The Highs and Lows of Legalized Marijuana


Recently, I had my attitude checked in a marijuana dispensary. You read that right: a weed shop. If you know me personally, and are judging me right now, save it ‘til the end; you may be checking your attitude too. If you don’t know me, then read on, but this may be checkmate.

Marijuana has been legal (in some form) in the state of Washington for almost three years now. It still feels new, and there is plenty of good humor about the availability of magic edibles and medical versus recreational use. I would be lying if I said that I never tried it before its legalization. I smoked it in college, on several occasions, but it made me sleepy and slow; it wasn’t my thing. But many of my friends smoked regularly, and while I knew it was illegal, I wasn’t that worried about the criminal element of using it.

Flash forward. I’m a fifty-two year old woman with three nearly adult kids; I’ve been married twenty-nine years, and I use marijuana for pain management. Mostly. I’ve had a very serious auto-immune disorder for may years, that’s lead to countless hospitalizations and surgeries and has left me allergic to all but two antibiotics, and nothing except Tylenol, for pain management. If hospitalized, there are a few pain meds I can take, along the lines of elephant tranquilizers, but if I have a sinus infection, a severe headache or several broken ribs and 2nd and 3rd degree burns… it’s an ice pack and the sofa. That’s what it was a year and a half ago, when I had an epically horrible year, and my doctor finally said to me: “have you considered medical marijuana?”

Admittedly, when my doctor, who is conservative and very thoughtful in his approach, first suggested that I consider using medical marijuana for pain management, I giggled like a girl… who was high. The idea of it was crazy to me. I said no. Then, in a freak boating accident I broke six ribs. Ten days later, I had a large pot of boiling soup spilled on me and sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my chest and stomach. The ribs, which were unbearable, paled in comparison to the agony of burns… on broken ribs. I was given morphine for pain, and was immediately sick. Morphine was added to the list of pain options that I’m allergic too, and shortly thereafter I took the marijuana suggestion much more seriously and got my prescription.

Getting the prescription was the first hurdle; going to get it filled was harder! Having thought of this as illegal for so long, having told my teenage kids how bad it was to “do drugs,” I felt embarrassed going to the medical dispensary. I was afraid that someone I knew would see me and judge me. I was confused about what it would be like to use weed for pain–– Would I get high or just get relief from pain? Would it impair me in other ways? Was it addictive? All kinds of things went through my head, most of them based on old misinformation.

At the dispensary I faced the next hurdle: getting the prescription filled. You don’t just walk into these places and buy marijuana. You bring a prescription and they register you. It’s all done very clinically. I filled out pages of health forms, just like you do in doctor’s office. After that, the receptionist called my doctor’s office to confirm that I was a patient, and had I been given this prescription. When the receptionist at my doctor’s office asked to speak to me, to confirm that it was me filling this prescription, I was mortified! I imagined all of them having a good laugh over this, and cringed at the thought that this is the same office where I take my kids. You’d think I was buying marijuana or something! Exactly.

In the product room, the smell of fresh cut Hindu Kush was incredible. I can’t lie: I wanted to curl up in a field of that sweet, organic smell and nap. “Nick,” the “budtender” found this hilarious, and was happy to show me how the buds are cut, and used. It was fascinating, and surreal to look into a huge bin of what I’d spent my entire life thinking of as illegal. Nick then very clinically described all of the products available for pain, as well as for anxiety, sleep, depression, relaxation, etc. I felt so stupid, so old… like an old dork… as he explained how to use a “vape pen” (portable vaporizer), what “edibles” were, and all of the nuances of medical marijuana. I bought a tincture (placed under the tongue), and some Mango Haze to use with a vape. Nick assured me that the smoke would not irritate my lungs–– that it would be smooth, and that neither would make me high, only manage my pain.

Nick was a really nice guy, with a sweet face, but he was wrong on both counts. The first time I tried the vape, I coughed so hard I thought I’d burst veins, and within thirty minutes I was shoving tortilla chips in my mouth, like I was back in college. Apparently Nick and I have different thresholds. I frantically waved my hands in the air, trying to get rid of the evidence smoke, and tried not to giggle too much. There was nothing mature about my first foray into legalized marijuana.

