Toxicological Purest’s – I Respect Your Position, But Get Off The High Horse

First off, some clarification. The term “toxicological purest” is a reference to anyone that has not ever used any drugs or other intoxicants. I could not think of any simple term to describe such a person, so I went with that.

When it comes to the origins of this piece, there is one that is fairly obvious (Gene Simmons’s reaction to the death of Prince). Though that was indeed part of it, there is more.
For one, I have a smart anti-intoxicant person in my life (I sense roots in Nietzschian philosophy in this case). And of course there is the anti- drug crowd. People that either swallowed the state propaganda blindly, or just had a bad anecdotal experience that clouded their view of the whole topic. Including people that fall victim to experts like Dr Drew (and ilk like him).

Uh . . . such an arrogant and condescending jerk off that
guy is. Though most of the docters on TV annoy me in various ways, none quite make me want to throw my TV out the window quite like Dr Drew does.
Him and his (seemingly) substandard rehab technique that has no less than 5 suicides associated with it. Unconfirmed associations (for the sake of honesty in reporting).
Though it annoys me that people still listen to tv quacks like Dr Oz, I do not despise him/them. Since as far as I know, there is no blood on his/their hands. Breach of the trust of his/their loyal viewers, yes.

But blood? No.

I will finish that rant, by allowing comedian Doug Stanhope to finish it for me.

Before moving on, I will acknowledge some forced exploration I have had on the topic of drugs over the years. I have always held a strong opinion on the subject. It has just, done a 180 to what it once was.

I have always been a sheltered child (and person really). Back in my teens I didn’t get out all that much. Unfortunately, this meant that I took school lessons about drugs quite seriously. For a long time, I thought that all drugs were bad, and that all people that did drugs were bad people.
Its an asinine view now, but back then, it made sense. The people that I knew to be drug users fit the profile.

But I needn’t have worried. Since life would later bring a long awaited bitch slap to my perceived reality.
That would occur after I learned that a couple of close friends of mine enjoyed toking some reefer regularly. It was one of those situations that you are not quite sure how to comprehend, since my stark and contrasting rules governing drugs and those that do them . . . did not apply.

Fortunately, it would lead first to a relaxation on my harsh judgement of what it was to be a druggy. Not exactly acceptance persay. But I acknowledged that usage of drugs (or at least marijuana) did not automatically render a person bad.

Full on acceptance would come from first hand experience. Which would happen after I moved out into my first apartment (with roommates). Though it only lasted about 6 months (if that), it was invaluable experience. Got to try out alcohol and marijuana for the first time. Also Salvia, by accident, in my very first hoot lol. Whether or not it had an affect, I have no idea. Im not even sure if the stuff is even still legal, truth be told (back then, the paraphernalia shops carried it).

Even if not, its still apparently available at the seed store and the supermarket garden center.

image

image

To think that I once told a relative (at age16 or 17) that I would not ever touch drugs, even alcohol. Its funny what accessibility can do to ones ethics.
Much like how I was once staunchly against music downloading. That was, until my house became DSL enabled and I discovered Limewire.

But yes, I once counted myself in the anti-drug category. Fortunately however, reality threw some nuance into my perceptions. Which would spur on a bout of curiosity. Which led to a fair amount of research online. And ending in, the final product.

I do not see much harm in partaking in soft drugs (marijuana, mushrooms). We already have a ready made distribution system in the one utilized for alcohol and tobacco (age verification required).
Considerations have to be made (at the personal level) for potential mental instabilities caused by any hallucinogenic substance. Though this is at times used as a tenant for the current status quo (illegal), its not a very good one.

Drugs and hallucinogens are not seen as being healthy for developing minds (children and teens). The current status quo on most such substances makes it incredibly easy for children and teens to get this stuff. Drug dealers do not check ID, or care about anything besides making a profit. You can say the same of legal drug venders to, but there is one key difference. A legal drug vender that is caught selling to a minor will face a steep fine (at least in Manitoba). Having worked in a convenience store and seen pretty much all my co-workers get nailed by fines of 5 grand (with the store sometimes coughing up twice that!), its a very good deterrent.
I was a stickler for ID, at times causing customer backlash, even an annoyed reaction of a co-worker. But the joke was on them, being that I never got fined in the 5 years in the position.

