Monthly Archives: February 2012

Collected Thoughts: Medicinal Marijuana and Decriminalization

Were I availed of more free time and energy, I might craft a coherent thought piece on this subject, one that I feel rather strongly about.  However, given lack of the above, here are excerpts from a discussion on Facebook on the issue, which encapsulate the bulk of my beliefs.

Note:  There is an America-centric slant to these comments, despite my being Canadian; the discussion centred on American laws and thus, I responded accordingly.  Don’t even get me started on Harper’s “ZOMG! Growing pot plants deserves more mandatory jail time than child rape!” omnibus crap…

Part One:

Who are you to judge what these so-called “regular people” are doing with a substance on par with alcohol? By your logic, alcohol should be abolished, because people consume it to enjoy a concert or movie or night out, or celebrate events. Further, psychological self-care includes leisure time – which may, horror!, include smoking pot on days off for fun. Whether intentionally taken for a medicinal cause or not, it does reduce anxiety, does enhance appreciation of stimulus and so on – unintentional medicinal effects.

Further, pleasurable enjoyment of marijuana and its pervasiveness – and the support of those individuals – is why the medicinal marijuana movement has had enough clout to make ANY leeway, why anyone realized its uses at all. Do you really think, if a so-called pothead hadn’t suggested pot to cancer patient family or friends, or those with anxiety, etc etc. that we would have seen studies that benefited the medicinal cause?

Last, how do YOU know the exact psychological reasons why a “pothead enjoying a movie” appreciates marijuana? I often smoke for, from outside appearances, recreational purposes. You can hear mention of this and throw shame at me for “ruining” a movement that came long after – one I support. I support it because I have gastro issues, anxiety, mood disorder and chronic pain. I choose marijuana for my recreation because it slows the racing of my bipolar brain, reduces anxiety, eases my constant pain in my joints and thus, allows me to mentally be happy and recharge. It is both recreation and medicine at once, but all you see is my atypical cheery mood and sense of ease while watching Pink Floyd DVDs.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds power into a movement you purportedly support, and don’t make assumptions about people whose lives you don’t live. I could write an essay on West Indian and Jamaican racial oppression and systemic issues that likely feed the connection between Marley and weed, but I shouldn’t have to connect the dots.

Part Two:

Marijuana is not often the drug of choice for a substance abuser, but people do indeed abuse it. People also abuse Oxycontin, or Percocet, drugs that someone needs to be able to get out of bed, drugs I have needed for injuries before to function. You can’t shun or slander everyone who uses a substance for non-medical reasons because of an experience that is personal and not objective.

Why do you care if I want to have three drinks at a concert? How is my choice affecting you? How is my choice to smoke a joint before a concert your business, or affecting your life? As a caveat, I hate people who are obnoxious substance users who DO impact others’ experiences; I’ve told off belligerent drunks at concerts before because they are screaming in my ear or falling over on me. I’ve also told off sober people infringing on me in the same way. That’s moot and a whole other area. But if I am sitting in my seat at a concert, enjoying the music, and happen to be high, why do you care? How is it affecting you?

While you may see the medicinal marijuana issue as “more important” than general decriminalization, you are failing to acknowledge that it came second to those who cannot fathom how a substance less dangerous than/no worse than alcohol or tobacco is a criminal offense, an evil substance, fighting to have it legalized. The reason pot smokers are so eager to support the medicinal movement is because it is one more reason in their argument for decriminalization. Tobacco helps no one. Alcohol helps no one. Marijuana does help people, and also happens to be recreational. The fact of the matter is, celebrities or not, the moral majority do not give a shit about suffering people. They do not give a shit about medical and scientific data that shows there’s no good reason to prohibit marijuana. The more people in the public who fuss, kick and fight to their government, the likelier it is they’ll throw their hands up and quietly give in. Medical marijuana is a stepping stone in a movement that already was, and members of that older movement were already espousing the medical benefits.

Governments are lobbied by churches and big business, especially pharmaceuticals. They have big, financial reasons not to decriminalize, not to approve medicinal marijuana. Who will buy all the pretty painkillers? How will doctors make money off narcotics and treating addiction to them? How will the government justify taxes and thousands of prison jobs if they’re not locking up African Americans and lower class Caucasians and Latinos for dealing a few dime bags? Think of all the social programs they can’t excuse themselves from funding if they stop spending money charging, prosecuting and imprisoning people for pot. Think of all the cop corruption cases they can’t throw out anymore for waiting too long for trial to start when the dockets are cut in half after pot is decriminalized. Think of the nasty business of the DEA having to focus on more international drug issues and treading on toes when they can’t keep busy chasing twenty-somethings from impoverished neighbourhoods for growing a few hundred plants.

Systemic oppression and corruption are the big picture, and that’s something everyone – from to the casual potheads – can get on side with.

THAT is why shitting all over users is really offensive. As for those in your life who used it as a crutch? Ask yourself what was going on in their lives that they felt they needed to self-medicate. Ask what was lying beneath the abuse. It’s an illness. Just like gastroparesis.

Think larger. Stop being so narrow-minded, please. That sort of division is exactly what the government wants, and it sets back the cause you care about.

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Books, Books, Books!

