Verity Johnson: Don't shame me because I've never smoked weed

OPINION: It's not shocking to say you smoke weed. Certainly not in New Zealand, where we are among the countries that smoke the most dope in the world.

What's more surprising is saying you've never smoked weed. Not once, not ever.

My marijuana virginity is not something I like to tell people about. It's like admitting you still have a weakness for collecting Beanie Babies – it's something only your mum would find cute.  So I tend not to throw it around much.

That's not to say that I don't know people who do. Most of my boyfriends have smoked it, most of my friends have, and many of the people I work with have. So it's not like I've never been around it.

The few people I have told about my 'green' drug history tend to be very interested.

"You don't smoke dope?" they say, with the hesitant curiosity you'd afford someone with eight toes. "Why not? When you've been around it so much, aren't you curious?"

The implication is that because I'm like young and like hip then I've smoked weed. The second implication is, my God, what kind of sad sack doesn't even smoke dope? Even Barack Obama has.

But I haven't, and I'm not the only one who hasn't. I'm part of a small, mysterious club who don't and won't do drugs. We tend to hide ourselves, even from ourselves, because we're never sure who will judge us if we admit how inexperienced we are.

And why don't we? The main thing we say is that we don't like losing control.

I'm incredibly ashamed of the few times in my life when I lost control. I've only ever been properly drunk once, and it ended up with me covered in vomit and hiding in a bank at 2am with a Russian stranger.  I'm deeply, painfully embarrassed by the memory.

We like to present the best representation of ourselves at all times. The real version of us may be an anxious turbulent mess, but we don't want you to see that. We never, ever want you to see that. So we don't want to lose control in case our dribbling, twitching inner self rears crazy-eyed head.

I'm also painfully aware that this position is something that you can only hold if you have a relative level of privilege.

I'm white and middle class. If I smoked dope it would probably be because I wanted to feel cool and creative. I'm not poor and living in a shit suburb, and smoking dope because I want to escape the grey grind of existence.

So I know this is a rarefied position, and I don't judge or care if you do smoke. I have a lot of tolerance for people who smoke because they want to get through their daily, shitty trudge of reality.

But I don't have a lot of tolerance for 'creatives' who sit around getting stoned and talking about what they would do one day. It's not the dope smoking I judge, just the inaction and pretentiousness.

You're a writer? Write something. Don't sit around being a posturing, lazy vegetable.

I do feel guilty for never having at least dabbled with weed. I feel like that sticky, sweaty, sad-sack kid who sits at the edge of the school ball.

So I wanted to write this to say that if you're like me then don't be ashamed. Yes, we're like Prius drivers. People are never going to think we're cool. But you shouldn't be ashamed of your choices.

We've got our reasons, largely that if we did smoke we'd unleash a paranoid, unstable monster who covers every camera and wears a tinfoil bonnet.

And that's something no one wants to see.

Verity Johnson is a Newshub writer.