But, digression aside, measures are in place under law to protect children from legal substances. But they do not apply to illegal substances.

As for adults of legal age using the hallucinogenic drugs (no matter how they acquire them) and accidentally triggering latent or preexisting mental conditions, there is not a whole lot one can do. Being the relative rarity of such occurrences, its hardly a justification for absolute prohibition.
What could possibly help is awareness campaigns that encourage people to be knowledgeable of their families mental history. In the same way that safe sex campaigns help alleviate unwanted pregnancy and STI transmission, safe drug use campaigns could help steer people to more informed decisions. People will do what they want, but no law or precaution will 100% prevent that.

When it comes to harder drugs, I have not really come to a definitive conclusion.

I used to say that the resources freed up from chasing down ubiquitous marijuana could be better used on fighting the more dangerous substances like Heroin, Crack or Methamphetamine (and other derived cousins in this family). But further consideration has highlighted problems.

First, is the issue of, rinse and repeat. Using the same expensive and inefficient tactics, which will likely result in similar outcomes (not even making a dent). Not to mention that this does nothing to stop the inhumane impact of the current status quo. Legalized marijuana gets rid of a huge amount of unfair and ultimately illogical punishments (often concentrated towards minorities) , but leaving harder drugs illegal still throws addicts under the bus. Makes it seem reasonable to throw people that could benefit from rehabilitation, into the prison system.

Second, I have to take into consideration a persons free will. People should have the freedom to do what they want (in the context of their own body). So long as it does not threaten anyone else (such as driving under the influence).

People set their sights on eradicating the hardest of drugs for arguably, the right reasons. They wreck havoc on individuals, families, communities. But this view overlooks substances on the legal side of the spectrum. Things like alcohol, nicotine, and pharmaceuticals (some of which are far more powerful and addicting than any illegal substance). No one (or at least, few) is/are calling for the prohibition of these things.
And rightfully so.
Because we already know what will happen if you simply prohibit a substance without dealing with its addicts. Where there is a market, someone will fill it. Whether its Al Capone, Pablo Escobar or El Chapo.

Over all, its a matter of choice. If people are going to be making the choice to chase down a substance anyway, a simple prohibition will not work. As is evidenced by the failure of alcohol prohibition, and the 50 year long failed war on drugs.

Now, is legalization of every substance across the board the answer?

I am hesitant to say yes. In a dichotomy, the polar opposite is rarely the best response to a situation. That said however, Portugal seems to have had good luck in reducing their number of addicts by legalizing substances across the board (in combination with enriching treatment facilities).

I don’t know where the best answer lies. I suppose that the best that everyone can do is learn from each others policies (nations). Indeed . . . good luck getting the arrogant United States to heed that advice!

Which leads into another separate, yet related topic. Treatment centres, and addiction treatment in general.

Though I am not sure I would go as far as saying that there is no such thing as addiction (as hypothesized by Doug Stanhope in the bit linked previous), I do agree with the criticism of the rehabilitation process. Processes that often attempt to brainwash a person away from addiction, by way of religion. Even if which one exactly remains undefined, there lies a problem with forcing ALL recovering addicts to accept a higher power. Forcing all to accept that they are weaker than a much stronger and omnipotent force that is beyond all reason.

Some may sing praises of the process, having experienced its benefits (or having observed the benefits in others). But though there are success stories, there are MANY failures. Which isn’t really surprising, being that a sure way to ensure relapse is to convince a person of their weakness. Or more aptly, to ensure that a persons guilt will be their worst enemy.

But most of all, the issue I have with AA type programs, is the shoehorning of religion into someones life when they are most vulnerable to it. At a time when they are least equipped to fight conversion with internal intellect, this dogma swoops in and makes itself at home.

Atheists often look down upon childhood indoctrination. And for good reason.
In all honesty, I think that pushing this dogma during a painful (and potentially fatal) period of a persons life, is almost as bad. Possibly worse, when one factors in that in most areas, no alternatives to AA exist. People could be dying unnecessarily due to an over reliance on a flawed concept.

Speaking of alternatives to AA, the Ra Man podcast did a segment with a fellow who presented an atheist alternative to AA. And it (apparently) has had a much higher turnout rate than that of typical AA programs. Also mentioned in the program, is how Alcoholics Anonymous is actively attempting to block alternatives.

