The Half-Baked Marijuana Legalisation March & Mumbai’s Missing Stoners


The Half-Baked Marijuana Legalisation March & Mumbai’s Missing Stoners

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

Eight years ago, outside a rather liberal Mumbai college, a diverse set of art majors, and a few delinquent science kids, were showing Jackie Shroff how to properly get high. The group had it all — a ringleader who sourced maal from different parts of the world, the cronies who hung around for a hit in exchange for their individuality, future content writers and organic farmers, and the pretty stoner girls, who may as well be the urban equivalent of the black rhinoceros.

Every day this odd group would discuss, in a haze of smoke enveloping the hundreds of bunked philosophy classes, the medical benefits of marijuana, the creativity it injected in them, the fact that was superior to alcohol or crocin or whatever else their great aunt took for joint pain. They quoted Hyde from That 70s Show, were avid readers of Hunter S Thompson and Tom Wolfe, and identified with the Woodstock generation for its politics and emphasis on freedom of thought. This was a bunch of hippies, stuck in the bodies of millennials.

Through various interactions over the years, I realised almost every urban college had some kind of similar group, with differing levels of pretension. One common goal united these young pot advocates — they all waited patiently for the day their medicine would be legalised, as it is in Canada, Uruguay, or parts of the USA. They’d be able to pursue their habit without being labelled criminals, or worse, unemployable. Some went on to study Babaji at the University of Boom Babaji, others went on to get jobs as accountants.

You might not have met too many people with dreadlocks, or ignored that one guy you saw in harem pants, but marijuana users are everywhere these days. They’re at the movie theatre, eating fries next to you at the burger place, hanging outside yoga classes, and taking over music festivals across the country.

And so, to my utter shock, when a rally was organised for India’s Great Legalisation Movement last December, the turnout was less than stellar. The pro-marijuana march was held in four cities across India, including Mumbai, and a marijuana legalisation bill was up for tabling in Parliament. I might have counted more stoners at the Domino’s across the road than at the rally at Gateway of India. It was virtually impossible to spot the 10-odd pro-marijuana activists with a single banner in a crowd of a thousand regular selfie-takers, ferry travellers, and hobby yachters.

The photographs and videos put up by the organisation from other parts of the country were not much better. About 60 people showed up for the December rally, out of a grand total of all the people you hear talking about Amsterdam with stars in their eyes, those who explain the benefits of legalising hemp, and even the chap who legit believes that pot is the saviour of humanity. And this is the story of every legalisation rally ever held in the country.

The only explanation for this disappointing show of non-support is that even with its cancer-fighting properties, marijuana makes people really lazy.

Even taking into account various bubbles, that’s a poor ratio. Come on, pot smokers! For once, put your money where your mouth is. Unless you were kidnapped on the way by aliens, this is quite inexcusable. What is worse is that even the cops don’t bother showing up for such rallies, although they materialise out of nowhere the moment someone even thinks of rolling paper.

The bill means that India has the chance to officially legalise pot across the nation before the United States does. I would’ve assumed that a rally of this significance would finally get stoners to switch off the Scooby Doob for a second. But apparently the only place where the support comes out is on internet forums, because it can be done in the luxury of your own home.

The only explanation I have for this disappointing show of non-support, is that marijuana, even with its cancer-fighting properties, makes people really, really lazy. Why go out and support the one thing you do five to 12 times a week when you can just stay at home and do it illegally? Or maybe pot smokers aren’t even aware that such initiatives are undertaken, because the last time a non-journalist marijuana activist picked up the newspaper, they were cleaning weed all over it. Maybe some of you are scared to publicly share support for the drug, but you know what? Your parents probably already know.

If weed is not legalised in the country, marijuana users will have no one to blame but themselves. We have been handed the chance on a golden platter but preferred to smoke the morning away. So the next time you meet someone talking about how weed inspires them to paint a novel about a singer-songwriter and how they wish the damned country would legalise it, ignore them and walk away. They aren’t going to do a thing about it.