The debates. The millions spent on advocacy. The billions spent on The War On Drugs. The reality of the last twelve months. Twelve months ago, a pot shop, a weed emporium, a marijuana business opened on Whidbey: Whidbey Island Cannabis Company. And I was there. And the weed wasn’t. A year has gone by which is a good time to check in on the actuality of a trend. What happened after all of the debates and money spent? Theory, ideology, and rhetoric challenged by reality. So go contentious ideas. The personal impact is more intimate, and less interesting to economists and lawmakers.
Colorado was first, but Washington State was second. Glad to be a citizen. Now, a year later, Alaska and Oregon allow recreational marijuana, and a sweep of states are following them. America Changes Slow Then Fast. If every state is an experiment in civil liberties and governance, then the other 46 states now have lab data to review. Go dive into the numbers if you want. Legislatures must. Economies shift. Business policies are adjusted. Taxes change. Criminals are redefined. These are big issues.
I wanted to pass along one person’s experience. Mine.
It was a guilty pleasure to sit by the front door waiting for the shop to open. Want the details? Read last year’s post. It was months before they had something to sell, even though they were open and incurring expenses. That day, too, was a guilty pleasure. Something the government had labeled a pariah, a scourge, was finally given a new label of legal – with cautions. My cautions were adjusted by experience. Thirty years earlier in college, marijuana was illegal and readily available. Part of its appeal was its forbidden nature. Part of its appeal was partying. Part of its appeal was unwinding at 3AM to get up at 6AM to get to early morning classes. I knew folks who abused it; but we were teenagers. There were far more who abused alcohol, which was also illegal if it was liquor. The debates in 2014 raged as if now would look like then.
Welcome to now plus one year, 2015. In the last year, I’ve probably met one person who was stoned, and even that encounter is uncertain. I can’t recall anyone who was drunk because alcohol is such a part of life that it isn’t worth noting. No news headlines about nefarious deeds that I can recall. Though there are headlines about new businesses and changing regulations. Buffers may shrink. The difference between recreational and medical marijuana may become moot. And, that’s about it. Decades of debate and barely any local news of an impact. The greatest impact I’ve heard about has been a re-evaluation of people imprisoned for something that is now legal, and the drug cartels having to change their business models because a major source of revenue evaporated. We’re winning The War On Drugs by declaring peace.
It was about three months before my local shop had product to sell. I was there the first day, again, and got onto the front page of the paper – to great chiding for the next few weeks. I heard stories that modern marijuana was incredibly more powerful and had to be handled carefully; otherwise, anxiety attacks or worse could occur. I bought my first gram and a small glass pipe, partly as a stunt, partly for curiosity; and then brought them home to try. It was a few days before I got around to blocking out enough time to take a puff, one puff, carefully. It was fine. I smiled. I didn’t lose control. The effect was about the same as a good martini, regardless of shaking or stirring.
I had plans. I embarked on a project Cooking With Cannabis, but as someone who enjoys cooking, not as a stoner as is the style of so many videos. There was even interest from the local paper. I made tea. I made buttered popcorn. I made cookies and cakes. I didn’t write much about the experience. Most of the recipes call for a half an ounce. I only bought a gram at a time. One or two grams in a cookie batter, even with prior prep of the pot, resulted in an effect that was so subtle that it was hard to write about. I prefer to not watch some expensive product go up in smoke, but it didn’t make much sense to dilute it to insignificance either. My plans were put aside, because every entrepreneur knows that ideas aren’t certain successes.
My first gram cost $32. That was above black market rates (so I was told) but it was legal, which is worth a lot. As supply increased, the price dropped. Now, my two most recent purchases were for $8/gram (for something I smoke) and $10/gram (for something I used in baking.) I’m not interested in getting blitzed. All I’m hunting for is a way to unwind at the end of a day. Two or three puffs do that. One or two cookies do that, eventually. At that rate, I use about one gram a month. As far as vices go, marijuana is one of my cheapest. It may even be cheaper than dancing. It’s definitely cheaper than alcohol, even cheap alcohol.
The main impact is that I sleep better. Considering my financial situation, it is no surprise that I haven’t slept well in years – until recently. It took me months to get past the internalized societal stigmas and cautions. As I relaxed, I was able to relax. People worry about anxiety attacks because marijuana loosens inhibitions. If they’re Pretending Not To Panic,
they may find themselves panicking. I am known for smiling, but I wondered about what was underneath. I was startled to find out that, under my anxieties and inhibitions was a person that smiled. It was a joy to realize that under everything else, I have joy. That revelation has been an invaluable bit of therapy.
We debate great issues because we should. But, many of the things that come wrapped in fear only have fear in the wrapping. The thing itself was fine. Sometimes, it makes more sense to try and test rather than debate and argue. How bad can it be? How good can it be? It may be neither, and not worth the resources spent on the debate. There are far greater challenges to devote our impressive abilities to.
In the meantime, I’m going to sip my spiced martini (home-infused cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, and ginger) while I make dinner. Later tonight, maybe after a walk on a warm summer night, I’ll sit on the deck and puff a bit, and get something everyone can appreciate, a good night’s sleep.