By Chris Roberts
Take a second and look around. Count how many people you see. If there are more than 10, good.
You are in the presence of at least one cannabis user.
Over 9 percent of Californians aged 12 and up use cannabis at least once a month. That’s millions of marijuana users from Crescent City to Coronado. We are, to paraphrase Gov. Jerry Brown, a state full of “potheads.” And we seem to be getting along just fine.
Except for one problem. We’re cowards.
We use weed and we’re embarrassed or afraid to admit it. Decades of indoctrination has done a number on us. Despite cannabis being safer than alcohol and there being absolutely nothing wrong with preferring a joint to a jigger of whiskey, most of us are loath to admit our weed use publicly.
And that’s holding us back. It’s stalling legalization, it’s delaying vital medical research. It’s also making it easier to feed the beasts: the prison and police state and all of the institutions that rely on drugs being illegal and marijuana being outlawed.
It has to stop.
“We have got to get out of the closet about our drug use,” says Dr. Carl Hart, a Columbia University neuroscientist.
If you’re a cannabis user, “you’ve got to be here, and you’ve got to represent.”
“Americans have been cowards” on drug use, he told a convention crowd in San Francisco recently. “And there are few things worse than cowards.”
I’m an offender myself. It took me a long time to commit to admitting in print that I like to smoke weed. Well. I do. I do, and somehow I manage to get out of bed and pay the rent. And there are millions of other people like me who like cannabis and are responsible and productive members of society.
“I can’t tell you exactly why coming out was so hard. I have it easy: I live in a place where examples of responsible marijuana use abound, and I’m lucky enough to work at a place where I’m judged by my work output, not my cannabis intake.”
But not all of us are. Take a look at this week’s issue. A few of our writers are still using pseudonyms. I’m not happy about it, but I understand.
You see, we also live in a place where it is perfectly legal to be fired for being sick.
If you use medical marijuana in California, your employer can fire you at any time. No less an authority than the California Supreme Court has granted employers permission to punish marijuana use with a pink slip.
That is absurd. No American should have to choose between their health and their economic survival. And in today’s San Francisco, no people can afford risking their job.
This has to end — and you can help us.
Tell us if your workplace drug tests for cannabis. Email, write, Tweet — your anonymity is guaranteed. If it checks out and your current or former employer does indeed terminate workers solely for marijuana use, they’ve earned a spot on our wall of shame.
In California, you can’t be fired for being gay — anymore. Time to extend the same protections to adults who like smoking a plant.