PERSONAL NOTE: Thank you for your Happy Birthday comments and emails on Saturday. I spent some quality time with a friend visiting from out of town and otherwise had a quiet day. It was number 77 - a nice one, don't you think?
Although I shied away from acknowledging the thought during my surgical recovery and chemotherapy last year, I don't think I really believed I would be here for this birthday. It's a wonderful surprise and I also frequently think about the support and encouragement you have given me during this ordeal. It has undoubtedly been a big contribution to my now cancer-free status.
Again, thank you so much for your birthday greetings Saturday.
Did I say cannabis in that headline? That seems to be the latest “approved” name for what the rest of us call pot, weed, maryjane, ganja, dope, hemp, reefer, doobie and tea among probably hundreds of others including, of course, marijuana.
So you know where I'm coming from on this post, I started smoking weed when I was in high school, about age 15 or 16. I still believe it helped get me through the early months of emotional difficulty after my husband and I broke up 15 years later. Most evenings, after work, I'd light up a joint and it kept my mind off my troubles.
But most of my life I've smoked weed because being high is fun. It enhances music, promotes creativity (if you remember to write down your ideas – heh) and is good for all sorts of other activities including sex. Plus, there's no hangover and within three hours or so of imbibing, it wears off.
About ten years ago, I stopped smoking weed altogether because it made me cough so hard. Ageing lungs, I guess. Although I never made the possible connection until this moment, a decade or so ago is also when I started having trouble sleeping. Most nights I woke after three or four hours never able to get to sleep again.
During chemotherapy toward the end of last year I became concerned that it couldn't be good for my cancer treatment that I slept only about half as much as experts tell us we should. I mentioned this to my doctors but they mostly ignored me.
When a new doctor was filling in for one of the regulars, I mentioned it to him. He said, “Oh, just go to one the dispensaries and buy some cannabis. You'll sleep fine.”
And so I have done ever since. It is remarkable how much more alert and sharp I am nowadays with seven or eight hours of sleep a night.
One of the helpers (aka “bud-tenders”) at the dispensary I use told me that the majority of their customers are old people and I've been wondering since then what is known about elders' use of weed. Hence, today's and Wednesday's posts.
Cannabis has been illegal under federal law in the U.S. since 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act went into effect over the objections from the American Medical Association related to medical usage.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, the most serious category "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."
Schedule II drugs, which are considered less dangerous in this tightly controlled hierarchy, include cocaine, meth and oxycodone,” reports Mic.
Really? They list meth and oxycodone as less dangerous than marijuana? Doesn't anyone at that agency have a lick of common sense? Or they could just read the research.
More than half the states in the U.S. now disagree with the federal government. As of late last year, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Here is the list with bolded names for states that also allow recreational use:
District of Columbia
Oregon did not legalize weed for recreational use until about two years after I moved here. Before then, late night television commercials for medical marijuana cards were a joke.
Ostensibly meant to advertise medical practices that issued the cards, the ads made clear that even without a health reason, you wouldn't have any trouble getting a card from that physician.
According to a recent story at Alternet, even states that have legalized cannabis retain restrictions that can get a user in serious trouble.
Employers in some of those states can refuse to hire you if marijuana turns up in a pre-hiring drug test.
You will be prevented from legally purchasing fire arms in every state if you are a pot smoker. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) asks potential gun buyers if they use or are addicted to controlled substances and warns on the form:
"The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside."
Even in legal pot states, parents can lose custody of their children for marijuana use and it gets worse, according to Alternet:
”Medical marijuana support groups report hundreds of cases of parents losing custody of their kids, some merely for having registered as medical marijuana patients.
“But there are small signs of positive change on the horizon: California's Prop 64, for instance, includes a provision saying courts can no longer rescind or restrict a parent's custodial rights solely because they have a medical marijuana recommendation.”
If you are poor and live in federally subsidized housing, you can be kicked out of your home for possessing marijuana.
”Under a 1999 HUD Memorandum Regarding Medical Marijuana in Public Housing still in effect, any activity relating to controlled substances, including even medical marijuana, can get you evicted.
“And it doesn't have to be just you. If you live in federally subsidized housing and your grandson gets caught smoking a joint in the parking lot, you can find yourself tossed out on the street.”
When he isn't being publicly berated by President Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions regularly makes noises about beefing up enforcement of federal marijuana law in those 29 states where pot is legal.
Apparently, he is can't see that none of those states is going to give up millions of dollars in tax revenue from legal weed and it won't be long now until the federal government is forced to go along with the states on cannabis. The Feds will happy then, too, to see their portion of pot taxes.
"Two papers published [2 April 2018] in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzing more than five years of Medicare Part D and Medicaid prescription data found that after states legalized weed, the number of opioid prescriptions and the daily dose of opioids went way down...
“Previous research has pointed to a similar correlation. A 2014 paper found that states with medical marijuana laws had nearly 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses.”