Tuesday, May 7, 2013

~My Big Fat Pot Post

Marijuana.  Weed.  Pot.  Mary Jane.  Ganga.  Kush.  Chronic....

Often it is referred to as the (say it with me) 'gateway drug'.  Which is true.  ...In the sense that breast milk/formula is the gateway drink to juice and Kool-Aid which as we alllll know leads to the stronger stuff, like Mt. Dew, and ya know, eventually, moonshine and absinthe.

Obviously it is not a lie to say that boobjuice/formula is the first thing we try, before we progress to our clandestine meetings with the Kool Aid Man, et all.  But I think we can all agree that it's not ladymilk (or Similac) that is the catalyst for coming down with a later-in-life case of Otisthetowndunkitus.   Which means, if are capable of being honest about that, we have the ability, nee, the obligation to acknowledge that the long held and oft-repeated precept of a pot being gateway drug is sheer post hoc ergo propter hoc.

While I'd hazard a guess that most of your local meth and heroin heads would report that their first dance with recreational drugs was with Mary Jane, I would also be willing to wager that that's in large part because in our society most folks don't think of PBR, the Captain or a nice glass of chardonnay as a drug.  Not because alcohol is inherently safer, (it's not) or less mind/body altering, (it's not), or that it's less harmful to the fabric of our society (again, it's not) but because of how we frame booze in our lives. 

Over 70 million people have tried marijuana. Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Indeed, for the vast majority of people, marijuana is the last drug they try, not a "gateway" to other drugs. If it were a gateway drug and if it were so addictive, we would have more than 3 million heroin and cocaine addicts in the U.S.

...Grandpa had one shot of whiskey every day.  ...Mom and Dad cracked a bottle of wine when they had friends over for dinner.  ...In most households and hamlets across the nation important occasions are marked with the popping of a champagne bottle.  ...I meet up with my friends for happy hour.  Whatever it looked like, for most people alcohol was always acceptable recreational drug use.  But no one ever uses those exact words.  (And yes, I know some people/families, religions, etc., simply do not drink.  That's cool.  You know me.  ...Whateves.  But it's not the "norm" of most Americans relationship and history with booze.) 

During our lifetime, drugs have always been framed in a very Nancy Regan-esque, 'Just Say No'/post Reefer Madness kinda way .  And have always meant, with a wink and a nod 'any drug that you don't drink'.  You know, the drugs baaaaad people do.  I think it satisfies the Us vs. Them superiority that most humans seem to really be invested in achieving, often at the hands of any ol' stupid, baseless or unreasonable criteria, as long as it allows them to have a ahem valid reason to look down their nose at others.  Personally, I don't think the inability to control personality flaws is a good enough reason to keep weed illegal/continue making criminals out of people who's crime is chillaxin'.  Maybe that's just me?   

And there should be no mistake that the only real reason weed is illegal today in most parts of the nation (except these places - click) is in fact predicated on stupid, baseless and unreasonable thinking and actions. 

If you don't know the history leading up to marijuana going from equal footing with booze to a full-on hardcore schedule 1 drug (FYI:  Schedule 1 is meant to accurately denote; "the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."   For reference sake, OxyContin [responsible for approx. 16,500 OD deaths] is a full step lower at Schedule II, with Schedule IV covering antidiarrheal and aspirin.) it's a compelling story chocked full 'o a lot of interesting subplots like a twisted, but perfectly legal selfish exploitation of capitalism, racism, and fanaticism that eschews ration and fact you know, like fanaticism and racism always does.  Frankly, this lays it out as well as any other I've seen/read/heard, and assuredly better than I ever could:

(The short story) (The long version)

(You returned to my ramblings?  Gold star, you!)

