To Get High or Not To Get High

Introduction

I know there are probably thousands of articles like this, for and against. Here’s another one. I primarily wanted to put together my main reasons for why this beneficial and highly underrated “drug” should be legalized, left alone by law enforcement and should be a matter of health and personal choice. Not to sound condescending to some people, but there are a lot of ignorant “facts” that I have heard people repeat, yet they have no experience with marijuana whatsoever. This is based on misinformation and propaganda that they've been likely spoon-fed since before they can remember. They believe that marijuana is so evil! I too, was nearly one of those people while I was growing up. With programs like D.A.R.E., I was led to believe that marijuana was a hard drug and only bad people do drugs at all. As I got older and learned more about it, I realized a lot of what I was told was incorrect. I was still afraid to try it until I was in my 20s, but that was from my own insecurities which only led to curiosities. I only dabbled with marijuana a few times a year until I was diagnosed with cancer. It was at that point that I looked to sincerely try it as “alternative” medicine. I hate the term alternative medicine for marijuana because there was nothing alternative about it. It’s a natural plant that works, plain and simple. If anything should be alternative, I think all the chemicals I was taking in pill form should be labeled as such since they were made in a factory and didn't always work.

I am going to look at in my own personal experience, what does marijuana really do; and, is it more helpful than harmful? I can truthfully attest to the fact that marijuana has been a huge help in my own life. Here are a list of ailments I have suffered, most through chemo and some before and after chemo, and how marijuana has helped.

Symptoms Helped

Anxiety
First off, I suffer from random bouts of anxiety which are usually manageable, but once in a while I get a really bad case. When I was first diagnosed and for the next few months that followed, my anxiety was high. Yes, there are anti-anxiety pills that I can take like Ativan (Lorazepam) and yes, they can work. Not everyone is comfortable taking pills, and when I take them, they often leave me feeling drowsy and sometimes with a headache. I personally know people that are not comfortable putting chemicals in their body like that, and I understand that. When I use marijuana, I get all of the benefits with no negative side effects. Marijuana soothes my anxiety, relaxes away any tension or stress I have and allows me to feel normal so I can sort out the source of my anxiety and overcome what might be wrong. The bottom line is that it calms me down and relieves me of anxiety so I can manage.

Stomach and Eating Issues
At times, when I was on chemotherapy, I wanted nothing to do with food. Not eating when on chemo is not recommended since you will be denying yourself of nutrients and weakening your body. It’s nearly a catch 22 though, because as most chemo patients can probably agree with, you just don’t feel like consuming anything when suffering the bizarre psychological and physical effects of chemo. Marijuana helped me with my appetite. From what I could feel, it would block the weird signals I was getting to not eat. It didn't necessarily make me hungry or give me the “munchies,” but it made eating tolerable. I knew I was supposed to eat, and it was the only thing during chemo that would help me to eat. In addition, sometimes I just had a sour stomach feeling and the marijuana soothed that, too.

Anti-Nausea
Sometimes that sour stomach feeling I just mentioned would escalate into nausea. I had three different pills to take for anti-nausea, but sometimes the feeling was overwhelming and the side effects from those pills didn't make me feel that much better. Marijuana was again the only thing that was consistent with helping the nausea subside. I still use it to this day if I have a bit of sour stomach or nausea that some Tums won’t cure.

Sleep
Sleeping was a way I coped with being on chemo. I preferred sleeping so I didn't have to be awake during the worst of the chemo side effects. This is something that I wouldn't really recommend to a healthy person, but I would take heavy dosages of marijuana to help me sleep. Well, it worked. I was able to sleep through a lot of the chemo that made me feel the worst. Nowadays, if I have a little trouble sleeping, I will take some marijuana to help me sleep. When I do, it’s very, very good sleep. So, I don’t try to take large doses to sleep away the day anymore, but I do use a little as a sleep aid and I cannot express how much better I function the next day than without it.

Tingling/Numbness
Another of the side effects from one of my chemo drugs was tingling and numbness throughout my body, but mainly in my fingers and toes. While the marijuana is not the cure-all for this, it also helps with this ailment. I still have the neuropathy to this day (eight months after treatment ended) and I am on medication for it. In the mean time, while it’s slowly, SLOWLY going away, marijuana helps on a day-to-day basis to subdue some of the unwanted sensations more so than my medication alone.

