DRUGS

Meet the Master of the Pro-Pot Twittersphere

DRUGS
Jul 03, 2014 at 10:51 AM ET

Last week, a study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that hundreds of thousands of American kids are being manipulated by pro-marijuana messages, courtesy of Weed Tweets, a Twitter account dedicated to the glory of ganja. “It’s likely a young person’s attitudes and behaviors may be influenced when he or she is receiving daily, ongoing messages of this sort,” says Dr. Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, a co-author of the study.

But according to Steve (not his real name), the 24-year-old behind the highly popular account, corrupting impressionable teens has never been a part of his agenda. In fact, he’s trying to un-corrupt them. “I DO NOT believe young kids should be smoking weed, but I also don’t think they should be lied to about it,” Steve says in an online chat. “The bottom line is that marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, which is advertised everywhere for kids to see.”

Steve, who works in social media, initially started Weed Tweets in 2011 after finishing a college research project on legalization. “It was supposed to be an eight-page paper, but I ended up writing almost 50 pages,” he says. “That really changed my perception of marijuana, so I started the account with the intention of spreading awareness about legalization in not only a factual way, but in a humorous way that people can relate to.”

Today Weed Tweets, which uses the handle @stillblazingtho, has amassed over one million followers—a figure that amounts to Twitter-celebrity status and has surprised no one more than Steve himself. “I remember hitting the 50k mark and being blow away,” he says. “One thing that helped it blow up quickly was when Rihanna followed and retweeted me. I think I gained almost 20k followers from that one retweet alone.”

The popularity of an account like Weed Tweets is easy to understand. It’s been churning out clever and humorous cannabisms during a time when stigmatization of marijuana has been replaced by pro-pot political platforms and public support for legalization has grown to an all-time high of 54 percent. It’s now permissible to show that you’re down with dope, which is why a tweet like, “The only dangerous thing about weed is getting caught with it,” can get over 1,200 retweets and 1,400 favorites in under an hour.

Three years after he started the account, Steve is especially pleased with the progress the country has been making. “I remember thinking while writing my paper that we wouldn’t see recreational legalization for like 10 years, but here we are only a few years later with it in two states,” he says. “I think people are really starting to understand that legalization has more benefits than the failed war on drugs—like tax revenue, jobs, and not making good people into criminals. And we all know that it is easier for a kid to buy weed on the street than it would be if it was legalized and regulated.”

Weed Tweets is also much more than pot proselytizing—it’s a funny and accurate record of real-life stoner culture designed to steer people away from the washed-up, hippy-dippy stereotype that many marijuana adversaries tend to promote. “I believe people should be judged by the quality of their work, not the quality of their urine,” Steve says. “Some of the smartest, most successful people are avid marijuana smokers. I do not believe that marijuana in itself makes someone a lazy, uneducated and unmotivated person.” Or as he tweeted last month: “So many assume. So little know.”

Even so, there is one stoner cliché that Weed Tweets has fully embraced, which is the glass-half-full philosophy embodied by history’s most famous toker: Bob Marley. In truth, these tweets are among Steve’s best. “R.I.P. to the fuck I almost gave” or “Distance yourself from the bullshit” can be kind of therapeutic. In a way, Steve is like your most laid-back friend who always manages to take everything in stride.

It’s this devil-may-care attitude that has cultivated Weed Tweets’ loyal following (which includes a number of celebrities Steve would rather not call out)—dope disciples so dedicated to his mission, they often defend him from online attackers. “Oftentimes when someone does tweet me with negative comments, my followers usually respond to them before I have a chance to see it,” he says.

And for what it’s worth, after Weed Tweets started following me, DrugzBunny, WeedVibes, Hemperor, Vaporizor Nation, and Drugs_, all succeeded him within minutes. For some reason, that didn’t happen when I got followed by Walt Whitman.

As far as Steve’s personal relationship with pot, he claims he’s all about moderation.  “I don’t need to smoke weed, but I smoke when I want to,” he says. Still, he has some advice for novice users: “Start slow. You can always smoke more. Never underestimate the potency of edibles. Buy from someone you can trust, and if something doesn’t look right, don’t smoke it. Don’t’ smoke and drive, and don’t let weed negatively impact your life. Just like alcohol, weed isn’t for everyone.”

If only Maureen Dowd had known.