Alcohol and marijuana are largely responsible for ruining my life. Well, let’s rephrase that… My addiction to alcohol and marijuana ruined my life. So when Colorado and Washington take measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use I tend to take offense.
I believe in the right of the people to do what they choose to do, but I also believe in my right to voice my objection. In America this is still a protected right.
I am the classic under-achiever in life. I graduated from a college-preparatory private High School with a 3.89 GPA. I scored 27 on my ACT test on a day I had some “flu” issues. Had I not been too lazy to retake it, my best guess is I would have scored closer to 30. I have taken IQ tests that consistently measure me in the 145-155 range. I was a state medalist in both Speech and Debate in High School. I was even voted by my high school graduating class as “most likely to enter politics.”
I could generate a list that went on and on. I won a state championship on a psychology aptitude test administered by Emporia State University. I was on academic teams. I was involved in student political organizations, etc., etc., etc. The point is that I was just like most brilliant high school kids. I did all the right things and I looked like I was headed for bigger things.
That fell apart in a hurry. I attended Washburn University in the fall of 1987 and by the Spring of 1988 I was a washed up “dropout.” Why? It was because of my addiction to alcohol and drugs. It’s hard to get good grades when you don’t even go to class.
So today I’m not going to quote a bunch of numbers and studies that may or may not prove that marijuana is a “gateway” drug. I am simply going to voice my opinion and share some life experiences. Numbers can be twisted in different ways. I’d rather speak from what is in my heart on this occasion.
Dean Garrison (that’s me) started drinking in 1987 as a High School senior. At that point I was a weekend party enthusiast. You could say I was a socialite. We had fun and it seemed that no harm was being done. I started experimenting a little with marijuana and liked it.
That summer I fell into a more addictive pattern. I had no classes to attend and more time to “party.” I drank more often and started smoking pot a few times a week. Why not? There were no classes to attend and I was only working part-time.
By the time I was ready to move into the dormitory for my freshman year of college I was now carrying a mini-fridge up to my room and a cooler full of beer. I was drinking every day and smoking weed when I could get my hands on it.
Over the next year and a half I would experience cocaine, start chain-smoking cigarettes, LSD, meth, hashish, mushrooms, opium, butane huffing, etc. I am sure there are more that I don’t even remember. That was 25 years ago and I recall very little of it. It’s like I went from being this extremely sharp young man to being a horrible skid row addict almost instantly. We stole on more than one occasion to get drugs. I borrowed money from Churches that was never paid back. At this point I was using the art of persuasion, which I am really good at, for bad and no longer for good. I pawned everything I owned but most of all… I pawned my future!
Today I am a 43-year-old that was just laid off from a factory job that was lousy to begin with. Once upon a time I was the golden boy destined for greatness. Today I bounce from crap job to crap job because drugs and alcohol caused me to blow off the most important part of my life, and I ended up with a ton of brains and no degree to back me up. Yes, contrary to popular belief, I do still have some brain cells left.
In 1995 I quit all drugs and alcohol, and have been clean for MOST of the last 17 years. From 1995-2006 I built a business that was doing 2.4 million in annual sales and started to realize my real potential. I no longer had drugs as a crutch and started to put my energy into more productive things.
Unfortunately I lost that business because of economic conditions, in 2006, but that’s another story. I started using again by 2008 and in 2010 I had a failed marriage and now see my two older children only on the weekends. Don’t think that alcohol and drugs had no part in that. It’s effected all aspects of my life at one time or another.
Other than the short span of self-employment I have never had any success professionally largely because of the mistakes I made with my choices toward alcohol and marijuana.
My belief is that they are both gateway drugs to people with addictive personalities. Not everyone has an addictive personality but I do and this is my story. I have been addicted to food, drugs, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, gambling, sex, internet, fitness, and others too many to mention. I started with alcohol because it was LEGAL. Granted it was not legal for an 18-year-old but I could buy it occasionally and certainly get it easily even when I could not.