Understanding that our negative perceptions of pot, today, especially when held by people who see alcohol as a drug 'better than', is really nothing more than the hangover of pre-Super Pac-esque marketing campaigns for the benefit of, depending on your viewpoint, the greedy and unethical, or wise and crafty business decisions by someone wealthy enough to sway public opinion and essentially buy his personal agenda, and isn't, in fact, based on it actually posing great danger to society or individual users is the first step in taking an educated stance on the legalization of marijuana.  (Ahem.  Look around.  This isn't a back in the day SOP.  The anti GMO labeling is a real-time example that it continues.  Just last year companies spent millions to sway California voters into voting against requiring GMO usage be noted on packaging.  Now what I know about GMO's, written out long hand could fit on the head of a sewing needle, but I do know of all the things my doctor ever told me to do more of fuck you, exercise, vegetables and fruits!, 'get more GMO's' has never been one of 'em.  Yet people voted to allow companies to sell them foods without any such notification.  Regardless of your feelings on GMO's, when is it in any of our best interest to be less well informed about what we're shovin' in our pie holes?  That's nonsensical.  A violation of our own responsibility to uphold self preservation.  ...Never discount the efficacy of marketing, y'all.  Which is, again, nothin' more than business using it's coffers to sell a lie disingenuous position to people, that is at odds with their personal best interests in order to maximize it's corporate profits.  It's that whole not learning from history thing chompin' at our asses again.)

The next step is honestly considering the impact of weed.

On a individual user level, we all know pot is pretty dangerous.  How dangerous?  Well, the CDC attributes 80,000 deaths/yr from alcohol, yet when you Google "CDC statistics on marijuana deaths" (go ahead, I'll wait) no supporting data is available and no, some link 5 pages deep with the word cooter in the URL does not qualify as supporting data.  But you know, we allll know it's dangerous, so I did a lil' more digging and turned to the DEA, who report the following;  verbatim, bitches "Overdose effects:  No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported" [top of page 2 - click].  Hummmmm...  What about doctors?  Surely they must have reasons to advocate for the continued criminalization of pot?  Alas, the AMA (American Medical Association) position on pot is;  "That our AMA support reclassification of marijuana's status from a Schedule 1 controlled substance to a more appropriate (read: lower) schedule"   Pssst.  I don't know how to break it to ya, but they even endorse it's medical usage.  ...Marijuana isn't sounding very medically/physically dangerous. 

But, you know, it's still a danger to the fabric of our society.  Crime?  What about crime for fuck's sake?!?  ...Like impaired drivers!  Ahhhh, yes.  Impaired drivers.  Well, it turns out that of the 10,228  fatalities due to impaired drivers, (in '10) of that total other drugs (cocaine, marijuana, etc.) played a role only 18% of the time.  (Clarification:  I don't mean, 'only' as in, 18% is an insignificant number, I mean 'only' in the context of in comparison to the impact of alcohol exclusive crash numbers. [note:  18% is comprised of all other drugs, not solely reflective of marijuana]  Obviously, any/every/each life taken or affected by an impaired driver of any flavor is one too many.) 

As for other types of crime, I think it's a pretty universally known, and accepted fact that high people are more likely to be guilty of muggin' a bag 'o Funyuns than knockin' Granny to the ground to steal her purse.  Potheads aren't stealin' copper from every a/c unit on the block, or breakin' into houses.  Child, please.  Potheads are sittin' on the couch watching a movie, or out in the country hangin' with friends watchin' the bon fire, rootin' the local hockey team, baking bread, or doin' household chores, or any of the 99,999 (wait.  Did I just channel Herman Cain?  Great.  Now I want pizza. [...really?  Because you thought Big Brown Girl World was ruled by a girl known for strong nutritional decisions?]  Suck it.) other things potheads do. 

"Over the past four years I've asked police officers throughout the U.S. (and in Canada) two questions. When's the last time you had to fight someone under the influence of marijuana? (I'm talking marijuana only, not pot plus a six-pack or a fifth of tequila.) My colleagues pause, they reflect. Their eyes widen as they realize that in their five or fifteen or thirty years on the job they have never had to fight a marijuana user. I then ask: When's the last time you had to fight a drunk? They look at their watches." 
(Full Article)                 
~Norm Stamper, Ret. Chief of Police, Seattle, WA

...And by 'other thing potheads do' I mean, things like jobs.  Not, workin'-the-counter-of-the--last-video-store-in-America, jobs (not that there's anything wrong with an honest days work slingin' VHS.  Somebody's gotta help people find out guess who's talking and cater to porn lovers who don't have computers.)  In the ranks of potheads I know alone you'll find doctors, attorneys, professors, business owners, CPA's, C-level executives (IO's/EO's/FO's) at companies that if I dropped their name, you'd recognize it.  I ain't that girl.  Are you new here?  (If so, welcome.)  What I don't know is any potheads who live at mom's in the basement.  Of course, I'm not suggesting that there simply are noooo subterranean stoners, bleary eyed from from a long tour of Halo in three day old sweats.  I am sayin' that if that in 2013, if that's still your stereotype or perception of weed imbibers, you really are just woefully out of touch with, as the late great Marvin Gaye put it, what's goin' on (click if you're feelin' the need to sing along) hoss/toots.

