Getting stoned with locals…REALLY???

pittsburgh 12

By Kenneth Justice

You give marijuana users a bad name!

~ A couple weeks ago I was back in my hometown and was sitting at coffee with a good friend of mine when an old acquaintance of ours stopped in, we hadn’t seen him in a long time,

What have you been up to dude?” we asked

Not much” he said

Though it was a mere two word answer, it turns out that it accurately encompassed what he’d been doing for the last year since I saw him last; not much at all.

Our acquaintance has an Undergraduate Degree in Liberal Arts and almost finished his Master’s Degree in education a few years ago, but dropped out because he got somewhat disillusioned with the college experience. He was working a steady job after he dropped out, but since I saw him last he apparently quit his job and has been couch surfing on whatever sofa he can find; he’s basically homeless with less than a few dollars to his name. Thankfully, he has parents that put just enough money in his bank account at the beginning of every month to cover the cost of food, although it sounds like he usually runs out of money before months end because he buys a lot of marijuana.

Dude, don’t you think you’re the type of person that gives marijuana users a bad name? It seems like you’re just smoking your life away” my friend asked the acquaintance

He looked at us and shrugged, “I don’t really spend much time thinking about things like that, I prefer to just live in the moment” he said

I’m always conflicted when I think about subjects like that; living in the moment or looking to the future. There have been times in my life where I ‘lived in the moment’ where I lived in the moment for long periods of time and at a certain point I woke up and realize I was a lot older than I used to be.

This isn’t to say that I want to constantly be obsessed with looking toward the future; with that kind of attitude I imagine it’s easy to become stressed out and ridden with anxiety. Obviously the answer to this issue as with other subjects is balance; yet finding the proper balance between living in the moment and looking to the future isn’t always clear cut.

I also wonder what it is with chemical substances like marijuana and alcohol that becomes so attractive to people. Have you ever noticed that it seems like more people than not tend to abuse such substances than to maintain healthy attitudes toward them?

Working as a substance abuse counselor I often saw the extremes regarding chemical substance abuse; yet in most cases the people merely began as casual drinkers or casual smokers. However, I want to be careful in what I’m saying because I’m not trying to infer that drinking or smoking is inherently wrong or evil…..not at all. But it does seem that people in Western Culture tend to go to the extremes in most everything we do.

An acquaintance of mine recently returned from Italy and was telling me all about her experiences there and specifically how impressed she was with the wine culture of Italy, “It was amazing to me how integral wine was with the families I stayed with during my trip and how it was treated in a rather normative manner; nobody set out to get drunk each night the way we often do here in the States when we go to the bar with our friends, drinking wine was merely a nice accompaniment to our meals and the social experience” she said.

Could it be that some countries like the United States are raising our children to be too indulgent and too obsessive; an ‘all or nothing attitude’ so to speak?

When I was in college I spent a lot of time researching peer-reviewed articles on the binge drinking culture of college campuses. The United States is one of the few countries that has adopted the attitude that binge drinking in college is considered to be something of a ‘rite of passage’. I wrote a comparative analysis at the time between Asian culture and American culture and demonstrated the way Asian families tend to place a much greater emphasis academic excellence during the undergraduate years of college, while American born youth tend to look at the first couple years of college as a time of drinking and drug experimentation.

With so many states in the U.S. moving toward marijuana legalization I wonder if we will one day be able to create a culture among our youth where marijuana is viewed as nothing more than a once-in-a-while recreational activity, or whether we will be forever plagued with the all-or-nothing attitude that seems to currently plague our society.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,


Categories: Culture & Society

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61 replies

  1. My personal definition of being in the moment includes … no mind-altering substances (as best you can). It was great to be in the moment with your post today, Kenneth.

  2. I find that there are just people who are obsessive. I know people who are “addicted” to junk food, alcohol, weed, shopping, and exercise. Too much of any one thing is bad for you. My niece, not really obsessed over anything in particular, is one of those couch surfers. She is just plain lazy. There are those types as well. Lazy mooches. Someday the friends and parents of niece’s and your acquaintance will wake up and stop enabling their lazy you-know-whats. They will either rise to the occasion or become lost among the countless people who do not wish to be part of society. They will live on the fringe. Outcast, and quite possibly happier. But who am I to judge? I drink over a pot of coffee every day and smoke too much.

