Author Archives: j B

Folk Belief

Temple 420

– Folk Belief

“I heard a couple weeks ago from a friend of mine about Temple 420.  It opened in LA I think a year ago.  Apparently some people or some religions rather… they feel that pot is actually a holy plant.  The Book of Genesis refers to a tree of life and the Book of Revelations speaks of a plant that will heal all nations.  The guy that founded Temple 420, among many others, argues that marijuana is the plant they speak of.  So now, I guess from what I hear, marijuana has become a sacrament used at church.  I think the guy was actually Jewish though, which is why he called it a temple.” (D.S.)

Informant Analysis:

“Well my friend told me that the place got busted by cops because of all the weed that was being given out.  But now hes apparently taking the LAPD to court over 30 billion dollars! Now people have been going to the church as a cheaper method of getting legal weed.  It’s a lot easier than getting your club card.  It’s cheaper too cause I heard that it only costs a hundred dollars to join.  I definitely think it’s interesting that they believe weed is holy though.  In a way, I can see why they might think it’s the plant to heal all nations.  Everyones always talking about how peaceful it makes you.  Look at all the hippies that used to smoke it and look how peace loving they were.  So I don’t know, but it’s definitely interesting to say the least!” (D.S.)

Personal Analysis:

It seems cannabis in California can now not only be purchased at medical dispensaries, but in churches as well.  This is made possible by the very foundation of America, religious freedom.  American citizens have the right to practice their religion without fear of persecution.  If cannabis is in fact considered to be a religious sacrament, then it seems legal that it would be consumed for religious purposes.

I feel this item can be classified as a folk belief.  It appears that subscribers to this religion maintain that this plant is holy.  Simultaneously, they belief that this is the plant to heal all nations is formed on popular conceptions about cannabis.  It is held by many that cannabis makes its users more peaceful, as also explained by the informant.  While this may invite discussions about belief, there is not much evidence at all to support that cannabis makes its users violent.  Thus it is certainly understandable how this folk belief may have developed.

At the same time, it is also possible that the founder of this church had a separate agenda.  He basically found a loophole which allows him to legally profit off of the selling of an illegal substance.  By merely charging a one hundred dollar fee to join the church, he has the potential to generate significant amounts of revenue.  Smokers will likely flock to this religion just in order to legally purchase marijuana.  Thus, the founder of the church will profit off of each new convert. This makes it hard to tell what his intentions and beliefs truly are.

Folk Ritual/Material Lore/Saying

El Arte de Liar

– Folk Ritual / Material Lore / Saying

El Arte De Liar

The Art of Bundling

The Art of Rolling

“When learning to roll joints or blunts, you find yourself on a very long road to perfection.  People spend years trying to perfect their technique, and the variation of such techniques is truly astonishing.  There are blunt wraps of all shapes and rolling papers of all sizes.  They all serve a slightly different purpose.  Some are rolled with the intention of creating a slow burning pleasurable experience.  Others are rolled with the purpose of burning fast and steady.  Some wraps and papers are flavored in order to mask the smoke, and some are flavorless allowing you to truly savor the rich tastes emitted from the fresh herb.  Whatever your preference, it is best to have a specialty.  Your choice in specialty is not always chosen, as generally, it is inherited by whoever first taught you how to roll.  The basic principle applies to most blunts and joints, you place the ground up grass on the flat surface of the wrap or paper.  You then attempt to roll that item creating a cylinder like shape throughout its entirety.  You then seal the item, either by lighting it or by licking it.  If needed, you place a carb on the end and twist the top.” (A.G.)

Informer Analysis:

“Rolling is considered an art.  You must strive to roll the most perfect joint or blunt that you possibly can, as consistently as possible.  People will often comment upon and complement excellence, but scoff at or ridicule failure.  It is a tough business, but you must aim to always improve until you have mastered your technique.  The reason it is best to specialize is because it allows everyone to bring their own contribution to the table.  If one person is excellent at rolling Js while the other is best at Bs, together you flexibility to smoke whatever you prefer.” (A.G.)

