Smoking once a year isn’t hip

By Ben Moriarty

There are two things I dislike in this world more than anything. Those two things are hipsters and hippies. And as much as I hate to say it, because I really, really don’t like hipsters, I think they might be slightly better than hippies, only for the fact that they aren’t quite so annoying to look at.

Despite this, and resulting in much confusion on my part, I have mixed feelings towards the self-made holiday that occurs every year on April 20. That holiday is today, in case you forgot already.

If you have been on campus for more than one year, you’ll know this celebration. People skip class, go up on the Hill or Southwest beach, hang out in the sun if they’re lucky, listen to some music and relax. And some people smoke marijuana.

The celebration today has a lot of different themes and motives. For one, there is the idea that it should be, at least somewhat, a time to reflect on our country’s supposedly backwards view and laws regarding marijuana. A lot of celebrations in cities get speakers, politicians and organized festivals. And then, like the Cannabis Reform Coalition on campus, you sit on the ground and think about the laws, get all worked up about conspiracies in the past, talk about The Man and how The Man is bringing you down, and then do absolutely nothing to change anything at all in the slightest. But you’ll always be able to pat each other on the back for knowing the truth because you watched Reefer Madness.

There is, as demonstrated on the Hill, the idea that it is a day to relax and have fun. To hang out with your friends, enjoy yourselves in the new days of springtime, and just bask in the culture of the people who surround you. This can be an outlook shared by people who go out and don’t even smoke. But really, there wouldn’t be this nationwide day if it were not for that.

This, of course, is that it is a day where you get high. Marijuana in the morning, marijuana in the evening, marijuana at suppertime.

Though, the focus on a drug, isn’t just shared every 20th of April, but other times of the year.

“I don’t really smoke myself, but I guess I don’t care if other people do. It’s pretty much the same as St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo. It’s just another excuse for people to act like they have a reason to drink or smoke rather than just admitting they have an addiction problem,” said Zach Goodale, Class of 2011.

And he’s completely correct. There are two types of people who participate in 4/20. There are those who smoke a lot and are just using this made up holiday as a platform to do what they do most every other day; it is a way to justify and reason. If there is a day where a lot of people do something, whether it is smoking or drinking or whatever, it loses its negative connotations slightly.

Then there are those who don’t smoke but they will on 4/20.

The latter of the two types of people is undoubtedly worse. It is ironic for someone who has not smoked in his entire college experience to say the people who smoke one day a year, or somewhere near that count, are worse, especially since the other group is engaging is an effort to avoid a truth, but it is true.

Like those who decide it will be fun to get really drunk on St. Patrick’s Day because “that’s what people do,” it’s an embarrassment to see these people partake in the day of getting high because “that’s what people do.”

If 4/20 is going to be an unofficial holiday and reason for gathering, it should be, as my roommates said, the collection of people coming together to do something on one day that they do on other days. It isn’t even necessarily smoking marijuana, even though that’s what happens. It is about coming together over a shared mutual interest, having fun while doing it, and engaging yourself in the particular culture that revolves around it.

By virtue of growing up in a small town and then going to college in Western Massachusetts, the majority of my friends smoke even if I don’t. So I don’t believe my aversion to 4/20 is the fact that it revolves around marijuana.

The positive aspect of hanging out and enjoying yourself outside is moot because that can happen any day, and any political gain you think you’re getting is in your head – just like all the conspiracies about the politics of marijuana.

The only resulting attributes to the day are that it becomes a cause to justify everyday behavior and to come together to get high. And that is perfectly fine if you enjoy getting high during your week.

So like the days with drinking, today is just an excuse and avoidance of a problem. If that is what you desire, then that’s fine. But if you don’t share the culture, and are only going to smoke on a Tuesday afternoon because it is 4/20 and that’s what everyone else is doing, you are, in every aspect, a loser, and more of one than any alcoholic or pothead.

Ben Moriarty is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]