D.C. Elites Are Worried About Marijuana Smoking Etiquette, Not So Much About the Drug War

"At a time when smoking marijuana is increasingly mainstream, legal and socially acceptable, when and where to inhale is a question flummoxing regular smokers, part-time partakers and nonsmokers alike," writes Kyle Spencer in the Washington Post.

In many parts of the country, marijuana users are flummoxed about how to explain their arrest records to current and future employers, how to regain custody of their children from the state, how to make all their drug court appearances, how to pay mandatory substance abuse counseling fees, and how to get their seized vehicles returned so that they can go to work and drug court and mandatory substance abuse counseling. 

In D.C., marijuana users are worried about etiquette: 

A new challenge is figuring out how we’re all supposed to navigate dinners, cocktail parties, barbecues and cross-generational family get-togethers as more people liken puffing on a joint to sipping a glass of wine, while others still consider it a malodorous habit that’s best done not at all, or at least far from our house.

Here in D.C., it is far from a partisan debate, something that both Republicans and Democrats struggle with. “It’s a cross-party issue,” said a 27-year-old aide to a GOP congressman who, like many interviewed for this story, preferred not to give her name, further highlighting people’s discomfort with this subject. She says she smokes often at home, but does so without telling her ultraconservative, 50-something boss, her co-workers, or even many of her friends. “It’s really hard to know how people stand on it.”

If you've ever wondered why Washington, D.C. is so languorous about confronting our failed war on drugs, it's because there is no war on drugs in Washington, D.C. Not if you're white, that is. At every party I've been to since moving to D.C.--so many parties, dear reader!--pot was present. The party G. Gordon Liddy's producer threw in Northern Virginia? People smoked pot there. The house-warming party hosted by an active duty air force officer? People smoked pot there, too. I've seen an Obama speechwriter smoke pot, and a McCain advisor smoke pot, and I even smoked pot with a congressional staffer whose boss was working on anti-marijuana legislation. (All of us are going to hell.) 

That's not to say D.C. is Haight-Ashbury. White elites can, if they're obnoxiously indiscreet, catch some heat. But even the heat is different. CBS reporter Howard Arenstein and his wife learned that in 2010 when a Georgetown neighbor called the cops to report the 11 massive, stinky marijuana plants growing in Arenstein's backyard. In many states, 11 plants would be more than enough for jail time. In D.C., the arresting officer didn't bother to show up to Arenstein's hearing, so his charges were dropped

Is it any wonder that pot-smoking elites in D.C. worry more about party fouls than the externatlities of the drug war? As far as these people concerned, there is no drug war. 

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Life is so tough for our benevolent overlords. May the Divine Augustus Obamus Caesar grant them the strength to weather these trials.

  • the origin of the feces||

    ave obamator! te morituri salutamus!

  • SIV||

    "Laws are for niggers and po' white trash"

  • some guy||

    You can always tell when the author is forced to do his own graphic design. Seriously, Mike? You still use Paint?

  • Ted S.||

    I think he learned from the Henry Payne School of Labeling.

  • some guy||

    Lesson 1: Label ALL the things!
    Lesson 2: Label some non-things!
    Lesson 3: Label ALL the labels!
    Lesson 4: Find a gullible buyer.

  • Brandon||

    Riggs is a hipster.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Puff Puff Pass

  • Rasilio||

    Ok, given that it is generally considered not ok to smoke tobbacco indoors at a party any more I fail to see why it would be considered ok to smoke pot. Now eating it baked into brownies might be ok, the issues is not the getting stoned at the party, it is the smell of the smoke which is likely to offend at least some (me included that stuff is gross smelling)

  • nicole||

    I've known what I consider a bizarre number of people who will allow pot smoking in their house/apt but not cigarette smoking. I think it's a pretty big thing at this point, since tobacco smoking indoors is a lot less popular than when I was a kid (and grew up in a smoking household, which is no longer smoking).

  • mr simple||

    Well, pot smoke smell goes away eventually. Faster if you open a window. Cigarette smoke makes everything smell bad until you get it thoroughly cleaned.

  • nicole||

    That's definitely true, though the evaluation of which smells bad, good, or indifferent would seem to be personal. I like tobacco smoke.

  • mr simple||

    Fair enough. I've smoked a number of different things and the only smell I've ever "liked" was pot, and only because I knew I was in the right spot at that time.

  • Brett L||

    Get a box fan and tape a standard A/C air filter on the intake side. Your room will smell fine long before the furniture starts to stink.