"I've had a lot of senators come up to me privately and said 'absolutely we should [legalize marijuana], I mean I can't say that publicly, but you're absolutely right.'  The stigma of saying that publicly is going to to away, it's gone away in other states, it's going to go away here.  It's inevitable."   "...I had one Senator, I won't say who it was, but he was from a very, very rural republican place, this republican senator said to me, 'I would love to vote for your bill, it means I could smoke it on my porch instead of my living room."   
~Senator Daylin Leach (PA)

Potheads are some of the best people you already know, who you don't know smoke pot. 

When I look around at some of the potheads I know, not only are they successful by career standards, they they tend to be, at least what I consider successful human beings.  Kind and thoughtful with good heads on their shoulder sorts.  In my experience they're open minded and open hearted.  People who manage to deal well with the shit life throws them.  Which I can't with any general rule-y-ness say about people I know who's better living through chemistry approach relys on booze.  Some of those co-workers who always seem to be able to consistently resist bein' a dick?  High.  Some of those parents you look at and think, 'man, how do they keep from literally locking their kid in a cage?', (I don't know why, but that's a thing in Ohio...  Nope, I'm not kidding;  Exhibit A:, Example 2:, And 3's a charm:) well some of them are holding on to their sanity, and keeping a downright delightful demeanor by slippin' out to the pole barn after the kiddies are communing with the Sandman to share a bowl.  Some of the most involved, in the moment, conscientiously raising their children parents I know are half baked half the time.  Which again, isn't something generally said about a household where booze is consumed on a regular/frequent basis.  Alcohol is a major contributor in domestic violence.  Whereas, ganga is described as "reduces the likelihood of violence during intoxication." 

Your 4/20 celebrating friends, co-workers,
church memebers, etc. do NOT look like this:

The reality is your midnight tokin' friend looks more like
the PTA/PTO president, or local city council member
If you weren't so uptight about a lil' grass, they'd probably share.
This is what a pothead looks like:

Even in the face of facts, when confronted with the opportunity to update their thinking based on new information acquired, many will still out of apathy, laziness or stubbornness try to hold tight to a predictable laundry list of non-reasons to support the continued criminalization of marijuana.

The ...but if it's legal everyone will just be walkin' around high all the time it'll be anarchy!, argument.  Which is a valid argument.  If one is willing to throw real world examples proving the contrary out the window.  Like The Netherlands where pot is legal and all usage rates are lower than the U.S., by all ages, and in all categories.  It's an assertion that ignores that people who want to be high are already gettin' high.  And that criminalization only serves to continue creating criminals out of people who no more of a criminal element than you were at happy hour last night, but that what it doesn't serve to do is decrease it's usage, sale or growth.  In my opinion, keeping it illegal simply continues to fuel the criminal underpinnings of the  weed trade.  Which when compared to the (cough) dangers of pot, seems like a no-brainer of a decision; decriminalize the potheads, eliminate the necessity of pot dealers and the inherent criminal element profiting from black market prohibition.  Problem solved.    Learning from history, or no? Pop Quiz:    Who profited from alcohol prohibition?   Answer:  Booze producing, muling, violent mobsters.  A situation that is no different today with marijuana, except we've rebranded them to cartels.  When alcohol was re-legalized bootleggin' crims followed the money on to other endeavours.  

The ...but if it's legal I'm sure there'll be a new wave of addicts I have to somehow pay to fix their fuck up, argument.  Again, if that were the reality of the situation that would make a fine assertion.  However, per Psychology Today, ya know, the fixin' addictions people;  "The vast majority of those who use marijuana do so occasionally and exhibit no addictive symptoms-- no increased tolerance, no cravings, and no withdrawal. In other words, they can take it or leave it."   For people who make money from treating addictions, that seems like a pretty strong statement, no?  So, having to spring for mass marijuana related rehabs seems unlikely.  The ironic flip side to that argument is that by keeping marijuana illegal we pay a much higher (no pun intended) price to deal with the MC's (marijuana criminals).

