One Man’s Journey with Marijuana
We often hear about marijuana, marijuana users, the effects marijuana has on the users, etc.. It’s not that often that you hear about all this from the user perspective. Since this IS “It’s All in the Perspective”, I want to share the article I recently received with you. It was offered for posting to another site, but was apparently not used. I think it is a perspective that needs to be heard. Both the author and I would be interested to hear any feedback you may have for us.
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Hawaii… the paradise of the United States and one of the most recent of the fine lands to be added to this country’s territories. It is my home and home to the tradition of cooking pork under ground, land of the aloha spirit, and home of the famous Maui-Wowie strain of marijuana.
When my parents split up when I was eight years old, I was moved into a different school, had to face a whole new set of circumstances, and inevitably began to slip away from the reality that the other kids were living in. I found myself instead in a situation where relating to those around me just did not bring a sense of equality. They became what I had been before the breaking of my family. I then moved on to something detached and distant from that lost world – a place where my own equals would need to suffer as I was suffering.
Having been a straight “A” student previous to the break up, I then became much less academically inclined and increasingly distracted from my studies. As one would expect, this caused a sudden plummet in my grades, requiring conferences with my mother, eventually landing me in sessions with a private counselor to assess and diagnose my degenerating social condition.
Though it was before the actual boom of the now pandemic classification of the condition, I was diagnosed with a form of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Perhaps this diagnosis was the final step in a psychologist’s failure to produce a reversal in the degenerating mental conductivity of a child patient, or perhaps the events of my life at the time prompted a mental growth in the direction of this kind of disorder; in the end science sees only results, and results were results.
During this time I made a friend who would later introduce me to the vehicle of my greatest delivery from the problems of my life. Where I had a broken home, Raj had a life that was simply devastated by an alcoholic step father, a stoned out sister, and a mother who worked too much to lend him the attention he needed to prevail against the looming demons of a world gone sour. We became the best of friends for the few years that followed. For my 11th birthday Raj brought me a “joint” he had raided from his step-dad’s stash.
I can recall thinking it was an odd gift for him to bring, primarily because Raj was not a pot smoker at all – had never been to my knowledge – but he was the only friend who had come to my birthday party that year and I was excited to try this new and rebellious thing.
Not knowing what to do with it, I pulled my older brother aside and told him what my buddy had brought. As I recall, he laughed at the terrible rolling job Raj had done, then he took it and re-rolled it. My big bro was no stranger to marijuana and wasted no time in making use of my odd B-day present. He smoked most of it with one of his friends.
Out in my clubhouse he left me the ½ inch nub of the thing, then told me – as any older brother would – that if mom found out he had let me smoke it I’d be a dead man. I had no problem keeping to that bargain, and a little later my buddy and I went out and did our best to inhale rather than just puff at the nub. Recalling a tradition that my brother had told me of, when we finished it I ate the remainder so as not to waste it – as I thought my bro would have done.
I didn’t feel stoned, at first. Raj and I spent a bit hanging out in the clubhouse trying to let the smell dissipate before we headed back in to the party.
The waiting paid off. Heading back in didn’t really amount to walking so much as it felt like floating through a haze of thick air which I couldn’t quite see or think through. I can remember being paranoid everyone would be on to us. As luck would have it, my older sister’s husband and his brother had been arguing all day and the actual brawl had just started when Raj and I made our way back in to the front yard. No one even noticed us. Poncho and George were in mid fist fight as I floated by, providing the ultimate cover for us stoned out little delinquents.
I can’t remember making it into the house, going into my bedroom, or passing out on the bed. The next day I woke up and discovered I’d missed the rest of my birthday party. Raj had gone home some how, probably fearing my mom would discover that he’d killed me, and thanks to the fighting, every one chalked up my sleeping to being bummed out that the adults were getting so violent.
I didn’t try any pot for a few years after that. Thinking back to it, knowing what I know now, it was probably not a good idea to have eaten the “roach”.
I went on to fail 6th grade, no marijuana involved, got put into a private catholic school, got kicked out of the private school for fighting, then, thanks to much pleading and promising by my mother, ended up getting put back into the grade I was supposed to be in, along side the people who had seen me flunk out the year before. It was after this full circle that I met the friends that I would keep to this day.
Thanks to my failing 6th grade, when I got back in to classes with the kids I had been going to school with, I didn’t really do well socially. Hanging out with me was a taboo which would get you flunked faster than any failure on your own part. So there weren’t many friends to be had there, but I did meet a few characters who seemed as distant from the norm as me. They were the outcasts, the hippies, so to speak, of the school. But I discovered they were accepting, fun, and as disgusted with fitting in as I was, and that meant more to me than all the academic success or parental pats on the back in the world. Many of them had parents left over from the “Flower Children” of the 60’s and 70’s. The guys I met reminded me of my older brother’s friends, and that was the coolest thing I had ever had a chance to be part of.
When we turned thirteen my mother gave each of us kids the choice of continuing to live with her or go further down the mountain to live with our father. His house was closer to my school, friends, and the rest of town than further up the mountain where mom liked to live, so it was a no-brainer. Better yet, since my father still worked his musician night job, I had plenty of time on my own to hang with the guys and “discover” who I was to become.
