Poetry and Music and Cannabis, Oh My!
How can we battle the stigma of cannabis? This is a question I think about often. I remember being a teenager and reading a book called H by Christiane F. about her life as a heroin user. In my 30 years of cannabis use, I’ve never once tried H, never even been tempted, mostly because Christiane’s story was so powerful it put the fear of God in me.
In the 1936 film Reefer Madness, the story told about cannabis (or marijuana as it was called then) was so terrifying it put the fear of God into the masses. That was the goal of the film’s creators and they were successful. So successful, the belief that marijuana turns users into crazed freaks hell-bent on violence persists to this day. How can we overturn this misinformation?
I believe the only way to tackle the stigma of cannabis is with another narrative, one that contemporary users of cannabis can relate to and identify with. Since I started writing for the cannabis industry six years ago, I’ve been exploring ways I can tell a new story about cannabis use, one that ties into my experience and the experiences of millions of stoners.
That’s why today I’m working on a collection of poetry, called Infinite Jade that charts the experience of a cannabis user from isolation and addiction to conscious consumption and community. The poems are in part inspired by the 1857 book by Fitz Hugh Ludlow called The Hasheesh-Eater. Ludlow called his experiment with hasheesh the “infinite journey.”
Ludlow painted such a vivid picture of the way cannabis affected his sensory perceptions he ignited an interest in hasheesh in literary circles, making hash the drug of choice for artists and boho types in the nineteenth century.
By the end of that century, hash oil was widely used for both recreational and medicinal purposes, and most homes had a bottle of Tilden’s Extract in their bathroom cabinets. As we know, all that changed in the 1930s and 40s. Now, it’s on us to roll back the misinformation of 100 years of prohibition.
My project Infinite Jade contributes to the goal. These poems are written and performed by me, and put to music by a friend of mine, a super-talented music producer, DJ Julia Tamzyn. The goal is to create a hour-long audio that can be shared online and performed a cannabis-friendly venues all over Europe. I’m also in talks to turn this story into an animated psychedelic film.
To give you a flavour of this project, two of the poems are now available to hear. Before listening, do two things, put on headphones and spark up. Then close your eyes and prepare to be transported. This is an aural cannabis experience like no other. Enjoy!