Its that time of year once more. Its Hitler’s birthday!
Just kidding. Its a day where stoners everywhere celebrate their herb and the culture surrounding it, by smoking it to excess. Sometimes (often times?) even in public (if they happen to be in one of the islands of legality, or if the police in their location take a day off in enforcing its criminalization).
I have smoked pot, but not for a really long time. Its been years. But I am on your side stoners.
This period of my life was not when I was younger, not while in high school. Back then, I (for the most part) unconsciously labeled users of ALL drugs as bad people. A hangover from the “drug education” that I had taken all though my school career, which remained largely unchallenged by reality due to my growing up in a very much self imposed state of isolation. I had very few “close” friends (maybe 4), but didn’t even see them much. 2 of those I knew to be a marijuana users, but they mostly fit my “profile” of what a drug user looked like, so I never really gave it a second thought.
It was not until sometime later that this slowly begun to change, as I learned that people around me that I considered close friends (or otherwise as good people) were recreational to frequent marijuana users.
I remember that it was quite a pill to swallow, and I didn’t know how to contextualize it. I suppose its in a sense how many theists turn atheists feel at first, upon waking up to “reality”. I see the information, but I am not quite sure how to react to it, since it stands in direct opposition of my previous conclusions.
At that point, I must have (more or less) just shoved the mess over to the side mentally, because I don’t remember struggling with it until a couple years later.
Later came, upon moving out and on my own at the age of 18 and a few months (well, for a short while. About 6 months).
Since turning 18 I had been “experimenting” a bit with the party scene with co-workers of mine. This in itself was a big step, since I was against ALL drugs up until then (including alcohol).
Thinking back now, I forgot to consider caffeine in with the substances I had concluded should be prohibited (energy drinks were a big thing for me back then). Even though I found it quite hypocritical for the teaching staff to be bringing in cups of Tim Horton’s for themselves almost daily. The things we miss 🙂 .
But either way, 18 was an age of breaking many barriers. The first to go was alcohol. My first beer taught me the good side (its quite relaxing), my first binge (and then my first hangover) taught me the “bad” side. But I learned that it was not the bogyman I once thought it was.
Although its a substance I am still quite careful with (having a relative with a major addiction to it that I suspect will never disappear).
And marijuana was present where I was living at the time, and used fairly regularly by occupants. And I was asked if I wanted to participate.
It was something that I always avoided, due to my internal dialog. Though I was always curious of what it was like, and quite often kicked myself later for not experimenting. Yet my internal dialog, just would not let me do it.
For anyone wondering what the heck I am talking about with my “internal dialog”, its basically, that little voice inside you that dictates life. I am unsure what it is like for other people, but when I am apprehensive of a situation, it is EXTREMELY difficult for me to override those fears and make a decision.
Which can make life quite difficult at times, since its often easier to put a decision off or just say no (even though it often means remaining stagnant). Even though past “overrides” of this reluctance have moistly utilized positive results, its still a formidable opposition.
But, importantly to this piece, I did manage to put it all aside and have a first toke. Which turned out apparently to be mixed with Salvia (back then, legal here. Not sure what the status is now). And the result was positive. As it was on the handful of occasions that I tried it since then.
The only “bad” experience that I can recall was when me and a roommates friend smoked up, and he left, leaving me alone. Which suddenly made me paranoid.
For some reason, I was paranoid of the cops, so I opened all the windows to the apartment to try and clear the air. Then my phone started ringing somewhere on the couch, but I was apparently to baked to figure out where the sound was coming from (or to think of turning on a light, since the room was dark).
I then decided to go for a walk for some reason, ending up lost 5 blocks away after everything visually took a weird turn. It become real dark, and it seemed that some streets were pointing upwards, while others were pointing downwards. I started walking down one, to see a long building lite by bright orange lighting, which for some reason I interpreted as something military. But after a bit I realized that it was a nearby strip mall, which reoriented me. And on the way back I was “found” by my roommate lol. Who wondered why all the windows were open.
That is, about all the experience I have had with the herb. In terms of addiction potential, it was a feeling that I enjoyed and did want to repeat. But then again, so was drunkenness (to a degree anyway).
