The Cannabis Closet: Pain Or Unemployment?

A reader writes:

I live in Northern California, and I voted Yes on Proposition 19. I smoked a little cannabis when I was in my late teens and early 20s, back in the late '70s. It didn’t make me want to try other, more potentially dangerous illegal drugs. In fact, because I was a student and broke most of the time, I rarely could afford to buy it (and frankly, I was too naive to know easily how to get it). For me, it was like having an occasional glass of very nice wine, usually during a party when a joint was being passed around. I enjoyed the experience and left it at that.

I’m in my early 50s now. I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 20 years, and while some treatments for the disease are effective, their efficacy varies from person to person, and they often only work for a while.

The Cannabis Closet: A Child Psychiatrist’s Fears

A reader writes:

I think pot should be legalized. I am for Prop 19. I just think that the push to make this happen draws people into minimizing the risks associated with smoking marijuana – particularly for adolescents.

The downside to Prop 19 is that it is going to create and increase some public health problems, particularly among teenagers and among the broader mentally ill population. I get that the measure would keep weed illegal for those under 21 and impose heavy penalties on anyone who facilitated kids getting weed. But let's not kid ourselves; more kids will have more access to weed, and this is a problem for which we need to prepare. You will forgive me, I hope, for being a bit skeptical about seeing a concomitant increase in funding for substance use treatment programs or mental health in general.

As someone who is finishing my training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and as someone who used to smoke a fair bit in college and medical school, I really do see both sides of this.

The Cannabis Closet: Cash Is King

A reader writes:

In the past six months I have made extraordinary efforts to find a way to quit breaking the law.  I use pot, perhaps no more than the size of a pencil eraser, every night to sleep.  The "legal" medications exacerbated the depression and anxiety that are a result of child-hood trauma. My primary care physician understands this and has said, more than once, that "if it helps you and keeps you mentally well then continue."  I have.  For almost 20 years (I'm 37).  I have a graduate degree from Georgetown, I am the dept chair of a vibrant/progressive English department, I have been teaching for 15 years, I have a healthy marriage and two fabulous kids.  There has not been a single negative consequence – except the one time i was busted for possession – on an otherwise normal existence.

So when I began investigating becoming a licensed patient, two things emerged. 

The Cannabis Closet: ADD, Ctd

A reader writes:

I have severe ADD as well. Last winter, at the urging of my 20 year old daughter, I smoked weed for the second time in 30 years.  And I had the same reaction as I did last time: I curled up and waited for it to pass. Long ago when I was a regular pot smoker I was utterly incapable of even the simplest tasks. So I stopped smoking and life lurched forward.   One man's poison is another man's elixir. 

When I started taking Adderall about 10 years ago, I literally wept over my new-found ability to manage my life and work. I am old enough that ADD was not on the radar screen for most of my life. Deemed intelligent by most, I was commonly told that I could do better if I just bore down and concentrated.  This is as punishing as telling a one-legged man to just run faster.

What I am really pushing back on is the tacit implication that Adderall is a phony treatment.  Worse, I am weary of the judgmentalism that seems to cloud ADD. 

The Cannabis Closet: ADD

A reader writes:

I'm a college student (should be writing my final paper right now, in fact), so there isn't any real stigma regarding smoking marijuana, but I do it for a much different reason than most of 6a00d83451c45669e201156eb821b1970c-500wimy friends. I'm 21 and I have rather severe Attention Deficit Disorder, something I've struggled with my entire life.  The only medication that works for me at all is Adderall, which I  think of as meth for rich people.  However, while taking 25mg a day allows me to function normally as a student, it also makes me miserable.  My medication suppresses my appetite to the point where I can't smell food without feeling nauseous, makes me panicky and paranoid, exacerbates my already bothersome insomnia and migraines, and (perhaps worst of all) destroys my sex drive.  My doctor's response to these terrible side effects was more medication, mostly sedatives that make me feel like I'm walking on the bottom of the ocean and put me into an uncomfortable, dreamless sleep-coma.

I hated my life.  I almost dropped out of college after my first semester because the idea of spending four years jacked up on Adderall, not sleeping, barely eating, and uninterested in the beautiful college girls all around me, was completely unbearable.

Andrew, weed is nothing short of a miracle for me. 

The Cannabis Closet: Chronic Joint Pain

A reader writes:

I have to thank you. For years, I have been in chronic pain from a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Simply put, my collagen is messed up, so my joints don't stay in place. Purple_kush-1 The resulting dislocations and subluxations, as well as arthritis that comes from such joint damage, is incredibly painful. I have the joints of a 70 year-old woman, and I'm not even 21 yet. I'm on powerful prescription painkillers, and yet my Tylenol intake (as a supplement to my prescriptions) was through the roof.

As my joints deteriorated, particularly in recent months, I was frequently lying down, out of commission, sometimes for days on end. As a full-time student studying music at one of the top conservatories in the nation, I couldn't afford that. I had thought about medical marijuana before for pain relief, but had been brought up to stay on the so-called straight-and-narrow. Your consistent advocacy for marijuana, and your willingness to post articles from the Cannabis Closet like this one, convinced me to finally try it. So about two weeks ago, I got a prescription–ain't it great to live in California?–and got some quality weed.

Andrew, I am a different person.

The Police State And The Cannabis Closet

A reader writes:

That Scenes From the Drug War post really freaked me out. I watched the video all the way through and was so bugged that I posted it to my Facebook page. Six hours later I came back and found two comments. One was from a buddy of mine who is an FBI agent doing anti-gang work in New York City. He urged me to join and advocate for decriminalization. The second was from a lawyer friend of mine who wrote "it has happened before," and posted this link.  After reading a second story about a police raid over drugs that aren't found and involving pets murdered in front of family members, I started to get concerned. If there are other documented examples of this kind of behavior, they need to be compiled into a single place so we can get a handle on exactly what kind of society we are running here.

You see, I just started smoking marijuana about eight months ago and I recently had a drug dealer over to my apartment. Now I'm wondering whether there is a possibility that the police will break down my door, shoot my dog, and arrest me. I have seriously started to wonder whether I've been wrong for my entire life about who the good guys are and who the bad guys are in society, at least when it comes to drugs. I come from a Christian home and I've always admired the police. But this is scary and it has me bewildered.