“Wait . . .what?!”

I know . . .

https://youtu.be/uTZ8TF415ks

Thus concludes (more or less) how I ended up getting to where I stand on the issue of drugs today. And treatment (a subtopic that I have never explored before). But the point of this piece was not as much exploration as it was criticism.

When it comes to those that form a sense of arrogance due to their chemical virginity (purity?), they seem to fall into 2 categories. One I will call the anti-intoxicants. And the other, the anti-drugs.

Those that are anti-intoxicant have enough formal education into areas of human behavior (such as psychology) to form a valid contradictory opinion on the subject.
Anti-drug people on the other hand, often parrot and repeat propaganda taught in school, or elsewhere. Though one does not need drug experience to form a valid opinion, they must have looked deeper into the subject than, well, I did when I was younger.

Gene Simmons, I would put in the anti-drug category. This article written by his son Nick (a good piece. It isn’t what you think) seems to confirm my choice. Though he has a philosophy and life experience in a drug soaked world, he still lacks any intellectual tact. Though we knew that already due to the Prince comments.

Having said all of that, no matter why you chose not to partake in drugs, this is not an edge up on anyone else.

You can take pride in it, view it as an achievement (you fought, and triumphed, over peer pressure). You can extol the virtues you find in sobriety. You can argue against the notion that one is missing out on a life experience by not partaking in substances. And you can even disagree with the common belief that states drug use (particularly hallucinogen use) stimulates creativity.

But if you think that your status as a drug virgin makes you somehow better than the rest of us, let me be the one to grab you off that high tower and smack you in the face.

Because your not.

Harper : “Marijuana Infinitely Worse Than Tobacco, Should Be Discouraged”

http://globalnews.ca/news/2256800/marijuana-infinitely-worse-than-tobacco-should-be-discouraged-harper/?utm_source=NewsletterNational&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=2015

So it is election season. Though the American election is getting the most coverage world wide, things are starting to heat up on this side of the boarder as well.

Election day for us Canadians is October 19th, about 2 weeks from now. All the candidates will be stepping up their game in the hopes of getting you in the voting both, and ticking their name off on the ballot. Which means that I can expect to see a whole lot of junk mail in the coming days.

And in keeping to this profile of scaring the electorate by smearing the opposition, Stephan Harper has taken on marijuana at a recent (and the last) leaders debate. In a move made to throw a blow at his biggest opposition, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, he has attacked him on one of his most popular stances, marijuana legalisation. Stating (as noted in the title of this piece) that the substance is infinitely more harmful than tobacco, and should be discouraged.

I have some stuff to say about this rhetoric. But lets save my opinion for later. First, I will check into the claim. That marijuana is infinitely worse than tobacco.

Oh REALLY? Let us explore this hypothesis.

Here we have one study, from Mark Pletcher of the University Of California (at San Francisco, or UCSF).

A large-scale national study suggests low to moderate use of marijuana is less harmful to users’ lungs than exposure to tobacco, even though the two substances contain many of the same components.

This comprehensive study, led by UCSF and University of Alabama at Birmingham, collected data from more than 5,000 U.S. adults for more than 20 years.

Smoking cigarettes can cause significant lung damage, including respiratory symptoms, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. It accounts for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one in every five deaths, each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data for the long-term effects of marijuana use on the pulmonary system has been scarce until now.

“We found exactly what we thought we would find in relation to tobacco exposure: a consistent loss of lung function with increasing exposure,” said the paper’s lead author, Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at UCSF. “We were, however, surprised that we found such a different pattern of association with marijuana exposure.” 

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/01/11282/marijuana-shown-be-less-damaging-lungs-tobacco

But there is a bit of a caviot that must be taken into consideration. That being, most of the marijuana smokers were recreational users, as opposed to the regular usage of the tobacco smokers.

“An important factor that helps explain the difference in effects from these two substances is the amount of each that is typically smoked,” Pletcher said. “Tobacco users typically smoke ten to 20 cigarettes/day, and some smoke much more than that. Marijuana users, on average, smoke only two to three times a month, so the typical exposure to marijuana is much lower than for tobacco.”

“And marijuana is one where a lot of people dabble with it in their late teens and 20s, and some people continue with relatively low levels for a long period of time,” Kertesz added.

