- Posted September 12, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Marijuana: Truth From the Front Lines of the War on Drugs
Five years later at a religious gathering friends were sitting outside smoking a Marijuana cigarette. Again, someone invited me to join. Aside from the “Just Say No” campaign drivel that was so popular in my youth, (Which any child with half a brain could tell you was a complete and utter crock.) I had again never really been faced with the issue. Having always been skeptical of just about everything, and not in the least dissuaded by the big money being hurled at the “Drugs are bad“ stance. I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I felt surprisingly little that day. The intoxication of being in a large gathering, under the influence was probably more of a high then the Marijuana, though I could sense a vague tingling in the back of my mind and when my highly intoxicated associate, (Intoxicated on alcohol.) loudly declared his desire for “lead crackers” it was a few moments before I could stand from laughing. I had several more experiences with Marijuana that led me to believe it was something I enjoy like a nice cup of coffee, the occasional wine, or the even rarer cigar. It soothed my nerves, helped me relax, and made me more imaginative and creative. It gave me a reason to interact and identify with my peers, something I had always had trouble with. I loved the peace and serenity of smoking out in the country side where I lived just contemplating the great mysteries. It made intellectual pursuits more enjoyable and engaging. Looking back had I been in this mind set earlier in my life I might have benefitted more from my education and certainly would have had fewer social problems.
Many people have preconceived images of Marijuana users as societal drop outs who contribute more to the snack food industry and reality TV ratings rather then society as a whole. Well we’re not. I have traveled and lived in a number of cities across America where Marijuana was legal and illegal, from California to Texas to Washington State. I have used Marijuana on a daily basis for over eighteen years, taking pauses where necessary for employment reasons or occasionally to assess the effects of the drug on my body and personality. I have noticed the “average” (If there is such a thing.) Marijuana user is a well educated, 20-40 year old caucasian male with some form of employment that brings in enough money to afford them what can be considered a lower to average middleclass lifestyle while still leaving a disposable income to enjoy hobbies and also a regular flow of Marijuana. It’s hard to be a regular user of anything if you can’t afford it in my experience.
Like any group you will have those who conform to a stereotype fostered by social labeling. I wish I could honestly say I have never met the stereotypical stoner, but there are plenty of them. But remember, these individuals, as with any other label, are a stereotype and not a majority. You also have those who completely contradict the stereotype. I’ve known scientists on the cutting edge of their field who enjoyed smoking Marijuana and had taken vacations to Amsterdam and Canada to sample the Marijuana there and whose hobbies included activities as diverse as sky diving and mountain climbing. I’ve met little old ladies who kept water pipes beside their bed to relieve their arthritis. I’ve met psychologists, teachers, insurance adjusters, bankers, tech support reps and home makers who enjoy Marijuana. As in any community we are vastly diverse and simply labeling us as “Stoners” fails to properly address the issues and further more shows a rather narrow view of the world. I have worked in diverse positions and have excelled in each and always left with high praise from my employers. My hobbies range from sailing to hiking to more intellectual pursuits such as history, science, and philosophy. I’ve traveled nationally and internationally and interacted with a wide variety of individuals from the upper class to “lower class” representing a wide range of people from all educational, economic, and social perspectives and the one thing they all had in common, (Initially of course.) was enjoyment of an intoxicant that is less harmful then state sanctioned intoxicants with certainly fewer side effects. I am not addicted to anything I know of. I have dabbled in stronger intoxicants and found them to be lacking in most benefits. I’ve sampled intoxicants ranging from the mundane to the exotic and walked away from all of them but for my only two habits, coffee and Marijuana.
This leads me to discard the belief that if you smoke Marijuana now, it's only a matter of time before your selling yourself on the street to feed your ever expanding drug repertoire. I’ve noticed something else. It seems like the most vocal opposition to Marijuana legalization comes from those who profit from prohibition. My favorite articles are those regurgitating the same empty fears and rhetoric that has been so prevalent in past efforts to control drug use in America to no avail, and then go on to explain their “expertise” has been gained either through fighting the “war on drugs” or through addiction recovery. Of course these people are going to demonize Marijuana. They make tons of money spewing inaccurate conformist garbage and convincing the naïve that they are serious drug addicts because they smoke the occasional joint and get proclaimed and exalted as moral crusaders and “contributing” members of society. So much for integrity.
Make no mistake Marijuana is a drug. Like any drug there are effects and side effects, understood and not. Lethargy and decreased motivation are commonly cited, but when compared to the side effects and actual addictiveness of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, or the wide variety of medications on the market today, any informed consumer would come to the same conclusions many of us already have. In closing I would simply ask what I normally do of anyone who I discuss controversial topics with. Review the facts, consider your sources, discard the speculation and biases, and form an educated opinion based on truth and experience rather then prejudice and conjecture.