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Why Snoop Dogg should quit weed Young people are trading one addiction for another

Everyday? (Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns)


November 23, 2023   5 mins

Last week, the world awoke to a new status quo, a shifted paradigm, the end of an era. Where getting high was concerned, the Pope had just given up on Catholicism: Snoop Dogg had retired from the smoke. Leaderless, rudderless and sinking quick, it was hard to see how the kingdom of ganja might possibly recover from a loss like this.

Not one week later, and we can breathe easy again: it was all just propaganda. He’s flogging smokeless stoves, shrewdly positioning himself as the George Foreman of a less lung-cancer-inducing inhalation technology. I genuinely thought for a moment there that he was sick of the fog. I’m kind of sick of the fog myself by now. What never ceases to amaze me is how sexy some artists manage to make smoking the herb seem. It’s not.

A friend of mine — a middle-aged mum — once claimed that skunk was worse than heroin. I thought this comment laughable at the time, having been around a lot of heroin abuse. I’ve dabbled myself, but I was always a bit of a tourist, truth be told. Too much time spent watching Countdown for my liking. Too much vomit. Too much possibility of sudden death. What’s a little green by comparison? When someone you love endures a bout of skunk psychosis, you soon find out.

Heroin has a tendency to make the user manically self-involved. Not everyone, might I add, lest I offend anyone. With drugs it’s always different strokes for different folks. Some people, it’s for the best they’re on the smack. They might have been terrible alcoholics otherwise. Or have untethered themselves from reality entirely blazing the chronic. But you can’t get away with smoking brown casually, hence why, even among fairly committed caners, the line is often drawn at heroin. That’s when the phone calls go around to family members. Talk of possible interventions.

Whereas weed is just there. No one bats an eyelid. Intimations of Sixties optimism, of low-grade, no-risk consciousness expansion. That today’s genetically engineered varieties are up to 100 times stronger than those smoked by our Boomer forebears has only recently begun factoring into the equation. This has given the stuff a Trojan Horse-like incisiveness where fucking up young people’s minds is concerned. Never mind that it might leave you three times more prone to have a psychotic episode, or that 25% of Priory cases of paranoid psychosis — a schizophrenia-like illness and depression — were caused by weed or spice use. According to a 2014 Lancet psychiatric report, adolescent weed smokers were at particular risk: 60% less likely to graduate from high school, and seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

Curiously, although cannabis-related hospitalisations have more than doubled since 2013, use of the stuff has been steadily plummeting. Especially among youngsters, who seem to be wising up to the grim realities. In 1995, 30% of 16-24-year-olds were users, today that figure is something closer to 16%. The connotations of pot use are shifting in tandem with the nature of the drug itself then. The Romanticism and consequent naiveté of the previous era are indeed beginning to fade into something darker, sadder, more claustrophobic.

Had this vibe shift occurred before I’d arrived in London aged 18 to study art at the prestigious Slade School, I wonder if life might have panned out differently? I might not have squandered the opportunity tooting skunk and masturbating in my halls of residence. All the graft I put in winning my place there as a diligent, pre-skunk teenager back in Cookstown where I grew up went swiftly down the drain. Pornography and pot. Somehow these things became my priority. Life since has basically been a contingency plan rooted in the unforced errors of those wasted years. That the stuff is a gateway drug goes without saying. If you smoke enough skunk, eventually cocaine becomes a bare necessity, a kind of social defibrillator. It might turn you into a prick, but at least you’re out and about again.

Smoking weed is like rolling the dice with the rest of your day psychologically. The stronger the smoke, the higher the stakes. These days, if I’m blazing, I tend to pepper a single skin roll-up with a few crumbs of hashish in the evening. These are odds I can handle. All the same, I often find myself marooned, dumbfounded. My partner can tell almost instantly I’ve had a toke too many. The dry-lipped silence. The absence of common sense. It pluralises perception, as opposed to embellishing it like more intense psycho-actives.