All of this sneaking around is particularly interesting to me, in light of one very huge hypocrisy about all this: alcohol is not only widely used and abused, but seen as socially acceptable, to all but a few and people of certain religious faiths. Marijuana, despite its legalization, is not. We all know people who drink too much, too often, and it’s not unusual to see photos posted on social media of drinks raised. Many parents lecture their teens about drinking, but then go out for drink with friends… and drive home. Alcohol use and abuse takes an enormous toll on society. It is the number one cause of vehicular fatalities, and yet, it is widely accepted and tolerated, while marijuana use is still seen as criminal, or at the very least questionable.

A very important study released early this year by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found that consuming marijuana does not increase the crash risk of the driver. Read that again. Gordon Trowbridge, the communications director of the NHTSA called this study the most closely controlled study of its kind that has ever been done. My guess is that most readers will find this shocking; I did. This does not mean that marijuana use and driving is safe, or that marijuana does not cause impairment. But alcohol, not marijuana, is the leading drug-related risk factor in vehicular fatalities.

And that brings me to my attitude… and having it checked. It’s legal; I’m an adult, and so I went to a recreational store recently, to see where my nephew works part time and to see what they sold. I was coming from a formal meeting and my friend and I were “dressed up.” While we were there, several other customers came in, and I found myself sizing them up. I didn’t realize just how much, until thirty minutes after I left and I couldn’t find my iPhone. I searched “everywhere,” and finally called the store; I knew I’d had it at the counter. The owner was kind and very concerned. “Oh man, I’d hate to think that any of my customers would steal your phone!” He was sincerely upset–– and said exactly what I was thinking. In fact, I was sure a particular lady had probably taken it.

It doesn’t take Sherlock to guess the punch line here. My phone had fallen in between the seats of my friend’s car, but not before I had judged every person I saw in that store. When I realized my mistake, I felt sick, actually sick. “You know, if that woman had lost her phone, she would never have accused us of taking it,” my friend commented. I knew she was right, and I just felt sicker. What made me judge these people–– the fact that they were buying weed? I was in the same store for the very same reason. I called the storeowner immediately and apologized for worrying him. He was so relieved, but I still felt horrible.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in one form or another; four states and DC have legalized it for recreational purposes. It’s legal where I live; I’m over twenty-one years old, and still I have hang-ups about its use. I worry about what others will think, even as I write this. While visiting the state of Colorado this week, I heard about a local group of mothers who staked out a local dispensary and then started posting the names of parents who shopped there… to humiliate them. I don’t know if this story is true, but frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s appalling, and hypocritical on so many levels and I believe it leads to all kinds of mixed messages with our kids. Just like alcohol, this should be seen as a mood-altering drug that must be used responsibly and legally. I’m no fool; I’ve never assumed that my kids or the teens and college students I know care any more about the legality of it, than my peers and I did, when we were their age. Again, it wasn’t my thing, but I drank long before I was legally allowed to. What’s the difference? Oh right, one kills more people.

I have long believed that marijuana should be legalized for both medical and recreational use. I believed that on principle. Yet, I slinked into the medical dispensary like a criminal, and far worse: I assumed that folks who were in a recreational store, for the very same reasons as me, had stolen my phone, based solely on the idea that they were buying pot… so they must be untrustworthy? Well friends, watch your phones around me! It’s time we all put on our grown up pants and accept that when we pick our poison, one is no better than the other. One person buys a bottle of wine for dinner, another takes a few hits of weed. I came home from the dispensary recently, with my attitude in check… and some very fine chocolate.

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals!   KAPOW!  The Tales From the Motherland Facebook page recently hit the 2015 goal of 800 likes (which I set after hitting the 700 mark)! I’m going big for the next year and aiming for 1,000!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email,  no spam.  ©2015  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit; plagiarism sucks!

