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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Column: Identifying a stoner

Often when I hear a good song, I visualize it in my head. I try to imagine how I would direct a video for the song, or what kind of movie the song would work in.

I’m so Spike Lee with this shit.

Last Thursday morning, I spent my free time working out at my apartment gym, listening to “Can’t Stop Now” by Major Lazer. It’s a nifty little Jamaican dancehall piece, and I imagined how I could fit it into a stoner movie.

Oh, it’d be perfect. It’d be Monday morning; Zach Galifianakis would be asleep on the couch in just his boxer briefs and in front of an empty bong, his hand trapped in a bag of Cheetos with the TV left on. Seth Rogen would be rippin’ one, and my hubby Paul Rudd would be in that business suit, coffee tumbler in hand as he carefully walked over his roommates’ drug paraphernalia scattered about the floor, his eyes still a bit glazed from the night before.

“Can’t Stop Now” would be playing as this morning scene unfolded itself.

I thought about this imagined film with great delight as I walked myself back to my front door, the song still blasting away.

Those reckless stoners. Ha!

To my frustration, my door would not open, so I proceeded to physically assault the knob, twisting it with aggressive vigor.

The thought suddenly hit me: No way, I told myself. Don’t tell me this is not my apartment!

In my own marijuana inspired self-delusion, I had indeed taken a few extra steps to my neighbor’s lodgings.

I mouthed a “sorry” to him through his window. He stood there in his kitchen, arms in midair with food still in his hands, a shocked look on his face and very shirtless (is that you, Zach?).

I muttered cuss words to myself as I made the walk of shame back to my apartment. I swear I know where I live, I thought as “Can’t Stop Now” came to its end.

And that was when I realized I had just placed myself in my own movie.


Was this embarrassing situation a result of my stoner habits, or just typically clumsy May Yang behavior? I would say it’s more of the latter, because before anything else, I’m just May Yang: student, writer and well-humored daughter, sister and friend. To be a “stoner” is a word that describes just one side of me. I don’t fall into any heinous stereotype and I’m by no means unmotivated, unproductive or destructive because of my marijuana use.

The same goes for so many other marijuana users. They come in all sizes, shapes and forms. Some keep mum about their usage for fear of negative stigmas or losing their jobs. High Times calls these people “Closet Stoners” and famed writer and Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan has been prolific in pointing out the diversity of those in the “Cannabis Closet.” They are lawyers, government workers, parents, teachers, nurses (dear God, not the nurses, too!) and more.

I’ll never forget how a few weeks ago, I was mindlessly perusing the Davis Farmers Market and talking to an innocent looking dude selling baked goods. Little did I know he also sold baked special goods as well – at his second job as a medical marijuana dispensary employee! Who’d have thunk it?

I told him how cannabis users often have unfair labels placed upon them, and he agreed, noting the variety of personalities he meets at his job as a budtender. He then pointed to random people in our lovely Davis crowd. “For all you know, he smokes, she smokes, he smokes, she smokes…”

So you see, your average stoner is more than just a drug trafficker, a lazy teenager, the Giants’ dear ol’ Timmy or Wiz Khalifa. They are your neighbors, classmates, librarians, probably some professors here, too – you name it!

I didn’t need to write so much to prove this point, for I’m sure there are plenty of you who already know this from experience, and are perfectly functional members of this school as well (though you may not pass a drug test). But clarifications are in order for the many Americans that misunderstand marijuana usage.

A reader in Sullivan’s Cannabis Closet series said it well: “It is only to show that someone can smoke weed almost daily while completely destroying almost all of the myths of the harm of pot (Unmotivated Loser Syndrome, Lazy Overweight Muncher Syndrome, Gateway Theory).”

So how do you identify a stoner? You simply cannot.

Reach MAY YANG at mayyang@ucdavis.edu.


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