“I’m going to be in High Times.”
This explains why my friend, normally a subdued fellow, is bouncing in place a bit in my living room. It’s why I start bouncing with him.
“Really? Congrats man. Wow, that’s amazing. I always wanted to be in High Times.”
“Yeah, me too. It’ll be out in a few months. Just the print edition though, I don’t want my name coming up on Internet searches.”
I wasn’t lying. Since I was twenty years old I wanted to write something that would get me interviewed by High Times. In college I saw them as a resource for information I couldn’t find anywhere else, an outlet for news that more mainstream organizations wouldn’t report. They interviewed artists I admired, people who talked proudly about how cannabis assisted them in their creative process. They drew attention to the inherent racism of the war on drugs long before it became something openly discussed on CNN and NBC.
A few months later I went to my friend’s house. I hadn’t been able to find a copy in our neighborhood, (maybe because he had already bought them all; that’s what I would have done) but he had it, so I took a look.
Right away I felt a little weird. Right away I started to get a little sad. Honestly, though I had continued to enjoy cannabis throughout adulthood, I hadn’t really read an issue of High Times in years. A lot had changed for me in that time. I’d graduated college. I’d spent three years in a place where having a bit of marijuana after work wasn’t considered “counter culture” as much as “what some people did to relax.” I’d earned an MFA. I’d watched Jenn give birth to our daughter.
Flipping through the pages of that particular High Times I couldn’t shake the idea that if I was interviewed, if I achieved one of my lifelong goals, I could not share that with one of the people I love and admire most in the world. Not because of the subject matter. I plan on being as open with my daughter when she has questions about cannabis as I am about alcohol. But because of the ads. I didn’t take a hard count, but one woman straddling a bong staring at me through lusty smoke is too many, and certainly too many to show my child.
I’m not here to pass judgment on High Times, I have no idea what it must take to run that publication, to have fought the good fight for so long, to have employed so many people. I also don’t wish to pass judgment on either the models who pose for those ads or the countless people to whom those ads appeal. Grownups make their own decisions. We make the choices that we think best for us and we hope they don’t cause harm to others.
But I have worked hard to teach my daughter that she is no object. That she is a fierce mind contained within a capable body. That her mind and body are one, that they are to be honored above all else. She is not a billboard, and she knows it. At six, she won’t wear the M&M pajamas we got from a box of hand-me-down clothes:
“Papa, look at the way she’s standing. Just so that boys will like her. I think it’s really creepy.”
I’ve always been so proud of her. I want her to be proud of me, too.
Our community has been talking a lot these days about the label “stoner.” The recent uproar over the Cannabrand NYT article has us all debating what it means to be an appreciator of cannabis, particularly as this moves out of basements and black markets and into the world of legal society and business.
When we envisioned Weekend Review Kit we had a lot of conversations about what we would be, but many of those early talks revolved around the things we knew didn’t want to do. My mantra, from the start, was No Women In Bikinis.
I’d rather be broke than compromise that principle. Weekend Review Kit is for my daughter. I want it to be a place for her to go before she turns 21, to learn that it’s better for her to wait until her brain has fully developed. I want it to be a place where she can start a discussion about locally foraged food, a new band she just heard, or a book she loves. I want Weekend Review Kit to be a place she feels safe, honored, and respected.
But it’s not only for her.
I made a new friend recently. We traveled in similar social circles, nodded across rooms at each other. Then I found out he was “a smoker, not cigarettes,” and eventually we were able to bond over our shared love of cannabis and sports.
His story was different from mine. He had never read a High Times. He had no idea what Leafly is or why that site is a godsend to people like us. For him, cannabis was something he came to in his late thirties, when other options, like pharmaceuticals and talk therapy, had proved ineffective. He had been unsatisfied with the life he’d worked hard to build, so he worked even harder to create a life he could be proud of. He left a high paying job to devote himself to causes he believes in and now spends his time doing volunteer work, providing people with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. Just like me, he loves weed.
It was a tough realization for him to come to, tougher than it needed to be. He lost friends when they found out he had started smoking. It was thrown in his face by people he thought he could trust (people who were, of course, taking their own kinds of more socially acceptable medications). Even now, if people found out about his cannabis use, he’d lose his job, he’d lose the right to do the work he loves, work that our community so profoundly needs.
For a very long time many of us have not had the luxury of honesty. I’ve spent most of my life on the east coast, and if you need evidence of just how slow the marijuana movement is progressing, look at the problems they’ve had in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and DC simply implementing a functional medical marijuana program, something that has been in effect in places like Oregon, California, and Washington state for over a decade. It’s different out here. We have to hide more. And with hiding comes shame, no matter what. Being seen as a stoner can have very negative, real world consequences.
These images of scantily clad women with bowls of green between their legs have contributed to those negative associations. Marijuana is skeezy, it’s back room, it’s deviant. It’s not something for a productive member of society to be involved with. It’s counter culture.
I’m not sure I’m a part of the counter culture anymore. I’m not sure I want to be. I know I don’t want to secede to a private weed island with all my stoner buddies and talk only about pot all the time. I’m a part of this world, of this culture, and I want to make this world better. For my daughter, for my wife, and for my friends and family who love to use marijuana, and who love a lot of other things too.
I believe that legalizing cannabis makes our world better. I believe that celebrating our passions makes our world better. We are what we love, and we are intricate, layered, idiosyncratic individuals. I believe that seeing beyond stereotypes – stoner, yuppy, or anything else – makes our world better.
My name is Chad Dean and this is why I started Weekend Review Kit.
It’s for my daughter, and it’s for you, if you like it.