No One Ever Dies From Marijuana?

You may or may not want to know this, but I thought I would tell you that I am writing this essay in my underwear. You see I feel more room to write when I am not restricted by the confines of clothes. I also feel less inclined to be dishonest in my writing because I feel less restricted by the false impression that clothes can give. I woke up this morning remembering my long-lived love affair with marijuana. I have not revisited the neural delights of the cannabis plant in some time but this morning it was as if I longed for a rekindled encounter with my longest-lived-love affair. This encounter could be more easily referred to as a quickie. The only way that I felt I could deal with this nostalgic rumination which was slowly turning into longing, was to climb out from bed and without changing into more formal attire write an abbreviated essay in response to a much decried postulate that I often attested to. You cannot die from smoking Marijuana, right?

 

My love affair began haphazardly in 1987 without any formal planning. It was a love affair that was not fiery and passionate from the get-0-go, but rather slowly developing and refining until it was solidified into a sure thing. I was in my junior year of “high” school and attended my first rock concert (without parental escorts) at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I was excited and nervous about seeing Jane’s Addiction play, whom I believed had revived rock and roll out from the slumber of the leg warming eighties. My friends and I grabbed an opportune location from which to watch the band play on the balcony directly above the stage. We stood in anticipation for the forthcoming show like rabbits anticipating organically grown carrots. The excitement that I felt still makes goose bumps rise on my thinning scalp.

 

Behind us we heard a loud banging followed by high-pitched yelling. My friends and I shyly turned around and noticed what looked like a gypsy caravan. A long faced fellow with rainbow colored braids, black beaded turkey neck covered in crucifixes; wearing tall black sewage boots and a red plastic coat used by sausage workers, pounded on the backstage door. Beside him was a shorter young adolescent who looked like a duplicate copy of him self but had many more holes and metals in her ears, chin and nose. Saying, “I can’t believe it!” besides the two of them was a tattooed and tall lank of a young man with bleached blond stocks of hay for hair and big enough eyes to see God with.

 

Turned out that the three locked out castaways happened to be Perry Ferrell (the lead singer for Jane’s Addiction), his then girl friend Casey and the bass player for Jane’s Addiction, Eric Avery. They were locked out from back stage and I was witnessing a moment that would be written in the historical annals of my life. Perry kept yelling “come on man let us in, the shows gotta begin, come on man!” while pounding on the door with a hand covered in rings, painted black nails and bruise marks. Occasionally he would look over at me and smile like a child trying to be coy and hide embarrassment. That smile has been tattooed on my brain.
I was a small town boy never having seen or imagined seeing my idols close up in the flesh. In my high school at the time Jane’s Addiction was the biggest thing since Def Leopard or Duran Duran. When someone finally came and opened up the back stage door, Perry handed me a joint and said, here kid, take this. I almost wet my pants as I extended my numb and star struck arm to take the joint from his hand. For me it was like that Michelangelo painting where Adam reaches out for the hand of God. It was the end of my innocence.
My friends and I jumped up and down with idiotic youthful glee. I looked at the joint as if it was Achilles’ sword or a sacrament, put it to my lips, inhaling deeply: solidifying my connection to not only Perry Ferrell but also marijuana.

 

The show was the most hallucinatory, carnivalesque not really real but seeing it with my own eyes experience this small town boy had ever imagined being possible. I spent the majority of my remaining high school days stoned, attempting to re-kindle the neural lights that were compelled into synapses by the Jane’s Addiction extravaganza. I started to dress like Perry Ferrell, and as a consequence was often beat up by red neck cow kids who ripped out my purple braids and forced me to go home and change. They would not stop me because I was high.

 

Every love affair has that single moment where the course of events changes for better or worse. Love either begins its onerous descent or is clapped further into existence by a profound realization of its meant to be qualities. For me this moment occurred briefly after my roommate and I had smoked from a pink bong in our dorm room before dinner. I was a sophomore in college and struggling to maintain skills and aspirations to become a professional tennis player. My roommate and I walked to the cafeteria for dinner under the setting sun stoned out of our minds and driven by an ecstatic spirit commonly referred to as Euthanasia. My feet felt as if there was a space between them and the ground. I was so high that I was able to walk directly through an oak tree, freed from the confines of the material world. I understood the meaning of high by experiencing that moment. I was moving along the grass effortlessly transcending all time and space. I looked to my roommate who was trying to fly and said I want to stay in this state for the rest of my life. I had not known happiness like this before.
After a seven year college career that cost my parents more than $100,000 dollars I barley graduated with a BA in Media Studies and found myself without any aspirations other than to sit in the sun, pursue sexual escapades, play basketball and smoke weed. I was twenty-nine years old.

 

I began to make the journey by train from Palo Alto to San Francisco reading Jack Kerouac and longing for beatnik days filled with read wine, orgies and poetry. I laughed my way through the financial district watching the poor souls who spent days on end cooped up in artless offices made from greed and struggle, while I remained penniless and proud. I would buy books at City Lights and read in the bars of North Beach while wondering about times past which I could not recall. In my journal I produced poor prose longing for a time past and fulminating about time present.

 

I remained stoned through three serious relationships and dozens of jobs. I watched Pearl Jam explode onto the grunge scene and grow old before I could really identify the passing of time. Chris Cornell had just been the lead singer for Sound Garden and now he was playing with some band called Audio Slave and looked like a middle-aged man. The words of T.S Elliot resounded in my mind each time I tried to justify to myself the path in life I had chosen to take:

Time passed and Time Future
Are all contained in time present

Like my prognostication fifteen years before, I had managed to remain stoned through the most formative years of my life. I prolifically painted and waited on tables while sleeping with prostitutes and wasting away the days in strip clubs which made me feel as if I was dreaming away my afternoons. I got fired from a shoe store for telling a costumer that her feet stunk. Weed elevated my sensory faculties and made dishonesty impossible. Weed made me feel as if I was the entertainer in a play about me. I rode my bike through parks high as a bird and traveled like a dharma bum through the sierras and city ghettos. I dreamed and then forget what I had dreamed.

 

Always the passionate advocate of the virtues and health benefits of smoking weed I postulated again and again that no one had ever died from smoking weed. I read book after book about the healing benefits of marijuana. I took great enjoyment in teaching others about the way of weed. It calms the nerves, enlarges the heart so blood flow is improved and the heart muscle strengthened, clears phlegm and toxins from bronchial passage ways improving lung capacity, accelerates metabolism, improves concentration and has anti-carcinogenic properties. Meanwhile I was suffering from wheezing and palpitations refusing to blame my symptoms on my true love. I did not want to admit to my self that the love that I had spent the past fifteen years of my life with was slowly destroying time present.

 

I reached the age of thirty-nine still pleasantly pre-occupied with denying the effects of my relationship with weed. I had watched friends die or begin the obvious descent into middle age. Perry Ferrell had devolved from rock star status into dusty memorabilia from a time passed and forgotten. An illegal war in Iraq raged on in its corrupted fury and through out all these life cycles I had managed to remain high.

 

I was working as waiter and celebrated my working class status because I had my days free to smoke weed and ride my bike around Berkeley in search of an herb or elixir that could cure my chronic cough. I developed allergies and a terrifying irregular heartbeat as I wrote non-sensible essays in the afternoon and meditated under parking cars. Was I loosing my mind as I aged my way towards fifty? I often wondered. Then I married a woman who could no longer tolerate my anxiety attacks, constant fear of death, feelings of failure and Walden Pond philosophy that espoused that the cost of something is the amount of life that you are willing to exchange in order to have that thing. I wanted life not things. Your Thoreau is keeping us poor and working class and your marijuana is going to kill you, she would often attest.

 

The night was warm and now the summer morning seems to be working it’s way into a quick boil. After I finish writing this, I will put on pants and go out for a long bike ride around town. I am almost forty-two years of age and I have not smelled the aromatic scents or inhaled the tropical mists of Marijuana smoke in close to half a decade. Even though our relationship has ended- I am left with the scars of our almost twenty year affair. I have a chronic cough, an inability to recall the location of my parked bike or home.  I am fatigued enough that I have a tendency to fall asleep in the most inappropriate of places. I have watched time pass and my face grow old. In an attempt to maintain a state of physical well- being I exercise by standing on my head for an hour a day and ride my bike to and fro the places I need to go. Otherwise I spend my time tending to my garden, sleeping in my underwear and trying not to think about the past that I seem to re-live day after day. It is as if my mind is trying to bring forth the years and years that I spent stoned so that I can now become accountable for the life I lived in the light of sobriety. I talk about these moments with my wife and I have built a writing career off of writing about my times passed, but still I am left in a state of duress or uncertainty when I ask myself and others the question, marijuana can’t kill you, right?

28 responses to “No One Ever Dies From Marijuana?

  1. Great story, solidly written.

  2. thank you for the support. Sometimes many years of suffering can yield good stories. The Talmud says “we are like olives, it is only when we are crushed that we bring fourth what is best in us.”

  3. This story is so much bs…. no weed dosent kill you i am 70 and am normal as i ever was and i have been smoking since high school. You are a fool for making this bs up…. maybe it wasent weed alone you were doing maybe u laced it in crack or something but sweet thc alone will not do this to you.

  4. I am sorry you feel the inclination to feel so uptight about your weed. Marijuana effects all people differently and I believe it is important to be open to other peoples experiences- not just one’s own. You may be fortunate that you have not been negatively effected by weed (all though it seems to have effected your sentence structure). However weed does cause certain people to experience an elevated heart beat (palpitations), higher blood pressure, paranoia, difficulty breathing, anxiety, and a general feeling of impending doom. I enjoyed weed habitually for almost 15 years until I started developing some of these symptoms. I had a friend who recently ended up in the emergency room after smoking home grown weed. I now can not touch the stuff without ending up in a miserable state. Enjoy your weed, since it works for you…..but this does not mean that weed works for everybody.

  5. Weed makes a person lazy and with no drives or ambition. It’s not good for your lungs. The list goes on and on…the guy who wrote that it hasn’t affected him is fooling himself.

  6. Your love affair is over which is sad, mine continues yayayayayaya,

  7. Gigatao, you are a fortunate man. I smoked a little weed the other day and felt like I should not do that again. Weed is good stuff. I always say- if it works for you, enjoy, because you are a fortunate one. I on the other hand, may have worn out my welcome with the weed Gods.

  8. I agree if you cannot handle it, you should not be smoking it. If it causes you any ill health effects, then you should not be smoking it. Randall, how are you after you drink alcohol or ingest other drugs? Marijuana may excite preexisting conditions so it is possible that your problems might be brought out by smoking. ie. weed or no weed you might not be in perfect physical or mental health…and to Beverly “weed makes a person lazy and with no drives or ambition. It’s not good for your lungs. The list goes on and on…” I don’t understand..I love my job, going to work everyday, I went back to school for graduate study and love that, am very active and my ambition is high. Family and friends are great also..and p.s. Vaporization does not harm the lungs at all do some research. I choose to smoke marijuana..I do not drink alcohol, and it hasn’t affected my life in anyway that is problematic.

  9. I hate to be nitpicky here but I’m a bit confused – ypou were a junior in high school in ’87, but you’re almost forty-two now in 2007? Shouldn’t you be in your late thirties? The only rewason it caught my eye was because I began spoking mot (ha!) when I was a junior in high school in 87 (though I didn’t see Jane’s Addiction until 90.)

  10. good eye- see what smoking too much weed does to one, they held me back for a few years in high school. I was the only senior in the history of my high school to be 20.

    I am almost forty. Please do not rush my life away :)

  11. “I am almost forty-two years of age.”
    “I am almost forty.”

    I guess these could both be true but what kind of snake would write this way if he were telling the truth?

  12. A Very clever snake my friend who does not feel the need to reveal his exact age. remember- age is in the eye of the beholder and some things are better left open for interpretation. Slither on!!

  13. I wish my stepson could read your story. He continues to blur through life ambitionless, delivering pizza while his 3 younger siblings attend or graduate from college. He was at my house last month for a birthday dinner, age 24. I asked him if he felt like a grownup and his stunned, deer in the headlights answer was No. I fell like weed is the reason for his lack of, what I would consider, hallmarks of adulthood.

  14. Yes, I can empathize. When I was 24, I was similar- a deer stuck in the headlights. Now I am 37 and I am starting to see more clearly…to find my way without the weed. Be patient with him and know that a fine wine can not be forced. It takes time to bring forth what is best in us- with or without weed.

  15. I think most of this is bullshit myself.

    I do agree that with some people it does hinder ambition.

    I could see smoking the paper wrapped around the joint harming someone’s lungs.

    The other things are probably an underlying condition that the weed brought an onset of for you.

    I don’t really think this was a problem for you at all though. I think this was a story you wrote, and it was a fine story, for fiction. There are a few parts in the entire piece that screamed, LIE. It wasn’t just the age thing. I read over it carefully. At any rate that doesn’t even matter to me whether or not this really happened in your life.

    I just wanted to comment to the fact about weed. I do not believe weed kills anyone. If it did it would not be used medically in some chosen states right now.

    Then again everyone dies….

