Gerlach: Erasing the stigma of marijuana

September 4, 2018

I smoke a lot of weed.


That’s bold, but I really don’t know any other way to say it.


If anyone is to ask, I tell them that I fully support the use of marijuana and have experienced the medical benefits of it.


It wasn’t always like this, though.


I grew up to believe that, “smoke was dope,” and the only people who smoked dope were “dopeheads.”


Fast-forward approximately 15 years to my senior year of high school, when I decided to drink and drive home from a party. I rolled my Blazer and landed myself at St. Vincent’s with a brain injury and a fractured spine.


Medical complications like that require a lot of medicine. I was sent home from the hospital a month later with a pile of prescription papers written out by my doctor.


I needed medicine to stimulate my brain, prevent migraines, relieve migraines when they occurred (every day), relieve anxiety and fight depression.


I’m not denying that pharmaceutical drugs helped me to an extent. All medications come equipped with side effects, and, being the lucky person that I am, I suffer from them if they’re there.


The medication I took to stimulate my brain made me pass out, the medicine I took to prevent migraines caused headaches, I eventually became immune to the medication relieving my migraines because I took it so much and all the mood stabilizers just made my mood worse.


It’s not like the medical problems I was suffering from disappeared, either. The medications only seemed to be making them worse.  What’s a girl to do?


Smoke weed.


Before my car accident, I lived a pretty holistic life. I’ve never really believed in the use of artificial drugs to cure us because, as I said, they tend to do more harm than good.


After my discouraging failures with numerous medications, I finally got smart and explored holistic options that would improve my recovery.


It’s no wonder I chose weed. The discoveries of the benefits of marijuana have been all over the news. The stigma it has gotten as a Schedule 1 drug combined with its medical use have made the plant a topic of controversial discussion for years.


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Schedule 1 drugs as those that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the administration’s website. Marijuana has retained this standing despite its legalization in various states for recreational and medicinal use.  


I didn’t obtain my medical marijuana card immediately. Weed is everywhere now, so it was easy to find friends to smoke with and get it from them.


After a few months of continual use, though, I made my way to Ann Arbor, MI and applied for my card.


It’s not like everyone surrounding me understood and accepted my decision, though. My family members who still consider “smoke as dope” don’t even know I smoke weed.


That’s mostly because I’m a mom of a beautiful three-year-old boy, so I can only imagine where their imaginations would fly to at the thought of me as a “stoner mom.”


I wish I could talk about it with those family members of mine, though, so that they would understand my decision. After years of chronic use, I have experienced no side effects from weed that inhibit my daily activities.


I’ve spoken with doctors about my use of it as a mom. Since Vinny isn’t near me when I’m smoking, he’s obviously suffering no direct effects of marijuana.


It’s just my medicine. That’s it. Several people are prescribed medications to help with issues they suffer from, and I see this as no different.


I’ll live with my brain injury for the rest of my life. There is no telling what the possible long-term side effects are that I have yet to discover.


When I was suffering from all those side effects from the medications I was prescribed, I thought that was the rest of my life, too. Taking advantage of all the benefits marijuana has to offer has done wonders for my healing and recovery.


If I am a calmer, more centered person when I take my medication, then I’m going to keep using my medication.



Why discontinue something that helps me?


Samantha Gerlach is a fourth-year media communication student. 

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