Bob Goodwin: ‘Drug’ is a Teetering Social Concept

Yves here. Bob Goodwin discusses how the idea of legal versus illegal drugs has become a more obviously porous barrier than it was in his youth, even given the differences in how those differences are enforced across income/racial groups.

One thing that Bob may have deemed to be so obvious as to not be worth discussing is the casualness of prescribing what amount to performance-enhancing drugs to children, such as Ritalin and Adderall, along with troublingly frequent dispensing of antidepressants. Studies on safety are all short term; the idea of messing with the chemistry of developing brains, save in circumstances when the child is in acute distress, is heinous. Yet in parallel, kids have wised up and use various prescription stimulants, most notably Adderall, as study and test aids. I recall reading a New Yorker article on it at least a decade and maybe even more than a dozen years ago, on how utterly routine it was for kids in elite private schools to get these drugs prescribed, or filch their parents’ supplies, and trade them among their peers. My understanding is that the use of these drugs during exams, and for some students, on an ongoing basis, is routine.

By Bob Goodwin, an investor and medical device entrepreneur who lives in Mercer Island, Washington

I work a few blocks from a legal pot shop near Seattle. It is as legal for me to buy and consume Marijuana at home as it is to buy and consume beer. I used a lot of illegal drugs when I was younger, and I use a lot of legal drugs for a serious illness today. One of the legal drugs I need today, is a schedule 2 drug, because it is commonly resold illegally. Alcohol and tobacco have been legal drugs for most of the last few centuries, based on an uncomfortable accommodation, more than an acceptance, Furthermore there has been precipitous decline in the use of both. (here here here)

I am told that Marijuana is actually a very good drug for my disease here and the pot shop seems clean, well informed, comprehensive and professional. So why not? Well one big problem I have is that I have a 14 year old son, and two daughters 10 and 8. I also have an older son with two children of his own, and he has never used illegal drugs. I would like my younger children to read this essay and make an informed decision about role of drugs in their life. That was the approach my parents took with me when I was young, and I went to a community display of information about drugs. I took it as more of an advertisement FOR drugs, than against them. So I have fallen back to the approach most commonly used by people in my generation: “I used illegal drugs heavily when I was young. Don’t be me.”

I can easily avoid the tension I am hinting at by avoiding the pot shop. But I am intrigued by social tensions. The social tension today is the teetering concept that there are three types of drugs: social, medical and abused. For me, marijuana is uncomfortably all three simultaneously. It is legal, so it is essentially legally the same as alcohol and cigarettes, even if the culture hasn’t caught up. And most abused drugs are exactly the same as medical drugs, except that they exist in the unregulated part of our society.
Marijuana is an unexpected foil, but a natural one. For all its downsides, they are tiny compared even to over-the-counter medications. So most of the tension caused by Marijuana can’t be easily addressed on scientific or legalistic grounds. It is forcing a discussion about the definition of what a drug is.

History is rich with drugs, and has been central in cultures. Think of Greeks dancing in vats of grapes or the fact the word Assassin is derived from word Hashish, or even the Opium wars. But our culture has added two new components: drug companies, and the prison industrial complex.

When I stocked up on illegal drugs in college, my dad stocked up on drugs at the pharmacy. While I was in college, drug use was wide spread, but incarceration was low. In the ghetto’s incarceration for the same activity was rampant. Both of these contrasts were because of policy decisions.

Regulation is necessary, certainly in this space, but there is always an irresistible pressure for capture in regulation. Absentee landlords are fairly blamed for the Irish potato famine, but despite a failure of the potato crop, there was adequate food in Ireland. It actually took a significant military presence to facilitate the exporting of food from Ireland during the famine. The regulatory machinery was protecting legitimate and legal property rights. Crop failure was not new to Ireland, but never before had the regulatory system been strong enough to cause people to starve.

What regulatory rights have been captured in our drug culture? There are two. First, drug companies, hospitals, doctors (16% of our economy) would largely become obsolete if treatments that almost always involve drugs were not funneled through a highly regulated system. Second, A sizable part of the population has no access to this system, and a majority has very limited access to this system. While the regulatory bottleneck of Ireland is not a fair comparison, there is a real regulatory bottleneck in American medicine. No such bottleneck could possibly be an optimum for public health. This bottleneck is an optimum for legacy institutions. Most abuse of illegal drugs occurs from people with limited or no access to the medical industrial complex.

