Me and the Maui Wowie

Jason A. Michael

My first introduction to marijuana came when I was a tender and precocious 8-year-old. No, dear readers, I wasn’t going around puffing on fatties in my pre-pubescent years. I did, however, go see the hilarious hit film “9 to 5” starring my already favorite diva of all genres, the delightful Dolly Parton, along with Jane Fonda and a not-yet-out Lily Tomlin.

In the film, Lily’s character comes across a joint her open-minded son had slipped into her purse. The threesome head back to her place and then proceed to enjoy what is identified as some “primo Maui Wowie.” My little Southern Baptist heart was conflicted seeing my Dolly do such a thing. But they were having such a good time that I was somewhat intrigued. Just what was this marijuana about? I wouldn’t know for many years.

Fast forward a decade. Three days after graduating from high school, I moved to Miami — home to a very large Jamaican community. Weed is part of the Rastafarian religion. It’s as common in their community as jerk chicken. Maybe more so. It didn’t help that I worked in the music industry, where weed was also prevalent.

I grew accustomed to the smell, though I never cared for it. I was more than a little puritanical at this point. My strict Christian upbringing had led me to believe I was somehow better than those who did drugs. And I very much considered marijuana a drug at that time. So I wasn’t uncomfortable around it, yet I’d never touch it. Never. And I somehow thought myself a better person for my abstinence.

Fast forward two more decades. Literally. To the year. It’s 2010 and I am 38 years old. My heart was recently broken by the man who I thought was going to be the one. I was dating a loser while on the rebound and feeling rebellious. Sitting around the table at the loser’s friend’s house playing Spades, a blunt was being passed around the table.

When it came to me, the loser announced, “Oh he’s a goody two-shoes. He don’t smoke.” Something hit me. Then and there. Maybe it was a contact. Or maybe I was just tired of men trying to tell me what I could and could not do.

“The hell I don’t,” I said. I took hold of the tightly wrapped brown blunt. It smelled of grapes from the rolling papers. I lifted it to my lips, took a big hit and proceeded to cough my head off while everyone else around the table laughed.

But that’s really all it took. One little resentful puff and I was hooked. At this point in time, marijuana was not legal in Michigan. Not even medicinally. Still, it was not difficult to procure the stuff. Rolling it was a challenge, though. Initially, I’d employ the help of friends and share a little with them for their assistance.

I rejoiced when medical marijuana became legal in Michigan. I wasted no time in getting my card. Suddenly, it was so easy to get the Maui Wowie, as well as the Barack O’Bubba or the Alaskan Thunderfuck or whatever other strain I might want to try.

Soon, I developed a habit. I really did smoke for medicinal reasons. Though it wasn’t the reason I qualified for the card, I soon discovered that weed was great for treating my bipolar depression and anxiety. When I smoked, my mind stopped racing for a little while and I could live in the now, something I ordinarily was no good at doing. I could be present, albeit quite relaxed. It made my response time slower when I tried to play along while watching “Jeopardy!" But other than that, I had no complaints.

Today, I’m blessed to live in a marijuana hotspot. River Rouge has six dispensaries within a square mile. It’s like a little marijuana village. People come from near and far to partake. And I am still one of those people.

I’ve been asked to include a funny story related to me and my marijuana usage in this column. What can I tell you? In the early days, I’d get so high I’d begin to panic. I’d start talking to myself, trying to get myself to relax. “Calm down,” I’d tell myself. “You’re just high. Give it a half hour and you’ll be back on planet Earth.”

I used to freak out. And, speaking of freaking out, marijuana was the closest thing I ever got to "party and play." I am still desperately uncomfortable around drugs. I’ve never partaken in anything other than weed. I doubt I ever will. But it does seem to make certain adult activities more fun. At least, I think I remember that. These days, I’m about as celibate as a nun. But through the haze, I seem to recall it helped in those situations.

I can’t recall doing anything particularly humorous while smoking weed. Hell, when you’re smoking weed, everything seems hilarious. Until you try the next day to regale your friends with stories and find out what you were laughing at was really not that funny — if you can remember it at all.

I love to smoke while I watch what I call ratchet, trashy reality TV. Shows like “The Real Housewives” or “Love & Hip Hop.” Smoking weed has been good for me in several ways, except for the brain cells I might be destroying. When I smoke, I don't drink as much.

I love to laugh, and weed does make things seem funnier at the time. I love to eat, and weed does somehow make food taste better. In short, I love weed. Truly. But don’t get it twisted. I can stop smoking for a day, a week for a month and I’m good. It does not control me. I control it and my usage. I am very much offended by the name "weed head." Even if it might be true.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Maui. Wow-wie!