Ahh, I love the smell of controversy in the morning.
It’s that distinct smell, you know? Real distinct. There are certain undeniable, incredibly unique smells that exist on this earth: the gasoline smell of napalm, the enchanting whiff of a first rain or summer roses in bloom. The all-encompassing toxic odor of cow dung in Davis.
And then there’s marijuana. Similar to the spray of a skunk but with a floating fragility to it – baby, this will take you higher. It is strong but peaceful, fragrant and sentimental. In a single whiff, a flood of pleasant memories flow to my brain, like when you smell Play-Doh in the present age and are reminded of childhood.
That is how I respond to “the whiff”: to treat it like a fine wine. Wafted even.
Different people react in different ways to the whiff. For example, there was this one time my girls and I hotboxed a car in a parking structure in San Jose. The way we smelled when we exited the car was probably equatable to the three of us escaping a burning marijuana warehouse. (Have you seen Pineapple Express? Better yet, have you tried Pineapple Express?) We reeked, and I didn’t know this until, while waiting to cross the street, a large black man that surely could have been a bouncer at any club, turned his head, looked at me in the eyes, and hissed, “I smell trees.” Gulp. So I slowly averted myself from his stare and proceeded with the deer in the headlights look (this is a look that works for me more often than not). Did he approve or disapprove?
And what about you, fair reader? Do you approve or disapprove? What does it mean to you? Is it a sin, a blessing, a miracle plant, a joke? Am I completely mad for noting the herb’s recreational possibilities? Shall I ignore the fact that attitudes of Californians toward marijuana have increasingly become favorable, with last week’s Public Policy Institute of California poll of likely voters showing 52 percent of voters supporting Proposition 19? Or that this past Friday, Arnold signed Sen. Mark Leno’s Senate Bill 1449, reducing the punishment of possession up to an ounce from a misdemeanor to an infraction? That to discuss the social, political, and economical reasons for legalizing marijuana results in endless debate, so much so that there is a proposition for it, and even if it doesn’t pass, the issue will never go away, and my sentences will never end because there will always be something to say about this because people will never shut the fuck up about this, and I sure as hell won’t shut the fuck up about this … ?
Marijuana and controversy: They go hand in hand. Like alcohol, like tobacco, like freedom of speech or what to do with Lindsay Lohan: These are all issues that can be debated. Any proposition that struggles to be passed, is packed with controversy, and this is no exception.
I admit – to tell freshmen to consider trying weed without also telling them to research potential health issues was questionable of me, but it’s not like I’ve been standing outside the Dining Commons handing out little sample baggies to society’s youth. (Don’t you wish I were though?) This isn’t a scene from How High. This is a college campus. And what can be more relevant to talk about than marijuana? We talk about budget cuts, campus programs and YouTube stars that attend this school (what the fuck?), but we shouldn’t discuss something that at least one in five college students have tried, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey, released last month?
What I aim for is open dialogue: to debate and to educate. There is more to this column than awesome-and-probably-mostly-true-but-partial-to-your-own-experience stoner advice, I swear. Over the next few weeks, I hope to provide you all with interesting facts and opinions about marijuana. You might have made your decision about whether you’re for it or against it, but you can’t ignore the facts.
Controversy. It’s what’s in the air, mixed in with the smell of my herb. And as this column comes along, I also smell trouble. But that’s okay, as long as you’ll be here to read, and have your own opinion as well. We’re all entitled to one. This is an opinion column, after all.
MAY YANG wants to hear your opinion. Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.