The second capture is more subtle. Access to legal drugs is stratified by wealth and age. Illegal drug users are mostly young or not wealthy enough to have full access to our health care system. But college kids almost never get sent to jail for using drugs, so it is my thesis that drug incarceration is less about drugs than it is about incarceration. There is a regulatory bottleneck for wealth too.

Some very bright black men have built impressive organizational structures for the distribution of medicine to willing customers. Their hall of fame is called Sing-Sing. A struggling family cannot rent a food truck and park it in a rich neighborhood for income, or run a small barber shop inside their isolated apartment for the benefit of the middle class. Like in Ireland, their only legal opportunity for employment is in the food service business, and the pay is proportionate to the potato crop yield.

So celebrate the legalization of Marijuana, but ask your kids not to use it. We know regulation is needed, but let’s find a damn way to make it rational, fair and transparent.

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49 comments

  1. YankeeFrank

    As someone with a serious chronic condition the internet has been a godsend as far as drugs are concerned. I can basically get ANY drug I need from a vast array of sources that range from legal to gray to black market. I’m sure there are some things not available this way but for my condition(s) this hasn’t been an issue. And with a bit of research its possible to avoid getting robbed by unscrupulous sites as well. There are forums where the reputations of all the internet vendors are constantly updated by a strong community of people looking to protect themselves and each other. Since I’ve been uninsured for years, I can’t imagine how much I’d have paid to see doctors for all the medications I can now get online. So one bottleneck is being seriously widened thanks to the internet. My advice is do your research and don’t be afraid to order meds from India, etc. They’re just as good in most cases and a damned site cheaper.

  2. not_me

    A sick society abuses mind altering drugs but banning them, except for children, who should be zealously protected, is bogus. Instead, the society should be fixed and then the NEED to abuse drugs will disappear over time.

    And the means to fix our society MUST include reforming our money system, the means by which so many have been stripped of the opportunity for healthy activity, such as family farms and businesses, and restitution and land reform provided.

    Proverbs 31:6-9

    1. James

      A sick society abuses mind altering drugs but banning them, except for children, who should be zealously protected, is bogus. Instead, the society should be fixed and then the NEED to abuse drugs will disappear over time.

      Biblical reference aside, that statement makes a lot of sense.

      As to the larger picture of fixing the society in the first place, there’s far too many lucrative opportunities in drug prohibition and enforcement for it to ever go away under the current system. Every now and then I pinch myself when I’m railing about the security state and force myself to consider, if we eliminated it all tomorrow, what would all those people do? And then the answer is obvious. The system we have doesn’t exist by mere happenstance. It was engineered to do exactly what it’s doing and it’s been a tremendous success for those who engineered it. It’s where the proverbial boot meets the neck, if you will, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

      1. not_me

        It was engineered to do exactly what it’s doing James

        Not necessarily. In our society, jobs are a necessity for everyone but the rich because people (or their ancestors) have been stripped of productive assets such as family farms and businesses or because they’ve always been slaves of one sort or another, ie. chattel or wage and debt slaves. When the acute necessity for a job is eliminated via say, JUSTICE, then people will not be so desperate for an income that they’ll stoop to being busybodies or worse.

        Yes, there are conspiracies to oppress but “Our enemies are not flesh and blood …”

        1. James

          We don’t disagree, its just that I find it hard to imagine where said JUSTICE is possibly going to come from, absent total systemic collapse, which would come with its own risks and doesn’t appear to happening anytime soon anyway, given that that’s already been bought and paid for as well. Likewise the farms and small businesses. Like the jobs that have been long since off-shored via capitalist diktat (Ross Perot was definitely smarter than anyone at the time gave him credit for), I can’t imagine they’re coming back either. At least in my lifetime.

          Admittedly, I’m not the most optimistmic person you’ll ever meet, but optimism’s always been overrated anyway.

