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why I support legalizing marijuana


breaking through my own ignorance

I was never a fan of marijuana. During my experiences with it in high school & early college years, I witnessed it consume people’s lives, their ambitions lessening & their desire for a high increasing. It was one of many drugs passed around at parties. It was the substance my boyfriend chose over me when I was eighteen. No good ever came from it, from what I saw.

But my position was based on only a few people that made poor life choices; I never considered how the other billion people utilize it. I knew nothing about the facts of the substance, particularly about why it’s illegal in the first place & about the studies done regarding its medicinal uses. My ignorance was high as a brick wall, & it took a very close friend of seven years to finally begin breaking it down.

One year ago, I smoked marijuana with an open mind, & its effects were wondrous. My appetite increased, I was able to relax more, I slept better, & I enjoyed everything more. Any television show or conversation or fun activity became exponentially more enjoyable than usual, mainly because I was able to relax enough to enjoy it—not because I was having a drug-induced good time, as I’ve experienced with hard drugs. I became a regular smoker fairly quickly.

The use of marijuana helped me quit using cocaine, a drastically more destructive & addicting substance that is shockingly equally illegal as declared by the federal government. I have experienced an array of hard substances that truly alter my state of mind, completely altering how I experience & respond to my surroundings. Marijuana, however, does not alter my reality; rather, it helps my mind focus on the better corners of my reality. It does not repaint my picture; it emphasizes the beautiful colours within my already existing picture. Its effects are beautiful.

positive impact of marijuana during my struggles

with mental illness over the past year

My mental disorders involve a wide variety of symptoms that I struggle with. I experience frequent meltdowns. They strike randomly & are overwhelmingly intense. Sometimes I have long crying spells. Sometimes I experience early signs of psychosis, such as derealization where I become disoriented, among other things. Sometimes I am unable to fake a smile because the darkness within is so consuming & unavoidable. Sometimes I grow extremely anxious just leaving my bedroom. Sometimes I hear voices that convince me to kill myself.

Marijuana calms these terrors, easing my mind & allowing me to return to the present moment without the destructive chaos brewing within. My mood is boosted & I am able to overcome, or at least survive, the episode. When I am unable to rise from my bed, marijuana soothes my anxieties enough for me to embrace the new day, rather than remaining bedridden suffering in a miserable mind. When I am overwhelmed by intense emotions & deeply desire to harm myself, marijuana eases the intensity enough for me to avoid self-destructive. When the weight of existence is too much for me to bear, marijuana relieves the pressure & provides me with a renewed sense of optimism & hope. It allows me to enjoy one thing at a time rather than my focus being overwhelmed by everything at once, as my mind naturally operates. Sometimes eases my symptoms without giving me a high.

Marijuana introduced me to a state of relaxation I never believed achievable. Chronic back & neck aches from constantly being tense have been a problem for eight years, ever since my mental illnesses began showing themselves. I envy those that can relax naturally because my mind often does not allow such relief. Marijuana helps maintain sanity that is always attempting to escape me. It provides me with a relaxed & rational mind when I severely lack that due to mental illness.

Another aspect of depression that I have struggled with is my appetite. During high school I overate, drowning my feelings in the satisfying tastes of unhealthy snacks & meals. During college, food didn’t seem like a necessity, & my eating habits decreased to one or two small meals per day. Marijuana stimulates my appetite & eases the nausea that occasionally prevents me from eating when my depression is at an extremely low peak. At last I have a tool for stimulating my appetite & combating my anorexic habits. Marijuana helped me regain the fifteen pounds I unintentionally lost due to depression & anxiety.

When I have a night terror, my sleep is disrupted. I awaken drenched in sweat with all my pillows & surrounding objects thrown around recklessly. I usually don’t remember the nightmare but its effects linger long after its memory is gone. I am mentally disturbed & unable to return to a peaceful sleep to obtain the rest I so desperately need to function properly. Marijuana completely calms me, soothing my distraught mind & allowing me to return to sleep.

After seven committed years of cutting myself, I decided to stop for this new year, 2015. I have been successful thus far, & I am confident that a huge thanks goes to marijuana. Smoking eases the urges when they were too powerful to ignore, soothing the intense emotions disturbing me so viciously & violently. By providing me with a calm mind & hopeful spirit, I have been able to successfully counter the negative habits I’ve developed.

mindfulness

During treatment, the number one “coping skill” I am taught is mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “the state of being conscious or aware of something.” It is also defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging & accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, & bodily sensations; used as a therapeutic technique.” Mindfulness means maintaining a moment by moment awareness of what’s going on within ourselves, as well as our surroundings. It’s about accepting things as they are, rather than stressing about how we wish they were. It means taking everything in without judging it all. It’s letting go of definitions & expectations & labels of right or wrong. It’s acknowledging our feelings without judging them. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

I attempted mindfulness sober, but my malfunctioning mind wouldn’t allow it. So I attempted it after smoking a small amount, & it began to make sense. I continued to actively practice mindfulness whenever applicable, & at first I was only able to achieve my goal when I was high. Once I understood the practice, I applied it while sober. I don’t think I would have understood how to be in the present moment & practice mindfulness without marijuana. It was a beautiful teaching tool that I am extremely grateful to have access to. It helped bridge the gap between my craziness & peace, & I am so thankful to have such tools to combat my struggles.

stoner life

Despite common conceptions of all stoners being lazy, I held three jobs successfully for many months during which I was high every day. I have also met dozens & dozens of adults that work full-time & have a wonderful life, & also use marijuana on a daily basis.

