The Magical Mystery Cure

The first time I smoked pot, I was in eighth grade. I smoked it. I inhaled. And I enjoyed it. The inaugural inhalation wasn’t planned or anything. My best buddy and I happened to be snooping around her older sister’s bedroom, and we happened upon her hookah. Holla! Just having that opium den artifact in our hot little hands was enough to make the to-smoke-or-not-to-smoke decision for us. It was a four-foot-tall, carved affair with tentacles jutting out all over—the stuff of Janis Joplin album covers and seventies cop movies.

If the events of that afternoon had been a syllogistic proposition, it would have broken down something like this: Hookah is to bored eighth-grade nerd girls as rabbit hole is to Alice in Wonderland. My friend and I looked at each other and wordlessly began rummaging through the dirty clothes on the floor of her sister’s bedroom for a Bic lighter.

Four hours after bringing that hookah to my lips for the first time, I was mapping out a plan for where I could purchase this magical substance, how much it would cost, how I was going to afford it, where I would smoke it, and, of course, how not to get caught. I soon deduced that the best time for me to do it was before my first class, back behind the convenience store in the strip mall next to the school. Conveniently, that was also where I could buy it.
What saves this story from being a script for an after-school special is that a couple of weeks into my rigorous self-medication regimen, my grades … shot through the roof! For the first time, it wasn’t at all difficult to concentrate, and all of my previously hated subjects (and their previously hated teachers) seemed infinitely and positively fascinating.

That year, I got my first A in math after toking up and stumbling onto the realization that all math is plaid—as in, all mathematical communications are interrelated grids of different values. Calculus is really just a specific pattern of tartan. Once you know that, you can figure out pretty much everything.

Full disclosure: I did become a somewhat less social creature than I’d been before starting to smoke pot, and I gained ten pounds. But that’s what happens when you’re holed up in your room—cranking Hall and Oates, reading Beowulf, and laughing like a bowl full of jelly while stuffing your face with Fritos.

It’s just been established that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Before we all start mulching for the backyard herb garden, here’s a quote from the Scripps Research Institute (aka Team Ganja): “Our results provide a mechanism whereby the THC molecule can directly impact Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” the study authors wrote. “In addition, THC may prove valuable as a model for developing new and more effective drugs to treat the disease.” That’s a direct quote from the October 2006 issue of Molecular Pharmaceutics, which just happens to be lying around in my bathroom next to the National Enquirer.

So, it sounds like the big plan is to do what big pharmaceutical companies do: isolate the THC molecule, put it in a pill, and give it a crazy name that alludes to its function and contents. (I did some focus grouping and came up with Doobitral.) Then, charge senior citizens twenty bucks a hit for it. For the old folks who can’t afford it, I’m suggesting that the State of Minnesota organize a monthly caravan of gaily painted VW microbuses to Vancouver.

Of course, the company that comes up with the definitive formula for Doobitral should hire Willie Nelson as its celebrity spokesperson. Can’t you just see the commercial? Willie strolling in a waving field of cannabis, his guitar slung over his shoulder, a knowing smile crinkling in the corners of his eyes as the voiceover delivers the obligatory side-effects warning—Caution: Doobitral may cause the giggles, profound sloth, inability to sustain or even feign interest in sex or violence, a tendency to begin declarative sentences with “Dude,” and a craving for crunchy snacks.

Finally, a warning to kids who may be reading this: If you find yourself tempted to indulge, you can always talk to a parent, teacher, or school counselor. Dude, any of them can probably hook you up with some Adderall or Ritalin.