Pollan, M. The Botany of Desire. 2002 Brandon House. p.113-179.
By far my favourite excerpt from this week’s reading was when Pollan pulled the curtain back on witches and shone a light on them that made much more sense to me than what propaganda has turned them into. Seen as female transcendentalists, using their cauldron’s as an apothecary rather than a stew pot, in canting enchanting poems to meditate on, and taking their broom on journeys to mysterious places, these women weren’t the archetype we assign them now, and the only thing they likely threatened is the livelihood of the church. Rather than have these “Pagan” women continue to experience other worldly visions and come back not telling of the one god, but of how there is a life force in everything, the church vilified them using their power to claim their celebrations and damning their traditions.
I feel that this concept can be carried over to discuss the entire chapter on Marijuana. The church has been replaced (or renamed) by America, but the threat is still viewing the world with a wider scope. This is a threat to the capitalism that America is built on since casual drug users are able to find bliss in some of the simplest things. While some call it apathy and lethargy, I believe that once you see how beautiful life could be it becomes more and more difficult to line up with everyone else to join the rat race and forever chase that dangling carrot of success. They want you to delay your joy, instead work hard now and you may be one of the fortunate few who is able to reap the benefits of it before your body begins to break down. So once the prohibition ended the propaganda machine began to turn its gaze to marijuana. A naturally occurring drug with no physiological addictive properties, no cases of death by overdose, and a proven track record of being medicinally effective. Forced underground and now the leading reason for arrest in the United States, it was once the pioneer of organic. Tracing it back even further, it likely influenced countless mystic’s visions, Shamanic insights, and was the muse for indelible music. Once you see how many lives the wizard in the emerald tower has touched, it becomes very difficult to imagine what the world would look like without this now demonized drug.
While my own admiration for what this plant can do is quite apparent, I do fully realize that it isn’t for everyone. Certain psyches are susceptible to paranoia, and other people simply don’t enjoy the feeling of being untethered from reality. You will rarely hear a stoner damn sober people for their life decisions, but ask that same person if they’ve ever felt the scorn of someone who didn’t approve of the opposite side of that same coin. Just as the church preaches acceptance, but condemns any followers of other religions, the sober like to attack those who choose to enjoy a substance that has shown no ill effects aside from some lung damage and a more than average mellow demeanor. In this way I see marijuana as the Buddhism or drugs. Accepting of all other choices, but willing to enlighten if you give it the chance. Upon realizing that the physiological output of a high resembles that of deep meditation, the link between the two becomes more apparent.
Maybe it wasn’t his intent, but while reading Pollan’s chapter I grew a deeper appreciation for weed. Stripped of the negative connotations, and viewed as a tool for experiencing the world in a novel way it can be seen for what it is, and not what it has been made out to be. I intended on writing this while high to see exactly what would come of it, but I ran out while reading the chapter. Instead I went on a rant about all of the negative images that spring to mind when thinking of weed, and how unjustified most of them are. Yes, it can make some people dull and fat from munchies, but alcohol is legal and seldom frowned upon and in my opinion is more often abused than marijuana is. If comparing it to alcohol is too damaging to your sensibilities, compare it to the other drugs on the DEA’s list of controlled substances and ask yourself if it truly belongs there:
Schedule I Controlled Substances
Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
Some examples of substances listed in schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“ecstasy”).
Schedule II Controlled Substances
Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Examples of single entity schedule II narcotics include morphine and opium. Other schedule II narcotic substances and their common name brand products include: hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze® or Duragesic®).
Examples of schedule II stimulants include: amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®). Other schedule II substances include: cocaine, amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.
Schedule III Controlled Substances
Substances in this schedule have a potential for abuse less than substances in schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
Examples of schedule III narcotics include combination products containing less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin®) and products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine®). Also included are buprenorphine products (Suboxone® and Subutex®) used to treat opioid addiction.
Examples of schedule III non-narcotics include benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as oxandrolone (Oxandrin®).
Schedule IV Controlled Substances
Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to substances in schedule III.
An example of a schedule IV narcotic is propoxyphene (Darvon® and Darvocet-N 100®).
Other schedule IV substances include: alprazolam (Xanax®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), midazolam (Versed®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®).
Schedule V Controlled Substances
Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to substances listed in schedule IV and consist primarily of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. These are generally used for antitussive, antidiarrheal, and analgesic purposes.
Examples include cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC® and Phenergan with Codeine®).
And here is what classifies something as Schedule 1:
NOTE: Drugs listed in schedule I have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and, therefore, may not be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for medical use. In contrast, drugs listed in schedules II-V have some accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for medical use.