The subject of marijuana is- It’s one of those things that’s- Damn. I don’t like to get into it. Because I’m of a certain mind that straddles the two main, battling philosophies on it and I’ve got a leg on either side of the line just far-enough to get me in a lot of trouble with the opposition and- I get it. On the one hand. On the other, I don’t see why it should.
I grew up at a time and in an atmosphere that branded pot heads “freaks”. It branded them “pot heads”, actually. Born in 1968, I spent the first seven of my years living with my grandparents. In rural Nevada. “Hee Haw” was on the TV. Country music on the radio. Short haircuts on our heads if we were guys, young or old. In many ways, we still lived in the mid-1950s in 1974 in our little world. But it was a bubble. A bell jar. Irreflective of the world outside. A world that was creeping in. And not honest with itself. Marijuana wasn’t a new thing. It’s been around for centuries. And all those clean-cut people we saw on television and listened to on the radio, they used it. The good boys and girls in town used it. My grandparents used it.
“I tried it,” my Grandpa Sandy admitted, almost twenty years ago. “Didn’t do anything for me,” he shrugged. And there’s the contention that my Grandma Gwen used it when she was dying of cancer. Had it sneaked into the hospital to her by one of our more rascally relatives.
“That’s not true,” my Aunt Suzy has countered.
Maybe it was at home she’d used it. Maybe Suzy isn’t aware of everything. Maybe she’s right but it’s just too good a story to leave alone. In any case, I’ve – throughout my adult years – accepted the story as fact. Because I want it to be fact. That this poor woman suffering a terminal illness – my grandmother – got a little relief from the dread weed. So what? Is that so bad? So wrong?
No. Since coming of age, since discovering the tale (from whom I can’t recall), I’ve been an vocal supporter of medical marijuana. But… I could never shake the philosophy from the little boy in me who went home at lunch, each day, to watch reruns of “Ozzie and Harriet” in black and white on a black and white TV set, that marijuana was the evil pot, attaching it to dirty, hairy ne’er-do-wells who-
I’d think back into my history – as I am now – to all the dirty, hairy ne’er-do-wells I was exposed to in my early-to-mid childhood and, yeah, most were fucking assholes. Dicks. Shit-heads. But weren’t they all that without the weed? Yeah. If anything, the weed made them more docile about their assholery. In truth, I met quite a few people who liked their weed who were sweet, gentle folks and were most-likely that way without the weed as all the assholes I knew were assholes without their weed. If anything, I repeated… If anything, marijuana mellowed them the fuck out. But, as I think on all of this, I realize that marijuana to me, in that era, was- Hmm. An accessory. To a lifestyle. I didn’t like the lifestyle, I didn’t like its accessories. The assholes in my life would’ve found another accessory to their lifestyle if pot was unavailable. Some other kind of medicine for their wounded souls. And they were wounded souls. Most assholes recognize it, that they’re wounded. They medicate. Try every kind of medicine they can. They’ll grab for it all. And there’s always another drug coming along. Right now, these people are on meth. They found methamphetamine. It’s not new, either. Been around a few decades. But it’s the “in” thing, right? Killing people fast. From the inside, out. Turning them into something less than human.
Isn’t that a shitty thing for me to say? “Less than human”? But it does things to a person’s body, mind, that’s irreversible. Takes them away from humanity. Turns them into angry, thieving zombies. Murderous, sometimes. It takes the humanity from their minds, replacing it with one goal: to get more meth.
That’s not the gentle hippies I met in the late ‘70s who tried to get me to unwrap myself from all the negativity I’d experienced by just talking with me. Marijuana certainly had a major role in their lives, but it was one of- An almost reverence. It was holy. It was natural. From the earth. Healthy. Hell, it couldn’t hurt. It didn’t impede one’s humanity but expanded- No. It- Then again, yes. Anyway, it didn’t remove humanity from the human being. It asked me to take a ride with it. When I was angry with my dad, one night. And counseled me – gently, warmly – on remembering not to forget my humanity, myself.
I’ve never used the stuff. But I’ve never forgotten those kindly, gentle hippies – a couple, husband and wife, the wife being the daughter of a minister of some variety – and their message of love to me. I started to think that maybe, in spite of the continued exposure to people just out for a high, that maybe there was something Heaven-sent to this herb. Something holy. Something that doesn’t just ease the pain of the dying but also the pain of the living. How can that be so wrong?
Recently, several people I know have suggested I try it to help ease the effects of my epileptic seizures. I just- I can’t. Because of that old stigma I have – still have – about marijuana. Most of it comes from the idea of smoking it. I’ve never been a tobacco smoker. The thought disgusts me. Switching tobacco for marijuana produces the same disgust.
“You can eat it,” they’ve suggested. “Lots of different ways to take it in. Make brownies.”
“Make me some of those brownies!” another friend told me, her eyes widening, her mouth turning into the widest of grins.
I shrug these ideas off. I just don’t know. I’ve spent so long- Oh. And there’s the influence law enforcement has had on me. I’ve got a lot of cops in my life. Or had. At one time, I’d wanted to be one of them. Makes shedding that stigma all the tougher. But… In all of this… In spite of the stigma, in spite of anything else to the negative toward marijuana… I really don’t see why it must be so vilified. Especially with anything else out there we may legally put into our bodies. With what else is illegal and what those things do to our bodies. Weed is hardly the worst thing to happen to humanity.
That old support I threw out there for medical marijuana – “medical” alone – doesn’t seem to get it with me. I don’t see the problem with decriminalizing it. With taxing its retail sale. For those who don’t care to grow it themselves, for their own use. Decriminalize it, you drive its sales price into the dirt and the criminal element can’t find it worthwhile to continue its involvement in it and that goes away and so does that attraction illegal things have for a certain section of the populace. Soon, you either like it or you don’t and that’s all there is. As with certain types of alcoholic beverages. Or alcohol in and of itself.
I bring it up. The subject. Of marijuana. And its supporters can only see my apprehension and its detractors can only see my support and this person or that attempts to pigeonhole me, my personality, taking either into account. I just want to be left alone to my own opinions on it. While I think others should be afforded theirs. And, in the middle, those who choose to partake, let ‘em.
There’s no shame in that.