After 50 Years of Smoking Marijuana, Her Life Turned Out Nicely –

Catherine Hiller, author of “Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir,” at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, where she believes she first smoked marijuana in the 1960s. Credit David Gonzalez/The New York Times

Here’s an excellent piece in The New York Times, by Bronxite David Gonzalez, on one woman’s journey using marijuana for 50 years and also mentions the major disparities seen on how law enforcement treats minorities versus their white counterparts.

Here’s an excerpt from the article and please don’t forget to click the link at the end to read the entire piece:

“Just in case people approached her story waiting for the Lifetime movie moment of regret and picking up the pieces of a broken life, she started her book in the present-day, flashing back, if you will, to the rest of her life. As a writer — she has published a novel and short stories — the approach was an entertaining challenge. As a wife, daughter of an activist and proud mother of three young men, she wanted to show that her life turned out nicely.

“I wanted to show people that smoking marijuana did not make me hit rock bottom,” said Ms. Hiller, 68. “My story is the story of so many people who use each day. And so what? What’s the issue? What will it lead to?”

Well, in the case of minority youths, it could lead to jail time and a criminal record, something which Ms. Hiller feels is unjust. Recently, a young man smoking a joint in a Bronx building was mortally injured when he fell off a roof running from police who entered the lobby after reports that marijuana was being used in public view. On the other hand, she and other marijuana advocates wonder about the criminal charges attached to using when banks, like HSBC, laundered drug money, but got off with a fine and no criminal indictments.

She has experienced the disparities of race and class when it comes to how law enforcement looks at smokers. In her book, she recounts how after she and her first husband lit up in their car, a policeman flashed a spotlight on them, told them to put out the joint and then waved them off. After an essay adapted from her book was published in The New York Times, someone accused her of living in a cocoon of white privilege.

“Maybe I won’t get stopped,” she said. “But I wrote this not because of my privilege, but because I think it’s absurd that anyone would get stopped for this. Whatever I can do to legalize it, I will.”

After 50 Years of Smoking Marijuana, Her Life Turned Out Nicely –

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.