I got so caught up with the holidays this year, I missed a week, or maybe two. But I'm back online now. This season has been pretty cloudy, making solar living a little difficult. My desktop computer uses quite a bit of power, so I don't turn it on everyday, and I can only do so much on my phone. Today, there are actually blue skies out my window, and it is warm enough to not even need a fire to warm the house. We heat with wood, but the house is built with structolite panels. These are pre-insulated with solid foam, plywood on the outside and sheetrock on the inside. They have brackets installed that lock them together so tightly, there is no leakage. With our large south-facing windows and stone floor underneath, on a clear day, we have no need for other heat until after the sun goes down, and sometimes not even then. Because the house is so massive, we also have small propane heaters in the third-floor studio, for the comfort of clients, and in the addition, which doesn't get the heat from the wood stove.
But that wasn't what I wanted to write about today. My granddaughter's birthday is on Christmas Day. She turned 15 this year, and my gift to her was a trip to New York City. We didn't have any grand plans, but we did go to the Museum of Modern Art where we met some friends briefly. Mostly, we walked around looking at the store windows all done up for the holiday. Then we walked down Broadway and ended up in TImes Square. Other than the parking garage, I spent little money, mostly on food, and we all just enjoyed the experience of being together. It didn't seem very exciting to me, but I think that's okay. While we were there, I remembered that on my grandson's 15th birthday, I took him to Niagara Falls. He had always wanted to go and hadn't yet made the trip, so off we went. We had a great time, but it didn't seem very exciting to me. Again, it wasn't ridiculously expensive, but it was an adventure, and I'm all about adventures.
I think that too few of us have grand adventures anymore. We get all caught up in what we are supposed to do and forget what we'd like to do. I have adventures all the time, little ones and big ones. Sometimes, on my way home from work, I'll just take a detour because something imspires me to do that. Or, I'll try a new way home, sometimes getting lost for a while, but then I see sights I wouldn't otherwise have seen. I've been known to decide to drive 3 hours to the ocean for a day because I haven't been there in a while, or just go for a ride, picking a random direction. I used to take my older son for those random rides as a way of keeping him captive for important talks. He loved the adventure, and was more open to hearing what I had to say and sharing with me.
A friend just recently went on a cross-country trip. She posted something on Facebook about her return. There were lots of comments saying welcome back, we missed you, great to have you home, etc. My comment was, "I can't wait to hear your stories!" That's one of the best things about adventures ... the stories. I can't wait to hear what stories my granddaughter has about our latest adventure. Maybe she'll tell the one about my partner scoring two free CDs from the street hustlers. All in all, I thought it was a pretty uneventful time, but we all have our own individual take on the same experiences. It'll be fun to find out hers. Meanwhile, I loved spending time with her in her favorite city, the city of her dreams.
I'm really not sure how to follow up last week's blog post. I guess I'll tell you a couple of stories from back in the day ...
It was 1976, and Paul Cavanaugh and I were living in Santa Cruz. California. We'd been there for almost a year, having wanted to stay put for the birth of our first child - a beautiful girl. Before that we'd been on the road, hitchhiking wherever the rides took us, then living at Project One, an artist commune in the warehouse district of San Francisco - not the best place to raise our child. We were obviously hippies and were definitely potheads. Paul went out looking for weed, since our favorite contact had recently moved away.
He came home that day excited about a new connection he'd made. He was going to score a pound for $100. Now, I know that sounds like a very small amount of money, and even at that time it was a good deal, but weed was much cheaper then. We were very poor at the time, and it was hard to come up with even $100, so we went to our friends. Two of them agreed to go in on it with us. We gathered our resources and were all set. Paul would go meet this new guy the next day.
The next day dawned, and we all waited patiently for Paul to return. To tell the truth, I was a little worried. The plan was for Paul to leave a paper bag with the money under a bridge in the local park and pick up the bag waiting for him. Apparently, this newly arrived immigrant from Viet Nam was, understandably, a little paranoid. They crossed paths at the bridge. Each picking up their respective bags and walked on, as previously agreed upon. When Paul turned around and saw his contact start running and quickly disappear out of sight, he opened the bag and took a look, just to be sure, then headed home.
