Friday, July 6, 2012

Pot Shots

Today I’d like to talk about marijuana.  I’ve never smoked it.  Never sold or purchased it. Never had the desire to be around anyone who used it.  Still, over the years, it has often intrigued me that we have more words to describe this odd substance than we have for love.  Or happiness.  Or friendship.  But whatever you call it –  pot, muggles, bash, dope or giggle smoke – it is what it is.  It is a drug.  An illegal drug.  Hardly a vice-less prude, I generally have no interest in or issues with people who make unhealthy choices for themselves.  It’s really none of my business.  As long as the effects of such stupidity don’t impact me in any way.  So you see where I’m going here, right?  How often do we say or do anything without somehow impacting another human being?  Yeah, my point exactly.  And all this to say that, despite my utter lack of interest in pot and all things pot-adjacent, after reading the news this week, I realized that I hold some pretty strong opinions about our friend, the Grim Reefer. 

My first anti-pot crusade came at the beginning of the week, when I took to Facebook with an angry post about the California Grandma whose pot laced cookies almost killed her three year-old grandson.  After the child’s family was unable to wake him following an unusually long night’s sleep, they began to suspect that the child “got into his grandmother’s stash of chocolate-chip pot cookies, tucked away in a garage refrigerator.”  Grandma’s best defense was a cancer diagnosis and “a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to treat her pain and help her sleep.” But as with all stoner responses, Grandma’s explanation left a few gaping holes for me.  Like, exactly what kind of “doctor” recommended that this woman manage a terminal illness by obtaining an illegal substance?  Did adding criminal charges to her list of obstacles seem like a useful antidote to fatigue and nausea? I mean, come on. Lots of people call themselves doctors these days, and a certificate of completion from the local Ganja Hut isn’t exactly going to hold up in court.  And if all these “home study, magical tonic-selling” doctors were truly curing anything, I am sure the Associated Press would have put out an article or two about that by now.
I think what really amazes and horrifies me about this particular situation is this single, unchanging reality:  kids are sweets-seeking missiles.  They will sniff out --and immediately stuff into their mouths - absolutely anything that resembles a cake, a pastry, a piece of candy.  Or a cookie.  A chocolate chip cookie. The sweet of all sweets. And the fact that these particular cookies were “hidden” only increased the likelihood that this little boy would consume them.  Because kids love a challenge. They love anything that seems forbidden. Or off-limits.  Or designated for someone else.  I often think if you prohibited kids from touching the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine you would come home to an immaculate carpet and neatly folded piles of freshly washed clothing every day of the week. Anyway, I digress. Though I encourage you to put my suspicion to the test – just for kicks - and let me know if it works.  You can thank me later.

Now as for this little boy, how was it not a given that he would intuitively know that the fridge in the back of the garage was where all the good stuff lived?  The big people food.  The sugary treats that are sometimes allowed, in small quantities, but only after dinner or on special occasions.  Imagine being a three year old and finding such a pot of gold.  Imagine realizing you could plunk your little body down on the cool garage floor and cram forbidden cookie after forbidden cookie into your tiny mouth without having to eat all your broccoli and peas first.  Hell, I’m 38 and even I want in on this deal.  Well, minus Grandma’s secret, leafy ingredient, of course. The secret ingredient that this barely-out-of-toddlerhood child, left unsupervised in a garage long enough to get stoned out of his mind, consumed until he fell asleep. 

That said, not everyone agreed with me when I assigned a rather offensive adjective to Granny Ganja, and even I admit that cancer is a pretty compelling excuse for just about any behavior that brings about relief.  Still, not a good enough one.  Not in this case. Even so, in the spirit of lightening up, of not battling my way through every situation with some relentless determination to be “right” all the time, I let my unpopular characterization of this elderly woman go.  And yet, something about the situation still weighed on me.  Something that seemed related to the pot and the endangering of this child, but that ran deeper and that I couldn't quite identify. 

Then I saw this morning’s headline: “Illegal Marijuana Dispensary Found Selling ‘Baked’ Goods in Restaurant Back Room,” and suddenly, it clicked.  A much different scenario than the innocent child falling victim to his doobie-rolling grandmother’s crime-chip cookies, this article spotlighted the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant in Sacramento, California, an establishment known for its friendly service, its menu variety, and the 80 pounds of marijuana in its back-room dispensary. 

Wait, it gets better. 
After eating their “perfectly normal” meals, patrons of the Farmer’s Daughter knew to ask for “the house baked goods, which consisted of cannabis-prepared desserts, lollipops, pastry balls, an assortment of things you'd eat."  I realized, as I kept reading, that it wasn’t necessarily the pot that was throwing me off.  After all, people talk about it like it’s the “legal illegal drug” these days, using phrases like “It’s only a joint” and “He used to do drugs, now he just rides the yellow submarine once in awhile.”  I’ve learned to live with what has become a pretty universal pot desensitization, since I sense that my aversion to it places me in the minority. 
But what was eating at me was precisely the fact that this whole marijuana situation wasn’t really about marijuana at all.  It was all about … eating.  Cookies and brownies and lollipops and assorted baked goods.  Forbidden foods and hidden foods and sneaking food and hoarding food.  Gone are the days when people simply hid in bathroom stalls rolling joints, sucking the reeking substance into their bodies, filling their lungs and holding their breath before blowing the stuff out into my no-longer-fresh air.  (At this point, my asthma and I would like to insert a retroactive “you suck” to everyone who did that in the 80s and 90s.)

