Pot in Prison by Anonymous
The 29-year-old author of this essay is currently in prison. Rejecting the use of alcohol in an institutional setting as conducive to violence, he adopts marijuana use for relief of chronic stress.
I’m in prison right now; have been since 1992. I recently left the Federal Penitentiary to finish the State portion of my sentence here in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I’m not here for drugs. I grow marijuana and smoke it but I’ve never been in trouble for that. I’ve never had any problems, personal or legal, with drugs. I am a staunch advocate for the legalization of marijuana for personal/recreational use, for medical use and for the benefit of the economy.
While I was doing time with the Feds, I learned a lot about marijuana. Prison provides a static environment that readily lends itself to the task of measuring action/reaction dichotomy. Drugs of all kinds are plentiful in prison: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, you name it. I have been able to make some very lucid observations about the “dangers” of various drugs. Alcohol is a dangerous drug. At least more dangerous than marijuana. I can’t count the number of times, in the past seven years, I’ve seen a prisoner get drunk and then get in a fight; get drunk and decide they need to pick up a pipe or a shank and get some sort of revenge somewhere for some reason; get drunk and get in trouble. I have never seen prisoners get stoned and decide they’ll go whip somebody’s ass – doesn’t happen. I’ve seen many angry drunks but never an angry pothead. Even the folks who are nasty drunks are peaceful on pot.
I see people get drunk and want more and more and more. They spend all their money and go into debt getting drunk; drunk to the point they often become sick and miserable. Not so with weed. People smoke a bowl or a joint, get high and that’s that. No going into massive debt, no getting sick. The difference is dramatic. This is probably not so obvious in the free world where booze is legal and pot is not; where people typically won’t get into as much legal trouble behind liquor as they will behind weed; where there is a terrible, mad “just say no” stigma attached to drugs. Oddly enough, in prison, among people with substance abuse problems, the drunks are at the bottom of the social scale. Drinking problems are frowned on more than other substance abuse problems because they seem to be the most damaging and cause the most trouble – not only for the drunk but for the people around him as well. I’d venture to say a drinking problem (here in prison) is even more damaging than heroin addiction. I’ve seen people killed over heroin debts. I’ve seen people contract HIV using dirty needles. I’ve seen folks wreck their bodies and minds on heroin. I’ve seen it cause all kinds of problems for people but it pales in comparison to booze.
Here in prison you can get to the real nuts and bolts of what’s what concerning drugs and what they do to people. It’s a great experiment. Drugs aren’t illegal here…well, not for the purposes of this experiment. Let me put it this way: Nobody gives a rat’s ass that they’re illegal and their illegality doesn’t make one iota of difference. What are “they” going to do, put you in jail? