Prohibition, Drug Wars, Grow Houses, and Ward 5

These are some slightly edited remarks I made on my neighborhood list-serve here in DC. I can’t figure out why this blog program has removed all the spacing between the paragraphs. The typography alone makes me look like a nut-job. I know, I know, I’m at least as nutty as anyone else out there, but I don’t want to appear that way!  (joke)


Prohibition for alcohol didn’t work in 1918-1932: it brought us the mafia and heavy co-ed binge drinking and utter corruption of our legal system.

The “drug wars” from the 1960s or 1970s through today didn’t work. We now know that those “wars” mostly succeeded in criminalizing an entire generation or two of black males for the crimes of consuming or distributing the same drugs at the same rates as what continues in the white community. And, as we now know, because of the Jim Crow nature of our system, the drug penalties are  almost entirely enforced against blacks and Hispanics.

And speaking of prescription or illegal drugs and alcohol and cigarettes, most of these things can indeed be deadly. One exception: I am not aware of a single case of anybody dying or even suffering bodily harm from use of marijuana in any manner, at any dose whatsoever. In all of recorded history. No other medicine can make that claim.

Except for the poor souls that got hanged by a noose of hemp rope, and perhaps then got sewn into a canvas body bag and buried at sea. Canvas, hemp, marijuana, all from the same plant: cannabis = canvas etymylogically.

I just got out of the hospital for the umpteenth time with yet another round of lovely Crohn’s disease  partial bowel obstruction and surgery, and I am quite familiar with both the helpful and the negative effects of painkillers like codeine, morphine, Demerol, dilaudid and other opiates. I can see how those need to be very tightly regulated, and why we need to keep the doctors and nurses and orderlies from getting addicted to them as well. My father in law died from lung cancer (cigarettes and decades of work on asbestos brake linings); my grandfather and namesake died of cirrhosis (alcohol); and my parents died in their 60s from heart attack and pulmonary embolism (alcohol and cigarettes). I know of an addicted doctor who eventually went nuts, got disbarred, and committed suicide after hurting and stealing from all his friends and relatives. Forgive me for not remembering what his drug(s) of choice were. Yes, these painkillers can be deadly, and I can list a lot of side effects that I myself have suffered for each one that I just listed. But they are exceedingly helpful in reducing pain, when given in as low a dose as possible in the circumstances. They need to be tightly regulated, not outlawed. Duh.

I suggest we should do whatever we can to discourage all use of tobacco except as an insecticide. I smoked for a year or so in college but stopped because I got yellow fingers, yellow teeth, my skin looked like sandpaper, I couldn’t taste anything, and I developed a cough. Plus, the only reason I took it up in the first place was because I was insecure and felt that smoking would make me cool. And there was no up-side! After the very first cigarette, I never even got a little buzz! What a useless drug!!

and SOOO addictive! The desire to smoke remains with you for YEARS after you stop. It was only when I got much older that I realized the amazing amount of truth in Mark Twain’s adage, “Stopping smoking is easy — I’ve done it dozens of times.” I never smoked very much (pack a day at the outside) nor for very long (months? less than a year), and when I stopped, it wasn’t too hard after a day or so. Unfortunately, there is something in the drug that pulls you back! I would pass a cigarette machine or a store that had the types of cigarettes I liked (unfiltered camels, gauloises, and gitanes, as well as parodi cigars or loose hand-rolled tobacco) and I would be literally pulled to drag money out of my pocket and buy a pack. And I’d smoke one, and would say, rightly, “This is disgusting!” because it is. And I’d throw or give the rest of them away. I may have done that 10 or 20 times. The very last time I smoked any tobacco was when my second child, my son, was born, and I actually bought a box of cigars, as I had done for my first child (can you figure out the gender?). I have away all but one, smoked a little bit of that last cigar, and again concluded, “This is disgusting!” — about 32 years ago. I finally learned my lesson, and never gave in to those urges before. That’s the only substance I’ve ever been addicted to, and it is just so disgusting.

We should regulate alcohol better — and by that I do NOT mean having a drinking age of 21 because that’s stupid and doesn’t work. Folks aged 20 can buy a house, vote, serve in the military, and much more, and they can’t legally buy a glass of wine or beer or have a cocktail? Insane. Liquor in many forms is a great additive to most sauces, and lots of types of beers and wines taste great. Unfortunately, beer seems to have so many carbohydrates that it makes you fat, and we all probably know of folks who have suffered mightily from drinking too much. So I suggest cutting back on the beer to no more than 1 or 2 drinks a day; if you have excess body fat, cut it out entirely and drink wine instead, max 2 glasses per day.