  • Brandybuck||

    The pot smell doesn't go away, it's just that you pot smokers don't smell it anymore. Sort of like how tobacco smokers don't smell their stink.

  • R C Dean||

    If you're going to have pot smoking in any kind of crowded/urban/residential area, it pretty much has to be indoors.

    Nobody is going to send their guests out to stand on the sidewalk to break the law.

  • nicole||

    Depends quite a bit on where you are, in my experience, and many of these people were in Montreal, where it was all but decriminalized and everyone smoked week in the park, on sidewalks, etc., on the regular.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I smoked in the street with a local in Montreal. And in Vancouver (this time, less than 30' from a cop who had pulled a guy over for drunk driving).

  • Torontonian||

    That's what backyards and balconies are for.

  • Libertarius||

    That's what living in the country is for. There's no one to hassle you.

  • freeAgent||

    People smoke pot outside in cities sometimes.

  • Brandon||

    Vaporize.

  • nicole||

    who, like many interviewed for this story, preferred not to give her name, further highlighting people’s discomfort with this subject

    Disgusting. Maybe she doesn't want to give her name or tell her boss because she could be arrested or fired? Or, you know, not, depending, but still fucking disgusting.

  • Mongo||

    Our code talk in the company of squares is the not-too-hard-to-figure-out 'Bud Anderson':

    "Bud Anderson stopped by the other night - he was pretty funny as usual."

    "Have you seen Bud Anderson lately? - or is he out-of-town?"

    "I partied with Bud Anderson's Mexican girlfriend."

    Etc.

  • John||

    Here in D.C., it is far from a partisan debate, something that both Republicans and Democrats struggle with. “It’s a cross-party issue,” said a 27-year-old aide to a GOP congressman who, like many interviewed for this story, preferred not to give her name, further highlighting people’s discomfort with this subject. She says she smokes often at home, but does so without telling her ultraconservative, 50-something boss, her co-workers, or even many of her friends. “It’s really hard to know how people stand on it.”

    Die in a fire you lying hypocritical bitch. Test every God damned one of those hill rats and fire and prosecute every single one who comes up positive. How dare that bitch enforce laws that she won't live by herself.

  • Doctor Whom||

    No, no, no, you silly billy. Laws are for them to enforce and for us little people to obey.

    Aside: I have learned some "news you can use," namely, that I am consistently invited to the wrong DC parties.

  • John||

    No kidding. But the problem is that going to them would require hanging out with hill rats. And frankly, I am not sure they make pot good enough to justify that.

  • some guy||

    Mixing libertarians with hill rats during gun control deliberations is NOT a good idea.

  • Brett L||

    Yeah. We probably can't fire the legislators for it... In FL, every time they bring it up, the legislators go on about how it isn't a (state) Constitutional requirement and therefore would be depriving people of their duly elected rep. But there's no reason their staffers can't be tested and fired.

  • John||

    All these people are so gung ho on testing welfare recipients. Why not Congressional staffers? Test every damned one of them weekly.

  • thom||

    If you're going to test the first, aren't you, by definition, testing the second group as well?

  • NeonCat||

    I was going to object to you lumping in welfare recipients with staffers, but my heart isn't in it. Welfies are more dangerous at the ballot box, staffies day to day, I'd guess.

  • Ted S.||

    If you've done nothing illegal, you have nothing to hide.

    Make certain the legislators know in no uncertain terms that they're wicked hypocrites.

  • Brett L||

    To be sure, were I to run on a drug testing platform -- after my brain injury, maybe -- I would be tested weekly and post the results on my campaign and later government website.

  • Robert||

    That's not fair. It's not as if each aide, or even each member of Congress, could do anything alone about the laws. As individuals, they're as stuck with them as the rest of us are. So how is she lying hypocritic bitch? Wouldn't you rather have secret sympathizers on the job than true believers in your doom?

  • mr simple||

    Every party I've been to since moving to D.C.--so many parties, dear reader!--featured pot.

    The truth comes out! You cosmo, orange-line, something-or-other going to parties and having fun. I don't know, I heard that somewhere, is that how you use those terms?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Those are probably the same parties where they piss on a cross, knock up unmarried women, and undermine traditional families by getting gay-married.

  • SIV||

    "Cocktail" is beltway codeword for MaryJane.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And "MaryJane" is code for the Demon Weed.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Am I interpreting that into "1950" correctly?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    More like 1930, but whatever, if you'se a viper!

