There’s a stigma attached to the use of marijuana. It’s different than it was say, 20 years ago but it’s still not widely accepted as “no big deal”… Like it should be. The image of dirty hippies in a field climbing out of their psychedelic school bus, with their naked children and daisy chains. The inevitable “loser” and drain on society, the idiot with the munchies in the Jack in the Box commercial… Screech to a halt, folks! That’s just not the real face of the average pot smoker anymore. Who smokes pot? Well, it’s not just wayward kids and cancer patients. Many widely respected and notable figures are open about their pot use. From politicians to literary figures, TV personalities to household names. Maya Angelou was frank about her pot use, saying that it inspired “calm creativity”. Even the ultra uptight, Queen of etiquette, Martha Stewart knows how to roll a joint. (Did she learn that IN the joint?) regardless, I bet her joints are full of flavors like cardamom and fresh nutmeg. I bet she rolls a perfect joint… But I digress.
I decided to do some digging before I wrote this article. I was looking for comparative statistics between pot and alcohol use. I looked up stats regarding child neglect, endangerment and abuse first. My findings with alcohol were typical and not surprising. High numbers of child abuse cases stemming from habitual use of alcohol, but when I searched pot…. Nothing. I couldn’t find anything. I couldn’t find any numbers showing child abuse as a result of pot use. I decided to also look into domestic violence. The only time marijuana is mentioned in correlation with spousal abuse is when its combined with hard drugs like meth or cocaine. I looked into the overdose and death rates caused by the use of marijuana as well. That was an easy one for me. Before I even searched it, I knew the answer… A resounding ZERO. You don’t OD on pot. You don’t die from pot. Period. That is un refuted. The only statistic that I could find to compare to, was driving. Pot does make you high. It decreases your reaction time and creates issues with balance and coordination. Still, the numbers are vastly different. A person who has had four alcoholic beverages compared to a person who has smoked one joint (which is actually quite a bit of pot, most pot smokers don’t smoke an entire joint in one sitting) are five times more likely to have an auto accident while under the influence. Straight up, though… If you smoke pot, stay put. Don’t think that your driving isn’t impaired. Be responsible just as you would with alcohol or prescription meds.
Additionally, like alcohol, I believe that pot smoking is an adult activity and should be treated with care around children. We don’t drink with our kids and if they drink with their friends, they get punished. Pot should be treated the same way. Kids have no business using marijuana. The affect of habitual alcohol use on a young person can cause growth issues, lack of emotional development and long term physical ailments. Likewise, pot use can hinder emotional development and cognitive function and should not be used by kids. I found it interesting though, that habitual alcohol use causes the same issues and more in adults as it does in young people but pot doesn’t. There is no proof through study that shows pot to have long term emotional or cognitive effect on adults who begin using it at age 21.
This has been a tough article for me to write. You see, I smoke pot. I smoked a bit in my late teens and early twenties but stopped somewhere in my late twenties. In the meantime, I drank pretty heavily. As a result, I gained a ton of weight and suffered from daily headaches and mood swings. Once I became pregnant, I stopped drinking and also quit smoking cigarettes. I was running a small business and became incredibly consumed with the financial and emotional strain of my work. I was really melting down. A few of my friends took Xanax to “deal” with a variety of tough life issues and anxiety. A couple friends suggested I try it. I did and was SO amazed at what a difference a nights sleep would make! I mean, I just couldn’t turn my brain off for the many responsibilities that weighed on me. I was a mess and that tiny pill gave me some much needed respite. It also left me feeling a bit hung over on the mornings after I used it. I would wake up groggy and it would take me hours to “shake it off”. I still took it because the trade off was worth the sleep. I found, after not too long that it just didn’t work anymore. My doctors answer was to up my dose. This is when I really took some “Jenny inventory”. Was I going to be a pill popping mama? Would the long term affects on my liver and frankly, my personality be worth it? I didn’t take Xanax daily but it was too much and I decided to have it for an emergency only situation. I suffered through a few months of failing sleep and mental exhaustion and at the urging of a few friends and my husband, I decided to try pot. I had only ever smoked it for fun before. So, the idea of calling it “medicine” was funny to me. Well, that was more than six years ago and now I get the best of both worlds. When I smoke, it’s at the end of the night when my kids are asleep. I take a couple hits and feel the weight off day roll off. I feel a sense of relaxation. My brain is always in “go mode”. Every task I have upcoming is swirling around constantly. I suppose that it’s like that for most people. I used to have a couple glasses of wine to “unwind”. For me, pot is better. I like the buzz better, I like that there are no calories and I especially like that I never wake up hung over from it.
Here’s the problem, why is it more acceptable for a person like myself, to have a glass of wine (or bottle, don’t lie… You know a bottle has happened) but I can’t be wide open about pot use? I hide it from my kids for a few reasons. 1. I don’t want them to carry the burden of a secret 2. I don’t want their friends parents to treat them badly because they don’t understand pot and have misguided ideas of what it does, how it works etc. 3. Because technically, in California, it’s still illegal in some ways. It’s extremely frustrating to me that, our puritanical society has put me in the position that I MUST hide this from my children et al, but could fall down drunk in public with little reprise.
You may be wondering now, “then why is this broad posting about this now?” The answer to that is simple. I want to be part of the conversation that actually changes the way society views pot use. I want to be heard loud and clear that I smoke pot and am still a fantastically productive member of society. I work hard, I have a job that I love and that allows me to bring home a sweet salary and feel creative at the same time. Additionally, I have fun hobbies and spend amazing amounts of quality time with my kids. I’m active in their lives and am always trying to find enriching ways to spend our time together. I continue to further my education in ways that are relevant to my life and that of my family. I am proud of the life we make and improve upon daily, and I am not ashamed that I smoke pot.
Further, I have seen marijuana bring immense comfort to some people that I love very much. My grandmother, a devout Christian who had never so much as puffed a cigarette, found relief through marijuana use at the end of her life. She was in great pain, with a loss of appetite and a tough time sleeping. I offered to make her some pot tea. She found that in the right dose, it made her appetite return and then sent her gently into sleep. Bringing her that comfort should be legal and socially acceptable. Likewise, my best friend used it for pain management throughout her battle with cancer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just medicine, pot is fun! Much like a glass of wine, it should be socially acceptable to be used recreationally as well. It’s high time (see what I did there?) that we stopped passing judgement and enlightened ourselves. What gives you the right to judge me for using an herb that has hardly any side effect (aside from the desired and temporary effects) that is environmentally friendly and sustainable and does not put society at risk? Will you judge me over a few beers, perhaps?