string beans

The first time I ever saw a string bean, I was 13 years old. I was dining with my family in a small, local restaurant, when a plate containing string beans arrived at our table.

When I say string beans, I mean long, thin, immature runner beans, you may call them something else, fine beans, green beans, you might even call them haricot vert. I’d never seen them before, because my father absolutely detested them and they were banned from my childhood home.

I don’t think I can overstate just how much my father hated string beans. He hated them with the sort of passion usually reserved for ex-wives, rival sports teams and politicians. He despised them, hard.

So when his steak arrived at the table and he gruffly ordered the server to return it to the kitchen to have the ‘green vegetable’ scraped from his plate, I didn’t understand, because I didn’t know what string beans even looked like. It wasn’t until my mother explained that I realised it was the aforementioned and disgustingly offensive, string beans. My parents had a good laugh at my ignorance, even though they were the direct cause of it.

I tried to understand why my father, a grown man, could find a vegetable so repulsive. He eventually explained that when he was in the army, he was forced to eat them on a regular basis. A tinned, tasteless, mushy version of them was slapped onto his mess tray, day after day after day. He said he made a promise to himself, that once he was out of the military, he would never, ever eat or even look at another string bean for the rest of his life.

Because of my father’s hatred of the dreaded string bean, that was my only encounter with them, that fleeting glance, before I reached adulthood. I hated string beans by proxy. My dad would eat almost anything, he ate pickled pigs knuckles, for God’s sake! If he didn’t like string beans, they must be foul and disgusting. It was the only sensible conclusion and I accepted it as gospel and never questioned it. It was the gospel of vegetables according to my sainted father.

Flash forward to years later, and I am a guest at a friend’s home for Sunday lunch. We sit down for the meal, and guess what was on my plate? That’s right, the evil green beans, which I hated only by reputation.

As an adult, I had a more open mind, and I had worked out that my parents weren’t always right, so I decided in that instant, to taste the string beans.

I loved them. They were crisp, flavourful and delicious. I took another forkful and savoured them. These are good, I thought. These are really good. And I spent my whole life until that point, avoiding them, because of my father’s insane dislike of string beans. String beans are now one of my favourite vegetables, lightly steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper. Yum!

string beans, Hating String Beans, ISMOKE
Bud Photo by Get Budding on Unsplash

There’s another vegetable with a bad reputation that is also undeserved: The  Devil’s Lettuce. How’s that for a segue? This was always really about cannabis. Everything for me is always about cannabis.

Chances are, if you are anti-cannabis, you are hating it by proxy. You have learned to hate cannabis by channelling the hatred of others and have no first hand experience of it yourself. Lucky guess?

More likely, you have been force fed anti-cannabis propaganda your entire life. But unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, tried it yourself, you won’t really know the truth.

Perhaps I am wrong and someone you respect, someone with authority on the subject, has told you the truth, that cannabis is extremely beneficial for a variety of reasons. And if that is not true, let it be true from this point onwards. You just need to respect my authority on the subject, because I have been a daily cannabis consumer for nearly 40 years, a journalist for 30 years and I am the author of the book, “Personal Use”. This is exactly what I am telling you, that cannabis is good.

You have been lied to repeatedly, for your entire life, about cannabis. We all have, and the lies continue to dominate any discussion about weed. The only difference, is now it is easier to call out these lies, because some more sensible governments have taken steps to change their laws. We know with certainty that cannabis decriminalisation and legalisation improve things, and more importantly, doesn’t make anything else worse. It’s a win-win. Yes, yes.

I didn’t know how good string beans were until I tried them for myself. It seems obvious on the surface, but I was indoctrinated from an early age to hate the little green wonders.

We’ve all been indoctrinated to hate cannabis, to fear it, to expect the worst of it, and none of it is true. Cannabis is analogous to coffee, a mild drug that can be consumed safely on a regular basis. That said, you can die from caffeine poisoning, but you would need to consume an amount equivalent to your body weight in weed to do the same. And even then, it would probably be easier to just drop it upon your head from a great height to kill you.

Cannabis is safer than aspirin. I say that a lot, but for only one reason. It’s true. Yet no one complains if you self administer an aspirin, but self administer some cannabis…Oh wait, you can’t, because it is not legal for very much right now.

