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Dr. Carroll: I’m going to ask you a straightforward question. Isn’t it true that you have, perhaps unwillingly, acquired a certain habit through association with certain undesirable people? — Reefer Madness (1936)

I was talking with a friend the other day who was frustrated because the marijuana dispensary he uses had closed because of the virus. So he told me he had to drive 40 miles to the next closest one. But when he got there the line wrapped around the building.

“Maybe they’re selling toilet paper,” I said.

My friend has a prescription from his doctor, who thought marijuana would help his lower back pain. So far, he says, it’s been working. But that he’s gained 10 pounds.

I laughed and remembered days not so long ago from my youth, when dispensaries were three guys at my high school who were known as Larry, Curly and Moe.

Yes, there were drugs around when I spent the adolescent years of my youth in the 1970’s trying to navigate the hormone, acne and female minefields that waited around every turn. Besides beer, and giant steel tubs of something called purple passion, saved for those very special occasions known as every Friday night, there was also weed if you wanted it, which, I was told by my friend, was brought up from Mexico and sold locally in zip lock plastic baggies, known as lids.

I Googled lid and found an online urban dictionary definition — “A measure of marijuana equal to a full lid from a large Hellman’s Mayo Jar. (less than an ounce /about 21grams).” Who knew?

My friend says Larry, Curly and Moe measured their lids by fingers, as in four-finger or five-finger sizes; and the cost for most lids was usually $15.

Then, as things usually progress in a supply and demand economy, prices rose, but so did the quality.

“You started getting a lot more buzz for your buck,” my friend said. “The reason was that the Mexican distributors began losing ground to their competitors from Columbia.”

He went on to tell me that back in the ‘70s, much of the cannabis brought in to the U.S. was a mixture of leaves, stems, flowers, and hodgepodge pieces of the plant. Very little of the brick-packed, mass-produced product was actually the feminized flower (sinsemilla) that people now expect when walking into a dispensary. This means that when someone bought weed in the 70’s, they were not getting the plant parts high in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the most well-known compound in cannabis that produces psychoactive effects. Rather, most of those teenage baby boomers were getting the leftovers.

“You sure know a lot about this stuff,” I told him.

“Yeah, well, it pays to be informed.”

As he waited in the dispensary line, staring into the faceless masks in front of and behind him, my friend remembered an article he’d seen recently about LSD and micro-dosing. He said it’s supposed to calm people down.

“Uh huh,” I responded.

I told him the closest thing to LSD that wasn’t LSD I remembered from the 70’s was known as the “magic mushroom,” later shortened to just shroom. He said that was correct and that mushrooms soon became one of Larry, Curly and Moe’s top sellers. “One of them,” he said, “I think it was Curly, told us about his experience one night when he drank a couple of glasses of boiled down magic mushrooms mixed with grape Kool-Aid. Nine hours later he said he emerged from a world of walking wallpaper turtles and seven episodes of Bonanza that he just knew would win the Nobel Prize.”

“I don’t know,” I told him. “For now you better just stick with your doctor’s advice.”

“I guess,” he said “but I really need to get this weight off.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance columnist who can be reached at chips7591@gmail.com.

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