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Revisit South Park’s Best Cannabis Moments (and Don’t Forget to Bring a Towel)

South Park is gearing up to debut its 20th season. Yes, 20th. Its season debut will put the beloved animated series in a three-way tie for the second longest-running scripted U.S. primetime TV series alongside the classic Gunsmoke and the ripped from the headlines dun-dun chime of Law & Order. (The title of longest, of course, goes to The Simpsons because, as always, Simpsons did it!)

Over the past 20 years, the show has cranked out countless jaw-dropping moments, hilariously crude jokes, and scathing satire, yet Trey Parker and Matt Stone continue to make South Park a refreshing, smart pop culture mainstay that’s as resonant and topical as ever. In honor of the four boys and their expansive community residing in that quiet little mountain town, here’s a look back at South Park‘s most amusing cannabis moments to-date.

Mr. Mackey’s Cannabis Sample Disappears and He Goes Full Hippie (Season 2, Ep. 4)

During one of school counselor Mr. Mackey’s famous “Drugs are bad, mkay?” speeches to the class, the cannabis sample he was using as a visual aid disappears and he’s fired. Despondent, he turns to drugs, marries a hippie, is captured by the A-Team, and is forced into rehab. (Don’t worry, he gets his job back. Oh, and Mr. Garrison is the one who stole his stash.)

Standout Quote: “This is all I’m going to say about drugs. Stay away from them. There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.” – Chef

Fun Fact: This is the first time you see Mr. Mackey with a normal-sized head instead of his typical balloonish noggin, as once he loosens his necktie, his head deflates to a regular shape and size.

Randy Is Not Pleased With the Kids’ Boy Band, Suggests Marijuana Instead (Season 4, Ep. 9)

Cartman wants to start a boy band so he can make $10 million, so he puts together a group called Fingerbang, much to Randy’s irritation. Stan’s dad suggests that instead of pursuing music, they opt for a different hobby, saying, “Well, there’s plenty of other interesting things you can do. Have you ever tried marijuana?” We ultimately learn that Randy was trying to protect the boys from the harsh realities of being in a boy band, as he was once a member of a world-famous group called the Ghetto Avenue Boys that kicked him out once he became too old.

Standout Quote: “Hell no! I’m not being part of a FOUR member boy band! We’ll look stupid!” – Kyle

Fun Fact: This scene, where Randy angrily destroys a china cabinet, is a hat tip to a scene in Star Trek: First Contact, in which Captain Jean Luc Piccard angrily destroys a display case with his phaser. Acting!

Towelie, Our Favorite Cannabis Smoking Towel, Debuts (Season 5, Ep. 8)

The boys get caught up between two factions that are after a lab-modified towel designed to be extra-absorbent. Unfortunately, the towel, dubbed “Towelie,” also really loves cannabis. Nonetheless, he manages to vanquish his Evil Towel foe, save the boys, and help them recover their stolen gaming console while the Tynacorp company that created him explodes. How’s that for defying stoner stereotypes?

Standout Quote: “You’re the worst character ever, Towelie.” – Cartman to Towelie (Towelie’s response: “I know.”)

Fun Fact: In 2011, South Park fans voted “Towelie” as their 11th favorite episode of all time. (Rightfully so, because Towelie is delightful.)

Stan’s ‘Future Self’ Tries to Scare Him Away From Drugs (Season 6, Ep. 16)

After Stan volunteers to throw away a joint the boys find in the woods, he’s visited by his “Future Self” to warn him that drugs will turn him into a loser and ruin his life. Butters’ “Future Self” appears as well, but the boys eventually discover that these personas were actually from a company called Motivationcorp and hired by their parents to scare them away from drugs. To get back at his parents, Butters hires Cartman to paint the inside of his house with poop. Eventually, all of the parents admit to the ruse and realize they should have simply talked to their kids about drugs instead of trying to deceive them.

Standout Quote: “You know what us ultra-liberals say: When it comes to children and drugs, lies are okay.” – Motivationcorp Manager

Fun Fact: This episode was inspired by Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s irritation of hyperbolic anti-drug commercials that insinuate how doing drugs once could kill you or that purchasing drugs funds terrorism. Randy’s heart-to-heart with Stan at the end of the episode is a more realistic assessment of the potential downsides of cannabis:

“Well, Stan, the truth is marijuana probably isn’t gonna make you kill people, and it most likely isn’t gonna fund terrorism, but, well son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored, and it’s when you’re bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or being creative. If you smoke pot you may grow up to find out that you aren’t good at anything.”

(Randy would later contradict all of his good advice in the third episode of season 14, which we’ll get to shortly.)

