Folk Ritual – California

Welcome to the Club:

Getting your prescription

– Folk Ritual

“A growing ritual exhibited by many California smokers has become the journey to acquiring a club card.  Essentially, this card allows you to legally purchase and possess marijuana.  This is made possible on the grounds that it is for medical use only.  Access into the clubs which sell the weed requires the possession of the card.  The only way to get the card is to go and see a weed doctor.  What most people don’t know is that getting this card is an incredibly easy process.  There’s a myriad of ways to trick the system.  You can pretty much give a symptom that sounds right, and if the doctor believes you, you usually get a prescription.  It has become a ritual amongst pot-smokers.  A journey that all experienced smokers must make. Groups of friends often travel together when visiting the doctor.  The illnesses that I’ve most often heard used are insomnia, back pain, and anxiety.  I even heard one instance in which a girl complained that high heels made her feet hurt.  She still got the prescription.” (MR)

Informant Analysis:

“I first learned about this last year when I heard from a friend that his dealer was buying medicinal marijuana.  Ever since then, I feel like everyone that would want the card has gotten it.  Now so many of my friends have made the journey and have joined the ranks of legal pot smokers… This ritual is performed within the context of travel and bonding.  Personally, I think it’s hilarious! It is funny to see whos getting cards and what excuses they used.  I don’t personally have a card, but if I considered myself to be a legitimate smoker, I definitely would get one.”  (MR)

Personal Analysis:

It seems to me that this folk ritual exists as a form of ethnic folklore.  It helps grant its followers a sense of identity and belonging.  Access to the medical facilities is not granted without the card; this alone serves to limit membership into this niche group.  Additionally, those that carry a card can not only identify themselves as patients, but also as members of the upper echelon of California smokers.  Furthermore, I find it interesting that the medical marijuana distribution facilities are referred to as, “clubs”.  A club tends to be a selective and limited group.  This defines the situation well as being a patient actually allows access into this select group.  Only members of this group are welcome inside the facilities.  Yet, upon acquiring the card, it is if you are initiated into the group.  It is no wonder that people go to the doctors and to the clubs in groups of friends.  Thus, it can be seen that card bearers gain access to “the club” both literally, and figuratively.  These advantages are certainly contributing to the growth of this ritual.

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