I struggle with spelling the word “hippy”. Or “hippie.” I like “hippie” better. It seems more distinguished, which is obviously what hippies are going for.
Just the other night I found myself at a hippie party. Somewhat unwittingly. Hippies and I don’t always get along. The party was meant to be a birthday party. And it was. It just so happened that when scheduling parties outdoors in public spaces, it’s hard to know what else is going on. And so there was a hippie party going on.
The party consisted of lots of hippie dancing. Lots of hemp clothing. Very few shoes. Lots and lots of alcohol. Which isn’t necessarily a sign of a hippie party but it was there.
What wasn’t there was weed. The lack of Swedish drug use amazed me. I didn’t smell any marijuana at all. Nearly three hours of hippie party with a DJ and hippies everywhere and no weed. It was incredible. That same party in the US would have been submerged by a hazy cloud of marijuana smoke. Not so in Sweden.
Going to school in Eugene, I became quite familiar with the drug. Not because I used it. I never have. But because plenty of other people did. It was everywhere. Not using sometimes seemed rarer than actually using it. Most parties had at least a couple of people who were stoned, looking to get stoned, or looking to get someone else stoned. Here in Sweden, marijuana seems to be treated with the same attitude as many people treat heroin in the US.
I remember being amazed by this while studying abroad in Uppsala. I did more partying there than anywhere else, which, considering it is me, still might not be that much, but I only smelled weed once. And the party damn near stopped as people became incredibly nervous. Apparently, even second hand weed can make people paranoid.
Only once more have I been around the drug while in Sweden. This time in more of an American setting. But still, a lot of precaution was taken.
Until the hippie party, I hadn’t really thought about those two episodes all that much. It was strange to realize that the absence of something could be felt so strongly. I suppose I have such a strong association between weed and hippies that the lack of it made me take notice.
It seems that the stigma of drug use in Sweden is much stronger than in the US. I see weed as one of those recreational drugs that people use in college. Kind of like binge drinking. Most people get out just fine. Some don’t. Collateral damage if you will. But it’s such a part of the college culture that I never really treated it with nearly as much disdain as the Swedes seem to.
I don’t even have the slightest clue as to why this is. I don’t see Swedish anti-drug commercials. I don’t see strung out people on the streets acting as an example. I don’t see extremely stringent laws against drug use. Maybe those are the very reasons weed isn’t nearly as ubiquitous.
Whatever the reason, I quite liked the lack of marijuana. Not having to deal with a bunch of stoned college kids looking for more weed and more chips made for an enjoyable evening. Now if we could only do something about all the damn cigarette smoke.
Welcome to Sweden. Where weed is relegated to untended fields. See what I did there?