WARNING! WARNING! (age 21+ Cannabis)
11 July 2018
Seeing how this is an archival website, I’d like to introduce to my newer 420 readers, a series of essays I did for a non-profit pro-cannabis website out of New York City, some years ago. One that I’ve been involved with since the year 2011. The webmistress is the wonderful Arlene Williams aka Ganja Granny. I love her to death! The website: Green Ribbon World.
Please note … regarding this republishing. We’re going back in time. Seven years ago. I was married for the second time. That union was dissolved one day shy of us being a couple 22 years. No resentment or hard feelings. I’d rather look forward more than backward.
Editing: Versions 2.0 … my aim is to clean up any remaining typos and grammar errors. The originally published essays could be found on the Green Ribbon World website. When finally done (this could take some time) archiving all the past essays published, I’ll start writing new ones. In a way, I already have done so: Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews.
Uncle G’s Corner
Words and Photo by Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Topic: Is Marijuana Addictive?
I decided a couple months ago that I was going to participate in a chronic pain research study. Unfortunately, I do qualify. That is since May of this year. A slow, gradual descent. All a part of being human. Work hard, play hard, and over a few decades of consistently going at it, physically wear out. In some cases mentally as well. Shit gets old. Understandable.
Having someone go on about his or her health problems is boring at best. Sometimes we really are interested. Someone we sincerely love. Or really care about. Ears are open. We listen. Try to comprehend all that is possible. Helpless to fix whatever ailment, we compensate by doing whatever else we can do to help the person try to get thru their struggle. A friend breaks a leg; we don’t mind helping them with their grocery shopping. Might not approve of their choice of one ply toilet paper. Certain situations pertaining to one’s health, folks recover. Survivors! Others times the situation is just sad, with nothing we can do but let it all go down. In the process, we survived yet another day.
Since I was a child in my single digits, I’ve gone out and made money. One day in the 1960’s I answered an ad that I found in the back of a comic book. As a result, I for a short time, sold flower seeds door to door. No cash reward. The compensation was that you’d get to choose from items they had, from a catalog. The more packages of seeds you sold, the better, more expensive, the selection. I had my sights on a baseball glove. Looking back, I never even prepared myself for the task that was now at hand…selling said flower seeds. Frankly, I didn’t know a damn thing about them. Regardless, there I was knocking door to door. I knew the task at hand to get the reward I wanted. A few folks asked me questions about the actual seeds, in which I didn’t have a clue. They still purchased the seeds. I managed to sell enough of them to get my prize.
Wanting the glove, you the reader could easily conclude that I liked the game. Thus, you would be correct. I sure did. Back then, I lived and breathed baseball. I proudly went to; the house Ruth built – Yankee Stadium. Saw games in Flushing, New York over at Shea Stadium. Rode in the back seat more than once, and also took bus trips, driving out to see the Philadelphia Phillies. One of my favorite players, Willie Mays, I saw him play once. He was wearing a New York Mets uniform. Enjoyed watching a long line of good athletes’ play either in person or on television. It was a good time for pro ball. This passion carried over to reality, and the playing field. I joined up for Little League. A glove, in which I had a new one, and a desire, was all you needed to play. No matter how horrible a player you were.
How good a player was I you ask? Honestly, I sucked harder than a new Hoover Upright. Played my best ever at a practice session after smoking pot, and drinking multiple alcoholic beverages. Imagine that! When it was my turn at bat, I repeatedly hit the ball very far distances. The manager was so impressed that he put me batting clean up in the next Saturday game. And how did I do? At bat, I struck out four times. How embarrassing! Was like I was swatting at flies. My playing wasn’t much better. Was twelve years old by the way. My parents were both dead by now. I hated living with my aunt and uncle. And my childhood dreams of having a successful baseball career were shattered!