Thoughts cross-pollinate incessantly, pile up and provide you with a new and thrilling vantage point
 or
 they cascade down into the nether world leaving you speechless with profound doubt, little more than a symptom of your selfhood. There’s no telling which way the wind’s about to blow. This randomising factor can be incredibly useful where creativity is concerned. If you’re working in music — the purest of all art forms — especially. For example: you’ve spent several years making an album. Towards the end of this process, you’re inevitably bored shitless with everything you’re working on. You have to make it new for yourself again in order to summon up the will to push it over the finish line. Simple, just listen to it on drugs.

It isn’t just weed that young people are turning away from, but narcotics across the board. Also: religion, working part-time jobs and having a girlfriend/boyfriend. All things that help you not to feel isolated and lonely. Things might have panned out differently had I not spent the end of my formative years pickled in skunk. But then at least I hadn’t been subjected to social media from day dot in combination with the stuff. That people are watching you and attempting to interfere with you from afar is no longer the stuff of weed-induced paranoia, but hard fact. And if young people have substituted weed for the internet, they might well be replicating the former’s effects.

Drugs have ravaged my community. Where they haven’t completely alienated people from themselves and the wider world, they have enfeebled without mercy. As we hobble towards and out beyond the 40 mark, we’re all just picking up the tab. We made a few half-decent tunes though. Admittedly, my social group aren’t exactly a great demographic from which to extract generalisations. Over-sensitive song and dance men, entertainers, fools
 we only made it through adolescence on account of a handful of records, records disproportionately made by arch-hedonists who frequently dropped dead at 27.

These artefacts were our rallying call, our entry point into something larger than ourselves. They gave our lives something resembling purpose. Generation Z, the world’s first digital natives, don’t seem to be taking the bait where this overweight mythology is concerned. It’s hard to imagine another Winehouse in this day and age. Maybe not. The inevitably meditative kind of boredom we had to play around in growing up is off the menu, probably forever. It’s not been eradicated, but inverted and intensified horribly, a kind of mind-death by convenience, by over stimulation is taking its place.

The old gods are fading, along with their shitty behaviour, replaced by a Warholian micro-portioning out of fame itself. Today, everyone has a public soul. Fame, de-centralised, has lost its transcendent capacity. The druggy role models of yore, deflated. Even if it means there’s no longer any albums worth smoking an ounce to as Snoop Dogg would have it, nobody wants to come off a whopping anachronism. I dare say the future might be a little kinder, a little safer, a lot softer on the liver. But if it’s tuneless, what’s the point?


Lias Saoudi is the frontman of Fat White Family and the Moonlandingz, and the co-author of Ten Thousand Apologies: Fat White Family and the Miracle of Failure

FatWhiteFamily

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J Bryant
J Bryant
7 months ago

This author and his lifestyle come from too far away to speak to me directly, but this is his third Unherd essay and I enjoy his writing style and, for me, his slightly off-beat point of view. It’s certainly a change from reading yet one more article about [fill in your preferred doom and gloom story].

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, interesting writing style for sure, and a pleasure to read. But it’s mainly about style, no points to be made.

JMN Gould
JMN Gould
7 months ago

great article. yes many things can derail our potential. Mary Jane is like an amour fou with a beautiful women. Human nature will always be drawn to the flame. I’ve certainly been spat out in rejection by that mistress, but will. continue to be an apologist for her. It’s certainly good that millennials or gen z are far less prone to the seduction. As someone recently tweeted, getting older involves realising that Peter Hitchens has been generally right about most things.

Adam M
Adam M
7 months ago

The unfortunate truth is that like alcohol, some can dabble in drugs and live perfectly good lives, while others can’t. Life is unfair I guess…
The difference is that alcohol is more physically dangerous, while cannabis is more psychologically harmful. But the lack of initial physical downsides to smoking weed, can allow the user to enter a false sense of security.

