Last weekend was 4/20, which for those who don’t know, is pretty much a holiday in the weed smoking community.
Last year Offie and I went over a bunch of different ways to consume cannabis and talked a bit about how it came to be illegal. We got some nice joints and had a great time. This year was very different for me than last year.
The Saturday of 4/20 we celebrated the engagement of two of my close friends, Kody and Maika, and had a huge meal with lots of friends and drinks and smoking and it was a great time. Even if that wasn’t the occasion I don’t think it would have been the same as last year. I would have done the show probably but I didn’t have that same drive to go and get fucked up high like I did last year. Partially because I want to save money wherever I can but I also just felt like I had better things to be doing. And that felt very important to me.
I’m not sure why. I started smoking pot really young and have always carried a chip on my shoulder about it. For a long time I felt like it was part of my mission in life to show people that pot wasn’t bad. That you could smoke weed and be productive and functioning member of society because I truly truly believe that the vast majority of people who use cannabis ARE. When I was in school I made it very apparent I smoked weed. I wasn’t the kid who had pot leaves in his hats and socks but I wasn’t afraid to hide what I did and was even less afraid to talk about it.
My sophmore year, the only thing I wanted more than to constantly have a girlfriend, was to smoke as much pot as I could but also do as good as I could in school. The first part I followed through with but the second part not so much. I will argue till I die that weed is not the reason. There was an infant, my first nephew Ryin, without a solid father figure living in my house, I was playing football on both JV and Varsity, I was walking everywhere besides school and of course couldn’t have been more focused on girls. My mind was not on school. It took my being faced with not graduating after a 90-day suspension for me to even BEGIN to take school seriously, and when that chip on my shoulder began to not be my best friend.
I had to take college courses to get enough credits to finish Highschool with my class when I went back. The college professors didn’t care about my personal life like the Highschool teachers were apt to, and cared even less that I smoked pot. They were grown adults with their own opinions and expected me to be the same. A Highschool teacher is partially tasked with shaping the person a student will be become, not to just deliver information. A Highschool teacher will argue with you, as a student, about your drug habits and how they affect the things you do and what your future looks like. They will talk to you about going to college and how establishing good habits now will help you succeed there if that is what you choose to do (which they all suggested you do when I was high school). As a college student you are an adult. You are obviously IN college, presumably borrowing money from a bank or someone else and are therefor a true American with your newly acquired debt. What you do is your business.
Of all of the things I have grown out of since I was a teenager, the chip about smoking weed took me the longest. I still smoke weed all of the time because it helps me in a number of ways. My mind is extraordinarily busy. When I WAS in school, the only way I could effectively write an essay or even do a fair amount of homework was to get high first and while I was doing it. It allowed me to slow down and put my thoughts in order so they could be effectively conveyed on paper. It also helped me write every single one of these blog posts and do most of my non-work related research for the show. I have problems with my knees that cause chronic pain that cannabis has a deeply positive affect on. It helps me open my mind for the show and understand other peoples’ opinions. And when consumed in excess it helps me have a really great time with my friends and family and sometimes even be more tapped into my feelings for them.
I think the reason it took me so long to get rid of that monkey on my back was because I still think it’s true. I feel that I myself am fairly good evidence of being able to smoke pot, work more than full time, be a great husband and father, and also co-host a growing intellectual podcast. I also feel that some things are not for everyone. I would never force or even push cannabis on anyone but I would advocate trying it to everyone. I have heard and seen no shortage of stories of people having been against it their entire life, trying it once after years of pain or anxiety and feeling immense relief from it. I feel that cannabis generally intensifies things; so those who are lazy can become even lazier, those who are are creative can become even more so, and so on and so forth. As in everything, it should be used in moderation and in accordance to your tolerance and reason for use. Just like alcohol.
In the numerous times we have talked about cannabis on our show we have mentioned no shortage of times (including in multiple blog posts, episodes and old school dissents) that cannabis and alcohol are regulated by the same bureaucratic body. You have to be 21 years old to purchase both of them and can’t do it after a certain time. It’s still illegal to buy it for minors and you aren’t allowed to do it and drive. They are legally considered the same thing, at least in Washington state. No one has ever overdosed on cannabis but people drink themselves to death all the time. The statistics are insane as to how much safer cannabis is than alcohol. But somehow cannabis still carries a stigma that alcohol doesn’t. Smoking weed as a teenager will ruin your life and set you into a path of doing more drugs, but experimenting with drinking is normal. That’s not something I understand.
People have spent their lives behind bars for small amounts of marijuana but there are people with multiple DUI’s and alcohol related assaults that walk the streets. I know someone personally who received a second DUI within the probationary period of his first. Speeding in a construction zone on his way to the airport because he didn’t want to pay for an Uber. Somehow avoided jail time. Has an interlock in his car but no license, no insurance, bad tabs on the car and hasn’t made a payment on it in months. He can’t even go and get it fixed because his license is suspended and he doesn’t have the title to his car. I 100% understand this is anecdotal, but this is a failure of the justice system.
There are entire social media pages and websites, even APPAREL that promotes “wine moms” and moms who need to drink to handle their children. This is not only common but promoted. I am not by any means saying this is a bad thing. I grew up in a home where drinking was done rarely but in great fun every time. I drink beer regularly and with my baby in my arm. I merely bring this up to compare the general social acceptability of drinking while you are holding an infant, but for most people to even consider being high around a child is inconceivable. Why? To be stoned is not as it is comically portrayed on TV. For the vast majority of people it doesn’t even slightly incapacitate you and it doesn’t not cause hallucinations. It doesn’t lower inhibitions any more than a glass of whiskey and doesn’t affect motor function.
I’m not sure. Truly. After all this time having these feelings and consuming cannabis for so many different reason, I don’t know what it is that causes this dramatic contrast between cannabis and alcohol. Reefer madness is long gone and so is William Randolph Hearst. Even Mitch McConnell is accepting of hemp, the non-psychoactive sister of cannabis, hell he wants it in his state to help replace tobacco. And I think this was it the whole time. This is why it was hard for me to let go of that chip I had on my shoulder. Because the vast vast majority of people I know or have ever heard talk about cannabis feel the same way I do. That the “harm” and stigma of cannabis is hyped up and misplaced.
So I think what I can chalk it up to is the scheduling. Cannabis is still classified as a schedule 1 drug meaning it has no medical value, which I couldn’t disagree with more vehemently. There is an excess of documented and anecdotal evidence to support the medicinal uses of cannabis and if NOTHING else, the CBD chemical that resides in it. A drug called Epidolex was approved last year for clinical testing for treatment of seizures, directly contradicting the claims by the federal government of cannabis showing no medical benefits. Scientific understanding of cannabis, the chemicals within it and the unique way they interact with the human body is changing and I feel that the social understanding and stigma around it needs to as well. And I believe this starts with changing the federal understanding and recognition of the benefits around cannabis both medicinally and recreationally.