    2. different clue

      Many healthy societies used / use drugs the way they are supposed to be used. When Mazatec shamans use Leaves of the Shepherdess for divination for example, that is proper use. Not abuse. When EuroWestern Civilization workers or Japanese sararimen drink alcohol in social settings after work, that is proper use, not abuse. The word “abuse” was invented by bluenose busybully puritanoids and exploited by secret-agenda War On Drugs warriors. Backed by Big Banka and other people who make billions laundering trillions of illegalized-drugs money.

      I used marijuana when I was younger. I used it for exactly what it was supposed to be used for. I didn’t “abuse” it.

      1. different clue

        So Joseph Califano . . . for example . . . can break the neck off a beer bottle and cram the bottle broken-off end first right straight up his god damned ass, so far as I am concerned.

        There! That’s what I think of the War On Drugs.

      2. not_me

        Point taken with regard to “abuse”.

        Then let me rephrase by means of a metaphor: “If our society did not create so many cripples then they would not need to use so many crutches and wheel chairs.”

  3. diptherio

    In Nepal, you can walk up to any local pharmacy, tell the proprietor what’s bugging you, and he or she will make a quick diagnosis and sell you whatever they think will help…and every drug is OTC. For most ailments, this seemed like a much better system to me than our system of paying an overworked MD to do exactly the same thing. Of course, there are some who abuse the plethora of medical drugs available in this way, but that is—as always—mainly a result of the poor state of the economy and the lack of useful, meaningful work to do for many of the young men. I think we couldn’t do much worse if we also went to this sort of system, where pharmacists act as community doctors for minor ailments and are allowed to distribute their drugs as they see fit.

    As for Ritalin/Adderal/etc.: in college, I was once offered a line of crushed up ADD meds by an acquaintance on our way out to the bar. Apparently putting them up your nose was a thing to do. I took a miss on that one, but the other folks in the group seemed to get a kick out of it. Later I learned that the same guy paid most of his rent by re-selling his Adderal to other students as a study aide. That’s American entrepreneurship for you.

  4. Bart Fargo

    What’s also absurd is our society’s way of dealing with illegal substance use and abuse. While the Obama administration has made some incremental increases in the efforts devoted to treatment, the budget for enforcement is still more than an order of magnitude larger despite 40+ years of the War on Drugs resulting in more and better drugs flooding the streets than ever before. American politicians have the gall to ask why our Central American neighbors can’t get their houses in order when Americans, the most prolific illicit (and licit) drug consumers in the world, send hundreds of billions of dollars to the cartels every year. US government foreign aid is dwarfed by comparison. About the only thing our leaders do well is ignore reality in favor of traditional cultural fantasies, and so the Drug War continues in spite of itself and those leaders get their cut of the proceeds one way or another.

    1. James

      American politicians have the gall to ask why our Central American neighbors can’t get their houses in order when Americans, the most prolific illicit (and licit) drug consumers in the world, send hundreds of billions of dollars to the cartels every year.

      Indeed! That’s the beauty of it all! We pour it all out in illegal imports, then the big boys recoup it right back again in kick backs, drug seizures, and revenues from the national security state. And our “leaders” understand that reality very well, thank you very much.

      1. different clue

        Straight-up legalizing all these drugs would solve that money-to-the-cartels problem with the passage and signage of a law.

  5. Romancing the Loan

    The trouble with telling your kids that you used illegal drugs in your youth and “don’t be me” is that, unless you are telling them this from behind bars, or through a ventilator, your kids are likely to look at you and think “what a hypocrite – he’s fine.” And they’ll be right. I would think a better strategy is just to say that while altered states of consciousness can be loads of fun as an adult, until you have a handle on what regular consciousness feels like, better not to mess with it. And needless to say, don’t use drugs around your kids you don’t want them to use…but then that holds for beer and wine, too.

    Frankly, I wish I’d smoked some weed as a teen. It would have been very helpful for dealing with the stress of being socially kind of outcast. Might even have helped with the underlying problem. ;)

    1. James

      Smoked lots of weed as a teen. Frankly, just wish I could smoke a little now.

