Marijuana . . . Devil Or Angel
By Steven Wishnia (excerpt) People around the world have been smoking marijuana forever, for medicinal purposes as well as just to feel good. The Chinese cultivated it as far back as 2000 years B.C. and used it in their practice of herbal medicine. It was brought into the United States sometime around the turn of the last century by Mexican immigrants looking for work in the American southwest and quickly spread across the country.
Regardless of the fact that pot was now illegal in some states it grew in popularity and increased in usage, mainly among musicians and artists who found the herb helped them in their creative endeavors. The drug grew in popularity until the white majority took a moral as well as a financial (and the fact they were just downright lied to) stand against it . . . then along came Harry Anslinger the perfect political puppet for the anti-hemp cotton cartel.
The white racist American who had no love for the brown skinned Mexicans, nor their social habits were always looking for excuses to prove their superiority over them. They now found a good one. Someone started the rumor that pot turned the Mexican who smoked weed into a sex crazed killer that could not be trusted. Soon laws were created against its usage as a way to control the Mexicans working in this country. From 1914 to 1937, twenty-seven states passed anti-pot laws. . . .
Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, headed the charge against pot. “If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marihuana, he would drop dead of fright,” he thundered in 1937.
An ambitious racist who had previously been federal assistant Prohibition commissioner, Anslinger railed against reefer in magazine articles like 1937’s “Marihuana: Assassin of Youth.” It featured gory stories like that of Victor Licata, a once “sane, rather quiet young man” from Tampa, Fla., who’d killed his family with an axe in 1933, after becoming “pitifully crazed” from smoking “muggles.” (Actually, the Tampa police had tried to have Licata committed to a mental hospital before he started smoking pot.)
In 1937, after a very cursory debate, Congress enacted the Marihuana Tax Act, levying a prohibitive $100-an-ounce tax on cannabis. “I believe in some cases one cigarette might develop a homicidal mania,” Anslinger testified in a hearing on the bill. (end)
The war on pot had begun. In 1936, Hollywood produced Reefer Madness, a scare movie which perpetuated the myth that pot turned people into crazed killers. The movie is actually pretty funny (though the intention isn’t) and can be watched on Youtube if you are interested. I equate it with the duck and cover bullshit they taught us kids during the 50’s.
So, on and on it has gone. One side equating pot as the devil’s drug, the other deifying it. Well, neither side seems to know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the actuality of the weed so I, as a user since about 1968, intend to set everybody straight . . . 🙂 as to the reality of the wacky weed.
James F. Davis, CAS, is a Board Certified Interventionist and the founder of Recovery First. Inc. Davis is also an expert on Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) – the leading cause of relapse among addicts and alcoholics.
Many of the world’s drugs now considered dangerous and illicit either once had or still do have significant medical value. However, as a result of widespread abuse of these substances and the corresponding public health issues that arise, many of these valuable chemicals have been tainted in the minds of the general populace.
This is unfortunate because in some cases, people who really need these drugs may have to fight to get them, or they may face serious controversy and possibly even harassment. Understanding what can happen when good drugs get bad reputations is critical in order to be able to properly address those that have legitimate medical needs.
One of the most significant examples of a good drug gone horribly wrong in the public eye is marijuana. Used as a medicine and for spiritual purposes for thousands of years, today marijuana is considered a dangerous drug that has few medical implications. This is Washington’s viewpoint in spite of the growing movement to legalize marijuana for medical use. In fact, while 16 states have some type of medical marijuana legislation on their books, most do not. In the states where cannabis is approved for medical use, it is prescribed to treat everything from AIDS and HIV to cancer to glaucoma and much more. But unless you live in one of these states, the bad reputation forced onto marijuana applies to you.
The negative reputation for marijuana comes about as a result of propaganda that has been widely distributed since the 1930′s and 1940′s, as well as images broadcast all over television, in print and on the web depicting the violence and destruction brought about by the US’s War on Drugs. These scenes are often accompanied by images of burning marijuana or fields of the plant being chopped down. But while the drug gangs and marijuana eradication efforts are largely responsible for the bad reputation of marijuana, said reputation is also intensified in the media.
The entertainment industry produces an incredible amount of marijuana-related programs, often depicting marijuana users in outlandish, comedic ways. But despite the often light hearted nature with which the media treats marijuana, the fact of the matter is that some people who need this drug are unable to get it because of its negative reputation.
Consider a story reported KXLY.com in April of 2011 where a father secretly gave his 2 year old son cannabis in order to help ease the pain of the child’s chemotherapy. The boy was dying from a brain tumor that had wrapped itself around the optic nerve – surgery was unsuccessful and only removed 10% of the mass. Instead the boy was put through massive doses of chemotherapy, which made him even sicker than he had been previously.
After some time, the boy’s father began secretly placing cannabis oil in his feeding tube, which resulted in significant improvements. The child was almost immediately removed from all drugs and was able to eat for the first time in 40 days. Doctors were amazed, but they were not aware of the cannabis oil. The boy made a full recovery, though the story was not without controversy, as it was eventually revealed what the father had done, resulting in an outpouring of both public outcry and support.
The evidence in this case suggests that marijuana may very well have saved the boy’s life, but because of the negative perception of marijuana caused by people who wantonly abuse the drug, the father had to act illegally in order to help ease his child’s suffering.
The first two parts of this essay were things I read . . . this begins the parts I have personally experienced during my 48 years of hanging out with Mary Jane
To begin, I am not advocating smoking weed, nor am I advocating NOT smoking weed. My purpose for this essay is to try and bring some balance into the situation as it stands today. It’s seems kinda screwy to me out there right now.
First of all marijuana is a drug. Smoke it and it does things to your body as well as to your mind. Things change. It makes you feel good on one hand, but has the potential of freaking you out on the other. So as in any other drug a person ingests, it takes a bit of responsibility on that person’s part when they use it. Responsibility seems hard, in this world of pointing blame, for many to deal with. If you are the irresponsible type you should not be using weed OR drinking alcohol, or even driving a car (Bieber!) for that matter.
Instead of making the usage of weed some kind of moral issue in the first place, we should be making it a responsibility issue. Are you responsible enough for your actions to use and control your usage? If you are a child, a teen ager, or even an adult the question must remain the same. Legal or illegal is not the question. Are you responsible enough for yourself to use it is . . .
One of the great problems concerning weed is that in the very beginning of it’s popularity we have been fed lies and bullshit concerning its usage. Anslinger and his lies caused nothing but governmental distrust among those who were smart enough to see through them. Most of us who jumped aboard the culture revolution train en masse during the late 60’s knew better, therefore we believed nothing coming out of Washington and still don’t.
Before the war demonstrations and the hippie movement started, weed was a drug mostly used by beatnik artists and musicians, but once those things got going it went viral and the beat began . . . and today the beat goes on.
Only a group of foolish old Senators would think they could keep the genie in the bottle . . . (or even the drug corporation that pays them off, for that matter). Won’t work, just like the war on booze didn’t work. Weed is here to stay in spite of the legality issue. Time to empty the prison house and cut off profits to the cartel. Time for a war on ignorance.
Now you want to talk about this nonsense that pot leads to harder drugs? One big reason it did was that because of the obvious lies about weed, no one believed it when they were told ‘smack will kill you’ either, and it will. I have friends and a family member, who died from overdose.
‘Speed will ruin you and dement you’. and it will, who doesn’t have a zillion speed freak stories to tell. My best friend lost his mind years ago from using crystal meth.
‘Cocain is evil’, might be I don’t know. Never had much to do with the drug as it has no drawing power except for the weak who want to feel powerful.
Fact is, the feeling was that since they lied about weed, they’re probably lying about all of it, . . . but many times they weren’t and many kids got trapped. Not because of the gateway, but because of the lies, and gullibility that said they could handle smack. I would say in the long run that having an addictive personality had more to do with it than anything else . . . gateway doesn’t work for me at all . . . it smells of bullshit.
