Readers push back on Leah Allen’s piece:
It really aggravates me when people who are obviously psychologically disabled become “pot-heads” instead of what they are: psychologically disabled and also doing that thing you don’t like and you must now blame. My father has smoked weed for as long as I can remember, and he’s your typical pot-head in my experience: president of a small business (25 employees); former president of our youth sports park; coach of every sons’ (four of us) baseball and football team; named our community’s ‘citizen of the year’; an avid swimmer and runner; and his mind is sharp and quick. I struggle everyday to be as good a father and citizen and businessman as he is. He is always there emotionally or financially for anybody and everybody.
We never smoked together until I was well into my 30s, and even then, he had to be coerced. But I am also a typical pothead: a successful attorney, father of three, community volunteer, and pretty good at all of it. (Wish I could come out of the cannabis closet.)
In conclusion, to Leah Allen: I am truly sorry that your dad is so obviously mentally disabled (abandoning your children is not something I have ever known anyone do, much less a paranoid pothead) but you’re looking in the wrong place for the answers.
Part of why I love the Dish is that as you argue or advocate for something, you are not afraid of conceding certain counterpoints where they exist. In the case of marijuana legalization (which I am 100% for and which I enjoy a few times a month myself), I greatly appreciate your airing of Ms. Allen’s account of her father’s problem with marijuana. Her father reminds me of another “sad” and chronic marijuana user I used to know – the guy who I used to buy pot from many years ago.
Like Ms. Allen’s father, on the rare occasion he was not stoned, he also had a “sharp temper,” or was anxious, irritable and just plain miserable to be around. While stoned he was a dreamy, sort of flaky, retro-hippie type. Yet, I am sure marijuana was a godsend to him, that he was in essence medicating himself away from his default personality with pot.
Twelve years ago I worked at the largest (at the time) academic drug abuse research program in the world, Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at UCLA. This was where the “marijuana as gateway drug” myth was summarily put to bed. The myth is that a perfectly average person not prone to substance abuse could smoke a joint, and then become a helplessly addicted fiend who, before you knew it, was breaking into people’s homes for heroin money. That is simple nonsense. What was discovered is that for addictive personalities, yes, marijuana (and alcohol) are indeed the likely, obvious first step on the road to serious drug problems. But it was also discovered that marijuana could be enough for the addictive personality, a destination in and of itself (such as Ms Allen’s father, and my ex-pot dealer), and was ultimately far, far easier to treat than other addictions, including alcohol.