I’m going to start this blog post off by saying that stoner subculture is the shit. We look out for each other.
Maria Barcelona (pseudonym for privy-ness) and I land in Denver, Colorado and we make it from the airport to our hotel room before we start scheming. How could we score some bud? We are undocumented stoners amidst this magical rocky mountain landia.
Maria Barcelona’s got street smarts.
We get to our $50/night studio hotel at The Homestead—endearingly nicknamed “The Shithole”—and nothing sounded better than lighting a giant mid-afternoon doobie to bear the hot humidity and to get rid of our travel aches.
Then the power goes out. The whole hotel. And apparently the whole Denver Tech Center, too.
We start scheming how we’re gonna find some weed but really we’re not scheming what we’re actually doing is getting mentally prepared to scope out fellow stoners among our adventures to the kabob and pita shop and conjure up the risky courage to ask a complete stranger if they got any or know someone who does.
Cuz how else would we do it?
We leave the hotel just as the power goes out and begin trekking to Ali Baba’s kabob shop approximately 0.6 miles away from our humble abode on the other side of the freeway from the conference hotel.
It’s hot and sunny and sticky out, about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
Allow me to give some backstory. Maria Barcelona and I meet up in Denver, Colorado for the 25th Annual Society for Disability Studies conference. And, speaking of disability studies, marijuana ain’t no joke. Weed is so stigmatized for so many interlocking systematic reasons and frankly it’s bullshit. Medicinal marijuana is a serious thing and even when it comes to vast embodied experiences like chronic pain, cancer, migraines, PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia, the mainstream still gets their panties in a twist about it. AND, let me be clear that also, substance use is complicated and some people like to get high, for whatever goddamn reason that may be—and cheers to them.
In terms of a more contemporary historical and rhetorical framework surrounding the deviance that is marijuana consumption, I immediately think of the 1980s and Ronald Reagan M.H.R.I.H. (May He Rot In Hell) with Reaganomics’ mass privatization of social services, U.S. imperialism and clandestine genocides through the Dirty Wars in Central and South America, and the whole “War on Drugs” thing. I graduated from D.A.R.E. in 5th grade. Fuck that program trying to instill the fear of god in me when it comes to illicit substance consumptive practices.
Maria Barcelona is a sexy crip of color femme who has immense chronic pain to which I will never truly “know” the extent of her experiences but that’s not the point. And no one, I repeat NO ONE, should ever have the authority to prevent her from accessing medicinal marijuana and consuming it. I suppose the pharmaceutical industry and the medical industrial complex (MIC) is missing out, you know, from exploiting her pain with script after script of acetaminophens and hydrocodone. But that same MIC is the one who won’t cover the costs of new mobility devices that will properly support her hips, legs, arms, back, neck, and other various body parts that are perpetually in never-ending pain.
Me, well, I use ganj for my own psychiatric purposes and impulsive pleasures.
So here we have the crip and the crazy—undocumented stoners across state lines—and we need the goods.
We finish our mid-afternoon lunch and M. Barcelona wants to take the bus back instead of walking. No prob, so we figure out the route and wait for the 4:12pm bus. While we wait we actually try hitchhiking, because for a car the 0.6mile distance is but a two-minute detour. We legitimately try hitchhiking as we wait for the bus but car after car passes us to no avail.
Finally the bus comes and we’re dropped off at the major intersection near The Shithole. I’m squinting on the street corner and rolling my short sleeves up in the humid heat when abruptly I hear M. Barcelona’s voice asking: do you know where we could get any weed?
I immediately look over and it’s a young kid maybe 20 years old with a black LA baseball cap on and in busboy attire. He must’ve just got off work. He looks at M. Barcelona and I and smiles.
I’m actually going to score a spliff right now, he says. I have to travel just north of Denver to my buddy’s farm where he grows.
After some casual conversation introducing ourselves, Brice The Weed Fairy pulls his cellphone out of his pocket to take our number. He laughs.
It’s 4:20, he says.