Where do your rights end and mine begin? Where do my rights end and yours begin?
Here we can use legal marijuana. You can get a prescription for it in capsule form and a license to grow a small amount for personal usage. You can even get a license to grow it for others that have a license to use it.
I’ll not get into the medical conditions which are eligible for consideration for treatment with medicinal marijuana — it’s not the point of my article here, nor are recipes for brownies or that you can get it in the form of capsules or candies. The point is a matter of personal space and respecting it.
I could say I am for medical marijuana, I could say I am against it — I could say I am for the decriminalization of marijuana, I could say I am against it — I could say I am for the legalization of marijuana, I could say I am against it — but regardless, what I can say is that even though I might be eligible to get a license for medical marijuana, I react badly to it. I’m not saying I am morally against it, but that I have a medical reaction to it that is negative.
I couldn’t say at this moment, pending more medical testing, whether it is an actual “immunoglobulin type E (IgE)” allergy reaction or some other sort of chemical hypersensitivity, but it is real and severe. It started with a feeling of anxiety and mood swings mixed with nauseousness and headache. However with each exposure — and I am referring to “second hand smoke” from people nearby, smoking it, like over 10 metres (35 ft) away in a park or in some other suite in an apartment building on their balcony — it has gotten worse until now, a strong exposure will knock me off my feet literally.
The last strong exposure, I walked around the corner of a house I was visiting and into a “cloud” of it that a breeze has wafted down between the houses from the far end. I only had time to note, “Oh the guy at the far end is toking up I had better go ’round the oth….” and the next thing I knew I was laying on the cement and gravel beside the house with a bleeding elbow and knee and the house owner’s son — worried — just having gotten there asking if he could help. It was him who had been smoking up and he had gotten rid of the roach already before approaching — most likely in case his Dad came out. I explained to him about the strong reaction I had to pot and he was sympathetic. He’s a pretty good kid and has been careful enough when I’ve been visiting that I’ve never had a problem since.
Exposure had started to make me shaky an a bit dizzy – seeing stars, before, but never so extreme. I did recall that with my allergy to feathers, when I was literally faced with a goose down pillow — I was sleeping over at a friends and rolled over from one pillow to the next to discover one of the pillows was down — it felt like my breath was sucked out of me. For some reason I just could not breath in when I faced the pillow. I don’t think it was because my throat swelled shut becaus as soon as I turned away from the pillow I could breath again. I still can’t say that allergies work this way.
The last exposure I had to pot smoke however is what spurred me to write this. I was approaching a nearby bus stop the other Sunday an two fellows were sitting on the bus stop bench talking. I could see they were smoking and so I gave the bench a bit of a wide berth not caring for cigarette smoke to stand by the pole near the street. It was there I thought I smelt a hint of skunk… We live in a part of Surrey BC that is next to an “Urban Forest” which the highway goes through so occasionally skunk and man occasionally encounter each other. It can leave an odour.
However I figured the odour wasn’t from a skunk… I looked over at the bench and noted the two fellows nearly head to head sharing a cigarette. Well, two guys on a very low budget who were “close” might share a cig, but… no they were sharing a joint. It has taken me much longer to type this and perhaps you longer to read it than for this to take place. I’d already started reacting to the “skunk” smell… which was another giveaway. I don’t really have that much reaction to real skunk!
I was starting to feel anxious and a bit nauseous. I realized it wouldn’t be good if I were to just collapse at the bus stop and nobody know why. So I told the fourth person there at the bus stop, a woman, that I had an allergy to pot and the fellows at the bench were smoking it and if I were to collapse, to tell the paramedics that was why. Now this is a bit of an over-reaction, and probably this very over-reaction part of my reaction to the pot. The guys at the bench thought I was talking about calling the police and started talking about having a license to legally smoke pot for medical reasons.
Of course they just had to show me their license… one between the two of them, ahem. Number 76## Actually the number was somewhere in the seventy-six hundreds, but am not 100% on the last two digits and wouldn’t post them here in any case. I am just posting that so that you don’t think that there are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of those licenses issued by the federal government. Either that or he printed his up on his Kodak photo printer at home for anyone other than the police.
They said they had every right to be smoking it because they had medical reasons. I told them I had no problem with medical pot, but I was allergic. They said I should just stand further away. Further away? How do you catch the bus if you don’t stand at the bus stop? Their ears mostly went deaf when I mentioned their license was only for smoking in their own residence until one had the bright counter argument — “What do you want? For me to live like a hermit and just stay at home?” He couldn’t figure out the difference when I asked if I should live like a hermit and just stay at home? He had a choice when he smoked. I find that I am always having to breath.
He just couldn’t see that for some reason he might imbibe in some other way than smoking it if he wasn’t home. He wasn’t waiting for the bus either. He was just using the convenient bench. Perhaps it isn’t fare that I mention we were within a block or so of a “half way house“. I am all for half way houses as well. People who are struggling need all the help they can get.
Now I didn’t collapse on that encounter. There was a fairly strong breeze in the right direction. But, by the time the bus came my arms and hands were trembling like I was suffering from a nerve disorder and my legs trembling so I had problems walking. The bus driver lowered the bus so I could step up and I needed the hand rail. I didn’t want the driver to think I was drunk so I told him I was getting over an allergic reaction. I said “getting over” a reaction so he wouldn’t worry about picking me up. My head did clear over the 10 minute trip too.
In any case, whether my reaction to the pot is allergy or chemical sensitivity — or even psychosomatic — don’t I, or anyone else, deserve the right to walk down the public sidewalk and breath air that is not perfumed with tobacco or pot smoke?
There are now laws limiting where you can smoke cigarettes. It is true that you can smoke cigarettes walking down the sidewalk, though now, at least in Vancouver you aren’t allowed to smoke in public parks.
I know that people have grand discussions on how pot smoke does less harm than tobacco smoke to smoker’s lungs. But, they miss the biggest point. If “you” are smoking they are “your lungs”. If “I” am stuck at the bus stop with “you” they are “my lungs”. Truly, I chose to be at the bus stop. I could chose to be elsewhere. Maybe I would rather be at the zoo? But wait, I’d have to take the bus.
With regards to legalities — I am no lawyer, pot advocate, anti-drug person, etc. — there are three things: medical marijuana usage, decriminalizing marijuana, and legalizing marijuana.
One can have legal medical marijuana usage where it would be a controlled substance still and available only by prescription or from a licensed grower without it being decriminalized or legalized. It would be similar to heroin where people can be taking it medicinally by prescription — though in this case I think most often in hospital, but there are other medications that more likely fit that model.
Decriminalization would mean that you don’t go to prison if you are found with a certain amount of marijuana in your possession for your own use. You might be allowed to grow up to a certain amount for that personal usage or it might simply mean that you are put into jail and fined for possession but not thrown into prison and given a prison record. That would be much like a minor traffic offence — too major for just a ticket, but not such that you face judge, jury, and prison time. Here in BC we have decriminalization.
Legalizing marijuana, I would believe could put it in the cigarette and alcohol sort of category… perhaps. though I think harder to control… I guess it is easier to grow pot than even make wine or beer. Growing and curing tobacco is harder, distilling whisky or other alcoholic beverages.
I’m not sure what I would do if it became legalized. I’d be like a kid with a peanut allergy with all the kids running around the playground playing peanut butter sandwich tag.
Note: Since I wrote this, Marijuana is legal in Washington State and a number of other places in the US — though I believe isn’t to be used in public places.