He arrived home to an anxiously awaiting group. We couldn't wait to try this new stuff. He went to the kitchen and came back with three plates with three equally proportioned pieces of pound cake. We all laughed. He always was a funny guy. He sadly shook his head. No, we had paid $100 for a pound cake. We reluctantly choked down that cake and never saw his connection again. I wonder how many other naive folks he scammed. It wasn't even a very tasty cake.
A few years later, in 1982, we were moving from the coast of Oregon back home to the East Coast, a move that would see us settled in the Albany, NY area. We were going to a new area to us and didn't know when we would make the necessary connections, so we took a bunch of weed with us. We'd worked for a friend who was a large scale grower at the time and was paid in product. We had a wide variety and plenty to keep us supplied until we could establish ourselves in our new home. Unfortunately, our VW Bus kept breaking down in every state across the country. That is not an exaggeration! It took us three weeks to make it, and other than stopping to work for a few days at an herb farm to raise enough money to get to our destination, we never stopped on purpose.
One of those breakdowns happened in Salt Lake City, NV. We managed to roll down the off ramp into a motel parking lot that had a vacancy sign lit up. We were very lucky. We all climbed out of the bus, a couple of long-haired hippies and two small children, and walked into the office. We were fully prepared to be turned away, but hoped we could at least stay in our van. We were also running low on money due to the number of repairs we'd already needed, but we tried to stay positive in spite of our misgivings.
The clerk was a young man who looked us up and down then went to the door, looked outside then came back in locking the door behind him. "Do you guys have any pot?" he asked furtively. We hestitated a bit then asked why he wanted to know. "Oh man, do you know how dry this town is? I haven't had anything in months. I'll give you a room for the night, if you give me enough to go party with my friends tonight." It was a deal! He took his baggie, threw us the master keys, put a siogn on the door directing anyone with an emergency to our room, switched on the "No Vacancy" sign and asked us to keep an eye on the place for him for the night. We brought our cat in from the bus and all had hot showers and a comfy bed. We left early in the morning before he returned feeling refreshed and ready to continue our amazing journey.
Photo credit: http://scienceoholic.com/goodness-of-marijuana/
Yesterday, I was invited to go on a field trip to a legal dispensary. It didn’t take me long to agree to go on the trip. I first started smoking pot seriously in early 1972, when I was 18. I had tried it earlier but didn’t really have access and probably didn’t understand the high. I now refer to myself as a semi-retired professional smoker. I have always been honest with my healthcare providers and have not really kept it a secret. Though I am usually low-key about it and fool myself into believing I can mask it, most people recognize me as a pot-head immediately. I rarely purchase weed and am really a light-weight these days, but I couldn’t resist this momentous occasion, so off we went to Massachusetts.
It would have taken us an hour and a half if we hadn’t missed a turn and wound our way through back roads. We started to make the turn our GPS directed us to make up a steep dirt hill, when we noticed the “Road Closed” sign falling over. We backtracked and finally found the right road, finally making our way to our destination. We weren’t expecting the long line or the police line blocking off the side street that led to the completely full parking lot. Luckily, we found parking on the street very close by. It was a chilly day but not frigid, so I didn’t mind the wait. We met a few people near us, one from South Carolina and another local fellow. Folks in line were from all walks of life and all ages. There was a shorter line for those who had ordered ahead online. Being from out-of-state, I didn’t want to try that. Then there was a separate line for patients who were getting medical marijuana.
The facility was very well run. They checked IDs outside before you walked in the door and again at the counter to make sure you were of age. They handed us printed menus with descriptions of the products, what strain, was it Indica or my preferred Sativa, or was it a hybrid blend of the two. They even told you if the blend was more of one or the other. The description included what kind of effect you could expect. Were you looking for pain relief, a heavy body high, a more energetic and creative high; were you looking to reduce anxiety or increase appetite, etc. There were edibles, oil, wax, tinctures, and bud. The prices were higher than what you would pay on the street, but it was an interesting experience. I have to say, I was very impressed. Once inside, while waiting in line, there were greeters there to answer any questions you might have, and the counter people were also very helpful and informative. It was very professional, and all in all, it was a very cool experience and only took an hour from the time we parked. I’ve stood in line for concert tickets much longer, and this was an historic moment for me.
