An 82-Year Old’s First Experience with Marijuana

Well, o.k., I finally did it. I smoked some dope here in Spain.

I had always wanted to. It’s been on my bucket list. But the opportunity never really presented itself – not in all my nearly 83 years of life.

That’s all changed now that I’m in Granada where recreational marijuana is legal and easy to get.

Besides that (as I’ve written in recent posts) I’ve fallen in with a group of Albaycin street musicians. They routinely smoke marijuana mixed with tobacco. They’re always rolling joints, and nobody bats an eye.

As a matter of fact, smoking in general seems very popular here. And down in the gritty Plaza Larga, where I usually meet my troglydite friends, people constantly roll cigarettes.

One reason is because Lucky Strikes and Marlboros are now so expensive. They’re nearly five Euros a pack. Taken together, loose tobacco along with filters and paper (often sold in the same plastic pouch) are much cheaper.   

Nonetheless, my friends tell me that the people of all ages I see in restaurants rolling cigarettes for an after-dinner smoke are probably doing a joint. Again, nobody bats an eye.

Anyway, let me tell you about my recent experience, how it arose, its particulars, and resulting advice from smoking experts.

The Idea Occurs

As I was saying, my musician friends smoke all the time. But they’ve never offered me even a drag. I suppose that has something to do with my age. Also, they know I was a professor in some U.S. college, and a former priest. I think in some weird way, all that related to their never offering. But it made me wonder all the same.  

Anyway, head shops are plentiful here in Granada – especially if you count the omnipresent “Tabacs” where they sell lottery tickets, bus passes, cigarettes, loose tobacco, pipes, bongs, hash grinders, rolling machines, and other cannabis paraphernalia.

So, when I was walking down Calle Puentezuelas a week or so ago, I found myself amid tiendas like those. In fact, there were lots of interesting stores there – especially in the light of my practice with Tarot cards over the last few months. (I’m trying hard to become what they call here a “Tarotista.” I practice every day with readings exploring my own psyche and spiritual state.)

For example, one store not only sells cards, incense, crystals, etc., it also offers Tarot card readings (25 Euros), along with shell divinations, and cigar smoke interpretations (40 Euros). Another store offers similar services for twice the price.

For me, the most interesting shop is a rather large one that has a Buddhist orientation. It sells things like statues, medals, pulseras, fountains, meditation cushions and clothes, prayer flags, and those incense sticks and crystals I mentioned. I often go in there just walking around and looking. Very interesting and somehow calming.

On one of my most recent visits to Puentezuelas, I saw for the first time a shop specializing in legal marijuana. I went in and inspected.

“Just looking,” I said when the clerk asked if he might help. Later, I added, “What would you recommend for a beginner like me?” He showed me a node of “Wedding Cake.”

“This might be a good start,” he said. “It’s pretty mild.”

On impulse, I bought a packet for five euros. Later, I visited a Tabac on the Gran Via Colon and added a plastic grinder along with some paper, filters, and a butane lighter.

I went home, rolled a joint, and lit up.

My First Time

Well, to tell the truth, it wasn’t that smooth.

First, I had a hard time rolling the thing. Yes, I watched a video on YouTube. But that didn’t help much. Eventually though I did get it together — kinda.

Also, before smoking, I watched a well-done cartoon video about a college student’s first experience of marijuana. It was quite entertaining and raised my anticipation level. The student reported:

  • A non-stop laughing fit.
  • Disappearance of time-consciousness.
  • Seeing the colors of everything like trees, flowers, billboards, cars, and clothes with greatly enhanced hues and degrees of intensity.
  • Experiencing his feet and hands growing by meters in extension.
  • But being able nonetheless to walk with delight and exhilaration.
  • Having such a good time that he smoked another joint immediately afterwards.
  • With similar effect.

So, with all that in mind, as I said, I lit up.

At first nothing happened. After my first couple of drags, I started coughing. But I finished the joint anyway.

In a few minutes, I could feel my perceptions changing. It was like I was getting drunk. So, I went to my room and stretched out in bed.

Then I realized:

  • I had no urge to laugh.
  • My mouth was extremely dry.
  • My tongue felt swollen.
  • I couldn’t get out of bed.
  • If I were to try, I I’d fall down for sure.
  • I was immobile.
  • I felt completely drunk.
  • For about an hour.

