Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Open-Mindedness and Medical Marijuana

On Tuesday of this week, the voters in my home state of Oklahoma went to the poles for primary elections. In addition to determining which candidates for office will run this fall in the general elections, there was a ballot initiative on the issue of legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.

The initiative passed, and by early Tuesday night, supporters (and there were many) were celebrating. In no time at all, there was buzz on Facebook. On one side, people posting about what a miracle cure marijuana is. On the other side, people who want nothing to do with it.

I’ll admit up front that I have mixed feelings toward the medical use of marijuana. Having grown up in the sixties, I saw weed as portrayed by the film Reefer Madness, claiming it causes insanity and warning of its evils. I also remember seeing a group of hippies searching for it along the road, and my mother explaining to me what they were doing. The hippies looked so happy and carefree in their colorful flowing clothes.

These starkly contrasting images of weed had me confused as a child. In the end, my opinion about weed was ultimately a reflection of my parents’ point of view, weed was illegal, and therefore it was wrong.

So, as one might imagine, the sudden legalization of medical marijuana has me a bit confounded. As a recovering drug addict, I see weed as a recreational drug, much like alcohol. Unlike alcohol, weed never really appealed to me. It always made me feel like I had been transformed into a less than intelligent image of Kent. On the few occasions that I tried it, I was simply zoned out. Not a feeling I’ve ever liked.

Based on my predisposition to view weed negatively, combined with the side-effects I don’t like, the legalization of this drug for medical purposes does not pose much of a threat to me or my recovery. That is, with the exception of its effect on the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous as a whole. I’m very concerned about the effect it will have on fellow addicts who do struggle with weed. Those who are in the program of recovery primarily because of weed.

For clarity, I’ve heard the arguments that weed cannot cause a physical addiction. That’s all well and good. However, NA focuses on the disease of addiction as a feelings disease. The psychological and emotional side of addiction. On those levels, I know people in recovery for whom weed was their drug of no choice. It tried to ruined their lives just like meth tried to ruin mine.

Anyway, in just two days following the election, I heard of two close friends who plan on getting their medical marijuana cards. They are excited about this new and more affordable treatment for depression and anxiety. I don’t judge them for the decision. It’s none of my business. I don’t need to know.

That’s the thing…I don’t need to know. I don’t want to know. I don’t want any bias that I may have to lead to judgement one way or another. The only person whose pharmaceutical needs are any of my business is Amanda. In case of emergency, we each need to know what the other takes daily…and that’s it.

So yesterday, after wrestling with this whole topic in my mind, and in conversations with Amanda, I shared in a meeting about the struggle it had begun to create in my mind. It has begun to effect my recovery, because it’s already affecting the way I view two of my friends.

When I finished sharing, I faced admonishment from the meeting chair, claiming it was an outside topic, and that I should not discuss it in meetings.

Wait… what? I thought anything affecting my recovery was fair game. Suddenly my struggle grew. Had I truly crossed into an area that was taboo for meetings? I’ve heard people share about some pretty outlandish things in meetings. Much more outlandish than my concerns over medical marijuana.

I politely told that person after the meeting that I would continue to share on whatever it was that was affecting my recovery. Even though I stood my ground, it was still upsetting to see how divisive the topic has already become.

Wrangling with this change in how weed is perceived has reminded me of one spiritual principle I must apply to the matter, Open-Mindedness. Will there be people who exploit the new law? Yes, of course. People exploit laws all the time. Will others be genuinely helped by this new law? Again, yes, the evidence is pretty compelling. Will some people be harmed by this new law? Again, unfortunately people will be.

So, I will practice open-mindedness where the use of medical marijuana is concerned. If I find it affecting my recovery, you can bet I’ll bring it up in meetings too. More than anything, I will remember that the only requirement for membership in Narcotics Anonymous is a desire to stop using drugs. It is, after all, that desire that unifies us all as recovering addicts.

Have a remarkable day!


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