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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

High Life by Hayes Hemingway

Hayes Hemingway is a writer from Essex County, New Jersey, living in California.

It's a new day in America. The way the country thinks with regards to its view on Marijuana is beginning to change, and the evidence of that is coming straight from the horse's mouth. The man chosen to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on May 14th, 2009, that "Regardless of how you try to explain to people [whether you say] it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them. We're not at war with the people of this country."

The Obama administration made noise early into its first term when they said that raiding dispensaries was a waste of resources. Authorities used federal law to raid the dispensaries creating a debate between states rights versus federal law. Still some cities in states where voters have made medical Marijuana legal, ban it altogether.

Los Angeles County has hundreds of dispensaries, cannabis clubs, and delivery services, but not too far away in Anaheim these business aren't allowed to operate. Some counties throughout California like Amador, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Merced, Riverside, Stanislaus and Sutter have ordinances banning pretty much anything related to medical Marijuana.

So naturally this is a delicate issue, which can only be solved by the legalization of Marijuana in the United States, and California is exploring that option. Rumors spread that there would be a vote for it to be legal for adults, with an ID card system much like alcohol. The rumors have some truth to them.

California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco has proposed legislation to begin treating marijuana like booze, giving the right to anyone over 21 to use it, but his proposal calls for taxing the plant heavily. Some say that this bill could bring the broke state $1.3 Billion annually in revenue. Right now the state collects $18 million annually from medical Marijuana.

The argument against allowing people legal access to bud is always about the disaster that would arise from everybody having access to it. Those who want to smoke Marijuana usually have no problem locating it. So in a sense everybody does have access to it already. Some people choose to have nothing to do with Marijuana while other choose to have lots to do with it. It's these same people who get arrested, convicted and unfairly jailed in a process that currently grossly wastes taxpayers' time and money.

So the 'everyone' in question would be the people funding the billions in revenue generated by pot consumption. Revenue is what is making legalization a more visible reality in the foreseeable future so that argument is dead on arrival.

But it's the thinking that is shaping views. Change your view and you change your thinking.


It's sad that I function better with Marijuana, but i've accepted it. I found this out through trial and error. I knew something was wrong with me. I was always worrying and stressed out and unhappy, but once I smoked all that went away and I was able to function. I could be pissed off to no end and I smoke and I'm fine. When I didn't smoke I'd just sink into a hole or worry myself into insanity. i get nothing done that way because my mindset becomes the exact opposite of productivity.

I tried medications and there was one that simulated the high that weed gives you, but I felt like I was sleepwalking all-day in a fatman suit. I felt extremely out of breath and I couldn't do any physical activity until late in the day. I needed something that could calm me down and allow me to go to work. I always knew weed helped, but I never ever thought of it as something I could medicate with, in the true sense of medicating. After I looked at things differently I decided to try again with a new mentality.

So upon moving to California and becoming a legal resident I made the decision that I was going to medicate my ailments with Marijuana. In California Prop 215 allows patients to use Marijuana as long as they have a doctor's recommendation, and Prop 215 protects you from unlawful prosecution and  arrest with some guidelines.

I honestly felt blessed that I had the opportunity to medicate and live a functional life here with impunity. That's right. No prosecution. No police harassment. I can have up to 8 ounces on me, and get stopped by the police, but as long as I have my prescription (recommendation) on me I'm free to go. If the police come to my house and see that I'm growing plants they can't say anything because I'm allowed to have up to 6 plants growing with my prescription.

Getting my prescription wasn't as difficult as you think and most refereeal centers use that in their advertising.  It takes just a few steps.  I paid a little over $100 dollars to get a piece of paper with my license printed on it, stating that I have a doctor's recommendation to use Marijuana. I made an appointment with a referral center, and they called me back numerous times to discuss the price and confirm my appointment. I didn't want to be in a waiting room looking at other people so I asked for the earliest appointment. I was filling out some papers and went to return them to the secretary and when I looked down at the desk I noticed that my recommendation had already been printed out. I found that pretty odd.I didn't know it at the time but just because it was printed out, it didn't mean that the doctor was going to hand it to me with no questions asked.  He had to fill it out ahd sign it.  Not everyone who apploes for a prescription gets one.  The doctor has to feel confident that he isn't putting his license on the line by doing business with you.  At that moment the doctor greeted me and told me to follow him down the hall.  That's when I stepped into the doctor's office and answered him when he asked me what I was suffering from.

"Anxiety," is what I told him.

He asked if I'd seen anybody for my anxiety and if I had, that I ought to have them fax over a document saying I'd been treated for it before--strictly for legal purposes. He explained that this was to justify that I really am there for my anxiety and not to smoke for the sake of getting high. After seeing that I was being truthful and that I wasn't law enforcement he gave me a 12-month recommendation.

I walked out of the office, where they had suggested a dispensary not too far away in North Hollywood.

Upon my arrival there I realized it was a house, and not a storefront, which I found odd, but then again I was about to walk in there and buy Marijuana legally. Conceptually it was still pretty weird if you ask me. I opened the door and I was looking at a living room that had been converted into a waiting room. Like any office in the medical field there was tons of literature and announcements, but these were all pot-related. I handed my recommendation and ID to the clerk. He told me to have a seat while he called a number to verify my recommendation, much like doctor's offices verify that the patients are insured before they see the doctor.

A lot of times in this industry doctors looking to make a quick buck go into the referral business and quickly make an exit because they were not doing it legally and this leaves their patients fucked when the dispensaries call to verify that the recommendation isn't expired, they get a wrong number or no one is there to answer. When that happens you can't get your pot. And you can't get your pot because the dispensary will lose their license if they sell to you and you don't have a valid recommendation. There are a number of rules that people on all sides are supposed to follow to keep this weed wonderland going. Quack doctors obviously don't follow these rules.

I didn't go see a quack doctor so I was verified with ease and granted admission. I'd been looking forward to this moment for a long time and I can honestly say I was overwhelmed. When I got inside I saw pot in a lot of jars. Despite not being rushed I felt that way. I saw plants for sale. I saw lolipops. I saw pills in capsule form. I saw topical sprays. I was overwhelmed. I looked up and saw a whiteboard with prices. The fact that a menu existed only confused me more. I just wanted bud. I needed to chill. After I stopped worrying, I smelled, touched and examined three kinds of bud and settled on one. I was only trying to spend 20 dollars. For my purchase and being a new patient to the dispensary I was supposed to receive a free gift, but they just gave me another gram free, but allowed me to choose from one of the other two I didn't choose. In addition to that, "gram" is a term open to interpretation. The gram wasn't "a gram," as I know it to be. Each "gram" he gave me was a gram and a half. I left there well-stocked, happy, and dumbfounded. Out of habit, I looked around for law enforcement, but saw none, and that reminded me I was just tripping for nothing. I needed to enjoy the moment. Right then, I began smiling and with good reason. I had just lived my dream--buying bud in peace. I never thought it was possible before, maybe that's why it never happened for me.

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