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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37 Responses to The Highs and Lows of Legalized Marijuana

  1. mamaheidi60 says:

    My husband has PTSD and has had a medical card since within a few days of legalization. We’ve been into several dispensaries. He just takes capsules – no smoking or vaping, too hard on the lungs. Continues to try vaping, but the capsules are great. I’m impressed with how specific the blends are and for what specific things they can or cannot treat. I am glad it is legal! Me? I’m really pretty happy with a glass of wine, truth be told. I hope to see the criminalization of marijuana continue to be decreased.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Medical marijuana has helped SO many people who truly need it. And by need, I would argue that there are many types of need… Interestingly, Israel is then top producer/user of medical marijuana, and it is widely used for senior citizens there, for depression, loss of appetite, etc… amazing! Thanks for adding to the conversation, Heidi.

      Like

  2. Glad it’s legal and glad it’s working for you. I know cancer patients who use it.

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  3. Dawn…as you know, I have some health issues and have had them for many years. My problems include BiPolar, ADHD, PTSD, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia to name a few. I realize now what I didn’t know then that when I smoked a joint that it wasn’t always about the high – the medicinal properties of pot were something my body NEEDED, not just an excuse to go spend $100 at Taco Bell. 😀 Here in Maine Medical Weed is legal also and soon I will get the required documentation to use it medically. I know how it benefits me and I wish I could have realized that 30 years ago. It makes me happy for you that it provides some relief for you as well. Good on you! I just hope I don’t forget where I leave my cell phone. 😀

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    • No kidding! I’d hold on to your wallet too… you never know, Toby! All jokes aside (as if), what really amazes me is just how specific and detailed they are now about what they can treat with marijuana. It’s really amazing! I’m so glad that you are finding some relief and I hope you are able to really discover better support. (( hugs ))

      Like

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience here. I personally know a fellow who uses pot medicinally to help him manage his hyperactivity. And I’ve read articles about its medicinal properties helping a young girl’s multiple daily seizures being reduced from several, all day long, to only one or two. And it’s also known to have cancer killing properties; but big pharma doesn’t want anyone to know. I wasn’t sure how I felt about its being legalized for recreational use, but now that it is, here in WA, I’m ok with it. Not my thing, but if I ever need it for pain control, I would definitely consider it, especially after having to go through withdrawal from prescribed narcotics two years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Its uses on seizures is really profound, and it is those cases that were really highlighted (and continue to be) when legalization was first taking place. The benefits for so many are huge, and yet we’re still arguing about the drug factor. It’s both interesting and incredibly annoying to me, that the argument is so often clearly hypocritical! Thanks for sharing, Susan!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. etomczyk says:

    Dawn, I really learned a lot from this post. I have always been adamantly against drugs because I’ve seen too many destinies stolen by them and considered marijuana a gateway drug. Yet, I have reached an age in my own life (I, too, have auto-immune issues) and seen the pain in the lives of others that could benefit from this additional pain relief. It has really made me think . . . Keep us posted as to your results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eleanor, I have known and in one case loved, people who have very serious drug addictions. I would also argue that pot can be seen as a gateway drug, but then so is alcohol. If someone wants to be high, they will find a way to be high. I also don’t think marijuana is for everyone. However, I have been very surprised at how beneficial it can be. Honestly, I still take Tylenol for most things, but it’s good to know I have something else in my arsenal… and every once in a while (and I do mean rarely), it makes for a fun day or night, with no hangover. 😉 Thanks for adding to the conversation, E.

