Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fear of Potting


If you don’t live in Washington State, you may have read in the news that last Election Day an initiative passed legalizing the private possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana. I voted for Initiative 502 and it scares the hell out of me - not my vote, but its passage. You see, I am a recovered alcoholic/drug addict – if I stick to what got me here, I will have 15-years of sobriety in June 2013.

Notice I said, “recovered;” alcoholics/addicts are never cured and that’s what scares me. I’m not saying that I will fall off the wagon. The chances are pretty good that I won’t and I’ll explain that in a moment. If you don’t know about addiction and recovery this may be difficult for you to understand but trust me, my fear is justified.

I am writing this because I know I am not alone. I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, like me with the same fears. Many are recovered like me while many may not even know they’re addicted to pot. Others probably know but haven’t taken that huge First Step toward recovery. And, I am writing this because the media, with all its coverage of 502, hasn’t touched this issue.

My personal fear is this; although I am definitely an alcoholic my drug of choice was always pot. I loved it. When it became too expensive and harder for me to obtain, I substituted more booze because as an addict I still needed to alter my state of consciousness. But, I’ve always told myself that if I ever “went back out,” it would be for weed and not alcohol.

The good news (for me) is I know what to do. What got me to 14+ years of sobriety is the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I still go to meetings, I work with other alcoholics and I continue to “work the Steps.” Most importantly, I voice my fears rather than bottle them up where they can grow beyond control. Does that guarantee I won’t be tempted? Frankly, the answer is no but it gives me a helluva good chance and I like the odds.

Marijuana is always described as a so-called entry-level drug and many argue that it’s not addictive. I’m here to belie that myth. While I will never advocate for a return to the "Reefer Madness" days of the 1930s, the facts support the idea that pot is addictive. 

(NOTE: "Reefer Madness" was a real anti-pot film produced in 1938, Here's a short hit: Reefer Madness Link)

One good article on the subject is at Psychology Today’s website. Here’s the link: Is Marijuana Addictive?

Here's another article: Can you get addicted to weed?

I am writing this to urge the state powers that be to consider this as they draw up the rules and regulations to govern the legal sale of pot. The initiative gives them until December 2013 to create a closely regulated system of production and sale of pot without incurring the wrath of the feds.[1] I strongly suggest they take some of the tax proceeds that will accrue from what will certainly be an instant and booming billion-dollar industry in Washington State and use the money specifically on marijuana usage and its inherent dangers.

While I am at less risk than most, the fear of my own relapse is still in the back of my addict’s mind. My real fear is for the many others who will use their new freedom to walk further down a dangerous and potentially fatal path. Alcoholism/addiction is a progressive and fatal disease that never gets better. The best you can hope for is “remission.” Unchecked, it will ultimately kill you.

For many of those happily skipping down the new Cannabis Highway in Washington State (and Colorado, which also legalized pot last November) the real facts are lost in the purple haze.

[1] Federal law still outlaws pot