Dominic A
Dominic A
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

Halfway in agreement with you – but alcohol is also psychologically dangerous, I’d say more so (reckless behaviour, depression, anger, anxiety, panic, addiction). Also, weed may lack initial physical downsides, but the instant psychological downsides (social anxiety, dislocation etc) can be very substantial. The great majority of people I know who smoked weed when young, have long given it up, precisely because of this difficulty.

To paraphrase Mark E Smith ‘I took heroin once, and I had no hangover, no comedown – I don’t trust it because you should have to pay the price, fairly immediately, and it’s dangerous if the bill comes way later”.

I understand that, and I’ve never really understood how people can ignore the immediate negative side effects of drink & drugs (or losing money at the casino) & double down.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

Alcohol isn’t just dangerous to the user it’s dangerous for the non-user as well with domestic violence, and DUIs usually harm others more than the driver.

Last edited 7 months ago by Clare Knight
J Rose
J Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

that is not a truth. its an excuse people tell themselves to continue a bad habit. like “some people can walk across the highway and not get hit by a car”. this is a true statement. and, to the authors point, it was much truer before pot was commercialized. there is no regulation on potency or even dosage. and young males were always at risk here. the numbers along should scare any rational person away.

Dominic A
Dominic A
7 months ago

Drugs are tools – if you use them to drill into and smash your head, maybe that’s on you.

Ted Miller
Ted Miller
7 months ago

Uhuh. Look, I have a lot of socks and, if I am not careful, I could trip over them, bang my head, and its all over. But, you know, its a risk I’ll take coz I like socks. Thanks for the little busy-body lecture, Dude.

Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago
Reply to  Ted Miller

Socks can be a real bummer, man.

David Iain Craig
David Iain Craig
7 months ago
Reply to  Ted Miller

Maybe you should be asking yourself how you can trip over socks . What an idiotic metaphor – dude!

Last edited 7 months ago by David Iain Craig
Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
7 months ago

I respectfully disagree.

If you have very few socks around, it is hard to trip over them. If you have three foot piles of them, it gets easier.

Paul Monahan
Paul Monahan
7 months ago

fake news, just fake. MArijuana like booze is fine in moderation – if one can’t control oneself and the bottle of gin must be finished in one night or a one gram joint must be smoked in ten minutes then perhaps abstention would be wise – as for skunk etc well it doesn’t appear anywhere in Europe?

mike otter
mike otter
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

Check the Dutch online dealers – they love their auto-flowering trichome odyssey stuff – and in Spain it spread the last 20 years. I think its a fashion thing and maybe getting passĂ©. 20-30% THC may get you baked but how enjoyable is it compared to landrace apuljarena bud or double filtered maroc hash? these guys shd have a DOC label tbh. The point of live resins and oils at 40-50% thc is you almost microsdose. 0.1G of live resin eaten should get you as high a night spent smoking, w/o the dry mouth and phlegm.

Dominic A
Dominic A
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

…and that canard of ‘it was fine back in the day because the grass was so much weaker’. a) it’s the same drug! As with alcohol it’s easy to get very stoned on the weak stuff, and easy to get mildly stoned on the strong stuff; b) in Europe, the form MJ came in from the 19th century through to the late 90s was hashish – a concentrated product typically 40%, up to 60% strength ….as opposed to today’s grass, which is typically 20%, up to 30%.

J Rose
J Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

this is scientifically and statistically wrong. the behavioral conditions that lead to addiction are not an on/off switch. look how good “just say no” worked.

