Puff Daddies

Posted: September 15th, 2009 by Militant Libertarian

by Daniel Engber

At the time, Mom’s question caught me by surprise: “Have you ever tried marijuana?” she asked, sloshing her coffee around in a mug as we stood together in the kitchen. My mind went blank. Could this be the fabled “drug talk” that parents are supposed to give to their teenage children? If so, why was I getting it at 30?

It turned out my mother was less interested in my drug use than her own. When I told her I’d smoked pot in college, and a bunch of times since, she took the news in stride. The thing was, she and my father were hoping to score some weed. Did I know anybody?

A little context: My parents paid for my college education. They put me up for a semester of graduate school. They sat through three school plays and one flute recital; they came to my art opening; they bought me a skateboard. But given the chance to pay them back—in part, at least—for so many years of support and encouragement, I failed to deliver so much as a dime bag.

“You didn’t say no,” my mother recalled the other day, “but you didn’t say yes. It was clear that you were very hesitant about this.” After a moment, she added: “You didn’t give off positive vibrations.”

OK, so I never hooked up my parents. But in the weeks and months that followed, I discovered that many of my contemporaries—people in their late 20s or early 30s—had experienced something similar. Soon I’d heard dozens of stories about retired moms and pops returning to the marijuana habits of their youth. There were solicitations made over family dinners, intergenerational drug deals worked out over holiday weekends—the anecdotes were easy enough to find. Would I come across any data to support this trend?

n fact, a statistical trace of what I’ve taken to calling the “puff daddy” movement emerged a few years ago, when researchers at the National Institutes of Health compared national drug surveys conducted over two-year periods beginning in 1991 and 2001. Their analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the percentage of people who say they smoked marijuana in the past year had remained fairly stable over the 10-year stretch. (That is to say, it ended where it started.) But they found a very different pattern among those between the ages of 45 and 64: As my parents’ generation matured, the number of smokers in that group had nearly tripled.

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Comments (2)


  1. David Z says:

    I turned 29 earlier this year, and I've probably smoked more pot in the last few months than I did in all of high school and college combined, after 4-5 years of basically none at all.

    I think it's ironic, that people my age get wierded out: "What sort of 30 year old brings a joint to the party?" etc… these are often the same people that are sh*tfaced on bacardi and diet. Or, "You're 30 years old, what are you doing smoking a joint?" as though it's OK if you're 16 and irresponsible, but not when you're 29, working full time, paying the bills, etc.

    I know of some "puff daddys" (and mommys, too) but none that I'm especially close with. Unfortunate, because a hookup is a hookup…

  2. Militant Libertarian says:

    Amazing. I can name at least three within a fifty mile radius of my house ("puff daddies")–I live in the sticks, when I was in the city, I could name half a dozen within three blocks.

    I haven't smoked pot in well over a decade now, but as a teenager I did so often and heavily.

    Marijuana is great stuff, generally not really bad for you, and mostly harmless. Some people have problems with it, but these are the same people who have problems with nearly everything–they're just overly-addictive and almost always prone to general laziness and just need an excuse for it.

    Nearly every person I've known who recreationally smoked (or smokes) pot has no serious "life problems" and are normal people. I know of at least two people who smoke it medicinally–one for epilepsy and another for cancer.

    It's an amazing thing, the drug war against marijuana. Or any of them, for that matter, but especially pot.

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