Marijuana reform is finally becoming an issue on the American political scene. After five decades of both parties marching in lockstep due to terror at being viewed as “soft on drugs”. The main factor changing public opinion seems to be the medicinal movement. Cancer and AIDS patients have known about marijuana’s pain and nausea relieving properties for years. But now there is this groundswell of interest where more applications come to light every day it seems. And the medicinal case is relatable to every segment of society.
Everyone’s had a loved one or close friend that has endured cancer. And worse, the side effects from conventional treatments. How can we conscience giving them highly addictive, widely abused narcotics and deny them marijuana? Millions have seen the story of Charlotte Figi: a small child who suffered from severe and uncontrollable seizures until oils extracted from a specially cultivated strain, one with no euphoric effect, was tried.
I personally know two men living with the after effects of severe head trauma. One was a successful businessman before his accident. The other a skilled marine mechanic. They both swear that smoking a joint does more to ease their headaches and pain than any handful of pills. And they don’t mind the euphoria one little bit. That’s part of the medicinal effect really.
Which is where we get to the heart of it. All marijuana is medicinal. Life is and always has been tough. People need a way to relax and unwind. We’re all dealing with something. Thankfully for most of us it’s not anything as life altering as a head injury. But everyone needs a little euphoria once in a while. It “makes glad the heart of man”. It helps you open your mind up to more possibilities in your life and life in general. And when used responsibly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
This of course is the viewpoint of someone who has spent his entire life around the “Drug Counter-Culture”. Which means that I know enough to have an opinion. My knowledge of the issue extends past the JUST SAY NO propaganda campaign. I’ve seen the needle and the damage done by hard drugs. Promising, intelligent people from all walks of life who for some reason no one else could fathom, chose a path of addiction and self destruction.
It’s always tragic, and no one deserves that kind of misery. But nobody else can be responsible for the choice except that individual. Not their parents, family, or friends. And certainly not the government. At some point we all have to take responsibility for our lives.
For this reason the gateway drug argument is a dead end. I’ve seen it many times. Mild euphoria is never going to be enough for some people. They continually seek stronger and stronger substances until they find the right one. There is always something stronger and someone selling it. Most hard core addictive types are now turning to pills. Because they are both readily available and reliable. No telling how many times that street level heroin may have been stepped on. But if it says Pfizer it’s got to be good. Until recently you could walk into one of hundreds of semi-legit pharmacies in Florida and order Oxycodone like a pack of Pall Malls. They even raided one with drug names marked on the cash register buttons. I say “semi-legit” because they were clearly in willful violation of drug statutes. But make no mistake, they bought from the same wholesalers as CVS does. And yes, it’s sickening that the pharmaceutical industry peddles products like that with no real concern about where it ends up. But the ultimate responsibility is with the person swallowing or snorting the pills. Always
What I find find much more distressing are the young lives ruined not by the struggle against internal demons, but by a drug conviction. Forget prison. What happens when they get out? Who’s going to hire them? They can never get a PELL grant or student loan. Any kind of govt assistance is either more difficult to get, or blocked entirely.
Even if wealthy enough to pay their own way through school, they can never practice law or medicine. They can’t even be an accountant. Think about that. I’m not talking about a drug dealer caught with a kilo of cocaine. A college kid with over an ounce of pot is looking at felony possession. If he has a scale and baggies, it’s intent to distribute. Which is even more trouble, and you may face mandatory minimum sentences. After that first bust, you no longer have anything to lose from the next. And precious little to gain by avoiding it. Freedom is not much fun if you’re hungry and cold. This has created a huge underclass of Americans who have no choice anymore but a life of crime. And that was true even when the job market was good. Now you can be a Mormon without so much as a speeding ticket and not be able find work.
So while experts and activists weigh in on both sides about the possible benefits and pitfalls of legalization, millions of Americans are stoned or are about to be. Because here’s the stark reality of marijuana use in these United States:
Everyone who wants to use “recreational marijuana” already does. We’ve been doing it for decades. It’s the sick people who don’t have the right connections who are suffering needlessly. Also, I feel it’s my duty to point out that if we had not been here cultivating, smuggling, smoking, and sharing, nobody would even know about this wonderful plant. And there would have been no miracle cure for little Charlotte.
In closing, let me tell you about the average American cannabis user:
We’re your neighbors, relatives, co-workers, and family members. We work, go to school, raise our kids, pay taxes, serve in the military, and do all the other stuff (good and bad) that everyone else does. Including making a mistake once in a while.
Some of us have serious heath conditions that are genuinely eased by marijuana. Some do not. But we are all tired of being treated like the worst kind of criminal scum on earth. We’re past tired of living in fear of our own government. And we’re not going to be silent anymore. This issue isn’t going away. We simply want to be left alone to pursue happiness as promised by the Declaration of Independence. Whether or not we manage to achieve it is our business.