January 6, 2016 by RJ
I know the positive propaganda machine must keep rolling, it’s already an uphill climb and any chink in the armor may bring the whole fucking thing tumbling down. Whoever says only lazy writers use cliches can fuck off. Ok, guilty, I’ve said it, every semester, to every one of my freshmen students, and I’m very lazy, but I digress… I’m not a scientist or an economist`so I’m not gonna pretend to have researched shit I didn’t, and I imagine if you are reading an online article about legalization in a small cultural and literary journal out of Appalachia then you already know everything I could offer in that regard, ie medicine, textiles, paper, prison reform, brain function, biopsychosocial effects of drug use on families and communities, increased tax revenue, etc. (If that last sentence sounded like jibberish to you, please do some research before you vote.) But I do have one thing to offer – this next bit isn’t it but I just want to offer this then I’ll move on. Increased tax revenue for investing in our schools, rebuilding our infrastructure, etc is a good thing, but does it bother anyone, anyone at all, that a company, big or small, has to pay the government in order to function legally and the patrons who purchase goods and services from that company must also pay the government to do so? What’s next, legislating into place a system that dictates the way we collect and use natural resources like air and water, making it illegal to do it any other way, by any other means, than the one they’ve prescribed, then making us pay for the privilege? The government? Go that far? No fucking way. If a government has to steal from its citizens in order to exist it has no legal or moral right to exist. And don’t say something stupid like, but it says in the Constitution… it says a lot of things in there. It doesn’t mean shit. Respect yourself. Or your children at the very least. Legal is not a synonym for morally just. I’m just gonna write in snippets for memes on social media from now on. That might be the only way anyone absorbs any information at all in the not-so-distant future. Morally just doesn’t mean shit either but that doesn’t mean what I said isn’t accurate.
So here it is – anyone who tells you it’s not possible to overdose on marijuana is not telling you the truth. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-legalization, I’m very much in favor of both medicinal and recreational use and I understand the importance and necessity of a positive propaganda campaign, why it’s so crucial not to open the floodgates, potentially destroying the momentum; real talk, I’m high as fuck right now, I’ve smoked four rollies in the last two hours, so I get it, but it would be irresponsible to say that a human being can ingest an infinite amount of THC and not overdose, because it’s a lie, and a dangerous one. Sure, I can smoke four more joints, ten joints, twenty joints, and safely make it through the night, but the game done changed; highly concentrated substances containing pure cannabis extract oil ie wax, shatter, edibles, etc. if taken in large enough doses, are highly potent and potentially toxic and they absolutely will kill you. Not convinced? Instead of loading your vape pen with wax why don’t you try eating your entire stash at once. Don’t think twice just cram that shit into your mouth and swallow. No? Me neither. Last summer I drank sixteen ounces of marijuana tea, roughly six times the recommended dose for that particular batch. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t walk. My muscles seized up. I vomited uncontrollably. My brain skitzed. My vision went in and out like a strobe light. As my muscles slowly relaxed I rocked back and forth on the edge of my bed until I fell forward head first into my own vomit and blacked out. I’ve taken a lot of shit. A lot of shit. But I’ve never been as close to death from any substance, legal or illegal, than marijuana tea. I recently mentioned this experience to a registered nurse who is also a leading advocate of marijuana legalization and education and I was told that another two ounces, two little ounces, would most likely have resulted in permanent psychosis and if I would have doubled my initial dose I would absolutely be dead. And I could be. I owe my life to coincidence. The first cup I grabbed just happened to be sixteen ounces. Could have been twenty-four, maybe thirty-two. Psychosis. Death.
Potheads love to pretend that no one is that stupid, everyone knows their limits, people just want to catch a buzz and relax and eat brownie bites and Doritos crushed together on top of Ramen noodles and watch poorly researched Netflix documentaries. And that’s relatively true (truth doesn’t exist), but right now, as I’m writing this, your sixteen-year-old daughter is crushing Adderall, mixing it with powdered household cleaners, and snorting it until her nostrils drip blood while two middle aged fat guys take turns on/in her in exchange for more powder. Your twelve-year-old son is letting his friends funnel cough syrup and Fireball into his asshole and record it, hoping the video will go viral because all cool social media personalities become millionaires. If someone tells that kid he can’t eat an ounce of wax or drink a gallon of tea he will try it just because it isn’t a good idea, just because 184 people he’s never met will like his video. And that’s only one type of dumb ass that would try it. There are others. Lots of them.
And for now it’s ok, it has to be. Spock would agree. The needs of the many… But after the 2016 elections, after Bernie’s elected and most states legalize either medicinally or recreationally, it’s time to start a strong education campaign. One in common sense language aimed at honest education. It is highly reckless and potentially deadly to let the general public, especially our young people, perpetuate the myth that marijuana carries no disabling and possibly lethal side effects if taken in extreme doses. If we can’t be open and honest about any and all potential effects of THC in all of its forms, maybe we aren’t ready for legalization. Maybe we are no better than big tobacco. We didn’t appreciate or deserve their misinformation campaign in the 20th Century. We don’t deserve the cellular industry’s right now in the 21st. (Maybe we do just a little). I know America loves repeating it’s mistakes over and over and over, but let’s try something new this time, let’s try true transparency.
BARRY GRAHAM is the author of the novella, Nothing or Next to Nothing and three collections of short fiction, This Isn’t Who We Are, Not a Speck of Light is Showing and The National Virginity Pledge, which was a finalist for the NGI Book Award. He is a regular contributor for Revolution John.