    • Agreed. Those parents aren’t doing their son any good by depositing that money into his account every month. They’re just aiding and abetting him in wasting his life away. What’s needed is some tough love. Cut him off financially. Then he’ll either have to get a job and make something of himself or sink down until he comes to his senses. As it is, his parents are almost guaranteeing his failure in life. That’s not love. It’s paying for their son’s self-destruction.

  3. Our culture will continue to be what we make of it. As much as I believe the media/entertainment industry has an impact on society, ultimately it starts with the message being communicated in the home. If enough parents teach their children healthy life habits and the concept of balance then it will eventually become the standard. If the majority of parents are too busy/overwhelmed/under educated themselves/etc to be able to impart that kind of knowledge on the next generation than we will continue down the aimless path so many have found themselves on.

  4. A lot of colleges today are being called “glorified high schools.” Many kids want to go to the “best Party schools,” caring little about the degree programs. Many don’t make it to their second year. Drugs and rape seems to be the things to do at school for a lot of kids. Many universities are under investigation for mishandling and hiding rape cases. One person said, “if parents new about all the rapes on campus, they would never send their daughters to school.” So college definitely isn’t what it used to be…learning seems to be a by product, for a lot of kids.

  5. Medical pot is one of the best pain killers for people with constand pain. The side effects of pot is laughter and eating ding dongs. The side effects of pain pills are to be addicts and death. Now which medications would you like to take. Alcohol is much worse on your body? Whaf’s the matter with feeling good?

  6. I want to add to this… ‘balance between living in the moment and looking to the future’. I would add ‘learning from the past’. Think of it as a troika, trifecta, triple play, etc.

    As to whether marijuana legalization will alter the ‘all-or-nothing attitude’, I doubt it. It hasn’t worked that way for alcohol. I am in favor of legalization. It should be treated similar to alcohol. License it, sell it legally the way we do liquor, stop throwing people in jail for having it.

    • Agreed on your comments regarding legalization.

    • I would also like to see hemp return as a viable crop. Yes, everyone thinks of rope, but it makes much better paper than trees. But it’s difficult to tell hemp plants vs. cannabis plants at a glance– and difficult to enforce one as legal and the other as not. Much easier to legalize it all, then regulate cannabis as we do our other socially acceptable drugs as you said.

    • Aren’t they already harvesting a lot of Hemp Jak?

    • Not locally. Most hemp product is imported. The hemp paper I had a chance to handle was imported from the Philippines.

      There are a number of farmers in the U.S. that would like to grow hemp. From what I read, they seem to believe that stoner culture is one of the biggest obstacles to their interest in doing so, i.e., as long as focus is on the dangers of marijuana, and a subculture that uses it to excess, there is no viable way for them to grow such a crop.

    • Thanks for the clarification, I didn’t even know this till you alerted me Jak

  7. Living in the moment is all well and good if one is footing their own bill. The example with your friend is that he is living in the moment at the expense of others. His parents need to stop enabling him as it gives him no incentive to succeed on his own.

    • I’ve noticed, or maybe people just talk about it more, that the generations younger than me seem more likely to do as they please while mooching off their parents/family/govt. They would rather be happy than responsible (contributing) members of society. They have little interest in education and appear to lack the kind of motivation to make something of themselves that was drilled into me as I grew up. My brother is an example of that. We grew up in the same house but the 8 years between us have highlighted the huge differences in how we live our lives. He still lives at home with my parents, works a minimum wage job and doesn’t help my parents out at all, even by just cleaning or doing yard work. He couldn’t even muster the motivation to take charge of a bad situation with his daughter and eventually she died. They argue that there is no reward at the end of the rainbow so why try. Although my parents enabled him while his daughter was alive and living with them (for her sake), I have a feeling they’ve reached the end of their patience and only time will tell if he finds a way to make it on his own. I wonder what would happen if everyone stopped enabling selfish behavior in others?

    • It is a real challenge for any parent, that is for certain. One does not want to see their child in trouble or danger, yet enabling them only weakens them.

      My personal experience is that tough love works when there is a lot of LOVE connected to it. I had a situation in which I had to allow a child in my family learn the hard way. There was a lot of noise when I first did it…but a year later, things were quite different, bad habits broken and never returned. I second guessed myself more than once but stuck to my decision. 🙂

      I have seen many children since that time who were essentially parasites to the family…all the way into their forties…no one wins.

    • “a lot of love connected to it”

      100% agree Mrs. P, as long as there is consistency and love, there tends to be greater success.

