Hi, I'm Alison, and I smoke marijuana.
By Alison Becker
We’re at a crossroads in our culture. Weed is slowly becoming more socially acceptable. States are legalizing it for recreational use. It is not uncommon to smell it when walking down the street in a major city. There’s even a Chuck Lorre multi-cam sitcom about it, for Christ’s sake. If that’s not the mainstream zeitgeist, then I don’t know what is. Still, many smokers seem more willing to admit they have an STD than to go public with their cannabis use.
Why? “My job.” “My kids.” “It’s still not totally legal.” But the hypocrisy is mind-blowing. I recently got high with an old friend who is running for public office. As he was taking a hit off the sativa joint I so graciously shared with him, he told me he doesn’t support the legalization of marijuana. After I dried my eyes from the tears of hilarity caused by his almost earnest mendacity, I asked, “Why?”
“Because of the kids.”
The kids? What!? I’m not walking down the street giving children bongs full of Cindy 99! Just as I’m not giving them jugs of vodka. But adults will drink alcohol and speak openly about it. Why is alcohol acceptable for mature adult consumption and marijuana isn’t?
Let’s be frank here: ALCOHOL CAN KILL YOU. It has killed thousands of people. Marijuana, as far as we know, has killed no one. Alcohol can also cause you to become belligerent- or full on rapey - and to make other poor decisions. The worst decision weed ever made me make was eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints.
The “Reefer Madness” propaganda unfortunately still persists in our society. And it’s a shame. Because cannabis is an incredible substance for relaxation, pain management, human connection, creativity, and honestly, just fun. And let’s be clear: I don’t think people should be high all the time. Just as I don’t think people should drink all the time. But I can also tell you I’d much rather hang out with someone who’s high than someone who’s drunk. They’re going to be funnier, nicer, calmer, and they won’t be aggressively trying to grab my ass or drool in my face.
The condescending judgment that we get when we use cannabis can only come from ignorance. But it does make it harder to take when the judgmental individual is in the midst of sanctimoniously throwing back a Chardonnay on ice, with no grasp of how much more toxic that is than marijuana.
A couple of years ago, I made a decision to go public with my marijuana use. I talk about it on social media. I don’t smoke every day; I smoke about as much as a casual drinker drinks. And I know that as a comedian, I have the luxury to be public about it; it’s “on brand” for me, as they say. But I also think, in general, people should be talking about it more. Why? Because it will only help to soften the stigma.
Also, so many people are doing it and NOT talking about it. And if you’re doing it and lying about it? Well, that’s just sad.
And while I do enjoy an occasional drink, my hope is that binge drinking will become as stigmatized as marijuana use is now. I don’t think anyone should be drunk or high all the time, but if you walked onto a college campus of drunk students, in the best case scenario, you’d see slurred speech, bad dancing, loud talking, stumbling, and sloppy make-outs. In the worst case (but still very common) scenario, you’d see fights, sexual assaults, vomiting, passing out, insults, crying, and rape.
If you walked onto a campus of students high on marijuana, the worst case scenario is Doritos and naps.
But the marijuana stigma still trumps that of alcohol. It seems so odd that a tweet about drinking such as “I am so hungover today because I got SO TRASHED last night!” is totally benign but “I like to smoke weed before watching an action movie” is downright scandalous. Let’s put this in perspective, people. We have NORMALIZED binge drinking in our society. Something that causes VOMITING. DEATH. SEXUAL ASSAULT. But admitting I smoked a little weed before watching “Planet of the Apes” (sidenote: only way to survive that movie) gets me the most awful personal attacks on social media.
They can call me an idiot, a stoner, a loser. But I know I graduated cum laude from Georgetown. I know I’m in the high IQ society, Mensa. I know I’m a successful actor and writer. And I know I have a fulfilling life with friends and loved ones.
You don’t have to smoke weed. But if you don’t, please don’t judge people who do. And if you do use cannabis, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Come out of the shadows. It’s way more fun over here.