A small ad on the letters page of New Times "Seeking Secret Pot Smokers" brought dozens of responses from marijuana users eager to talk about their quiet pastime -- as long as they could be anonymous.
The respondents ranged in age from teens to mid-50s. Some from the west side, some from the East Valley. There was a U.S. postal worker/mom in her 40s who used to be a heroin addict, an administrator who lives with her mother in Sun City, and a dad who works for a semiconductor company in town and smokes every day. A makeup artist. A tile setter. Even a marijuana dealer.
Only one of the responses was at all negative about smoking marijuana.
"About nine days ago now, I resolved to stop smoking dope and never touch it again. My life was falling apart before my eyes, as what I thought was `social' and `recreational' use was nothing more than abuse," the man wrote in a two-page e-mail.
Everyone else glowed. Here are excerpts from a few of the responses:
Yes, I am a secret pot smoker, and I have been doing so since 1967. I totally function, and I doubt if I would if I didn't smoke my joint in the evening to relax. I find it better than sleeping pills, and I do not wake up sluggish to go to my $210,000 job, which I have held for 25 years. I am a staunch, conservative Republican, and my career is in insurance.
I'm a single mom with two kids, and I have a really good job and I'm even in the Cub Scouts -- I run pack meetings.
Both my wife and I smoke pot regularly, and it doesn't affect us at all. It's much less disruptive than alcohol. I don't blow all my money, and I don't wake up feeling crappy every day, wondering what I did. Both my kids are straight-A students, I hold a good job, I'm well liked by my customers and at work.
I lead my normal, everyday life, and I smoke a little pot every once in a while. I don't think it's that big of a deal. I'm glad to see somebody actually pushing for speaking out for -- [long pause]. Sorry. Train of thought's gone. Too much pot. Peace.
I like to smoke recreationally now and then. I don't feel it's a big deal. The negative effect that marijuana has had on my life is all regarding to the law. I got busted back in 1987, and I've had to list myself as a convicted felon since then. Lots of jobs I'm not eligible for, and those I am eligible for, lots of times they won't hire me.
I'm 20 years old. . . . I do go to ASU, I'm a full-time student. I also work 25 hours a week. I'm involved in a community service sorority, I plan one of ASU's biggest events. I'm a very involved person, and I smoke pot probably three or four times a week.
I'm 32, I'm a high school dropout and I make close to $40,000 a year. I've worked at the same company for over 10 years.
Offhand, I could probably name at least 15 to 20 people who are productive people with careers and families that smoke pot, and I only know this because I used to sell it to them. . . . It's not that big of a deal. There's lots of people with jobs, attorneys, I know mortgage lenders, brokers, real estate agents, day care center operators. . . . It is something that people do recreationally and just for fun, just like having a cocktail now and then.
I'm 53 and a half, and since I'm 18 and a half, I've been getting high every single day. And I'm a mother and a respected person and I've worked all my life.
I've been smoking marijuana for 15-plus years recreationally. I work in the medical field, I have two children, happily married, and consider myself a productive citizen of Phoenix, Arizona. I feel that smoking marijuana, just like drinking alcohol, should be done in moderation. I don't expose my children to it, and it is done in the privacy of my own home. I feel that it doesn't affect my profession or personal life in any negative way. If anything, it helps.
I do this recreationally and I've done it for 30 years, and I lead a very constructive life.
I work for a big company here in the Valley and am very successful in my job. I vote . . . have a library card and a mortgage, and am a United Way Leadership Giver. And I recreationally smoke pot. Among my co-workers whom I am comfortable discussing such things with, the overwhelming majority do as well.
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I work as a graduate student at ASU in engineering, and the majority of people I work with have or do smoke.
I live in a very nice neighborhood, I make a decent living, I work my ass off, I pay my taxes, I fly the American flag on appropriate holidays (something most of my neighbors don't do), I take part in my community. I ride a bike for exercise and I do a hard ride for about one hour, every single day. I take European vacations. I read a lot. . . . I am, for the most part, about as "straight" as they come. Oh, except that I get stoned every day. . . .
I know of a fellow . . . professional, someone who is somewhat prominent around town, who buys his weed by the quarter pound. I know of a well-known Democratic political operative who gets high. How do I know? I smoked with him. Several times. I know of at least three accomplished public relations professionals who get high. . . . I know lawyers who get high, I know doctors who get high. I know ad agency types who get high. . . . Am I saying everyone gets high? No. But if the Big Lie that pot makes you lazy, makes you prone to have accidents, blah blah blah were true, then our society should have crumbled into chaos long ago.