Since then I have done quite a bit of research on marijuana, and many other drugs (even quite uncommon stuff) online, mostly out of curiosity and boredom. Erowid was one of my main sources (including the vast experience vaults for the many substances), but it was not the only source.
Either way, after taking into account both my experience and what research is available, I could only conclude that the current status quo reaction to marijuana is ridiculous. And as such, I tried to mount various facebook campaigns (in the form of groups and Pages) to just get a conversation started (even if just between my friends). But I was throttled, because it seems that most stoners can’t be bothered to stand up for their own cause. I had a group that was stocked with “stoner” members and updated with provocative material. But never any bites.
So it became a case of “if you don’t want to fight for it, why should I?!”, to which I gave up on that aspect. The pages remain, but are largely inactive (even now).
But, like anything else I have a strong opinion on, I do not shy away from sticking up for my side if the opportunity presents itself. And it has, a couple of times.
Its often amusing because my opposition often assumes right off the bat that I am just a stoner on the defensive (often insulting my intellect based on that). The only thing more laughable then that not being frowned upon in a “legitimate” debate, is often the reasoning behind the stance. For example, “I have been a social worker for 35 years, and I have seen parents neglect their children because of their marijuana addiction!”.
I do not doubt that. But, does this mean that you have never come across a family that was ravaged by alcohol? Or some extremely powerful over the counter narcotic? Have you ever encountered an abusive alcoholic?
Though the answer COULD be no, I find that HIGHLY doubtful, being the usage rate of the substances in question.
When it comes to marijuana, I think that both sides have a tendency to, present things wrongfully.
Lets start with using the word “harmless” as an adjective to describe it. This is a word that can be utilized, but you need context. If you are making a comparison with morphine, heroin or even Alcohol, then yes, by contrast marijuana is harmless. Its body count alone is good evidence.
But I hesitate to say its COMPLETELY harmless, because it is after all, a psychoactive drug. I have heard the argument that smoking pot is not harmful and even “reverses cancer”, but I hesitate at believing that smoking ANYTHING is harmless. Look what it does to your utensils of the trade. Thats not even a portion of what your lungs are taking on.
And then there is driving on pot, and other activities while high. Some studies apparently show little to nil affects on operation of a vehicle (compared to similar amounts of alcohol), but I still hesitate (and default to what my common sense tells me).
When we are arguing for legalization, I think that we have to be careful and just stick with what we know. And to a degree, what would fall into the category of “common sense” to the every day individual.
It may be true that you can not get cancer from smoking marijuana, or that its intoxication has little affect on motor skills required to operate a vehicle. But I guarantee that those arguments will only be a hindrance.
So stick to its most obvious strong points, including its quite tame nature comparatively to even every already legalized drug on the market (particularly its lack of an overdose body count).
When it comes to drugs, if I were to measure my personal addiction potential, I would not even put marijuana on the list. The only things I would put on the list are nicotine and caffeine.
In later grade 12, I begun to experiment with little fruit flavored cigarillos. A close friend was an avid user of them, and I didn’t understand. Until I took a puff.
This activity increased when I started working at a c-store and got access to more flavors. Eventually the cigarette made me curious, which caused me to first buy menthols and cigarillos. Then just cigarettes.
My smoking increased quite a bit after some drama and a falling out in my circle of friends (a sting that never really went away). But after awhile, I guess I decided I was ready to quit (or more like, that this habit/addiction was ridiculous!) and I tossed the smokes and lighter I had on me into a dumpster in my ally.
Not gonna lie, it was replaced the very next day. But from that first trashed pack onward, I never finished smoking a whole pack since. And the time between “relapses” has only grown longer.
Every so often (maybe once or twice yearly, if even) I fall off the wagon again. But its rarely for more then 1 or 2 smokes. And I do not really chastise myself for relapsing, seeing it as not being useful.
Caffeine I don’t have as much of an issue with, but its an ever present staple, be it in coffee, tea or some drink or other (including the occasional energy drink). I don’t really plan to eliminate caffeine. But I sometimes have headaches that seem to coincide with my non-caffeine consumption days, so I do sometimes wonder if there is a correlation (or if im just paranoid).
