Reviewing “Lost in the Weeds”

Coming to HMJ’s attention this week is a long article in Boston Magazine by Casey Lyons, titled Lost in the Weeds.  Let’s start by sharing a little excerpt from late in the article.  Enjoy:
“At the MassCann civil-disobedience meeting, the pipe reaches my [Casey Lyons] hands. I’ve been waiting. I take it, push it to my lips, flick the lighter, and breathe in real deep.

As far as a quick psychic escape, smoking marijuana is like being whisked away on a hot-air balloon. In seconds, you can rise above the mental clutter and see things for what they actually are. And heavy ideas—like whether I’m some kind of pot addict—fade into an abstract lightness. I relax.

I look over to Downing [of MassCann] and he’s looking at me. I’m among strangers who are freely smoking marijuana in a more-or-less open lot in a fancy town outside Boston. I hand him the pipe and he hits it and sends it on its way, flitting from mouth to mouth like a bee pollinating flowers. My senses begin to feel overwhelmed. I’m listening to all the conversations, but not comprehending any of them enough to participate. All the activity is chasing my brain back into its snail shell, where it’s safe. Grinspoon had told me about three types of marijuana use: medicinal, recreational, and enhancing. The last one, he explained, is the state of feeling your mind open to new thoughts. And while I’ve definitely smoked pot for recreation and for enhancement, my mind opens to a fourth use for marijuana, escape.

Escape seems more useful than ever as a way to get some space from a carnivorous world of obligations and not enough time and friends becoming strangers and whatever else. Escape, whether achieved by smoking, drinking, or regular old running away, is fine now and again, but if you do it all the time, it becomes its own sort of trap. For me, the trap is having things not seem as bad as they are. Like around the time of college graduation, when I was about to face a big and abrupt change, and I had no plan. Instead of making one or asking for help, I smoked up and ran away and waited for the world to set itself right. It took me almost a year to figure out that it never would.
. . .
On some fundamental level, smoking marijuana is a longing for something simpler, something teenage and effortless that happens on a summer night with the crickets buzzing and the frogs singing, and the road is empty except for a circle of you and your friends, and the world is straightforward and easy to move through and just crackling with possibility. And then you purse your lips to the end of the pipe and suck in and you know the possibilities are real. You know because you can feel them. That is the real reason I’ve smoked pot. I thought it would help me. Which, of course, it couldn’t.
* * *
Okay, here we go. It’s an interesting article and touches on much we have been talking about at HMJ for the last little while. Have you ever read any Carlos Castaneda? One of the themes Castaneda develops is that, in this world, certain plants are allies working with people for their mutual good. This is true of a lot of the people I have met in the cannabis world. Marc Emery comes to mind. Hang on, Brother Marc. You are not forgotten.

It is also true that, in the same world , for lots of people, cannabis is just another intoxicant and will never be anything more. And here’s the shocker: there’s room in the world for both of those groups.

As to smoking out in the open — My first out-in-public-pot smoking was at the Art Gallery in Vancouver in 2003. A liberating experience. I wish one for each of you.

Is the question really do you still or ever smoke pot? Wouldn’t a better question be what did you do today to add to the good in the world? Just askin’. Let’s go back to the article:

Just before I smoked for the second time—standing on a tennis court in the middle of the night—I started thinking of my parents and how disappointed they’d be if they knew. I imagined them telling me I was ruining my future. Being a teenager, I got over that feeling pretty fast. But even now, after 16 years of smoking pot, I still feel a version of that nagging uncertainty. Why, I find myself asking, am I still doing this?

The article may be Mr. Lyons resolving his unresolved feelings about his life not being what he imagined it would be by now (he admits being in his early 30’s, a mere youth). He is wondering if that might be due to pot? Mr. Lyons, I do not know you, but I’m going to say “no.” It is not a question of how one hides — pot, alcohol, sex, work — but the fact that one wants to hide at all — that is where you will find the door to a better tomorrow, one where you have more control over your own life. More article, please:

I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s car on Colfax Avenue, Denver’s neon-stripped main drag, and I’m freaking out. My friend has been inside the dispensary way too long, and I just know that something’s gone wrong. Maybe they figured out that he’s buying for someone else. But then I see him walk out the door, with a brown paper lunch bag in his hand and a carefree look on his face. He gets into the car and tosses the bag to me. I look inside and see a couple of green pill bottles with a few grams of pot. Gray-market drug deals are as easy as that.

In this portion of the article, Mr. Lyons discusses pot becoming easier to buy as a result of medical marijuana. I think that’s the same today when underage kids find a “friend” to buy beer or alcohol for a party. People cheat. In a regulated environment there will be consequences for providing cannabis to people who, by law, are not to have access until a designated age. Today, by law, no one can have cannabis ever. Of the two roads which seems better to you? More, please:

“If marijuana were going to bring down society, it probably would have already. Humans started using hemp from pot plants to weave clothes during the Stone Age, while later generations adapted the strong and flexible fibers to make sails and rigging. The Chinese began ingesting it around 2,700 BC, and it quickly spread from there. It’s included in the world’s oldest pharmacopoeia—a reference book for medicines and their uses—from the first or second century, and in later editions is mentioned as a treatment for a variety of ailments, including diarrhea and rheumatism.

Marijuana’s popularity as a medicine comes from its painkilling powers, but the drug doesn’t work like opiates such as morphine or oxycodone, which block pain signals but are highly addictive and can repress the respiratory system. Pot’s 80 cannabinoids, a type of chemical compound, stimulate the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, motion control, and memory, which can offer relief to people suffering from severe pain and muscle spasticity, and can help prevent nausea, which makes it useful to chemotherapy patients.

Marijuana, of course, can also be fun. The mind-altering use of pot in America started near the end of the 19th century, at Asian opium dens on the West Coast. In 1911, as Prohibitionist sentiment was peaking, Massachusetts became the first state to outlaw the possession of opiates and cannabis, or even merely being in the same room as the stuff. In 1937 Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act over the objection of the American Medical Association, which made it illegal for anyone, including doctors, to move cannabis without proper documentation. Out of fear that it could destabilize the social order, pot was criminalized.”

* * *
Mr. Lyons missed a few elements in the criminalization process, and certainly missed the truth. Destabilize society? Frightening. Just sit quietly and do as you are told and we will keep you safe from a destabilized society. Class, fill in the “Cannabis became an outlaw because of:” “racism” line and the “profit” line. Thank you.

Anyway, it’s a nice read and you can find it HERE. Our thanks to the Greenie who brought the article to HMJ’s attention.

[image: Boston Magazine]

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Author: DavidB

a heathen, but hopefully not an unenlightened one

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