Tuesday, July 30, 2013



Temecula, CA – Continuing on with the Justin Hale segment from my summer road trip that started with my 50 year high school class reunion; by the time I got to Iowa the Trayvon Martin case had gone to trial. 

Remembering how a sociology class teacher had told the following story:  

["shown a well-dressed black man holding a brief case and then a white man in waterfront clothes holding a opened knife, whites 70% picked the black man when asked later who was holding the knife"], 

I was reminded of the same thinking-with-your-eyes logic when my congenial host Winston (Memoirs*) remarked, in his opinion somewhat jokingly, that only 10% of the medical marijuana patients really needed marijuana. The rest, 90%, were just using a recommendation to get stoned.

I think you know where this is going.

In all fairness, Winston’s Iowa has a long stoner history but falls into the ‘criminalized’ zone on Rolling Stone’s United States of Pot map (RS#1185). And when you drive a Harley, you tend to bust chops rather than butter bread, so I let him say his piece, besides, we are friends; sometimes we just don’t hold the same opinion, something we both respect. Plus, I love to debate. Got a letter for it at Male.

I started, “When was the last time you partied with a sick person?”

He blinked.

“Party people don’t party with sick people [the slang term ‘party’ here means smoke weed], so you don’t know any medical marijuana people normally. The stoner market is a much larger but completely separate demo. The two don’t mingle. That’s why it is so hard for medical ballots to get passed.”

It was then that 3 stories popped into mind about medical marijuana misconceptions to illustrate my argument.  

The first story concerned a young woman I was smoking a fat joint with, years ago at a Human Solution meeting, sitting at this long wooden picnic table. We were laughing and talking politics with another couple. All three were strangers to me but being a social butterfly, I was ‘on’ and enjoying the company.
When the couple moved on to get something to drink, the woman said to me as we started another fatty, “You know, the others smoke weed for pain, I don’t.”
She looked up at me from her wheelchair, “Don’t get me wrong, it does help with the pain of MS and it’s a great relief to be away from all those meds they try and keep you on. But really, sitting here smoking a joint with everyone, laughing, talking, just like normal people. That’s it for me.”

The second story I recalled to Winston was getting involved by way of doing tee shirts promoting Prop 215 in 1996 and then meeting The Victors, Marty and Lavonne, of Temecula. Aside from the stimulating conversations about religion, politics, etc. and being the ‘gatekeepers’ of my medical
marijuana education beyond books, they enabled me to my ‘Elvis’, Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Along with learning about their illnesses (cluster migraines/very slowed MS) and the fights with public officials over the right to treat their bodies with a plant God made vs chemicals/laws made by man, I met the oldest ‘pothead’ that I would ever know, so far, Mama Victor. RIP

But the story I left the debate with Winston was the one involving the girl in the lead photo, the happy girl. This girl is a patient, a medical marijuana patient. She is a member of a website that hosts medical MJrs. The vast majority are female. Rather than languish alone, deep in melancholy and low self-esteem, these patients have banded around the medical flagpole of Mary Jane to exhibit the two strongest side effects of pot smoking, positive camaraderie and creative visual artistic output through photography.
I finished up with the editorial logic for using so many 420Nurses website photographs in various stories.
“Granted, the young women have a stoney animal magnetism that comes through the camera, but they are patients with a doctor’s recommendation who are not sitting around whining about their ailments. Plus it’s more than that, Winston.” 

I looked at him before grabbing a cold can of PBR from the garage fridge, “When I was first doing a story about the group for the Calendar, I joined and went to the photos page to find a lead photo to open with. Three pictures into the group of thousands I stopped and said, ‘that’s it, the money shot’.”
I then described the girl in the photo but added, “When I blew up the shot so I could read her thigh tattoo, I got my title for the group’s story. ‘Don’t Judge Me Because I Sin Differently From You’. Now that’s what I’m talking about [in not judging medical marijuana patients because they don’t show disabilities].”

“If anything, with today’s environment [chemicals, GMO foods, HFCS, etc],” I poised for the closer, “the percentages are reversed, 90% needy, 10% fakers.” 

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