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After reading about Chris Christie’s aggressive stance against the legalization of marijuana in Thursday’s edition of The Daily Shot, I thought I’d share my experience with both illegal and legal drugs from the “backstage at the rock concert” perspective, based on two recent experiences. Mind you, I don’t take drugs, so my experience as an observer will have to do.
In February and March of this year, The Vandals were on a big tour in Australia with some of the biggest bands in the business. I’m not going to mention any names because I plan on incriminating some. Some, of course, are sober after abusing their privileges to various degrees, but some are definitely not. It was sad but interesting for me to watch them (i.e., artists and/or the crew) hit the bars after their set, then eventually begin “fiending” for illegal drugs. The drug portion of their evening doesn’t really get underway until the illicit retailer shows up at the hotel room after the bars close at 2 AM. That leaves them up all night with very risky people up to very risky business — and unable to do a good job the next day.
Contrast this with a corporate party we played for a licensed marijuana dispensary in Colorado a week after we returned from Australia. I would normally reject an offer to play an event like this. I’m not an advocate of legalized drugs. However, I’m sort of proud of these advocates for going through the process and making it legal. And they have a ton of money.
This is my version of selling out. For some, it’s a Google or a Ford event. In short, my experience with the legalized marijuana industry was entirely positive. They were hard-working, professional, and treated us like, well, rock stars — which, despite releasing a dozen or so albums, we’re not used to. They had a ton of employees at our service (real commerce). What looked like a thousand dollars worth of “product” was laid out for us in the dressing room, in addition to our regular rider of food, beer, wine, whiskey, and candy.
The display was quite impressive. Out from the shadows, their products include lots of candies, gummies, dabs, buds, and the dreaded “marijuana cigarette,” each individually wrapped in a plastic tube with a bar code. We touched none of their product, however. We don’t take drugs and the exotic array did not tempt us to start (or resume, as the case may be). But we all had a great time with these people. We gave the drugs to one of the other bands and they didn’t die from it.
The most remarkable thing was that, because it was legal, those who were interested in it treated it more like a cocktail than an illegal activity and enjoyed it while I had a Jamison and white cranberry juice, (a drink I’ve dubbed the Racist Leprechaun for those keeping track).
Nothing was weird. They weren’t hiding in the seedy back alley (and trust me, there’s always a seedy back alley at these things). And this event was finished relatively early. When I laid my head on my hotel room pillow at 10:45 that night, I kept thinking of the poor saps on my last tour who were lurking around past 2 AM looking for a felon to engage in illegal commerce and “party.” That was a much worse scenario.
Neither are good for you. I get it. But the illegal version was much, much worse in my unscientific sample of two. As Chris Christie says, there is a terrible problem with addiction in this country and I agree there are negative consequences from legalizing drugs. I’m not an advocate for it, per se, but when it comes — and more is definitely coming — my experience tells me it’s not going to be as bad as I once thought.