Pot became a norm for me after that point. I can pretty much say I have been stoned every day of the twenty-one years since then; though I have had a few days without any smoke at all. Many of my friend’s parents never did put a hold on what they could do; believing they would do what they’d do and any attempts to hamper that would only cause them to do it elsewhere. Many of them gave us pot freely. Sometimes we’d have to sneak in and raid their stashes in order to get it. Keeping a bunch of teenagers stocked on pot can get expensive! There was never a lot of pot back then, so stealing it became something we had to do to stay high. My dad has always been a law abiding “straight arrow” of a man, and so I had little to bring to the table when it came down to providing a high for me and the boys, but what I lacked in funds and resources I made up for with frequent trips to the nearby pastures to collect psychedelic mushrooms. My father must have known I was up to teenage mischief. I think that is probably why he never gave me too much money or an allowance as a teen, not to mention I didn’t really do much around the house, or was ever around the house to begin with, but I still managed to stay high.
So what has this way of life provided for me, you might be asking yourself? What, in my stoned out haze, have I learned in this time? Well to answer that question I must first turn your attention to those I went to school with who did not follow in my footsteps.
About three quarters of them went on to become “normal” people. They graduated high school whereas I dropped out in 9th grade. Some of that three quarters went to college. Most of them simply got married, found average jobs, started families, and they continue on in this fashion to this very day.
A small percentage of my “straight” classmates even went on to something more; lives that led them to something other than going into debt by living far beyond their means, having more children than they know how to raise properly, or living on their family’s property for the remainder of their days with the previously mentioned things as the sum of their mundane lives.
The other quarter of my classmates have crossed my path throughout the years. I have run in to them at parties, or on the street, or passed them in my car. To tell the absolute truth, this group has fallen far from happiness and the ways of productivity. They are the ones who ended up hopelessly addicted to crystal-methamphetamine, a popular drug increasingly finding its way into most small towns and cities alike these days.
The way of drugs, it seems, will find who it will find, where ever they are. Even a few of the graduates have fallen prey to cocaine or heroine, and I have come upon them at parties, usually taking up time in bathrooms that have a line of drinkers waiting impatiently outside to either get some of what they’ve got or just to take care of biological business.
I can not say that I was totally free of experimentation with these kinds of drugs, but overall I count myself lucky to be a stoner and only a stoner.
Throughout all of our psychedelic sojourns, not many of my immediate crowd of friends have fallen prey to the darker side of drugs. I would be lying if I said we have not had our own failures who are either dead, in prison, or are hiding at this very moment in some dark closet awaiting the ring of a telephone call from their latest dealer. What I can surely say is that of a percentage matched against those who did not count themselves among our immediate crowd, most of us are doing as well as the high school graduates, the college graduates, and the baby makers. Some of us have gone on to better schooling and the jobs they want for themselves, some have quit smoking pot and only go out to drink on social occasions. Others still “stone out” when they have the time, when they are not pressed with obligations such as helping their kids with their homework, running errands, or fixing things around the house. As a whole, I think most of us who were given free reign during our teenage years to experiment with what we would have moved beyond most forms of drugs, having simply done all of the soul searching that we could while we had the freedom of youthful naivety.
So back to the question of me… What has a full time stoner such as I accomplished? Where have I gone? What have I done? What have I gained from my dedication to that removed frame of mind?
Let me first start by saying that I have recently given up marijuana and have been clean of any sort of high for many months now. I never was a drinker. I am part Native American and I think that genetic heritage gives me more of a sickly feeling than a good buzz from alcohol. I did not quit being a pot head because I feel that it has no more to offer me, but because in these economic times it is simply impractical to spend money on the stuff. I also wondered what I would become as “the sober me”.
For someone who has been high every day for 21 years I can tell you that the detox I went through was a noticeable one, but was not the kind one would expect from a drug such as heroin, cocaine, or even prescription drugs or nicotine. It was definitely difficult, but only in the way that facing ones pressing anxiety is difficult.
Life seems to loom greater these days. My patience is thin for people and the faults I see within them. The state of our country actually scares me and I feel as if I’m some kind of little creature trapped within the cage of our nation; awaiting what new terrible thing the larger beings who are in charge of my cage may come up with next.
My wife enjoys the fact that I seem to be more driven these days; more obsessed with doing something, anything, to stay busy. But she also sees that I have a quicker temper and am more prone to mood-swings, and this puts a strain on our relationship which hasn’t previously been there in the six years we’ve been together.
These things are new to me in my adulthood, though I can remember being quick-tempered as a kid, and they have come up since I have become a sober member of society. I have faith that there is good that may come from these things should I learn to cannel them toward constructive avenues, but I feel that I am still adjusting at present.
Being content leads one nowhere, and unrest drives one forward, right?
And what of the years that I spent in a marijuana induced haze? What have they taught me…?
They say that you become spaced out when you are high. This is true, but no one really focuses on where the stoner goes during these times of mental transcendence. Perhaps the best way to understand this would be to understand the things that have become important to me after a lifetime of bong bowls and spliffs.
