The Responsible Face of Stonerdom

Jon Day

A couple of years ago I went to the 25th annual Cannabis World Cup in Amsterdam. The cup, organised by High Times magazine, part trade-show and part awards ceremony, has been held in Amsterdam since 1987. In a large dank hanger in an old shipyard in the east of the city, hundreds of young men gathered under a thick fug of smoke. They discussed marijuana cultivation and argued about the terroir of their favourite strains of hashish. There were ‘cooking with weed’ demonstrations and lectures on the history of cannabis. Stands sold seeds and smoking paraphernalia. One man was pushing his stealth smoking pipes disguised as asthma inhalers.

It looked as though the 2012 Cannabis Cup might be the last to be held in Amsterdam. The Dutch government had had enough of drug tourists skipping over the border from Germany and planned to introduce a ‘weed pass’ for Dutch citizens, making it illegal for foreigners to use coffee shops. But the punters at the cup, most of whom were American, were in buoyant mood: marijuana possession had just been decriminalised in Washington and Colorado. An editor of High Times told me he thought that they’d soon be able to host the cup in the States. In 2013, the first American Cannabis Cup was held in Denver.

America has been getting more weed-friendly ever since. The New York Times recently published an editorial endorsing the legalisation of cannabis after New York State legalised medical marijuana use. A few days later they ran their first ganja-related advertisement: a cannabis appreciation app called Leafly took out a full-page spread. Leafly takes getting stoned seriously. It bills itself as ‘the Yelp of cannabis’, allowing you to rank and search for strains by specifying the attributes you’re looking for (‘energetic’, ‘tingly’, ‘giggly’) or those you want to avoid (‘paranoid’, ‘dizzy’, anxious’). It also allows you to find your nearest medical marijuana dispensary, and to share your weed-smoking experiences with others. It’s a kind of off-your-face-book.

The ad was slick and sober. No close-up shots of sticky buds, but a picture of two professional-looking New Yorkers, one of them jogging, with thought bubbles attached. Ian, who ‘chose an indica cannabis strain to relieve his MS symptoms’, and Molly, who ‘preferred a sativa cannabis’ to fight her cancer, are the responsible face of stonerdom. The medical marijuana movement has always seemed to be aiming for legalisation by euphemism. This time they might well succeed.