I live on the East Coast in a part of the country that I doubt would even consider legalizing marijuana. But I’ve heard and read stories like this one often enough to know it is on the ballot in California come November (next week!). I am a rule follower by nature. The times in my life where I dared to break the rules set up by the establishment, I suffered from extreme paranoia. I’m even nervous about writing on the topic of legalizing marijuana. I mean, seriously, what will people think of me for saying how I feel about it?
On this issue my gut reaction and my “by the book” mentality are at odds. The “book” says it’s a drug, my gut says it’s a plant. I mean sure, other drugs are derived from plants, but this one is really just a plant. The “book” says that the drug addicts I encountered in my life all started out smoking pot. My gut says that the drug addicts I knew more than likely started out stealing cigarettes and alcohol from their parents when they were in middle school (or even grade school).
I was in high school and college in the 90s and I knew my fair share of “potheads”. I also knew a few people who were -- or became -- alcoholics and drug addicts. The first group didn’t always become the second group. In fact most of those folks went on to become very successful adults with stable relationships and good jobs. Back then an observation I often made about the “potheads” was how laid back, and perhaps unmotivated, they were. I was extremely annoyed when some of my friends started to enjoy pot too much because they stopped wanting to go out dancing and scoping for guys. I wanted to do something and they wanted to stay home and hang out.
When I went through the partying phase of my life, alcohol was always my substance of choice. It allowed me to escape from myself, which back then was what I wanted most. It gave me the green light to be careless and wild. Most of the regretful decisions I made as a young woman included alcohol in the mix. I am very lucky that I came through those years with my health and sanity in tact. Sometimes I think I would have been safer as a pothead! Of course, if I had been a marijuana enthusiast I might have been at home instead of out dancing the night I met my husband. I might have also made some other choices that would have taken me on a totally different path.
This brings me to the point of the post which is what I think about the legalization of marijuana. From the information I’ve learned, I’d give it the go ahead with the same rules and limitations of alcohol. The biggest argument against it is that it is a “gateway drug". I’d argue that this is only true because it is at the bottom of the totem pole of illegal drugs. The kids I knew in high school who were on their way to addictions were getting messed up on legal drugs and over the counter medicines. Those seemed like the real gateway drugs.
What we have learned from the medicinal studies and uses of marijuana is that it can be very beneficial without the side effects you get from some prescription drugs. In an NPR story I listened to one day a woman shared how her 80 year-old grandmother had used medicinal marijuana to cure an unbearable case of restless leg syndrome. Another caller, a soldier back from a tour of duty in Iraq, was using it to relieve his symptoms of PTSD. They’d both tried every available prescription drug and had suffered terrible side effects from all of them before using marijuana as a last resort.
In truth (although I prefer my kids avoid all of them when they are teens and young adults), I don’t think marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol, tobacco, and prescription pain killers. Some I’m sure would argue that it is less dangerous. I don’t have the information to argue that. I wonder though, what positive effect it could have were it to become legal? What new medicines could scientists and doctors create if given the freedom to experiment with this natural substance? What amount of resources and money in the criminal system could be available if people were no longer prosecuted on marijuana charges?
How about you? Are you for or against the legalization of marijuana? Have you had positive or negative experiences with it? How do you talk to your children about marijuana versus alcohol or other drugs? I'm pretty flexible on this topic so I’d love to learn a little more and hear other arguments from both sides of the Prop 19 issue!
Love and Light,
Visit my website: www.lesleehorner.com
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