Let me back up a bit. School’s out! It’s summer vacation, and on this particular day, I was up and about pretty early. Location was my friend Greg’s house. His parents are both not there. We have the place to ourselves, and without adult supervision. His Dad was a truck driver. Drove cross-country routes, and he was not home a lot. Greg’s Mom was a nurse. She was off working as all this was unfolding. Bored, we raided the well-stocked liquor cabinet. Greg played the bartender. Knew whatever his Father taught him how to make. He asked me if I wanted a martini and I, of course, said yes. Greg was drinking too. We end up leaving the house and seeing an older kid who lived up the street. He had pot. We smoked it. Then back to the house where we continued drinking. I just completed seventh grade. I’m living with my Aunt & Uncle (Fathers side). Mark this as my first real drunk. I woke up sometime later in the day naked, and with Greg’s Mom giving me a shower. I must have passed out. Bet I was close to getting alcohol poisoning. Fran…Greg’s Mom…was sobering me up. Probably fearing I’d throw up (in which I really saved for later that night), she put me outside on a beach cot. I had a towel on. She was washing my clothes. A couple of hours later and the time is 5 PM. Fran drops me off in her Grand Prix. I’m in a park for baseball practice.
Anyway, every year, Little League would have a candy drive. Am sure profits went to a good cause. Here I was ahead of the game, already having experience-selling things. With my case of chocolate bars, I ventured into a place no other kid did; the bar. My Dad hung in taverns. In his early to mid-sixties now, it must have been a place where he could relax and try to forget about life’s problems. He was after all a single parent. A widower. I was indeed a handful. Very mischievous, should I say so myself. So my Dad must have figured; what a better place to raise this cursed child, then around a group of alcoholics.
Note: I’ve been told that I’m good at sarcasm. Ever since I was a wee lad. Imagine that. Now back to our story. Oh, and let’s not forget the Catholics. He threw me at them as well. Right after my Mom dies. He immediately enrolled me. I imagine he yelled out; “God got a new one for you. Sorry, he’s late.” Got my dirty ass baptized. Enrolled me in Catholic school. I did my Communion. Was an Alter Boy (sorry…no sick stories to tell). Did my Confirmation after my Dad passed away. Added on to my name; David (for the occasion). It was my uncle’s name also. By the end of eighth grade, I pretty much hated it all. Ever since that time, it’s been a game of give and take. I try to apply what lessons I think that were good and apply them to everyday living. I disregard the rest; Pope’s opinions, and politics. Odds are I’ll return to mass one day. I do still have a sense of honor and respect for the religion, and I’m comfortable there besides.
The story continues…for being in whiskey joints every day taught me many of life lessons, and at such an early age. One was not to get so fucked up that you fall off your bar stool. It happened to a man my Father drank with, who called himself; Ace. One day, he fell back while on a bar stool, and down he went hitting his head so hard on the worn wooden floor, the result was immediate death. The community had way before his departure labeled him the town drunk. It was said while Ace was lying on the floor unconscious, that other patrons in the bar just walked around him, laughing about how poor old Ace was drunk again. There he was at death’s door. After his passing, I remember my Dad telling me he was in heaven with my Mom. In time, I concluded God pitied drunks.
My Father was a regular at more than one liquor establishment. Bartenders would know me. I was the kid who liked to dunk potato chips in coke cola. I’d go in with my box of chocolate bars, and walk out minutes later with a handful of money. One year I earned a baseball glove and a bat. I continued making rewards/money as I ventured into being a teenager. Odd jobs, earning cash wherever I could. Cutting grass /yard work. And then along comes; Old Man Winter. A great way to make cash at that frosty time was shoveling snow off people’s sidewalks.
How could I not mention selling loose joints / small bags of weed back when I was in High School; Manasquan / Long Branch Public High School(s)? Am sure some still remember me. The task covered head stash. I also got busted more than once. Learned young what a very risky profession, it was. Still, did it more than once. Since underage, and a foster kid, whose parents were dead, they gave me continued probation. Was one slap on the hand, after another. Am totally aware I lucked out in that respect. Isn’t like I was going out of my way, trying to get caught.
Getting my GED (Good Enough Diploma) at age sixteen, I entered the workforce. Here came minimum wage. Took me a few attempts until I found one that seemed to click. The employment I am referring to was at a luncheonette in Eatontown, New Jersey. The name of the establishment was; Gab N’ Eat. Found an ad they had in the Asbury Park Press for a dishwasher. In time, I worked my way up to assistant short order cook. Received a few raises in pay. Am sure that meant from time to time that I got a quarter an hour raise or something equivalent to that. It’s semi-skilled labor. Forget exactly why I left. It was hard work. Can actually be stressful on and off throughout the day. The people I worked with and the customers were always nice. Sometime later, I took a job advancing myself to being an actual short order cook. Only a couple years from when I washed my first dish professionally. By then, I hated the whole food industry.
