The End of Two Eras: Plastic Bags and Pot Prohibition

Two things that have been with me all of my life are going away as July starts, and I’m happy to bid them adieu.

The first is plastic shopping bags. Brattleboro is banning single-use plastic bags (under 2.25 mil) as of July 1. In a world full of plastic bags, our impact may be like a small drop in a big pond, but our drop can cause ripples.

Most people are now aware of the damage plastics can do, especially to marine life. I certainly wouldn’t want to be swimming around, minding my own business, then be suffocated by plastic bags.

Ending single use plastic bags seems like a minimal step that we can take to help fellow animals on the planet.

The second is illegality of small amounts of marijuana. Vermont won’t arrest you for having or growing some after this week. 

Pot’s been illegal all my life, for no good reason. It’s caused otherwise good people to be criminals, facing jail time, fines, and public humiliation for doing something less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.

Ending the prohibition is a wise move and acknowledges reality.

A funny connection – I’ve known many people who have smoked or sold pot over the years. This is America. Sometimes, the legal single-use plastic bags from the store were used to conceal a delivery of illegal marijuana. That all flips now. Legal marijuana can be enjoyed, and single use bags used to conceal it are illegal. Times and priorities change.

I should note that not all plastic is going away. Clear sandwich bags will remain, as will some light plastic bags used to wrap newspapers or vegetables, for instance.

This is the final week for plastic bags and pot prohibition in Brattleboro. Who will get the last plastic bag? Who is the last person to be arrested for a small amount of marijuana? Who will be first to be refused a plastic bag at the store? Who will be first to enjoy legal marijuana?  There is trivia to collect!

Two rather substantial changes coming next week, both worthy of celebrations of some sort. Got anything special planned?

Comments | 3

  • It's July

    Happy lifestyle changes day everyone.

    May your marijuana be within legal limits and your shopping bags be plastic-free!

    (This is really just a reminder to myself to keep an extra reusable bag in the car, just in case. )

  • "Nickel Bag"

    no longer means what it once did. Now it is just the amount that the Co-op charges for a grocery bag.

    The first time I got stoned, 1964, it was at a friend’s house when his parents were out. (Let’s call my friend “Alan”) Having taken the risk of ignoring my high school science teacher’s explanation of how marijuana leads to heroin; I had tried once before to smoke “reefer,” but had not gotten high.

    Alan explained that, often you don’t get high the first time: Your body needs to acclimate to the experiencer. Alan gave instructions for how to inhale and hold the smoke in your lungs. Then he removed the seeds, rolled a 2 or 3 joints, lit one, inhaled, and we began to take turns, passing it around the circle.

    I followed instructions, and waited. Nothing seemed to happen. Then I turned to Alan, and in a serious tone said: “How long does it take for this stuff to take effect?”

    Alan looked back and me but said nothing. He looked like he was groping for the answer. I waited. We stared at each other. Then the absurdity of the weighty sound of my question dawned on me. Simultaneously, Alan and I cracked up.

    I laughed so hard that I had to gasp for breath. After each brief pause we were again seized with another paroxysm.

    After I had finally recovered from the fits of laughter, my shoulders began to sway, slowly. It just felt so good! Someone passed a Salvator Dali book around. I had never before seen his works, and was amazed at the visual puns and surreal images. I kept asking my companions whether this book was real, or if it was my mind imagining the impossible. They just laughed!

    The nickel bags at the Co-op are good for the environment, but they just don’t do what that nickel bag did 54 years ago.

    We had each chipped in $1.25. What a bargain!

    • Co-op selling nickel bags

      Good observation that the Co-op is now the place to get a nickel bag. Ha! Times have changed.

      I asked a cashier at Hannaford yesterday how many bags they had saved (this was mid day). She said it would be thousands, and that each day they had previously gone through CASES of plastic bags. That’s a lot of plastic already eliminated. Multiple that by other stores in town and we’re off to a good start.

      They were also making some money off the change in rules. Re-usable bags were on sale two for a dollar.

      One guy leaving the store had his groceries in reusable bags, and one at the bottom slipped off his cart. “That wouldn’t have happened with a plastic bag,” I joked. He laughed.


      My first weed exposure was in Florida. Students were allowed to leave high school for lunch. Yup. Just hop in the car and go anywhere. Dumbest thing I ever heard of, but it was the rule.

      I was new there (about 9th/10th grade) and a bunch of the smart kids invited me to go out for lunch. I was picturing a trip to McDonalds. Instead, we went to Susan’s house, and her parents weren’t home. It became a cocktail party. Kids raided the liquor cabinet, and started smoking pot. I was freaked out. Hadn’t been around any of this. I was certain we would all be in big trouble, or possible dead. This is the dangerous stuff I was warned about. And it is all the A students. What’s going on?

      I avoided the liquor and told them the smoke in the air was enough for me. They all seemed wasted, and silly, and like they did this often. Lunch hour ended, we hopped back in a car, and was driven drunk and stoned back to school. ( At the time, you just do these things. In retrospect, this could easily have been a story in the newspaper about the tragic death of a bunch of high school students. We were lucky.)

      I was certain we’d be in trouble. Not a single teacher seemed to notice, though. No one got in trouble, despite clearly intoxicated, red-eyed behavior by some of these kids. The good kids, too! Honor roll types. Advanced classes.

      About a year later I was back up north visiting old friends and was at a party where weed was offered (in a contraption – there were a number of “hits” loaded into a revolver type base of a bong). This time I was curious and in a safer setting (we weren’t about to go back to school…), so I gave it a try.

      Very similar result to what Twain mentions above. Is anything happening?

      But, then they put on this new music by someone they said was great and played punk-funk. I had no idea what they were talking about, but when Prince’s “Controversy” album was played, I was amazed, and became hooked on Prince.

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