Let me set the stage. I 'know' a guy. He is in pretty bad shape, the kind of bad shape that people don't come back from. He is nearly 80. He's lost his wife. He's lost his brother, his sister, his sister-in-law. He has no kids. He lives in an apartment in a town just over the New York State line. He is a pothead.
Pot is legal in New York State. Do I agree with thtat decision? No. No I don't. Alcohol is enough of a problem, so now we are going to add pot to the mix? Doesn't make sense to me. And, for all of the talk that tries to equate it with alcohol, there's a difference. I used to be a pot head 45 years ago, and what I know is that when it became a habit for me, I lost my ambition. I was pretty unmotivated. I plainly did not give a rat's bottom about much. I recognized this, and stopped.
Does pot have medicinal applications? Sure it does. The effects of it for Parkinson's patients is pretty amazing. It helps with nausea. It stimulates appetite for people doing chemo. And yes. It helps with anxiety.
But here's the thing. All of those benefits can be accessed with a pill. Smoking is not healthy. I watched my father die of lung cancer, and I know where of I speak. I quit smoking cigarettes on the spot. The thing is that the pill does not contain THC, which is what makes you high. You get the benefits. You don't get the high. So...in my opinion, people who smoke dope are doing it for their own gratification as opposed to any medical benefits.
So, back to my friend: Alone, in very poor health, he, by his own admission, rarely gets out. He lives a very isolated life. He doesn't own a vehicle. He wanted to go to the Seneca Reservation, where there is a pot dispensary on virtually every corner. This is not exaggerated. They are everywhere.
I thought it over. I researched it. I can drive a man to pick up pot in New York State. He can have that pot in my car, as long as no one is smoking it. So I said that I would pick him up and run him to the reservation. It cost me an hour and a half of time, and I filled up on reservation gas which is 50 cents cheaper than our own gas.
He's a talkative character who has made some interesting life choices. He joined the Marines at 17. He was sent to Camp Pendleton after boot camp because he was too young (this is his story) to be shipped to Vietnam. He met other soldiers returning from Vietnam who shared their stories. Over and over he heard that they were not fighting soldiers there. They were fighting farmers and families, and regular people. Over and over he heard 'I wouldn't go.'
So he didn't.
He made a conscious decision, accepted the punishment at Leavenworth, met a lot of interesting characters there, and, years later, when President Carter made the offer to expunge the Dishonorable Discharges of the soldiers who objected to Vietnam, he chose not to do that. After his prison time, he felt like he had earned it fair and square.
He spent his life bumping along, lived in Phoenix for years with his wife, managing an apartment complex. He was happy.
Now he's 80, alone, moved back here, where he had family left, but in the end, he lost most of them.
There was a bit of an uproar about my trip, the general concensus being that I was taking a terrible risk. (I'm not, and I explained it.) Then it has been slanted to whether or not what I am doing is enabling. (Probably am.) My sister said, "My husband would not allow it." (Tim doesn't approve but we don't have that kind of relationship. He has never told me that I am not allowed to do something.)
But in the end, I think it comes down to this: We all choose our own lives. I don't understand his life. I don't have to. He's an interesting fellow in complete possession of his faculties. I don't begrudge him a ride in my car, a chance to visit and chat, and a toke before he goes to bed at night.
What say you?