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By Amy Phillips Penn

“I’m not a dealer; I’m a mother who happens to distribute illegal products through a sham bakery set up by my ethically questionable CPA and his crooked lawyer friend.” — Nancy Botwin, Weeds


It’s 1970 something: Do you know what your teenagers are smoking?

We’re standing at the bottom of a stairway in a mega Southampton mansion, waiting for the boy of the house to grace us with his preppiness. He eventually descends with a Caldwell Alexander shopping bag. This one’s not stuffed with a cutesy pink and green lion or monkey cigarette lighter; it reeks of weed and money exchanges to come.

I wonder why someone of his social status is selling nickel bags, but then again, one of his close relatives made the cover of national magazines when her debutante party went wild, destructive, and jail-worthy.

I binged on Weeds — not the actual drug but the Showtime TV series.

“Nancy Botwin” is a young sexy widow with boys to raise and zero cash. What’s a nice California widow to do?

Sell pot, of course.

Her suburban/rock star odyssey takes her from on one cliff-hanger and lusty liaison to another, with time out for a little jail stint with a lesbian lover (batteries not included).

In between one-nighters, she marries four husbands: her first love; a Narcotics agent; a smoking hot Mexican drug Lord, and for that spiritual touch, a Rabbi.

They all leave her widowed and often back to square minus one. She gets macho strong in a feminine sort of way, and when the drug market has one foot in legality, Nancy gets rich.

Weed has come a long way from its blossom to bloom in the sixties.

Was part of the thrill knowing that you could be busted for a joint, a toke, shotgun or a brownie? Not really. Paranoia is not an ‘up.’

It’s illegal and semi-affordable status, passed ‘go’ and crazy prices, and is legal for medical magic in many a state. The prescription costs less than a few joints, if you know your stuff.


“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which
helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately
needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
— Carl Sagan


Children of the sixties have always known that grass is greener and safer than alcohol and heavy drugs.

They laughed at mandatory school showings of Reefer Madness which zooms in on a group of teenagers undulating out of control with even “one toke over the line,” preaching dire warnings that they are on the way to sin and destruction.

If you haven’t seen this cult classic, breathe it in then add it to your ‘kitchy kitchy, ya ya’ collection.

“What were the sixties like?” my mother once asked me wistfully, perhaps longingly.

It was implicit that she meant, “what was it like to be young in the sixties?”

I was still in high school then, and missed out on Woodstock, but the early seventies bled into the sixties and I got the message.

“You would have liked them,” I answered.

She had danced with Martha Graham and worked for civil rights.

The sixties were a snug fit, if she could have only wished herself younger.

After she died, I helped clean out my parents’ apartment.

A few joints and a gold Tiffany lighter were neatly lined up in her desk drawer, a welcome antidote to the hell of chemotherapy.

I threw away her Pierre Deux baseball cap (it inadvertently matched my address book), which had prettied things up while her hair grew back.

I thought about how she had tried to be parental and not give us the blessing to smoke weed, while never going loco/judgmental on us.

Rock on, Nancy Botwin, it’s your turn to fly high!

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