Pulling into my favorite falafel restaurant’s parking lot in Studio City today, I noticed that a corner store had been converted in a medical marijuana dispensary.
The storefront had frosted glass windows, a white cross inside a green square sign and a reassuring slogan: “healing the community since 1996.”
With every new dispensary and with every sign that marijuana is being normalized I feel sad.
I voted for the recently defeated Proposition 19, which would have made some possession of marijuana legal and under state jurisdiction. I did it because prosecution and enforcement of marijuana is truly a waste of time and money.
But Marijuana is still a grand waster of humans, nonetheless.
I grew up in 1970s, when smoking pot was a badge of coolness for many a non-student, non-jock. Around 8th Grade, many unpopular, un-athletic, un-achieving kids gathered in friend’s basements or along the railroad tracks and smoked reefer. Perhaps that is a grand stereotype, but smoking pot was the anti-hero way of gaining admission to a bad club.
Many of my friends smoked, and I occasionally got high. And in those days of high metabolism when I could eat anything and still have a six-pack, the brownies, potato chips, ice cream and Oreos were consumed guiltlessly and eaten ravenously.
One winter break, I flew from NJ to Southern California and visited a friend who kept a bong in his bedroom. While his parents watched TV out in the Living Room, we took hits inside his room.
Suddenly, I felt like I was out of my body. My heartbeat shot up. My head was flush. I was dizzy and I was terrified. I walked out of the bedroom and into the other room and told his parents what we had been doing. I collapsed onto the couch and started screaming and demanded they call the paramedics.
The next day, I recovered and slept. But for years afterward, I had a visceral fear and hatred of pot. I thought that the drug had caused my panic attack, but my panic actually was induced by my own mind.
Marijuana doesn’t endanger lives. But it degrades them. Daily smoking erases the sharp outlines of a personality and softens and stupefies language, laughter and alertness. There is a dull and amorphous sound in a pot smoker’s voice after he is high. The half-open eyes, the dragging feet, the slouching posture come as naturally to a pothead as broad shoulders do to gymnasts.
And pot smokers ignore how the harsh smoke might poison lungs, or contribute to lung cancer. They deny the bad and the ill effects because their pro-pot ideology demands a religious adherence to pro-drug dogma. Yet, we need to be on honest terms with pot because it is here to stay.
The worst part of the medicalization of marijuana is the hypocrisy of pretending that the clinics are a type of pharmacy. 98% of the people who go there are not sick. They want to get high. So why pretend that a doctor needs to write a prescription for it? Why continue with the quackery that marijuana is medical? It is a recreational substance that coincidentally helps some sick people feel better.
The sad feeling that comes over me when I see a marijuana store is the triumph of a lie. Why can’t we just use it and admit it and just be done with it?
We don’t need smoke and mirrors. We just need honesty.