Snack time. Such an important event of elementary school life. Where you sat usually determined your social status, but what you brought could raise you to the top of the pack. Everyone glanced around at each other as lunchboxes were unzipped and unpacked. Mini muffins were like gold and Gushers, well, Gushers were little packets of jewels glistening with fruit flavor. Eyes darted about and hands clutched their pre-wrapped delicacies closer, suspicious of any longing glance. I was never in this elite. My snacks consisted of organic pretzels and sliced apples, hardly the high-fructose corn syrup packed wealth that my classmates enjoyed. I wanted so badly to be able to open my lunch and find a Fruit-By-The-Foot of my own. Instead, I was the leper of snack time, as everyone selfishly gobbled his or her respective fruit snacks, Doritos, and Hostess cupcakes.
Many years later, in high school, I slammed my locker door shut only to be greeted with an outstretched hand clutching a tin band-aid box in my face: “Got any money for the weed fund?” I didn’t, but even despite my lack of contribution, the boy (Gabe) invited my friend and me to smoke with him over the weekend. We soon became friends and it was the start of many other pot-sharing hangouts. Little did I know at the time that five years later he’d be my boyfriend of over a year. Some first-sight, this-is-how-mom-and-dad-met story to tell our kids right?
Writing about this memory now has brought up two realizations: one, I don’t think I ever gave him any money, and two, stoners are some of the best sharers in the world.
I can’t think of a time when I was in a room where a bowl was being passed around and I wasn’t offered a hit. Every festival or concert I’ve ever been to I’ve been handed a joint. From who, you might ask? Complete and utter strangers. What’s weirdest is you don’t even have to ask; it’s just passed to you. Friend, family, foes, it doesn’t matter. It seems to be a general practice for everyone to share their pot. In a popular YouTube video, Lady Gaga addresses the crowd at one of her concerts, “I smell marijuana. Who is not sharing?”
Why do stoners want to share? Weed is not exactly cheap and can be a hassle to acquire, especially the good stuff. Not to mention the whole it’s illegal aspect should certainly put a damper on spreading it around. Perhaps they’re carrying along the message of peace and love set down by the hippies. Spreading the wealth ensures good karma and allows you to cash in on an unspoken debt when you’re the one without any bud. Usually, it pays later to be generous.
The fact that there even is a weed culture shows that this is not a solo activity. People share their drugs, which is why there are customs, slang, music, and movies related to marijuana. There are even terms for when people are holding on to whatever smoking apparatus for too long. If you’re “babysitting” or “bogarting” the joint, then you’re being selfish by keeping it to yourself too long and its time to hand it on. It’s puff, puff, pass, not puff, puff, puff, puff for eternity. The normal seating for a smoking session is for everyone to be in a circle, allowing for an ease of passing and sharing. In That 70s Show, the smoking circle is a regular occurrence where the characters, and whoever they’re with at the time, all get high and laugh and discuss whatever issue is going on in that episode.
But when it comes down to it, who even likes getting high alone? Being baked among a bunch of sober people can be fun for a few minutes, but eventually you just end up feeling paranoid and socially awkward. The whole experience of being high is a time for confessions, uncontrollable laughter, and attempts to dissect the world or how faucets work. Seemingly brilliant ideas and concepts are discovered or the oh-my-god-that-was-the-funniest-moment-of-my-entire-life happens. You can only accomplish this by smoking with others and so you share and are shared with.
This universal sharing of marijuana allows it to do something that few activities can: It is a great unifier. Just about everyone smokes and because of that, everyone can smoke with each other. Think about it. If you were to define a stoner, no longer does just the tie-dye covered, dreadlocked, and patchouli scented image come to mind. Athletes, artists, nerds, rich, poor, girls, boys, they all smoke weed. This is why you can find groups comprised of all manner of people, some who you’d never expect to see in the same room let alone sitting next to each other, passing a bowl around. In the film The Breakfast Club, the previously at odds stereotyped characters finally come together (and make their detention much more fun) when Bender shares his stash with the group.
You make friends when you smoke with someone. Suddenly, all of the differences you may have felt before are washed away when you find yourselves laughing at the same ridiculous thing for hours. Oftentimes when you meet someone, weed is one of the first subjects that are brought up to find some common ground. In the case of my boyfriend, if he had never shared his weed that weekend back in freshman year of high school, we may never have become friends who progressed into the couple that we are today.
Maybe this just sounds like some hippie-dippie peace and love mentality, but for something so criminalized and taboo, it is interesting that weed brings such a feeling of community and togetherness. Maybe it’s that secret collectiveness, the unspoken feeling that we’re all part of a club that transcends stereotypes, social class, age, and gender. You don’t have to do or be anything special to enjoy getting high and so everyone can take pleasure in it. And sharing that camaraderie and pleasure has got to be one of the nicest things anyone can do.