That is extremely recreational usage, I would have thought. Or, maybe not. If the average recreational user lights up once a week, with 4 weeks in a month, 3 times would be a foreseeable average.

As for effects of heavy usage on the body, those results were inconclusive due to the rarity of such users in the test population.

Researchers believe the results can supplement the growing body of knowledge about beneficial aspects of low to moderate marijuana use in controlling pain, stimulating appetite, elevating mood and managing other chronic symptoms.

“Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function,” Pletcher said. “On the other hand, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavier use – either very frequent use or frequent use over many years – and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”

Otherwise known as, a combination of everything the pro-marijuana side has ever said, combined with a dash of common sense. Even water can be dangerous if you consume it in large quantities. In fact, water can be DEADLY when consumed in to great an amount.

Water intoxication provokes disturbances in electrolyte balance, resulting in a rapid decrease in serum sodium concentration and eventual death.The development of acute dilutional hyponatraemia causes neurological symptoms because of the movement of water into the brain cells, in response to the fall in extracellular osmolality. Symptoms can become apparent when the serum sodium falls below 120 mmol/litre, but are usually associated with concentrations below 110 mmol/litre. Severe symptoms occur with very low sodium concentrations of 90–105 mmol/litre. As the sodium concentration falls, the symptoms progress from confusion to drowsiness and eventually coma. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1770067/

Water . . . infinitely more dangerous than marijuana! You heard it here first!

But to be fair, this is not the only study that has been done on marijuana use recently. There was another that made headlines not long ago. Lets see if we can dig that puppy up for study.

The research team studied 48 adult marijuana users and 62 gender- and age-matched non-users, accounting for potential biases such as gender, age and ethnicity. The authors also controlled for tobacco and alcohol use. On average, the marijuana users who participated in the study consumed the drug three times per day. Cognitive tests show that chronic marijuana users had lower IQ compared to age-and gender-matched controls but the differences do not seem to be related to the brain abnormalities as no direct correlation can be drawn between IQ deficits and OFC volume decrease.

“What’s unique about this work is that it combines three different MRI techniques to evaluate different brain characteristics,” said Dr. Sina Aslan, founder and president of Advance MRI, LLC and adjunct assistant professor at The University of Texas at Dallas. “The results suggest increases in connectivity, both structural and functional that may be compensating for gray matter losses. Eventually, however, the structural connectivity or ‘wiring’ of the brain starts degrading with prolonged marijuana use.”

Tests reveal that earlier onset of regular marijuana use induces greater structural and functional connectivity. Greatest increases in connectivity appear as an individual begins using marijuana. Findings show severity of use is directly correlated to greater connectivity.

Although increased structural wiring declines after six to eight years of continued chronic use, marijuana users continue to display more intense connectivity than healthy non-users, which may explain why chronic, long-term users “seem to be doing just fine” despite smaller OFC brain volumes, Filbey explained.

“To date, existing studies on the long-term effects of marijuana on brain structures have been largely inconclusive due to limitations in methodologies,” said Dr. Filbey. “While our study does not conclusively address whether any or all of the brain changes are a direct consequence of marijuana use, these effects do suggest that these changes are related to age of onset and duration of use.”

http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-shows-marijuanas-long-term-effects-on-the-brain

I remember this study because I recall calling bullshit on it at the time on Facebook (and possibly in an entry here). I called bullshit, because the focus was only on the very heaviest of users (up to 3 times daily, for years at a time).

But now that we have seen both studies and now that I the layman can put them up side by side, I can make a judgement. A judgement that seemed obvious already, but a judgement that the data now seems to back. That judgement being, marijuana is a relatively benign and harmless drug.

Both the studies I utilized were missing some crucial data, but both also filled in for the others voids.
Recreational and prolonged usage of weed is not likely to cause harm. However, heavy and prolonged usage can have detrimental effects. In context, as does heavy and prolonged usage of ANY other drug, legal or illegal.

But one of the most glaring (and my favorite) stats . . . water (by way of overconsumption) has more deaths attributed to it than marijuana.

Otherwise known as, Stephan Harper is infinitely full of shit. SUCH a surprise.

I suspect that he knows this. But he also knows who his demographic is. It is plainly obvious in the city I live in. The CPC could likely run a monkey and still get a victory in the Brandon–Souris riding. Though to be fair, the current candidate is a LOT less comparable to a monkey than his precursor Also, I do not think of Nixon’s quote (“I am not a crook!”) every time I see his picture somewhere.

