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No need to leave home without your cannabis

I love traveling and “getting out,” but I don’t always travel well. They say it’s vital to push your boundaries, but when I’m out of my element — a feeling that can strike just as easily in the Financial District as in a foreign country — the flow of conversation ceases, earnest interactions become awkward fumbles, and everything feels one misstep away from some kind of incident.

A few things help. Drink. A hint of the familiar. No surprise, then, that while on a trip a few years back to pre-legalization Washington, D.C., I felt at home on the road as an old friend showed me his favorite dive bar.
The signature drink there was a Jack and Coke. It set you back $12 — a price that fetched you a bowl of ice, a can of Coke, an empty glass, and a pint of whiskey. Strangers became friends, all the jokes hit. Real connections were made. There was only one thing missing.

Some weed.

Without thinking twice, I bounded over to the doorman in search of my favorite drug. Barely had the words, “Look, I live in California, and —” exited my mouth when he shot me a knowing look. He knew. He darted his eyes from side to side, and then asked for $40.

Having known him for all of 30 seconds, he had my total trust. I forked over the cash before heading back to my barstool. A few minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

Summoned outside, I was handed a mysterious bundle. Wrapped in what appeared to be a scrap of plastic ripped from a takeout bag was a serviceable eighth. “Thanks!” I beamed, ready to hug my facilitator, who did what he could to show that he had no idea who I was or what I was doing there.

The hardest part about the whole interaction was finding a smoking method. In the nation’s capital in 2010, finding rolling papers was more difficult than finding smoke (no Zig Zags at the 7/11).

Cannabis is a fine travel companion. Marijuana provides instant community, a way to bond with total strangers absent language or background in common. For many of us, marijuana is the preferred recreational drug, and a welcome alternative to a boozy evening of Mai Tais.

For some of us, marijuana is the real medicine that’s keeping us alive. This means traveling with weed is not an unnecessary risk. Nor is it a luxury. It’s a necessity — and as you’ll read in our travel issue, boarding a plane with enough marijuana to last you a couple weeks is also not much of a risk.

You’ll hear some stories that will sound familiar: snap decisions, quick-thinking to evade police, haggling with street hustlers. In a new twist, you’ll also hear about domestic and international medicine “smugglers.”

Cannabis is, of course, not worth getting imprisoned over. Unfortunately, that’s the penalty in many favorite vacation spots. So while caution is still key, you can at least plan for your next trip knowing that you don’t always need to leave your weed at home.

Photo by Mike Koozmin