But What About...

...Marijuana as a Gateway Drug?
I've heard the misconstrued fact that marijuana is a gateway drug. Have you heard that before? I suppose for some people, it can seem as though it was a gateway drug; but, most people who choose to use harder drugs did so on their own volition. Marijuana had little to do with that choice, as there are many, many marijuana users out there who have no interest in harder drugs. If it really was a gateway drug, wouldn't there be more concrete evidence out there to show it? In fact, many articles focus on studies that show that marijuana is not a gateway drug, and if there is one, it’s alcohol. Here’s a link to one such story: http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/07/11/2037244/study-finds-alcohol-not-marijuana-is-the-biggest-gateway-drug-for-teens. Other sources I have read indicate that cigarettes are also a gateway drug and marijuana is not. Marijuana has no chemical addiction. Those that think they are addicted to marijuana are just psychologically addicted to it, which is not the same as the chemical addiction found in cigarettes, alcohol, cocaine, heroin and other harder drugs. I would lend the idea that it’s on par with being addicted to some kind of hobby, and it’s only a problem if it interferes with the function of normal life; much like any psychological addiction.

...The Smoke, Isn't That Bad?
This is something I've always thought about when smoking. While inhaling the smoke directly may not be the healthiest thing to do, there are two important things to remember. First, the rate at which most marijuana users partake is much less than the number of cigarettes an average smoker will smoke. Even a stoner who chooses to get high four to five times per day will likely inhale less smoke than a cigarette smoker, and it will be without the nicotine, tar and fiberglass that are in cigarettes. Secondly, there are more ways to get the effects from marijuana than smoking it. It can be inhaled through a bong/water pipe, or through a vaporizer, both of which eliminate a lot or all of the smoke for a much cleaner use. In addition, marijuana can also be ingested through food or even concentrated oils which involve no inhaling of smoke or vapor whatsoever. So, if the smoke is what’s bothering you, know that the methods of getting the THC in your system can be switched.

...Driving or Operating Heavy Machinery?
What happened to common sense and personal responsibility? Should you get drunk and drive? Should you be putting make-up on while driving? Should you be talking on the cell phone while driving? Should you be disciplining your kids in the backseat while driving? Does the doctor say its okay to drive after taking major pain pills that have mind impairing side effects like Vicodin? Let’s use some common sense. No one is saying it’s safe to smoke marijuana and drive and no one is suggesting you should do it. Sure, it may be harder to detect if someone is under the influence of marijuana verses alcohol, but it’s still against the law to drive under the influence of either. If we took some personal responsibility in assessing when we should or shouldn't be driving regardless of the mind altering substance or distraction, there would be less driving related incidents all around.

There has to be At Least One Negative Effect, Right?
If I had to single out one negative effect of marijuana, it would be that when taking larger than usual dosages, it can cause a bit of a lack of motivation in physical assertion. I cannot say this is for everyone, but I do notice this on myself. This is why I do not smoke a lot unless I an planning on going to sleep, since lack of physical activity goes along with going to sleep. I do notice that when I only smoke a little, I have the opposite effect. I am actually very motivated, mostly creatively, but am also willing to do physical activity. So, for those that think marijuana only causes de-motivation, I have to simply say that they are wrong, and that is from my own personal experience.

In Conclusion

Not For Everyone
I only wrote this from my perspective, based on my own research, my own experience and what I have actually witnessed in others. I have met people who get not so desirable effects when under the influence of marijuana, so as much as I advocate marijuana, I realize that it is not for everyone. Some people experience paranoia, general uneasiness, jitters or increased anxiety. I know one person who was so paranoid of the effects, they actually threw up. It’s rare, but it happens. There isn't really a good enough reason to me to agree with this plant being illegal. In general, for a lot of people, marijuana is a great natural drug/medicine/recreational activity that has pretty much all benefits and little to no cons. Not many drugs or pills can state that. To re-cap, for me, it’s helped with nausea, tingling, numbing, pain control, anxiety, sleep issues, stomach aches, and general relief. Of course, the remedy to having an adverse effect or general dislike to marijuana is simple: don’t use it.

Last Thoughts
I hope you've enjoyed my perspective on marijuana. Whether you agree with my stance or not, hopefully I helped you learn something new about it that you can take with an open mind.

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