Everyone seems to be talking about drugs right now; or perhaps I just need some different friends...
For starters, everyone still seems unhappy about the result of the marijuana referendum.
Well, I say “everyone” – certainly the 49 per cent in favour are unhappy. But we’re now told that of the other 51 per cent, at least half would have voted for decriminalisation as an option rather than legalisation. So they’re unhappy too.
And while it seems nearly everyone wanted cannabis to be allowed for medical reasons, that is still difficult and expensive.
It’s a bizarre situation. In America (founding father of the War On Drugs) 16 states and Washington DC have legalised marijuana. That includes New York, California and Nevada, the country’s biggest tourism destinations. Were it not for the pandemic, thousands of New Zealanders would be travelling to places where marijuana is legal, and where society doesn't appear to have fallen apart as a result. That might change minds...
Not helping are the continuing eruptions of a far more insidious drug – “synthetic marijuana”. Which, of course, is nothing of the sort. It’s no more “synthetic marijuana” than it is “synthetic heroin” – it's a substance created in a lab that gets you out of it.
It is also responsible for psychosis and addiction. The only connection to marijuana is the name (which anti-marijuana campaigners must applaud every time it’s mentioned).
The latest case was earlier this week when three people apparently overdosed on the stuff right outside Auckland's Sky City Casino. After which the usual warnings went out...
I must confess it all feels a bit like deja vu to me. I grew up listening to 1969’s Woodstock concert. We played that triple album endlessly, idolised the performers – everyone from a political Joan Baez to the timeless Jimi Hendrix – and even memorised the stage announcements.
The announcement that still sticks in my mind is the famous one about brown acid which, for an impressionable teenager, summed up both the allure and danger of drugs. It said “...the brown acid that is circulating around us is specifically not too good. It’s suggested that you do stay away from that; of course, it’s your own trip, so, be my guest.”
Stay away from the brown acid. That became something of a catchphrase for our experimental group, but I realise now it was more than specific advice – it was an existential warning. There will always be “brown acid”.
Last month Wellington police warned members of the public about a highly dangerous methamphetamine-like substitute called Isopropylbenzylamine. That's some “brown acid” right there.
And the announcement said “of course, it’s your own trip.” Quite right. You have a choice.
Marijuana may be relatively harmless yet still illegal in New Zealand, but there are some really harmful things out there that are easy to obtain. If you do choose that trip, keep your fingers crossed and stay away from the brown acid.
Okay. Public service announcement over; how many gigs can I cram in the remaining third of the column?
This weekend: On Saturday, June 26, Astrolabe hosts three bands – Casper and Retro Valley from Hamilton and the Mount’s own award-winning Joe’s Van. There will also be DJs.
The Jam Factory features international high-flier Merv Pinny playing solo, while there’s blues at The Barrel Room with Mike Garner and Warren Houston and popular classics at Jack Dusty’s in Bureta from the Silver Beats.
Back at the Mount the Voodoo Lounge has three bands – locals Antebellum and Sons of Soma and, down from Auckland, Chasing Titans – while Totara Street is putting on a drum and bass session: headliner Paige Julia is coming from Christchurch, with support acts Matt Rapid (Coromandel), HUIA (Auckland) and locals Mystic Roots.
Okay, breathe... Sunday afternoon (June 27) sees Blaze play at Jack Dusty's while Kokomo are back in action at Katikati’s Arts Junction.
Finally, there are some bigger names heading this way soon: July 3 sees Auckland heavy hitters Racing celebrate their new single Space Boogie at Totara Street. On July 8 Greg Johnson is there, and The Narcs return to the Jam Factory on July 9, with support from Sarah Spicer.