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Mere days ago Punxsutawney Phil (the only groundhog whose opinion really matters these days) poked his head out of his burrow, stepped out onto a red carpet, took a look around and bailed right out of there. He leapt from the ceremonial dais in Punxsutawney, Penn., and dashed to a waiting getaway vehicle—a Jaguar driven by a Bond girl wearing cat-eye sunglasses. He never did get around to declaring whether spring was on its way.

Officials wearing top hats and shivering in the cold blinked in the sudden, heavy silence. “Phil?” one asked the swirling snow and dissipating gas fumes.

President Joe Biden warned us it was going to be a dark winter, and it looks like he was right. The new year is turning out to be as weird as the last one. Will every new year just get weirder from here on out?

During the inauguration Biden called for an end to the nastiness in our public discourse. “Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury,” he said. “No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.” His call for unity was universally met with rolling eyes and knowing cringes.

And who can blame us? Pandemic or no, how are we going to look people in the eye once this is all over? We are exhausted. We are weak. We are gripped by fear and anxiety. We’ve watched our neighbors swing back and forth between the poles of civility too often in too short a time. General trust between human beings has been revealed as an illusion, conjured up by prosperity and a functioning societal infrastructure.

Peace and love have become high camp—platitudes based on ideals that were devoured by realpolitik at the dawn of our species. They’re supremely uncool. And while they might have been nice ideas to consider at one point, it’s now time to put away childish things and accept the new normal of strain and mistrust.

Cannabis, with its connection to the hippie movement, has always been associated with love, peace and unity. But the Flower Children only helped make those themes appear shallow and childish. Hippie burnouts were synonymous with dazed, dopey ideals based on fairy tales and Lord of the Rings—simple worldviews with no basis in reality—children’s fantasies.

But even now, standing at the brink of mass civil unrest and a global pandemic, those children’s fantasies still ring with a strange truth. We can’t help but hunger for love and peace, no matter how cynical we get.

It might sound silly, but the international cannabis movement could potentially help pull humanity out of the trenches and back into the sun. Weed has the power to increase the personality trait of openness—at least according to a 2011 study in Psychiatry Research. Openness denotes increased sensitivity to one’s own inner workings and an open curiosity that allows for novel ideas and approaches. It’s probably the one trait our collective hive mind could use right now.

This edition of The Rolling Paper is dedicated to the ever fading arts of love and peace. Within these pages you will learn how to get your amorous engine pumping with some good old-fashioned cannabinoid therapy. You will get some advice on improving your mental health with weed. You’ll get some gift ideas that will keep you in good graces with your pot-loving partner and special holiday recipes for marijuana-infused treats.

Hopefully, you’ll walk away feeling a little lighter. Hopefully, you’ll see why it’s so much nicer to hop on the love wagon with the rest of us idealists. Maybe the bumper stickers were right, and peace is still a good idea. Even if it’s uncool.

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