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Silver threads: All kinds of joints

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

When we were in our 50s my husband and I attended a party where joints were being passed around. That was a first for me — I didn’t ask whether it was the same for him — and I declined each time the weed was offered.

Finally, late in the evening, while I was sipping my second bourbon and Seven-Up, I said, “Oh, just give it here,” and took several drags. Nothing happened. Like Bill Clinton, I probably hadn’t inhaled.
When I consulted our daughter, then in her 20s, about the experience, she said, “Oh, Mom, you probably were already buzzed from the bourbon.”
Which was the high of choice — along with vodka and gin and beer — for my generation.  And bought only from boot leggers during my college days in Mississippi. If marijuana was available for general consumption, I never knew about it in the mid-to-late ‘50s.
Flash forward to the ‘70s, when our children were in middle school; pot and much more dangerous drugs had become popular, even among teens. LSD, heroin — talk about being young and foolish at a particularly bad time.
I got to thinking about all this yesterday morning when I saw the newspaper headline, “NOPD chief: Cops to follow more lenient pot laws.” If you read the article, you know that a new ordinance will prevail in city settings other than the French Quarter, where state law will continue to be followed.
The story in The Advocate also reported that while fines will be imposed after arrests, no jail terms are mandated. This leniency is an effort to reduce the number of inmates in jails in the city and state. Everybody knows that the United States has a huge number of incarcerated people compared to other countries, and that Louisiana’s prison population is a big contributor to the total.
I’m all for a little leniency. I don’t think a six-month stint in jail under state law for a second nonviolent offense does anybody much good. A jail term changes one’s heart and mind and life, usually not for the better.
In an effort to find out whether I’d have gone to jail for drinking bourbon had I done it between 1920 and 1933 — the years of Prohibition in the U.S. — I consulted Google, the expert on which I depend, and found nothing except stories about the legal troubles of companies involved in processing, selling or transporting drinking alcohol. It seems that ordinary boozers didn’t get arrested unless caught up in a raid on a speakeasy or other “joint” where it was being sold and served.
And as for visiting the boot legger behind the drive-in cafe in Hattiesburg, my girl friends and I never saw any cops around, thankfully enough, because I’d never have explained that one to Daddy.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected]