Countering the anti-pot hysterics with a ‘yes’ on Question 4
Enough about the children.
What about me, an aging baby boomer who’d love a legal marijuana buzz from a big ol’ bong in the privacy of my living room?
What about Peg Holcomb, 81, of Amherst? Multiple state police troopers, National Guard troops — and a hovering helicopter — just swooped down on her home for a single backyard pot plant. What about Paul Jackson, 82, of Edgartown? He suffered the same police-state tactics in August over plants he’d grown for his dying wife, Mary.
Enough of this “Reefer Madness” hysteria from nearly every one of our politicians fighting ballot Question 4 to legalize marijuana.
Massachusetts loves you, Governor Charlie Baker, leader of the antiweed brigade. But we are talking about marijuana here. Marijuana! What you smoked at Harvard. And you turned out OK.
I just got my reunion book from Stanford, no slouch school either. There were the surfer dude stoners who smoked pot — and did much worse — all those years ago. Today? They’re Silicon Valley millionaires.
Boston City Council president Michelle Wu, a Harvard grad too, sees an elitist double standard here. Privileged Harvard kids can smoke up a storm, no problem. But poor blacks and Latinos “are sent to jail,” she says. Everybody else, I guess, must be saved from ruin by a bunch of nervous-nelly politicians.
Antiweeders insist brains like mine must be scrambled like an egg. I started smoking as a teenager, like so many of my high school friends in rough-and-tumble Fall River.
I do not advocate that. Let me be clear.
Yet somehow we potheads grew into responsible taxpayers, homeowners, parents, grandparents. That’s hardly unusual. And I’m hardly the only ex-delinquent who remained a burning cauldron of ambition through high school, college, and beyond.
Last week I visited the medical marijuana store in Brookline Village, at the gorgeous Beaux Arts building that once housed the Brookline Bank and where they secure goods in the vault. There’s a cop outside and a greeter inside, checking for a legit prescription. (I got in only because I’m a reporter.)
The hysterics should check this place out. Impressive. They wrap edibles in boring, black, childproof, ziplock containers. Ingredients are listed, the milligrams of THC. You know exactly what you’re getting and how potent it is.
There are testimonials from patients. Insomniacs, cancer patients, long-term pain management patients who’ve spent months in la-la-land on legally prescribed opioids. Marijuana has helped wean them off “the morphine haze,” as one patient put it, allowing “my brain to become stimulated and . . . energy to get the day going.”
Most of the same politicians who now oppose legalization opposed medical marijuana too. Ditto, shamefully, the Massachusetts Medical Society.
A while back I visited the Silverpeak Apothecary marijuana store in downtown Aspen, where pot is legal. The place looked like Shreve, Crump & Low. Elegant, upscale. Softly lit. Polished hardwoods. Nestled unobtrusively amid high-end boutiques.
A 75-year-old grandmother waited on me and told me about “up” marijuana (Sativa) and “down” marijuana (Indica). She sold me a $10 chocolate chip “rookie cookie,” its 10 milligrams of THC clearly marked. The wrapper had instructions just like an Advil. I ate it the next morning with a friend who had a $10 slice of “rookie sweet potato pie.” We hiked for two hours. We said “Oh wow!” about 50 times. You know. The vistas! The snowcapped Rockies! Even our sodas tasted magically, spectacularly, carbonated! “Oh, wow! Feel the bubbles!!!”
We had a really fun time.
Here at home, that experience would make me a criminal. State Senator Jason Lewis, another hysteric, keeps saying, “This is not about whether an adult can use marijuana in their own home.” Actually it is, senator: It’s illegal to buy.
By the way, Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana coordination, reported at a debate in Boston last month that there’s been no increase in teen use since legalization two years ago. The only usage spike? Those over age 65. Senior citizens who waited for legalization because they didn’t want to break the law. Senior citizens who deserve to be left alone without stigma or shame or fear of multiple state troopers with helicopters scaring them half to death. Even here in weed-decriminalized Massachusetts, raids and arrests still happen — and they happen a lot more if you’re black.
So my fellow Bay Staters, please, please, this election day, remember us would-be blunt-toking mothers, fathers, grandmas, and grandpas. Remember Peg Holcomb and Paul Jackson’s wife. Consider how much happier we all might be facing our precipitous decline at the nursing home, in the rocker, munching on a chewy cocoa caramel, 10 mg for $5, humming some hazily recalled “Dark Side of the Moon” tune from our halcyon days.
Come on. We’ve earned it.
One more thing: The only hysterical warning I buy about the perils of pot is the one about increased gum disease. Happily, the solution is simple. Floss.
Margery Eagan is co-host of WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio.’’