Reflections on Mary Jane

Okay, here it is: I started smoking pot in 1967, and I’ve continued to enjoy the Herb, on and off, since then. I’ve lived through it all. Mexican weed, which was the only kind you could buy, was ten bucks a can. A “can” was literally a 1½-ounce Prince Albert shiny red oval tobacco can, with a metal top, a lid, filled with their leafy “crimp cut” rolling or pipe tobacco.

The dealer would stuff one of these empty cans—a classic example of early recycling— with marijuana from Mexico, stems and twigs and buds and seeds into this can—a sawbuck.  Two fins.

And I remember the day dope went to fifteen bucks a “lid.” Everyone was outraged. But they paid it, and life went on. And I use the word dope, which is an affectionate term for what is, after all, an herb. Cannabis is an annual, dioecious, flowering herb. Mary Jane, like cousin Rose Mary. Bob Marley had it right.

Now after so many decades of having to get my smoke clandestinely in the state where I live (street value, $350 to $400 an ounce), it is finally dawning on the majority of Americans, as a recent poll shows, that puffing a little herb is okay. In their most recent poll, CNN says 55 percent of us say it should be legal. And 75 percent say legalization is inevitable.

Washington and Colorado have already made it legal, and other states are on the way. Of course Colorado is reaping a 25% tax on those legal sales. In this way, by overseeing this legalization process, they will benefit financially from the new law. February of this year Colorado raked in $2.3 million. This is the lure that will go viral.

So, what we fantasized about in the 1960s, the legalization of Cannabis, is coming to be accepted by society. More and more I hear the analogy with alcohol Prohibition—it don’t work. Duh! It’s just taken us so damn long! Not to mention the broken lives of victims of the cruel, stupid—and worse, unscientific, laws.

Personally, it has helped me cope with reality. I work just as hard, but it lets me focus on a task, and isolate it from everything else. As a writer this is critical. Alcohol dulls me, which is not what I’m looking for.

I have witnessed the California growing fields of Humboldt County in the Emerald Triangle, visited the town of Garberville, and its community. Hopefully this culture will prosper as legalization occurs, and won’t be taken over by corporate interests or criminal forces.

Colorado is experiencing land rush business since Jan 1. I expect that larger interests, like the tobacco companies—if not the state—will soon be involved in this lucrative business. And they won’t have to label their wares as being hazardous to one’s health, for not one of the myriad studies done on this herb have ever claimed it was harmful or addictive. 

We must applaud the citizens of Washington and Colorado for their temerity in voting for this law, overcoming years of prejudice, and bringing some sanity to our culture, where alcohol and drugs wreak havoc constantly and shamefully on our society.




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John J. Hunt

John J. Hunt is an activist and author. He has appeared in New Mexico Magazine twice last year, and has written a number of Op-Eds for the Albuquerque Journal. His history book The Waters of Comfort details the settling of the Coachella Valley in the Palm Springs area of Southern California and its hot mineral water.

Contact John J. Hunt

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