It’s a while since I mentioned anywhere on this Blog that I have never smoked: not a single puff, drag or draw. That’s the main reason that I have never taken any proscribed drugs. I have never snorted or injected anything, legal or otherwise. I have been drunk plenty of times, and there many pieces on this Blog that mention drinking, hangovers and pub crawls, but when it comes to other drugs it has been my habit to Just Say No (or “No, thank you” if I’m being polite). Opportunities have been plentiful. There have been numerous occasions when I was the only person in the room not taking a drag of whatever was being passed round. I know, what a square.
My lungs have remained as healthy as they can be for anyone who lives in a big city, and whose entire education up to the age of 18 took place within 100 yards of the A4, mid-way between Central London and Heathrow Airport. Back in the 1970s the stretch of road beside my primary school had the highest levels of lead pollution in the whole of Western Europe. God knows what effect that had on our young brains. We probably didn’t need drugs to alter our perceptions. We were zoned out on atomic number 82.
I have spent much of my adult life explaining to people that there is no automatic link between abstinence and disapproval. Just because you don’t indulge in a specific activity (taking drugs, for example, or playing golf) it doesn’t mean that you disapprove of people who do. I am surprised at how often people mix these things up. Maybe most people equate avoidance with disapproval, but I never have. For 10 years in my 20s and 30s I didn’t drink alcohol but I didn’t start condemning people who did.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, the sight, and smell, of people smoking weed in public has become much more prevalent in recent years. It does not appear to be limited to specific times of the day, age ranges or ethnicity. Over the last month I have seen white teenagers, black guys in their 20s, people of Indian or Pakistani origin in their 30s, all with joints in their hands, in broad daylight. They have been sat on park benches in the early evening, at bus-stops before 10am, or walking down the streets at lunch-time. Frequently you smell the weed before you see it. Sometimes you smell it and don’t catch sight of whoever is smoking it, hidden behind a bush maybe. But usually it’s in plain sight.
I offer this observation without judgment or condemnation, just as a note on how things are in London in 2018. The smell of weed is everywhere.