  • NeonCat||

    I prefer Fats Waller's version:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjUkiCffyX0

    "Everybody's here but the police, and they'll be here any minute."

  • Ted S.||

    SIV doesn't get drunk; SIV gets tight.

  • robc||

    Every party I've been to since moving to D.C.--so many parties, dear reader!--featured pot.

    I dont live in DC (duh), but I literally cant remember the last time I was at a party that featured pot. Or it even made an appearance.

  • John||

    Not even in college when I was friends with a lot of dead heads. Did people smoke pot? Sure. But I never recall anyone having a party whose single purpose was to get stoned. Small get togethers to watch bad TV and movies, sure. But whole parties? Doubtful.

  • Brett L||

    Pretty sure I attended 4 straight 4/20 parties during college. I would say that our primary purpose was to consume as much pot as we could through as many different devices as possible. Plus brownies. And kegs. But after college, no.

  • some guy||

    So... the mindset of Congressional staffers is similar to that of college kids? No sense of responsibility. No accountability. No worries. Full of righteousness. Sounds about right.

  • Brandybuck||

    I do remember a time ten years ago when this dickweed pothead decided to light up in the middle of the living room. He was absolutely clueless why we were all upset. Maybe the fact that the tobacco smokers were polite and stepped out into the patio to light up could have been a clue.

  • Sidd Finch||

    If you've ever wondered why Washington, D.C. is so languorous about confronting our failed war on drugs, it's because there is no war on drugs in Washington, D.C. Not if you're white, that is.

    The DC PD is about 2/3 black. They must have that false consciousness thingy.

  • ||

    Formal Thanksgiving? Sounds weird and shitty to me.

  • wareagle||

    lot of flummoxing going on.

  • T||

    Every party I've been to since moving to D.C.--so many parties, dear reader!--pot was present.

    I'm predicting the next book by a Reason staffer:

    Florida Cracker to Beltway Cosmotarian: A Personal Journey by Mike Riggs.

  • Mongo||

    (Book cover painting by Boris Vallejo)

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    I HATE the smell of that crap. The stench does linger. I've heard vaporizers reduce the stink? I suppose the same rules for cigarette smoking in public should be applied to pot. On a Friday evening I've taken a stroll around the neighborhood and smelled probably 4 different weed varietals being consumed. I'm not a fan of the stuff, but as long as they don't smoke it in my house, they can do what they want.

  • Brett L||

    Turn the other cheek, eh?

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    I'm still appalled that we think it's ok to:
    put people in cages
    rob them of their property
    kill them
    violate their freedoms

    All because they want to consume a plant of some sort. It's barbaric.

  • the origin of the feces||

    Agreed.

    Now can we get back in the lab and finish cooking that dihydrogen monoxide into ethanol.

    Gots a terrible thirst over here.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    At every party I've been to since moving to D.C.--so many parties, dear reader!--pot was present. The party G. Gordon Liddy's producer threw in Northern Virginia? People smoked pot there. The house-warming party hosted by an active duty air force officer? People smoked pot there, too. I've seen an Obama speechwriter smoke pot, and a McCain advisor smoke pot, and I even smoked pot with a congressional staffer whose boss was working on anti-marijuana legislation.

    Names Riggs!!! I want names!

    And phone numbers too, please.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    A veritable Versailles on the Potomac.

    Laws are for the little people.

  • R C Dean||

    Versailles on the Potomac

    I'm totally stealing that.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Is it any wonder that pot-smoking elites in D.C. worry more about party fouls than the externatlities of the drug war? As far as these people concerned, there is no drug war.

    And no gun control either, as Mr Gregory has officially evaded prosecution.

  • thinksubstance||

    Just goes to show you that Washington knows that the law against marijuana is a lie. Since 1937 we have been living with this lie. Isn't it time to tell the truth so that all Americans can live free. Double standards where ever we look, it's also time to put people who have integrity in these positions of leadership.

  • ||

    Native born Chicagoan’ drug dealers are in a state of flux, there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Jive talkers and Cha-Cha dancing criminals refuse to share their territories with illegal Indians from Mexico. Gangbangers must learn from New York’s drug dealers how to get along.

  • ygsrf||

    2013 Happy New Year,NFL,NBA,fashion kickoff for u

  • dcdrew||

    I don't think this says anything about how DC residents feel about the drug war. The author interviewed people about pot etiquette in DC, so that's why it seems like people in DC are concerned about pot etiquette, and not the drug war. If she had asked about the drug war, I gaurantee you the article would have looked different.

  • شات عراقنا||

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