The first time I smelled pot at a Bryan Adams concert. I thought, ‘That smells like my dad’s car’

Amy Poehler on marijuana, her life and humour.

She may be currently playing the overzealous stickler for rules in Parks & Recreation, and her character may even havedeclared “I want to be the President someday so I don’t smoke marijuana” on the show. But in real life, comedienne Amy Poehler is known to not only spark the occasional doobie or three, but also engage in her fair share of pro-marijuana activism via her chosen medium – comedy.

Between 2006 and 2008, the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live introduced the genre of ‘marijuana humour’ to millions of homes – all thanks to Poehler. She and Horatio Sanz portrayed the ‘lovable stoners’ in one skit, which earned them a Stony award. More importantly, Poehler also frequently inserted weed jokes (autobiographical in most cases) into the “Weekend Update” section. Here are a few gems:

“According to a new survey, 67 per cent of teenagers are content or extremely happy most of the time. They’re called stoners!”

Or this piece of brilliance:

“Rapper Snoop Dogg was given a desk appearance ticket Wednesday night in New York for possession of marijuana. Snoop called the ticket unfair and hard to roll.”

She even bade farewell to the show with one last pot joke: “When you’re doing something illegal you need to speak in code. Like when I call up my weed dealer and I ask for $50 worth of circus tickets, you know what he doesn’t give me? Circus tickets!”

But Poehler’s relationship with weed goes way back. In her recently released memoir Yes Please, she describes her first brush with pot, which was through her own father, William Poehler – a passionate cannabis apologist.

Poehler tells her readers in her book, “The first time I smelled pot was when I was a teenager and at a Bryan Adams concert. I thought to myself, ‘Hmm, that smells like my dad’s car’. I went home and searched all of my father’s pockets and drawers until I found some weed. The revelation that my dad was a pot smoker wasn’t too shocking. He was always friendly and happy. He loved getting to places early to pick us up and sitting in his car, and he was always first to suggest we get ice cream in the middle of the day. I had some friends with alcoholic parents, and my memories of those houses always involved people being scared, afraid of what mood was around the corner. I never worried about my father and how he would act around my friends. He was generous and nice and didn’t yell.”

Parenting done right, eh? No prizes for guessing why Poehler is all for marijuana – she is only following in her father’s footsteps.

In the book, she also describes her life of a stoner in Chicago where she started her career, “I would smoke in the morning and listen to Bob Marley. I would wear headphones and buy records and comic books. I would make mac-and-cheese while watching Deep Space Nine. Weed helped with my Irish stomach and anxiety and the constant channel-changing that happened in my head.” This also ended up inspiring her to write an improved sketch for The Upright Citizens Brigade on medical marijuana, which, she is quoted to have said, “can make people think about really interesting stories and ideas and opinions”.

In an interview with Conan O’Brien last year, she recalled, with great fondness, having been a judge at Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup in the year 2000. “It’s a real event, where people from all over the world come to try different types of weed and say which is the best,” she said. There, she also performed improv in front of a completely stoned audience.

There are straight-faced, solemn pro-marijuana activists, and then there’s Poehler, who combines her love for the herb with her passion to make people laugh. Take for instance the time a reporter from a political website asked her what her top issue would be if she were a politician, and she responded, “Free healthcare for gay married couples who grow their own medical marijuana.” Or when she declared at the Emmy Awards that McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are “menu items at most marijuana dispensaries.”

Or when she said this: “Drugs help. They pull people from despair. They balance our moods and minds and keep us from freaking out on airplanes. Drugs are fun. They expand our horizons. They create great memories and make folding our laundry bearable.”

(Written by Mrunmayi Ainapure, who loves to write about the God Herb)

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