Thus concludes my piece on this 20th day of April. An explanation of a life experience that even I find amusing. My 180 from being 100% anti-drugs in my teens and earlier (well, 80 to 95% anyway), to being very open minded later. Partially with the help of experience, partly on account to education.
I never really went any further then marijuana on my personal journey. Despite this, I am somewhat favorable to such substances as shrooms, acid, and maybe even ecstasy. Truth be told, I can’t see myself as ingesting any of the above. With the first 2, because I can’t see my current mental state as being conducive to a “good” experience. And as for ecstasy, though many people around me (some of them living quite normal and productive lives) have reported good experiences, I just don’t trust it. Particularly in recent years, when it seems that ones hears more and more about such drugs being formulated with such nasty and addictive substances as amphetamines (more propaganda? One can never be sure).
I used to find myself in disagreement with those that argued for the legalization of all drugs, but truth be told, further thought processes have also reversed this. I used to consider money spent on fighting such substances as marijuana as wasted, when it could be better utilized such deadly substances as crack/cocaine or heroin. But I realize now, that such a measure would only increase the presence of such substances (as the market for the lighter stuff dries up).
If the market is fully opened up (and regulated for quality), the funding allocated to fighting such substances can be better spent on education (leading hopefully to prevention on a large scale), and treatment.
Throwing addicts with addictions into prison does not cure them. And playing an expensive (and losing!) game of whack a mole with drug traffickers and peddlers will never stem the flow or the demand. As American society should have learned from prohibition. Another thing America should have learned from prohibition was the dangerous underground outfits that such prohibitions will help to fund. Back then, it was gangsters like Al Capone. Today, its cartel leaders like Pablo Escobar (and current successive leaders).
Marijuana prohibition is rife with problems, on most every level.
Toxicology wise, its placement as a schedule 1 narcotic in most nations is ridiculous (it is not extremely dangerous, compared to even many pharmaceuticals currently on the market). In the US, there tends to be a huge racial disparity in terms of enforcement (minorities tend to be targeted far more then Caucasians). For those who are targeted, a drug sentence for even a small amount can be life altering, with such a record often destroying future educational and job prospects.
And whilst the authorities are fighting to keep these substances out of the country, not only are they being replenished at a never ending rate, but they are also being substituted and replaced and by ever more risky substances.
First, there is the problem with leaving quality control to your run of the mill dealer or basement chemist. They are not Walter White, they only care about the money, not about the quality of the product (or how many people it may kill).
And of course there is the ever growing list of risky “alternative” substances pouring into the marketplace. “Molly” comes to mind (a spin on MDMA/Ecstasy, if I remember correctly). Then there are “bath salts”. And even “synthetic marijuana”. Crocodile is another, particularly nasty substance in this category.
So while the authorities are busy trying to stem the flow of the traditional intoxicants, they also have an ever changing (and at times totally legal, at least initially) flood of these alternate substances to deal with. With things like bath salts, the chemists can often skirt the laws by simply changing the chemical formulation slightly. They may have 5 new formulas for every 2 banned.
All of this, all unnecessary. If there were legally available, and legally regulated sources of a great many of these substances, I can almost guarantee that this “alternative” narcotics industry would evaporate overnight.
For those wanting the typical substances, most will choose the quality (why gamble, when you don’t have to!). For others, why would you need an “alternative”, if the real deal is easy enough to get?
This is particularly true of such substances as “synthetic marijuana”.
Then there is, the children. The staple of many opposing arguments to legalization. Though I for the life of me, can not imagine where they get that logic.
When it comes to the sale of substances such as alcohol and tobacco at current, it is age restricted. And there are steep fines to breaking this restrictions and selling to a minor (at least in Canada). It IS still possible for children to get alcohol and tobacco, but it is usually not nearly as easy as it is to get other illicit substances. Because most drug dealers do not care about age verification, they care about MONEY.
And, back to the topic of “bath salts” and “synthetic marijuana”. In many cases (at least in the US), these substances apparently are often not even age restricted. And available in plentiful amounts in many nearby locations, such as gas stations and convenience stores. How stupid is THAT?!
Long story short, the system at current has been a 5 decade long disaster. And it will not change (and continue to do more harm then good) unless it is DRASTICALLY reformed.