High Tea: A Blunt Conversation
On a cold winter day in Bushwick, we gathered a group of our friends to discuss their relationship to weed and its larger culture.
Join us for an afternoon of king-size joints, cups of tea, and a deceivingly powerful Matcha Tea Cake.
Sitting barefoot in a smoking circle in Margot's apartment, we discuss our history with the drug and place ourselves in its larger culture. The following conversation has been condensed and edited to clarify our thoughts following several bowls and one too many joints. Light up, sit down, grab a snack and join the conversation.
When did you first start smoking weed?
Hannah: My first night of smoking weed was also my first night of drinking alcohol heavily… a lot of excitement for one night. It was my sophomore year of high school and I was hanging out with a group of peripheral friends at one of their parents’ house in the attic - it must have been some random weekend night and one of them had gotten weed and a bunch of alcohol from an older friend. I had about ten shots in the span of a couple hours and then we all shared a joint..needless to say I don’t remember much of it, but I think there are some embarrassing pictures on Facebook of us dancing and hugging and looking pretty silly. I remember one of the girls feeding me a piece of bread at the end of the night before my mom picked me up. This memory still makes me laugh because I remember getting in the car and my mom asking, “What did you do there?” and my quickly conjured response was “We watched Shrek the movie." I think my early experiences with weed in high school was largely associated with my experiences with alcohol - I guess that's what you might expect from your bored ol’ kids in suburbia.
Sarah: I smoked for the first time when I was 15, and it was very occasional for me.
Tanvi: At a cast party during freshman year of high school.
Flora: My cousin introduced me to the ~magical plant~ the summer before my junior year of high school (so 2010) if my memory serves me correctly. That summer was also when I first discovered binge drinking, so you could say it was an eventful few months.
What was it like?
Hannah: I think many people say they don’t get high their first time smoking - for me, I honestly don’t think I was in a state to distinguish drunkenness from highness. I remember the room spinning and feeling light and happy. I think the first time I smoked without also drinking, I was a bit alarmed at the way my mind started going on different tangents, and was probably a bit self-conscious that I was acting ridiculously. Not until later in high school and more so in my early college years did I begin to distinguish the ways in which I enjoyed smoking vs. drinking vs. other recreational activities, and then also begin to really enjoy the process, state of mind and connectivity to others that I experienced with smoking.
Sarah: I remember feeling giddy and kind of silly.
Tanvi: 3 bong rips and I made an ass out of myself.
Flora: I don’t think I felt much the first few times I smoked. I remember being reassured by a friend, who told me her dad had to smoke ten times before he felt high.
How much money do you spend on weed versus alcohol?
Hannah: I think the amount I’ve spent on weed versus alcohol has fluctuated - probably weed more than alcohol during senior year of college, but now definitely more on alcohol. I’m not sure that I can effectively explain why this to be the case - I still enjoy smoking as much as I did in college. I think the accessibility of alcohol in public spaces, more so than weed, may be a factor. I also think that the industry I work in, finance, may be a factor. Though I certainly don’t plan to work for a for-profit investment firm for long, I think part of my temporary assimilation to the work culture has subconsciously distanced me a bit from weed culture and propelled me more towards alcohol.
Sarah: I'll buy an 8th maybe every other month, and I don't drink much. I'd say I spend more on drinking simply because drinks are so expensive in NYC.
Tanvi: It depends - because alcohol is expensive but I would say 2x on average.
Flora: That’s a hard question. I’ve recently started buying my weed in bulk from a delivery service, so I only need to contact them a couple of times a year. But I go out to eat a lot and will usually get a drink with my food, so overall I probably spend more money on alcohol.
What’s been your relationship with weed? Now versus when you
Hannah: As mentioned, my relationship with weed wasn’t strong during my early year or two of smoking, mainly because tended to always pair it with alcohol but also because part of me was still afraid of seeking it out or buying it on my own. This changed in late high school and into college - I think the accessibility and the complete erasion of a taboo on smoking weed when I entered my freshman year of college helped. Throughout my first three years of college, I only smoked with others. Only during my final year did I begin to start smoking alone as well as with others - I think this was attributed to various changes I underwent as a person (as most do) during college. I think I became more comfortable with my own thoughts and less worried about social perceptions from others - of course, this hasn’t been completely eradicated, but my relationship with weed was certainly influenced by my shift in mindset and general increased appreciation of the effects it had on my creativity and more flexible outlook.