Expert Advice (from Three)

1.     Matteo’s Counsel

The next day, while doing my daily walk down the Gran Via Colon in Granada’s center, I came across Matteo, a young musician friend from Italy. As usual, he was carrying his guitar uncovered despite the season’s slight drizzle.

We stopped and talked. I told him of my experience with “Wedding Cake.”

“Oh, that’s no good,” he said. “That’ll never get you high. Here, let me share what I smoke.”

So, then and there on the Gran Via, in front of the Cathedral, in that slight shower, he rolled me a joint all the while giving me step-by-step instructions about doing it right.

“Try that,” he said.

I went home and did.

Same effect as described above.

2.     Simon Knew Better

The next day, I spoke with my closest street smart friend, Simon. He’s the busker I first met in the Plaza Larga – the 60-year-old Chilean who’s helping me with my Spanish (with my “Castellano,” he insists on calling it).

Simon had already heard from Matteo about my experimentation and experience. He was laughing about it.

“The problem is,” Simon advised between chuckles, “you’re smoking alone. Also, even the stuff Matteo gave you probably isn’t strong enough for you. Give me ten euros and I’ll buy you some good stuff and we can smoke it together. It’ll get you laughing in no time.”

I gave Simon ten euros.

The next day, we met. We walked to Simon’s favorite haunt near the Plaza Larga, sat on a bench and lit up alternating drags and just talking.

Then it hit me. But it was the same experience I shared earlier. I soon felt completely drunk and unable to walk. My tongue was thick. My mouth was dry. And I was slurring my words. It was an hour before I dared to get up from that bench. The weed hadn’t produced even a smile.

I resolved that my experimentation was over. I don’t like that drunk feeling.

3.     Mauricio’s and Filson’s Guidance:

Nevertheless, the next day, when I went up to our roof patio overlooking the Alhambra’s environs, I found Mauricio, a 60-something next-door neighbor, smoking weed on the adjoining patio. He was talking and toking with Filson, a young African woman from London. Mauricio is a pianist from the Netherlands. Filson is a writer and lives in a cave not far from Simon’s. I had met her previously in the Plaza Larga, where we had talked about mushrooms.

Anyway, I had gone up to the patio for my morning coffee and tostada. I noticed the two smoking, so I interrupted. I told them of my two recent experiences with marijuana.

A suddenly interested Mauricio said, “Oh, that’s because the weed you smoked wasn’t the best. Here, let me give you some of mine. No, I insist. Take it. It’s great. See if it makes a difference.”

Mauricio went inside and returned with a handful of the stuff he was recommending.

“Anyway,” he added, “weed isn’t for achieving those changed perceptions that YouTube video described. It’s just about relaxing. Lots of times, when I can’t sleep because of some worries I might be having, I just light up. It relaxes me, and my worries disappear. The other stuff about colors and limb extension is a myth – at least in my experience.” Filson agreed.  


Later, when I told Simon about Mauricio and Filson, he just smiled. He knew of my resolution to smoke no more.  

“Well,” he said, “why don’t you just let me roll you a joint with Mauricio’s stuff? And then when and if you might feel ready for another go sometime in the future, we can smoke it together.”

He rolled and gave me the joint. I put it in a safe place.

I’m still thinking about the matter.

I’m Stopped and Frisked by Granada’s Puta Policia

It was an extraordinary experience. As an 82-year-old American tourist, I never anticipated anything like it happening to me in Spain.  

I had spent the early evening in the nearby Plaza Larga with friends I’ve written about previously. It’s become my favorite spot in Granada.

Together, we had done some Tarot Card readings and discussed Bob Dylan, the Frankfurt School of critical thought (especially Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization), conspiracy theories, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the images on the back of U.S. dollar bills, and the direction of “universal history.”

About the latter, I had recommended to Francesco, a brilliant intellectual and bibliophile from Italy, the work of one of my Great Teachers, Argentina’s Enrique Dussel. His work on universal history has been mind-blowing to me. Since he is also an historian, I was anxious to hear Cesco’s evaluation of Dussel’s work.