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  6. Thanks for talking about how helpful weed can be. It’s high time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    I have no problems with medical use of marijuana. In fact, I’m for it. What I worry about is more adolescents using it recreationally. It has effects on the developing brain–studies have certainly supported that–and results in worse academic outcomes. (Brains continue to develop until around age 25.) It’s easy to say parents need to monitor their kids closely and keep it away from them, but it’s harder to ensure that in real life. Of course, keeping it illegal doesn’t ensure teens won’t use it, but if they see adults using it freely, it lowers the taboo factor and makes it seem less risky to kids. But I can appreciate how effective it must have been for you, and I’m glad you found something to help. Such horrible injuries you sustained. What an awful year for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carrie, ditto, ditto. However, in the end, as with all of these things, it comes down to parenting. I think that parents have long taken the taboo out of alcohol, and that has caused enormous harm to teens. We are a culture of addiction and escape, and while that is not true for everyone, it is true for far too many. It used to be that you would never have a drink if your children had friends over, now I hear about it all the time! Like alcohol, kids need to hear that it’s illegal until you’re 21; you should not use it and drive or do other activities that require judgment and reflexes. It’s a sticky topic, but I think we all need to have it more often. Marijuana is not going away.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. After the pain you’ve endured, I certainly can understand why you’d choose marijuana. I’m so happy you’re finding relief! How terrible for you to go through all that suffering.

    Overall, I have mixed feelings on recreational use. Mainly based on my own personal experiences. I used to smoke pot in college, so I certainly don’t judge others. Especially when alcohol is so widely accepted and abused. But I have to echo Carrie above about the possible long-term effects it has on the brain (like so many other drugs) especially for teens. But everything in moderation. I mean, I suppose too much Tylenol and Advil can eventually lead to health risks. In the end we all have to make the choice that’s right for us and our overall health.

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    • It’s a slippery slope, and yes complicated. I have a friend (not an urban myth) who almost died from Tylenol… those warnings on the bottle about liver toxicity are rarely read. Giving asperin to teens can be lethal (Reyes syndrome). Having raised 3 teens (out of the house), I feel like I’ve seen so much… and alcohol truly scares me so much more. Yes there is brain development, but then we get on that slippery slope of what alcohol does, being around smokers, too much television, exposure to violence… slip, slip, slip. I should be clear here, medical marijuana is a back up for me. I don’t use it often, and I do use it recreationally occasionally. Far more adults I know have done some brain damage with alcohol (not saying that as a joke)! So yes, I would agree, all of it is in moderation, as with everything, and I don’t say it’s ok for teens… just that it’s not the scary monster we have feared.

      I so appreciate you stopping by! Pinch me. 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughtful views.

      Like

  9. Comcast says:

    I had to laugh when I started reading your most recent blog. My mom was just here visiting and after months of escalating pain and more and more worrying symptoms she finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with myomalacia (sp? Bruising of the spinal cord) at C6 seven. Something I’m sure Barry is very familiar with! Anyhow, a successful surgery has limited future damage but not relieved the pain and burning she feels constantly in her hands. When they said they were coming to visit I suggested she should consider trying marijuana while she was here. We laughed about it and she thought about it, and even tried heading into best buds in Fairhaven with my dad. But since she didn’t have a prescription they couldn’t help her. So the next night I got home from work, got dinner going, and turned my mom and said “hey mom let’s go buy some recreational marijuana!” And off we went to a part of Samish Way I previously would have avoided! She was leery of anything with THC having also tried it in her younger days and not liking the effect, which seriously limits your choices in a recreational store! Anyways, it is an option that should be available more readily, minus the stigma. How many of us unwind with a glass of wine or a bottle of cider?

    Such a spot on and timely post, I had to share the common thread with you

    Glad you are finding some relief yourself. Take care!

    Kerri

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Kerri, thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I agree, it’s the stigma that we need to let go of! It’s just not so horrible, and yet so many folks I know feel the need to sneak around. I’m glad your mom is getting some relief!

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  10. Mike Lince says:

    Dawn, I appreciate your informative and balanced presentation of the information about marijuana and your experience with it. Like you, I used it during and after my college years, back when I sometimes didn’t know if I was getting a buzz or a headache – a result of the less potent strains available in the 70’s. I think I would feel just as out of place nowadays in a marijuana shop as you described, which I have not experienced.