    • Yes…consistency is also a key component to success!

  8. Hi Kenneth, great piece! I teach morality in a Catholic high school. I have juniors. They are surprised when I tell them that “there isn’t much they do in Europe that I admire but the way they introduce alcohol usage to young people is admirable and I wish we did it here.” Sadly a political climate and lots of lobbying lead to a 21 drinking age across the board here. I still think it’s wrong that some of my students could be willing to die for country within a year but not pop open a beer to celebrate when they make it home. IMO we need to do what the French do. Let our 14 year-olds have half a glass of wine at dinner with mom and dad right there – showing them how to drink responsibly. I’m also not opposed to legal recreational use of weed (though I’ve never touched it myself). But there sure are a whole lot of people who give it a bad name (just like some of my Irish drunks).

  9. Reblogged this on Harvey Millican: Raising Your Kids Without Lowering Your IQ and commented:
    I just came across this piece in my reader and found it very interesting (and worthy of sharing). Read and enjoy or don’t. It’s not my work. LOL. Props to Kenneth the Culture Monk for this post.

  10. Moderation is not a concept that Americans seem to be able to grasp. The constant striving to “have it all” or “to be the best” is ingrained in our culture. Everything is a competition and unless you are on the top, you do not matter. Being good is not good enough. Until this changes the entire concept of “going all the way” with drugs/alcohol/sex/religion/gambling will not change.

  11. Last week my surgical patient (mid 40’s) asked me if i’d like to get some fresh air with him. I told him I wish we could. Soon enough he had walked out of the hospital and guess why? He sneaked out to smoke mariujana; his roommate told me all about. By the time security found him he was done and back in his room. How crazy was that; I had a all day conversation with both patients about drugs and both agreed that mariujana it’s better than all drugs they’ve been taken. I’m very untidrugs, but they liked me for not being judgemental, but I was shocked.
    Disturbing and dissopointing how drugs and olcohol are chosen over a productive happy life.
    Almost half way to your tour,Really?😃
    Thumbs up Kenneth 🙂

  12. My definition of addiction is anything which interferes with your day to day life, but even that is subjective culturally. Such a huge discussion and one I have regularly with my kids [who do not live at home, but who have struggled with either marijuana or alcohol]. Good post.

  13. I’ve had two conversations in the last six months over dinner tables about “living in the moment” that left me feeling frustrated. No drugs were involved, but these folks had embraced the Eckhard Tolle-Oprah-Deepak spirituality in a way that seems to get them off the hook for some major responsibilities or the hard work of relationships. My experience is that true mindfulness brings you into a place of compassion, service and awareness of ways you can help others, not deeper self-involvement. When “detachment” is used as detachment from others and the stuff of life, it is not spiritual, at least not in a good way.

  14. As I read this I couldn’t help but think about food in the same context. Food is ness for life, yet in our culture it is so often abused.

  15. Reblogged this on driftersonline and commented:
    read after drinking

  16. I’ve experienced enough mind-altering substances back in the 70’s. My personal belief is that they did nothing to enhance my life and only dragged me down and held me back. But then again, I do believe we do things to extremes here in the Western culture. I can have a drink once in awhile and be no worse for the wear. But let pot be legalized and have everyone misusing it just like they misuse alcohol? We aren’t responsible enough as a society for that imho.

  17. I think living in the moment is a bit like living like your dying. It’s supposed to make people make the most out of today. Of course, some future planning is always good to. You have to be going somewhere.

    As for wine, it’s amazing how they treat it in Europe. When I was in Ireland, we’d have a glass of wine at lunch, a glass before dinner, during dinner and after dinner. It was completely normal and rarely was getting drunk the goal. It was just an accompaniment to the conversation.

    I do think we have a tendency to obsess over things. Whether is be a celebrity or a franchise, so many want to know everything there is to know and own everything they could possibly own. It’s frustrating, in a way. People are learning the value of stuff more than they are learning the value of anything else.

