Legal weed

I became an adult in the 1970’s, but unlike some politicians my age, I never smoked it and I didn’t inhale. I’ve never had a reason to try marijuana. As a result I don’t have any expertise about the substance. I’ve read articles comparing it to alcohol. I have had a bit of alcohol in my life and I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, but I quickly learned that I’m not one for drinking too much. I don’t enjoy the feeling of foggy thinking and losing control. I’m speculating, but I’m fairly sure I don’t want the feeling of being high. On one occasion I received morpheme to treat the pain of burns. I became paranoid. I was aware that I was thinking irrationally, but I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t like the feeling at all. Since that experience, I’ve told doctors that I am allergic to morpheme. I’m staying away from that medication as much as I can. One of my doctors commented to me, “You’re just not a good candidate for opioid addiction.” That’s fine with me.

So, as one who has no expertise, I’ve been fairly quiet in the debate over marijuana and its use. I’ve read articles about those who found relief from pain and other symptoms of illness through the use of marijuana, but it seems to me that the only evidence we have about it is anecdotal. With the federal ban on solid research into marijuana and its component chemicals, it is impossible to study the best use of the substance in the way that other drugs are studied. Still, compassion for others has motivated states to pass medical marijuana bills and allow the dispensing of the drug. In some of those states, the medical marijuana laws allowed for significant recreational use of the drug.

However, I’ve now moved to a state where both recreational and medical use of the drug is legal. I know the slightly sweet smell of burning marijuana wafting over the fence from the neighbors. I haven’t found the neighbors to be any kind of a problem. I wouldn’t be upset if they had a few beers in their own backyard, and smoking a few joints poses no threat to me that I can discern.

Being someone with no expertise, however, I do find some of the culture of marijuana use to be amusing. I’ve made up a story or two about some aspects of that culture. Every time we drive up to our son’s farm, we go by a dispensary. Or is it just a shop in a state where recreational use is legal? Anyway this place has a large lighted sign that proclaims that it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Apparently those who use the substance need a place where they can get an “emergency” supply. Or perhaps continued use of it makes it impossible for one to plan ahead. I keep trying to imagine a scenario in which someone needs to drive out of town to a shop on frontage road alongside the highway to make a purchase. Even more difficult for me is imagining the type of entrepreneur who is willing to work the long hours and hire the kind of trusted employees required to keep a business open and operating 24/7 year round. Perhaps like the bartender who doesn’t drink, the marijuana shop hires employees who don’t use their product. I suspect, however, that such people would make poor salespersons. Like me, they might not know what they are talking about when a customer asks about different varieties.

So far, however, the most amusing piece of the marijuana culture for me is that there are drive through marijuana shops. Alongside the highway within 10 miles or so of the Canadian border, there is a nice plaza with shops, restaurants and a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office. We’ve stopped there for a sandwich on occasion when driving in the area. Across the street from the plaza is a drive through marijuana dispensary, located in a building that at first appears to be a drive-through coffee shop. It isn’t a very big building, but it has drive through lanes on both sides. Unlike the coffee shops, which appear to be all around the state, however, I’ve never seen a car in the drive through. In fact, I don’t think it has ever been open when I’ve driven by. It makes me think of a stereotypical marijuana user, who has lost initiative: “Man, I suppose we should go to work some day. I’ll think about it after I finish this smoke. What was it we were talking about?”

Pandemic isolation has, I suspect, meant that more users of marijuana are isolated from others. I suspect that like alcohol use, those who use socially had found themselves using alone because there are simply fewer parties and opportunities to gather with friends. If the aroma from the neighbors is any indication, however, it may be possible to share marijuana with those who are more than six feet apart.

Other than a bit of silliness on my part, I haven’t experienced a big difference in moving from a State where marijuana is banned despite the passage of an initiative and a constitutional amendment allowing medical and recreational use of the drug. The new laws are supposed to take effect on July 1, but the governor has been attempting to block their implementation. It is still a bit unclear what the result will be. At any rate, it was illegal in South Dakota and legal in Washington when we made the move. I suspect that the change in South Dakota will be less dramatic than people who fear the new law suspect. If our experience is any indicator, it probably isn’t going to have much impact on the lives of most of the folk in the state. It is unlikely that the streets and parks will fill up with people acting like a Cheech and Chong routine. After all, it is still too cold for that all winter long in South Dakota.