I feel that alcohol is just as bad as, if not worse than, marijuana. If I had my way they would both be illegal. Please try to relate to my anxiety when states begin to take steps to legalize even more ways for me to “pollute my brain.”
I have lost jobs, friendships and family relationships because of addictive choices that I made. I think that now, more than ever, it is imperative for our youth to be on their “A-Game.” This country is a mess financially and maybe even morally (depending on your point of view). A bunch of stoners are not likely to lead us out of recession with their stunning economic revelations. They may have some entertaining revelations but they won’t likely be practical.
All we need is more “Burn Outs” in Colorado and Washington who have a tremendous potential to make a difference, but ultimately do nothing but take up space.
I am telling you for a fact that we are sentencing some future leaders to a life of mediocrity and wasted potential when we endorse certain things in this society. I am not saying all of them will fall off the wagon but we need all the leaders we can get now in this country. We don’t need more wasted potential like my own.
I love reading the articles about successful stoners. They of course mention Richard Branson and a few others, but by time you get down the list you have never heard of any of those people. OK, Richard Branson is a successful stoner. But there are 50 guys just like him who don’t smoke marijuana. I think he is simply one guy who overcame the odds.
I believe in our constitution and I fully believe in the right of these states to do as they wish. Nevada has legalized prostitution and that isn’t challenged for the most part, so I see no reason that a couple of states can not “fire it up” if they would like to. There is a big difference between a decision that is constitutionally protected and one that is right, however.
I think it is a huge mistake by the voters in these states, but it is their choice. Somewhere out there, there are some brilliant young minds that can actually figure out ways to improve the economic climate in this country. Many of them may never be heard because they will end up hidden behind a cloud of smoke.
I think when we endorse these things in our society, we are saying that it’s OK to be mediocre. Mediocrity didn’t build this country to greatness and it will certainly not return it to greatness.
Once upon a time I was going to be a great political mind. I was destined to be a great leader. I have not given up hope, but 25 years of my life were wasted because of a few stupid choices I made in my youth.
Legalizing marijuana just makes it so much easier for a whole new group of young brilliant people to make the same bad choices that I made. It is bad enough that so many people are failing to finish high school now, do we really need to add to the problems in this country?
It’s almost like the people of Washington and Colorado are saying, “Screw it, nothing can be done, so let’s get high.”
I am here to tell you that things can be done but we need clear minded leaders, and making it easier for minds to become cloudy is certainly counter productive. We need clear minded constituents to listen to clear minded leaders. That’s the only way that reason can win in America.
If I had my way there would be no alcohol or drugs in this country. I would get rid of tobacco as well because I feel that cigarettes also tend to be a gateway to more harmful choices, besides the obvious health risks. I may be an extremist but that’s how I feel.
A cloudy mind leads to bad choices. How many domestic assaults are attributed to alcohol each year? How many deaths are caused by intoxicated drivers? Again, we could make a list a mile long for the negative effects of intoxication from any and all substances.
Those of you who have never been a heavy user of drugs and alcohol may not understand the cycle, but basically it goes like this…
I am at a party and I am high on weed. Someone offers me some meth and I am not in a good decision-making state of mind… I say, “Sure, why not?” 12 hours later I am still awake and feeling like I could party forever. I decide that I like meth and ask some people where to get more of it. I am now showing early signs of a propensity for meth addiction.
It really is that simple. Those who have never been around circles of addicts do not understand how easily this stuff happens.
So let’s just legalize another step in the gateway that leads people down so many bad roads in life.
This may be the most ignorant thing I have witnessed to date in American politics. I am unsure how to react to it because it is not happening in my state. If it does happen here I won’t likely stay here.
My state has enough problems already. I don’t really relish the idea of dealing with potheads on a daily basis. Let’s fight our way out of this mess and not accept defeat.
We need people to be focused on solutions in America, not more distractions. I have heard the arguments of Washington bringing in over 500 million annually in new marijuana taxes, but is this what we have become? There are other ways to get money that are less likely to cause so many people harm.
Wake up people. The future depends on a voice of reason, not the quoting of Snoop Dog lyrics.