Class began when she sat across from me, cross-legged on an outdoor chair on my back deck, and loaded up her bong.
It was just after legalization, and my niece had just started working in retail cannabis. She was given samples and had to write a couple of hundred words on each strain, and she was turning it into a lesson for me.
I knew she had been taking the reefer for some time, sneaking behind the garage. But now here it was, all out in the open, a foot-high glass bong on my coffee table. She took a big hoot and launched into her cannabis sales lines about indicas and sativas and terpenes and what to look for and probably some other stuff.
I just sat there a bit frozen as she went on, not entirely sure how to handle this new openness of legalization. Never did I imagine my family smoking pot on my deck, but here we were. And she’s giving me lessons like I haven’t been smoking pot for 30 years and trying diligently to keep that secret from certain audiences — including her.
My older brother and his friends were hot-knifing hash on our gas stove before school in Grade 6. I’d mostly watch since I was still in elementary and they weren’t keen to share. About a year later, my mom and soon-to-be stepdad accidentally exposed themselves when they burnt some cannabis butter, and it stunk so bad it woke up my brother and me. Then my brother found their stash, and things became complicated between them after that.
I must have just finished some middle school anti-drugs class because I confronted my mom about how this marijuana would destroy us all. The combination of finding their stash and my lecturing led them to hide it all much better.
I didn’t really start until Grade 9. The first time was with this guy who was using alcohol in a shot glass to heat up knives for hash. He accidentally tipped it over and set the carpet on fire, both of us laughing while terrified and trying to stamp out the fire. Once I started, it was a lot. We’d sneak out in cars and listen to music, mostly because we could barely speak, and the music overwhelmed. I briefly tried getting into the business, but I was conned out of my seed money twice, and I knew that wasn’t for me.
I quit when trouble kept finding me, though most of that was the guys I was hanging out with — the potheads. After college, I found it for what it was good for: stress relief.
But until that day on my deck, there was always some fear around it, a need to share it with only those who needed to know. It wasn’t just police, it was coworkers, bosses, certain friends who I knew would be former friends. Also procurement.
I actually feel pretty good that my niece will never know driving to a dead-car acreage in the middle of nowhere for a three-hour stare-down with armed shirtless strangers who are just as frightened about selling to a square-looking dude from town as I was buying. Or waiting around in smoky bars for hours with dudes you don’t know until they finally want to do business — all for a little bag of weed.
Until I found regulars, I was always pegged as a narc.
And all this is going through my head as she’s going on about flavours and hybrids and effects without any compunction, me still puckered at the thought of her knowing I have smoked her weight in ganja already.
She went on for an hour, me politely listening as she describes what it’s like to be high. That’s what finally did it, finally got me to relax and come out of the closet. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
“Hang on a minute, I can’t do this sober. My bong is much better,” I said. “Let me get it.”
Young people have a way of moving things along quickly — blazing new trails, if you will.