A stoner is a person that regularly consumes marijuana. I am completely comfortable being called a stoner at this point in my life. I admit that I am somewhat dependent upon marijuana. Someone with a mind literally as sick as mine is going to be dependent on something to function. For seven years it was mainly alcohol & self-harm, but along the road it also included reckless adventures & hard drugs such as ecstasy & cocaine. During treatment, I am taught to depend on these large white pills concocted by man, pills still in a state of trial & error. Out of all the substances out there, none is as helpful & harmless as marijuana. I’m comfortable with some dependency on a plant that grows naturally in this beautiful universe. I trust a leafy green plant provided by Mother Nature because she has proven herself reliable—& so creative that I am open to the possibility of a plant being the cure for many of man’s woes.

Unlike with other drugs, I never experience withdrawal symptoms of any kind. When I come down from a high, I do not feel extremely differently. My state is not drastically altered; my mind is not overcome by the impact of the drug; I do not desperately crave it. I continue to be my normal self, thankful for the temporarily relief marijuana provided.

Some say that substances can cause symptoms identical to mental illness. Though I admit certain substances may trigger or exacerbate my symptoms, I experienced all of these symptoms of mental illness long before I even knew what drugs were. I say with confidence that my struggles are with mental illnesses, not with substances.

medicinal benefits of marijuana

Since I began smoking weed a year ago, I have done extensive research, watched detailed documentaries, & read a copious amount of books & articles. The truth about marijuana, in short, is that it is medically useful for a variety of health conditions, including PTSD & cancer. It is a million times less harmful than pharmaceutical drugs; this is a proven fact, not just a theory we stoners claim in our defense. Marijuana has little to no side effects, especially compared to the massive amounts of possible side effects with prescribed drugs & other treatments offered for such illnesses. There has never been a single death due to marijuana. It is literally impossible to overdose on marijuana. More people overdose on Tylenol & other elementary over-the-counter medicines thank with marijuana. Not a single person in the universe has ever died from marijuana use.

Marijuana is useful for other illnesses as well. It eases pain in those with chronic pain conditions, such as MS (multiple sclerosis) & AIDS. It reduces muscle spasms that interfere with daily life in those with MS & seizure disorders. It reduces symptoms of ADHD, PTSD, & autism. Those going through aggressive chemotherapy are often nauseous & unable to eat, losing a significant amount of weight that is extremely unhealthy. Marijuana eases the nausea & invokes an appetite. It has drastically improved the quality of life for many cancer patients. It also helps those recovering from things like anorexia because it stimulates an appetite so effectively. There has even been evidence that it decreases some tumors.

One of my friends, Rachel Sandeen, shared her testimony of beholding the positive effects of this wondrous plant: “From close to personal experience, I have witnessed medical marijuana increase appetite & decrease pain for a loved one with terminal cancer. They struggle with eating, & marijuana helped them feel hungry. Long-term, it might help them put weight back on lost due to chemotherapy, medications, & abdominal pain. I support getting truth out there about this controversial topic.”

If marijuana is so wonderful, why is it legally as harmful as cocaine according to federal laws? The answer is quite simple: they don’t want to legalize it. They set up obstacles to make clinical trials nearly impossible for those attempting to further prove marijuana’s medicinal uses & beneficial qualities. Pharmaceutical companies make a large sum of money, & fewer people would be filling prescriptions of pills if they had access to medical marijuana. It’s one of the greatest scams America has ever fallen prey to. As stated in the federal law prohibiting marijuana according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the substance has absolutely no possible medical benefits & is highly addictive & is classified as a Schedule I drug. Though there is significant evidence disproving this law, it remains in place. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the law. Some people go to jail for possessing a small amount of marijuana; it’s so wrong, it churns my gut. A lot of the news regarding marijuana increasing or causing anxiety, etc., is regarding recreational use of the substance, rather than medical use. The CSA does not recognize the difference between medical & recreational uses of marijuana. Although I encourage legalizing recreational marijuana, that is a different subject for another time—a topic to be addressed after medical marijuana is legalized. This blog is only arguing for legalization of medical marijuana.

Marijuana is not for everyone. I’m not going to say that everyone should try it at some point. But for some, marijuana relieves pains that make daily life difficult or even impossible. It is absolute cruelty to restrict these suffering patients from utilizing a substance that has repeatedly been proven effective for relieving symptoms of some illnesses. Though marijuana may not cure any illnesses (so far that we know of for certain), it provides tools for people struggling with certain illnesses to help manage their symptoms & sustain a higher quality of life.