One of the many mistakes made in pursuing medical cannabis in the UK, was insisting it be on prescription. I prefer the California model, of therapeutic use with a doctor’s recommendation. Or without a doctor’s recommendation, I’m easy. You wouldn’t need a doctor to recommend taking aspirin, would you? So why would you need one for self-administering cannabis?

Some campaigners have tried desperately to exaggerate the harm cannabis can cause, trying to offer legal, medicinal cannabis as the solution. The only harm actually caused, has been by this mendacious stance and it has set the legalisation movement back.

Cannabis is cannabis, medical cannabis and recreational cannabis, are both the same cannabis. And if you grow your own, at home, that is cannabis too.

You will get no argument from me regarding the quality of some black market cannabis vs cannabis cultivated in a legal environment. I would much prefer something that has been safely grown, tested and certified as being good. I’d also be willing to pay tax on it. But please don’t lie and try to tell us that there is a genetic difference between the two.

Weed is weed, there’s good quality weed and there is shitty weed. Not all legal weed is good quality, and not all black market cannabis is shitty…but you’re more likely to get excellent weed in a legal environment and more likely to get crappy weed on the black market. It’s just simple economics and good old capitalism.

For most people, legal weed in the UK wouldn’t make much difference. The estimated 5 million people who consume cannabis regularly, would continue to do so, only without fear of arrest. And higher quality products would be available to adults. The rest of the people, those who don’t consume cannabis, are unlikely to start or notice much of a difference in their lives.

Certainly, that won’t be universal, some people will experiment, and of those who do, some may enjoy it or find it beneficial to their health and continue to consume it, but the number won’t rise significantly. How do I know that? I know it because that is what has happened in places where it has already been legalised.

And this will blow your minds, the demographic that comes around to legal cannabis the most, is older folks, in my age group, 40s, 50s and 60s. (My age is somewhere in the middle of that, so I am ahead of the curve.)

We already have a large cannabis market in the UK, but it is untaxed and unregulated. There is an existing customer base as well, who would be thrilled to see this black market legitimised and legalised. This isn’t about creating a new market, it is about improving our existing one and bringing it into the light. We have nothing to fear from this conversion and everything to gain.

I will let you in on a secret. I already smoke good weed, and enjoy quality edibles, some even home made. But I’m not doing this just for me. I’m doing this for you. You deserve to know how good cannabis is, you deserve to discover for yourself, how beneficial it can be.

Let me put it another way, I am a dual national. I don’t make much of it, but I am, British and American. I could sell up, move to Colorado, or California, tomorrow, if all I wanted was to smoke cannabis legally.

I want more than to just consume cannabis legally. I want the country I’ve lived in for more than half my life, to benefit from a legal, regulated cannabis market. London is my home, I want to give something back to the city and nation that has given me so much. I could easily jump ship, and save myself, but I don’t want to do that. I want to see the laws changed here, for the good of everyone. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, but I am planning on trying a whole lot harder in the near future. This is my calling, like a vocation, just a really cool one. I want to make it my life.

Don’t let cannabis be your string beans. Don’t hate it because others hate it. If you want to find out for yourself what the fuss is all about, go for it. If you don’t like it after trying it, that’s cool. But if you do like it, that’s even cooler. And if you don’t want to try it, that’s cool too. All I ask is that you please kindly be supportive of the millions of us who do dig it. And please educate yourselves, learn how to spot the lies. I promise to do what I can to help with that.

Article first appeared on The northlondonhippy is an anonymous author, online cannabis activist and recreational drug user, who has been writing about drugs and drug use for over 15 years.  In real life, the hippy is a senior multimedia journalist with over 30 years experience of working in news.

The hippy’s book, ‘Personal Use’ details the hippy’s first 35 years of recreational drug taking, while calling for urgent drug law reform. It’s a cracking read, you will laugh, you will cry and you can bet your ass that you will wish you were a hippy too!

“Personal Use” is available as a digital download on all platforms, including Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. The paperback is available from all online retailers and book shops everywhere. 

You can also find the northlondonhippy on Twitter: @nthlondonhippy

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