"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Legal Pot and Pandora's Box

Yesterday I posted on Facebook about my first hilarious visit to one of the completely legal marijuana dispensaries that are sprouting up all over my state of Oregon. Truth was, it wasn’t really my idea. Friends from California had dropped by. In our exuberance to see the sights, we happened into Oregon’s newest delight.  

I posted about my virginal exposure to the demon “weed” and we all had a good laugh. Friends “liked” the post and virtually high-fived me for finally taking the plunge Then I received a note from a friend who is married to an extremely gifted artist who suffers from Schizophrenia. Her note reminded me of the consequences that people suffering from mental illness (diagnosed or not) can suffer from after exposure to even one joint. I recalled friends who started smoking pot in the 60s and 70s and dropped out of society, derailed onto a side track, never to regain steam for the journey. (Bad pun, but you get my point.)

My friend took a breath and let me have it straight. She said that I had missed the point of her book, Tales of the Titmouse (https://www/goodreads,com/author/show/3142285.PamBarrett)

She wrote a fine book, with PG-13 sensitivity, about her journey in the drug world of the 70s, her personal use of marijuana, life as a drug mule, survivor of a drug overdose and miraculous deliverance. She reminded me that attitudes like mine are confusing because even though Oregon has legalized it, the US Government has not. Her book is a finely-written argument that any drug has consequences, not all of them readily apparent. On a side note: It’s a valuable tool to help drug addicts and their loved ones.

She reminded me that marijuana is still a drug, one that can lead to future addiction, and that THC can still cause many people to have a bad trip. For people with a family history of mental illness or depression, the cannabinoid receptors in marijuana can trigger a reaction. Although marijuana helps for some health issues, unlike other drugs, it has not been studied in America. People are self-medicating without considering the side effects. Some people won’t know they are at risk until they try it, and for some the addiction will be too strong. She has a point. Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s benign.

Back in the 60s we didn’t think pot was a big deal; people sitting around, partying, getting high. But THC levels were drastically lower than they are today. “Back in the day”, I never really tried pot, maybe a puff or two, but my friend Pam stuck around long enough to see the consequences of her choices. She saw friends die or disappear into the jungle, never to be heard from again. She made enemies and had to flee for her life. Reading my glib “endorsement” brought back all of the pain.

Full disclosure, I bought a little sack of cocoa laced with marijuana, but I haven’t opened it yet. In the back of my mind I’m afraid of opening Pandora’s Box. The sack is still sealed. It’ll keep until I think through the next step.