Thursday, November 17, 2016

A NORML Mom Returns to Athens

NORML Mom & Dad @ Pain & Wonder
I turned 34 a few weeks ago. My parents gave me treasures from Barnes & Noble, and my children invited our neighbors over for an impromptu dance party, which I catered with pre-purchased Halloween candy and a random bag of chips. A few days later, NORML Dad and I went car hunting in our cannabis clad shirts and turned the outing into a daring adventure to Athens, Georgia, complete with tattoos.

Athens is special to me, as well as to my relationship with cannabis.

I was born there in 1982. I left during my infancy and didn't return until I enrolled at The University of Georgia in 2001. At UGA, I silently mourned that my secret high school love interest seemed more interested in a plant than in knowing me better. I also celebrated the way my new friends embraced me as an honorary member of their “smokers circle,” despite the fact that I did not smoke anything (tobacco or cannabis) at the time. Really, we all just found solidarity in our strangeness and felt more at home passing time together on the lawn than alone in our dorm rooms. That the smokers circle typically lived up to its name seemed almost beside the point to me.

In retrospect, I think it's extra cool that my stoner friends trusted me to be sober among them. While I was already a strong supporter of legalization as a human rights and medical measure back then, I hadn't yet had the personal experience needed to appropriately contextualize marijuana's effects on the psyche. In more direct terms: It was overly easy for me to demonize weed as needed, wrongly holding it more accountable for individual's bad behavior than the individuals themselves. This was key in interactions with my ex-boyfriend, whom I once demanded break his bong as a condition of staying with me.
@ Bromsgrove Apartments,
Former Scene of a Tragic Bong Breaking

Sorry, man. I totally blame my youth.

Revisiting Bromsgrove Apartments (the scene of the historic bong breaking) with NORML Dad some 12 years later, I'm thankful that I have a higher perspective now. I am also happy that I'm not alone. As of this month's election, a total of 7 states (CA, NV, MA, ME, plus CO, WA & OR) have approved the legal use of recreational cannabis. Of course, I also recognize that there is still a strong stigma to overcome and a lot more about its effects for everyone to understand. Some links to some of of the best articles I've encountered thus far about the new legislation are listed here for your reading pleasure:

I'm also working on my own project and would love your support making The Safety First Book Campaign reality. To contribute, please click here!

As both Safety First and this post are concerned, please spread the word and help it grow!

Finally, Athenians, take note: The local Athens chapter of Peachtree NORML continues to meet monthly. Please click here for a calendar, and go connect! Local chapters of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy have also been doing an excellent job of raising awareness and promoting positive change in Athens.Thank you!

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