Tune in, turn on, drop out . . . Tim Leary said it and many, many, of us did it. Weed was the glue that held our vagabond society together. Just like religious doctrine holds the Christian society together, the doctrine of drugs and dreams held us together.
Weed being at the forefront, then acid, but most everybody I knew stopped there. Once the mob moved in and began selling heroin down at Haight Ashbury slowly the dreams of peace and love died and were replaced by paranoia and mental illness . . . Had we stayed with pot alone as many have, we would still be together, as many are.
Today the drug is way more powerful than it was in the 60’s. You hear that all the time and that one is actually true. I could buy an ounce of good Mexican weed for about ten bucks, smoke a joint and get really high, but remain mellow. Today, when my buddy who lives up the hill sits down on the front porch and pulls out a joint, I know only to take one hit because it is too powerful for me. Were I to smoke much more than that, I would zombie out and cease to function.
That would break the cardinal rule that I have created for myself and lived by for all these years. . . always keep the exit door in sight and be able to take it in a hurry if need be . . . Today you can get so high on weed that you will just sit there and burn up.
That’s a fact and that’s why a person must be, today more than ever, responsible for themselves. I don’t see too many who are and that scares me more than some sheep dip politician and his silly imprisonment laws when it come to smoking weed.
I have heard so many good things about the usage of marijuana for medical purposes that I am hesitant to say what I originally thought about the move to legalize it on that basis. It seemed to be a way of edging its way in the door so to speak and a little disingenuous I thought, but since I have just been diagnosed with glaucoma I may want to buy some legally myself. If I did though, I would never give up my drops. The drops are a proven help and an almost guarantee to keep the disease from blinding you . . . I don’t think Marijuana can say that. So as in everything else, there is a balance.
As far as medical weed goes, I would say if it works for you, great. If it eases the pain, by all means use it, but I wouldn’t be giving up a known medication for an herbal one unless it was something like chemo which I equate being somewhat similar to the practice of bloodletting. Death comes to us all and I’d rather not poison my immune system forever in hopes of saving my life for just a little while longer.
Weed is good for pain, it is good for nausea, as well as a bunch of other stuff, but what I don’t hear about as often is how it puts you in a better frame of mind and actually helps you through a hard place by keeping you level and focused. This I am sure of because I experienced it myself.
Maybe ten years ago now I severed my Achilles Tendon when I ran my foot through plate glass while wearing sandals . . . not a smart thing to do. Cut clean through, the tendon rolled back up my leg. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance where I was operated on and placed in a full length cast that was bent at the knee. I was to remain immobilized that way for at least six weeks, then the cast would come off and they would see how it looked.
By nature I am one who does all he can do to avoid traps of any kind. Now here I was physically trapped by this cast. Well, after I got back home the drugs wore off a bit and I began to focus on my leg . . . it was bound up in a cast . . . and I couldn’t straighten it. Period. I WANTED to straighten that leg! I HAD to straighten that leg!!
I grabbed my crutches and out the door I went, up and down the street as fast as a one legged idiot on crutches could go . . . crazed and mumbling to myself all the way . . . back and forth . . . back and forth . . . until I wore myself completely out.
It didn’t help that they had given me codeine in the hospital. I forgot to tell them that codeine makes me crazy . . . anyways, true to form, it did. I immediately tossed the drug into the toilet and decided to take the pain which was by now excruciating. Still, the physical pain was far less debilitating than the mental anguish was.
So here I was lying in bed, hurting like hell, and STILL wanting to straighten my leg. I felt the panic edging up the back of my neck and was about two minutes from getting out the old k-bar and cutting the damn cast off when something or someone in my head said, “hey dipshit! Why don’t you smoke a joint and relax a little bit?”
I usually listen to that guy in my head when it comes to this kind of stuff so I did. I got out the bag of weed that my wife and I use to party with, smoked a pipe full and laid back in the bed.
Within minutes the pain subsided and the panic eased up to where I was no longer freaked out. Then the voice came back, “lookit Jim you have to see that cast as a friend instead of an enemy. It is there to help, not hinder, now relax dipshit!” . . . I listened . . . and I did.