In the midst of such conversation, as if from nowhere the puta policia (“effin cops” as my friends call them) showed up. There were four of them. – all about the age of 40, around the age of my own children. (Actually, I could have been their grandfather.)

They frisked us all (including me!) and wrote us up in their ledgers. (I’m not sure what they’ll do with the papers they filled out. None of us was given a copy.)

It was a clear exercise of “power over,” of classism and discrimination against people simply because they are poor.

Earlier in the day, I had witnessed something similar in a place they call “El Huerto” (the Garden) where I spend a good deal of time. The Huerto is an extensive park very close to the Alhambra. The still snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada stand breathtakingly in the far horizon.  

The park features a kids’ playground and exercise machines installed especially for elderly people like me. It’s also a gathering place for hippies and street people. Some of them sleep there overnight usually in sleeping bags. It’s also a kind of dog park as evidenced by dog waste lying here and their awaiting the morning visit of street sweepers who keep the Huerto relatively clean.

The place is also “decorated” with graffiti denouncing the puta policia, pledging love to Noemis and Rodrigos, and expressing support for Palestinians and Ukrainians. One of the inscriptions reads “I’m in the love.”

Anyway, I had just finished my morning workout and was sitting in the shade catching my breath.

A young African man sat off to my right, about 20 meters distant.

Then all of a sudden, two police motorcycles converged on him, seemingly from nowhere. They hemmed him in, though he made no effort to “escape.” The cops made him stand up with his hands in the air. They pushed him around a bit, had him empty his pockets, and then patted him down. I watched the whole thing thinking “I should be filming this.” I didn’t dare.

The young man offered no resistance and gave the impression of having gone through the drill many times before. He was harming no one.

I make that observation because my busker friend, Simon, constantly complains about gratuitous police harassment. It’s something I’ve previously written about here. Again, it’s all about classism and criminalization of poverty. When I later told Simon about what I witnessed in the Huerto, he said, “Of course, they harassed him. He’s black.”

In any case, and as I was saying these cops were suddenly on our case too – criminalizing us as we sat around a stone public bench not ten meters away from the outdoor Aixa Restaurant. That’s where I often take breakfast of tostada and café. Aixa’s patrons were enjoying wine, beer, and tapas.  

“You know you’re not supposed to be drinking beer in public, don’t you?” the cops accused, ignoring the diners so close at hand and the fact that no one harasses normal tourists walking around the Albaycin with red-canned Cervezas Alhambra in hand.  

“Empty your pockets, all of you,” they demanded. We all did so obediently. My friends demeanor showed me how to act. Eyes were cast down. No talking back. Serious looks on everyone’s faces. Wordless glances exchanged between us expressing exasperation about the whole reason for the unfolding process.

“They just don’t have enough work,” one of my friends growled sotto voce. He nodded towards the cops.

The latter were especially interested in examining and sniffing the tobacco pouches nearly all my friends carry. (All of them roll their cigarettes.) The cops were looking for marijuana. They found some. It was confiscated.

Then one of them turned his attention to me. “Stand up,” he demanded. I obeyed. “Turn around!” He patted me up and down and actually grabbed my genitals and squeezed them. Again, I’m 82 years old! I’m obviously a tourist. “Por favor!” I objected. The cop was unphased.

[By the way, I find interesting my internal reaction to that manhandling by the cop. I had never experienced anything like that. Afterwards I almost felt guilty – the way women who are sexually assaulted often report feeling.  I thought, “Why did I let him do that?” Should I have resisted or pushed him away? But of course, I couldn’t. That’s because the cop wasn’t really looking for something hidden in my crotch. (What, I, this elderly American tourist was hiding marijuana or something in my drawers?) No, he was asserting power. That’s what law enforcement does everywhere to poor people. It tells people like my friends, “You’re nothing. We can do whatever we want with you. Never forget that. We’re the law!”]

“Show me your identification,” the cop ordered. I obliged producing my residential permit.

“You’re an American, right? Why are you here?”

“I’m a tourist staying with my grandchildren and their parents. We’re all here to learn Castellano.”

“Are these your friends?” the cop asked bruskly.

“Yes, they are,” I confessed.

“They shouldn’t be,” came the reply. “They’re bad people.”

“That’s not my experience,” I said. “They’re some of the finest people I know.”