of legalization, which draw a heavy and superfluous distinction between “high” and “low” pleasures, assigning marijuana to the latter category and recreations involving the arts, athletic pursuits, and the natural world to the former. We wonder where these critics would place the wine aficionado or the collector of rare, single malt Scotches? We wonder further, what would happen if we got rid of such arbitrary hierarchies based on elitist ideals of what’s socially acceptable?

 

What if we celebrated all the things for which we are grateful, the arts and athletics and nature, along with our cannabis? What if we stopped scorning pleasure from a moral platform or ranking it from a classist one? What if we could create a community that valued kindness and nonjudgment and gratitude and empathy and also liked to smoke pot?

 

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Weekend Review Kit is that community. Founded as an online review and lifestyle magazine dedicated to the casual cannabis connoisseur, Weekend Review Kit aims to change the conversation around cannabis. It’s an exciting time for marijuana advocates: the cannabis landscape in the U.S. is evolving quickly and dramatically, and so is the perception of the cannabis user. Weekend Review Kit is an integral part of that evolution.

 

A forum for the best product reviews and the latest in industry news, Weekend Review Kit will deliver professional, reliable information about legal cannabis and the growing movement to end marijuana prohibition. Our reviews will direct informed and responsible consumers to quality products and destinations. On the ground in Denver, CO and Seattle, WA, two cities at the forefront of legalization, our reporters will offer in-depth coverage of the issues that affect the cannabis community; as more states legalize recreational marijuana, Weekend Review Kit will provide unique and insightful looks into the growing cannabis trade, including business and investment opportunities.

 

Because we recognize that our marijuana appreciation is just a piece of who we all are, our features will highlight the other things we enjoy – books, art, food, cultural events in the cities where we dwell – along with the ways we spend the majority of our time – parenting, negotiating relationships, working, serving our communities. We’ve got something for everyone: you’ll find interviews with artists and other creative professionals, columns on health, sports, travel, literature, critical theory, TV, women’s issues, and hopefully, a few things that will make you laugh.

 

Weekend Review Kit gets up in the morning and gets the kids to school. Weekend Review Kit goes to work and takes care of WRK business. Weekend Review Kit knows that you do too, and we think you should feel good about that.

 

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Cannabis connoisseurs are everywhere. We are contributing members of society and advocates for social change. We are voters and politicians, business owners and consumers; we are scientists and scholars, artists and teachers. We care about our children and yours and we care about the planet we must pass down to them. We hope to leave that planet a better place, more tolerant, healthier, and happier, than the way we found it. And we believe the legalization and normalization of cannabis is a step toward that vision.

 

We’ve kept our love of marijuana in the basement for a long time now, and we’re ready to welcome it upstairs to meet the family. We’ll prepare a delicious meal, discuss art and current events, and listen to great music. Later we’ll enjoy some cannabis and watch a film or read a book or go for a walk or a bike ride. You’re all invited. Together we can review it all.

 

Not counter culture. Not weed culture. Just culture, for people who like weed.

 

Love,

Jenn & Chad

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redefining cannabis culture for the conscious connoisseur

 

 

 

 

 

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