The Dude always came down to the beach in his orange robe, love beads and sandals, his guitar strung over his back, and a look of “lost bliss” on his face. He was typically after our weed.
I thought about him recently after watching the six-part documentary “Wild, Wild Country” on Netflix. The doc was about the followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who migrated to a small town in Oregon in the ‘80s and tried to set up a new home for themselves.
I learned shortly after watching that the Dude was a member of the Rajneeshies.
One of my criticisms of the documentary is that it never specifically laid out what attracted the Dude, and thousands of followers, to the Bhagwan. What did the Bhagwan offer that was so irresistible? And why do people go batshit-crazy-obsessed over one specific thing, whether it be a guru, a sports team or the most awful politician in history?
Can’t almost anything popular, in some sense, be classified as a cult?
These cults have one thing in common: devoted followers who hold steadfast to their target of adoration, come hell or high water. They have drunk the punch, so to speak. Or, for the purposes of Straight Dope, they have smoked the weed.
The Cult of Marijuana is at a tipping point: sliding down the slippery slope from hipster counter-culture drug to country-wide gold rush.
No transition to the mainstream ever goes smoothly, and that is especially true for pot, with the Feds a major thorn in the side of state’s rights. Another thorn, I believe, are many of the original weed cult members, who think weed can do no wrong, cure anything and everything, and have always flipped the bird in the direction of the establishment. But now, that establishment is curious to get in on the game, and the legalization movement needs them to help legitimize the vast potential of the drug, both medically and economically.
As an example, I refer to many in the cult who spend an inordinate amount of time taking bong hits for their quarter of a million YouTube, or Instagram, followers. That kind of behavior doesn’t exactly represent the tremendous potential of marijuana. It’s just another “head” fawning over someone with vast lung capacity — or horn-dogging over a scantily clothed, tatted gal displaying 101 different ways to blow a smoke ring and look skanky. This “stoner” stereotype feeds right into Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Propaganda Machine, which starts with “Mr. Magoo” claiming: “Good people don’t smoke Marijuana.”
Let’s prove the backassward, blind folks like Sessions wrong. What appealed to us originally about the Cult of Marijuana was the escape it provides. But now, the stakes are so much higher. And in order to reach critical mass, we no longer need to be hopping around in an orange robe chanting the Gospel of our Chosen One. We need to put on a business suit and prove to the nonbelievers that good people DO smoke Marijuana — and we’re here to stay.
Rick Cipes has written for more than 40 publications, including L.A. Times, Playboy and ESPN Magazine. Visit his dope 420 T-Shirt Collection at www.420tsc.com.