Bogart That Joint, My Friends

Mr. Gonzo himself, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, famously observed, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” These days are definitely weird, and not surprisingly, many weirdos have reinvented themselves as professionals, though they might not like to be called either weird or professional.

The nasty plague that’s upending our world has forced many cannabis consumers to surrender old habits and embrace new ones in order to stay healthy and avoid sickness and death while hooked up to hospital machines.

No doubt some of the weirdos—and their not-so-weird buddies—will remember the hit 1968 song first recorded by Fraternity of Man, later covered by Little Feat and the theme song for the movie Easy Rider, “Don’t Bogart Me,” with its famous lyrics: “Don’t Bogart that joint my friend / Pass it over to me.”

Now, for the first time ever, health professionals are urging Americans to Bogart joints and not pass them to friends if they want to reduce the risk of getting Covid-19.

There are also people, such as Sonoma County’s Sarah Shrader, who rarely—if ever—shared a joint, even in the best of times. The president of the local chapter of the mega cannabis organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Shrader has attended the annual get-togethers every year since 2008. This year, for the first time, she didn’t go to Washington, D.C., to rendezvous with other activists. Instead, she and dozens of dedicated ASA members did the virtual thing and came up with an eight-point program meant to enable medical and recreational users to stay healthy, without giving up their beloved weed.

Things have changed so fast that some recommendations are now obsolete, including this one: “order ahead of time from a dispensary so you don’t waste time inside.” These days no consumer gets inside.

Another ASA recommendation is to buy enough weed to last two to four weeks. That’s been happening big time. I have enough for the next 10 days, provided I’m prudent.

“It’s like sex,” Shrader told me, in a recent phone conversation. “You can’t tell people to abstain and expect them to do it. Similarly, you can’t simply tell folks to say ‘No’ to smoking a joint, pipe or bong and expect they’ll do it, especially if they’ve been in the habit for years. But you can reasonably urge them to adopt safe practices, like not using the same roach or bong without first using disinfectants.”

Hey, it’s a matter of health for all of us. Hollywood heartthrob, Humphrey Bogart, who gave rise to the Bogarting-joints expression, would understand. He might also defend the rights of those who smoke joints, even now. In fact, some of my best friends do.

Jonah Raskin is the author of “Marijuanaland: Dispatches from An American War.”

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