Feb­ru­ary is Nation­al Mar­i­jua­na Aware­ness Mon­th, though I’m sure if you’re read­ing this blog, you’re prob­a­bly very aware of that, or you for­got, and that’s cool too, because like, not every one is per­fect, man. This funky smelling, seed bear­ing plant has its roots plant­ed deep in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, cul­ture, and has sprout­ed in the med­ical field in recent years.

With all the­se “alter­na­tive facts” get­ting passed around like a joint at a Snoop Dogg con­cert, it’s hard to fil­ter out the the pri­mo stuff from the schwag. The his­to­ry of Mar­i­jua­na is long and well doc­u­ment­ed, and if you’d like to learn about that, you can here, but we’re focus­ing on mod­ern times.

imageEvery­one knows about mar­i­jua­na, I don’t think it needs an intro­duc­tion. What I think it needs is a re-brand­ing. Mar­i­jua­na isn’t just a plant that makes you sit at stop signs wait­ing for them to turn green. While I’m not one to claim pot is the end all, be all sav­ior we need (but do deserve), there is no deny­ing that mar­i­jua­na has plen­ty of uses that we’re not uti­liz­ing sim­ply because of out­dat­ed laws, for-prof­it pris­ons, and leg­is­la­tors in bed with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

This coun­try can­not move for­ward with chang­ing the laws regard­ing the plant if the peo­ple are not prop­er­ly informed. The laws do not rep­re­sent the pub­lic opin­ion. Six­ty per­cent of Amer­i­cans are in favor of legal­iza­tion.

Cur­rent­ly, mar­i­jua­na is clas­si­fied as a Sched­ule One drug, defin­ing it as “a drug that cur­rent­ly has no accept­ed med­ical use.” Oth­er Sched­ule One drugs include hero­in, LSD, ecsta­sy, and pey­ote. There is an argu­ment for each of those hav­ing some med­ical use. Hell, hero­in was the name Bay­er used to sell their mor­phine con­coc­tion under. But one of the­se things is not like the oth­ers. Mar­i­jua­na has no con­firmed over­dose deaths in the his­to­ry of humans, mar­i­jua­na is not chem­i­cal­ly addic­tive, and, most impor­tant, mar­i­jua­na is the only sched­ule one drug cur­rent­ly legal for recre­ation­al use in nine states and med­ical use in twen­ty eight states.


We all know about the stereo­typ­i­cal ston­er: For­get­ful, long hair, red eyes, con­stant­ly hungry…so Shag­gy from Scooby Doo?  Come to think of it, the smoke was always com­ing from the back win­dows and not the muf­fler… but I digress. Mar­i­jua­na use among adults has risen in the past few years from sev­en per­cent in 2013 to thir­teen per­cent in 2016, that’s one in eight Amer­i­can adults. Look around the office you work in, there are most like­ly a few smok­ers work­ing hard just like every­one else. And if you work in the food indus­try, all your co-work­ers are stoned. Your TPS reports still get done, and your piz­za is still deli­cious, though it would taste even bet­ter high.

Not every­one who uses mar­i­jua­na is a recre­ation­al user either, there are over 1.2 mil­lion med­ical mar­i­jua­na users in Amer­i­ca, aver­ag­ing about 8.6 per 1,000 res­i­dents. My moth­er was diag­nosed with stage four breast can­cer, she has been through radi­a­tion, chemo, mor­phine pumps, and hos­pice care. Noth­ing has been able to curb her spir­it, but most of the­se med­ica­tions do curb her appetite. She was nev­er a heavy pot smok­er, the occa­sion­al joint with friends was about as much as she could take. One night, I got tired of her say­ing she wasn’t hun­gry, so I asked if she’d smoke. She agreed and, it only took a few puffs for her to look at me with the goofi­est expres­sion I’ve ever seen, and cack­le, “I want some fuck­ing Wendy’s.”image

Dave Chap­pelle, star of the cult hit “Half Baked” and leg­endary stand up come­di­an has a famous bit that goes along the lines of, and I“m para­phras­ing here, “When white peo­ple get high, all they do is sit around and talk about oth­er times they got high.” As true as that may be, if we want change, we need to act like adults and sup­port the caus­es, talk to leg­is­la­tors, get the right infor­ma­tion out there. The Pitts­burgh chap­ter of NORML is a great web­site to get start­ed. They orga­nize func­tions, raise aware­ness, and you can reg­is­ter to vote on their site. Med­ical Mar­i­jua­na and decrim­i­nal­iza­tion have both been passed in our Com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia, though the strug­gle for full legal­iza­tion rages. Now, I’m not say­ing to start mak­ing signs and chant­i­ng, that isn’t going to help any­thing. Use your brain, don’t let let mar­i­jua­na define who you are.

So, what do you think?