Personal Analysis:

The informant does a great job in analyzing the item.  All I have to add is that material lore is generally classified as that which is made by one’s hands.  It is unofficial and is passed down in order to survive.  The art of rolling fits the bill perfectly.  It is clearly unofficial as there is no one set way to roll.  At the same time, techniques remain alive only as a result of them having been passed down.  It appears that having the ability to roll has become an esteemed component of the smoking world.  It allows the roller to contribute to his/her group of friends, thus contributing to the sense of community and sharing.  People take great pride in their artwork, and in this particular case, it can be recreated time and time again.

Folk Belief/Superstition

White Lighter Superstitions

– Folk Belief / Superstition

“…you know that white lighters are bad luck? I know lots of n*ggas have gotten fucked using white lighters.  One of my boys had just bought a bomb ass triple chamber bubbler, right?  And like three days later he’s uhh … he’s usin this white lighter to fire it up.  Now, we were outside cause he was tryin to be all careful cause he don’t want his girl to know hes still smoking. N*gga lets loose and shatters that shit on the floor of his balcony.  Of course when we tryin to clean it up, his girl eyes him.  He was in big shit.  I heard another story from my homegirl in downtown.  She said her cuz was out with some fuckin n*ggas in Long Beach. They was sparking some masta kush in the car while parked out on out Ocean. When her cousin was passed the pipe, he uhh, he pulled out his white lighter.  As soon as the n*gga lit the bowl, the fuckin bitch ass police pull up.” (L.M.T.)

Informant Analysis:

“I heard bout white lighters back a few years ago.  I don’t know how true the whole thing is, but I heard enough to know not to buy em.” (L.M.T.)

Personal Analysis:

It’s hard to tell how exactly this superstition began, although I have heard similar stories from other informants.  All the stories tend to involve broken pieces, the police, or simply just a lost lighter.  I figure these same misfortunes occur with all color lighters, but greater attention is paid to that of white lighters due simply to the stigma that has since surrounded them.  Perhaps white lighters may have been easier to spot by the police.  This is made possible in that white lighters might help distinguish cannabis smokers from cigarette smokers due to the resin that builds on the bottom of the lighter.  This resin would be much more noticeable on a white lighter than on any of the darker colors.

It seems this story would most often be told when one literally possesses a white lighter.  It could serve as a conversational item amongst smokers.  Some might take it more seriously than others, but most active bearers of the folklore would probably be prompted to state their dismay upon seeing another’s use of the lighter.  Superstitions amongst smokers may be heightened by the effects of the cannabis itself.  It is rumored that cannabis has the potential to make its users exhibit signs of paranoia.  This paranoia might trigger a smoker to fear and avoid white lighters.

Some smokers might use this superstition to their advantage.  It seems that unintentional lighter theft is rampant in the smoking community.  One might be less likely to pocket a white lighter if familiar with the superstition.  White lighters may, therefore, be a less attractive item, hence stolen less often.

Folk Belief/Legend

Reefer Propaganda

– Folk Belief / Legend

“You know that the American historical background to the illegalization of Marijuana was simply a scam by William Randolph Hearst to help the flourishing of his paper empire?  Wow ok, well one of the  … what a lot of people point to as the umm as the beginning point for legislation against marijuana in the United States… Ok… It, being hemp, was obviously one of the major crops for creating paper and textiles, and in fact in WWII, the government subsidized US farmers to create hemp.  They needed it for sails, rope, and paper and all kinds of shit like that.  It was widely known that it was used for purposes like that.  But Diesel… well the guy who created the Diesel engine, his first fuel was made out of Hemp Oil.  It was widely known that at the time, fossil fuels… the refining processes for fossil fuels and oil was really crude.  And they left a lot of residue for any engine using it.  Hemp seed oil was really renewable, and it has a tendency to help the soil instead of destroying it like corn does.  So you ask, why would people illegalize it, especially back then, the hemp plant didn’t contain a lot of THC.  The strains that were being used had a low flowering capacity.  They were ideal for making textiles.  So the guy that invented diesel knew that hemp seed oil was the best thing to use for his engines, and the textile and paper companies knew that hemp was perfect for that as well.  Until whale oil kind of upended the hemp seed oil.  But anyhow, William Randolph Hearst happened to be buddies with a guy name Dupont.  Dupont discovered … among other things in the chemical labs back in the 20s … that one of the things they stumbled across was a really effective process for turning cellulous fiber into paper.  Formally, making a tree into a sheet of paper was considered an arduous and costly process.  Dupont, however, came up with a really good process to effectively turn trees into paper.  One day he was discussing it randomly with William Randolph Hearst, and Hearst happened to have a stockpile of forest and timber that was not being used for anything, he was happy to hear this.  In order to prevent losing a fortune to the hemp growing farmers, Hearst started an unbelievable anti-marijuana campaign.  So basically, he ran a major slanderous campaign, hence the birth of films like Reefer Madness in the 20s, as well as like a national, scourge of a America – Reefer Madness.  Reefer Madness was blatent and clear propaganda against marijuana.  They claimed that marijuana made people violent, and that it was a severe gateway drug, etc.  They ran the campaign relentlessly until Congress finally decided to Legislate.  And there you have it.  The greed of one man and the sorrow of a nation. (J.C.)