    I agree that marijuana should be legal, as should hemp. Its seeds are a great source of protein and there are many environmentally-friendly uses of the plant’s fibers. It is a common misconception that one can get high on hemp – you can’t. The use of marijuana, hemp and other natural products for health purposes is an area in which I believe the U.S. is woefully behind other, more progressive countries. – Mike

    Liked by 1 person

  11. HonieBriggs says:

    I really appreciate the honesty of this post, Dawn. It takes a big person to say what you said about judging others.

    Like

  12. I’ve often said, at my age I don’t care what people think or say anymore. As long as my conscience is clear, I forge ahead. I don’t do anything illegal or that will get me deported, but that’s the limit of it. I give my opinions on many things. If I criticize about public things, it’s usually already been said in the local papers. I’m a Christian in a country where only 2% of us are, so I know not everyone likes me. It doesn’t bother me a bit. In fact, in the past at certain times, Americans have been told to keep a low profile. I gave that up when my husband used to tell anyone who would listen that I was his wife and an American. So much for a low profile. I say, if legalized marijuana helps you manage pain, go ahead. Your the one suffering. It’s no one elses business. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Psychobabble says:

    You bring up some great points. As a young, liberal person who went to Berkeley and studied abroad in the Netherlands, I think pot should be legalized and regulated. Too many Americans are in jail and too much money is wasted trying to “fight” pot when I don’t think it’s worth it.
    It’s fascinating to me how drugs are categorized based on culture. I’m very glad you brought up alcohol, but to add to that – one of my pet peeves is that the most widely used drug in America is caffeine, but we are socialized to not think about it in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a slippery slope for sure. There are so many drugs we could and should address before making weed the evil empire. Prescription drugs are killing people; caffeine addiction is indeed wide spread, and nicotine is by far the most addictive and impactful drug, on so many levels… but the lowly joint is what everyone is talking about. Thanks for weighing in M!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. sara says:

    Interesting Dawn – it sounds very civilised to me! I don’t use marijuana socially for the same reasons you said, but it would be great if its wonderful medical properties could be accessed here like you can. So…does it help?

    Like

  15. Amy Reese says:

    Dawn, I would never judge or anyone for using medicinal marijuana. I hope you get some relief from it. I know a few people who use medicinally and, really, it’s no different or worse than other prescription drugs so long as it doesn’t interfere with your normal daily functioning. It’s probably a lot safer than a lot of drugs out there. I think attitudes will change about it over time. Good for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. marymtf says:

    Legalising marijuana for medical purposes is one thing. Saying it should be legalised because someone else’s poison is wine or cigarettes so it’s okay is something else altogether. You can’t shove the cigs or alcohol back into Pandora’s box. In the US, they tried it with alcohol, it didn’t work. Why legalise one more harmful drug? I do know that once you’ve made it legal (in Australia it isn’t yet) then all types of people who wouldn’t have put themselves out to find it, will experiment with it. Same as young teens smoking cigarettes, same as young teens tossing booze down their gullets. There hasn’t been a definitive study done yet on the harm that taking marijuana does long term. We can expect some results in a couple of decades when there’s real statistics to look at.

    Like

    • Marymtf, thanks so much for taking the time to read my piece and share your thoughts. Your time and consideration are much appreciated. While I understand your points, I don’t agree. Marijuana is already out of Pandora’s box, in so many ways! It has been used and gotten, illegally for decades… I saw it used widely in Australia, in 1983! By decriminalizing it, there can be much better control of how it is brought in, and who buys it. Underage kids are still going to have to get it illegally.

      In terms of long-term studies, there are many; marijuana has been around and used for a very long time! While some are not “definitive,” some are, as with alcohol and tobacco. You can find many here: https://scholar.google.co.il/scholar?q=study+long+term+effect+of+marijuana&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiDkrbUj7XKAhXFMBoKHezQBJwQgQMIGzAA

      I agree that all of these things are potentially damaging, and none of them should be acceptable for young people, but I remain comfortable with the legalization for adults. Again, thank you so much for weighing in!

      Like

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