Pubdate: Wed, 06 Dec 2006
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2006sThe Australian
Author: Emma Tom


Welcome to the silly season, a time when newspapers overflow with
full-page ads for marijuana and top-shelf spliffs are cheap, cheap,
cheap - particularly if you buy in bulk. At Christmas parties across
the nation, hemped-up workers binge wildly on festive bucket bongs and
company-subsidised skoofus.

Families toast each other with rounds of celebratory reefers and even
teetotallers succumb to the peer pressure and smoke themselves silly
to mark the virgin insemination of Santa Claus in the manger.

Or is it the sacred crucifixion of the Easter Bunny's elves? Jees, and
it was all so clear before that last six-pack of wacky backy.

Not that it's worth dwelling too deeply on the downside to all this
doobie-fuelled Christmas debauchery. Sure, some joint smokers end up
saying stupid things to their superiors or attempting to feliz navidad
the daks of litigious co-workers.

Sure, there are street fights, car crashes, addiction issues and
screaming visits to hospital emergency rooms.

But this is all OK because cannabis doesn't count. Marijuana isn't
like heroin, ice, cane toad resin or any of those real drugs. It's
just a harmless social lubricant - no different from a bowl of French
onion dip or a barbecued snag when you think about it logically.

Yeah, right.

For those of us whose preferred mind-altering substance is a David
Lynch flick, the tired old justifications for silly season alcohol
abuse sound just as ridiculous as listening to an all-out endorsement
of ye olde locoweed.

So booze is different from other drugs, is it? Totally harmless?
Utterly social?

Having been equally grossed out by spewing beer drinkers and
jaw-grinding cocaine snorters, I beg to differ.

As a young rabble rouser who used to commute to high school from a
Nimbin commune, I spent my late teens doing the responsible thing and
trying many things once.

After what was - by Nimbin standards - an extraordinarily brief period
of experimentation, I decided my psychoactive substances of choice
were strong espresso coffees and weak vodka and sodas.

(I take the latter in so diluted a state, a naturopath once scoffed
that their effect would barely be homeopathic.)

During big nights on the turps, I have been known to lash out on two
or three unshandied flutes of champagne, but, unless these are paced
over many hours, I'm always at risk of chucking a Glenn Milne at the
Walkleys, a Danny DeVito on The View or a Lindsay Lohan just about

The reasons for my immoderate moderation are partly due to genes (my
mum is also rendered legless by a single snifter) and partly due to
control freakiness (if I decide to climb nude up a flagpole at 3am, I
want to have my wits about me while I'm doing it).

I certainly have no moral objection to partygoers who enjoy consuming
little white tablets, long green cigarettes or more than a single nip
of alcohol in a single sitting.

For eons now, humans have been taking stuff to make the world look
more full of cellophane flowers, newspaper taxis and marshmallow pies,
as Lucy with all those sky diamonds once put it.

I don't want to spoil their good times and I don't reckon the long,
hairy arm of the law should either.

But would it be too much to ask for some honesty about the fact that
the problem is not so much the substance as the way it is used?

Drinkers get terribly antsy if you suggest that the phrase "drugs and
alcohol" is a tautology. One recent newspaper editorial even claimed
that - despite the hideous health stats associated with alcohol - wine
and beer were not dangerous drugs, but simply one of life's most
universal pleasures.

For those of us who find ourselves watching soberly (and probably
un-Australianly) from the shindig sidelines, these distinctions are
disingenuous. We know that when drinkers, tokers and pill-poppers
indulge in moderation, their company, behaviour and health usually
remain pretty robust.

But when these users overdo it, everything gets ugly, regardless of
whether the universal pleasure involved is sniffed, smoked, chewed,
licked, syringed or skolled during socially sanctioned Christmas
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MAP posted-by: Derek