Woody Harrelson is a known marijuana aficionado, which Saturday Night Live really milked during his most recent stint ashost. (His first stint as host, it must be noted, was in 1989, and his opening salvo was about how he knows more about the year than Taylor Swift.)
The best weed joke SNL crafted for Harrelson, and the funniest concept it has generated in a long time, was this too-too real digital short entitled "A New Day," turned New York City's marijuana reform under Mayor Bill deBlasio into a Music Man-style parade of celebration. (Mayor deBlasio announced last week that possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be an arrest-worthy offense, but that individuals caught with less than 25 grams will receive a ticket and a summons.) In the clip—which also, miraculously, serves as a PSA for the Too Stoned; Didn't Read among us—a bong-carting, beponcho'd, dredlocked white stoner stereotype played by Woody Harrelson leads the charge of liberated stoners marching down a street in what appears to be brownstone Brooklyn.
Millennials dancing in the streets, waving the munchies-appropriate Funyuns flag is so pitch-perfect you can't imagine better. Particularly in light of this piece about the hedge fund interest in the marijuana trade, which sheds light on how venture capitalists are going to try to corporatize it (Big Weed?), but which is practically a parody of itself:
Several entrepreneurs armed with PowerPoints had gotten involved only months ago. They included data wizards who talked of "disrupting" the industry with apps to make ordering God's Gift or Fogg Kush for home delivery as hassle-free as buying dinner on GrubHub, the online food delivery service.
A former NASA scientist hawked next-generation grow technology. Plans for a cannabis soda that promoters said could be as ubiquitous and consistent as Coca-Cola were unveiled, as were plans to open "the nation's first private membership [country] club to support the cannabis lifestyle."
Hallway chatter was rich with talk of convertible notes, rates of return, incubators and other investor jargon.
By late afternoon, everyone stopped working and engaged in a group yoga stretch.
By skit's end, everyone had gone back into their apartments and resumed watching the Cartoon Network.
It's important to note, though, that deBlasio revamped the NYPD's marijuana arrest policy in part because they affect not white millennials with carefree TV lives, but " low income and middle class communities of color, [who] face dramatically higher rates of marijuana possession arrests than do white communities of every class bracket," according to a recent Drug Policy Alliance report. The Mayor:
"I think the fact that you will see fewer unnecessary arrests will be good for New York City as a whole. It will be good for New Yorkers of color and young people of color—there is no question about that," de Blasio said. "We'll see how the numbers come out over time but there's no doubt in my mind it will be a very substantial impact. And for a lot of young people it means they will not have this reality holding them back; a summons is not going to affect their future. An arrest, could. And we want to avoid that unnecessary burden."
Drug policy reform advocates have been trying to get these laws reduced for years, and it's likely not a coincidence that the Mayor's announcement emerged not long after that DPA report. And yet, it's got its own issues, all wrapped up with stop and frisk policies contingent on racial profiling:
One troubling aspect of de Blasio's new policy is that it does not address the issue of who will be stopped for minor marijuana possession. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group aimed at easing drug laws, in the first eight months of this year, 86% of those arrested for possessing small amounts of pot in New York were African-American and Latino (by comparison, the 2010 Census shows that slightly over half of the city's population is African-American and Latino).
So while young people of color may avoid being taken to jail for pot possession, it is still overwhelmingly likely that it will be young people of color who find themselves with a summons for possession.
Maybe we can send Woody Harrelson to lobby Albany for total reform/legalization? Yet do we want Wall Street in our kush business? Deep shit to think about, maaaaaaannnnnngggg.