Marijuana legalization is giving Seattle a goofy reputation

What kind of national image is Seattle projecting now?

Jay Leno

Jay Leno

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO (National Broadcasting Co.)

December 13, 2012


Opening monologue

JAY LENO (host): Here’s something interesting. Researchers at the University of Washington have begun studying whether our existence is real, or if we are all just living in some kind of virtual reality like “The Matrix.”

(Audience giggles)

LENO: Which is quite an idea. Oh, did I mention that they just legalized marijuana up there in Washington? 

(Loud sustained audience laughter and applause)

LENO: Did I mention that?

(Continued loud sustained audience laughter and applause)

On the UW research about whether we really are here, Leno was referring to coverage of an apparently real press release the university proudly put out.  But that wasn’t Leno’s only crack during the same monologue last night at the expense of Seattle’s most esteemed academic institution.

LENO: Researchers at the University of Washington are now developing a dissolving condom. A condom that dissolves. Guys, let me tell you something. If you’re stupid enough to use a condom that dissolves, this is a story you can one day tell your kid.  

(Audience laughter and applause)

I don’t know whether it’s worse to be ridiculed for strange scientific research or for drug use. But move over, Microsoft, Costco and Starbucks. It is becoming clear to me that the local legalization of recreational marijuana is resonating around the country, and even the world, in a way that is not especially helpful to any reputation Seattle has as a venue for serious stuff.

I’m basing this not only on what I’m been reading in the media and online but also on comments from friends and acquaintances around the country. These sentiments can be divided into two camps: (1) Gotta come visit to check this out, and (2) no way, José.

Of course, open marijuana use long has been tolerated in Seattle, unlike, say, jaywalking. Soon after becoming New To Seattle last year, I almost got high merely driving on Elliott Avenue W. past the annual end-of-summer Hempfest festival along the Seattle waterfront. That made it even more difficult to avoid the many stoned pedestrians stumbling off the sidewalk into the busy roadway.

Over the years I have found the monologues of Leno, the country’s top-rated late-night comedian, to be a good bellwether for what folks are talking about everywhere. In recent days Seattle–long a Leno target–has been renewed grist for his humor mill. In one jibe a week ago, he lamented the fact that the perpetual Seattle rain would extinguish all the legally lit joints. A few days ago, he aired a fake newscast featuring the release of those new NASA photos of Earth. There were aerial shots of New York, Chicago–and a doctored one of Seattle with a haze of smoke wafting up.

But who knows? Maybe the combination of weed, virtual reality and more convenient birth control will do something about that local plague on humanity known as the Seattle Freeze. In the meantime, stay tuned for continued battering of Seattle’s image.

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Marijuana legalization is giving Seattle a goofy reputation — 4 Comments

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