Unless you can flaunt it legally and publically, what’s the point?
So it’s world “weed day” today. Kind of like “International Men’s Day”, it really doesn’t matter. For the crusaders, it is known as 4/20, the origin of which is lost in as many layers of stories and anecdotes about it’s origin, which the stoner community seems to be juggling with.
Never ever have I heard any of my herbal friends mention this day (or maybe I don’t remember); forget celebrating it by, what, smoking a few extra joints? Or, get together in some nondescript den to get high and have deep conversations. Sure, one can expect some social media activity on the topic like the Adarsh Balak illustration last year. And I’m sure many pot lovers revere the whole idea of having a day of entitlement.
Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/adarshbalak
But chances are, smokers will be toking regardless, within their usual comfort zones because they certainly cannot have a public gathering or picnic to get high. Of course, that’s what Holi is for; our own kind of national “weed day” where you can legally procure bhang--a cannabis derivative--from your local cigarette guy or pan shop, albeit, the law allows only ingestion rather than inhaling the smoke. It’s like having a salmon forced down your throat when what you really want to have, is a smoked salmon. During Holi, the government is like, go on people, have a milkshake, which in the context of Holi means Thandai, a mixture of bhang and milk with some garnishing.
Having a “weed day” is great, but unless you can flaunt it legally and publically, what’s the point? You can have parades and placards and slogans to legalize it, a la gay pride. But at the end of the day, they’re all illegal. It’s a mass underground phenomenon, nonetheless. Because once you scratch the surface, or get into the scene with your first spliff, chances are that your friendship radar, more often than not, seek out the chronic (pun intended) smokers in the scene. It’s safe to say that most of my stoner friends are friends because they met through a common friend. A big fat joint.
And to think that cannabis was legal in India around the time I was born is something I delve into once in a while. The generation of smokers before the controversial 1986 inclusion of marijuana into stringent Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) act, consumed it without any legal stigma attached to it; personal or social stigma, maybe.
Cannabis and its derivatives have been pretty much an integral part of the Indian culture dating back to the Vedic times. Why, even Shiva, one of the holy Hindu trinity, is said to have been a consumer of bhang and weed. Which is why Shivaratri, another Hindu festival is celebrated by drinking bhang and smoking weed in India and Nepal.
Not to mention the sadhus and babas; and their license to toke and legally carry and smoke weed and charas. So there it is, the thin line between the rule of law and the irony of hypocrisy. Things have even escalated to absurd levels when you take into account the recent crackdown by cops in Kerala for apprehending kids wearing Bob Marley t-shirts. Long hair and long beard are other keywords in the police manual.
Anyway, since it was international pressure (read: The United States) that had arm-twisted the Rajiv Gandhi government to make the herb illegal in 1985, let’s see if it augurs well, now that states such as Washington and Colorado having recently legalized the recreational use of weed. Even global darling, Justin Trudeau, has made clear his intentions of legalizing it in role-model Canada. There’s also a strong campaign slowly taking shape to legalize weed in India with marijuana meet-ups in cities like Bangalore, Bombay and Delhi, armed with signature campaigns to the government and public interest litigations in the high courts.
The fact is, no matter what, smokers always find dealers and dealers always have their sources and no amount of clampdown has ever stopped that. And honestly, there’s a good chance that half the potheads might stop smoking or might not have gotten into the habit in the first place if it was legal. A small or significant part of it, depending on your perception, has always been about rebellion against authority.
At this juncture, Evan McGregor’s dialogue from Danny Boyle’s cult production, “Trainspotting” comes to mind.
“Fuck it, we would have injected vitamin C if only they'd made it illegal.”
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By Mohan KK
Cover Photo Credit: facebook.com