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“Recreational” Cannabis

As 2014 drew to a close I tried to think of all of the cannabis terms I became familiarized with. “Recreational Use” is by far the funniest and it adapted the fastest. In the Rockies we have a few terms for “legal weed”; “rec” short for recreational, and “21 Plus” referring to the age restrictions of the store, are just a few neologisms that became colloquialisms in less than a year.

“Recreational” will always bring a smile to my face because I picture myself explaining to a Colorado State Trooper “no officer, I don’t have a medical disability, but I do use cannabis ‘recreationally’ in my spare time”


That’s the part that makes me snicker. That’s the term we decided to adopt to talk about “getting high?” When I think of recreation I imagine Winnebago’s with air-cushioned suspension driving a family across the continental United States so they can see Yellowstone National Park. Recreation makes me think of people camping on a long weekend, or croquet and bocci ball. Recreation has become the Americanized term for obtaining legal weed.

“Lets just go to the rec store and grab a fresh eighth” possesses the exact same level of countercultural know-how as “I know we have Red Cups and vodka, but we should definitely go back to the liquor store and get some tequila for tonight’s party” in the last months of 2014 in Colorado.

My point is that in the first year of cannabis being regulated and sold to 21yr-olds we have seen a ‘grammaticalization’ (to steal a word from my college Linguistics professor, Zygmunt Frajzyngier) of the word “recreational” in Colorado.

When a 21yr old in Colorado lights up on a Friday night, and when a person suffering from PTSD or Chron’s Disease in London lights up on a Friday night they are doing the exact same thing. They are both using cannabis. They are both intoxicated by it, and feel it’s effects. This is where the medical argument kicks into high-gear. “Yeah but the veteran who can’t sleep, or the girl who can’t eat in London, they aren’t ‘getting high for fun’ they are ‘medicating’ to help cope with symptoms.”

That’s where it begins. The medicalization of cannabis. That is the foot-in-the-door for recreational cannabis. My belief is that cannabis’ legalized recreational use will almost always follow after medical use is accepted. This is because of “word of mouth”, roommates, and friends. Once acquaintances (roommates, friends, family) see the veteran giggling with a bag of Funyuns at night – a scene that they (the acquaintances of the vet) had never imagined because prior the vet had struggled with insomnia and night terrors. Once they see the vet benefitting from cannabis, they will be “turned on” to the benefits of cannabis. Once the veteran breaks the medical law, and offers his acquaintances a “hit” or a “nibble of an edible” or a “dab of this sap” is when we see the acquaintances “tuning in” to cannabis. This ‘turning on’ and ‘tuning in’ (and sub-sequential ‘dropping out’) was terminology coined by Dr. Timothy Leary when he had predicted that LSD would one-day become as popular as wine and as available as a vending machine. In my opinion, Leary was a crackpot who loved to hallucinate and he reached a little far when he said vending machine. LSD is still available in 2014, but you have to navigate a sea of non-deodorant wearing bluegrass fans to find it.

Cannabis is still extremely accessible, and the medical accessibility of it will be looked back on as the foot-in-the-door for the US and England legalizing it’s regulated use by consenting adults.

by Maxwell Bradford

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