On another snowy night my daughter was nine years old, and we were playing chess in front of the crackling fire. She was beating me soundly when she said, “I have a question.” I welcomed the distraction.
“Is High Times magazine was trying to legalize marijuana?” My jaw dropped. I knew that my daughter knew that her father worked for a popular magazine in New York City, and I knew in some abstract way that this question was coming one day; but when she was nine, I thought that day was years away.
“What did you say?”
“I said, ‘Is High Times magazine was trying to legalize marijuana?'”
“Where did you hear that?”
“Nikelodeon.com” she said. “A box popped up and said ‘Should marijuana be legalized?’ And you could click on the box. ‘Yes’ ‘No’ or ‘Huh?’”
No matter which box was clicked, it brought my daughter to the “Partnership For A Drug Free America” website.
“Is High Times trying to legalize marijuana?” she reiterated.
“Y–ee — es.” I had to pull the word out of me.
“What is it?”
“What’s what?” I was stalling.
“What is marijuana?”
“Well, Dylan… uh, it’s a plant. And it’s medicine. But it’s not always a medicine. Sometimes people take it to feel good and, uh… It’s against the law but…”
“Why is it against the law?”
“Oh, Jesus” I muttered. I was scrambling, totally unprepared for this moment, when I hit upon an inspiration.
“Wait a minute.” I said. ”You were just in a play in school about Rosa Parks?”
“Uh huh,” she said. “I played the white woman who didn’t get a seat.
“That’s right. Now, let me ask you a question. What happened to Rosa Parks right after she refused to give up her seat?”
“What do you mean?”
“What happened right after she refused to give up her seat, five minutes after she said no?”
“Ummm… She got arrested?”
“And then what happened?”
“She went to jail.”
“Because it’s a against the law?” Her voiced trilled upward into a question.
I nodded. “Sometimes good people make bad laws, and other good people work hard and try to change those laws.
“Dylan, listen to me. I’m not saying that trying to change marijuana laws is even close to what Rosa Parks did. It’s not. What she did changed everything. It changed history. What I do is just one little slice of the pie. But it affects my friends and I care about it, and I’m proud of what I do.”
She was thoughtful, drinking it in like little kids do.
“Does that answer your question?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Any other questions?”
“Just one. Can we go back to playing chess?”
“Yes,” I said, just once and quietly, as I was thinking, Yes!
Yes! Oh God, Yes!