essential-pot-dispensary

Is Recreational Marijuana Essential? A Former Pothead Explores

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Rebecca Rush decided to ask four comedians she respects, two of whom are marijuana enthusiasts, and two of whom are sober in recovery some questions on the record about there experiences and how they are coping during this difficult time. 

The first week of my self-isolation was characterized by intense cravings to return to marijuana. Marijuana, my oldest frenemy, the first drug I picked up and the last I put down. Marijuana played a large role in insulating me from the pain of my household as a teen, later, my marriage, and even later, as I harm-reduced my way into complete and lasting sobriety. What helped me finally quit was seeing how much better I was as a comedian without it. But comedy, along with all live performance, is on hold right now. When I learned that recreational dispensaries were being considered ‘essential’ in California and many other states, at first I was irritated. I know why liquor stores remain open – withdrawal from alcohol can literally kill. But marijuana? Really? I knew I wasn’t the only person with this on the mind when an article came out in The New York Times asking, “Is Marijuana an Essential Like Milk or Bread? Some States Say Yes.”

While in the past I may have not been able to look past my own concerns on an issue like this, this crisis has been such a call to think about others. I am not morally superior just because I am completely unable to moderate my marijuana intake, spending upwards of $300 a week at the height of my marijuana-only drug use. As I talked to more and more people about it, many pointed out that not everyone using marijuana for medically approved reasons actually has a medical license. Then I decided to ask four comedians I respect, two of whom are marijuana enthusiasts, and two of whom are sober in recovery some questions on the record. Below please find their answers. I hope they bring you some clarity in a very confusing time, as they did for me.

Michael Glazer, @Glazerboohoo on Twitter, Creator of the live show Glazed & host of the Weed & Grub Podcast.

  1. As a weed enthusiast, do you think recreational marijuana dispensaries should be truly considered essential in this time? 

100%. This is also why cannabis must be federally legal. People need medicine, and this plant is medicine. Plus, federal legalization will create jobs, boost the economy, and we must release non-violent cannabis offenders from prison.

  1. Have you found yourself smoking more or less during this time of intense uncertainty & fear?

I’m not smoking much right now, but it’s not out of fear or anxiety. I’m not smoking as much because California’s cannabis taxes are unacceptable. They strangle the businesses and consumers making it far too expensive every step of the way, and this needs to change.

  1. Is there anything that you think should be considered essential that wasn’t given the same consideration? 

Therapy. There should be free ZOOM therapy sessions so that people can help themselves.

  1. Has marijuana helped you cope with everything going on?

Yes, for most of my life in a life-saving way.

 An Anonymous Alcoholic/ Former Pothead

  1. As a sober person, do you think recreational marijuana dispensaries should be truly considered essential in this time?

No, I don’t think they should be. In my experience when I started using recreationally I would often find myself more and more turning to marijuana. Somewhere in my time using it it went from a way to “relax and unwind” to a cycle of dependency. I needed it to sleep and eventually could not sleep without it. I became irritable when I didn’t have it and the biggest source of my anxiety at the time was not having enough. It didn’t relieve anxiety it created it. In a time as stressful as this, I feel that having access to this could cause more people to slide from casual users to full dependency causing people to leave their house more frequently. Meditating has provided more relief to me than marijuana ever did. It’s also much safer and free

  1. Have you found yourself extra tempted to relapse because the state of California has declared recreational marijuana to be essential during this time of intense pressure?

I have not found this to be true for me. Accessibility to drugs and alcohol was never a hindrance for me to get fucked up. I would always find a way in any situation. I have adopted this principle to my sobriety. I will always seek recovery in any situation this time of intense pressure has only made me seek recovery more often.

Katrina Davis, @KatrinaSivad on Twitter, contributor to the comedy album Everything is Fine

  1. As a weed enthusiast, do you think recreational marijuana dispensaries should be truly considered essential at this time?

Personally, yes. I know that smoking marijuana has a cultural connotation that sometimes keeps it from being taken seriously as a medication, but I considered stocking up on flowers just like I would food, water, or anything else I feel I need to maintain homeostasis. Especially when you take into consideration all of the changes, stressors, and fears that come along with navigating a global pandemic, I think we would be remiss to deny the fact that marijuana is for sure helping some people cope with anxiety (which is one of the reasons I use it), not to mention other more serious, potentially life-threatening medical issues.

  1. Have you found yourself smoking more or less during this time of intense uncertainty & fear?

A little more, but only because I’m home all day, not because of any additional stress (yet). I’ve actually felt kind of guilty for not freaking out. I think not having a television and doing yoga/meditation helps, too. 

  1. Has marijuana helped you cope with everything going on?

Yes, in that I think it helps me cope every day. So far, not performing stand-up and being home every night is what’s changed for me the most, but having a plan for your time helps. Today, part of my plan was to go on a walk and smoke a joint while I watched the sunset. It seems dumb, but little things are helping me find a new normal. Not to mention I’m destroying these adult coloring books. 

Amy Dresner, @AmyDresner on Twitter, Author of My Fair Junkie

  1. As a sober person, do you think recreational marijuana dispensaries should be truly considered essential in this time?

I think it’s a little strange but just because I’m sober doesn’t mean everybody else has to be.  People who have chronic pain definitely need their pot.  I’m down with whatever keeps people inside and chilled out, honestly.  People are dying so I’m not going to fight anybody over pot.  I know they’re keeping liquor stores open because sales are booming and also because if anybody who’s a heavy drinker at this time stops abruptly they could seize out.  People use and drink more during disasters.  Same as 9/11. 

  1. Have you found yourself extra tempted to relapse because the state of California has declared recreational marijuana to be essential during this time of intense pressure?   

No, because I’ve always hated pot. It’s always made me extremely paranoid and I’m already paranoid thanks to COVID-19.  I really miss nicotine and with the coronavirus being a respiratory virus and all the lung transplant stories prior to the epidemic I’m more terrified than ever to vape so I haven’t.  Seems like quarantine is as good as ever as a time to kick something… that won’t cause convulsions. 

  1. Is there anything that you think should be considered essential that wasn’t given the same consideration?

 Yes I think they should relax on restrictions on controlled pharmaceutical medications. I know that’s a provocative thing to say because people are probably more prone to abuse those than ever.  But hear me out.  I’m on controlled medications for my meth-induced epilepsy.  I have no history of doctor shopping or abusing my meds.  I can’t get more than 2 weeks worth of one of my medications at a time.  I don’t want to go back to the pharmacy all the time and expose myself when the City of West Hollywood is telling me to stay home.  

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All these opinions helped solidify what I knew to be true underneath my fear, to be true in any time, worldwide crisis or not. What’s true for me is not always true for others, and what others may or may not do does not have to impact my decisions. In the end, let us not ask ourselves, “Is recreational marijuana essential,” but rather, “Why do I care?”

 

Rebecca Rush is an LA based, NY bred comedian and writer. She hosts a podcast called Comic’s Book Club and a monthly themed show called Vulnerability at El Cid Sunset the first Tuesday of the month at 8 pm. She has been featured on Viceland and Funny or Die. Notable podcast appearances include YKWD, Race Wars, The Dork Forest, PepTalks, and Cumia. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including Fodor’s Travel, Miami New Times, The Dyrt, and The Fix, The Temper, and Workit Health. She is currently finishing a memoir in essays. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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