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October 31, 2009
As I know it, it is a Pagan celebration, the end of summer, harvesting of the crops, the time spirits from the 'other side' have passage into our world... In old times bonfires were built, as celebrations, but also with a superstition that fires held back the spirits. Eventually bonfires were not practical in the cities of northern Europe, and people began to carve gourds, placing candles inside.
Halloween! As we Americans know it is part of our heritage that comes primary from the Irish immigrants, mid to late 1800's. Gourds were not plentiful, but pumpkins were easy to grow, so the tradition of carving pumpkins is today how we celebrate Halloween. We also celebrate it as a time of reflection, though little proof of that exists. It is speculation on my part as we think of demons, and scary costumes, it only goes to reason we consider our own demons.
As a special guest, to discuss his demons, I have John Miller, active writer for many online discussions, who's here willing to discuss his demons.
Note: John Miller is not a real person, and the discussion that follows is presented as fiction. Although it may be based on a true story.
Me: Welcome John; so Halloween, you're here willing to provide your story, snippets from your life that, shall we say, haunt you?
John: Yes. That's a great way to put it. Demons from my past that haunt me...
I want to start by saying, as an (albeit, fictional) American citizen, I have rights. Those rights include the right to privacy, The rights of due process, innocent before guilty, right to free speech, right to bear arms, the right of non-infringement of my daily life as long as I follow the rules. All quite vague, really, but basically all of my rights as an American citizen stem from a long line of politically evolving set of standard with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights as the root of law and freedom.
Me: Okay, John, what you're saying is you've lived your life attempting to abide by the law and be a good, honest, citizen.
John: Yes. That's what I'm saying.
Me: Okay. But there are 'demons' in your past... what are they?
John: Okay, yes, well I guess we can start out with my saying I didn't join the church I was raised in. 3 years of going to Friday religious classes, and the expectation was we joining the church after that - after we get our confirmation certificate. Well, I refused to join, and my sister also refused to join. That was quite radical, during the late 60's I believe.
Me: That's okay, John, but minor, don't you think? Where do you go from there... what demons really pop out?
John: Yes, minor, but see that's the first time I actually bucked the system. I think it was my first epiphany. I grew up as very conservative, shy, and in total lock-step with the status quo. At 16 I found out my younger sister was doing drugs - marijuana. I nearly called the police. I didn't, and sigh, I'm glad I didn't. So stupid!
Me: Your sister smoked marijuana and you felt you should have had her arrested? Wow, kind of reminds me of Nazi Germany. What stopped you? I mean, considering the seriousness of the crime, using marijuana, what stopped you from alerting the authorities?
John: It just became plan stupid... maybe the first time I was able to let something go.
Me: I gather you didn't smoke pot then... have you ever tried it since?
John: Oh no. I hadn't gone anywhere near the stuff... I knew the stories my family told... people going crazy, jumping out of windows... but somehow I let it go with my sister. It wasn't long after we were on a family vacation in Florida, and my sister and I were sitting around a beach campfire with all sorts of other vacationing teens. A joint got passed around and I actually smoked it. But nothing happened. I felt nothing.
Me: Nothing? How old were you then?
John: Oh, still somewhere around 16... but yeah, I felt nothing. I still remember how the joint tasted... hard to describe though... acrid, skunky, less dense than tobacco smoke. Not bad... but I didn't get high! It was several years later I actually got high. I was still anti-drugs, whatever that means... or meant at the time. The whole idea of being anti-drug or pro-drug is an impossible argument either way.
Me: Would you like a beer, John?
John: Sure, thanks.
Me: Several years later?
John: I think I was around 18... don't recall for certain. I was more looking forwards to drinking alcohol legally, which in the early 1970's was 18, in my state.
John: Yes. Legal drinking age was 18. I went to a bar on my 18th birthday. I was also eligible fro the draft at that point, and narrowly lucked out of going to Viet Nam! It was back when they drafted you by a lottery number, and mine was very low, which meant I would be drafted. But I lucked out as the draft ended 4 days prior to my turning 18.
