- Posted December 26, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Does marijuana help you?
“ain’t nobody’s business but my own.”
During recent years especially, there have been many discussions and writings about whether or not marijuana should be legalized in the United States. In the past, I have considered entering this discussion, but I usually do not claim to know what is best for anyone else but me. I do have, however, my story to tell you which may help you decide, either way.
When I was in high school and college, I used to belong to “The Parkway Gang.” We were just a group of friends who lived near the Kinnickinnic River Parkway near Jackson Park in Milwaukee. It was with “the gang” that I first consumed alcohol when I was 17 years old, during “the summer of love,” on July 31, 1967 to be exact. I remember the exact date since it was the first afternoon of the “Milwaukee Riots” when all city residents were ordered to remain in their homes. But I defied the law enforcement authorities two times that day…when I went outside and walked a block to a friend’s parent’s house and when I drank my first beer with the gang.
Feeling slightly under the influence for the first time on that date was one of several types of virginity lost during my long life. There is no reversing or forgetting the first, very personal discovery and experience of an altered state of consciousness.
After that date, until I entered the military in 1969, I only occasionally drank alcohol with the gang, and my only drug of choice was Schlitz.
So in June, 1969, I entered the military and by October of that year I was in stationed in Vietnam. But I must admit with absolutely no guilt that my one year of living life in Saigon was the very best year of the life I have lived so far. I worked 7 a.m. until noon 6 days a week and it was during my one year of living life in Saigon that I first started inhaling and holding in the smoke of burning marijuana. Thus another type of virginity was lost, but so much else was gained.
Until I first used marijuana (hereafter to be mostly referred to as the monosyllabic “weed”) I consumed only alcohol. After my first use of weed, though, I rarely consumed alcohol for about the next 20 years. Instead, for about 20 years after 1969, I very happily used weed almost exclusively…almost every day.
While under the influence of weed, I very much enjoyed the pure relaxation and flow of thoughts and internal words while I always must refer to alcohol as only “the dumb drug.” My “favorite” time to smoke weed, if I had to identify only one of my many favorite times, was at sunrise when I sit and listen to the quiet and I see light starting to angle inside and I feel cool breezes that carry the music of springtime birds into to my open windows…into my open room. I sit quietly, warmly remembering yesterdays and visualizing what we will gain tomorrow. You would have to be here and dream with me to know just what I mean.
During those 20 years, working as a college-educated mental heath professional, I really did immensely enjoy myself every second of every occasion I was under the influence of weed. I enjoyed smoking weed almost daily…until, that is, I prepared to interview for a State of Wisconsin Probation and Parole Agent position.
At that time, wanting this meaningful career which I knew I would continue until retirement, I immediately stopped my use of weed after about 20 years of almost daily use. I immediately stopped because, needless to say, it would have been most hypocritical of me enforce all laws for all probationers and all parolees if I would have continued to violate any law, including the possession of and use of weed. I immediately stopped without too much anxiety at all, although my wife claimed I was more grumpy than usual for two or three days.
I clearly remember the agent interview when “The Regional Chief” asked me why I wanted to become an agent and I answered, word for word, “because of my sincere altruistic desire to perform an important community service.” I was most sincere and I was soon hired.
My wife, Michelle, was also later hired as a Probation and Parole Agent. Michelle specialized in the supervision of offenders convicted of domestic violence offenses until she retired. We both found that our careers gave us the opportunity to live our ideals of nonviolence. We tried to assist many victims of crimes and we tried to motivate many offenders to not re-offend. We tried to motivate others to find non-violent ways of resolving disputes. Michelle and I conscientiously tried to help bring hope for a positive future to those who lost hope. Every day, for many years, we tried to help decrease crime and to increase peace in Milwaukee.
One routine duty performed by an agent is to take into custody, usually from the office, “offenders” who violate laws and/or supervision rules and/or court-ordered conditions of supervision. Agents usually make arrests in the office, but they also come knocking at the door. The offender is taken into custody and transported to jail by the agent. Reasons for custody vary, from marijuana use to murder.
Now you may believe that it was still hypocritical of me, considering my past weed use, to perform any agent duty, let alone the duty of taking offenders into custody for weed use.
But I saw it differently, needless to say.
I knew from experience that if I could stop using marijuana after about 20 years of almost daily use, then offenders could also stop using, at least while on community supervision. The difference, unfortunately, between many others and me was that me was willing to stop and many others were not.
For many years, until I retired, I did witness the tragic crimes, intense suffering, needless deaths and extreme violence related to the buying and selling and use and abuse of illegal drugs.
And I also know of the misery alcohol abuse causes and how tobacco use is the single cause of death worldwide.
But during my professional experience for many years in mental health, criminal justice and law enforcement, I found that our community devastation related to illegal drugs has resulted primarily because of cocaine and opiate buying and selling and using and abusing as well as by the impulsive desperation withdrawals cause.
The main problems existing amongst weed users are the high cost of purchase, finding who to safely purchase from, how to avoid arrest and the resulting inconvenience after improbable arrest.
In truth, however, some weed users have experienced, as I also have, one individual problem directly resulting from weed use that could possibly contribute to a larger societal problem, if legalized.
In truth, some weed users desire to do nothing, but to enjoy the present with a lessened regard for responsibilities required.
In truth, some weed users desire to sit at too many sunrises and listen to the quiet and see light starting to angle inside and feel cool breezes that carry the music of springtime birds into open windows…into open rooms.
In truth, what is recognized as Amotivational Syndrome does affect some weed users now, would affect many more weed users if legalized and could therefore even adversely affect manufacturing productivity and corporate profits.
So until I retired, I was a “Corrections Field Supervisor” for 16 years after working for years as an agent. I have to now honestly disclose, for the sake of this story, that even though I never, ever used weed during this period, I still enjoyed an altered state of consciousness frequently after work, once again making my “dumb drug” of choice only beer. And I did not want to pay the price of cheap intoxicants. At least I then gained a taste for craft and European beers, but I steadily gained a beer belly now weighing at least 50 pounds.
Now Michelle and I are happy in retirement. Even though I still enjoy a good beer at times, I wish I could also tell you that I enjoy an idyllic retirement enjoying wisps of weed and the resulting flow of thoughts and internal words.
I wish I could tell you that the “dumb drug” of alcohol has been again replaced by weed.
I wish I could tell you my beer belly is shrinking and my good writings are gaining.
I wish I could sit at sunrise and listen to the quiet and see light starting to angle inside and feel cool breezes that carry the music of springtime birds into to my open windows…into my open room.
I wish I could tell you that I wrote this entire piece while under the influence of weed, but there are common-sense limits to my self-disclosure.
For I know that if I made those reckless, public claims, especially in writing, especially in published writing, our very good criminal justice and law enforcement authorities who do serve us and who do protect us would also have no choice but to come knocking at the door.
“The summer of love” supposedly occurred in 1967, but this all ended a long time ago in many, varied ways. So in this new age with old prohibitions, I must conclude my story by only wishfully thinking and safely saying that my present and future use of weed “ain’t nobody’s business but my own.”