But at the same time, I can not call out Harper and the Conservatives for pandering to their base (which has a large percentage that are anti-marijuana, likely due to ignorance of the substance) without calling out the Liberals for doing the same thing. Using the marijuana legalization issue, Justin Trudeau is doing exactly the same thing.
Since the younger demographic tends to lean towards the left and are quite progressive (and often not politicly active), this makes him a great candidate for many people.

Don’t get me wrong, its great to have candidates that inspire people to participate in the electoral system (even Donald Trump has managed to do this). But I also hesitate if these people are voting on largely one issue alone (marijuana) without seeing what else comes with the package.

And therein lies some issues I have to overcome before I cast my ballot in approximately 2 weeks time.

First of all, it is great to have a choice in candidates (as contrasted to the R and D of the US choices). But it presents some challenges in choice, if your a person like me (has no inherent political allegiances).

It goes without saying that Steven Harper and his conservatives are NOT getting my vote. Though his candidate (Larry Maguire) seems like a fairly likable guy in his own right, his allegiances are misaligned. Not only is there all the various scandals of the CPC in the last few years, but also the financial irresponsibility demonstrated on the local level with our local CPC candidates.
We had to have a by-election around 2 years ago because of conservative candidates that decided to cut short political careers to chase their own ambitions.
Merv Tweed (then our representative) accepted a position in the private sector, thus leaving a vacancy in the Brandon–Souris riding. And on top of that, Larry Maguire (then MLA of the Arthur–Virden riding) decided to vacate his seat there and run in the Brandon–Souris campaign. Decisions that not just left the taxpayers with a bill for the by-election itself, but also a bill for 2 different severance buy outs (though Maguire says that he donated his to charity).

Not that I care much about how I am perceived by others, but that is why I do not like the Conservative candidates, local or federal.image

If in opposition to many people politicly (or otherwise differing to whatever ideological box they place themselves into), many will default to “Well, your obviously Liberal/NDP supporter!”, using the stance as a pejorative. And to be fair, they may be right in many cases. Woefully lacking in self awareness, but none the less correct.

I am not against the conservatives, just because they are of opposing views to me. I am against conservatives, because their party leader is a shady individual that mirrors a GOP republican more and more with each passing year, and their local candidate has proven himself irresponsible of the taxpayer dime if it gets in the way of forwarding his ambitions.

This leaves us with 3 other parties, them being the Liberals, New Democrats and the Greens.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are going to be the major contender to the Harpers Conservatives. His scrappy nature and seemingly progressive platform (or at least young voter friendly platform) is going to be a a major selling point. And he will also have the many scandals of the Conservative party working in his favor.

But at the same time, one does not want to count out the other 2 (The NDP and the Greens) due to the gains they made last time around. Though Tom Mulcair is certainly not on the level of his precursor, I acknowledge that as an unfair comparison. One should not be judged on how they compare to another’s legacy, but more on what they do for the party moving forward.
Back in 2012, the NDP did very good. And being the world seems to be riding a wave of progressive liberalism as of late (they took Alberta!), the future may be bright for the NDP.

Another party that could ride the wave of popularity, is the Green Party. Last election, the Greens also made big gains. And locally, the candidate is familiar because he is an old high school teacher.

So I will have to spend some time studying the candidates, figuring out where to best put my X.

When it comes to having many parties to choose from, it can get difficult if your side of the spectrum becomes fragmented. The right figured that out 20 years ago when they disbanded the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party) to form the current Conservative Party of Canada.

One choice of the left is the Liberal Party. Some equate it as the Canadian version of the Democrats. To these peoples credit, both parties currently have a dynasty parallel. But whatever issues one may find, they are still the most likely to boot the Conservatives of all the available choices (some would even call a vote for the NDP or green party wasted).

But one has to be careful with that logic. Had everyone listened to that last election, the NDP would not have made official opposition, and the Green Party would not have earned their first seat EVER. The status quo parties would still reign. And not be either brushed aside, or win with but a minority status.

Its sure to be an interesting 2 weeks. I can not wait to see what exciting stuff will show up in the mail (and in the media!) in these last days of Canadian Election 2015.