I think that we can teach folks to use alcohol in ways that aren’t harmful and excessive and help folks who stash extra bottles of booze in cabinets and so on — in the way that some of my dad’s former colleagues told me that they all used to do, so they could get drunk any time, any where. When you talk to a drunk, you are, unfortunately, wasting your time. They won’t remember what you agreed to do, and keep repeating themselves over and over like a broken record. And plus, their systems are utterly wrecked for the next few days, or for their entire life. It’s not worth it, and we all pay for their morbidity and mortality in higher insurance premiums and health costs.

On the other hand, people have been fermenting alcohol for thousands of years, and we haven’t all died. I think that saying no liquor stores at all is dumb — Taliban, anybody? Should we go back to speakeasies and the era of Al Capone?

But I look forward to the day that marijuana – a wonderful analgesic – becomes common in a way that displaces most use of alcohol and tobacco. Not so that people get so stoned that they turn into zombies, but just enough to make them feel happy again. There is no long list of nasty side effects. I used to think it turned my classmates into lazy giggling idiots, but the marijuana that is being produced  today apparently does nothing of the kind. I have no idea why, but I suspect it’s dose-related. Let me repeat: to my knowledge, nobody in recorded history has ever died from an excessive dose of hashish, marijuana, mary jane, reefer, or whatever you call it. Ever.

If anybody has any evidence to the contrary, please let me know your sources.

So I welcome the impending arrival of medical marijuana grow houses here in Brookland, Ward 5, and the rest of DC.

Let me repeat: yes you can smoke or eat so much grass in whatever that you become a stupid fool for a while. But never does it cause obesity, nor diarrhea, nor high blood pressure, nor heart attacks, nor lung cancer, nor gout, nor diabetes, fatal paralysis, organ failure, etc etc.  All of which are caused millions of times per year by those other substances, legal and illegal.

From what I read, moderate doses of medical marijuana are utterly amazing as a non-steroidal analgesic — with absolutely none of the horrible side effe ts of aspirin, Tylenol, motrin, or prednisone.
It’s the perfect medicine: no, zero, no side effects to speak of.  (Don’t get me started on the nasty effects of prednisone unless you have half an hour or so to spare.)

When do theese dispensaries and grow houses finally open? I’ll be one of the first in line if I can get a prescription — and that’s by no means a sure thing, since in DC Crohn’s disease isn’t specifically listed as an applicable condition. [BTW: nobody knows what causes it, and there is no cure.] Certain types of muscle cramps ARE listed. Well, I got pains and cramps like those in spades, and in no-trump too. I hope I can find a doctor willing to prescribe to me; my GI doctor and my GP both tell me that their medical group has discussed the matter and so far is not willing to stand in support of them if they should write such prescriptions. Plus there are other restrictions as well on how many times a month that doctora can write such a prescription (something like four or five times, total — not per patient, but all their patients put together in their entire practice, if I read the legislation and regulations correctly.) And, what’s more, Federal policy on marijuana simply hasn’t changed — it’s the same stupidity begun by Harry Ainslinger back right at the end of Prohibition as an attack on Mexicans, blacks, and intellectual deviants.

I am not advocating a deregulation of cocaine, or heroin, or meth, or codeine and other hard drugs like that. I suspect that the true psychedelic drugs like LSD and psylocybin have possible recreational uses, but it seems to take a long time for folks to recover to a more realistic world view afterwards, so this should be monitored very carefully under controlled clinical situations, IMO. I had friends and relatives die from certain illegal drugs. They can kill you very quickly and have horrible side effects too. (Look what they did to our most notorious dope fiend, Rush Limbaugh — he is now the latest incarnation of Lord Voldemort, in person!)

Folks have told me that marijuana seems to increase creativity and out-of-the-box thinking in a good way, but I am unfortunately not aware of any serious studies of this alleged effect.  Could be. I’ll let you know what I find out, once I can get some legal weed.

Bottom line, from my point of view: let the folks who smoke tobacco and get drunk on some form of booze or other take up a new habit, one nearly without bad side effects, and which will make them healthier and most likely more productive and happier as well. Who wants to live around someone who is smoking tobacco all day? Or a drunk? Or wants to have a doctor or a nurse who has a Percocet habit? And why do we continue to lock up kids which brown or black skin who use or supply various illegal drugs, while ignoring white kids doing exactly the same thing?

We will all be better off when medical marijuana is here and the use of this beneficial weed becomes normal again.

Marijuana, Si! Tobacco, No! And alcohol, solamente con moderacion!

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