Sarah: Well I was a teen, and I really saw smoking as something "bad" and very taboo. As I got older and heard about adults who smoked weed, the taboo kinda fell away and I was wondering why everyone made such a big deal out of marijuana. I mostly smoke weed to relax now, like after a long day or if I just want to hang and watch a movie.
Tanvi: I have always wanted to break the rules by smoking whenever and wherever I couldn’t. Now I’m smarter about covering up my tracks.
Flora: It’s changed a lot. I didn’t become a regular smoker until senior year of college. Before that, I would usually smoke with friends when it was available and occasionally buy an eighth for myself (which I would share). I remember resisting the urge to buy a piece because I didn’t want to tempt myself into becoming a stoner. What strange days those were.
What’s your preferred way to smoke?
Hannah: Nothing beats a well-rolled joint in my book…the act of passing a joint to someone else also elicits some sort of special connection/moment that I enjoy more than other forms of smoking.
Sarah: When I go out with friends I'll bring my vape, which gives me more of an "upper" sensation. But if I'm home I'll smoke out of my bowl. I like the sensation of the bowl better, because it's more chill, but I don't cough at all with the vape.
Tanvi: Joints, but gluten free edible matcha cake is cool too!
Flora: I like vaping or eating edibles. I live with my parents (can’t beat living rent-free in Manhattan when you’re 24 and a freelance writer), so to respect their sensitive noses I try to steer clear from bongs or bowls.
What are stereotypes about people who smoke weed? What do you think of them?
Hannah: I think generally, many people assume that those who seek out weed are stoners. I don’t like that stereotype - not because I have anything negative to say about what it means to be a “stoner”, but rather because I appreciate when people take the initiative to seek out what they enjoy or take pleasure in, and believe that anyone should be able to indulge in such a way without being labeled as anything.
Sarah: That they're lazy? Or super chilled out? I think there's a big difference between how society views the occasional stoner and the STONER. like the all caps version is the person who always talks in a low drawl and has a skateboard and laughs at everything.
Tanvi: I think there are stereotypes about them being hippies, which I think are true, but I don’t think smoking weed makes you a lazy, incompetent “pothead.”
Flora: That we’re lazy and forgetful, I guess. So untrue! My stoner friends are some of the highest functioning people I know.
How has your personal background influenced your relationship with weed?
What is your favorite thing about smoking weed?
Hannah: I love the creativity weed spurs - I generally consider myself a creative person but do not always find what feels like the right or appropriate space to practice this way of thinking. Weed helps that mental barrier disappear and let through not only.a creative but an incredibly optimistic, even "far-fetched" mode of thinking that, in my opinion, enables some of my most inspiring realizations, sense of acceptance and connectivity with others.
Sarah: When I was younger and I smoked outside I always got paranoid about being caught. But I realize that my white privilege would very likely keep that from happening. Like if a police officer saw a "nice looking white girl" smoking weed, I feel like he'd be more likely to let her off with a warning. Which is fucked up.
Tanvi: My immigrant Indian family didn’t know too much about marijuana and my mom didn’t know what it smelled like so I kinda got away with hiding it at home early on. When I finally got caught, it was interesting because I used my education as leverage. I sort of calmed my mom down by reminding her that I’d only been getting good grades since starting to smoke. (Good grades put brown people at ease). So she just told me to make good choices. That’s kind of the freedom I get in general now-- do whatever you want but don’t fuck up your life.
Flora: My socio-economic background and race have definitely allowed me to smoke more freely with little fear of repercussion. I understand that that is an immense privilege and recognizing it as such has definitely shifted my opinion on legalization, etc.
What is your ideal evening like while getting stoned?
Hannah: Smoking weed while taking a bath. By myself, but with a partner is nice too
Sarah: By myself, with a movie, some food, masturbating, fall asleep. Maybe sex if I'm with someone else.
Tanvi: At home: smoke during a bath, smoke before eating dinner/drinking wine, smoke while watching a movie, smoke in bed before masturbating, go to sleep.
Out: Ideally smoke during summer on rooftop or the Highline. Proceed to do other whimsical things throughout the night like watch an outdoor movie in Bryant Park. Or find a concert and light up in the middle of a crowd. Maybe end up in a trance club in a basement on the LES or alternatively maybe just a quick jay before nice dessert with bae.
Movies/theater: Sweet potato fries.
Flora: Getting high with my partner or friends, going out (or ordering in) for dinner, and watching trashy movies or reality TV, and then having sex (if I’m with my partner). Also continually smoking throughout the night. I can never get “too” high.