Them. It. Those. Drugs!
I’m 43 years old, and I love to smoke cannabis! Whew! Now that I have that off my chest….a Toke! While being a 40 Something year old “Weed Smoker” isn’t a new concept, for some of us Generation X’ers, it’s a little more complicated and difficult to admit our truth.
Marijuana use, when mentioned among professionals, parents, or those trying to find relief for a better way of life, immediately sours the perspective of why one medicates to begin with. Judgemental views of personal degradation and social dysfunction immediately comes to the minds of individuals who refuse to see the truth surrounding marijuana use. The drug policies former U.S. President Richard Nixon and his administration instituted in 1971 casts a very long shadow. The results of which are very much felt now, 44 years later.
Remember the Reagan years?
When President Ronald Reagan and his administration came to the political blackjack table, and double downed on Nixon’s initiatives in 1980’s, the country as a whole went bust. The War On Drugs was declared, and the propaganda machine behind it was fully activated.
Soon police officers with the full backing of local community, political, and faith leaders, would proudly display their authority ( and weaponry) in classrooms and school auditoriums across the nation. Vehemently warning elementary, middle, and high school students the perils of drug use, and promising prison and/or certain death along the way for those who choose that way of Life.
When the law enforcement officers came to the schools, they came with more than just speeches. They came with visual aids. Real visual aids locked in a black brief case straight out of Miami Vice, which contained…Them. It. Those. Drugs! The suspense always mounted during these days at school. We actually get to see the contents of….the case!
We huddled around the officer. Wide eyed, mouths slightly opened. Even the teachers looked on with curiosity. The officer demonstrates with all the drama and suspense of the best psychological thriller, educating us on the new “Street Terms” for what we are about to see. Then he opens the case. The scariest thing a student could come face to face with (during those days). There they are. Drugs!
Bags of what resembled a powdered household cleaner labeled as cocaine . Medicine bottles containing different colored Pills labeled as barbiturates. Little lickable stamps: one with a cartoon smiling baby ghost, another with a whimsical drawing of a half naked-potbellied-female-devil holding a pitchfork printed on them, with the letters LSD written next to it. Weird needles and thin rubber tubes that immediately scared kids like me straight. All looked scary. There was a knife and a little .22 caliber gun in the briefcase as well for the extra added felonious effect.
All the bad things we were told was right in front of our little faces. And almost as if on cue, the officer pulls out something from the case that looked familiar. “Who knows what this is?” Kids immediately put their hands up hoping to be picked to give the answer, including myself. I knew what it was. I saw family members with it, and passing it around. “A joint! Bad people use this. Criminals use this!”, the Officer said. Immediately I was scared. “The people I know are bad, and going to jail?”, I thought. The gateway drug speech starts there. The War has begun.
Some Gen Xers just don’t understand.
Flash forward to 2015. Generation X (people born between 1961 and 1981) has come along way. We’ve taken the reigns from the Baby Boomer Generation before us, and pressed forward despite their trepidation. We’re Educators. Professionals. Business Moguls. Scientists. Innovators. We have made Societal Contributions that rival the turbulent times of the Civil Rights Era. We are the “Dream” Martin Luther King spoke of. Look around. Change didn’t start when a young Jr. Senator named Barack Obama announced he would campaign to become the Leader of the Free World. Change happened much sooner than that. We’re everywhere.
We are also just average, everyday Adults. Dealing with the daily frustrations Life tosses at us. Work. Relationships. Having children. Having children in College. Maintaining or rediscovering social circles. Finances. Having some sort of quality of life. Those of Generation X have become “Normal Adults”, and there lies the potential problem. Some Gen Xers have accepted the role they once fought so hard against. They have become the mirror image of their parents. The same parents DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince rapped about. Some Gen Xers just don’t understand.
We have put our rebel past behind us, and now cohere to a host of new responsibilities: Careers (or lack thereof). Marriage/Family (or lack thereof). Quality of Life (or lack thereof). We have also become more mentally burdened because of those responsibilities, as well. According to a 2012 American Psychology Association study, Generation X’ers report the highest stress levels in the Stress America™ national survey amongst 4 generations (Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Matures). In the study, 36% of Gen Xers said their stress levels increased within the past year, compared to the 33% increase among Baby Boomers, and 29% for Matures, respectfully.
We are also parents to children with a wide range of issues (behaviour, physical, psychological, emotional, etc.) on a level that far exceeds issues from past generations. The common practice in the workplace is dealing with the pressures of being “Overworked and Under Man’d”. The anxiety brought on by the dynamics of relationships (single, married, or the now widely used category “It’s Complicated”). Work/Life balance becomes more of a distant wish, than an actual state of achieving. We’re physically, mentally, and emotionally stressed!
The word “Drug”
The means of which those stresses can be levelled out, either for ourselves or our children, are on full display in today’s society. Turn on your television and nearly every other commercial is geared to making you obtain some form of happiness from a plethora of pharmaceutical drugs. Drugs. There’s THAT trigger word again. The most misleading word.
For those of Generation X, consciously or subconsciously, we go back to that classroom when the word “Drug” is uttered. That D.A.R.E. Program booklet. Nancy Reagan and PeeWee Herman telling us to “Just Say No!”. Those things are so imprinted in our psyche, we can no longer tell it’s there. Marijuana isn’t a “Gateway Drug”. Marijuana is the “Gateway Brainwashing Tactic”.
While its practice and use is becoming more commonplace, and it’s medicinal properties are gaining more and more acceptance in medical and (some) government circles, the myths and misconceptions surrounding cannabis are still at an all time high among Generation X. Marijuana is still a shameful thing to partake in. The same group of individuals who once casually took road trips while simultaneously indulging in the smoking of Indo, enjoying the libations of a Gin & Juice concoction, all while listening to Snoop D. O. Double G., now look down on the herb as their parents before them.
The iron grip of fear former U.S. Presidents Nixon and Reagan have instituted and brought forth to the world still hold strong. The mere hint of the aroma of burning cannabis sometimes welcomes ill feelings and negative views at best. The thought of Illegal activity, and the ramifications immediately follows.
Because of this, extreme, and at times, juvenile measures are attempted to mask the burning Mary Jane scent by making silly contraptions, like one made of paper towel tubes and fabric softener sheets. (Guilty as charged). It’s almost a disservice to even use the term weed. There’s literally thousands of strains that can be used to medicate the same ailments we see on television. Only with far less side effects.
The chains of mental slavery are still strong surrounding marijuana. For the sake of ourselves, and the well being of our children, the need to explore and use cannabis for its positive medicinal effects, far outweigh why we shouldn’t . However, it begins with ourselves. We must remove the stigmas that was placed on us by previous generations who preferred to ignore its problems and create fears, falsehoods and half truths, as opposed to tackling issues head on. Through education and true comprehensive data will we continue to move forward. However, we must first release the decades of mental fear we have been fed. It’s time for a new cannabis infused diet.