Way back in the sixties when I first met my then to be husband, Mike, I was introduced to Marijuana. For me, it wasn’t pleasant as I ended up nauseated whenever I tried it and therefore stopped trying it. However, I was often in the car with Mike when he was stoned and can tell you first hand that it does affect the driver significantly. One time I clearly remember riding with him on I 70 toward downtown Denver and suddenly the car slowed way down. He was stoned! Nothing happened but I was scared non the less.
A friend of his was a regular user of Marijuana, functioned at some genius level, went to Stanford to get his PhD. While there he realized that his habit was affecting his intelligence and quit smoking.
Those two situation are enough to convince me that legalizing marijuana in Vermont is a very BAD idea.
My husband is addicted to marijuana. We met after he had been in treatment already for two years, but in the case of marijuana addiction, ‘treatment’ can be very obscure. For example, he was regularly meeting with a therapist and lying to her about being clean. When I began dating him, I started to learn what the long-term effects and highs look like for an addict. It is a constant obliviousness to the people and spaces around you. It’s emotional unavailability when high, and in the days or hours after smoking, it’s mood swings, and unpredictable reactions.
He has seemed chronically depressed when he’s using regularly, and I don’t know if that’s a co-occurring disorder, or if it’s the effects of long-term chronic use. The fact is, we may never know that because he is simply incapable of quitting. He rejects all ideas of help, and continues to think he somehow should have control over his use. This is because, the current and predominant messaging is, that pot is non-habit forming. Often, that it’s non-addictive. That is not true. For an addict, anything can be addictive. And a mind-altering, consciousness numbing drug is certainly something that fills a need for some who are already genetically predisposed to addiction.
I recently noticed how high and prominent the warnings on lottery game tickets are, and how the state has a devoted website and organization to deal with the flip side of lottery operations, namely, gambling addictions. If we legalize marijuana without taking serious and grave measures in terms of marijuana addiction education, and messaging to combat the misnomer that pot isn’t harmful, and doesn’t have the same negative effects as other recreational drugs, then we are doing a disservice to every kid who grows up in this state.
I recently left my husband. After years of hearing him tell me how he was working on it, and years of accepting lies from him about his sobriety, and having a toddler who can catch on to his mood swings and unavailability emotionally, I had to. It was the only way I could go on with my life. He still, isn’t getting help, but that’s his choice.
The one thing I thank heaven for is that he was pulled over and arrested once while driving stoned. He was actually busted twice for driving stoned, both times midday, because of his behavior on the road. But if he hadn’t been penalized that second time, he never would’ve got help to begin with. If police aren’t able to detect use, then at least we need to have rules in place for being able to prosecute when a car has smells, evidence, etc. of driving and smoking. It’s no safer than drinking and driving. Drinking at work is well considered a no-no, but smoking pot at work happens in many work environments here in Vermont. Again, especially where machinery, public safety, children, and other vulnerable care populations are involved, we need standards of use of pot at work.
Never in my life did I consider myself anti-pot. And I’m trying very hard, now as a solo parent, to not be anti-addict. Yet, addiction support and awareness have a long, long way to go in this state. If we must legalize weed, let’s do it with a healthy fund devoted to awareness campaigns and addiction treatment programs specializing in pot addiction, in the same stroke.
Response from viewer of The Other Side of Cannabis:
“I am very happy that I attended because the information presented took me from being someone who thought legalizing marijuana might be a good idea, to someone who thinks that is likely a terrible idea. I need to learn more. The public needs to learn more. The State of Maryland needs to put on the brakes before we have our arms around something that will be a danger to many citizens.”
“You always seem to hear people say that marijuana is a safe drug because no one has ever died from using it. I’m here to tell you that is simply not true. My 31 year old son Andy died by suicide one year ago this month in Peoria, leaving a note that ended with these words: ‘My soul is already dead. Marijuana Killed my soul + ruined my brain.’”
I have resolved to carry Andy’s message to every young person and parent I can find to let them know about the real risks and harms of today’s marijuana. You see marijuana has changed a lot over the years. It now comes in cookies, candy and sodas. The THC content which is the ingredient that gets a person high has sky rocketed making it much more dangerous for our children. There has never been a time when science has been more clear that marijuana harms brain development in youth.
These studies come from the leading scientists in the nation. They come from Harvard and Northwestern. I find it disturbing that the public is up in arms with regard to cigarette smokers, but allows the marijuana industry to follow the same playbook as big tobacco. Those plays include lying about what’s in the product, hooking new, young users to make a profit and marketing to children.
Marijuana abuse is horrific for the user and the family and friends of the user. My son hung himself after several attempts at suicide by other methods. The police did not allow me to see my son the night he died but the image of him hanging in a tree in a hard rain and being cut down into a puddle of mud haunts me and has driven me to learn more about marijuana and its use and abuse. I am on a mission to Help Andy Help Others and a part of that is to try to help rein in this reckless race to legalize marijuana for “recreational” use. I hope the rest of the moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers join me. I need your help and so do many others who struggle with marijuana addiction like my beautiful son Andy.”
“I have a relative who is addicted to drugs. He has been in every rehab facility in the state. I have visited him in four of these facilities: Valley Vista, Brattleboro Retreat, Maple Leaf Farms and Rutland . In every instance, EVERY resident who spoke with me, stated that they began drug use with marijuana. Without exception, they stated it is a gateway drug. Every state lawmaker should visit these facilities and speak with the patients and the staff. In addition, any lawmaker who wishes to legalize marijuana should attend at least one support group meeting of NA as I have. The money made from legalization will come nowhere near covering the additional costs associated with drug addiction.” – John
“My 15-year-old son was hanging out with two of his friends, on a snow day, last year. They all decided to smoke some pot, at one boy’s house, because his parents were not home. Once his parents arrived at home, they could smell the marijuana and called my husband and I right away to come over. Upon our arrival, the three boys were standing against a wall. The boy whose house they were at was very upset (and possibly embarrassed) so he was the most vocal. As we questioned them as to where they got the drugs, he stated that it “didn’t matter because it would soon be legal here, too.” He did not feel that they had done anything wrong. Once we questioned our son, privately, we found that he shared this opinion.