"National statistics show 872,000 arrests last year related to marijuana, 775,000 of them for possession, not sale or manufacturing - sparking some critics to suggest that the resources of the criminal justice system, including the crowded state prisons and courts, might be better used elsewhere," per the San Francisco Chronicle in 2009. 

Newsflash:  We're already paying for pot.  We pay for it in the 775,000 who, assuming they have no other scrapes with the law, which is indeed the most likely scenario, have to put on every application that they are a crim.  Putting otherwise decent Americans behind the 8 ball, economically speaking.  Personally, I find it out of whack with the ramifications someone who might get popped for public intox, or DWI/DUI, for that matter would experience.  Sure they would have to note it too, but when explained, many employers/landlords, etc., would to a greater degree accept that type of criminal record as being not necessarily a reason to reject them, whereas due to our collective wrong impressions of marijuana would write them off as problem riddled druggies.

Your checkbook & cannabis crimes:

  • Inmates incarcerated on marijuana-related charges cost U.S. prisons $1 billion annually, according to a 2007 study, AlterNet reports.
  • Including lost tax revenues, a 2007 study found that enforcing the marijuana prohibition costs tax payers $41.8 billion annually, Forbes reports.   
Again, I would never have the audacity to contend that there aren't MC's serving time who have done other truly criminal things, but when we're lockin' up people for possession only?  ...Listen, if they're getting pinched for other criminal acts?  They are criminals who get high.  But users imagine being worried about getting arrested for havin' a few beers...not havin' a few beers and startin' a fight, or mowing a family of 4 down whilst drivin', no simply crackin' a open and enjoyin' a beer, not sellers, becoming a drain on us as taxpayers bearing the cost due to laws out of step with the nature of the 'crime', seems wrong to me, in the, we know better, let's do better kinda way.   And to make the reality of our current cultural management of pot all the more egregious, in my opinion, is what Eric Schlosser points out;    "Under the laws of fifteen states, you can get a life sentence for a nonviolent marijuana offense. And the average sentence for a convicted murder in this country is about six years. In the state of California, the average prison sentence for a convicted killer is about 3.3 years. So that enormous discrepancy between how violent crimes tend to be treated and how some nonviolent drug crimes are treated points to a very irrational impulse in this country to punish when it comes to marijuana."  (click - for full interview transcript)

 ...I mean, fuckin' really?  Reeeeally?  MC's serving more time than murders?  I'm not sure what it takes in your DNA profile to be the kind of person who looks at that and thinks, 'yeeeeah, that sounds right.  Let's keep things exxxactly as they are.  @thesystemisworkin'.com.   

 The list of 'yeah but' arguments is too long to fully cover here today, but there's practically no 'yeah but'/preconceived notion that can't, if not be fully refuted, at a minimum have a huge shadow of doubt cast on it with a quick down and dirty search of the interwebs.  I encourage everyone to start getting knowledgeable about the subject.  It's a decision many of us will be making in the near future.  It seems like it's time to do so without the blurry, smudged spectacles of a Reefer Madness era, and start looking at it through Google glasses.

Reference Sources/Other interesting pot info:

Estimates suggest that it would take 800 joints to overdose.  I now feel obligated to mention to everyone who just muttered, "challenge accepted", that I do not think it's a good idea to do anything 800 times.  Hate to harsh your buzz.

(BBG Legal Disclaimer: As always, and with all aspects of the Big Brown Girl World, do not substitute my opinions for your good judgement. It is not my contention that marijuana is good/safe. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. I am not recommending that anyone take it up, actually I take that back. I would recommend to a few people I've met that they would truly benefit from lightin' up a big ol' fatty, but I digress. I am simply pointing out that weed is no more dangerous than other legal and socially acceptable drugs, like our ol' friend booze. To hold it, and its enjoy-ers to a different more damning standard is out of tradition and not merit, just strikes me as arbitrary. When we can, we should be better than arbitrary when it comes to making otherwise respectable, law-abiding and productive citizens into criminals, no?)

As always, feel free to chime in with your $0.02.

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