Thursday, November 21, 2013

Logic: Used To Hate It (Now You Love It)

Introducing Paper Clipper, our handy mascot/assistant.

I am a recreational drug user.  There, I said it, once and for all.

The U.S. government would define my activity as illegal.  I would define my activity as all-around life-bettering.


I am here today, and in the future, to propose an alternate view, free of the confines of someone looking over my shoulder.  Free because I do not have a real job, I do not have a boss, and I find myself wholly unaccountable to anyone else, and certainly not the U.S. government (what up Panama).

It is an easy argument to make that I am doing this, in no small part, for myself.  I want weed legalized in the U.S., that's a no-brainer.  I want to move to a town in Colorado somewhere between Denver and the west end of the Rocky Mountains, open up a coffee shop (the version you would find in Amsterdam), and live happily ever after.  I have had a name picked out for 3 years.  Sociabowl.  If you steal it I have proof RIGHT HERE.

It is not an easy argument to say that I am doing this for the benefit of the U.S. government.  The same guys who took my job away from me overnight on April 15, 2011 and temporarily froze 2/3 of my liquid assets for no real reason.  The same guys who treat NATIONAL FINANCIAL DEADLINES just like I did most papers junior year of college: "IT'S COOL, YOU DON'T NEED TO DO IT! YOU'RE IN DENIAL! AN 'F' REALLY ISN'T THAT BAD!"  That said, deep down I obviously do want my hometown government to succeed.  That I feel like drug legalization would help them is a nice side-effect, and at the very least a powerful argument I hope to land with others that don't want weed legalized for the same reasons I do.

But I choose to raise the banner on this side of the war right now just because simply, I think that it is right.  I think people should be allowed the choice to smoke marijuana, because who gives a fuck.  I hope to write a series of blogs that explore drug use from a variety of perspectives, that not only reflect my personal experiences and beliefs regarding drugs, but also an informed analytical perspective as well (I did squeeze out an Economics major after all).  We will consider this my basic hypothesis: "Weed should be nationally legalized and overall drug use has an irrationally bad reputation."  By taking what I currently have a lot of - personal experience, either in taking or being around - and combining that with some research, I hope to show what support for this hypothesis there really is.


My ideas on drugs differ greatly from the national government's stance on drugs, and that is in no small part due to the fact that my views aren't based on information from the 1930s.

Here is a good way to start.

Acid?  Not really at all what you thought it was
Ecstasy?  On the right stuff, you are 100x more coherent than when drunk
Weed?  Pretty much the best drug in the world
Mushrooms?  Actually the best drug in the world

I imagine a LOT of you reading this will have a similar, adverse reaction to hearing these drug names, but why IS that?  Is it really anything beyond social stigma in most cases?  How much have you even heard about these drugs since DARE scared the crap out of us (myself included) from the 1st-5th grades (ages 6-10 for you foreigners).  Who doesn't remember the slogan "DARE to keep kids off drugs?"  Were any of those times you've heard about it since then not been in the negative spotlight of media?

I didn't smoke weed until I was 21 years old.  Among stoner standards, I am one hell of a late bloomer.  Why did I wait so long?

Growing up in a family of two parents that didn't drink aside from my dad's once-annual-glass-of-merlot-on-a-family-trip, I had little to no exposure to the world of alcohol, the one, true gateway drug.  My dad ordered a gin and tonic once when I was 20 and I nearly shit myself.  Oblivious to the simplest of "vices," drugs were easily conceived to be a terrible, terrible thing in the mind of young, impressionable Brandon, an image reinforced and molded by a fairly rigorous DARE program in elementary school.  In middle school I was swearing my best friend to pacts that we would never drink (Sorry Graham, I may have broken that…).  Even in high school I looked at the groups that went out and drank with quiet disdain, although that was mostly because they were primarily popular douchebags.  Drug use?  That was on a whole different level.

But things started to change when I was finally exposed to a more open-minded and accepting view of drinking, aka college.  Admittedly many people at least dabble with drinking in high school, but outside of a couple of brief escapades with Sangria in Europe, I was an alcohol noob.

What I saw in college was something completely different.  People I RESPECTED were drinking, and having a good fucking time.  Not only that, nothing bad was happening.  I mean, people were puking, some were making out with people they wouldn't have been two hours ago, and I found a sport that I was truly fucking terrible at for a while (beer pong) but nothing TERRIBLE was happening.  I was bound to get better at beer pong eventually.

For the first time in my life I saw alcohol as something that could actually just be a good thing, and not the life-crushing monster I had somehow built it up to be.  For the first year of college I drank probably around 5 times (I did still go to William and Mary so it wasn't that hard to avoid) but this was a huge change from the previous 18 years of my life.  Once sophomore year started, it was all uphill from there.  Drinking became a very normal - and very awesome - part of my social life.

With this barrier knocked down, the logical one to follow was marijuana.


The summer after freshman year of college one of my best friends and I went golfing one afternoon.  In the car ride over he tentatively went about telling me that he had started smoking weed.

I just about slapped him in the face.

18 years old, and this was my honest reaction to a friend of mine telling me that he'd started - very, VERY recreationally* - smoking weed.  I was honestly fuming at him for the rest of the car ride but during golf we were able to have a semi-open discussion about it.  To say the least I hadn't exactly been converted.  But he was a friend and I wasn't quite a big enough pussy at the time to drop a friend because he liked weed, just really, really close (ask my friend Sam about when he started smoking cigarettes sometime).

The one thing this did accomplish, however, was that he was the first good friend of mine that I truly RESPECTED, that smoked weed.  At the very least, I had been willing to accept it, and when I listened to him talk I found myself armed with shockingly little logic to contend his arguments.  All of a sudden I felt like I was just spewing out the same shit I'd heard from 3rd grade and never once questioned whether or not it was true.  Drugs are bad, mmkay?

Obviously found South Park a little too late too...

A year later virtually all of my resistance to weed had been broken down.  Turned out, LOTS of people I respected smoked weed.  Who knew?  (Again, LOTS of people).  So when a conversation with my parents rolled around in which they tried to convince me to drink "responsibly" (they probably wouldn't have appreciated my DIS-interest** listed on Facebook: "drinking in moderation") I steered it in a different direction: "Why shouldn't I smoke weed?"

Momentarily ignoring my dad's request to have mom answer the question, I was laid out a number of reasons (read: theories, most notably "it could be laced with things") that I had essentially debunked over the last year at school while quietly observing.  My mom's final attempts to dissuade me from using weed had, ironically, convinced me that I was comfortable trying it, when the moment arose.

A few weeks later a conversation with my Dad led to the suggestion that I try it, to which I assured him, "don't worry, I will."


It took nearly a full year for me to "deem the time right," or rather, to attempt to take my aforementioned junior year academic self-destruction to the social realms.  "Fuck it, its been a weird night, let's just fucking get it over with and try it."  Ironically, I could now argue that the botched attempt at "self-destruction" that fateful 4/21 (yes, the day after) turned out to be the first major step in the right direction...

*For the purposes of this blog post, "recreationally" is a word.  For the purposes of the rest of my life, I will be an avid supporter of making it one.
**Dis-interests were a subset of Interests on Facebook, created by Evan Elsaesser*** and Jeff Clark****, but regrettably never officially sanctioned by Facebook.
***Dis-interested in Nick Cannon's Wildn' Out.
****Dis-interested in all drinks other than Mountain Dew

Other Infamous Disinterests
Tyra Banks' personality
Subway commercials
Small Car Fake-Me-Outs (an open parking space that turns out to be not so open at all...)
Spencer from The Hills