By Eddie Whitlock
I was a sophomore at UGA in 1980. My little apartment was on Springdale Street. My father had given me a little 9-inch black-and-white TV to use. The volume knob was damaged so it had two settings: full blast or mute.
I worked at WGAU on the 7 p.m. to sign-off shift. We signed off at 1:15 a.m., after airing the network news and giving the weather forecast. I would typically get home by 1:45 or so. I tried to avoid 8 a.m. classes, but that didn’t always work.
On weekends, I had a Saturday afternoon shift at the radio station. I was off on Sundays. If we went out on Saturday evenings, we came back to my place and the loud-or-silent TV. We developed a routine – long before MST3K, but not before “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” – of turning off the sound and making up our own dialogue for the shows that were on.
My friends Jay and Mark and David and Molly and Susan and Joel and Other Mark would join in this practice. We were hilarious. We would be rolling on the floor most of the evening. We were – as I said – hilarious.
Oh, and we were smoking marijuana.
I often tell people that Bill Clinton didn’t have to inhale. We were over on Springdale Street inhaling for him. We inhaled a lot.
I got really good at smoking marijuana. I would come home from classes and smoke half a joint. Then I would make lunch. Then I would nap. Then I would go and work at the radio station.
If you’re asking, “Eddie, when did you study?” Well, I didn’t. I scraped by, changed majors, and by the Dark Gods managed to graduate eventually.
When I graduated, I quit smoking marijuana. There were three reasons.
I was becoming a teacher and breaking the law was inappropriate.
It was time to put away the things of a child and become an adult.
I didn’t know who sold marijuana since I wasn’t in Athens anymore.
So I quit.
I got married. We had The Child. She grew up. We grew older.
A friend in our social circle had marijuana so I got some. Why did I do this?
I was no longer a teacher. My job didn’t drug test.
I was middle-aged and didn’t need to prove my adulthood to anyone – not even myself.
I knew someone who sold marijuana!
So on February 16, 2013, I tried marijuana again. It was a Saturday night. Smoking a joint was like re-uniting with an old friend. We connected right there in front of a much better, much bigger, and color TV, watching Saturday Night Live.
There was a group performed called The Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard, their lead singer and guitarist, has an incredibly powerful voice and wrenched such emotion from their song “Hold On.”
I laid back and soaked in the sound. It was awesome.
Hello, marijuana. I have missed you. How did I ever enjoy music during the years since we parted company?
I made it all the way through Saturday Night Live. I went to bed.
The marijuana, though, was not ready to call it a day. There was an explosion.
It turned out that it wasn’t an explosion. It was my tinnitus finding a new way to get my attention. The explosion awoke me to a couple of other things.
My heart was racing, and the earth was moving inappropriately.
I laid down on the floor and tried not to fall off.
You would think this episode would have changed my mind about my old friend. It didn’t. I realized I had consumed too much that night. I would need to pace myself. Also, I would switch from smoking to eating marijuana brownies.
Online, I found a great video of how to make such brownies. The fellow in the video was high as a kite, so you knew he knew what he was doing. He did.
I followed the directions and a week later had some marijuana brownies for Saturday night. The musical guest (I had to look this up) was a band called HAIM. I can only tell you that they didn’t blow me away like the Alabama Shakes had done the week before.
I didn’t finish watching the whole show. I went to bed.
I had similar after-effects. It actually scared me. Nobody wants to be the 55-year-old in the ER explaining the brownie-making video to amused 20-somethings.
So I gave up on my old friend marijuana.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine developed glaucoma. Since he lived in a state with medical marijuana, he was able to get a prescription. He emailed me with glorious reports about the product and its carefully measured levels of THC.
Oh, I am tempted. I have friends who use the legal-in-Georgia edibles, but I’m holding out for the real thing.
For decades, we had a prohibition on marijuana in this country. Thousands of poor people were sent to jail for possession and distribution. Suddenly we’re legalizing it and rich people are getting richer off the production and sales of the product.
No, Georgia is not yet one of the states that has legalized marijuana. You may be surprised to learn that our state legislature tends to be dominated by right-wing nutjobs. They will oppose legalization until their corporate masters – Did you think they answered to God??? – tell them to do otherwise.
Nonetheless, even Georgia ought to pitch out the hypocritical imprisonment of people for crimes related to marijuana. Release them all immediately and – if you really think weed is a problem – implement some programs to help people quit using it.
Will Georgia do this? Will we realize that nearly half of all adults have tried it and weren’t harmed? Will we set free the people incarcerated for something so many of us did? Will we, as a state, do the right thing?
Of course not. Are you high?
Eddie Whitlock is a Georgia native, a graduate of UGA, and wannabe writer. He retired in 2021 from the Athens-Clarke County Library, where he worked as coordinator of volunteers, community service supervisor, and vending machine scapegoat.