Most of all I have learned to watch people and the world around me. To just sit back and let it BE, and watch it be, and examine it as it trundles along down there below me. People all hustle and bustle like so many ants upon an ever growing ant hill; focused upon the task at hand with such obsessive compulsion to perform the next task, then the next task, that they sometimes fail to take a needed reprieve from the obsession to perform. I always found it an odd place to be; orbiting as I was in that distant pot induced perspective, watching the world around me grit their teeth in anticipation of what they were seeking to accomplish, all the while climbing and clambering over each other with only a slight realization of who’s agenda they were treading upon to get what they so feverishly desired. It always seemed to me that we do so much damage with our obsessive focus, when we could simply use our own drives and passions to simply Be, rather than obsess over doing, doing, doing.
Did I ever think it wrong to be a doer; to be someone who has an incredible drive to accomplish an agenda? No. But I do believe that attaining a balance allows us, as individuals occupying a shared space with other individuals, to take a needed step back, relax, and just watch the many pathways of our fellow human beings hopes and dreams. It is important to understand how those things may reflect or correlate with our own agenda. The ability to have this perspective, I owe to marijuana.
I owe my success as a creative individual to my years as a stoner. I don’t think I could have found the patience and focus to do the things I’ve done without it. My ADD condition often makes me erratic about implementing ideas, something I have noticed becoming more of a problem these sober months. It makes it difficult to sit and do the things that I have come to love, such as my art, my music, my woodworking, and my writing. These things suffer under my sober drive and impatience, and probably due to having ADD, or perhaps because I have developed a dependency upon an outside influence to perform these actions.
I guess it’s a “chicken or the egg” situation. Did I truly start out with ADD? Or was it just a simple answer to a problem that some psychiatrist could not figure out? I certainly had great grades before my parents split up. So why the sudden onset of the debilitating symptoms of ADD when that event occurred? Certainly prescribing marijuana to children never has – and never will – cross the minds of any upstanding academic in society today. But is giving them forms of speed, such as some of the prescribed drugs that are acceptable today, any better?
Still, I see my present choice to set aside the drug that I have relied upon for so many years as a loss. I have not molded a clay sculpture, written a song to completion, or gone out to the shed to work on a woodworking piece in months. I barely feel the drive to do so. When I look around at the things I have accomplished; listen to the three albums my band produced, examine the detail of the sculptures on my shelf or the furniture I have made, I have to wonder just how marijuana has adversely affected me, if at all. Even writing this today, I must regularly stand up and pace around, think, will myself to focus, make another cup of coffee, fight the urge to turn on the TV, then sit and put thoughts to keyboard. And just a little bit later, repeat…
There are things that I have accomplished as a member of this clockwork society… and I can not quite see any difference between myself and the next guy. Over the years I have been the foreman on a commercial painting crew and have been in charge of many jobs, completing most without a hang up or forgotten detail; often working in perilous situations high off of the ground, and have never fallen or placed anyone on my crew in danger’s way. In fact, I would often find myself reminding the company’s owner of this detail or that, as he sporadically milled about trying to complete a job contract.
I have worked alongside heavy machinery on an excavation crew and never had my life threatened because I was spaced out or not paying attention. If anything, I have always been observant enough to be constantly aware of the machines, unlike the sober individuals so focused on the task at hand that they end up almost getting something dropped on them or run over.
I have worked as a lone cook in a sports bar and kept up with the orders. I even managed of a storage facility; writing up contracts and maintaining a personable relationship with the clientele, all while maintaining some kind of pot high. I have never been lazy at work. I can keep up a steady pace even when those around me slack off having conversations rather than working, just to keep the job from getting too boring.
I have chosen to give up marijuana, at least for now. What have I lost? What have I gained? I guess, as with all things that life has to offer, it will take time to truly understand how this choice to become sober affects my today and my tomorrows. I would guess that I am a bit more fortunate than some who have walked the path of drug dependency, and for that I am truly thankful. What is an acceptable drug addiction? Pain medications which develop a dependency, cause withdrawal pain and terrible mood swings? I have surely seen enough of that around the construction site due to back pain inherent to the trade. My buddy Andy would leave in the middle of the day to drive across town to pay $10 a pill for his Vicodin from some shady source or another. Maybe speed based meds prescribed medications for ADD are an acceptable addiction? I tried snorting a friend’s younger brother’s Ritalin. That taught me a lesson for sure… for me, it was a terrible mistake never to be repeated.
In the end I have to agree that marijuana is indeed a drug, and one which provides an altered state of mind that may make some people uncomfortable, or leave them somewhat detached from the shared reality of the sober populous. But I am not sure that it has any real place as a “dangerous drug” when weighing its effects, either as an addictive substance or a treatment for pain, cancer, emotional illnesses or overactive individuals who can not sit still. It is a drug that may be utilized constructively or abused detrimentally. As with all things introduced to us as human beings, the use and misuse of marijuana rests within the hands of those who possess it, much the same as any gun, vehicle, shovel, or computer. All are tools placed within the hands of us as individuals, to be used or abused for its capabilities.