Back in 1971 (or was it 1970?) the local "underground newspaper" in Dayton, Ohio had an announcement for something called a "smoke-in" to be held in Washngton D.C. in support of the legalization of marijuana (or, as the Ohio revised code archaically spells it, "marihuana".) But Dad wold have disowned me had I tried to attend. (At the time, possession of marijuana was a 20 year felony in Ohio.)
It wasn't until after I had left the Air Force and decided to settle here in the National Capital region in the spring of 1974 that I attended the event, which had become and still is an annual happening. From 1974 right on up to the sunmer of 2001 I attended the "smioke-in" every year, even though I haven't smoked marijuana since about 1995. I believe 1983 was the year I smoked a bowl with none other than David Peel of the Lower East Side Band and sang a couple of his songs with him.
But every year I became more and more conservative, and began to divine something sinister afoot.
There has been a rumor going round in high schools and junior high schools for years that at some point in the course of the protest free marijuana cigarettes would be tossed to the crowd from the stage. But aside from the bands (most of whom were - until recently - pretty good) the only thing that got tossed to the crowd of impressionable youngsters was a lot of Leftist Marxist blithering. The rumor about free pot was circulated to ensure the kiddies would be giving the speakers their undivided attention.
For the most part, what these speakers had to say was a laff riot, at least to an adult who knows (1) his history and (2) fraud and lies when he sees and/or hears them.
Most of this twaddle consisted of bullcrap about how marijuana was to everyday life what Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese is to food: it goes with everything. "Hemp-seed oil" was touted as a great motor fuel and a wonderful nutritional source. Go to one of these affairs and you will hear about how Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew the hemp that made the paper the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were printed on, and many other things that just aren't so. But young minds eat it up.
(I remember one year running into some 14 year old kid with a backpack with a capital "P' "O" and "T" arranged vertically as the starting letters of the words "P ersistence O f T ime". After complimenting the lad on his recognition of the famous Salvador Dali painting of melting clocks and watches, I gently broke the news to him that the title of the painting is "The Persistence of Memory". The boy looked as if he had been pole-axed.)
Other speakers included some old hippie in a cowboy hat and boots who - year after year - touted the addiction-battling effects of the hallucinogen "ibogaine"; plus other snake oil (or hemp oil) salespersons.
However, also speaking from the stage were members of various contingents of what I call the "tinfoil-hat left". At the last "smoke-in" I attended in 2002, one of these speakers nearly got his ass kicked by me when he compared Osama bin Laden favorably with George Washington in my presence. A United States Park Police officer saw the confrontation becoming hostile and got between us and told us to retire to opposite corners of the park on pain of arrest.
Since 2002 if I even bother putting up with being searched like I am entering a prison in order to attend the celebration of our Republic's freedom I only watch the "smoke-in" from a distance while sipping a beer at the concession stand on the west side of Francis Bacon Drive. The speakers have become more strident, vulgar and more extremely anti-American and the musical "entertainment" is pure trash.
But I have noted that the attending "crowd" also gets smaller and older every year. Pot and leftism are both so 20th-century.
"Persistence of Time", indeed.
As I said, it's been a couple decades at least since I smoked any reefer. Mainly I don't have the time to look for it and I don't care to have anything to do with the types who deal in it. And of course, it's still against the law; and who needs to run the risk of getting arrested? But more and more the "annual marijuana smoke in" (or "hemp festival" as I believe it is currently billed) has become less about legalizing cannabis and more about indoctrinating young people against the United States. So if you are a kid, don't attend this Leftist indoctrination session; and if you are a parent, take steps to ensure your kid doesn't go anywhere near it.