Hippies Take Over South Park (Season 9, Ep. 2)

To Cartman’s irritation, South Park becomes “infested” with hippies. Although he tries to warn the town that hippie stoners will take over and eventually plan a music festival that will decimate the area, nobody listens to him. Instead, the other boys become hippies to fight back against corporations, but eventually they get tired of non-stop hippie tunes and ask the stoners if they ever do anything other than listening to music and getting high all the time. Cartman and a few South Park adults save the boys from the music festival by drilling up into the grounds using the “Hippie Digger,” and Cartman is able to disperse the crowd by playing death metal.

Standout Quote: “Maybe instead of complaining about corporations being selfish, we should look at ourselves. I mean, is there anything more selfish than doing nothing but getting high and listening to music all day long?” – Stan

Fun Fact: This is the last episode featuring newly recorded dialog for the character Chef, as his voice actor, the late musician Isaac Hayes, Jr., parted ways with the show in 2006. Reasons for his departure are unclear—a statement issued in his name communicated that he wanted out of his contract because the show made fun of Scientology, but Fox News reported that Hayes did not actually write that statement. In 2007, Hayes said in an interview that he left because he wasn’t being paid enough. Chef’s last appearance in a South Park episode was in season 10, episode 1, which featured sound clips from past episodes stitched together to form the character’s dialogue.

Towelie Pretends to Be Human to Promote His Memoir (Season 10, Ep. 5)

Mirroring what happened to the author James Frey and his controversial memoir, A Million Little Pieces, Towelie writes a memoir called A Million Little Fibers that’s rejected because “people aren’t interested in the autobiographies of towels.” Undeterred, Towelie pretends to be human and his book is published. He lands a spot on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but her vagina and anus rat him out to Geraldo Rivera, sparking a huge controversy. Eventually, however, Towelie saves a group of people being held hostage by Oprah’s minge and is forgiven for being dishonest to the public.

Standout Quote: “I learned that I shouldn’t get high to come up with ideas. I should come up with ideas and then get high, to reward myself.” – Towelie

Fun Fact: This is only the second time in the show’s run up to this point where none of the four main boys appear in the episode (the first time was season four, episode 14, titled “Pip.”)

Randy Becomes a Medical Marijuana Patient (Season 14, Ep. 3)

In “Medicinal Fried Chicken,” which is easily one of the best episode titles ever, medical marijuana dispensaries come to South Park while fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods are forced to close due to new state laws. Cartman’s go-to KFC location turns into a dispensary, and he builds an illegal fried chicken empire to smuggle food in and out of the city. Unfortunately, he gets addicted to his own product and runs afoul (afowl?) of Colonel Sanders, who puts a hit out on Cartman.

Meanwhile, Randy, in an effort to get a valid medical marijuana authorization, irradiates his groin area using the microwave and gives himself testicular cancer. He and his friends all become medical marijuana patients, and their testicles grow so large they have to carry them around via wheelbarrows. Eventually, they’re able to use their nards as a hippity hop to bounce around town.

The doctor treating Randy and his friends mistakenly correlates the closure of fast food chains as the cause of the drastic spike in testicular cancer diagnoses, so Colorado bans cannabis and re-opens KFC as “Medicinal Fried Chicken.” Randy has his cancerous testicles removed and replaced with prosthetics, and he turns his leftover skin into a “scrotum coat” for his wife, Sharon.

Standout Quote: “Well, like, what forms of cancer induce in time for the Ziggy Marley concert next Saturday in Denver?” – Randy

Fun Fact: Cartman’s story arc mirrors that of Tony Montana in Scarface. Also, the KFC-turned-MMJ-dispensary mirrored an actual dispensary operating out of an old Kentucky Fried Chicken in Los Angeles called Kind for Cures (abbreviated “K.F.C.” on its signage, of course).

The Boys Stage an Intervention for Towelie (Season 14, Ep. 7)

This episode has more to do with Towelie’s spiraling drug problems than cannabis, but every Towelie episode is a gem, in my opinion. Parodying the reality series Intervention, this episode is structured like the A&E show and chronicles the boys’ efforts to get Towelie to kick his escalating drug addiction. They get him a job at a summer camp for children with physical and mental disabilities, but Towelie is fired when his drug use and destructive behavior persists. Eventually, Butters gets Towelie to go to rehab after he brings Towelie’s son “Washcloth” in to show him that he needs to get his life in order. (The rest of the episode centers on the summer camp, Lake Tardicaca, and the Looney Tunes-inspired one-sided rivalry between the shifty bully Nathan and a clueless Jimmy.)

