Memoirs Of A Kif Smoker

Michael Pickering

The following article was written by a sixteen-year-old English boy and appeared in his local parish magazine.

When you first arrive at Tangier in Morocco, you recoil with horror when you are approached by young men trying to sell you marijuana or hashish or whatever you like to call it (in Morocco it is universally called 'Kit). You have thoughts of glassy-eyed junkies wasting away in dens full of drug addicts. After a few days or a few weeks (or never at all with some people) you begin to get a different impression—you find that most of the people you know smoke or have smoked it, and that those who have are not one jot different from those who have never touched it. So, urged on by your friends and trying to cover up your anxiety, you taste a little.

At first it is horrible: you feel weak and tired and depressed, with none of the light and joy they'd told you to expect. But you are given more reassuring words—it's only because of your scarcely repressed fears that cause your subconscious to try and reject the effect. Keep on trying and it will come. It does after one or two times, with effects that are impossible to describe accurately and which give some of the most wonderful experiences of your life.

Kif itself is a plant that grows or can grow all over the world—even in England, though the product I am told is not very good. The Rif mountains in the north of Morocco grow some of the best. The leaves of the plant are finely chopped and sorted (a very skilled process) and often a little tobacco added. It is smoked in tiny clay bowls at the end of long wooden pipes, which are sometimes beautifully carved or decorated, each filling gives only three or four drags—the ash being neatly blown out before the pipe is refilled.

The effects, usually coming on after two or three or four pipefuls, are different for each person, but several general characteristics are usually common to everybody. First of all, you suddenly notice as if for the first time in your life, how fantastically beautiful everything in the world is—even little things you hardly thought worth looking at before ... all colors become incredibly bright and intense, and sounds and touches full of beauty. When I first got high on kif, I was in a filthy youth hostel in Casablanca—but lying on a table was a small alcohol heater someone was using for cooking; it was dark and the heater was shooting out a long bright blue flame. Suddenly this flame was to me the most beautiful object in the world—the only thing worth looking at—it was full of exquisite wisps of orange and red—it was swirling round and round in the air, always emitting a lovely hissing noise that filled the whole room. It became for me all sorts of things—a flaming torch sweeping through the sky or a gurgling river of fire leaping from the table.

One example of thousands. But there is much more than just the heightening of the senses. You begin to think think think. More profoundly and more interestingly than ever before. You have fantastic ideas thrown up by your imagination which knows no bounds or restraints. And you feel an intense physical exhilaration—that makes you want to leap around. Everything in the world suddenly becomes true and real—you can see deep into people's minds by just looking at their eyes—you can tell everything about them, their thoughts, characters, dreams and secrets. You can see what people are really like—their 'image' is shattered—and so is yours—you start behaving as you really are. Politeness for the sake of politeness is impossible, or if tried, it is completely unconvincing. You become obsessed with the beauty of everything around you—a small noise made with your mouth is wonderful—you repeat it over and over again. To any observer you appear crazy—but this is nothing to you—you are in your own lovely world creating thoughts and visions and sounds and sights—creating whatever you like—doing whatever you like—you have woken up at last and start seeing the world as it really is for the first time—the kif has drawn the veil from your eyes and there is only life and growth and creation.

All very well. What happens afterwards? Answer, nothing. When the effect wears off, you are as you were before—but with a difference—in many ways you still see the world as it was when you were high—the flame is just as beautiful an object as before. Your whole life is enriched, your imagination deeper, and your mind is more active. There is not the slightest chance of getting hooked (addicted) to kif, unlike opium or heroin, which are different altogether; there are no bad effects no headaches or hangovers, no depression or 'let-down' feeling. Moroccans who have smoked it for sixty years or more have no ill effects.

It is strange to realize that kif and 'drugs' like it are regarded as the height of evil and corruption in European countries. Strange also that here it is alcohol (highly respectable in Western countries) that has this same association of sin and wickedness (it being illegal for a native of a Moslem country to drink). But nobody can claim that alcohol (and tobacco), unlike kif, are not addict-forming or without harmful effects.

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