• 48-year-old father Ian Rose has decided that a decade or two "off the bud" is exactly what is called for. (Weediquette series 1)Source: Weediquette series 1
Ian Rose is starting to think his 30-year cannabis habit might not be dope, but dopey. There have been good times, sure, but too many plans and ambitions up in smoke.
Ian Rose

1 Feb 2017 - 11:34 AM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2017 - 11:59 AM

A postcard stuck on my fridge back in my mid twenties summed up my approach to life back then. It featured Freewheelin’ Franklin, always the coolest of comic-book stoner trio the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (though, in truth, I had more in common with Fat Freddy), offering the following counsel via a wobbly speech balloon:

“We have plenty of grass, and as we all know, DOPE will get you through times of no MONEY better than MONEY will get you through times of no DOPE.”

I was a struggling actor at the time, and the freewheelin’ one’s words served me well. But that was 20 years ago. Surely it’s time I gave up emulating a counter-culture cartoon character, and knocked the weed on the head?

My love affair with cannabis has been a slow burner, but it’s a tough scene to split.

I shared my first joint with a few of my more adventurous peers when I was 16, coughed myself purple and spent the next hour pretending not to feel jittery and nauseous, and to totally get what everyone else was laughing about.

I soon grew to enjoy blow-backs, though, whereby a joint is taken lit-end first into the mouth of one smoker, and blown into the mouth of another, because blow-backs are at least a little bit erotic and I was a teenage boy.

At university, I entered the sado-masochistic phase of my dope-smoking career. Bent double over bath-tubs and bucket-bongs, sucking smoke through root vegetables or from the harshest of glowing “hot knives” until tears of laughter and pain ran down my cheeks, it was inclusion I sought more than the high. But little by little, I was getting used to getting stoned and finding it suited me fine.

Through my 20s, with Freewheelin’ Franklin looking on, I toked little and often – just as nutritionists advise us to eat – one or two joints of an afternoon and evening (occasional gainful employment notwithstanding) to augment reality, just so…. just so the music stayed amazing, the meals sumptuous (banal as they often were), the sex mystical (or so it seemed to me) and the wolf of hard truths well away from the door.

My, how the years slide away.

And there is something tragically squalid about a middle-aged man, whose stocks are low, desperately scrabbling a nightcap spliff together from the seedy detritus at the bottom of his dope drawer. Not something I ever want my children to witness. 

Somehow, egad, I’m pushing 48 now, and have been a dad for seven years, with work commitments, a home loan, the lot. It’s no longer an everyday deal, but all the same – I’m still a sucker for a doobie, as often as not squeezing one or two into my grueling, high-powered (okay, okay, still tolerably slack) schedule.

But reasons to desist are getting harder to ignore, like climate change and Pauline Hanson.

There’s the health angle, of course. The munchies do nothing for middle age spread, but heavier ramifications spell cancer. I try not to smoke cigarettes, and mainly succeed, but the tobacco in the joints I roll has long since addicted me to nicotine, and keeps me rolling them (I could try a vape, but I’m sure I’d miss the paper-licking, roach-poking rituals of reefer construction more than enjoy any buzz it might offer).

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And beyond the physical, there are the other impacts that 30 years plus as a pothead are likely to have had on my life.

So many novels unwritten, schemes unhatched, fine intentions unenacted. A thousand epiphanies dissolved into the ether. Which came first, the dope smoke or the fecklessness? It’s a chicken-and-egg kinda conundrum, but the only way I’ll find out whether or not, deep within me, hitherto subsumed in a marijuana fog, there is some driven, go-getting, do-gooding, paragon of a person and parent – is surely to shake the habit.

30 years is long enough to be doing anything, right?

And there is something tragically squalid about a middle-aged man, whose stocks are low, desperately scrabbling a nightcap spliff together from the seedy detritus at the bottom of his dope drawer. Not something I ever want my children to witness.

So many novels unwritten, schemes unhatched, fine intentions unenacted.

I am resolved (more or less). A decade or two off the bud is exactly what is called for.

Who knows, maybe after that, once the kids are all grown up and moved out (karma willing), I can get reacquainted with the ways of Mary Jane, allow myself to be seduced, in my dotage, all over again. I sort of like the idea of seeing out my 70s and 80s defiantly smoking fatties with dub reggae blaring from a beatbox. A kind of Fabulous Furry Freak-Fogey.

Freewheelin’ Franklin might even make it back on the fridge. On the budget I’m liable to be living on, I’ll need any inspiration I can get…

For support or information, call: Lifeline 131 114 or visit au.reachout.com

Watch Weediquette on SBS On Demand, or stream season 2 - episode 6, below.


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