Standout Quote: “You can all suck it! You’re all, you’re all a bunch of towels, that’s what you are!” – Towelie

Fun Fact: The episode features a version of “Are You Ready for the Summer?“, the theme song from the classic summer camp comedy Meatballs.

In honor of the four boys residing in that quiet little mountain town, here’s a look back at South Park‘s most amusing cannabis moments to-date.

South park smoking weed

Stan: I’ve been told a lot of things about pot, but I’ve come to find out a lot of those things aren’t true! So I don’t know what to believe!

Randy: Well, Stan, the truth is marijuana probably isn’t gonna make you kill people, and it most likely isn’t gonna fund terrorism, but… well, son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored. And it’s when you’re bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or being creative. If you smoke pot you may grow up to find out that you aren’t good at anything.

If you talk about LSD, and say, “I’ve had some amazing times on it, and other times I’ve had spiders in my eyes”, I think most people would be less likely to try it. Sure, not everyone, but still more than people saying just spiders in your eyes.

I mean, it’s a classical argument tactic, give something up to make your point more valid. But damned if it doesn’t work.

I guess you could say that occasional use is not a big problem for most drugs. But I wouldn’t recommend it, because most people go through some vulnerable time when they could become addicted (or otherwise abuse drugs), and at that time you don’t want to have the stuff in your house or a dealer friend ready to supply.

We dismiss people who join cults that sound crazy — an alien ship coming to rescue them or something — but I think a high percentage of people could be recruited if the cult appears at just the right time in their lives.

If you are a regular user of drugs, it’s like always having the cult recruiter in your house, just waiting for the right time.

Sometimes people do drugs to cope with their other problems in life. They need drugs as a reprieve. Life can be hard and people have used alcohol, pot and many other substances to create a refuge. Of course that doesn’t solve the problem, but solving the problem is not always the top priority, and many times the problem has no solution. Why should we morally deny a refuge from anxiety and suffering to other people?

I’m not suggesting we deny anyone anything. I’m answering the question: “why do we try to convince people not to use drugs?”.

It may not be the most harmful drug, but it’s certainly not harmless or non-addictive.

LSD can cause mental illness to emerge in some people. I also remember a study that gave LSD to 10 people during a religious sermon. 9 of them went on the be preachers or priests later in life. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. But anything with that powerful an effect on the mind is concerning.

Amphetamines certainly seem pretty cool. Especially if you have ADHD. But it definitely has side effects and potential for addiction. It’s long term effects are not well studied, and a few studies I did see were concerning. E.g. brain damage in monkeys, and a group of kids taking it did worse than the control group after 3 years.

I think people should be educated on the risks and facts before they decide to take a drug. If they still want to do it, fine. But at least they know the risks. And it’s not enough just to put a warning sticker on the back of it that no one reads. Even widespread education that a drug is dangerous isn’t enough. Everyone knows cigarettes cause cancer, but why do new people take up smoking?

I find that statement absurd, anything with an effect that powerful should be cherished! Would life be desirable if it were stripped from all emotions, as they too have a powerful effect on the mind? Even if you agreed to that, it wouldn’t be feasible as we are biological creatures and not pure rational beings. Denying that our biological self exists, with feelings and all, doesn’t solve anything. The spiritual experience you describe is just another part of the human condition, I don’t quite believe that 9 out of 10 people on LSD would become preachers, but I see how it can lead to a better understanding of religion. This doesn’t require superstition, quite the opposite. When you know that those effects are caused by LSD or substances contained in Mushrooms, ferns or cacti, you don’t need a higher power as an explanation for this peculiar state of mind. You might however find yourself coming to conclusions about life that other people on similar states of mind (whether induced by drugs or other means is irrelevant here) had before you, and who used the vehicle of religion to transport them.

So yes, psychedelics, as well as most drugs, should not be taken lightly, but banning them is like razing the Niagara Falls because someone might fall over the edge.

What if it became widespread and our society became super religious? What other irrational things can it convince people of?

I don’t know if they should be banned or not. I’m just saying they are not safe

Why do you condemn people that find something different to help them with that than you?

There is a difference in having a spiritual experience and merely following a ritual for the sake of the ritual.

It anything, more widespread LSD usage would make people less religious by your definition.

We don’t know that. All we know is that the drug made them become obsessed with something irrational.

Would you take something like that? Would you want something like that to become widespread? Do you want a society that is far more religious and devoted to their religion?

Please provide a link to said study where the words you use above are quoted from.

Otherwise you making just as much assumptions as pantalaimon

And on a personal level, would you want to take such a drug? Knowing it can convince you of something irrational and change your entire life path for the worse?

I’m no advocate of the claims that marijuana is “harmless” or, as some even claim, “good for you”. But harm is relative. Sitting in your chair all day is harmful. Eating half the food we do is harmful, as are most medications.

Arguing that marijuana is “not harmless” isn’t much of an argument at all.

And no, people should not try LSD. LSD leads to a high danger of psychosis or schizophrenia, and that is no fun at all. It is better not to risk it. Just because you may have gotten lucky so far, there is no reason to invite others to take spin on the russian roulette. If you have any mental illness in your family, it is strongly advisable you steer clear, but even if you don’t, it is not worth the risk.

“Drugs” is a legal delineation, not one of substance. Like every substance you consume, amount, frequency–and sometimes intent–matter far more than molecular composition.

In regard to LSD specifically, please note that the link to schizophrenia has since been proven null, and the individuals studied were already displaying signs of the disorder. Further research in more recent years, while limited, has been unable to find any correlation between incidents of mental illness and the use of hallucinogenics.

As per cannabis. without it I’d most certainly be addicted to Rx painkillers. I like knowing that if I travel or go somewhere it’s prohibited, I won’t suffer crippling withdrawals. In fact, aside from the return of a dull aching pain from chronic hyper-flexion, I wouldn’t notice anything other than increasingly vivid dreams caused by REM rebound. For me it’s a clear choice. It allows me to function, and unlike other pain management regimens, after 7 years its minimum effective dose (MED) despite daily administration remains unchanged; if I skip a day or 6 months, my pain is not magnitudes above baseline.

I’m not here to tout the benefits of marijuana, but to explain how drugs are an indifferent tool, and just because they are harmful in one context doesn’t mean we should discount their usefulness in another. Their value is relative.

Because of a substance, I can function. Because I can function, I’ve been able to nurture my business from 3 people to >500, and into the Fortune 1000. For others with traumatic disorders like PTSD, hallucinogenic therapy may hold promises anti-depressants have been unable to actualize. Regardless, generalizations like yours (while in good faith) prevent the regulatory changes needed to once again allow for open research.

In respect to the diversity of the human condition, I’d implore you to take a more laissez-faire approach: decide what’s right for yourself, not for others.

LSD: I’ve tried it a handful of times. The last time resulted in a strip so strongly horrifying I nearly stole a car with people in it to escape my extreme schizophrenic trip.

Note: I’ve never had any symptom of it before in my life, and it doesn’t run in my family. Nor do I believe I ever will. It was so extremely out of character, I know for a fact it was induced by the drug. In fact I think the dealer who gave it to my gave me a hugely high dose, which is a big danger of taking LSD from dealers.

Cannabis: It may be good for pain relief, I had stomach issues that I used it to help with for years. Then a doctor told me it could be causing my stomach pain. Look up “cannabinoid hyperemesis”. It was horrifying. The worst stomach flu you could imagine that lasted for weeks, and didn’t leave me for years. I don’t know if it was the weed, but I stay away from it now. I’ve had three different doctors talk about it (in different states), and all told me they have seen big spikes in stomach problems due to weed.

So, yea. Nothings black and white. Drugs are an “arbitrary” definition (as all definitions are) for “something that affects you strongly”. And anything that effects you strongly deserves a massive warning: if at all possible, don’t rely on it.

As for cannabis, the condition you’re referencing is exceedingly rare. In most cases the ER attendants I’ve known treating individuals with these symptoms have traced them back to synthetic “legal high” cannabinoid analogues, most of which are untested with an unknown toxicological profile. Their proliferation is a symptom of criminalization, and it is a burgeoning epidemic.

I can assure you your ‘stomach flu’ was not caused by cannabis, however there is some data to back up the link between dysphoria at high dosages and ghrelin (the precursor hormone that makes you hungry) deregulation with consistent usage. My extensive research has turned up no link between cannabis use and an altered micro-biome, but I think it’s fair to say both acute and chronic usage can lead to altered/dysfunctional eating patterns. It is also well-known for causing dry mouth, which makes oral hygiene especially important if one wishes to avoid candida-related side effects (occasionally linked with GI upset).

Also worth noting, cannabis use in adolescence is correlated with a higher prevalence of anxiety disorders, and can trigger or accelerate latent conditions in those already predisposed to mental illness. It’s not all fun and games, but it has a comparatively favorable side-effect profile to most similarly-indicated pharmaceuticals.

It’s a powerful drug but has incredible value when used properly. If you’re going to start wringing your hands over dangerous drugs, start with the killers of today: alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs.

South park smoking weed Stan: I’ve been told a lot of things about pot, but I’ve come to find out a lot of those things aren’t true! So I don’t know what to believe! Randy: Well, Stan, the