punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Don't Do Drugs... okay, not all the time

I recall back in... 1988, I was at a sci-fi con when drugs were really on the rise in fandom. They were still "hippie" drugs, like marijuana, LSD, and the like, but it was causing some concern with elder fandom because a few of them were still a bit angry at the "hippie wave" that flooded into fandom in the mid to late 70s. "See," some said, "I told you they weren't serious fans." This convention's chairman decided to stand up at opening ceremonies and say a few words, and as far as I know, was the first to publicly announce that he wanted a "drug-free" convention. It was a short speech, but serious in nature. When he was done, the crowd was silent and thoughtful, but then the silence was broken by... someone raising their hand in the air. The chairman was a bit surprised, since this wasn't a question-or-answer panel, but he said, "Uh... yes?"

"Sir," said the mousy female voice, tinted with concern, "does that include prescription drugs?"

People talked about that for YEARS. Mostly "what was the dumbest thing you have ever seen?" kind of conversations, but to the chairman's credit, he did state next year that "only prescription drugs, prescribed by your doctor to you, are allowed only if you take them at their prescribed times and doses. All other drugs and verboten!"

I used to be mega-paranoid about illegal drugs. I am sure my father thought I was on them, because he thought so little of me in general that he lumped whatever social ills he knew about in one big definition of "bad kid." My mother drank, and abused tranqs, so it wasn't like I had no way to get drugs. But, I never took them. Not one. I have never been under the influence of anything but legal medications, and I don't even like taking over-the-counter pain medicine very much. Until I was 16, I believed the whole lock, stock, and barrel about "drugs = evil." A regular Joe Friday.

What happened at 16? I woke the hell up. It started when some friends of mine at a party (oddly enough, at a sci-fi convention) who broke out some joints. They offered, I declined, they never pressured. But thus began my introduction into the minor-league drug culture. I began to relax as I saw the real truth, warts and all, about drugs. I think my first big epiphany was realizing that occasional drug use was very common among most of my friends, and that they never "needed" it, but rather used it as a tool. This is how I explain marijuana:

Marijuana is a tool, like a drill. You use a drill to do a job, like drill a hole in your foundation to put up a shelf, and then you put it away until you need it again. But some people think drilling holes is a lot of fun. They get addicted to the vibration of the drill, and soon cannot imagine a life without it. While this is happening, friends and family try to say stuff to warn them of their drill use, but the noise of the drill is too loud and they don't hear. Soon, they have drilled so many holes that their foundation collapses.

Native Americans saw the spirit (medicine) of marijuana as a dancing woman. You must pay her to dance for you. She will dance for you as long as you have money. But keep in mind, she never cares for you, just the money. Some men see her as mere entertainment, while men have gone mad for her. Some have used her to show them things, and some have confused what she has shown as real.

"Man made beer, God made marijuana: whom do you trust?" I see some people say. Well, God made the hops, malt, and barely that goes into beer. And God never told you to dry his marijuana, crush it, roll it, light it on fire, and inhale the smoke into your lungs, either. I mean, God made apples, and you don't smoke them, do you? How about squirrels?

I can't say that marijuana is bad or good, because it depends on who uses it. I have seen marijuana destroy a good friend of mine. It took a brilliant young artist and killed her will to live or fend for herself. It made her lazy, sick, and addicted. She found all kinds of excuses to keep smoking it, from her "bad back" to her monthly cramps and "crisis du jour." And we all watched, helpless. We watched boyfriend after boyfriend screw her and dump her. She used to be a dedicated worker, and she lost all her jobs until she stopped trying. Her friends all went away. She just sat on the couch, watching TV, coughing and moaning. She doesn't even do art anymore. But do I blame marijuana for that? Not really. No one forced her to smoke it. She was even an asthmatic, and she still kept it up. After looking at this for 12 years, I can honestly say that marijuana was the gun she put to her own head. If it wasn't Mary Jane's dance, it would have been something else.

A majority of my friends haven't done any drugs since they were in their early 20s. Most wouldn't do it now, and not because of the illegal factor, but because they don't need it anymore. Some finally admit stuff they wouldn't have before, like, "I never got high, really" or "I just did it because I was bored." My friend Brad says it gives him a headache.

But then there's the other factor. I work with a guy who is a poster boy for "don't do drugs." He's not a teen, but he's an older guy with a long white beard, dirty tee-shirt, and is totally spaced out most of the time. Sometimes his clothes smell of it, and his actions are very much like someone who has a problem: he spaces out while talking to you, forgets what you or he just said, doesn't do much work, and basically would be the first against the wall if layoffs occurred in my department. I don't know how he stays employed. Even his rare e-mails reflect his state of mind: some of them unfinished, or asking a question you just answered, like "I realize you said that the server is on rack Q42, room 8, but I need to know what rack the server is located on. And what room number?" Sometimes he answers mails that are not for him. Like:

> There is a pile of stuff on the Lab floor, looks like tools and things. If they
> are yours, please clean them up as they are blocking the storage closet

can you describe these tools

> It was a bunch of assorted tools and parts, go have a look.

are they mine?

