Nearly three weeks after Stephen Mandile became one of the first people to buy recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, he still hadn’t used it.
He was stumped by one question: What do you do with marijuana that made history?
He knew that if he was going to smoke a piece of history, he couldn’t do it alone. He had to be with a piece of history.
That’s when he called Lester Grinspoon — or more specifically, Grinspoon’s son, Peter, a friend of Mandile’s who arranged for the two to meet and smoke together one Saturday afternoon in early December.
Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has been a longtime activist for marijuana legalization and a founding father of sorts for the legalization movement. His 1971 book, “Marihuana Reconsidered,” helped bring the issue of marijuana legalization into mainstream conversation, and his role as an academic in the field challenged stereotypes that many people had about marijuana consumers.
Now 90 years old, Grinspoon lives in a Newton retirement community with his wife and still smokes regularly.
“I was never certain that legal use of recreational cannabis would ever become a reality during my lifetime,” Grinspoon said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to share this useful and enjoyable experience legally, even if I had to wait until age 90.”
Grinspoon said the experience of smoking with Mandile was a “dream-fulfilling event.”
Mandile said he thanked Grinspoon for all he had done and asked as many questions as he could about his research and his life. Altogether, Mandile said, the afternoon was an honor.
“The fact that we were smoking history was just some extra sprinkles and glitter on everything,” Mandile said. “It was just an honor to be there with him smoking anything, any cannabis with him.”
“I got more nervous talking to him than talking to Elizabeth Warren, any politician, any celebrity,” he added. “Like this guy is big.”
Mandile still has some product leftover from that historic first purchase, and he hasn’t decided what he’ll do with it yet.
He wants to use it for something significant, maybe even show it off in a museum. (No, he decided, he won’t be selling it on eBay.)
Whether or not he ends up consuming it, Mandile said it won’t be his last time smoking with Grinspoon. When he left Grinspoon’s home that Saturday afternoon, Grinspoon immediately asked him to come back soon.
“We still have some history to smoke,” Mandile said in an interview, seemingly in response to Grinspoon’s request. “You’re not done yet.”