Informant Analysis:

“I think it is obvious that the ban on marijuana should be lifted.  Hemp is still a valuable commodity to this country, and it is far safer for the environment.  I find it ridiculous that one man’s relentless agenda for the spreading of propaganda could have such a major affect on the country.  If weed were legalized, thousands… no, tens of thousands of people if not more would benefit from the medicinal qualities alone.  Furthermore, the revenue that it would generate for the government would be huge and it would significantly help in the lowering of our deficit.” (J.C.)

Personal Analysis:

Clearly, this legend invites a certain bit of discussion in regards to belief.  I had never heard this story, but it seems rather plausible.  Hearst clearly had a personal vetted interest in making hemp and marijuana illegal.  What is most fascinating about this legend is that Hearst was successful in his attempts!  This just goes to show the power of folklore.  By adhering to pop culture, such as with the film, Reefer Madness, and by relentlessly targeting marijuana as a scapegoat and gateway drug, it is no surprise that cannabis would be slapped with a ban.  It is unfortunate that Congress didn’t see past his agenda.  Regardless, the informant is clearly somewhat biased.  There is research to suggest that there are some negative effects of cannabis, however, at the same time, the fact that our government has allowed alcohol and tobacco to remain untouched is more of a shock.  Honestly, it appears that the United States is on its merry way to legalization.

Folk Belief

Rasta Man

– Folk Belief

“Rastafari is not a religion, it is a lifestyle.  It is the way you decide to live man.  In Rastafarian, we don’t believe that weed is, is a drug.  Weed makes you do what you really wanna do.  It brings out the real you.  When… when Rastafarians smoke weed, they use it to meditate on something, on something positive.  That is why for us it is not a drug, its good because it makes us exchange and create, yah.  It doesn’t help Rastas only, it helps… that’s why we believe we should be able to smoke our weed everywhere you want.  It helps sick people, like people can’t sleep sometime, they use weed.  Weed helps artists to create things.  So weed is for creation, not for destruction.” (R.B.M.)

Informant Analysis:

“Rastas are a big part of Rwanda.  But they exist all over the world.  They are not just in Africa and Jamaica man.  They are everywhere.  We believe in many things, but weed is very important to us.  It is not a drug, but a blessing.  It frees you and lets you be who you are man.” (R.B.M)

Personal Analysis:

It is apparent that cannabis has many uses and functions.  Some societies view these functions differently.  Some view these uses as inhibiting and as negative, but others see them as uplifting and as positive.  It is simply just a matter of viewpoints and opinions.  Where some feel it is immoral, others feel it is necessary.  Whatever the case, it is definite that cannabis can be used for the betterment of the soul and for the mind.

Although there exists a vast amount of criticism when it comes to marijuana, it is important to see both sides of the spectrum.  Rastas see the experience as purely beneficial, and almost as medicinal.  They use it to aid in meditation, creation, and reflection.  Simultaneously, when needed, they use it medicinally to help prevent insomnia and body pain.

Interestingly, these spiritual and constructive uses of cannabis manifest themselves in popular culture.  In The Unfinished Tales, Tolkien makes several references to pipe-weed.  One protagonist, Gandalf, is quoted saying, “Yon might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger.” Hence, Tolkien, like the informant, feels that this herb helps cleanse the mind and soul of worries and negativity.  They use this plant responsibly and practically, thus affirming that cannabis does not purely reap destruction, but that instead, it can stimulate creation.

Annotation: The quote above can be found within the following annotation, along with additional information about the peaceful and positive effects of weed.

Tolkien, J. R. R., Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Hunt for the Ring, ISBN 0-395-29917-9