> I don't know, go look. If they are yours, please move them.

i cant clean them up if I don't know their mine. please give a description of ea

> I am not listing them. Go to the lab. Look at them. If they are yours
> please pick them up

where are they

> In front of the storage closet, that's the problem.

in the lab

> Yes.

whose are they?

> I have met many people, sir, and you are not one of them.

Okay, I didn't say that last part, but I wanted to. He replied to the entire batch of people each time (about a dozen cc'd on the e-mail), even when I replied to him singly. And it turns out they weren't his tools, but someone else's, who replied to me privately only once with a small and polite apology and explanation, and then moved them. For several days, the pot-head would bring up, "Did you see whose tools those were?" even after I told him the person who owned them had taken care of it.

This man has a driver's license, and is driving on public roads. That's what's scary.

But should marijuana be illegal? Canada recently reflected on their minor possession laws. The US balks. Well, America, in my humble opinion, if you allow tobacco and alcohol, you should allow marijuana. I have now seen enough people under the influence to conclude that almost no one (no one I have ever seen or heard about) does violent and terrible things under Mary Jane's influence. In fact, it calms them, makes them giggle, spacey, and gives them a mean case of the munchies at best. I looked at The Dangers of Marijuana at FamilyEducation.com, and here's my responses:

Possessing marijuana is a criminal offense. Well, it wouldn't be if it was legalized. It would also heavily reduce crime by its very definition.

The marijuana available today is stronger than the marijuana available in the 1960s. It also may be laced with other drugs. True, but so was tobacco (added nicotine), and when we found out about it, we at least slapped them on the wrist about it. I think we should learn from that, and have it mandated and regulated like the FDA does with meats and veggies.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main, active ingredient in marijuana, temporarily alters brain functioning that affects sensory perception, reflexes, and coordination. Because it changes the way people see, hear, and feel, it can impair judgement. So can alcohol and blunt trauma. None of those are illegal.

Though many people believe it isn't, marijuana is physically addicting. Uh, so is tobacco, alcohol, sleeping pills, and in my opinion, saturated fats. Those are legal.

Studies suggest that marijuana may cause permanent short- and long-term memory loss. I always like "studies show," without a link to the study. There are no "study standards" in the media, so all words like "studies show" mean to me are "I think I have support, I heard I did." Cite your sources. I bet it's funded by an anti-marijuana group. Experience has shown me that flagrant abuse does seem to cause short- and long-term memory loss... but so does abuse of many other things like tobacco, alcohol, and boxing. Again, those are legal.

Smoking marijuana can release inhibitions, causing people to engage in risky social and sexual behavior. No disagreements here, either, but so can alcohol and peer pressure. The desire to be liked, I think, is the greatest inhibition releaser.

Studies suggest that marijuana may cause permanent short- and long-term memory loss. I always like how... wait a minute. Okay, okay, bad joke, I know. I couldn't resist.

As with any excessive drug use, smoking marijuana can interfere with school performance, extra-curricular activities, and peer relations. Heavy smokers often lose their sense of motivation and find it difficult to concentrate. Particularly potent marijuana can even induce paranoia. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, so can alcohol, but you know, from PERSONAL experience, so can a bad home life. I had poor school performance, weird extra-curricular activities, and odd peer relations... but I never smoked pot in my life.

Regular use of marijuana may play a role in causing cancer (particularly lung cancer) and problems with the immune or reproductive systems. Studies also show that someone who smokes five joints a day may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. I know people who smoke two packs of tobacco sticks a day, and that's legal... hold on a second, *five joints*? Holy Spires of Tuscapin! Anyone who is smoking that much pot is either too rich for his or her own good, or doesn't give a CRAP about anything. That's a personal problem! Even the most adamant drug abuser I have ever known smoked less than a joint a day! Who the hell is smoking five joints a day?

The site the told me to go to the NDIA page, and I read some good stuff here, but nothing seems to really address the fact that we are using and regulating far more dangerous stuff, which leads to my original point: it should be the user's choice. For instance, I realize that eating a bag of Oreos a day would be bad for me, so I don't do it. Besides, I'd get sick of them real quick. I don't drink alcohol by choice, and I could get that anywhere. Almost all my friends drink, but they don't pressure me to.

But pot is illegal, so it's not my choice (in theory). So I guess I'll never know, and thus, don't do drugs.



"Does that include prescription drugs?"


This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000119.html
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