The e-mail was ambitious, revelatory, and sent from the other side of the world: "I am Nahla and I am a pothead. I'm also a college student, and I live in a third-world country—Morocco. Some of the few close people that know I use marijuana don't understand that it's not because I'm depressed and trying to escape reality, but because it gives me time to myself, to think about the perfection that is nature, to imagine myself on a sunny beach or down by the river. But the opinion on weed is almost unanimous here: It's destructive and not 'good.'
"The marijuana closet is not the only closet I've had to live in, as I am a pansexual person living in what they call a 'religious' but I call an 'intolerant' society. I've never seen the reason why the gender of a person should matter to me when it comes to relationships. That brings us to my third closet, which is the feminist closet. People here don't seem to understand that all humans have the same rights, that a woman is not dependent on a man to live happily on her own. We are brought up to believe women are 'less than men'—fragile objects that shouldn't ask too many questions."
Despite her upbringing, Nahla loves to ask and answer questions, and so we made a plan to get ourselves high and talk over Skype.
The basics: The Kingdom of Morocco is a constitutional monarchy where Islam is the predominant religion, and Nahla is a second-year college student living with her parents while studying commerce and trade management. ("I don't really like it," she says. "But if you want to get a job, it's a good field.") Nahla first experienced weed a year ago, courtesy of a knowledgeable girlfriend, and she says it's significantly improved her life.
"Weed has helped me answer a lot of questions about myself," Nahla says through our slightly-time-delayed Skype connection. "You get to think about things on a higher level. When you live in a restrictive society, you always walk around wondering, 'How do I fit in? What's wrong with me?' And maybe I'm not wrong, but maybe everyone has their own perception. Personally, I'm not religious, because religion goes against a lot of my principles. You don't mind if I light up, right?"
At this, Nahla's hand rises into the frame holding a smoking cone-shaped joint, which she brings to her lips, then turns her head to politely blow the smoke to the side. It's 4 p.m. her time and 8 a.m. my time, and soon we are both very nicely high, an occasion I celebrate by peppering her with questions.
She's into music: "A few years ago, I was into heavy metal, but now I'm more into chill music, stuff that gets you to relax and listen to other people express their emotions."
Gay Moroccan culture is almost nonexistent: "I have friends who are LGBTQI, and there are web pages for the community, a place to ask questions and talk to other people."
And Moroccans are aware of Trump: "We heard his famous 'grab her by the pussy' statement, and, you know, building a wall, the protests, all that is showing up in our media."
And it turns out, Moroccans get munchies, too: "I love to prepare a midnight snack, and because I live with my parents, it's all about whatever they've left in the refrigerator. So I see which ingredients would be okay with other ingredients, and I do experiments. I like chicken."
Upon hearing Nahla's pro-chicken declaration delivered in a perfect stoner deadpan, I start giggling. It is a completely weed-based response, and it soon passes to Nahla, who gets lost in her own giggling fit. Eventually we resurface and resume conversation.
"I like Friends," Nahla says when I ask what she watches while high. "I have a huge crush on Jennifer Aniston. I think the character Rachel is pretentious, but I have a crush on the actress."
Her best-ever high experiences are a conglomeration of events all involving her long-distance-for-now girlfriend. "We had a lot of nice high times, watching movies on the roof, talking about life, existence, and love. One night we got obsessed with Michael Jackson's 'Earth Song.' I recommend watching that video if you're high sometime. You'll really enjoy it."
The only time she falters is when I ask, "Where do you imagine yourself to be in 10 years?" She answers: "That's a complicated question. I don't know. I'd rather not stay here. I'm applying for a lot of scholarships, to see if I have any options."