High Times on the Main Line

And in Chestnut Hill. And Blue Bell. And many more of Philadelphia’s most buttoned-down places. How a generation of otherwise straitlaced moms and dads are rediscovering their inner stoners … and making pot legit

Ah, the bliss of suburban Philadelphia in summer.

[sidebar]On a recent balmy, breezy Wednesday night, Amanda*, a pretty, youthful-looking mom in her early 40s who lives in a roomy stone house in Ardmore, put her daughter to bed and went outside to her patio to enjoy the warm evening with her husband, Mark. There, overlooking their swimming pool and beds of lilies and hydrangeas, she and Mark, who’s a successful money manager, had another glass of their favorite La Crema chardonnay. Then Amanda and Mark did something that was less Main Line and more Phish concert: They fired up a fattie, and got high like teenagers.  

A couple of years ago, Amanda, who attends lunches in Chanel and Burberry and spends weekends shopping in New York, would have stuck with just the chardonnay to unwind after the homework, the cooking, the dishes and the dog-walking, but more recently, she and Mark have been toking up several times a month.
 
Mark gets the pot from his brother (who has a mysterious source somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey), and Amanda and Mark smoke outside mainly because they want to keep the smell from waking up their daughter (though she’s so young, Amanda says, she wouldn’t actually know what the smell was). If their neighbors, with whom Mark and Amanda are friendly, sniff the smoke drifting over into their yard, the couple figures they’ll likely be more jealous than disapproving. Who knows? Given the current Bob Marley-ish climate in our once-conservative suburbs, the couple next door would probably poke their heads through the hedge and ask to join in the fun.

“About half the people I know on the Main Line smoke pot,” Amanda estimates. “It’s so much more prevalent than people think. I’m not talking daily use,” she clarifies, “but recreationally, or at a party. People aren’t open about it, exactly, but at a party, they’ll go off into a room and smoke it.”

Amanda is politically conservative, and one of the most responsible and precise people I’ve met, so her occasional pot-smoking at first seems completely out of left field. But there’s a regular boom of stoners over 35 in Philly and the suburbs these days, and the people toking up might be that attractive couple at the next table at Savona, with the baseball-playing kids and the high-stakes careers.

Pot, it seems, is having a moment. Around Philly, the heady smell of marijuana is floating out from Rittenhouse Square terraces, from suburban townhouse windows, from the living rooms of Chester County farmhouses. Bankers smoke it on Saturdays on the way to a round of golf at the club. Narberth moms smoke after yoga class. Kids driving you crazy? Dad’s going to take the dog for a walk in the woods behind the house, and no, you can’t come with him. Seemingly easier to obtain than a reservation at Amis, pot is the new status hobby in the suburbs.

“It’s not looked at as a big deal,” says Bridget, a mom of two in Bryn Mawr. “At cocktail parties, people smoke pot. It’s therapeutic, a way to relax. And a lot of people think it’s less damaging to their bodies than drinking.”

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  • andrew

    I don’t know where the writer got there information but i believe some of your supposed facts about health risks where wrong. Many medical studies from reputable sorces have concluded that not only does marijuana not contribute to head and nek cancers but actually thwarts the growth of aggresive cancer cells. Cannabis has cannabinoids in it that can be used to treat cancer. While many of us love to see attention brought to this plants flowers, we don’t want any inncorrect information printed about it that would make people scared of it when they shouldn’t be. Could you please research this better and print a retraction.

  • andrew

    I don’t know where the writer got thier information but i believe some of your supposed facts about health risks where wrong. Many medical studies from reputable sorces have concluded that not only does marijuana not contribute to head and neck cancers but actually thwarts the growth of aggresive cancer cells. Cannabis has cannabinoids in it that can be used to treat cancer. While many of us love to see attention brought to this plants flowers, we don’t want any inncorrect information printed about it that would make people scared of it when they shouldn’t be. Could you please research this better and print a retraction. P.S. sorry the first draft had some spelling errors that i forgot to check first, i will agree with the effected memory part…that’s true

  • linda

    On Nove 6, 2000, i received a call from my father. by 52 year old brother had been found dead in his home. the cause of death, MALNUTRITION! i REFUSE to allow anyone to die this way! we are not sure what he was sick from, but i know he was unable to eat but REFUSED to smoke cannibis cause he wanted to be SOBER! NOW HE IS DEAD! I use cannibis to help me with my crohns. it gives the ability to eat and keep foods down!
    did you know the first car was fueled by hemp? just think where we would be now if it STILL WERE! LEGALIZE HEMP NOW!

