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Thursday 19th Oct 2017

As the final seconds of the San Francisco/Seattle game ticked away last Sunday, I was talking with a friend on the phone, and it was noted that the Broncos-Seahawks game would indeed represent the two states in the Union where Marijuana was truly legal.

We can chuckle about this, and uncover endless munchie jokes and discussions about watching The Big Lebowski ripped--and both these endeavors are fine with me--but I can only breathe a sigh of relief and think "finally."

I first started smoking dope in February of 1968, after going to visit my brother (who was a Freshman at UC Berkeley) over semester break from high school. Within two minutes of being in his dorm room, he had Led Zeppilin One blasting through the stereo in his room, and a doob in my face, while he yelled (over the music) "get into it."

What was I supposed to do? He was my big brother, and I sure as hell did not want to be uncool.

At that time I had been suffering from Chrons disease for five years. I was 15 years old, stood 5'2", weighed about 60 pounds (35 less than when I moved into Jr. High five years earlier, just before the symptoms of the disease revealed themselves to me) and was pretty much sick every day from April of 1963 till August of 1969, when my first surgeries were performed to fix things inside me.

I threw up daily, had horrible diarrhea, could not sleep, and had bad abdominal cramps all day, every day. For this I had been prescribed a myriad of drugs: Seconol, Phenobarbitol, Nembutol, Donnatal, Azulfadine, Gantricin, Prednisone (20 MG a day for two years when the drug was new) and the real show stopper, Belladonna to name a few, but nothing really did much of anything with my symptoms till the surgery--during Woodstock--which actually resulted in a pair of major operations over a nine-day period.

Funny, though, in that after a couple of hits from the joint my brother presented, my cramping slowed up. Better, we went to Kips (a beer and pizza joint that still lives on Durant Avenue near the Berkeley Campus) and I ate a couple of slices of pizza without barfing. We then returned to the dorm, I had a few more hits, and then fell asleep for over three hours, my longest such stretch in years.

Needless to say it was a revelation. 

Also needless to say, I would have needed surgery anyway, and since 1969 I have required six more operations, so marijuana or not, I have still been plagued by Crohns in one way or another, though my day-to-day life has been pretty good, and without the nausea and peripherals that haunted my youth.

Since then, I have taken virtually no medication for the Crohns, deferring to smoking dope, for many years as a potential felon, then finally with a legit doctor's prescription.

Aside from my skirmish with the disease a year ago, however, the last time I really had a problem was in 1989, meaning I made it almost 25 years between incidents.

Now, I cannot say that marijuana works for everyone, in fact I think it is safe to say no drug does: If they did, there would not be the litany of disclaimers we see on the tube following advertisements for said narcotics.

But, clearly, marijuana has not only been a godsend for me, but it also was an enormous help to my late wife Cathy while she endured chemotherapy and treatment for the Breast Cancer that eventually took her life.

As far as getting a prescription, I have heard anti-pot arguments that one can virtually buy said script with the right physician and a couple of hundred dollars, and while that is true, how much policing of more legitimate drugs like vicodin and valium do we do? I mean, just because those drugs have FDA approval does not mean the pretty indiscriminate "legitimate" distribution of said pharmaceuticals is safer or less problematic to an addictive personality.

For let's face it, people who have an easier time controlling their ingestion of potential addictives, be they drugs or food or alcohol--and that is most of us--will not have a problem with abuse, while those who do struggle will likely not always have issues with self control, but will always be able to find a method of sublimation.

But, as at least the states of Washington and Colorado have realized, like it or not, usage is there, and the general public doesn't have a problem with firing up any more than they do with gay rights or other personal liberties that conservatives shizophrenically defend the right to, and then work to restrict at the same time. Or having a shot of Jack Daniels, for that matter, which was outlawed for a time if you remember.

More to the point, as with Prohibition, and as wonderfully documented by Daniel Okrent (yes, the same guy who invented Fantasy Baseball) in his book "Last Call", the repeal of the Volstad Act, and related taxes imposed with the lifting of Prohibition had a major effect on America's recovery from the first Great Depression.

So, we can laugh and make stoner jokes--as in the title of this very article, for example--but, the plain and simple truth is times have changed, dope actually can have some medicinal properties to help many people (and note, I am always happy and willing to share my 45 years of smoking, and 50 years of experience as a patient of both Crohns, and now kidney disease) and well, maybe even be a boost to the economy.

Fancy that.

But, I guess as with understanding that raising the minimum wage actually puts more money in circulation, and is thus good for the economy, or that providing health care for all in a managed way actually reduces overall costs and makes for a more efficient system, there is a segment of the population who refuse to be convinced by simple truths and facts.

I'll bet they are the same folks who think Ty Cobb was a great sportsman and humanitarian.

PS- Go Hawks and Richard Sherman! U rule!

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