  18. I don’t think living in the moment is an all or nothing thing. I would consider myself a person who lives in the moment in the sense that I mindfully accept and mostly enjoy the experiences that I have. However, I still do things like, pay my bills, save for vacations and retirement, and do other things that involve planning.
    I was a pot smoker in college in order to numb myself and ease my anxiety. My mother was terminally ill during those days and my weekends were soberly spent caring for her, while my weekdays were wake and bake away at school. (I still managed to graduate with a 3.7 GPA-go figure).
    I haven’t smoked for 27 years, and even if marijuana was legal, I would stay away from it. I’ve found more productive ways to cope with life. I have no desire to live in a haze. As far as legalization is concerned, I do think pot is safer than alcohol and it does have some wonderful medicinal purposes. Just like alcohol, it will be misused–but I think people prone to misuse would seek out something to numb themselves–legal or not.
    Enjoy that coffee! 🙂

  19. The fact is we are all living in the moment. We don’t actually have any other option, but what that means, what life means, requires perspective. To give meaning to the moment we need to understand where we came from and where we are going. Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” As a bike rider,I love this quote and after toss it around. On one of these occasions a person commented, “You can also just put your foot down.” He had a good point. Personally I prefer bikes when they are moving but there are times when it is better to stop… like at an intersection with cross traffic. Your friend who is living in the moment is in a state of balance. Doing nothing is balance. Before we judge his situation we need some perspective. We need to understand what the alternative is. The assumption is that anything is better than nothing but in a world which appears dead set on destruction, I’m not sure that is alway the case. While there are many people doing really wonderful things there are others who are causing a great deal of harm. I find pot smokers to be pretty harmless.

  20. Living in the now, or looking to the future…..marijuana, drinking alcohol….American kids partying, other cultures focused on education everything can be summed up with one word: moderation. Moderation is the great key of life. Work and play, responsibilities and spontaneity. In America, too many people don’t teach their kids about moderation, or even follow it themselves. Think about food; it’s ok to have a few cookies, not a whole box. Yet another great post 🙂 kudos!

    • Your right, we binge eat like CRAZY in this country. It really drives me nuts that we’ve demonized things like cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol (not that I’m defending those things) and yet we ignore how awful we are as a country when it comes to out of control eating 😦

  21. It seems to me, at least by the example in this post, that the understanding of what it means to live in the moment has been corrupted. To me it does not mean to drift by day to day and do whatever presents itself in any given moment without any thought to what the consequences or future may bring. I think it means to live with consciousness. To be astutely aware of the moment, to absorb it, to relish it, to enjoy it … and quite the opposite of what this person is doing … being oblivious.

    I also think that obsessive behavior is a symptom of our increasingly unsatisfying lifestyle. The ‘rat race’. The 9-5 doldrum. The cubicle life of pushing paper yet producing nothing of real or tangible value. It drives us to seek outlets and substance abuse is a learned and social behavior. Our society hasn’t developed enough healthy outlets. Yet. I remain an optimist. I see many yearning for a healthy lifestyle. We see all sorts of “healthy” foods being marketed. The number of people doing yoga these days is increasing exponentially. Tons are chucking it all in and traveling around the world. I think more and more are seeking a deeper and more meaningful reality.

    • Adelicia,

      Great point; perhaps that is what it comes down to; living in the moment ‘has been corrupted’ and our culture has created an entirely new and perhaps bad concept of what it means.

  22. Good post Kenneth.

    Indeed, it seems people, like water, tend to take the path of least resistance. There is no resistance to “living in the moment.” Kind of like boiling a frog in water…its comfortable…and when the water gets too hot, you’re dead! ~ dave

  23. I think it might be an Anglo-Saxon, Celtic sort of thing, as the same thing happened while I was at art college in England back in the olden days. But it is spreading to Spain, where lots of kids buy bottles of spirits and bags of marijuana or hash at weekends just to get blasted out of their minds. The government made what are known as ´botellons´ – hundreds of kids meeting in public places with supermarket bags full of booze – illegal just a few years ago, to try to halt it, but it just drove it elsewhere.

    I posted a piece about alcoholism on my blog only just the other week: and have had a few interesting responses.

  24. I think you nailed it, it’s the all-or-nothing approach that is the biggest threat. Moderates need to make more noise!

  25. Unfortunately, binge drinking is on the rise in Italy. Almost half of all boys and 20% of all girls are binge drinking, especially on weekends. I blame the US influence…

  26. While I agree with the tendency to be excessive and part of that is due to “rites of passage” if you will, it seems to me that part of it is more about rebellion because culture here is so strict. You were mentioning Italy, well Europeans are much more relaxed about things (at least from what I see) and so there just doesn’t seem to be the need to “break the rules” which then has a tendency to lead to excess that’s more than just rebellion. True – it does seem to be the “American way” to do things in excess – including working too hard, which leads to high stress, etc. Some of that may simply be that this country is much younger than Europe – they’ve already been through their trials and tribulations if you will and have figured certain things out already (just a thought). Of course, I suppose the hole in that theory is some younger countries don’t have the same “excess” issue, but again, that may partly stem from the rigid, strictness of our society versus places like Costa Rica. They understand the value of living, whereas here the value is placed on working hard so you can have the “American Dream” – again helping lead to excess of various things.

