Traveling stinks

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Hey, I heard you’ve been on the road again. Any news?

—Juan DeRer

Yup. I was just in Atlanta, Georgia. The marijuana scene is very different than what we have on the West Coast. First of all, any possession of marijuana can be charged as a felony. My friends out there tell me that the Atlanta cops generally won’t sweat you over a small amount, although you never know how it may go. To minimize risk, most people carry joints. Getting caught with a pipe can lead to a drug paraphernalia charge, but you can eat a joint if you have to. Secondly, good marijuana is scarce, and finding locally produced cannabis is virtually impossible. I did manage to find some good stuff, and it was from California. Surprise. Thirdly, there is no initiative system in Georgia, so any change to state or county or city law has to come directly from the legislature. As you may well imagine, getting politicians to do anything is always a struggle, but the activists I met were all optimistic that legalization isn’t too far away. I even met a dude who claimed to represent an investment firm looking to lobby the legislature for legal weed, so there’s that. Sometimes I feel like the South will be the last region to legalize marijuana, but the activists in Georgia have renewed my hope.

Mr. Ngaio’s answers to the stinky marijuana issue does admit the aroma of marijuana is a problem, but then dismisses the issue as “petty.” This becomes somewhat of a self-serving retort. To his credit, Mr. Ngaio then goes on to state, “I am not sure I have a solution for you.” But, in his next sentence he makes an analogue between pot smoking and the acceptance of other annoyances of big-city living, such as occasional aroma of tobacco smoke, random garbage cans and dog shit. Those people who live in gated communities would never acquiesce to these obnoxious and preventable smells and refuse. Why should people who may not be able to afford, or for that matter want to live in these gated communities have to accept anything less than neighborhoods that are clean and sanitary? This is a minor, but important distinction of inequity in our society.

—Paul N.

Dude. Your letter was hella long. I used an excerpt. My response to your question: What does the smell of marijuana smoke have to do with “clean and sanitary” neighborhoods? Does the smell of pot automatically make something “dirty”? Really? Maybe you missed my point: Marijuana smoke may be annoying, but it won’t kill you. In order for people to get along in urban (and suburban) environments, we need to be tolerant of small disturbances sometimes. My neighbors don’t complain about the smell of weed, and I don’t complain when I hear them getting it on. See how that works? Why get in the way of someone else’s good time? If you have to work in close quarters with someone that reeks of weed (or anything else, really) and it bothers you, maybe you could say something, Other than that, it shouldn’t concern you.