Next week, on April 20, North Carolina will once again have the chance to confront its breathtaking hypocrisy. Our state has not yet made cannabis legal, either for medical or recreational use. Instead of bringing in millions of dollars of tax benefits from the sale of pot, instead of reinvigorating our agricultural economy, we'll continue to spend millions to bolster discriminatory policies, including the spectacular failure known as the War on Drugs. Our legislature, who so often touts "freedom" as a core value, continues to ignore science, economics, and personal liberty in favor of "father knows best." It's a sickening display.
To kick off a week focusing on the urgency of legalizing marijuana, here's some of my personal story:
I come by my anxiety honestly. My mother suffered at least one nervous breakdown – I was ten – and 50 years later my father killed himself with a handgun. Between those years,
I rode the anxiety roller coaster. I still do.
To cope I’ve used several interventions: talk therapy, exercise, SSRIs. And many years ago, I also tried pot. I was at a hotel in Amsterdam, filled with worry about traveling. Pot was legal there, I inhaled. And with one quiet breath, I shed my anxiety like old skin. After that, I came home to America, where prohibition reigns. Today I rarely leave my house in Chapel Hill. The benefits of getting out into the world are swamped by constant, irrational worry. That’s my anxiety talking. It’s debilitating.
I’m writing this because I want to change our marijuana laws. I’m frustrated to live in a state that prohibits medical cannabis, the anti-anxiety drug that helped me in Amsterdam. Instead, I’m a captive of the pharmaceutical industry, like millions of others. I still take Prozac. It doesn’t help much. North Carolina is home to thousands upon thousands of people who are sentenced to living smaller lives and worrying needlessly. I’m one of them.
There’s a proven way to alleviate this suffering. Medical professionals all around the world know this to be true. People could be happier and healthier. How can anyone be against that?