  27. Nice. . Nice. For a while there I thought I was reading the words of your friend the liberal arts major. Which makes you in my eyes a PhD in the Human sciences. And concerning the ” American Dream “. Have you seen the Blog entitled ” Lost Hope ” by Elena Levon. It’s like bring to light a slow poison in societies.

  28. “Working as a substance abuse counselor I often saw the extremes regarding chemical substance abuse; yet in most cases the people merely began as casual drinkers or casual smokers. However, I want to be careful in what I’m saying because I’m not trying to infer that drinking or smoking is inherently wrong or evil…..not at all. But it does seem that people in Western Culture tend to go to the extremes in most everything we do.”

    I could never work your job due to the fact that I believe smoking is immoral for a number of reasons. The pollution of the air and the affect that it has on all life is a good example of how the choice of so many smokers hurts those who need to breath clean air.

    I do not think there is a reason that drinking alcohol, smoking dangerous chemicals, or doing sex with random strangers should ever be referred to as “casual”. The harm they cause can’t be denied.

    • Chandler, do you think ‘immoral’ is the best term for your dislike of smoking? Immoral seems to bring with it more serious connotations then merely saying it isn’t good for one’s health.

  29. is it only English-speaking nations that binge drink?

    • Cat,

      I’ll have to look into that I’m not sure….I’ve only ever studied Western Cultures on the subject of binge drinking.

    • My experience is limited, but in most European cultures wine is just something that makes the food taste better! British youths however seem to think that if they can remember what they were doing, they didn’t have a good time.

  30. You make some great points here. I appreciate them. Peace and best, John

  31. Being in the moment and living in the moment has nothing to do with being a stoner. Being in the moment involves being aware of everything and fully living whatever is happening without being stuck in the past or living a future fantasy. Stoners don’t live in the moment, they’re just riding the drug high or looking for the next fix.

    I’m fine with people using medical marijuana. However, anyone who thinks that life is about being a stoner and equates living in the ozone with living in the moment could do with a stint at a Buddhist monastery to get a clue as to what being in the moment – and living that eternal moment of life – is all about.

  32. Finding happiness, feeling joy, excitement is a encoded purpose in ourselves, however, nowehere in this Earth, in this era or before, people could have an everlating experience of them.

    Anything can be an addiction, even soda or sex, a tv-show or earbug music. As a great debate was at the Great Depression whether the alcohol or the marijuana would be legalized, one of the lobby interests became the winner and we can say, it is a great deal of business to make people to be addicted (and cured, or treated, where money can be spent).

    All these misuse will be, unless people will start to feel complete, worthy and joyous. If we examine the Nature around us, in its every level reciprocal relationships exist. The same way, we all long for a certain give and take relationship, what creates positive energy for prosperity, existence and multiplication.

    We all need to discover the four great realms of heart: children, siblings, conjugal, parental. And we are to help and support each other to complete it within our lifetime.

  33. Very interesting argument, I don’t have much to add as I pretty much agree with what you’ve been saying!

  34. really good message, thank you for sharing 😉

  35. Hey Kenneth. You know, I really think that human beings, in general, are extremists and have a real difficult time finding that ‘balance’. Like you mentioned in the US, how there’s such an emphasis on getting drunk when one drinks, unlike Italy or France or even Argentina. Then the Asians place a huge emphasis on academics. I think they’re just different masks. When I was in China, part of out reach strategy was to do a 2 week cultural exchange at a Chinese university. We learned that the emphasis on academics is sooooo strong, that it becomes something extremist and degrading of the individual that isn’t accomplishing or doing well. For example, if a student is called to the front to give an answer and he doesn’t know it, he is ridiculed and put down by the teacher in front of all the students. The push for academic excellence is, in large part, to not suffer shame.
    At any rate, each culture has their ‘thing’. Brazilians are extremists when it comes to ‘putting up with’ and ‘not stepping on anyone’s toes’. So then you end up with a ton of disrespect and corruption. I can’t believe that the president we’ve had here for the past four years is in the the lead to take on another four.

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