Whether I’m writing them or reading them, it’s book central here lately.  It’s a great feeling – reminds me of my teen years, where I’d dash out a novel in two months after homework and read dozens of books in a month.

I need to enjoy this right now, because once I’m full swing with the wedding, I can kiss a lot of this free time goodbye!

I have several books on the go right now (check the Reading List tab under Pop Culture Challenge!) and mainly, this is because of my Kobo Vox.  I love it to pieces except for one annoying aspect: I can’t search for a title in my library, which means that if I want to hunt down a book with a title like Suzy Two-Toes and the author is Fakey Thespian, I have to scroll… and scroll…. and scroll….  Hey, I have over 1000 books on the thing!  I like variety, okay?

However, a glorious thing is the book “collage” of the five most recently added titles OR the five you’ve most recently opened.  Solution: I hunted down five books I’d like to read soon, opened them and bam!  Collage of next set of reads!  I’m such a nerd I chose all different categories: psychological thriller; true crime; ‘thinking’ book; humour; and a title from the Banned Books Challenge.  Voila!

In writing news, I’ve been pounding the keys on my novel and making serious progress, which pleases me greatly.  I’m ambitiously trying to finish the draft by the end of my reading week, if possible, with hopes of publishing it electronically before I finish school.  Can I do it?  Maybe…. maybe.

For now, stay tuned for my review of Chevy Stevens’ Still Missing (cliff notes: way better than We Need To Talk AboutKevin) and merhaps details of my novel!


Book Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

I’ll be slowly bringing over all of my Goodreads reviews to this blog, past and present.  Enjoy! 

WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.  I honestly feel I’m doing you a huge solid here by saving you the trouble of reading this, but there it is.

The hype surrounding Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin is enormous, what with the film and all, so I obviously jumped in to see if it was worth the fuss.  Plus, I’m a stickler for the most part about reading a book before viewing the film.  The plot sounded intriguing on the covers: Eva Khatchadourian is struggling to cope with the school shooting her son is responsible for, and the fact that it ultimately never should have surprised her.  In reading other reviews on Goodreads, the opinions seem divided between “powerful and intense” and “this is bull; no mother would feel this way about a child”.

In the end, I call BS on Shriver, but not for the typical reasons.

I can absolutely believe that a mother could not love her child, could sense that something was wrong, could resent his very existence, even.  I never once found myself questioning Eva’s feelings, nor Kevin’s evolution into school shooter; anyone familiar with the literature on sociopaths is aware that there are cerebral differences that are perhaps hardwired at birth, much the same with pedophilia.  Eva is foolish enough to embark on motherhood as some sort of adventure slash means of pleasing her husband, and like many women who have children for the wrong reasons, the bond is simply not there as one might expect.  I know this to be true because my own mother had me as a lark, a means to ensnare my father into marriage and further, in that Maury Povich way, imagined that I might be a cute little doll to dress up.  When the permanence and full scope of the parenting role became apparent, she resented my every breath, piling on the psychological abuse until I moved out at seventeen.

No, I do not find myself disbelieving the plot; in fact, it’s pretty solid for the most part, aside from the utter predictability of (SPOILER) these letters to Franklin being pointless exercises, what with him being dead by Kevin’s hands and all.  Saw that coming from the first page.

What really ticks me off about this book is the writing style.  I consider myself an articulate woman with an expansive vocabulary, an intelligent and astute woman like Eva.  Thus, I speak from a lived understanding when I say this:  no one, especially a grieving woman, talks like Eva!  No one.  The entire novel, but most notably the first two thirds, reads like a first-year Creative Writing student abusing a thesaurus, determined to drop as many fifty cent words as possible to impress the professor and somehow demonstrate genius.  All it demonstrates, in my opinion, is an incredible failure to establish a genuine character voice.  Her narration is unnecessarily obtuse and snooty, almost as if Shriver is determined to have the reader walk away feeling inferior.  “I am the master of words!” Shriver declares with every contrived sentence and endless pseudo-sociopolitical tirade Eva launches into.

This book desperately needed an editor willing to say, “Stop being such a pretentious twit.  Oh, and cut this book down by fifty pages, because the pacing blows in the first half.”  By the time the story truly picks up the pace, one is already unsympathetic to Eva due to the aloofness created through Shriver’s tone.  One might argue that we are meant to be detached from her, meant not to relate, but that would render the book useless, in my opinion; the apparent point is for us to understand what, on the surface, seems foreign (a mother who believes her child evil from birth).  Perhaps herein lies the reason why so many reviewers hate Eva and find her cold and unbelievable: the labyrinth of words constructed in an obsession with synonyms constructs a wall far too high to climb, with far too little to be gained for the effort.

Undoubtedly, Shriver believes this commentary on school shootings to be brilliant and timely; in the end, it’s pure cliche and only serves to suggest that the Orange Prize is awarded purely for the number of unique words used within a novel.  It’s a shame; this book held such promise for its story.  In the end, it’s weighed down and sunk by Shriver’s need to show off.

Congratulations; I too can use a thesaurus.  Colour me unimpressed.  Sometimes, the greatest writing is plain on the surface, but utterly poignant.  Consider that next time.

Rating: 2/5 stars

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