Jumping ahead to the year 2011, I can look back and see all the various jobs I had. Most of these included physical labor. So I found out this past May, my lower back, and right hip seemed to have suffered the most from all this. The disc near my tailbone is totally crushed beyond repair. Add to that a torn thigh muscles. Slight hip damage. Include arthritis in the lower back. The tailbone I just mentioned, is bent. Took damage from a previous car accident back in ‘92, Add this all up, and we now know why I would qualify for a chronic pain study. Main qualifier; nerve damage. Other people have it far worse than I do. The trick here is just to learn how to get by. Professional medicine teaches us that pharmaceuticals help. In the process, cannabis is ignored. Privately pull your Doctor aside and tell him or her that you smoke weed, and many will wink in approval. Be prepared to lose a Doctor. Am sure not all are hip to the benefits of reefer.
In order for me to qualify for this pain study, I had to stop smoking weed. The little voice in me was like; oh shit. From the period, I picked back up marijuana and now, I had come to use it as an alternative to pills (opiates). It helped me cope better with pain, and it also aided me with getting better sleep. I get leg cramps and spasms in the middle of the night. A few hits of weed and I’m able to as soon as the pain subsides to get back to sleep. As I wrote in a previous Uncle G’s Corner, cannabis enables me to take fewer drugs the Doctors prescribe me. If I took just one less pill a day, in my mind, this is a good thing.
I marked the day after my last birthday, August 17th, as the day I would put the cannabis down. In theory, it worked. But when it came time to make the desire a reality, I failed right off the bat. Let’s say I had a couple false starts. In the wee hours of August 19th, I have awoken yet again with leg pains. Doctors tell me the crushed disc is hitting my spine, which then affects my nerves. Cramps can feel like getting hit by a bolt of lightning. Out of a dead sleep, you awaken. Check this out….in my ankles. Hurts like no pain I ever felt before. So after walking around, and doing what I could to work it out, I returned to bed. Like many times before, I reached over for the cannabis, packed a bowl, lit up, and took a couple…few tokes. Within very little time, was again fast asleep. Upon arising feeling a tad more rested, I contemplated doing a favorite morning ritual; wake n’ bake. I didn’t do it. Went about my day, without Mary Jane anywhere in it.
For the next thirty days, equivalent to one full month, I stayed cannabis-free. Until I pissed in their cup so I could be drug tested. After stopping on the way home so my lovely wife and I, could get something to eat. She and I have been digging on a place lately on Westheimer Road called; New York Pizzeria. What a great lunch special. So we did that, and then we went home. Once inside, I had to do some preparing first. Top on the list was making the bed. Then I got the bong out to use. Inserted ice cubes and spring water kept in the refrigerator into the bong. Pulled out a special weed that I had just for this special occasion, putting it aside after I discontinued smoking. The good stuff! I successfully didn’t smoke weed for one solid month. Aced the pee test! No THC in my system. Deserves celebration, as it should since it don’t happen all that too often around these parts. Besides, my urine is too clean now. I rejoice in the pleasure of getting it all nice and dirty again. We bonged this strain called Lemon… I don’t know. Inhaling it resulted in us getting a really good, enjoyable high. Did the best thing we could think of doing in a situation like this; had mind-blowing sex. Auntie S is a lot of fun to get stoned with.
Proved dare I say something to myself? My topic this month was a question; is Marijuana addictive? Through my experience(s), I will tell you; no it isn’t. Keep in mind, I just toked about every day since the middle of the year 2009. Going through Hep C treatment, and then self-medicating my injuries. I don’t smoke continuously, but rather take a couple / few hits and when I feel like I’m coming down hours later, do the same. I maintain. Not recommended for everyone, yet I did just that and survived. Now, being ever so up front, you would think that a couple years of consuming cannabis almost daily as I have, and you’d think I’d be hooked for sure. I wasn’t. I just went a month with no cannabis. I had no problems. I didn’t have any withdrawals. I was both mentally and physically OK.
