Here’s why I’m against legalizing marijuana.

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

April 17th, 2011 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

It’s controversial, I know. Especially in the crunchy-granola, lefty circles with which I marginally run. I am against legalizing marijuana. I’m also against penalizing people for using it in the privacy of their own homes, and I think it’s stupid to put people in jail for drug use of any kind. Let me explain my contradictory feelings:

Back when cigarette smoking was allowed, well, everywhere, I couldn’t go, well, anywhere. In my teens and early 20s, I had asthma, and later in life, I chose to stay away from cancer-causing substances. That greatly limited my ability to comfortably go out to clubs and such. I was deliriously excited when cigarette smoke was banned and even more elated when it became unhip and nearly disappeared altogether.

So now we want to bring in another substance with which people can decide to impact my body through their own choices? No thanks. Not only does marijuana kill brain cells, and not only does it create a contact high, but it also gives me a big fucking headache. You can imagine the funsies I had in Amsterdam.

Today I went to an outdoor drum circle. A big group of people were sitting around toking pot, right at the edge of the drum circle. Smoke being what it is, the marijuana spread throughout the drum circle and its greater perimeters. As soon as the toking started, I got up and tried to find various ways to still be part of the drum circle without getting pot in my lungs and brain. No such luck.

I ended up sitting way far away until the group stopped. Then I rejoined the drum circle, for about five minutes, until a woman right next to me started toking. That’s when I got up and left. I was a little bit woozy from contact high (yes I am that sensitive) but safe enough to navigate the freeway home, thank goodness.

But what if I wasn’t able to navigate my way home? It’s totally un-ok to impact my life like that, without my prior knowledge or consent.

In Amsterdam circa 2003, I was looking for an internet café where I could check my email without being assaulted by marijuana smoke. I finally found a café where people were smoking upstairs but the internet was downstairs. Elated, I sat myself down and started emailing.

At some point, I began feeling very fuzzy and had a hard time understanding anything I was reading. I didn’t initially realize what was going on. Mind you, I have a horrible sense of smell, thanks to Dristan destroying my olfactory senses back when I was a teenager. But eventually it occurred to me to look behind me. Several guys with big fat gonjas had come downstairs and were toking away. One of them gave me a huge grin when I looked their way.

I immediately logged out of my email account and went upstairs, resigned to going back to where I was staying without finishing my business. But when I got outside, I suddenly had no idea where I was. It was midnight. I was alone. I knew the place I was staying was close by, but my brain was completely unable to function and remind me where I was or how I got there.

That’s when I realized I’d gotten a pretty hefty contact high. I knew I was in danger by not having my wits about me in a strange city late at night, and I felt scared. “I can do this, I can do this,” I willed myself into getting my brain back in gear. Through sheer mental determination, I got the wheels spinning again and made it safely home. But for the rest of my trip in Amsterdam, the pot-induced headache would not go away. Every time I passed a café (and there are plenty), I got another whiff of marijuana that sent me into another round of pain and discomfort.

I was relieved to come back to the USA, where marijuana was illegal and therefore generally could be avoided. Maybe not at private parties, but at public places.

The problem with smoke is that, given its nature, it impacts not only the people smoking, but also everyone around them. And not just in their immediate vicinity, but quite far away. Remember the smoking and non-smoking sections? They didn’t really work, did they? Smoke drifts. Period.

So while I whole-heartedly support people smoking whatever they want, for medical or recreational purposes, I don’t want them doing it around me. And I am certain that if marijuana becomes legal, it will also be everywhere, which will adversely impact my life. Not a chance in hell I will support that.



Comments

Jackie April 17th, 2011

There are other ways to consume marijuana for pain relief (edibles, spray form with only the active ingredient, and vaporizers).  This would help avoid disturbing people who are sensitive to smoke (not to mention it’s better for the lungs).  People who use for pain control are not using to get high or destroy brain cells.  The latter point should also be mute as there is no conclusive evidence on that point.  I have to say I found it very sad that you posted this…you have a right to your opinion, however, please consider how cancer patients or other with high levels of pain, who would rather not destroy their kidneys with dozens of pills choose this option because it causes less harm and reduces pain.  Dancing is also not always possible or works for all kinds of pain.

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