Washington State had its official one year anniversary for the sale of recreational marijuana back in the summer. This report is mine, because my first purchase of Washington marijuana was delayed until Autumn 2014 by the bureaucratic hurdles thrown up in front of the island’s shop. Whenever something dramatic shifts, it is good to check back and see what happened. This may not come as a surprise, but it has been a very mellow passage.
To the rest of the folks in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska et al, you already know this stuff and have your own version of the story. To everyone else, I can tell you that the differences in my life have been trivial except for one or two effects. Aside from them, there’s almost no difference.
I didn’t expect much of a change. Even when marijuana was illegal, it was readily available – so I am told. People have spent decades figuring out how, why, when, and where to use it. Legal or not, it has been part of our culture. Making it legal simply made the criminal elements moot. That’s been true of enforcement, incarceration, and the concealment that used a lot of public and private resources. When it was illegal, some used it, some abused it. Now that it is legal, some use it, some abuse it. The main differences are that the police can spend more time doing something more useful, and the people can spend more time being relaxed about relaxing.
Washington State has benefited. Tax revenues were about $70,000,000, which means business revenues were much higher. The state gets more money. Businesses grow. People are employed, and tend to be employed by small firms instead of corporations. I’d like to see the job satisfaction reports. What’s it like to work in a pot shop?
The two big changes I’ve seen are: when people talk about marijuana it is most likely about recipes, and I am sleeping a lot better – and have the data to prove it.
I teach classes and consult with clients about social media. Without getting into the details of strategies and cautions, advantages and disadvantages, I’ll relay a data source available to anyone with a Facebook account. For me, WolframAlpha.com is to numbers what Google is to words. Wolfram Alpha may be there for solving equations, but it can also analyze a person’s Facebook account. When the audience or client wants to get detailed enough about the machinations behind Facebook’s facade, I show them the Wolfram Alpha analysis of my account because it is the only one I can access.
Before marijuana was legal, the chart that showed the days and hours I was most likely to post showed dots on almost every day and almost every hour. Tuesday evening I gave the talk again. As the chart came up I had proof that I was sleeping better. There is was, a big block of blank spaces from about midnight to 6AM. Instead of cruising the web when I couldn’t sleep, I slept.
The difference? One or two homemade cookies before bed.
Not the big party-style cookies they sell in the shop, but about three square inches (1X3) of oatmeal, raisin, butterscotch, ginger, marijuana cookies. I also have a small pipe, in case the day’s been particularly stressful and the unwinding looks like it will take a long time. My back spasms have subsided. My anxious time when the work is set aside, and the distractions are gone, typically allowing the worries to arise from the daily background noise. Now, when I think I need it, I have a cookie after work is done, but before I get into bed. I rarely notice any effect; but, when I fall asleep, I’m more likely to stay asleep – and am glad my dreams have returned.
In this first legal year, I bought about 2 grams per month. About a quarter to a third of that went to mostly failed culinary experiments. Of the rest, I’ve only smoked about 2 grams since the April sale (4/20 for those who celebrate the day). The rest were baked, but in a subtle way that didn’t bake me. And, of course, I haven’t used up everything I bought.
There’s no sudden public consumption. A cluster of smokers is still most likely using tobacco. Parties and potlucks aren’t full of pot products. It is largely a non-event.
Writing about it, however, proves to me that a lot of energy persists on both sides of the debate. I’ve received emails and messages from people who want my recipes and from people who want me to pass along publications warning of cautions and fears.
If there was more controversy, writing about it would generate more traffic and commentary. It would be fun to continue writing my Cooking With Cannabis series, but I don’t consume enough to report on more than one recipe a month, and then I can’t describe the effects because they hit when I’m asleep. My work schedule is easing a bit, but it continues to occupy every day and most evenings until about 8pm (instead of 9pm as before). I can see how writers can write with a drink at their side, but when I tried working after a puff or three, I just felt the silence was a better choice.
There are people who are addicted, at least according to an infographic or article or two, though I wonder if their definition of addiction is the same for alcohol or is the way some people are addicted to chocolate.
The bigger effects are easier to celebrate: fewer people being arrested for exercising personal freedom, drug cartels losing enough revenue to require shifting business models.
The local shop celebrated the day, as any business would. I don’t see the need, but after I post this and take care of a few chores I may light up the pipe for a bit. My stomach has been a bit upset today, and something to calm me may calm it. Such simple pleasures are worth a lot, even if they aren’t worth talking about much.