420 – A Marijuana Post

420-coming-soon

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.

Marijuana

Image

One thing I have not really mentioned on the “about me” page, nor in my intro entry, is that im a pro marijuana/soft drugs guy. I even have a facebook group dedicated to the cause (but like my others, it does not get a whole lot of activity). The photo above is a large part of exactly WHY i am pro-legalization.

One of my big reasons is, I could not find a legal drug that is as harmless as cannabis. Even when you start at the very bottom of the ladder!

-Caffeine (addictive, can overdose)

– Alcohol (VERY addictive, can overdose)

– Tabacco (addictive, very destructive to health over the long term. Can overdose)

– Various over the counter medications (See photo)

– Various prescription meds (see photo)

And one of the funniest things to me about the whole situation, is that there are many anti-legalization people that partake in various combinations of the above “legal” drugs. Likely because of previous misconceptions and beliefs from dishonest school drug education programs and parents, but no less hypocritical. A part of me is inclined to put them in the same category as the religious, but there’s a reason I won’t.

Most christians and theists with a web presence and a desire to “spread the word”, have run into folks like me, the ATHEISTS. Haha.

And they usually run from our groups with there tails between there legs. And censor us in there groups, and kick our heathen asses out when we misbehave (aka, ask questions. lol). And when not in control of content, they use the report button and cause all kinds of irritation and annoyance. Ive been forum surfing FB for the last 5 or so years, and I know many of the tricks of the fundaMENTAList pain in the asses.

But that’s another entry . . .

In any case, theists have many people questioning there thoughtless assertions regarding there chosen brand of god. Online the conversations are all over the place, and not hard to find. But honest and factual drug conversation, is a different story. Which is why I am not quick to put the anti-drug folks in with the theists.

If there is one thing I want to bring up on this topic (that I don’t often get to elsewhere, because of prying eyes), its the amount of HARM police do by riding the streets of green. At different times over the years, I have been around people calling around for some ganja. And many of these times, I heard “I have no green, this town is dry right now. But I do have snow, or rock”.

Yes. The police got the cannabis off the streets and kept it out of the hands of stoners and kids alike. Only NOW, since a business man sells anything he has to make a profit, they have now possibly driven the kids to moving UP the ladder, and possibly trying something a WHOLE lot more dangerous.

And to a degree, we see a form of this, when you hear the harm/deaths associated with things like “synthetic marijuana” or “bath salts”. Im shooting in the dark here (I admit), but im thinking its one of 2 things:

a.) weed is hard to get

or

b.) They have been taught that illegal = BAD, and automatically assume that legal = good (the stuff can be purchased almost anywhere! Its easy to think someone young would assume it harmless)

One can not have a post like this without referencing Alcohol prohibition. That worked so well, that it stayed on the books. Right?

Which brings us to the demand aspect. Even though the LAW said no alcohol, the consumer demand does not dwindle and die. It looks for another source. To which the underworld happily filled, reaping all the illegal (tax free!) profits, and left the public (tax payers!) to deal with the increased crime rates associated with enabling a criminal racket. And when you give a crime ring more money, they get more powerful.

We seen it then. We see it now. All you have to do is look to the state of Mexico at the moment.

And then there is the financials.

At the moment, gov’ts world wide waste BILLIONS of dollars, resources (and at times) lives, trying to fight an UN-winnable battle against weed. In a period when every penny counts, were still throwing money at people to use expensive whack-a-mole techniques to chop a twig off the tree. Its like using a bucket to drain Lake Superior.

Which is stupid, when you consider that with the right legislation, marijuana could be a VERY profitable cash crop the world over. If handled and sold in the same ways we already sell alcohol and tobacco, the possibilities for the economy are HUGE.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/11/20/bc-pot-market-value-tax.html

Imagine if the US began producing its own pot. The first ramification I can see, is the cash flow to the cartel would quickly dry up. The 2ed, is the drug would become harder to get by young people, as it would be sold in the same way as alcohol/tabbaco/other legal narcotics. And it would take a HUGE burden off of law enforcement, allowing them to concentrate on getting that drugs that really DO harm or kill people (Crack, cocain, meth ect) off the streets.

Someday, it could happen. But it won’t, unless we spread the truth about Marijuana. Dispel rampant misconceptions.