This octogenarian is a man who went from being a fierce opponent of marijuana while serving as a police officer, to one who gradually came to not only appreciate but actually, rely on the drug for pain relief. With the rapidly emerging market of medical MJ, there are still a huge number of people who absolutely refuse to see MJ as anything other than a federally banned substance. And it was a much more difficult transition for me than one might imagine. I swore that I’d never use it.
My father was an abusive alcoholic as I was growing up. Without ever being told, I learned quickly about substance abuse. At age 8, I became a Christian and attending church and other Christian functions kept me away from my dad. I was a very good student and athlete all through school. While still a youngster, I always knew that I would one day become a police officer.
After a tour of duty with the United States Navy, and a BS in Technical Education, that day finally arrived and I became a member of a moderately large police department in a large, urban Midwest city. From day one as a cop, I had been indoctrinated and trained to be “death” on MJ smokers, and I strictly enforced the prohibition of the substance. Arresting for MJ was easy… an MJ smoker always has “roaches” (MJ butts) in their ashtrays, and the odor of MJ is unmistakable.
In 1974, another officer and I were rear-ended in an auto crash (in a police cruiser) and I suffered a crushed spine. Miraculously, the other officer was only shaken up but I underwent a spinal fusion sometime thereafter.
Altogether, I was off work for one year almost to the day. Doctors at that time told me that it would one day become arthritic. I suffered with it for quite a while but managed to teach Criminal Justice classes in both the police academy and the local university while obtaining an MA in Public Administration. This went on until 1990 when I left the department with a disability retirement because of it. One senior sergeant and I were good friends and he used to jokingly call me “the backbone of the police department.”
However, about 1980, after I began reading about the medicinal possibilities of MJ and with the harshness of the laws against MJ, my attitude about it changed dramatically. I hated to see an otherwise law-abiding young adult acquire a police record for something as innocent as a small part of a joint. I gradually stopped arresting for a single joint or a very small amount. Instead, I would give the MJ possessor the choice of being arrested or dumping their “stash” on the ground and rubbing it in with their foot. Of course, all of them opted to destroy their stuff rather than create a police record. To me, back then, it was perversely funny to see a grown person literally cry as they ground their stash into the earth.
Eventually, I obtained my Ph.D. in Criminology and taught higher education for a total of 26 years. During part of that time, I was still working as a cop. I actually started my in-depth research on MJ while teaching classes on narcotics enforcement. I even wrote a few academic papers on MJ. I retired from teaching in 1998.
At age 75, three years ago, after a lifetime of never having used “weed,” medical MJ came to Arizona. I tried it and I now, sheepishly, admit that I was wrong about it. Most people (like uneducated me) who know nothing about MJ, believe that it is a dangerous drug and even possibly Satanic. The classic 1936 movie “Reefer Madness,” at the behest of the producer and “others,” depicted a man crazed on MJ who ends up shooting another person while he’s “zoned out.” Before the film, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared the substance a scourge of ruthless low-life Mexicans from the criminal culture.. He remained a lifelong opponent of MJ.
The only reason that MJ was ever placed in the dangerous drug category in the first place is because politicians, since the late 1920s, have been bought and paid for by big pharma, tobacco, and alcohol lobbies. Think about it… All three are actually “competitors” of MJ! Why would they ever want a plant that grows freely in every geographical location on earth to be available when they can just pay off the politicians and keep it illegal (until recently)? And the federal government, through the Food and Drug Administration, has ALWAYS (including up to now) forbidden FDA medical research on it. MJ has never been fully embraced by the medical field because of lack of adequate research.
Some facts: No one has ever died of MJ use or overuse. It is not addictive… at least no more than using aspirin or Advil for pain. It is not a gateway drug… unlike tobacco and alcohol – TRUE gateway drugs – it does not automatically make the user desire it. People with addictive personalities can get hooked on anything… coffee, chocolate, running, ANYTHING. I freely admit to having been hooked on Dr. Pepper for maybe a half a century now. MJ does not make users combative… MJ users get sleepy, sexy, hungry, and/or talkative. (Anger/fighting is not an issue. In 20 years on the police job, I never went to a fight influenced by MJ, but, many, many, many that were precipitated by alcohol. [Colt45, being the substance of choice by wife-beaters and those resisting arrest, to be precise]).
There are two important ingredients in MJ: THC and CBD. THC is usually ingested by smoking, but is now available in a good many various other forms, including edible, and produces hallucinatory effects. Not recommended to drive or use machinery if using THC (and it will show up on a lab test). Note: Most prescribed pain-killers carry the same warnings. But CBD is non-hallucinatory and is a miracle drug (amazing progress on Parkinson’s and Seizures [including me], very recently) and can be used separately from THC MJ. It has no effect on driving, etc, and will not show up in a lab test to detect substance abuse. (May be bought over the counter NOW, in oils, capsules, and edibles.) My 88-year-old aunt takes CBD in Gummy Bears for her arthritis.
In searching for relief from lower-back chronic pain, I have tried every available prescription drug, physical therapy, acupuncture, and have tried using a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) without success. Medical MJ is the only answer to my particular medical needs.
Several years before I started using MJ, my wife found me screaming in pain and locked in a bent-over position in front of the dishwasher. I stayed in that position until she could drive me to the Chiropractor. Three years ago, Arizona legalized medical marijuana and I was eager to try it. I still don’t drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. In September, I began to be plagued by Epileptic Seizures. One of the earliest tests I took, was a 72 hour wearing of brain electrodes. I told my Neurologist that I was using MJ and he shrugged, saying he knew nothing about its effects. After the test, in which I was required to log my EVERY action (including the times I used MJ), the Neurologist said that my MJ use did not register ONE SINGLE movement during the test. ‘Google medical marijuana/Parkinson’s disease to see miraculous medical results for yourself.
My family, both maternal and paternal sides, were genetically predisposed to alcoholism. I deeply feared for my three children. I wish that I had known about MJ when I advised them about our genetic liability. I would rather they smoked pot than drink alcohol. I realize that those who knew me when I was a cop, and those in my church and my community, find it hard to believe that I use MJ, but this is the most pain-free that I’ve ever been.