  • linda

    sorry.. i didn’t check my typing before entering. my brother died in 2009 in a medical marijuana state! california! because of the stigm! everyone join us for a march on washington on july 4th! as adults, we should be able to relax any way we want to! NO ONE HAD DIED FROM MARIJUANA USE! LEGALIZE HEMP! SAVE OUR PLANET!

  • smoke

    mad blunt passing

  • hgjhgjg

    cocaine’s more prevalent

  • Tim

    Cover of mag is Pot is Back….Main line. Then you mention all around Philly. Then you mention “70s celebrities openly smoking pot” without naming amyone! Not sure why you are making any comparison between to legalized marijuana, legislators trying to get medical marijauna passed and recreational use. There is no connection and you fail to make one. You fail to make an valid connection to Cailfornia medical clinics and the “liberal” Po-Tel and the so called Main Line wave or marijuana use. Your fact about African American women being arrested more than white women for marijuana use is worthless. Why do you think there is such a desparity in arrest %age? Did you use arrests of black women on the main line versus arrests of white women on the main line? Further into the article, again comparing medical marijunia legislation to recreational use is worthless. BTW, Doug in your article likes cocaine instead o pot now. What is the relevance to your article???? This whole article, from the provacative cover, to the weak research, is complete garbage. So you interviewed some people that still smoke pot and you…

  • deborah

    Never have I been so disappointed in Philadelphia Magazine. Just what you don’t want your teenager to see coming from a supposed reputable news source. EXTREMELY disappointed – canceling membership after 20+ years.

  • Pinchy

    So many times we forget all the good, Sure medical, but also renewable resources for paper, fabric, oils,the seeds themselves are high in protein and essential fatty acids.
    you can be a critic but don’t tell me what i can or cannot grow in my yard.
    In addition, THINK OF ALL THE TAX REVENUE if we were to legalize and tax this…

  • Matt

    Article was good but was wrong about a number of things. For one, you no longer can be arrested for small amounts of pot in Philadelphia b/c it has been downgraded to a summary offense rather than a misdemeaner.
    Also of note, pot does NOT cause lung cancer or head/neck cancer, as can be seen in numerous studies on Pubmed.com .

  • Ryan

    I’ve been smoking the whole time I’ve been reading this.

  • Carlton

    The information on marijuana risks seems flawed.
    Marijuana is one of the safest substances out there. safer than most foods we commonly eat. it doesn’t cause cancer. it prevents it. The cannaboids in marijuana cause the cancer cells to eat themselves. There hasn’t been a case where a person got cancer from marijuana use. marijuana is also proven to help your lungs. The cannabis smoke helps to open receptor cells in your lungs allowing for better breathing. it also helps with blood flow to the brain, which allows for improved cognitive thinking.(info from government funded studies)-Google: “government studies on marijuana”

  • Angel

    I am shocked how miss guided this article is.I agree legalizing marijuana will do worlds of good.However,how can anyone make an educated/informed decision, when careless people speak about the dangers

  • Juliana

    If marijuana became legalized, it would create jobs, it could be taxed like cigarettes, which would help the government’s huge debt, it would also save law enforcement millions of dollars they are wasting trying to bust people selling pot. If you are an adult and you want to relax and smoke a doobie at the end of the day, who has the right to tell you that you can’t do it? I thought this was the land of the free? But I guess we aren’t quite as free as we used to be.

  • Juliana

    If marijuana became legalized, it would create jobs, it could be taxed like cigarettes, which would help the government’s huge debt, it would also save law enforcement millions of dollars they are wasting trying to bust people selling pot. If you are an adult and you want to relax and smoke a doobie at the end of the day, who has the right to tell you that you can’t do it? I thought this was the land of the free? But I guess we aren’t quite as free as we used to be.

  • Juliana

    If marijuana became legalized, it would create jobs, it could be taxed like cigarettes, which would help the government’s huge debt, it would also save law enforcement millions of dollars they are wasting trying to bust people selling pot. If you are an adult and you want to relax and smoke a doobie at the end of the day, who has the right to tell you that you can’t do it? I thought this was the land of the free? But I guess we aren’t quite as free as we used to be.

  • stephanie

    the industry is way more than just growers and smokers. this article could expand upon that. there’s even a local philly publishing company that just launched SMOKED Volume 2 and is pushing glass pipe art into the light. check it out on http://www.gritcityinc.com

  • Larry

    Finally an article that tells the truth about who uses marijuana. As a long time casual user I would love to be more outspoken about this, but who wants that stigma put on them and one that could cost me my job. My friends are all professional people who like to smoke on a Friday or Saturday and why should anyone care. But government propaganda has labeled it as dangerous and we live with ignorant laws. From my experience, alcohol is much worse.