The Perils of Fieldwork

Posted September 28 ’09

Marijuana is an important element in my new novel “Point Dume”. I’ve written on this website about hiking into the cartel grow sites and breaking down the infrastructure of the camps. I’ve preached about environmental devastation. I’ve discussed the various hybrid plants that are being developed. But I haven’t said much about my direct and personal experience with the marijuana plant itself. It’s time.


I am not a pot smoker. It makes me tired and stupid and sometimes paranoid. But I felt that if I was going to write about this subject, I needed to try and understand the allure of the drug. So I hung around with a bunch of stoners, talking about why they liked to get high. To be honest, they weren’t all that articulate–probably because they’re always loaded. Then I got a hold of eight different kinds of pot for some first hand experience. My supplier was kind enough to pre-roll the joints as I wasn’t sure how well I would handle that task. He gave me a wide variation of strains ranging from your basic “daytime, go to work pot” to “you’re dying and in agonizing pain pot”. He said that some would stimulate my appetite, some would stimulate my libido. His descriptions of what weed could do for me was very intriguing. I lined them up on my desk, numbered one through eight, and felt eager to get started on my journey of exploration.

I remembered smoking pot in high school. You lit the joint, sucked in as much smoke as your lungs could handle, held it until you thought you would explode, then blew it out. Repeat as needed. You’re smirking right now, aren’t you? I know I’m a nerd! I lit the first of my eight joints and took a big hit off that lightest weight weed, coughed my head off, and tried again. I didn’t remember it burning quite so much when I was a young girl. I took two or three more hits. At first I didn’t feel much but ten minutes later I was so fricking stoned that I didn’t trust my legs to support my body. I lay down on the couch and curled into the fetal position. I remember it was 2:00 in the afternoon. I remember thinking, how long can this possibly last? At 6:00 I was still in the fetal position, watching the minutes tick by, and wondering if I would ever regain my sanity. It was horrible. I felt scared and anxious. I hated pot. Forget the novel. It was the novel’s fault that I was in this terrifying position. I would never write again. But by 8:00 I regained a little clarity and was able to brush my teeth and go to bed. I felt fine the next morning.

Did I give up on that line of research? Hell no. I am not a quitter. I learned that I could only handle a little puff–half of a puff. A quick in-out was all it took for me to arrive where I needed to be. I found that the different types of pot did, in fact, have very different personalities. I spent one afternoon alternating between lemon bars and barbecue potato chips, trying to decide what I liked better–sweet or salty? I discovered the beauty of shadows on my living room wall. There was libido activity. Music was incredibly rich. One day, I lit the ends of my hair on fire while making an emergency quesadilla. I kept thinking, “that’s a funky smell but I’m stoned and my senses are heightened. Maybe that’s just what quesadillas smell like.” Then I looked down and saw that I’d singed a good inch and a half of hair.

I made it through all eight kinds of pot and learned a lot. But you know what? I’m still not a pot smoker. I like my edges to stay sharp. But my character Janice really likes to get high. I did it for her. I sacrifice for my characters. That’s the kind of writer I am.