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50 Years a Stoner: “Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir”

Maureen Meehan

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As marijuana legalization becomes a reality at a vertiginous pace across the country, more and more people are coming forward to admit they’ve been smoking all along.

Author Catherine Hiller, a 68-year-old New York-based novelist, is releasing a new memoir about smoking pot for 50 years. Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir comes out on… yes, 4/20. A San Francisco blog called the memoir “a pot prohibitionists’ worst nightmare — a piece of anti-propaganda about a life well lived on weed.”

Further, Ms. Hiller told the New York Times that she did not want people waiting for that melodramatic moment of confession, regret, starting over, etc., so she started her memoir in the present day, using flashbacks to her earlier years. She wanted to show that her life had turned out just fine after smoking pot for the past 50 years.

“I wanted to show people that smoking marijuana did not make me hit rock bottom,” said Ms. Hiller. “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?”

Hiller noted that she stopped smoking when she was pregnant and nursing her three sons, never used in front of them until they turned 18; and took a three-year hiatus when she met her current husband.

Something that concerns Ms. Hiller are the vast disparities of race and class in the treatment of people of color when they are caught smoking pot or even suspected of it, while people like herself enjoy white privilege, of which she admits benefiting.

“Maybe I won’t get stopped. 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.”

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