"Sit back and hold your breath/Just let nature take effect.” So said death metal OG Chris Barnes in his Six Feet Under ode to marijuana “4:20.” In addition to death and murder tales, Barnes has been an unapologetic advocate for legalizing marijuana since the early days of his metal career. Barnes has been riding high (literally and figuratively) since the release of Six Feet Under’s Undead, the best reviewed album since the band’s mid-90s inception. In honor of America’s birthday Barnes spoke to dB about why complete abolition of marijuana laws should remain a social priority. He also introduced a special SFU playlist that includes some of Six Feet Under’s best known songs about marijuana. Whether you are lighting a sparkler or a joint on this holiday take a minute to learn why Barnes is so passionate.
What’s your message about legalizing marijuana on the Fourth of July? Why is this important when we still have wars, arguments about abortion and the economy in the shitter?
It’s really important because freedom is important. Has everyone decided to give it all away? There’s no reason we’re at war now; it’s absurd. And it should be a woman's choice to do what they want with their body. With all of these things we should remember that none of us are owned by the government, and you don’t have to do things because the government tries to scare you.
Who introduced you to marijuana?
I explored things on my own as a youngster. I was always interested in taking things to another level and exploring all parts of life. Smoking is a big part of my life. Really, it’s my religion. It’s everything to me. It’s a meditative thing. It takes me to a meditative state and lets me access my third eye a lot easier.
I remember seeing the NORML (National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws) contact information inside The Bleeding. You’ve been a longtime proponent of legalization. Outside of recreational use why do you think this is important?
I don’t like hypocrisy. That’s the heart of criminalizing cannabis. It makes no sense to any thinking person on the face of the planet, even those who don’t use cannabis. Anyone can see the hypocrisy in the laws. Millions of people think it should be changed and it will be changed very shortly. I honestly believe that.
What is your daily smoking ritual?
I smoke whenever I feel like it.
First thing in the morning like a cup of coffee?
For sure. I believe it’s beneficial to my health and think it’s kept me healthy all of these years.
Have you ever smoked too much?
No, getting too stoned isn’t really an issue, ever (laughs).
Is there a too stoned?
For me there isn’t. Definitely not (laughs).
Were you surprised when the California ballot measure to legalize marijuana across the board failed?
It’s basically legal there so it doesn’t really matter. Y’know, I think people are eventually just going to stand up and reject the laws and do what they want. There are people in the legal system saying we can’t put people in jail for marijuana anymore because we don’t have the room. And it’s got to be obvious to people in power that there are more people who smoke marijuana than don’t. What are you going to do, put everyone in jail?
Do you know of any egregious cases of people being put in jail for small amounts?
Well it happens every day, someone getting arrested with a joint after they have a few priors then getting sent over. That’s not right. It’s a legal loophole. There are a lot of fishy things about the law and people who make money off of keeping people in jail and keeping the system going.
What about the argument that people in the medical marijuana industry don’t want legalization because they are raking in big profits and stand to lose money if it is regulated and taxed?
I’m not worried about those people. I just think cannabis should be legalized across the board. I use it recreationally and for medicinal purposes. I don’t care about profits; I just want the plant to be available to people who need it or want to enjoy it. I'm not worried about the economy of it; my goal is to stop prohibition. It's proven that alcohol and tobacco kill more people on this planet than anything else used recreationally. So why is that legal? Why is something that’s toxic pushed on Super Bowl ads that reach billions of people and we think it’s great? But then something that helps us is deemed bad and demonized and wrapped up in political bullshit? They are pushing something dangerous on us that kills us; just based on that people should wake up. It’s common sense. No one has ever died from smoking marijuana. You’d have to smoke 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes. And then you wouldn’t die from marijuana but from smoke inhalation.
Marijuana is a mind altering substance and the bottom line is that it’s not for everyone. Some people will have an adverse reaction.
There’s freedom of choice my friend. I don’t care what those people put into their bodies and they shouldn’t care what I put into mine. Don’t tell me what to put in my body. Don’t tell me I can't use something that I think will help me. I don’t care what you put in your body, why do you care what I put in mine? That’s the bottom line. I don’t care what your do in you bedroom or put in your body so don’t peak into my personal business.