So how did marijuana become illegal to begin with? On August 2, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the first federal marijuana law, which prohibited the substance. Back then, they spelled marijuana with an "h". The act took effect in October of that year and effectively banned the possession of pot by requiring users to obtain a tax stamp, which they couldn’t buy without providing details about the amount and location of their marijuana and incriminating themselves in the process. Thanks in large part to Timothy Leary, the LSD guru, that law was found to be unconstitutional and overturned in the 1970s, but at the same time, they passed the Controlled Substances Act, ensuring that marijuana stayed illegal. Before the 1930s, doctors were prescribing cannabis extract for stomach aches, migraines, inflammation, insomnia, and other ailments. As early as the 1830s, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, an Irish doctor working and studying in India, discovered that cannabis could be used to relieve some cholera symptoms such as vomiting and stomach pain. Since then much research has been done, and it has been shown to help with glaucoma, cancer and much more. Cannabis is very useful as a medicinal plant, and hemp is a great renewable resource for paper and other fibers and even for oil. So why was it outlawed?
In the early 1900s, soon after the Mexican Revolution, there was an influx of Mexican immigrants. They brought their culture with them, including the use of marijuana, which they spelled marihuana, as a relaxant and medicine. There were also middle Eastern immigrants who brought hashish with them. America, unfortunately, has had a long history of being anti-immigrant, and this time was no different. Americans were already using cannabis extract but were unfamiliar with the term “marihuana.” When the propaganda against it started, most people didn’t realize that they were talking about a medicine that they were very familiar with and depended upon. Then, the oil companies got on board because they could make more money off of oil than hemp. Continuing in a long tradition of blaming people of color for the ills of society, horrific crimes committed by people of color were cited, fueling the fires of an already frightened populace. It wasn't long before Congress got involved.
At the congressional hearing that took place to decide on this important issue, Harry Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (the DEA’s predecessor), described the effects of marijuana as follows: “Some individuals have a complete loss of sense of time or a sense of value. They lose their sense of place. They have an increased feeling of physical strength and power. Some people will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and may commit violent crimes. Other people will laugh uncontrollably. It is impossible to say what the effect will be on any individual.” Although the American Medical Association testified that “there is no evidence” of marijuana’s danger, the law passed both the House and Senate and went to FDRs desk for his signature. That law levied a tax and required detailed information about the product and the patient. Strict penalties were in place for those who broke this law, and the practice of incarcerating people for pot began.
In the 1940s, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, commissioned a study on marijuana use in the city. The research found that its use didn’t contribute to the use of harder drugs nor was it a factor in causing crimes or juvenile delinquency. These findings were essentially ignored. I have been a pot smoker for a long time. I’m not a criminal or a drug addict. I am kind, accepting and easy-going. I have found that marijuana helps my chronic back pain and my arthritis. I’ve tried CBD oil, and that helps my arthritis but not my back pain. For that, I need the CBD and THC combined. I’d rather not be high all the time, but when the pain is really bad, I turn to what I know works. I asked my doctor about medical marijuana and was told that she doesn’t prescribe it. That leaves me little choice. I can’t function in constant pain. I take risks when acquiring this much needed medicine because of these antiquated and unfounded laws. I know others who are in the same situation and know a young man who spent time in prison because he supplied it illegally to cancer patients who were greatly helped by it.
If we believe that marijuana should be legalized, we need to call our representatives. Or, we need to work to get a measure on the ballot. In Massachusetts, their representatives refused to legalize it. It took a ballot measure to put it through, and it didn’t pass the first time around. Every state can pass their own measures, if we all do the work necessary. Maybe someday, it won’t be such a big event to be able to buy or grow what we should all be able to have. Hopefully, at that time, people who were arrested for selling this helpful plant or for possession of it will be released from prison to live productive lives. Meanwhile, I will celebrate the small steps we are making and keep pushing for the larger ones.