    JO

  16. Thank you for your objective comment. It is always challenging to be called a liar….and I welcome challenges.

    I am glad you enjoyed the story.

  17. OMFG man you can write. I dont really care whether you lied or not the story flows and is beautiful . Inevitably though I have other questions seeing as I too was led away by Kerouac dreams from school. If this is true do you regret your decision I often wonder If i will regret pursuing happiness, my dreams my goals and my desire to live life as i want to live it while forsaking the safe route.

    I rode my bike through parks high as a bird and traveled like a dharma bum through the sierras and city ghettoes. I dreamed and then forget what I had dreamed.

    Was it worth it man? I mean I gues that depends onn whether it’s true or not but what’s you opinion.

    Goddamn I havent been this excited by a someone’s prose since I first read that goddamned life altering sentence

    “We were perfoming our one and only noble function of the time. Move and we Moved.”

    Maybe I’m just young illusioned and impressionable?

    Oh yeah where is that Thoreau qoute from? gotta read that.

  18. What a life affirming response!!! Made my day and possibly my week. Despite all of my anxiety and thoughts of impending doom today- this comment has made it all worth the struggle. Sounds as if we are cut from a similar thread. Keep on moving and read Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. There you will find the quote.

    Peace.

  19. wow, that was a really good, well written story…very good work of fiction, almost believable. : P

  20. Wow, seriously, I can see why you became a writer. Kudos
    But even at whatever age you’re at, do u feel if u started smoking again, you would not want to quit?

  21. Thanks for your comment. Good question- I do think that if I started smoking again I would still want to quit. I have enjoyed a few years of sobriety from weed and I prefer the mundane feeling of a natural high as opposed to the supra-sensoral intoxication of a mind altering substance. Being without weed has simply allowed me to feel more grounded and connected with my real life and I prefer what this feels like.

  22. Maria Louisa Fridita Emanuelita Imaculada

    weiners never queif and queifers never wein.
    blah blah blah.blab blim blah, doodle e doodle e doo.cocka.

  23. I started smoking weed when i was 15 and have been smoking weed for almost two years. Yesterday i twanged out massively, having breathing problems, throat spazms/swallowing involuntry, trapped air in the troat and heart palpitations. im only 16 should i be having these problems.

    • My guess would be that like me your are very sensitive to the effects of marijuana. There are so many different strains of marijuana- some strains calm you down others stimulate (much like caffeine or speed) and cause an anxiety like reaction in some. I would advise you not to smoke weed unless you know for certain that it is the calming strain you are inhaling. If you are just randomly smoking whatever bud is passed your way- then you are rolling the dice because you don’t know if your body and mind will react by having a panic attack (which it sounds like you had). Sorry to hear that you have had this experience, no fun. You may come to find that the anxiety that you suffer from as a result of smoking weed is no longer worth the temporary “high.”

  24. I am SO glad I traveled back in your blog time machine and read this. Many thoughts pop up. First of all, the ‘doing nothing’ part of living is essential. Being aware of your surroundings on a different level is awakening & nurturing. I hope you are still doing this..

    Being a HUGE Jane’s fan, I would have killed for that experience. :) Perry was a God then wasn’t he? ;)

    Thoreau was from the future, I’m sure.

    As to the pot, everyone makes the decisions that are best for them. Sounds like yours was what you needed.

    …and the comment from our friend Paul up there made me laugh out loud…

    • Hello Tina,

      Thanks for this comment. I enjoyed reading it. Oh hell yes Perry was a GOD!! I was a suburban teen who had never seen the likes of someone like him ever before. It was a nice way to being my two decades of pot smoking. I am glad I am free from it now- but happy we (weed) had our time together.

  25. Weed is good because it allows you to calmly deal with the stupidity of society.

    It is also safer than heavy alcohol consumption. It takes at least three alcoholic beverages to anywhere close to the effect that a few tokes of marijuana has. Can you imagine what that type of alcohol consumption does to one’s liver?

    Alcohol abuse is killing our society, yet no one ever complains about it. Because people are sheep and they subscribe to a value system imposed on them by their corporate gods.

    I bet you when they finally legalize marijuana in the United States, you will see Betty White on TV commercials promoting the Proctor and Gamble brand of it.

  26. Also, how were you smoking your weed, dude? If you rolled it up in a joint then you were probably inhaling the carbon from the rolling paper or cigar along with the marijuana smoke. That, my friend, is bad for your lungs.

    If you want to do weed, smoke it pure using a pipe or something…

    And maybe you got bad weed last time.

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