In this fat/calorie/carb/weight/size/measurement/pound-obsessed culture where we starve all day and binge all night and log endless hours on the treadmill or sink into days-long depression on the couch, where we make enemies of our mirrors, enemies of our bathroom scales, enemies of our own bodies … why in the hell are we throwing pot, the drug known to cause cravings and those oh so famous “munchies” into the most fattening trigger foods on Earth?  On the one hand, I admire the entrepreneurial idea of saving time by providing the munchies-inducer and the munchie in a single item.  On the other, aren’t cookies and cakes already hard enough to eat in moderation?  Aren’t we just asking for trouble by filling them with the one addictive ingredient guaranteed to make us want more and more?

Anyway, this is where my point seems to end.  Maybe I need to think about it longer. I know I won’t change my position on drugs of any kind.  Ever.  For any reason.  I know I will always land hard on anyone who endangers a child – intentional or not, you don’t get to make avoidable, life-threatening mistakes with children and wipe them away with an apology.  But maybe pot-filled foods are the wave of the future.  I’m not just talking about the “pot brownies” that have been around since the 60’s, here. I’m talking about a whole new wave of trendy Food Network shows dedicated to the cause – A Ganja Thanksgiving feast, A Blow Bruch, A Roll Your Own Taco Joint party.  Where will it end?  And how will we explain to our children why it is that Grandma and Grandpa always moan “I love you, man” after a plateful of “happy pancakes,” or why great-aunt Mary’s potholders aren’t used to hold the pot full of potatoes on the stove? Or why, every time daddy goes to the local "burger joint" for dinner, he comes home hungrier than when he left? 

Just some thoughts ...

What do you think?

Full link to the Granny article:
Full link to the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant article:


  1. I think you need to smoke a joint harder than anyone else I've ever known in my whole entire life.

  2. To answer your question about "what kind of 'doctor' recommended that this woman manage a terminal illness by obtaining an illegal substance," consider this from the California Department of Public Health website:
    "The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was established to provide a voluntary medical marijuana identification card issuance and registry program for qualified patients and their caregivers."
    Medical marijuana has helped some of my loved ones cope with the devastating effects of chemotherapy and other "legal" treatments; if you've been lucky enough to not have to bear witness to those effects, all I can say is "hooray for you."

  3. If you want to know why it's "cookies and brownies" - I'll tell you as simply as I can. To extract THC properly, you need a fat, such as butter and oil. To keep the THC potent, it's best not to heat it for too long or at too high a temperature. Thus, baked goods and candy.

    And why eat it? Because people on chemo and other such treatments might have quite a lot of difficulty smoking, to say the least. Ingesting the product actually last longer and has a much greater effect on pain for the patient.

    Please read up on the subject.

  4. Not a pot smoker, and not planning to be, but you ARE aware of the fact that it's legal in California, and proven to have many medical benefits right?

    Now, yeah, the "medical" part of it is being grossly used and misused, but it is not an illegal drug in Cali, and terminal patient is exactly whom it was legalized for.

  5. I'm definitely aware of California law. And I don't doubt that terminally ill people feel better on pot - because evryone actually feels better on pot. I have never known anyone to smoke marijuana and say it didn't make them feel calmer and more peaceful, among other things. I don't care what people choose to do when they live alone or with other adults. But exposing children to this kind of irresponsibility isn't simply poor judgement - it was a potentially lethal situation. And sadly, California has the most lenient child protection laws in the US too, so my guess is this all went away pretty quietly.

  6. I also wanted to add that, for the most part, I appreciate the people who took the time to thoughtfully comment on this post. I have very strong opinions about ... everything, it seems. And some of those opinions come from a place of pain, or awful experinces, or certain kinds of knowledge that is - like anyone's knowledge - biased and based on personal perception. I enjoy a healthy debate (which never means I will change my opinion or my approach, but which always means I will hear another opinion and consider it as new information that I hadn't perhaps realized.) I am aware of the the medical marijuana concept, and I do have nothing but compassion for anyone who finds him/herself in such pain, with the knowledge that the only relief he/she may find is still illegal in so many states. My anger at an irresponsible family - not just Grandma - and at a restaurant that has to put pot on its menu for no reason I can understand (I assume children also eat at this restaurant and that the possibility always exists of a mixed up order there, too). I am pretty certain I will always harshly judge any adult who puts a child in avoidable danger - and whether because this child had easy access to a drug, or whether because he was left unsupervised, at his age, long enough to ingest so much of it, I will always come down hard on anyone who was responsible for that child's care. He trusted in an adult and in a system to preseve his well being - so what good is a pain-free Grandma when the result is a stoned 3 year old?


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