Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
I smoked weed for the first time when I was 12. I watched the first five minutes of Wayne’s World and ate an entire sleeve of Oreos before falling asleep. When I was 15, I got drunk for the first time. I’m pretty sure (but not positive) that I cried, lost my shirt, puked, and got in a lot of trouble with my parents.
I’ve been to countless parties, bars, concerts, and festivals, where I’ve seen people falling all over, getting in fights, and getting sick. I’ve also been that person. I’ve woken up in the morning after a night of drinking, confused, sad, and full of regret. The list of stupid things I’ve done under the influence is long. I’m sure most of you can relate, because negative experiences with alcohol is something most of us experience in our lifetime.
Here’s a list of the stupid things I’ve done under the influence of cannabis:
Yeah, there’s no list! Because there’s really nothing that comes to mind when I think of regrettable decisions I’ve made “under the influence” of cannabis. Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that entire sleeve of Oreos, but dessert feeds your soul and Oreos are vegan. The only negative experiences I’ve had with cannabis are ones where I’ve been harassed for my using cannabis by law enforcement, or authority figures like teachers and friend’s overbearing parents. Prior to moving to Oregon, I lived in a stuffy suburb of Chicago called Naperville. It seemed like the main issue the police department was facing was busting high school kids smoking weed. They tried pretty hard by following us on hikes, carving ATV tracks through the woods, and of course (the oldest trick in the book) unlawful search and seizure. And really, it instilled fear in me for years to come. A paranoia that would creep up on me when I was just trying to get stoned in a field and lay in the sunshine, a paranoia that only years of living in a state where cannabis is legal would erase. My point being, the only bad part of smoking weed was getting caught.
Now, even in this wonderful state of Oregon, where cannabis is legal and literally everybody and their grandma grows and smokes it, there still is a harmful stigma with regulations that follow. Even though cannabis is legal, if you test positive for cannabis, you won’t be able to obtain certain employment, like working with children, or commercial driving. And if you already are employed, watch out! You might get a random drug test, and if you fail, you’re fired! But hey, you want a shot or a beer? Before you start your shift? No problem! And let’s say, maybe you want to get a job at a completely legal and licensed, tax-paying, cannabis dispensary. Oh wait, you have state funded child care? Unfortunately the State of Oregon won’t fund child care for you while you go work at a dispensary, so you’ll have to continue your job hunt or give up your child care. I’ve literally seen this exact situation happen, and it was heartbreaking, because the job market in Oregon is small, and quality jobs are hard to find in non-metropolitan areas. Dispensary jobs typically pay well above minimum wage, have good hours, and take really good care of their employees, and are awesome for single parents.
But I totally understand why cannabis is scary to people, there is so much “science” that tells us so. For example, in the history of forever, there have been ZERO cannabis fatalities. Man, compared to the 1677 people that died from alcohol related deaths in Oregon alone last year, it’s understandable why people are scared of cannabis. And let’s not forget prescriptions, because last year in Oregon, about 600 people died from misuse of their prescriptions.
With these statistics, it’s so understandable that people are scared of cannabis. It’s SO understandable that even in a legal state, stipulations are put in place to deter cannabis use and make cannabis users marginalized, limiting the quality of employment and benefits that cannabis users can receive. PSSSSH.
In case you’re from the west coast and you didn’t catch it, I was being sarcastic (just kidding my west coasters you are the sweetest, kindest, and keenest of them all and I love you). But really, even in a state where cannabis is legal, the same stigma’s are present that you find attached to cannabis users in the midwest, east coast, and in the south. And although the general vibe of the folks you meet around town is cannabis friendly, the rules and regulations put forth by employers, organizations, corporations, and the government are harmful to good people who are well within the limits of the law. Not to mention, cannabis has a HUGE, like a ridiculously huge, list of medicinal benefits, and a lot of these folks use cannabis as medicine (I’ll be getting into allllll that in many future posts - so stay tuned).
So, what do we do about it? The same thing we have been doing. Fighting for legalization across the board, in every state, and for every constituent of cannabis, because CBD is not as medicinal on its own, and it wants it’s buddy THC with it.
How do we break the stigma? Keep being YOU. Be the person at the party who isn’t falling on themselves and doesn’t get in a fight or puke. Be the person who opted to eat an edible or enjoy a vape pen, who gets to giggle at all the chaos around you and engage in fun and meaningful conversations and actually remember them in the morning. We set the standard. We get to smoke weed and do yoga, be kind, mindful and slow with our words, eat nourishing foods and enjoy the depth of flavor, enjoy the feeling of the sunshine and the wind on our skin. Maybe we’re denied some things too, maybe we campaign for cannabis and struggle to find employment that supports our passions, maybe we have to hustle extra hard to make it work. And that’s what everyone before us has done, everyone who’s paved the way to where we are now. Maybe we create a future where generations can freely enjoy the most medicinal herb in the world without harassment, denial, and stigmas.