One thing I really value in others is transparency. Now it’s my turn to be transparent about my experiences with mental health issues and marijuana.
When I first started filling out my application for a medical marijuana card, I didn’t really expect it to help alleviate the symptoms of my depression and anxiety. I just liked the way I felt when I smoked and didn’t want to get into legal trouble for doing so. I mean, putting people into jail for that is rare in this state but it still happens.
Although Massachusetts recently voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, non-medical dispensaries will not be open for business until 2018 and that’s what really sealed the deal for me. I don’t know about you but I hate going to some random person’s house and making small talk while trying to buy weed and go.
So I did what any other antisocial pot smoker would do – I went online, found a doctor, booked an appointment, and learned quite a bit about all the illnesses marijuana can help treat. And boy, oh boy, were there a lot.
Why, then, did I feel like I needed to hide that fact from some new acquaintances, employers, and, for a while, even my psychiatrist?
One word: stigma.
The Stoner Stigma
When you smoke weed, you notice that some people will treat you differently if you talk about it. Friends sometimes scoff or roll their eyes and strangers assume you’re a low-life loser with no job. For some reason, others have come to believe there’s no such thing as a successful person who uses marijuana which is so wrong.
In fact, most people who smoke pot are the people you wouldn’t expect to.
I go to the dispensary and see businessmen in suits, older individuals who look like nice grandfathers, your every day Joe Schmos, and even those who are younger than me. They’re of different races, classes, sexes, and ages and I don’t look at them and lump them all together just because they smoke pot. Smoking pot is just a thing people do, like driving a manual car or an automatic one – it has no bearing on who they are as individuals or how successful they have the potential to be.
Sure, Hollywood portrays people who smoke weed as lovable stoners who are dumb but funny (Pineapple Express, anyone?) but that’s not the reality of medical marijuana users or even most recreational marijuana users. We’re not the Ron Slaters and Saul Silvers of the world – Hell, I don’t even smoke until after I get home from work and get everything taken care of, including dinner and laundry – we’re the Lady GaGas, the Barack Obamas, the Patrick Stewarts, and the friendly, pot-smoking neighbors of the world.
Essentially, what I’m saying is that we’re regular people, like you and the people you love.
So while prescription drugs come with their own set of stereotypes, marijuana’s is, in my opinion, far more hurtful – especially because it’s completely natural, unlike the more socially acceptable pharmaceutical drugs created in laboratories.
Let’s Get Personal
To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve been taking an array of pharmaceutical drugs since I was 14-years-old. Yeah. Let that sink in.
That’s when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I started my 8-year-long journey of trying to figure out which prescription drug(s) work best for me.
While I still take my prescription medication, I’ll can confidently say that none of them have helped me as much as marijuana has. Normally, my thoughts bounce around my head at the rate of a million miles a minute and I constantly feel on the verge of panic. I feel depressed, even if moderately, most days, and I’m passively suicidal.
(Did I mention I’m a blast at parties?)
Having said that, when I smoke weed or eat an edible, I get reprieve from those feelings. And even though it’s just for a few hours, for me, it’s enough.
The Future of Cannabis Culture
Personally, I would love to see more states legalize recreational marijuana. In fact, I think marijuana should be completely legalized, even on the federal level.
In addition to helping people treat their illnesses and simply relax, marijuana is a moneymaker and can help individual states kick start their economies again. I mean, in a single year, Colorado raked in $70 million dollars in revenue stemming from marijuana – and they put that money toward improving schools and drug rehabilitation programs.
Attitudes toward marijuana, and people who smoke marijuana, are changing (positively) and I look forward to the day where all 50 states allow the recreational use of marijuana, a plant that can help treat medical issues and simultaneously relax its users. It’s where we’re headed and, finally, it’s being normalized.
And to be honest, I’d much rather smoke a bowl in the comfort of my living room than go out and get drunk at some seedy pub.
Apparently, at least 57% of the nation would like to have that option too.