Just say no …

The New Year started off not with a bang but with a cloud of smoke coming from the general direction of Denver’s first recreational marijuana shops.

January 1, 2014 saw the first retail stores open in Denver and people lined up in frigid weather to openly buy recreational marijuana from a reputable storefront rather than a back alley or taped under an IV pump at a hospital.

There’s been lots of hoopla all over the news about how Colorado is the first and Denver’s motto – “The Mile-High City” has taken on new meaning.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.

Up here in the mountains many people have some sort of grow operation. Big time drug dealers hide millions of dollars worth of Mary Jane in the national forests in Jefferson County and smaller “hobby” operations grow for personal use. I’m not a user, grower or seller and never will be but it’s been a different story for other people I’ve known.

Many years ago a friend told me they had a regular racket going on at the former hospital I worked at. People would place orders written in code on the bottom side of IV pumps before they were returned to the department where they were cleaned and repaired. The order would be received and the IV pump would be sent back out with your “order” taped underneath.

One mountain-area drywall contractor told me that if I didn’t want to pay him cash for the work he was going to do, I could pay him in “product.” I’m so stupid I had to ask what he meant and he thought that if I had connections we could just trade work for weed. I declined the offer and his access to my house and found someone that likes being paid the old-fashioned way: with money.

A few months later I bumped into his wife at the grocery store and she told me he was “grooming” plants for an operation that worked round-the-clock. No, he wasn’t doing much drywall these days but she said he seemed happier though he was in bad need of dental work and apparently grow operations don’t offer dental benefits.

Another contractor that I did hire is an avid fan of weed and made it clear, up front, that he never comes to a job site stoned. I have to admit that out of all the contractors I’ve used, his work was the best and he came in, worked for two days, cleaned up his mess and left. I was happy with the work, he was happy with the cash.

Another contractor came up here and left rolling papers on my buffet cabinet. After that I felt like I had to babysit that person and I resented and still resent them for it.

Where I work requires that you be clean and sober to work there. On January 2 an email was sent out reminding staff that though Colorado says it’s OK to smoke pot, if you can’t pass the urine test, you’re out the door.

I’ve seen many good and a few bad people fired because they couldn’t pass clean urine and got sacked. I figure his marijuana thing will work for me because I don’t smoke it and I can pass any random UA they throw at me. Boring, yes, but if a job comes down to either me or another person, hey, I can pass that test without even trying. That’s a first for me.

One person that was fired last year had a story I’ve never heard before. They bought some clean urine from somewhere and when asked to submit to a UA they did but failed to warm up the refrigerated urine. The clever occupational health nurse at work quickly figured that cold urine is a sign something’s wrong.

I have many friends that imbibe and I don’t really care if they do. If I saw them spending too much time being stoned or drunk, yes I would say something. My friends mean a lot to me and I hope they feel the same way.

My problem is when you think you need a joint before you can spend any time with me, like it’s akin to having a tooth removed without anesthesia. I laid into someone a few months ago that came up here stoned and I let that person have it royally. I’m not a dentist and don’t plan to be. Friends and family that don’t want to come up here simply say so. I respect that. It’s cool.

When we lived on Joan Street in north Denver we had a hippie-type neighbor that was VERY fond of pot and practically lived on it and cans of Coke. One night he was stoned to the wide and from his front porch he gave the neighborhood his nearly naked rendition of Bob Seger’s “I Do Respect Her, But.” He was entertaining but did so from across the street. Under my roof is quite different.

I don’t like the idea that anyone in my family would get on board the “little green wagon” and become a regular user. I know that drug can make problems go away … for now. Cares and concerns just melt away and life is more relaxed for a little while.

That pisses me off.

My mother that took every pill and drank every beer she could to get away the pain of something, from what I can only guess. The funny thing about addicts/alcoholics is when they ARE telling the truth, your trust is so damaged you can’t believe them. It’s mentally impossible to trust them. Drink, pot, it makes no difference; addiction is an equal-opportunity trust killer.

Lately there have been commercials on TV about recovery programs in California and the scene shows a trim woman in an infinity pool gazing lovingly out at the ocean. It pisses me off because while they are enjoying their little sabbatical, they have left behind a family that’s torn and rendered by their alcoholism/drug abuse. Their sing-song excuse is the same as it has been for centuries: “I have to drink/smoke because of you. You make me crazy.”

Several times I have participated in and endured “recovery programs” and I have little faith that they work. I’ve only known one person that was successful in beating a nasty addiction. Out of so many people in my life with a penchant for addiction, one is a lousy number.

A learned friend of mine was explaining to me some of the lore around buying retail marijuana. This person explained that $360 worth would probably last about a month. That’s a lot of money. If someone put that amount away each month, they could put a down payment on a house in a short amount of time. They could put that money in a college fund for their kids. They could keep their kitchen cabinets full of healthy food and new clothing on their kids’ backs. Three-hundred and sixty dollars is my electric bill AND my gas bill AND what I spend to get rid of my trash. It’s half my house payment. It’s a car payment. It’s a Wii system. It’s half of an iPad. It’s a lot of chocolate.

Cities and counties in Colorado and other states are watching Denver to see what happens in terms of the business of marijuana, the regulations, the problems, the advantages and the consequences. Sales taxes from the sale of marijuana will make its way into the school system and I can believe that’s a good thing. If parks and open spaces can be supported by lottery funds, why not fund schools through marijuana tax? I’ve seen our government do stupider things than that.

Apparently legal marijuana is here to stay although I imagine fine-tuning the system will take years to accomplish.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I now realize I should have gone into counseling and become a certified addiction counselor. Colorado is going to need more of them in the future.

One thought on “Just say no …

  • January 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I pretty much agree with everything here. And I believe you’ve proven my point for me in why I voted against Amendment 64.

    Apparently legal marijuana is here to stay although I imagine fine-tuning the system will take years to accomplish.

    It’s not that I disagreed with legalization, it’s that I disagreed with doing it via an amendment to the constitution. We’re stuck with it, and making any changes at all is going to be an uphill battle from the start. Ugh.


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