Me: Interesting. But this post is about demons from your past... you claim to have some?
John: Yes. Sorry. Reminiscing.
John: Yes, I was around age 18... '71-'72; it was a Friday night. By this time on a weekend we got together to drink, but tonight my friend had a surprise. I was still extremely anti-drug at the time... I would have been a major-general in DARE had such a thing been around during the early 70's. Today I simply see it as propaganda, and hope it really doesn't exist anymore.
Sorry, I tend to drift off topic.
We generally drank alcohol those days... but this night - this is where my demon is... it was around 6 PM. I'm with my two friends and one of them, the least likely of my friends to do so, pulls out a baggie with a 'dime' of Panama Red marijuana in it. My survival instincts kick in! My 1st response is to scream 'bloody murder'... but I quickly came to my senses. Whew... I looked at my other friend, he was equally aghast. My friend with the weed says" want to smoke it?"... and both said "sure".
Me: Wow... you smoked the Panama Red marijuana???
Me: Why? Isn't marijuana illegal, a "schedule one drug" under federal law? What were you thinking/risking there?
John: A year in jail and a fine. But I really expected, after the initial jolt of 'who's watching us', I was intrigued. My friend actually had the killer weed and we could smoke it. So we did. I did expect to go crazy that night, also didn't think anything would happen. Not like getting drunk, and for me, sick. I really was pushing back many 'bad thoughts' about what I was about to do... smoke marijuana.
Me: Crazy... so you decide to experiment with marijuana?What was the experience like? Did you trip, see demons, go insane?
John: We went back to my friend's house... we rolled up a crude joint and passed it between the three of us in the kitchen. It took about 10 minutes for the effects to begin... now, from someone who at that time had never had a laugh... never laughed...I mean, I didn't really know what laughter was... I suddenly found myself laughing about the most trivial things. Wow did I laugh, and god, did it feel good to laugh. We were rolling around on the kitchen floor, talking and laughing. But oddly, the laughter produced a sense of paranoia... and we took turns at being afraid the police would be breaking down the doors at any minute.
Me: "The police would be breaking down the doors?"
John: Well, yeah. What we were doing was very much against law. And we were laughing. It felt like the laughter was was most offensive... to laugh was wrong!
Me: Serious offense then... you high on marijuana laughing. That's a serious offense.
John: Yes. At some point I needed some air. The effects of the marijuana were making it seem hard to breathe... of course given how much laughing and playing we were doing, that makes sense now. But, at any rate, I went outside and it was twilight... I went and sat against a tree. That's when the 'demon' Marijane came upon me. She was beautiful... naked, exotic... she came to me and wrapped her arms around me. She kissed me and sucked my breath out from me... then gave it back... I felt weak, and then I felt her teeth against my neck, and she bit me... drawing blood, drew out my life as I had known it... then she held out her wrist and said "drink", and I bit into her and drank. Her blood was delicious... I vomited air, and my mind spun off into the universe. I died, and then was back again. I had become one of the living dead... a vampire myself. A vampire that found marijuana good for my soul, as Marijane had left me with that - she said - "it is your soul, not mine; do good with it". And then she was gone.
Me: Quite the story. Is that for real? I mean it can't be, can it?
John: Actually, it's quite real. I continued to use marijuana after that and my mind expanded. I suddenly became very much aware of life - of flowers, animals, people, and I went from shy and afraid, to empowered and with goals. I wanted to be a writer... I wanted to learn, everything I could about life, the human condition, and do good in the world. Only one problem. Marijuana was a serious violation of the law, which made me a criminal. I could drink alcohol all I wanted, smoke cigarettes, but I wasn't suppose to smoke or use marijuana.
Me: Extraordinary experience, but why smoke marijuana after that and break the law?
