Episode 524 of This American Life, “I Was So High” was about drugs. Plain and simple.
There was some mention of cocaine, and mushrooms came up quite a bit, but other than that, lots of cannabis chatter. Glass even interviewed a famous podcaster about his marijuana years, which was strange because I kind of thought the podcaster in question was a coke and booze guy. And his story was about mushrooms and a Grateful Dead show, so…
Anyway, it was a good show–especially the stats on how many of us are high at this very moment: Your waitress? Fifteen percent likelihood. Your co-workers? Depends on your vocation. Your aesthetician? Nine percent likelihood, higher than any other physician it seems. Fentanyl, a supercharged synthetic opioid, is their drug of choice.
If you work in construction or the restaurant industry, the odds you have worked or will work while under the influence are considerable–more considerable than any other field. No shocker there for me, but it’s nice to have your suspicions confirmed.
They played a few listener stories about funny things that happened during narcotic-addled situations, but one of TAL’s producers noted, the stories weren’t as funny as the person telling them had assumed. They were looking for things on the lighter side of the spectrum, but didn’t have any tonal restrictions, and apparently they got a lot of the darker stuff.
In many ways, this episode felt like a response to Freakonomics’ “It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana.” Undoubtedly, a successful episode, the Freakonomics folks delved into what is becoming an increasingly not-so-contentious subject: marijuana legalization. TAL followed suit and commented on the inconsistencies surrounding federal and state laws, and touched on some of the lawmakers bickering about the topic; that part was kind of yawn inducing, but necessary to complete the arc.
Overall, a very engaging episode. Puff, puff, give.