What percentage of “successful” people (happy with their career, life, finances, etc.) do you think smoke pot?

More specifically, what percentage of people who’ve achieved a lot – in any field, but I’m especially curious about the arts, since I always thought that was an area in which you need sharp thinking at most times (I guess I’m naive) – do you think smoke?

I ask because a close friend of mine gets high frequently – about 10 times a week.  He’s altered my outlook on stoners, since prior to meeting him, I’d assumed that anyone who’d smoked or vaporized for 20 years, as he has, would seem slow or simple in a stereotypical way.  Instead, he’s bright and on top of his game (during the work day.  After 7 pm he collapses into a video gaming high potato).

The thing I’m curious about is this . . .

My friend is unhappy with his job.  He’d rather be a musician, but has been working a corporate job for several years (something he began doing after working in music for a few years and amassing a large debt).  I wonder if he’d be more likely to have a job he likes or to have made more advances with his music if he didn’t vaporize.

Maybe I shouldn’t view pot as the possible cause of his career dissatisfaction.  Tons of non-potheads have jobs they dislike, and/or aren’t operating at their full potential.  What are your thoughts on weed?

JEROME:  Nice try, PRISM.

IRIS:  In college, I knew someone who was actually dealing pot and he told me who he was dealing to.  It really surprised me to know who his customers were because a lot of them were extremely bright, A students.  I can’t stand the smell, so never got into it. (That’s right PRISM.)  But I do know that many potheads, including the dealer went on to become successful doctors, businessmen and the like, although I have no idea whether they still smoke or not.  Didn’t President Obama even admit that he was in a pot-smoking ‘Choom Gang’?  To me, I suppose it’s like alcohol.  I don’t think it would affect your normal career or intelligence unless there’s an addiction factor, in which case, I suppose it would disrupt your personal and/or professional life and then possibly lead to more dangerous drugs and addictions.

BEVERLY: Ah, pot!  You are so EVERYWHERE.  At this point, I know very few people who HAVEN’T smoked pot.  But it is like alcohol, it depends on how much you take and how it affects your personal chemical makeup.  But like all substances, it teeters on helpful and plain selfish indulgence.  I know of a few artists who use it to relax them in order to write or create.  I know of one actor who uses it while acting and he’s just more of a pleasant person to be around; because when he’s not, he’s uptight and so involved with himself that he’s normally a terrible listener.   Then there are the potheads who have permanent indentations in their sofas where they sit and never move all day and could give a shit.  I think it’s a drug for the anxiety-ridden, and can see its benefit.  But we all have excuses for why we’re not where we’d rather be: if your friend really wanted to be somewhere else, he would motivate himself.  And if he’d rather be a video game potato, that’s his choice and he can afford to be selfish.   It becomes less clear when other people (like kids or a spouse) are involved, because if you choose to be part of that kind of family, you inherently give up being selfish.  Aye, there’s the rub!

ALFREDO: My guess is that weed isn’t the source of your friend’s career dissatisfaction, but the exact opposite: it’s probably the way he copes with it.  He’s frustrated and unhappy with his musical career, is working a corporate job to pay the bills, and deals with his unhappiness by self medicating.  And since I have a license to sell one of the last legal drugs (alcohol), I can tell you, weed is the least worrisome “medicine” out there.  I’ve seen bartenders blow up their jobs and personal lives on booze, coke, speed, meth, heroin, and opiate pain killers, but never on weed.

ROGER:  It’s interesting how so many things in our lives, when done in moderation, are a healthy complement to our lives.  However, those same things, when used in excess, become very unhealthy and destructive.  Shopping, weed, exercise, alcohol, sex, partying, eating, etc. can be nice complements to our daily lives or the coping vehicle for some sort of deep dissatisfaction from within.  So I think weed can be a good thing AND a bad thing.  It can be a good thing if enjoyed from time to time to relax and unwind from a challenging but overall satisfying week.  But it’s a bad thing if used as an immediate escape from some sort of pain or escape from some dissatisfying, sucky part of their lives.

QUENTIN: That’s so curious… and honestly I don’t know. Smoking out is not really my thing but many of my friends are smokers. They do tend to appear more balanced, chill and happy… and of course some more or less successful than others. Every time smoke anything I cough a ton… so maybe that’s why I’m not a smoker.

PHILIP: It personally makes me feel lazy and sleepy.

DHH: I know a few very successful artists who are regular pot users, and have been for most of their adult lives. My understanding is that, from a medical perspective, THC is one of the least harmful of recreational drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. That said, pot has always made me feel paranoid, so I’ve never gotten into the habit of using it.


  1. I was once an artist. I went to art school. It didn’t work out (I was good but not good enough) and I’m now working somewhere else.

    I tried pot a few times. The first time was in art school. I was, by my own admission, a B/B plus artist.

    When I sobered up, I was still a B/B plus artist! Pot didn’t make me draw better. It didn’t make me draw worse.

  2. As for whether it makes you a loser, I am going to go out on a limb and go against the conventional wisdom of my fellow liberals and progressives and say that actually, it does. Daily use, that is. Using it once in a while- that I have no issue with.

    I knew potheads in college and they were, nearly to a person, weirdos, slackers and losers. Smoking every day did make them odd. Or maybe they were odd to begin with. All they would EVER talk about was their adventures with cannabis or some other drug. Seriously, they knew no other topic of conversation. They would babble about it endlessly to you, though they knew you had next to nothing to do with that scene.

    I knew a dozen potheads who would constantly tell me long, stupid, confusing stories they thought were uproarious about some time they got stoned with some other people who were also stoned. All while laughing at it themselves. They would launch into it as if you were there, as if you knew the people they were talking about. All the while, I was thinking “What the hell?! I have no idea what you are even talking about!”.

  3. I once dated a guy who was a pothead and had a very similar experience with him. We initially hit it off because I was huge into movies and so was he. I thought he would be great to date. I thought we had a lot in common (I didn’t know any other film buffs).

    I soon discovered the only things he was capable of was a) smoking, b) watching movies while smoking and c) talking about smoking and watching movies while smoking. Smoking consumed most of his life. Every conversation started with “This one time I got high…”. He’d go off on endless monologues that might as well have been directed at the wall, for all he would allow me to say. He was also quite dumb and oblivious and pot, I believe, intensified that. Slowed his wits even more. It was so obnoxious hanging out with him. Not always- but a good deal of the time.

    He was a total slacker- barely getting through school, holding a working class job when he HAD a jab- and, again, I think pot was (if not the sole reason) a big contributor to it.

  4. Hi A.J. – thanks for your thoughtful responses! A psychologist just told me that pot has a detrimental effect on developing brains (apparently your brain develops until age 25), but it doesn’t seem to have much of a long-term effect if you’re 26 or older. I guess this is partially why it’s so obvious when college folks smoke.