      Likewise, kids will do what they’re going to do anyway, and god bless ’em for that. The surest way to ensure they do drugs is to tell them not to. You’d think every baby boomer alive right now would be smart enough to simply remember that.

  6. jgordon

    My opinion is that drugs that cause or help people work like dogs for the corporate state are encouraged. Drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, Aderal, caffeine etc. Drugs that detract from people’s ability to be good cogs in the machine are fought, their users persecuted and prosecuted.

    I had the above insight the first time I tripped on psilocybin. There, a great number of insights occurred to me: how completely worthless and meaningless our industrial society and monetary system is. The depravity of money and the ultimate futility of trying to get it. That there is no need to strive for a better future, because if we are not happy now, at this very moment, then we’ll never be happy. And that all the standard-issued activities that society tells us will bring happiness: studying, working our asses off for a paycheck, voting, etc, on in fact cause and endless treadmill of angst and dissatisfaction with life.

    And then I thought about the nature of illegal drugs and it occurred to me that if more people intuitively understood the knowledge I had gained then this absurd society would collapse overnight, and of course the elites can’t have that. Thus, marginalization and persecution of those most likely to clearly see just how pointless and mendacious their little society is.

    1. James

      Wholeheartedly agreed, and think that’s all borne out in the rabidly psychotic overreactions on the part of the anti-drug people if you dare to bring up the subject. Forty years ago I would have sworn we would have all that worked out by now, but if anything, its only become more virulent in the interim. We baby boomers were always a hard bunch to figure out. So idealistic in our youth, and yet, in the end, even more conservative and hypocritical than our parents. Power, wealth, comfort, and leisure will do that to you I guess.

    2. nony mouse

      my only comment about your laudable observations is amazement that you needed to alter your brain chemistry to think them!

      my comment on drugs, as one whose family members used to sell illegal drugs and whose mother kicked a nasty meth habit is this: emotional and/or economic problems heavily underlie that kind of involvement. they had many customers who were social users–out for a party on the weekend, and nothing more. these people could take or leave drugs, held down jobs, and didn’t waste their lives on them. a few of these over the years became addicts or habitual users, but not many. those most prone seemed to have something else going on. that includes my own mother. had she been born 20 years later, I’m sure that she would have been prescribed antidepressants, and perhaps a few other things to deal with her various mental health issues.

      growing up this way, and seeing all of this made me avoid all drugs. if it can’t be cured by aspirin or penicillin, I don’t truck with it. but I can understand why other people do. and the distinction between legal and illegal ‘drugs’ is made up by who has money and/or power. that has always been pretty obvious to me.

      I would claim that the author would be served best by having a more frank discussion about drugs with his kids than simply saying ‘avoid them’. do that, and he’s likely to have a few experimenting just to see what all of the fuss is about. be more honest about what he did, and why he thinks it was not the right thing to do. then figure that they’ll make their choices. but what do I know, I’ve never raised kids.

      1. jgordon

        My brain chemistry only had to be altered once and it was a long time before I did it again. The insights I gained are still with me, always coloring my perceptions even now.

        If you take a scientific approach to understanding how psylocibin alters cognitive functions, it’s easy to see how all it does is simply temporarily erase all of the bullcrap cultural programming that’s been heaped on from the moment we were born. And once the world is viewed without all the crap in the way one time, it’s a useful reference point from then on.

        1. James

          Good points, but then again, taking a scientific viewpoint totally misses the point.

          The point of altered consciousness is altered consciousness. Period.

          Like you, I haven’t achieved those states for many a decade since either, but I’m not ready to relinquish the right to have them every night if I wish to the whims of the corporate state either. Nor do I think that having those altered states every night if I so choose is necessarily a bad thing.

          That’s the thing about rights. Once you relinquish them you have to fight to get them back, and in the fight, you’re tempted to bargain away lil’ bits to get them back. That’s why you don’t relinquish them in the first place!

