Nightmare on weed street

The pitfalls of getting high.

ENJOY YOUR STONED self while swaying to the reggae beat at Hempfest '01. But you should keep track of your most dependable pal, the first aid tent, and the nearest Honey Bucket. Not everyone enjoys turning on and tuning out:

BJORN: While visiting my friend at U.C.L.A., I went to an apartment party where I smoked way too much pot. I remember lying on the floor while everything started spinning around me. I could barely muster the energy to get up, when who do I run into but an old, barely-an-acquaintance junior high classmate. Being of "green mind," I found the situation so overwhelmingly random that I had to laugh out loud, then escape A.S.A.P. I knew he was stone-cold sober, and I felt like a complete jackass. My evacuation led me to a bench in front of the apartment. The next thing I remember is the campus police force arriving to break up the party. Just as people began filing out I threw up all over the ground. Even worse, when I got back to my friend's dorm, I puked on his anti-drinking and -drugs roommate's pillow (the poor guy was out of town so I slept on his bed). As if that wasn't enough, apparently I got up at 3 a.m. and took a leak in the wastebasket.

CHRIS: The setting: inside a cozy pot cafe in Maastricht, Holland. The characters: me, an American who'd been studying abroad in England; my two best European friends; and their pals, including a 6-foot-4-inch German lad named—no joke—Hulgar. Longtime dope smokers frustrated with having to scrape up hash on campus, we were thrilled to be able to order joints from a menu. But after the third time we'd passed around the "Super Jamaica," Hulgar's face turned a pale green. When we asked if he was OK, he replied weakly, "I'm going to the rest room." Our eyes slits, we watched the giant German take a few steps toward the bar, and then—like a redwood after a lumberman calls "Timber!"—fall to the wooden floor with a violent CRACK! A lady at the bar guffawed; the manager, concerned his patron might be diabetic, slipped sugar cubes into Hulgar's mouth. When Hulgar awakened, we dragged his 200-pound-plus body onto the street, where we propped him against a wall, pushing him back up every time he flopped over.

SYLVIA: I got my cat, Coco, from my pot dealer. Most people think their cats are smart and intuitive. Not me. Little Coco may be the cutest cat in the world, but she's not very bright. Who can blame her? During her all-important infant stage, Coco was subject to the terrors of a dealer's den. Each day, a fog of marijuana smoke descended on the innocent kitten as she foraged for food in the house of sin—corn chips, leftover pizza dough, cigarette stubs. As a result, little Coco acts a little brain-dead. Most often, you'll find her vegging in front of the TV. If you ask her what she's watching, she'll meow and then run to her food bowl. It's as if she's forgotten what the question was, much like the guy in Memento with no short-term memory. Poor pot-headed creature, she'll spend the remainder of her undoubtedly shortened life in the margins of feline society, excluded from other, more honorable cats. Take it from Coco; smart cats just say no!

B.J.: The "bad experience" that put me off pot for good happened over 20 years ago. I had just divorced my first husband and had a young son, so I moved back to my parents' house until I earned enough money to get my own place again. One day a childhood friend came by offering weed. I hadn't smoked pot for over two years, so I figured, "Sure, why not?" I held off on ingesting the stuff until an afternoon when my parents—rather conservative folks who insisted that "pot leads to heroin addiction"—left the house. Unfortunately for me, this weed had been sprayed with Paraquat, which the government had been using in Mexico. I found out this bit of information from the lovely medics who resuscitated me. I had an allergic reaction and couldn't breathe. About that time my mother came home, heard me fall to the floor, and called 911. Needless to say, I haven't been too interested in the stuff since.

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