The next six weeks went by and I never again had any problems. I set up my easel and painted for something to do, read books and wrote. The cast became a part of me and I no longer hated it.
The day the cast was removed was just another day in the life. I started rehab with the idea that I absolutely refused to be left with a limp. I worked hard and I have no limp at all. Had I cut the cast off I would have created a huge problem for myself. I’ve seen what happens to guys who don’t or can’t get proper medical care in a timely fashion. I was lucky . . . and I give the weed credit for a lot of it, as well as the skilled hands of a very good surgeon. I believe in medical marijuana because I have experienced it’s benefit. It should be legalized in every state yesterday. I doubt it will cure many things, but it will absolutely assist one in their efforts to maintain while going through a curing process. Of that I have no doubt.
This part will contain the pro’s (cons to follow) of using weed as a recreational drug. First, at the top of my list: you should NOT need to get high on ANY drug in order to have fun. . . but many people do, they get drunk, they use coke, ecstasy, speed, all sorts of stuff I don’t even know about, and they smoke weed.
Weed is probably the least damaging of the list and alcohol the most. Yet why do you think it is that people who have no problem getting drunk at the party and making a fool of themselves, many times are the same people who scream the loudest when you tell them, “I smoke pot.”
Pot smoking is a sin . . . it’s against the law . . . it makes you stupid . . . turns you into an addict . . . on and on it goes, foolish talk from foolish, self justifying folks. I’ve heard it so many times over the years I don’t even listen any more. I really don’t care what people or their god thinks about me and my pot smoking, but I do care what I think about myself.
Before I moved to Portland, joined the counterculture movement and started using pot, I was a drinker. In Ohio we all drank. We partied hard and many times ended up in a fist fight, or in the back of a paddy wagon, or wrapped around a toilet puking our guts out.
When I moved to Portland I couldn’t believe at first how nobody got into fights. It wasn’t all because of the weed of course, but the whole time I was in Portland living in the streets most of it, I never saw a fist fight.
Maybe we were all just too stoned to fight. I mean, wow, man why would I want to hit anybody in the first place? That kind of behavior has no place in a highly incensed room full of laid back people digging on each other as well as the Rolling Stones.
Pot is the most non aggressive drug on the entire list . . . and yet it has this horrible reputation. How come? You tell me.
Anyway as I aged a bit I mostly quit partying and started using weed to help me explore within myself. I would get high in a darkened room and think . . . and think some more. I was meditating, but didn’t realize it. It just seemed to me that I could see things that I had never seen before when I was stoned.
It was at that time that I found (for me) a higher purpose to smoke weed than just having a good time. I also took LSD (but that’s another story) and through it all, my nature quite honestly turned overnight from passive aggressive tough guy to a guy who began to take interest in music, and art, and poetry. . . I was born again! Really, I was.
That was the gift I had given myself. I had dropped all the bullshit and allowed ME to emerge from it. Not saying I have arrived anywhere, but I know without a doubt I had found the pathway to beginning the journey . . . and pot helped me find it. It didn’t do it for me, it just allowed me to enter a zone where I could do it for myself.
So during the last 25 years or so, since I’ve remarried, I smoked privately with my wife and close friends not caring much what anybody else thought about it. (I still raise eyebrows though if I begin to talk about weed to certain people.) After a hard day building houses, ‘happy hour’ was a toke or two on the old pipe. It relaxed me and put me to sleep like a baby in his crib.
On weekends the second floor of our lakefront cottage became a dance hall where my wife and I would get stoned and dance to the oldies, Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always we ended up making love on the dance hall floor, or in a chair, or on the staircase . . . or . . . you get the picture, weed creates the environment for GREAT sex between two people who know and are at ease and comfortable with each other.
It’s fun. It helps one to see through the glass clearly (instead of darkly like Paul said) It feels good to get high. It’s relaxing. It causes non violent behavior in people like myself.
