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[at-l] Smokin' & tokin' on the AT

I have been interested in Waldo's post and Will's recent suggestion for
tolerance.  My only issue with folks who smoke dope is the same one that I
have with those who smoke tobacco - I find the odor to be extremely

On every occasion when I have been in a shelter and someone has lit up a
smokable substance, I have asked them nicely to take it outside.  They have
always complied with my request.  I don't think that I have any particular
force of character, although my usual hiking partner is 6'5 and about 245
lbs of very hard muscle and could easily answer to the name, Igor.  This
may help.  But basically, my experience has been that people ended up being
socailly appropriate although they might have needed a little prompting.

I was at Peck's Corner shelter two years ago, sharing it with a family of
six from Indiana.  The oldest boy, about 15, lit a cigarette in the shelter
as we were getting set for sleep.  I explained the proprieties to him and
he gracefully went outside.  My thoughts about his parents will go unsaid.

My funniest encounter happened at Spence Field shelter in GSMNP a number of
years ago.  I was in a party of four.  Three thru hikers were sharing the
shelter with us.  I woke up to the odor of burning vegetation - non-tobacco
variety.  One of my guys asked the three other hikers to please smoke
outside.  They readily complied.  By the way, my companions included a
county commissioner who also was a deputy sherriff, and a one-star general
(attorney) from the JAG staff of the Florida Air National Guard.  The other
guys might have been a tad put off to know how much officialdom was in
their midst.  Although Waldo correctly points out the formal illegality of
the act, we tended not to be very bothered with the fact of it.  However,
it is probably reasonable and wise to be somewhat discrete when breaking a

Three years ago my large friend and I were spending the night at Double
Spring Gap shelter, also in GSMNP.  A group of nine people came in late.
In about two seconds I pegged them as retro-hippies.  It was like 10
degrees that night, and I just knew that the crew was going to toke it up
in a big way.  I cringed at the thought of that much smoke in the shelter.
So I beat them to the punch by telling the story in the paragraph above.
The oblique approach worked, and they got the message.  They built a large
fire outside and did their smoking around it.  Must have been high potency
weed too, because they maintained their vigil in the frigid night for about
three hours.

My own personal ethic is that all smoking is unhealthy and should be
avoided.    Because marijuana is not processed as highly (pun intended) as
tobacco and joints have no filter, and often burn hotter, there is
"dirtier" smoke, loaded with benzopyrenes and other highly carcinogenic
substances.  Since most people who smoke grass smoke far less than most
tobacco smokers, it is probably not as unhealthy as tobacco in the long

All of us go through periods of experimentation, transition and maturation.
I smoked for a while many years ago and undoubtedly offended some people
through lack of knowledge and sensitivity. It makes me cringe to remember
smoking in closed automobiles with other passengers along.  I would like to
think that I would be more respectful of others now if I still smoked.


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