The Cannabis Issue 2016
THERE ARE NO PSAs to prepare kids for the reality that all of their friends will be smoking weed by the time they're 14. It only took two months in high school for me to realize that getting stoned was something I needed to do if I didn't want to be branded a total fucking square. I never bought weed, but I smoked other people's a lot when I was a teenager. For me, it ended up leading to a bad trip, which resulted in a three-month-long dissociative state that eventually necessitated psychiatric intervention. Shit was bad, but I think weed also permanently affected my wiring in some positive ways. It made me less self-conscious, and helped me appreciate music I would have otherwise thought was really, really stupid (s'up, prog rock?).
I don't hate stoners. Some of my best friends are stoners. I have problems with stoner culture: the faux "what is time?" intellectualism; the arcane strain lingo that is now more prevalent than ever, thanks to legalization; and the way it makes people idly appreciate nature (I hated nature even when I smoked weed). For my entire adult life, I have been the token "rock guy" who doesn't smoke weed, and it constantly shocks people.
I rarely find myself in surprise pass-the-pipe situations anymore, but recently, in a roomful of relative strangers, I did—and it was one of the most uncomfortable nights of my life. If you don't smoke weed, here are some things you can do without relinquishing your spot in the cool kids' club. (Note: Some of these things are admittedly worse for you, and are far less cool than smoking weed.)
Check Your Phone
Probably the most inconspicuous method of avoidance, in any situation, is checking your phone (this is far less convincing if you don't have a smartphone). Got any emails you'd like to compose? Any outstanding LinkedIn requests? Now's a great time to catch up. Nobody will even try to get your attention because they'll be too annoyed with you for committing this extremely antisocial transgression. Not chill, bro.
Smoke Something Else
When I stopped smoking weed, I started smoking cigarettes. I still felt the urge to smoke something, and I realized that nicotine agreed more with my nerves. It's an extremely horrible alternative, and maybe it will work for you, too. (Note: This obviously doesn't work indoors, unless it's one of those willfully disgusting punk houses whose crusty inhabitants have names like "Booger" and "Puddle.")
Make Self-Deprecating, Self-Referential Jokes About the Fact That You Don't Smoke Weed
This one can really go either way. If you make a quip about how weed exacerbates your anxiety, some people will admire how candid you are about being a massive dork. Alternatively, some will condescendingly tell you marijuana is clinically proven to ameliorate anxiety (these people typically don't have anxiety).
Suck on Hard Candy
In my early adulthood, I developed a compulsive appetite for hard candy and would constantly carry around Jolly Ranchers and Ricola lozenges in my coat pocket and lie about having a sore throat (one of the many qualities I shared with an 80-year-old grandmother). Less destructive overall than smoking cigarettes; similar gum disease risk.
Just Walk Away
You're an adult. Aren't you?