I ask myself. I say; self, do I have the qualifications to publicly answer a controversial question like; is pot addictive? Do I know what withdrawal is? And not just the textbook definition. Real experience? All I have to do is think back. To a time they called the 80’s. I went through the DT’s (Delirium Tremens) putting down the bottle. Stayed five days at a place called the Star Of Hope, here in Houston. They had a large room set up with cots. Arriving with the shakes, I found comfort and great mental anguish on one of those beds. Consciousness came and went. I was rushed to a trauma center when my heart rate sank pretty low. I remember seeing bugs on the wall. A short guy, sharply dressed wearing a hat looking over me flipping a coin. Not saying a word. Nurses and caretakers helping me get through it. Here’s my experience with physically kicking something.
Note to self: Self, when I put down the pot, nothing happened.
I smoked cigarettes for over 3 decades. Reading the Houston Press, I saw an ad one day back in 2007 asking for volunteers who wanted to quit smoking. Since November of that year, I have not had one cigarette. The method used was; The Patch. None of this was easy. Just as hard as putting down alcohol and keeping the bottle out of my life, if not harder.
Note to self: Self, nothing happened when I stopped smoking pot.
Did pills in the 1970’s. Depressants. Yellow jackets and Reds. Would have baggies of them. Did codeine for about three months. Several times a day, every day. Shit makes you stupid. Stopping it all can be very difficult. I did it. Other drugs like Valium, and Black Beauties. I get up, I get down. And how can I forget my old chum; LSD. If I tripped once, I did so fifty times. Let’s not look a blind eye, adds up to serious shit. I partied to cope. Some truly addicting, physically and mentally, and then some not so much.
Note to self: Self, need to buy more toilet paper (2 or 3 plies), and when I quit smoking pot, remember … nothing happened. No mental or physical withdraw of any kind.
I shot cocaine for a while. Before that, I just had a long history of snorting it. That can have a way of stopping. You progress, move on. More economical getting a rig and sticking it in your veins. I’d be up for three days doing this, at a time. These were very weak moments. I did things I could have gone to jail for. When I quit; holy fuck! My arms had track marks, all up and down them. Itched like hell for a couple weeks. Lady Cocaine cried out to me. For two years. Took that long to finally get comfortable to not doing it anymore. I had dreams where I shot up. I could feel it. Taste it. I’d wake up in a fuckin’ sweat. I go to twelve-step meetings telling my experiences. Most suggested just chilling out and enjoying the dreams, rather than being frightened of them.
Note to self: Self…..listen again to the debut album by a band called; The Aristocrats. Also, when putting down the weed after continually smoking it for a while, nothing bad happened to me. My sense of smell did get better. Flip-side, I lost a good crutch. Thing is, pot actually adds me throughout the day in certain circumstances.
I get more upset about not having potato chips in the house than I do weed. I smoked more weed in my life than your average pot smoker. I’m not bragging. I can answer this question honestly; was I EVER addicted to pot? No…never was. I know addiction. Have scars proving it. Are you going to trust a scientist and his results doing tests on lab rats, or a person like myself who went through enough to really know?
Take a person who has some kind of mental problems. Give them pot. Now you have a person who has mental problems who smokes pot. And for some SCREWED UP reason, weed is always getting the blame.
Charging people money for pot dependency treatment programs, should in my mind anyway, be a crime. It’s a scam. The words “cannabis & addiction” don’t go together. Treatment for such does nothing because the real reasons behind the person’s problems, should he or she even have any, are never diagnosed properly. There is no physical addiction to cannabis. On their own, folks have mental issues. Smoking pot didn’t ever make anyone go insane. Odds are those with mental issues naturally smoked herb to help them cope more than once. I’m not a Doctor. Just your average fifty-year-old, male cannabis user. Call it an educated guess. But…don’t you think? Maybe a form of self-medicating? No one knows each other’s secrets. Is it one voice we hear in our head and admit to, or several that we don’t? Problems like these are too far complex than to simply have just one reason for it. To blame cannabis dependency is just all kinds of ways of being wrong in my book.
May one day in the not so far future, that the good farmers in this Country grow cannabis/hemp for its many wonderful uses, and do so legally, and without the slightest fear of getting anyone addicted like some use to say would happen, many years before that. That people can use what they produce safely. Some thoughts originating from the dark ages, don’t belong in the twenty-first century.
As always … onward through the fog