Should We Legalize Marijuana?
Right now, a lot of people are wondering if or why medical marijuana should be legal. Why shouldn’t it be? First, let’s talk about some drugs that are already available legally with a prescription.
A few weeks ago, I had a tooth pulled. The oral surgeon wanted to try to put me to sleep—something about having to dig the tooth out in pieces and how disturbing it would be to hear my tooth breaking and blah blah blah—but I refused, so we agreed that a tranquilizer would be a good compromise.
Because I don’t trust medical people, and I especially don’t trust pharmaceutical companies—you know, those people who go on TV and try to sell you antidepressants that increase suicidal thoughts and asthma drugs that increase your risk of death from asthma, because that totally makes sense—I would never take any medication without thoroughly researching it myself. As a result I learned that triazolam can have all sorts of side effects, including eating, drinking, having sex, and driving while asleep. I even read a fascinating article from 1991 about a woman who killed her mother while taking triazolam, claimed she didn’t remember doing it, and was found not guilty by the jury. She then sued the makers of the drug, who settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Reading that story was kind of horrifying, but as I did more research I learned that those kinds of side effects are rare, and usually only occur in people who abuse the drug or at least take it long-term as a sleep aid.
I ultimately decided it would be perfectly safe to take for one-time usage, and it worked well. I was very relaxed prior to my appointment, and even fell asleep while waiting in the lobby. (To be fair, they did keep me waiting almost an hour due to some emergency.)
Then they asked me to sign the consent form again. Now, they had me sign one at my consultation because I was going to be on drugs the day of my appointment, which made sense at the time, so I didn’t know why they wanted me to sign it again. The receptionist said something about too much time passing. I really didn’t want to have to come back another day—I wanted the whole mess to be over with already—so I just signed the stupid consent form. At least I hope that’s what it was. I honestly have no fucking clue what I signed. Could’ve been a permission slip for a lobotomy for all I know.
The procedure itself was very pleasant. The oral surgeon gave me a shot, came back a few minutes later, and asked if I was numb yet. I told him no and that he should hit me again. He gave me more novocaine and went to work yanking out my tooth. I felt a brief pinching sensation and then nothing. I did hear the tooth breaking, but I didn’t care, although I don’t give the drugs all the credit for that. I’ve had root canals on teeth with crowns, and I would much rather hear a tooth breaking than the sound of fingernails-on-a-chalkboard-on-steroids. (Seriously, if you ever have a root canal on a crown tooth, bring noise-blocking headphones. It’s the worst sound ever.)
After he got the tooth out, I remembered to ask if I could have it only after they’d disposed of it. (I wanted to put it on a necklace and tell people it belonged to the last person who pissed me off. How badass would that be?) The dental assistant promised if I ever had another tooth pulled, they’d save it for me. (I think she thought I was only asking because I was stoned and would forget the whole thing. Nope. I still think that would make a badass necklace.)
Then they gave me a prescription for some pain pills, so I went to Walmart to fill it. (No, I did not drive myself. Obviously I was in no condition to drive.) The pharmacist said it would be at least half an hour, so I wandered down to the frozen foods and picked out three different kinds of vegan ice cream, put them in one of those freezer bags, went up to the front, and paid. After ducking into the Subway to bum a plastic spoon, I went back to the pharmacy to check on my prescription, which still wasn’t ready, so I went back to wandering the aisles.
I wound up in the clearance department, scanning stuff to see what it was worth on Amazon. This is kind of a hobby of mine, so I guess I just did it on autopilot. At one point, I found this five-dollar knife set that was worth almost forty bucks on the river. At least I thought it was five bucks. It turned out if was actually forty in Walmart too, and I just sort of hallucinated the five-dollar price tag. At that point I gave up and went back to the pharmacy, where my pain pills were finally ready.
Hydrocodone has a whole list of side effects too, including dizziness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, drowsiness, constipation, headache, mood changes, blurred vision, ringing in your ears, dry mouth, and difficulty urinating. On the other hand, some people enjoy the hell out of it. I have a friend who gets high as a kite from pain pills—she describes it “being completely happy doing absolutely nothing.” Me, I take those things and I just feel slow and stupid, kind of like how I imagine Trump supporters feel cold sober.
So I ate my ice cream, took a pain pill, and eventually fell asleep watching the Twilight Zone marathon that I recorded at New Year’s. I got up the next morning, ran three miles, and felt fine. (I assume the running helped me heal faster by improving blood flow to the empty tooth socket or whatever.) I never had any more pain, so I didn’t take any more pills.
So Why Should Medical Marijuana Be Legal?
So to come back to my original question, why should medical marijuana be legal? Because this experience left me wondering, if a perfectly healthy person can get that stoned legally for a dental procedure, why can’t people with cancer and other debilitating diseases use marijuana if it helps them feel better? Especially when so many other drugs with potentially serious side effects are sold legally every day? Does that make sense to you?
The fact is that the opiates I was prescribed are much more likely to lead to addiction than marijuana. In fact, a mid-2000’s study of opioid abusers found that 75 percent reported their first opoid was a prescription drug. The National Institute on drug abuse also reports that nearly 80 percent of heroin users took prescription opoids before moving on to the stuff you have to buy on a street corner. Studies have shown states that legalize medical marijuana actually see a decrease in opoid overdose deaths.
W. T. Fallon is the author of Fail to the Chief, a political satire in which the presidential election is carried out via reality show, which is almost as bizarre and far-fetched as our current reality.