Marijuana has been available in Washington State for two years. Sales of recreational marijuana exceeded $1B in Washington State. That’s a celebration that celebrates itself. If champagne celebrated its anniversary, would it open a beer? Of course, not. Yet, marijuana has been legal in Washington State for two years. The main thing that hit the news was most at home on the business page (~$1B), not in the entertainment section. There may be no more need to post on the next anniversary; but, it does seem appropriate to point out that the fears, worries, and cautions about legalizing cannabis have faded to be one of the less troublesome bits of news; and are more likely to be mentioned because of the upside effects. Experimentation, taking on a bit of risk and taking data, can be more effective than debates. That was true for marijuana. It’s true for many things.
Our society loves to debate anything. Every new thing can be labeled a panacea or a pariah; and spark eternal rhetoric. It’s terrible! It’s terrific! Replace the ‘It’s” with many of today’s topics and you have a synopsis of the news. The news loves debates, loves dynamic tension, loves conflict. Solutions aren’t nearly as exciting as problems. Compile a list of health issues according to the ads, and think we’re all going to die because either we have the symptoms, or haven’t thought to look for them. The solution is frequently to spend billions on testing medications that will hopefully make billions (disclosure: I am invested in biotech). But the easier solution is to eat right, drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, take care of stress, and exercise. Compile a list of the global worries and watch the politicians travel from conference to summit meeting to negotiations, and think the world is going to fall apart (disclosure: I run a news site for people who are eager and anxious about the future, PretendingNotToPanic.com for balance in that news). But, the easier solution is to concentrate on your lifestyle by living healthily, shopping locally, building community, and extending that reach as you can. Small actions have big effects, and are a lot cheaper that major interventions.
I was first in line at my local pot shop simply from curiosity. Sure, I wanted to finally buy marijuana legally simply because it was possible; but it was also a case of personal experimentation. Friends who had tried the current crops that are “new and improved” when compared to the product available when I was in college forty (40?!) years ago talked about the increased potency, and the likelihood of kicking off anxiety attacks. I took their anecdotes as evidence, but not as a conclusion. So, I tried some myself.
Evidently, like many things we ingest, everyone experiences something different. To some, the first, middle, and last glasses of wine out of a bottle are significantly different. I can taste the difference between a red and a white, and whether a wine is sweet or not; but, box wine has always been fine by me. If I concentrate, I can detect more subtle distinctions; but, I usually open a bottle with friends, and my interest in my friends is greater than my interest in wine. Besides, my friends are easier to tell apart than a Lemberger from a Grenache (those are wines). After months of trying various strains of marijuana I can somewhat tell the difference between an Indica and a Sativa because I’ve convinced myself that one keeps me awake and one puts me to sleep. And, I could be convinced that it is all in my head.
As for potency, I have yet to detect a difference. Maybe I have a greater tolerance than most, maybe I’m too wound up with stress, or maybe the differences aren’t that great from before.
I know an amazing number and variety of intelligent people. Get a few of them together, toss in a juicy topic, and the conversations can go on for hours or days. Some things are easier to talk about than to affect: the origin of consciousness, the effect of the oil price war and negative interest rates on Europe’s economy, whether any particular diet or health regimen is better than the rest. There are, however, a few topics that come up where people talk around issues they can resolve themselves. At times like those, I am equally fascinated at the tendency to talk rather than to act. Some of my friends have broken through that mode. Don’t like fossil fuels? Then, find a way to work from home and use your bicycle more than your car, even if it is a hybrid. Don’t like GMOs? Grow your own food or find someone who’s growing in a way you prefer. Don’t like a particular political candidate? Then don’t vote for them, and between now and the election get busy with other productive activities – but make sure you vote. Retirement? Well…
One of the most frequent topics in workplace America, whether it is corporate or entrepreneurial, is trying to find a way to no longer have to be involved in workplace America. After we get past wishes of winning the lottery (Powerball is up to $311M), there’s great frustration and a feeling of being trapped. I know that feeling. Fortunately for me, I also know the feeling of having retired at 38 (read my book, Dream. Invest. Live. for details); so, for me, the debate is less esoteric and more pragmatic. I know how much I need, I know I don’t have it, and I know many different ways I may get it. I tried that experiment and learned that lesson. To people who don’t know their current living expenses, trying to imagine a future with a less certain or dramatically reduced income can be scary. Rather than try a new lifestyle, they stay where they are regardless of the comfort or lack-of-comfort level because a known isn’t as frightening as an unknown.
It is entertaining to look back on my own experience. When I was getting ready to retire I had many internal debates because there were few people in similar situations. All the plans I made had little to do with what happened. I am glad I made the plans, but teaching karate ran into a political roadblock; purposely stepping away from my engineering identity was good advice – as long as the income continued, which it didn’t; coupling the effects of the economy, terrorism, and an unfortunate relationship would have been impossible to predict; and surprise, surprise, the future and life laughs at any plans.
Washington State was willing to take a risk, test an idea, take some data, and be surprised. I’ve frequently taken risks, have contemplated them as I experienced them, and have created a life that has unbelievable benefits and detriments. Washington State is still here. I am still here. Things haven’t worked out the way I had it planned. Some could say they haven’t worked out at all. But, they are working themselves out. That’s something that doesn’t just happen to me. I applaud those with more trust, more faith, and less hesitation. I hope they prove to others that it’s okay to try rather than to just talk, and to get on with living and get past worrying.
Now, after an evening’s self-imposed writing assignment, I think I’ll celebrate with a chocolate cookie or two as the sun and the ridge slide past each other. In about two hours, the cannabis in the cookies will slowly take effect and produce one of the greatest benefits my experimentation has created: a good night’s sleep.