I smoke marijuana. There, I said it. I’m not hiding it, and it’s been more than a year since I thought it was ever even worth hiding. My mother knows, my siblings know, fuck, even my grandmother knows that I smoke and support marijuana legalization, not because I post Facebook statuses along the lines of “4/20 bro, let’s light up,” but because they asked and I told them “yes, I do smoke.” It’s something I’m open and upfront about because I pride myself on the healthy role marijuana plays in my life and I hope that Americans, as a whole, can have a similar understanding.
Please, don’t misunderstand that my vote for Yes on 2 next month here in Florida is indicative of anything beyond my interest in legal, personal use of marijuana. I don’t think everyone should smoke pot or that I should be able to smoke whenever, wherever I want in insane amounts. Although one of my life philosophies is “everything in moderation,” that applies only on an individual level, and I know perfectly well that not everyone needs to even try smoking marijuana. In fact, I’ve resisted using words like “pot” or “weed” instead of marijuana for this article in the interest of not alienating readers who don’t smoke, don’t want to, and never will. I’ve had bad highs when I’ve been paranoid and uncomfortable, so I understand that it’s not a drug that suits everyone.
However, for the most part, marijuana has been a lifesaver to me in a lot of ways. Like roughly 15% of the US population, I suffer from mental illness; however, like only 4%, my mental illness is very, very serious. So, if I fall into a minority of 4% regarding mental illness, it’s more than likely that I fall into a minority when it comes to the beneficial effects of smoking marijuana. I don’t really know though, because not enough research has been done on this drug. A taboo has hung over it for decades, preventing its controlled, medical use. I have prescriptions to anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, and a slew of other drugs, but the only one that has helped me without crippling side effects is the one I can’t obtain at a pharmacy, the one I have to purchase illegally from an unreliable source. Marijuana, smoked or eaten (a vape is what I prefer since I have asthma), has proven to be the best thing for when I have debilitating panic attacks. It has cured my insomnia. It has stabilized my moods.
The amount I smoke varies. I used to smoke about a bowl a day, so once or twice daily. Recently, I’ve reduced my smoking to once a week since I’ve been put on new medications and want to be sure that I’m comfortable with them before I add something new into the equation. Regardless, this amount of frequency would usually classify me as a “stoner.” But guess what? I don’t like reggae. I don’t have dreads. I don’t talk to everyone about “pot” constantly or inappropriately. While open about the topic, I am never the one to broach it. I don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on different pipes and bongs and vaporizers, but invest in quality marijuana and have one little pipe and a grinder I bought for myself. I completely avoid smoking socially, and prefer the privacy of my own home and maybe the company of my boyfriend occasionally. Finally, I hate pot culture.
I don’t smoke because it’s cool. I smoke because it helps me. Marijuana is not a social symbol to me. It is not a dividing factor between social groups. It’s not taboo, but nor does it make you special. The elitist culture around marijuana use is, in my opinion, holding back greater social change when it comes to medical use of an incredible plant. Once, after some witty banter at a bar, a flirtatious guy brought up smoking marijuana. I was offended. He hadn’t even asked me anything about myself, and, to me, asking if I smoked was the equivalent to asking what anti-depressants I’m on, what side-effects they give me, and what time of day I like to use them. My drug use was a very inappropriate topic and, if he’d really been keen on hanging out and smoking a bowl with him, he might’ve wanted to know me a little better before inviting me to join in an illegal activity with him. Anyway, I politely told him I wasn’t comfortable talking about marijuana with him and asked him how he liked the band that was playing. He didn’t even bother to answer, just muttered “narc” under his breath and walked away.
This elitist culture developing around marijuana use is making us all look bad, and I hate it. It perpetuates the stereotypes that marijuana is for teenagers, hippies, and lazy fucks. It highlights all the aspects of marijuana use that are irrelevant to me (e.g. munchies, listening to Bob Marley) instead of shining a light on the incredible wonders of the drug. When you hear conservatives giving the “don’t do drugs” lecture, I think everyone pictures the lazy teenager downing a family-sized bag of Cheetos and ignoring his homework.
They don’t picture a young, professional woman battling mental illness and finding a tiny bit of peace after hiking three hours to a nature path overlook and taking one or two hits from her pipe before sitting down to read Haruki Murakami’s After Dark. If my music preferences indicated any sort of drug use, heroin and cocaine would be way higher on the list than marijuana. Fuck, ketamine and mushrooms would be up there before marijuana, too. So you can see why identifying drug use with someone’s musical preferences, hairstyle, idiolect, etc. or vice versa is bizarre. Even more bizarre is that we’ve allowed, as a result, the national debate over marijuana to be more about these misconceptions perpetuated by pot culture than about marijuana itself.
All I have left to say is vote. Educate yourself about marijuana. Please realize that if it is legalized, that doesn’t mean you will ever smoke it, just that it will be regulated, and you might never have to even consider the existence of marijuana again, just like I’m sure you’ve barely ever considered the existence of sertraline hydrochloride. Please accept my apology for the elitism surrounding pot culture and know that voting for the legalization of marijuana will help some great people, even if it will also benefit some shitty humans, too. Finally, thank you for taking the time to read my perspective of this issue. I’ve said my piece and whether or not you decide that you agree with me, even if you’re on the other side of universe socio-politically speaking and despise everything I’ve just said, I still would encourage you to exercise your right to vote on the legalization of marijuana when it comes to your state. Yes or no, make yourself heard.