Sorry to veer off topic from what I usually post. I wanted  to write this in response to all the attention marijuana is getting in the media lately due to the legalization of sales in Colorado and Washington as well as President Obama’s statement that it is not seriously harmful. I disagree. I have personally witnessed and had experiences within my own life to believe differently. I began smoking marijuana at age 13 and was quite the ‘pothead’ until age 17. It was the first drug I ever tried and led to my being exposed to kids who did other drugs and alcohol. While I never did get into other drugs really extensively, I became an alcoholic later in life. I had always been a high achiever in school but soon that changed as well. I would fall asleep in class and fall asleep while doing my homework. My comprehension of assignments was altered. I began missing my bus in the mornings and getting to school late. The crowd I hung with changed, I started to skip school and get high all day within a couple years of smoking pot. I realized too late what was happening with school and tried to go back into the swing of things but I just couldn’t do it. I stopped eating regularly because I was running away from home all the time to be with my boyfriend, and I would pass out while high. My doctors thought I was having seizures but later I found out I had a blood sugar problem. All the while, we were going to parties and binge drinking on the weekends. When I was still only 14, I drank so much liquor (while high) I had alcohol poisoning and could have died, but fortunately my mom took me to the hospital. I was sick for two weeks and couldn’t eat a thing.

At age 17, due to my fainting spells which we all thought were seizures I quit smoking pot. I still smoked cigarettes and drank, on occasion, but I was much more clear-headed for years until my drinking took over my life many years later. I now have 5 years sober and much more clarity.

I met a man who ran one of the NA meetings I used to attend when I first got sober. He was a marijuana addict who had gotten busted and it ruined his life. It had taken over his life- pot was everything to him and when he’d  hit bottom he’d lost everything. People who go to NA go there for every kind of drug, including pot.

Pot affects people who are mentally ill with negative consequences. I am talking about those who suffer from schizophrenia and schizo-effective disorder, to name a couple. They get addicted to it, self-medicate with it and when they do not have it or cannot get it, they can get very violent and or depressed. I have experienced this first hand and also know of others who have. To self-medicate doesn’t sound very bad until you consider the fact that doing so has negative consequences, such as the mentally ill person having a fit and beating someone up, then having to answer for it in a court of law and being put in jail or a mental hospital, or put on probation, where they then have to be medication compliant or they’ll land in prison or jail.

Marijuana is also very dangerous when someone smokes and drives. I never got behind the wheel. I know others who didn’t think twice and didn’t consider it dangerous at all. Any mind altering drug should be considered dangerous.

The very act of smoking this drug is bad for health. People get all worked up about people who smoke cigarettes, well, get worked up about marijuana because if smoked it can cause bad health too- ask any pulmonologist and they will tell you it is bad for your lungs. It may not have additives like cigarettes, but anything that is burned and inhaled is not good for you.

If made legal, this drug should be classified as a schedule 2 controlled substance. Personally, I would never take it for pain; I would focus more on the pain instead of less. I don’t like any substance that makes me ‘high.’ I argue with my pain management doctor about putting me on things that are controlled. But for people who are cancer patients who are undergoing chemo and the like, I could see a use for it. I think in Hawaii it is over-prescribed, but that is my personal opinion and may not be true.

Do I ever miss it? Sure. Would I ever use it again? I doubt it.

I believe that it should be approached with extreme caution and no one should ever forget that first and foremost, natural or not, this is a drug. It can and will be abused by many. The addiction gene is out there among us and being an addict is not about choice necessarily but about whether or not that gene is triggered.  All it takes is for the right person to pick up a drug and become addicted. President Obama was irresponsible in saying this drug isn’t harmful because it can become much more than a bad habit. Just because it never became more than a ‘habit’ for him doesn’t mean it won’t for others. That is not to say that others will not be responsible and reasonable, but we have to look at risk management. I do not want my daughter, who is 13, to think that marijuana is ‘ok’ because Obama said it wasn’t harmful and because two of our states have legalized it. We can joke about this issue and poke fun about the Super “Bowl” all we want, but would you want your child to become a drug addict? I’ve been there. So has my son. No, definitely not FUN.