|Circa 1978: I'll play the odds and venture that I was stoned for this picture|
On January 25, 1975, my family was crowded around our kitchen table in Salem, Oregon, having dinner, when my mom asked me, out of the blue: "Dade, have you ever tried marijuana?"
I remember the date for two reasons: 1) It was two days before my thirteenth birthday, and 2) it was the last day of my life in which I could answer truthfully by saying "no." Which I did. I may even have been able to work up some affected indignation.
The very next day, I smoked pot for the first time with my friend, Daryl, and his older brother. Put it down to peer pressure. My two best friends (and when you're a tween, your friends are the wisest and most important people in the world) had already experimented and I found it unbearable that they had a shared experience from which I was excluded.
So, that's why I started smoking dope, nearly thirty-five years ago. Since then, I have had long stretches (years, in fact) during which I did not smoke at all. And there have been other stretches during which I have been stoned every day, all day.
Smoking dope is a lot less habit forming than is using caffeine, and nowhere near as dangerous to one's health as are nicotine or the Grand Daddy of all abused substances, alcohol. I say this as a result of my own experiences, but there is plenty of evidence to back me up.
- According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
- According to the American Cancer Society, nearly one in five cancer deaths in the United States are the result of cigarettes (nicotine).
"Unlike many of the drugs we prescribe every day, marijuana has never been proven to cause a fatal overdose." _Jocelyn Elders, MD in the Providence Journal, Mar. 26, 2004That's pretty definitive, isn't it?
I refuse to entertain arguments that there is anything at all immoral about marijuana. Anyone who makes the argument is misinformed and blatantly hypocritical.
Being "high" is much less likely to lead to abhorrent behavior than being drunk. Ask any cop which situation is more likely to become dangerous or violent: a confrontation with stoners or a confrontation with drunks? When I think back to the most shameful episodes of my own life, those memories almost invariably include using alcohol.
I've had conversations about this with persons who are close to me, persons who don't necessarily approve of my habit, and my argument usually boils down to this: in our society everyone takes drugs. Anti-depressants, coffee, aspirin, you name it. We take these drugs for some desired effect. So, how is marijuana any different?
Ganja makes me a more content, more tolerant person. It alters perspective, shifts viewpoint ever so subtly. It stimulates abstract thought, acts as an aphrodisiac. It enhances creativity.
Of course, like any drug, marijuana also has some less-than-desirable side effects. Torpor, lack of ambition, sloth. I've experienced those effects as well. But none have the same degree of negativity associated with it as say-- cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatic inflammation, or heart disease.
So, I was very pleased to read this in the news:
It's about time. Prosecuting sick people for using marijuana to alleviate their suffering is an injustice and a glaring example of the topsy-turvy priorities of our society. My state, Oregon, is one of fourteen states that allow for medicinal use of marijuana without fear of prosecution. It is good to know we no longer need be concerned about a reactionary federal government kicking down the doors of sick people and seizing their property because they dared to smoke ganja.The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday.
Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws.
The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes. --Huffington Post
But if it were up to me, marijuana would be legal and available to everyone.
Well, not for kids.
We wouldn't want any thirteen-year-olds smoking dope, would we?
Note: Apologies to my darling Maty, who will not be pleased that I have written this post.