Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is Everyone Smoking Pot but Me?

In Canada everyone’s smoked pot, my best friends, my colleagues, even my mom. But I’ll stick to my prescription drugs.

A man holds shredded marijuana in the palm of his hand during a 4/20 rally to demand the legalization of marijuana outside the Senate building in Mexico City.  

In 1990, in Canada’s capital, if you drove along Bank Street toward the parliament buildings at a particular time in the day, there was a good chance you’d find a blond grimacing teenager walking back and forth yelling. At nothing. He had smoked pot and gone psychotic, my mother said. “His poor parents,” she would say.

That towheaded cautionary tale is the reason I have never tried marijuana—and the reason I am a bad Canadian. Here, the grass never seems greener than when you’re smoking it. Last month, UNICEF reported that Canadian teens were the most likely to smoke pot of all teens in the developed world (28 percent of 15-year-olds copped to smoking up) and, according to the 2011 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 39 percent of Canadians have tried marijuana at least once in their lives. The U.N. report on global drug use confirmed last year that Canada and the U.S. were the second-highest consumers of the most popular drug in the world (Australia and New Zealand remain more stoned than us).  

Living in Toronto, it's virtually impossible to leave your house without, at some point, walking into a skunky cloud of aptly named chronic—forget 4/20, every day is a pot holiday. And if you're not smelling it, you're being offered it. For instance, when Mary, an old college bud of mine from Toronto who now lives in the U.K., visits her friends back home, she is generally offered weed instead of wine. And Jay, a chronic pot smoker throughout his 20s and one of my former colleagues, claimed there are so many dealers in the city that at one time he had five to choose from. These days he buys from a guy on my street.

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