      2. bob goodwin

        “the author would be served best by having a more frank discussion about drugs with his kids than simply saying ‘avoid them’”

        I agree with your point, and I fell victim to the desire to make the post less than 1000 words, and getting into parenting would have sidetracked the story. But I will say that parenting teenagers (and being a parented teenager) are really hard roles, and opportunities for influence are frustratingly rare. But I am honest with them about my experiences, and how I was harmed by them, and why I made the choices I did. I am not ‘selling’ I am explaining. But I am always clear to tell them that they should not use illegal drugs. I may be a hypocrite, I may not be a perfect parent, but nobody doubts my love for my children, and my wish that all things are the best for them.

    3. different clue

      I believe this was a widespread understanding during the Sixties. Marijuana/LSD/mescaline/mushrooms/etc. were considered mind-expanding Life drugs. Cocaine, heroin, etc. were considered government sponsored
      CIA Death drugs.

      Sample Public Service Announcement: ” Hey kids! CIA drugs are a government tool. If you use CIA drugs, that makes YOU a government tool. Don’t be a government tool. Just say no to CIA drugs.” Think they’ll ever run that on TV?

  7. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    I hate to be the skunk at the picnic (not really – I enjoy the role) but there was a time not long ago when you could send your 10 year old down to the pharmacy to pick up your laudanum for you. Is the social group “better” or “worse” than it was at that time? Yves has a fine opening, but the article it self is only semi-coherent, unfortunately. But, between it and the comments, we do seem to have hit the most valid points in regard to drug use:

    1. People (and animals) get sideways. They get sideways because they like it, or because they have a need to. The Neopuritans of the world are welcome to keep their bodies free of whatever. They have no right to impose their lifestyle on me. And that doesn’t even begin to address the hypocrites sitting there with their 8th glass of scotch, talking about how horrible marijuana is.

    2. If you HAVE to regulate, then regulate equally. The nonsense of coming down hard on the lower economic classes for crack, but letting the high end folks go with their freebase, is ridiculous. If you’re going to insist on having a prison-industrial complex, then everybody gets equal treatment. I know, the “rule of law” is thought of as quaint and antiquated, but really, give it a try.

    3. Despite #2, dump the prison-industrial complex. If the drug use is actually AB-use, then make it the medical issue it is.

    4. Yves and some of the other posters have got it – kids should get a handle on consciousness before they start looking to alter it.

    5. Also, the pharmical*-industrial state, with “a pill or shot for everything,” probably needs to die an early death as well. Life can be screwy, but the answer should not always be in a bottle. See “AB-use” earlier, and just because it’s a medical issue doesn’t mean “other drugs to replace the ones du jour.”

    * sounds better than “pharmacological”

    1. jrs

      Though it might take till at least 30 to get a handle of consciousness or at any rate to be able to deal more maturely with the seemingly overwhelming negative emotions that tip mere “using” over into addiction. Not primarily talking about pot here but since when is a discussion about drugs primarily about pot.

      1. James

        I would have smoked pot in grade school had I only known about it. I freely shared it with grade schoolers (Or should I say, they freely shared it with me?) when I was a teenager as well. “Pot” as a “drug” is a total non-issue to anyone who’s ever smoked more than a joint or two in their life and actually went with it. In that sense, it definitely was a “gateway drug” for me; a gateway to higher consciousness. Yeah, I followed that up with “shrooms” and LSD (allegedly, no one could actually be sure) a few times and got the whole out of body experience in spades, but nothing before or since ever got me off like a bowl of fresh ‘Maui Wowee!’, drawn through a cheap plastic bong while seated on a cheap vinyl couch in a cheap rented apartment in Wahiawa HI at 20 years old as a member of Uncle Sugar’s Army with the rest of my life ahead of me and nothing to lose.

        In short: is there something more to “drugs” than meets the current middle-aged conservative/liberals’ circumscribed mindset, ESPECIALLY when compared to the mind numbingly dead alternative? You bet you’re freaking ass there is!

  8. rur42

    ” Most abuse of illegal drugs occurs from people with limited or no access to the medical industrial complex.”

    I think you will find that most abuse of drugs — including ODs & deaths — occurs in people who have plenty of access to the medical industrial complex via prescriptions. Not to mention problems with OTC products, which may or may not be related to limited access to health care.

