Marijuana in the USA and Ukraine
Legislation deciding if a substance is acceptable in society has always baffled me. And what’s determined as illegal or legal can change the culture’s mindset.
Marijuana is a great example of this.
I was in the USA for the past six weeks and much has changed. In January, recreational marijuana became legal in California. It’s also legal in a handful of other states. Dispensaries have blossomed, and now all you need to do is show your driver’s license and you can buy marijuana legally.
It’s so out in the open, there are bus tours bringing people to different dispensaries in San Francisco (cover picture).
Not long ago possessing recreational marijuana was a felony with serious prison time in the neighboring state of Nevada, which has also legalized it.
Many people in America—especially the older generations—still interpret marijuana as a hard drug. In my youth, advertisements showed us how bad marijuana was, while at the same time how good beer was with fun-themed commercials.
I’ll never forget the time my father found my brother’s marijuana stash and scared me into thinking it was the devil as he finished another gin and tonic.
So it’s the government that determines what is socially acceptable, regardless of the objective scientific evidence on how bad something is for our health. And most of society determines what's "good" or "bad" from this decision.
The crazy thing is that this message can flip overnight. And in parts of America, buying a joint is now almost as simple and acceptable as buying a beer.
Now that I’m back in Ukraine, the laws are different, and marijuana is a crime. It’s mostly interpreted by society as a hard drug along with even harder drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. They’re oddly batched into one group.
My point is not to promote marijuana. But the objective fact is that alcohol causes way more problems in society—and with people’s health—than marijuana ever will. Nobody gets in fights stoned.
And ever since I quit drinking life has gotten exponentially better. While drunk, all dreams come true… until one is sober again and left in a lowered state of consciousness. With that said, alcohol offers a great release; I'm not against people drinking; I've found it just works better for me--with my all or nothing personality--if I don't.
I had my first marijuana dispensary experience a couple of weeks ago. I walked into a beautiful new building with a friend. We sat for a short time in the waiting room before being let into the store; something about the whole experience felt a bit criminal because I’ve been conditioned my whole life that it was.
The waiting room consisted mostly of a well-dressed and competent crowd. Nobody slurring their speech or speaking loudly. I think we all had the same thought of, “holly shit I can’t believe this is legal now,” coursing through our minds. Most of the time new legislature restricts people from doing something, but this legislature is accomplishing the opposite. So it felt like we were all a bit victorious.
A knowledgeable employee brought us in the store and showed my friend and I the different selections.
“Do you want more of an elevated experience then I recommend our sativa over here. If you’d like something more relaxed and introspective we have many indica varietals to choose from,” he said in a professional tone.
We bought our joint and left with a shiny bag and a receipt. I’ve never been a big marijuana smoker but occasionally it offers that mind alteration I’m looking for, just like alcohol used to do for me. But after participating in both activities, I can say removing alcohol from my life was possibly one of the best things I’ve done to improve it.
Now that cultural perception is changing, most of my friends look at alcohol as a much more destructive substance than marijuana too.
As tribal creatures culture can change its perception on something as divisive as, “drugs” almost overnight because a new law says so. And like the movie the Truman Show, our perceived realities are just that. What was wrong yesterday can be right today, and what’s right today can be wrong tomorrow.