Pubdate: Wed, 12 Nov 2014
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Column: Chem Tales
Copyright: 2014 Village Voice Media
Author: Chris Roberts

S.F. Is a Fine Place to Play with Drugs. For Some People.


Questioning the wisdom of a billionaire is faulty logic in this town, 
where a successful entrepreneur's word is gold. But though he can 
start airlines and sell records, and he (or his money) might beat 
Elon Musk to space, Richard Branson has bad advice on drugs.

When Branson visited San Francisco in March to appear at a Drug 
Policy Alliance event, the Drug War's best-heeled opponent dispensed 
some parenting advice. "There's nothing wrong with an occasional 
spliff," he said, but only to a certain point.

Let your teenagers smoke marijuana, he said. They'll age out of it.

You hear this line often, in regards to drinking, doing drugs, being 
otherwise fast and loose. Get it out of your system, go a little wild 
and "experiment" before the trappings of adulthood and responsibility 
take all the fun away forever.

This is rank nonsense. What regular, well-adjusted teen (or graduate 
student) can afford decent weed?

Adulthood is the best time of your life to dabble in drugs. Branson 
knows this full well. He once shared a joint with his own school-age 
son, prior to reportedly asking Obama for some choom at the White House.

For nearly all of us, getting high as a kid is a low-budget comedy of 
cliched errors. It's stuffing towels underneath doors, crawling in 
and out of windows, blowing hits into plastic bottles stuffed with 
dryer sheets, sneaking furtive hits from hollowed-out apples and 
hoping, praying that nobody has a clue what's afoot.

In adulthood, this need for "secrecy" ends. But so does the time for 
harmless "experimentation." As you age, there is a realization and a 
caveat: For some of us, there never were any such things as 
"harmless" or "experimentation."

The theme of this issue is "perpetual adolescence." I submit that 
such a place is purgatory. If you were able to get high and keep your 
shit together as a teen, congratulations to you. More likely, you, 
like me, were a clinical dumbass. That is what you must outgrow, and 
woe unto ye who never learns a lesson on adequate dosage or drug 
etiquette; you will be banished forever to a world of cars reeking 
like burnt pot and sweaty-faced, teeth-grinding insistent individuals 
retelling the same tale for the 10th time.

That said, if you "missed out" on anything while younger, now's the 
time and place to make up for it.

It's true: San Francisco is one of the best places in the world to 
access drugs. Nearly everything - highest-quality cannabis, cocaine, 
ayahuasca, hallucinogens last seen in the 1960s, and brand-new 
chemical cocktails - is available in some quantity, provided you know 
the right people (or walk by them on Haight Street).

There is no denying that drugs can enhance experiences, be it a 
sunset, Thanksgiving with the family, or a geodesic dome plunked down 
in the middle of the playa. They can also turn out to be stupendously 
lucrative. Steve Jobs was so proud of his "10 to 15" world-opening 
acid trips that he bragged about using LSD to the Department of 
Defense (on an application for a security clearance, no less). Jobs's 
expanded mind also benefits the rest of us eternally, if for no other 
reason than suits in Silicon Valley must hear about how acid helped 
to create Apple. A few years back, I went to a New Year's party in 
the early evening, the timing picked because the partygoers all had 
kids running around the front room or strapped to their chests. As I 
stood in the kitchen with a dad in his 40s exchanging small talk, he 
whipped out a small black plastic device - a coke bullet. "It's New 
Year's," the cool dad said with a shrug and a sniff.

Elsewhere at the party were a Stanford-educated couple who made it a 
point to trip on LSD once a year. When they had kids, the ritual 
shifted, but only slightly: They hid the acid eyedropper in a place 
where the toddlers couldn't reach.

Bills paid, kids cared for, everything straight. If that's when you 
do drugs, so be it. Very few in this city will judge you. This is 
still the Sucker Free, so if your shit is together you can do as you 
please. No less an authority than Willie Brown himself said that in 
this town, you can get bombed every night and as long as you show up 
in the morning "fresh as a daisy" and do your work, your indulgences 
are accepted.

And if you can't? If the demon named addiction got you, or if you 
learned the right lesson at the wrong time, or if you had the bad 
luck to be black or brown when cops found you holding the bag?

You are fucked. The above rules do not apply to you. You cannot, 
should not, must not use.

In college, our campus newspaper's best section was the police 
blotter. As well as entertainment, it offered a lesson. The overgrown 
adolescents who drank too much got a ride to the on-campus health 
clinic, where they got Gatorade and a bucket. The kids busted smoking 
weed by our on-campus police force lost their housing and often their 
loans. That meant their shot at a future where they could afford 
using drugs from time to time was also seriously jeopardized.

Maybe Branson is right about one thing. Drugs are great if you're 
rich and white and proved you can balance them with everything else. 
For everyone else, use with extreme caution. And please leave the 
"experimentation" where it belongs - in your teens and twenties.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom