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Demon weed or herb superb?

Because of an upcoming vote in California, I’ve been reading news stories lately about legalizing marijuana for personal use. They lead me to ask myself if I’d get high again. I say “again” because during what I call my “Lost Decade” (1972-82), sometimes I’d get high as soon as I got out of bed in the morning—even before putting my glasses on. As a friend used to say, “The early bird catches the buzz!”

Some things go better with pot: half a dozen glazed doughnuts the size of life preservers, for instance. One last hit of the roach can lead to such life-changing events as listening to music and offering a profound “whoa!” at the end; looking at a clock and not knowing what 4 o’clock means; or becoming a more effective communicator by relying on the phrase “oh, wow.”

Levity aside, being high can occasionally be unforgettable: seeing the stunning colors of indigo buntings and scarlet tanagers for the first time; finding temporary respite from the worries of the heart and soul; or truly treasuring time with people. It can result in real enlightenment: more fully realizing how God is ever present, or discovering the complex beauty of the simplest elements of nature. These revelations change worldviews.

Would any of this fun and profundity persuade me at age 62 to fire up a spliff of legalized herb superb? No. My Lost Decade has long since vanished over time’s horizon. The last time I got high was New Year’s Eve 1981. By that time, getting high led to ennui, not enlightenment. Hitting the bong nearly 35 years later would be a novelty, but that’s all it would be, and I would be disappointed in myself later.

I remember getting high for the first time. Part of the appeal was knowing it was illegal. Critics of legalizing weed, though, say marijuana laws dissuade people from smoking it. I disagree. In 2016, chances are that anyone who is curious about smoking pot already has smoked it.

Even so, legalizing marijuana would have social consequences: wasted drivers who have no business being on the roads; people who would try dangerous drugs because a smoking buzz isn’t enough; and money diverted from personal or family necessities to be spent on pot instead.

Then there are possible health consequences. I worry most about harm to the still-developing brains of teenagers and people in their early 20s. There was a reason my college friends and I referred to getting high as “blowing brains.” Blown brains result in a bizarre sense of reality, which can lead to actions like spending college loan money on stereo equipment, even though it meant not being able to afford college the next semester. (Not that I know anyone who did that.)

I’ve dealt with many college students with pot problems. They often don’t come to class or, if they’re physically present, they’re on one of Jupiter’s moons mentally. They don’t do the work and then get frustrated by their lack of success or, worse yet, they don’t care. They have trouble making and keeping friendships. Their self-esteem suffers, because marijuana shows them troubling things about themselves that they didn’t know. They lose their sense of direction and purpose. Who knows how many adult smokers would have adult versions of those problems should buying pot become as easy as buying liquor is.

There are substantial arguments to be made, though, for loosening restrictions on marijuana. Police resources could be redirected. Billions of dollars would no longer be wasted on what has been a futile, decades-long “war on drugs.” The racism of marijuana-related arrests and imprisonment would end.

Legalizing marijuana raises public health concerns, sure—but it also raises the question of possible health benefits. It’s reasonable to ask why cancer patients shouldn’t be allowed to smoke for relief of chemotherapy-related nausea or to stimulate their appetites. It seems to be much easier to obtain pot than it is to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana, and legalizing marijuana for recreational uses would ensure cancer patients would have a ready supply.

I suspect Big Pharma is buying anti-weed votes because weed is more cost-effective than their legal, overpriced pills. I also think Big Pharma is also behind the government’s insistence that recreational pot can’t be legalized until it’s been subjected to hundreds of controlled, clinical scientific studies on hundreds of thousands of people. (Irony alert:) This is a valid point because every drug the pharmacy industry brings to market has been subjected to rigorous, well-regulated scientific scrutiny for years, and as a result, these new medications never end up having serious side effects later. (End irony alert.) Chances are the pharmaceutical industry is already secretly lobbying for legalized marijuana to be available only through government-approved dispensaries, with Big Pharma aiming to be the only government-approved growers, but that’s a topic for another time.

If it were up to me, I’d say marijuana should be legal as long as the person smoking it does no harm to others. This is a tall but not-insurmountable hurdle. If someone gets high at night, listens to some music, has a glass of wine and then goes to bed, what’s the harm in it? Besides, people make decisions every day that harm their health. People smoke cigarettes. They drink alcohol. They don’t exercise. They eat unhealthy foods. They fail to get routine medical checkups. They don’t control their high blood pressure. But is society banning cigarettes, criminalizing alcohol, or outlawing junk food? No. All of us are paying for their behavior, but that is the price of personal liberty.

All of that being said, if marijuana were legal, I would say, “No thank you” if someone were passing around a fatty. I did enough damage to my brain during my Lost Decade that I can’t afford to endanger my remaining functioning synapses. Then again, we never truly know what we might do under certain circumstances.

It might eventually come down to whether glazed doughnuts were available.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 23rd, 2016 12:12 pm (UTC)
Living in a state with legal weed - perhaps one of the unintended consequences of the legal status is the preponderance of green 21 shops. They literally line the main road through our surrounding towns. They got legislated out to the main road by virtual of proximity to schools, daycares, churches, etc.

I saw one yesterday called 4H - Hype, Herbal, Holistic, Health. Had a good giggle at the new interpretation of 4H.

I am starting to see workforce issues for people involved in the legal trade. They can't get "regular" jobs to supplement their income (costs a lot to start a new business) - no one will touch them. I have a student that is not a user - but an innovative chemist that turned her science skills to the industry. She is sharp and would make an excellent employee for someone, but because she figured out some process to put the chemical in weed into consumables - she might as well have the scarlet A (or green cross) tattooed on her forehead.

This is a mess that will not right itself until the feds remove weed from the schedule 1 list. I agree that Big Pharma has a hand in this as well as a portion of this country that has an overdeveloped sense of needing to impose their "moral" guidelines on others.
May. 25th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
Teen-age kids all across your state are saying on the way out the door, "Bye Mom/Dad. I'm going to a 4H meeting!"
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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