    Kids may pick up some of their drug use experimentation at home (alcohol & tobacco, notorious gateway drugs, not to mention mommy’s little helpers in the medicine cabinet), but are far more influenced by peers than by parental admonishments (don’t do as I did, do as I tell you). The idea that younger children will read an essay and make an “informed decision” about drug use is laughable.

    1. bob goodwin

      You contradicted yourself. You said most abuse of illegal drugs comes from prescriptions.
      I was not make a claim of safety, I was making a claim of usage.. And when they are resold illegally, they become illegal drugs.

  9. R.W. Tucker

    I am told that Marijuana is actually a very good drug for my disease here and the pot shop seems clean, well informed, comprehensive and professional. So why not? Well one big problem I have is that I have a 14 year old son, and two daughters 10 and 8.

    Wait, you’re sick, but you’re not using a chemical that could make you feel better? And your reasoning is that it is illegal in other states? And your kids might figure out it is illegal in other states and ask you why you are using it medically? Or might start using it in a recreational capacity because you are using it medically?

    This piece borders on incoherence.

    If you have a medical problem that could be treated, go out and smoke some weed. Your kids do not give a damn.

    1. bob goodwin

      “This piece borders on incoherence. ”

      Seriously? You would have no reservations about smoking pot in front of your kids? And you think I am incoherent for have reservations?

  10. Peppsi

    The DEA has legislative fiat. They can make anything illegal if they feel like it. It’s not very democratic.

  11. McMike

    Studies on safety are all short term; the idea of messing with the chemistry of developing brains, save in circumstances when the child is in acute distress, is heinous.

    One might say the same thing about vaccines and an infant’s developing immune/neurological systems.

    1. Bart Fargo

      Except for the fact that children do die of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, whereas I have yet to hear of any child succumbing to ADHD.

      1. Ian

        As a former drug experimenter, I primarily (but not exclusively) used drugs for what ended up being spiritual experiences. The crux to safe mind altering drug use is safe environment and the precautionary measures to guide mood, physical safety and protect against mental degradation into dominant negative thought spirals. I do not believe this to be abuse, as a reset on perspective can give insight and help define and redefine ones life. So lets differentiate between use and abuse. As to handling growth of consciousness within kids, my prescription on that is to make Tai Chi (or a suitable equivalent) a daily part of the school curriculum, this in my mind would handle and mitigate many of the developmental issues kids have that they are prescribed drugs for.

        1. James

          As to handling growth of consciousness within kids, my prescription on that is…

          And my prescription would be, STFU, do what you were going to do anyway, and let your kids follow your lead! If it works (and if you were wise, it should), your kids will follow you, you’ll look like a genius, and everyone will be happy. If it doesn’t, they’ll do something else, perhaps proclaim your wisdom for leading them to it anyway, and everyone will be happy regardless.

          In short? Don’t be stupid. Your kids are smart in spite of you! Don’t get in their way!

          1. Ian

            I don’t believe I deserve this attack that you have done on me and my comment. I am offering an opinion, one that is quite valid. Obviously you have little concept on what or how something like Tai Chi would be as an overall benefit for our children and their development that would be quite doable within the school setting. So in regards to your utterly disrespectful and ignorant attack upon me. Go fuck yourself. This is an official request to get your spewed crap removed.

            1. Ian

              I guess I misunderstood the parameters within which comments and discussion were filtered. I admit my response was thin-skinned, but I expected this to be a forum with which ideas can be discussed and debated on their merits, not attacked and dismissed through word play and psychological argumentative tricks. I let my guard down. The whole thing exhausts me and I am finding it very difficult to find the motivation to respond because of the very fact that I did let my guard down. The fault is mine, lesson learned.

  12. Jim

    Back in 2005 a study by the national Comorbidity Survey indicated that the US was number One in mental illness (which the survey defined as consisting of 4 major categories: anxiety disorders, mood disorders like depression and bipolar, impulse control disorders and substance abuse.

    Over the past 30 or 40 years the major theoretical narrative among psychiatrists and many MDs was that such mental illness is primarily caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be corrected by specific drugs(especially anti-depressants like Prozac, Risperdal and Seroquel.