Today I’m a retired old guy and my wife has many health problems so we don’t smoke much and the dance halls gone, but when we do, it still brings that certain sparkle into her eyes . . . and we laugh about it . . . and reminisce.
Because the effect of weed on the normal person is not as outstanding as being drunk on booze, or no where near as dangerous as shooting heroin, it can, in reality, be seen by many as being somewhat similar to 3.2 beer. “Yes it is intoxicating, but it’s not as bad as the rest of the drugs I COULD be taking” . . . and so it goes, but here, in my opinion, lies it’s great danger.
Marijuana is not without it’s faults, it is not a panacea, nor as simple as drinking a glass of wine. Just as in any other drug, in the wrong hands it can become downright dangerous. . . and I’ll tell you why.
First of all in order to enjoy the effects of weed and stay out of trouble you have to be a responsible person, and like I said earlier in this essay, this is the age of irresponsibility. Everything goes in this ego driven, self centered society and I don’t see it getting any better any time soon.
Of course you could probably say that about my generation also, but in spite of the large amount of young people involved in the counterculture movement of that day, they were overall just a small slice of the society. In the sixties our parents were, as a whole, pretty straight. So basically ‘most’ of the long haired herd had a corral to go home to any time they got hungry or had a need. I don’t see that solid foundation these days.
In my day we could wander the streets of Portland at 2AM and be safe . . . today I would need an M16 and a full combat load to feel safe. Fact is things have changed drastically for the worse since 1968 all across the board (saving this for another day)
Another thing is that weed is far stronger now than it was in the day. Far stronger means when you get really stoned today it would almost equate to an acid trip in my day . . . not cool.
So link up very strong weed with very immature people and you get a very large problem very quickly.
A person today suffering from bipolar disorder . . . or PTSD could go over the top on this powerful of a product. I’ve seen it happen with the weaker stuff so it’s a no brainer to realize the problems inherent with this new stuff.
We used to say pot was not addicting, and what that means is you have no withdrawals or sickness like if you were on heroin or something like that. We also said it was mentally addicting, and it is. Anybody who actually uses it for fun and games realizes you can only get high once every three days or so in order to get the full effect of the drug. Once meaning one occasion, not one after the other all day long every day . . . and that’s the way a lot of people smoke these days. I see a lot of guys who are addicted to the drug and I can tell they are addicted to it by the fact they can no longer get high. It is a dangerous position for a person to get themselves into.
Also there is the lazy effect of smoking too much pot. and for kids this can be deadly. They will slack off on homework and everything else from clothes to table manners, even life in general will become a drag to them. The wrong psychic makeup and they may kill themselves or do something else really dumb, it happens. I’ve found guys smoking weed on the job when I was building houses in Alaska. I fired a couple on the spot. . . . work and weed don’t mix.
Another thing that don’t mix is weed and alcohol or weed and any other drug . . . don’t work. You can quickly devolve into an unknown high when you mix this stuff up and have a very hard time of it . . . I’ve seen it happened.
You want to smoke pot? . . . be a purist. Mixing all this stuff together in your system is asking for trouble.
You want to drive a car when you’re stoned? . . . don’t . . . you are intoxicated and can kill somebody or yourself.
Marijuana, especially today’s makeup of the drug, only works in special circumstances at special times. That usually means safe and secure in your own home with a couple of friends or alone if you want to listen to music and play your guitar. (weed has a profound effect to the good on your senses, music is especially wonderful)
There are enough limitations to this drug that I don’t vote yes for complete legalization. Ohio has a law on the books now where possession of less than 31/2 oz is considered a simple misdemeanor, no jail time and no more than a 150.00 fine. That is fine with me, Grow a couple plants, smoke them up on your own and if by chance you get busted pay your fine and go grow some more. My main concern about complete legalization is that I just don’t feel our young people can handle the freedom.
As far as medical legalization like California has, I’m all for it. The herb is good for that, but in today’s bullshit arena, it’s either the devil or the angel, when actually it’s just an ancient medicinal weed with great benefits and should be treated as such.