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
7 months ago

Believe that there is generally a 90/10 element with addictive habits.90 % of humans are relatively unharmed by the vice but 10 % lives are wrecked.Perhaps Child Psychologists should be employed more in primary schools to identify which children are likely to grow into the 10%

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
7 months ago

These are arguments for legalisation and quality control. I am sure a few dinosaurs still wish to double down on prohibition despite the evidence it doesn’t work. Fortunately the dinosaurs are old and of decreasing relevance

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

My younger brother started on pot at about the age of 12, introduced to it by a teacher of all things.
He developed schizophrenia at about he age of 15. He is now nearing 60 and has spent the intervening years in a twilight world living on his own a council paid for rented flat managing his condition with anti-psychotics so strong that has to have regular blood tests to check his white blood cell count. He has never had a girlfriend or held a job and has existed on benefits.
Looking back I should have gone round and give the teacher concerned the beating of his life and he should have thanked me for it

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
7 months ago

Sorry to hear about your brother. And all of that happened under prohibition.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

No it did not happen under prohibition. It happen under a token regime.
If there had been an automatic minimum 6 month sentence for possession, and automatic minimum 10 year sentence for possession with intent to supply together with confiscation of all assets, and this had been enforced, there would have been no supply within 6 months

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
7 months ago

You mean the kind of punishments they had in many American states, some still in place? War on Drugs. Huge success. Huge.

Last edited 7 months ago by Madas A. Hatter
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
7 months ago

You may have seen The Onion’s very sensible t-shirt headline slogan – ‘Drugs Win War on Drugs’. That’s about right.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

Well it was never really enforced. The asset stripping alone would be a huge deterrent and also an incentive

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
7 months ago

Absolutely, and we should also have the death sentence for white-collar fraud.

mike otter
mike otter
7 months ago

Perhaps he should’ve started with speed? Srsly a lot of mental health issues are laid at the door of weed and i can see why – For many users there is a notable and almost opiate like serotonin crash when quitting after prolonged heavy use. Not as intense as uppers but deeper with a more “heriony” vibe to it. Overall most people tend to be able to use the benefits w/o going mad – not me sadly – (1 is too much and 1 million is not enough) but thats to do with my mind NOT weed itself. Overall i’d put its harms at 20-30% of the worst street drugs – Coke, H & Meth. I would rate it at 15-20% of the harms of Govt drugs – benzos, alcohol & fentanyl. So overall not a good idea but there are worse ways to burn your ÂŁs.

Last edited 7 months ago by mike otter
Philip Stott
Philip Stott
7 months ago

Smoking weed is passé.
All the cool kids are vaping THC distillate (or so I am told).

Peter Lucey
Peter Lucey
7 months ago

“As we hobble towards and out beyond the 40 mark, we’re all just picking up the tab.”

A pithy sentence, indeed! Very apposite, whether one takes drugs or not.

Elizabeth Adams
Elizabeth Adams
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lucey

“Life since has basically been a contingency plan rooted in the unforced errors of those wasted years.”

I liked this one too – unforced errors is a great way to describe some of my youthful life choices.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

For a kid writing about the Green Alzheimertron, this is actually reasonably sensible.

Peter Lucey
Peter Lucey
7 months ago

Since all illegal drugs are supplied, by definition, through criminals, how can the users not feel some responsibility for the violence with which such criminals enforce their writ?

Stephen Lawrence was killed by drug dealers (Norris’ father was a significant supplier).

But I suppose refusing cocaine in The Groucho would impact one getting a media commission.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
7 months ago

This is crap. Good writing about crap. Useless


Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago

Oh, joy! Another article about Snoop Dogg and dope! And as an added bonus, it’s written by some youth who thinks that his experiences with drugs are interesting to other people!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Geoff W

I’m not sure how old you are if you think late thirties is a youth

Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Old enough!

mike otter
mike otter
7 months ago
Reply to  Geoff W

Speaking as a yoot (61) i must disagree – Snoop is a Marijuana maven and readliy admits its not for everyone. We have learned much in the last 30 years about weed. Neurology has mapped the T2 receptor system which is targetted by cannabis as well as much else we ingest. Psychology has discovered proven negative causation from weed use but also limited therapeutic value – especially with chronic pain and short term treatment of withdrawal from Heroin, Coke n Meth.

Zed Zed
Zed Zed
7 months ago
Reply to  mike otter

Heroin is very moreish though.