John: Fact is, I realized then, that I'd been going down a road with no future... at least not a good future. I had been very much self absorbed... people had meant nothing to me, goals were absent, and now, I had goals... my mind had like opened... nature wasn't something I was blind to anymore. I found myself caring about others...
Me: Getting stoned on marijuana changed your whole perspective on life?
Me: Wow. Well... I think we would like to have you come back and tell more. But for now, marijuana is very much against the law, and so to those of you out there thinking that John's experience sounds cool, don't try this at home. Marijuana is considered by the federal government to be classified as a "Schedule 1 Drug", meaning it is dangerous and highly addictive with NO medical value. In a sense you're better off doing cocaine or meth which are "Schedule 3 drugs", and of much less consequence. A doctor can prescribe those drugs. Most likely, John is insane as a result of marijuana use. His empathy to humankind is probably a delusion... he probably is suffering from a false sense that he can make a difference in our society. For entertainment value I may invite John back, but that depends upon you the readers. My purpose isn't to encourage use of illegal drugs... it's simply to tell a story.
Happy Halloween... and hoping the cannabinoid vampire doesn't bite you...
October 28, 2009
So seriously, is cannabis really that serious a drug to warrant these extreme concerns over cultivation and distribution? Personally I cringe at the amount of money we have wasted for over the past 72 years... not just law enforcement expenditures, but human suffering as a result of persecution - a friend spending a year in jail for a joint??? Then there's tax benefits... just as we tax any recreational drug... just think of the money lost to cartels, which are no different than the Al Capone's of alcohol prohibition.
Seriously, don't you think we have far more important matters to be concerned with?
I wrote to my state senator an hour or so ago, hoping they didn't vote against the bill to over-ride the governor's veto.
The house voted 240-115 to approve the veto over-ride; The senate 14-10 against. Damn shame!
The most harmful consequence of cannabis/marijuana use is the law.
Update: I received the following e-mail today from the senator's aide:
October 26, 2009
October 18, 2009
October 17, 2009
To understand why people are persecuted and arrested for cannabis related crimes, one needs to understand the original arguments and politics that made cannabis illegal in the first place.
A great place to start: The History Channels: ( DVD format ): "Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way". Copyright 2000, A&E Television Networks - cat # AAE-70805.
It was not my intention to start my blog off with cannabis reform... but that's where I'm at at the moment... go with the flow, as 'they' say...
The term "marijuana" is of Mexican origin. I can find no American or English dictionary that lists "marijuana" prior to the time in Oct. 1937. Further, not a single reference in history to a problem with cannabis use prior to the cinematic blitz starting early 1930's. What I'm saying is that the "notorious drug we know today as marijuana - the destroyer of youth" didn't exist. In fact, the original Temperance Movement in the 1830's did mention cannabis... but rather, it was considered a far better alternative to alcohol.
Then, In the early 1900's, two major Congressional Bills were passed, the original Food and Drug act, and another... effectively removing a human's beings access to many things. It created laws controlling all know addictive and potentially harmful drugs... opium disappeared, a favorite of many; cocaine disappeared from the beverage Coke and the pharmacy, "patent medicines" now had to label everything in them... not a bad idea, but all these new laws and regulations were a collage of rational understanding, and special interests that created the politics that started it all and exploded.
Oddly, cannabis was not on the list of any of those lists... not until immigration of illegals from Mexico became a problem, early 30's... Great Depression... got problems of our own in America... like it is today.
Mexican's liked marijuana, or that's the history I found... and Governors in Southern States shouted at Washington to do something, keep the illegals out!
So...many years after the other drugs became controlled, "marijuana" was born, and deemed the, "most dangerous drug on the planet".
Cannabis became "marijuana" and the "notorious gateway drug" it is today because of the 1930's politics and the media... WRH! D'Pont. Ironically, Harry Anslinger who is most credited with his demand that cannabis/marijuana be taxed, and effectively outlawed, was very much avoiding and opposed to the idea. Until someone presented the idea that if you treated cannabis like it were a machine gun, you could outlaw it.
And they did.