    Today there is increasing evidence that once a person is put on psychiatric medication (which tends to throw a wrench into the usual mechanics of a neural pathway) there is increasing likelihood of the brain beginning to function abnormally.

    But the persistence of the belief in the biological causation of mental disease continues to prevent serious consideration of non-biological causes– even though, for example, the etiology of manic depression, depression and bipolar disfunction remains obscure/unknown.

    There is a potential political opening here for the left– to begin seriously looking at the cultural origins of mental illness. The relatively new book by Liah Greenfeld entitled “Mind, Modernity, madness: The impact of Culture on Human Experience” is, in my opinion, a great place to start.

  13. different clue

    I find it unfortunate that Bob Goodwin still feels pressure from within or without to disrespect marijuana as a “bad drug” inherently. “I used it, don’t be me.”

    The people up and down my college hall who used marijuana were functional and became happy and successful. The more more marijuana they used in college, the more successful they became afterwards. Those who added hallucinogens to the diet went on to become scientists and engineers. I just said NO! the way I was raised, and I went on to become a dishwasher and a janitor and a cook.
    I FInally started using marijuana in the company of other foodservice and hospitality workers in the relaxation sessions after work. (I had used it only 3 or so times previously). It showed me the possibility of pleasure in life where there was no vision of pleasure before. I finally went back to Community College and learned a technical skill better paying than dishwashing. Getting a job required me to be “drug free” which was an acceptable tradeoff. Marijuana had already helped me get where I needed to be ( which was someplace better than where I had been). I used it to alter my mental functioning and perceptions, which is just exactly what it was supPOSED to be used for, and wasn’t ABuse in any way. And some of the perception enhancements and thought-strengthening has stayed with me, without any need to keep using to maintain my mental improvements.

    My only regret about marijuana is that I started so late and used so little. Who KNOWS how good the marijuana used by my upper-middle class college hallmates was? I sure don’t. And I never will. And that is a regret I carry with some measure of bitterness if I think about it too hard.

    People who support the War On Drugs should all be rounded up and sent to special camps.

      1. different clue

        For a start, yes. I was thinking of all the voters who beLIEVE in the War On Drugs. They are the ones who keep the War On Drugs Congress in place.

  14. ChrisPacific

    While I agree with a lot of this article, the idea of Big Pharma getting approval to market a range of designer recreational drugs fills me with terror. Although I suppose it’s coming regardless and our best hope for keeping control of the process is to think about it in advance and come up with a sensible regulatory framework.

    I know a few people personally who used marijuana when they were young and it was not a positive influence on their life. I know that’s not unique to marijuana (alcohol is another popular drug to abuse) and I’ve heard enough stories of the type in this thread to think that it’s not necessarily the case for everyone who uses it, but the potential for abuse is there and needs to be monitored. Having conversations with kids about limits and sensible use seems like a very good idea.

    1. James

      I know a few people personally who used marijuana when they were young and it was not a positive influence on their life.

      Nothing a bowl or two wouldn’t get you over forever, one way or another. Seriously.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Maybe I should elaborate a bit, as rereading without details makes me sound a bit Puritan.

        By ‘not a positive influence on their lives’ I mean severe impairment of short-term memory and a general inability to perform effectively in any kind of professional or academic setting. Both failed all their courses at school during the time I knew them, and both were later fired from jobs for performance reasons. Also the usual stuff like difficulty operating heavy machinery (I made the mistake of getting into a car with one of them once before realizing he was stoned – it was a pretty frightening experience while it lasted). In both cases it seemed like their brains just shut down and they were unable to function on anything above a rudimentary level, for days, weeks or months at a time.

        I’ve since learned enough to suggest that those were probably extreme cases, and if I’d met anybody who managed to use it regularly while still remaining relatively normal and high-functioning then I might have been more willing to try it myself. (Probably I did meet some of those people without realizing it). As it was, I figured that it wasn’t worth the risk of turning into a zombie.

        One of them did eventually de-zombify and went on to have a successful academic and professional career, but gave up the pot. I’m not sure what happened to the other.

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