The battle to make marijuana use a part of daily life continues. The latest manifestation comes from an unexpected quarter – the world of etiquette.
Etiquette books have been around for at least three hundred years. They helped establish rules and conventions that regulate social behavior and polite conduct. Any society needs to have means by which people know the behavior expected from them toward others if it is to function well.
Perhaps the best-known author of such books in America was Emily Post (1872-1960). Her Emily Post’s Etiquette, first published in 1922, is currently in its nineteenth edition. The Post family’s Emily Post Institute publishes other etiquette books that presumably apply the foundress’s principles into new aspects of life.
Lizzie Post, Emily’s great-great-granddaughter has just written a shocking new book called Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties.
The book is an attempt to mainstream and gentrify the unruly weed. The description on the book’s website page merges the language of propriety with the slang of the sixties and seventies:
“This handy guide also provides a primer on the diverse array of cannabis products and methods of use, illuminating the many convenient and accessible options available to everyone from experienced users to newbies and the canna-curious. Informative, charming, and stylishly illustrated, this buzzworthy book will make the ultimate addition to your stash.”
Perhaps all of this was inevitable. Marijuana was once socially unacceptable since it is a “gateway drug” that often leads to the abuse of ever more toxic substances such as hashish and heroin. Its users have always occupied the fringe of society. They were referred to as beatniks in the late fifties and morphed into the hippies of the late sixties. Now, the average user is indistinguishable from the general population. The acrid smell of its smoke can now be detected in the corridors of elegant hotels as well as cheap bars. Its one-time youthful users have turned into the retiring boomer generation who engage in its “recreational use.”
For those who never understood marijuana’s appeal, this transformation is another sign of the breakdown of society. It represents the destruction of civilized behavior. Indeed, manners once taught people how to embrace reality better, not flee from it.
How different is this present decadent society from the vision of progress and optimism that filled the pages of the original 1922 edition of Etiquette, which concluded with the following statement: “We [America] have all youth’s glorious beauty and strength and vitality and courage. If we can keep these attributes and add finish and understanding and perfect taste in living and thinking, we need not dwell on the Golden Age that is past, but believe in the Golden Age that is sure to be.”
This humanist’s view of the future was so popular at the turn of the twentieth century. That generation had conquered distance with railroads and automobiles. The night was defeated by electric lights. Telephone lines carried voices across the oceans, and radio would soon make it possible for those voices to be heard by millions in their own homes. Arrogant humanity possessed all the components to create a new golden age.
Mrs. Post’s prediction was only fated to become true in part. Society became obsessed with youth’s physical beauty and vitality. However, her great-great-granddaughter’s book proves that those qualities never added “finish and understanding and perfect taste in living and thinking.”
Instead of the ennobling life, our youth-oriented culture venerates all that is superficial, tasteless and vulgar. This same culture deliberately drains vitality by intentionally consuming toxic substances that dull the wits of those who partake. Then, Lizzie Post stamps her imprimatur on the processes and calls it Higher Etiquette.