Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the marijuana referendum in California failed. Orange County and places like it still have the votes. But the reminder of the “evil weed” got me to remembering a delightful evening many, many years ago when I was really stoned. President Nixon made it possible.

Yep, that Nixon, really. Remember Tricky Dick? The congenital anti-Commie? Or maybe it wasn’t Nixon that made it so memorable, just the weed.

A clarification may be necessary. I was never a pothead. Beer was and is my drug of choice. I never cared enough about grass to have a dealer, unlike several colleagues and at least one editor. On the other hand, if I happened to be present when it was passed around, I never turned down a toke.

The evening I have in mind, a friend was visiting from Tallahassee, where I used to report on the county school board for the local rag. and had brought some weed. I have no idea if it was really strong  stuff, what was it termed — sensimillia? — or what was mockingly called “Gainesville green.” Whatever it was, I was pretty ripped.

As it happened, Nixon was making his historic visit to what was then called “Red China” on television. Chris and I were sharing a joint as we watched the ceremony and the People’s Liberation Army Band played “Home On The Range.” Then Nixon spoke, his beginning words, “As Chairman Mao has truly stated…(whatever).”

You had to be stoned, believe me.

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Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery, aka "Monty," packed it in a few years back after 38 years as a reporter with the AJC, covering mostly crime and other forms of public insanity, such as political campaigns, strip club crackdowns, and the Georgia legislature. His career includes coverage of zanies that run the gamut from Lester Maddox and J.B. Stoner to Larry Flynt, and crime reporting that followed the 1973 Alday family killings in South Georgia to the execution of ringleader Carl Isaacs 30 years later, and the 20-year saga of Palm Beach millionaire James V. Sullivan, who hired the murder of his estranged wife at her Buckhead condo by a gunman packing a pistol in a box of roses. Montgomery lives in a Decatur condo with his wife Linda and their Boston terrier.