Happy 420 Day!

I rarely advertise my use of controlled substances. I mostly don’t want to sound like some douchebag stoner who pushes my agenda. But today, I’m going to suspend that personal policy and risk the fear.

Today is 4/20. I’ve read a lot about the potential origins for the term 420 as it applies to marijuana and the consensus seems to be: no one knows for sure where it came from. However, much like many other phrases and holidays that we don’t know (or don’t care to look up) the origin of, this ‘holiday’ is firmly entrenched in the current popular psyche.

Growing up in the Reagan years I remember hearing ‘just say no’ so often. I was part of the D.A.R.E. to keep kids off drugs program. I looked down on anyone who did drugs. I did so  without knowing anything other than the anti-drug propaganda information.

I never did drugs in college. I don’t recall being offered any now that I think about it. I may have been at a party where a few ‘weirdos’ were smoking in the back, but I can’t even say that for sure.

My first drug experience was when I was (wait for it) 29 years old. I didn’t have my first drink of alcohol til I was 26 either. So, I’m a late bloomer to both vices.

I remember being really scared. ‘What if I have a bad reaction?’ ‘What if it changes my fundamental personality?’ ‘What if outcomes unknown happen that are ultimately bad?’ I wasn’t even really sure what I was scared of. I was just scared of the potentially unknown harm.

Well, I’m 33 now and I can tell you that nothing that I can think of happened that made me regret it. I’m not addicted. I know, because I’ve researched a lot about addiction and I don’t seem to fit any of the signs. I take a week or more away from pot every 6-8 weeks for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can. I look at weed like working out. I can go a few weeks without working out, but I don’t like to and I’d rather not. Of course, I don’t believe that pot has as many benefits as working out, but I do believe it has some.

I’m a writer (not a professional yet, but a writer all the same). And I’m also super easily distracted by facebook, email, youtube, my puppy, Netflix, and any shiny object that crosses my vision. Writing takes focus. I don’t need to be high to write (I’m not high right now for example), but when I’m feeling really distracted or jittery pot really helps me. I don’t drink coffee, so I don’t know this for certain, but my friends who drink coffee sometimes say that they have a much more difficult time in the morning if they skip their wake up drink.

I try not to judge people for drinking coffee or anything else. And for the most part the people who I love and care about either don’t or likely won’t judge me for knowing that a few hits of a joint help me to write or relax. Keep in mind, I also use it recreationally. I’m not making the case that I only use it for purely pragmatic reasons. I also sometimes just enjoy being high in a social situation.

Marijuana is not a perfect substance. Neither are hot dogs or bottled water or sugar free gum. There are drawbacks to everything. But at the end of the day I see no evidence to dissuade me from consuming pot. I don’t let it get in the way of my work. I don’t feel that it hurts me in any measurable way. It might. And I’ll be the first to read whatever article/study you send me about it and reconsider my opinion.

However, I feel that the tide has started to turn on pot. It’s recreationally legal in four states and the capital of our country. It’ll be on the ballot for several more soon. In my current state of California it’s recreationally legal in every sense but name.

So, if you don’t use pot that’s totally cool. I don’t want to ‘sell’ you on doing it in any shape, way, form or fashion. But I would like to sell you on the idea that judging others or worrying about others who do use it is unnecessary. Sure, there are some potheads who need to get their act together. And maybe part of that process will involve giving it up. I have to limit my time playing video games to once a week, because I get addicted to playing them and everything else suffers. However, many people can use pot as an enhancement to their lives without letting other parts suffer for it.

As someone who rarely drinks alcohol, I’m still happy to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I just won’t be at the bar when I’m supporting your right to get drunk at 11AM (this is particularly true in Chicago where I lived for 8 1/2 years).

So, I say to all my fellow pot-heads, occasional users, former users and non-users…

Happy 420 to everyone!

Thanks, y’all!

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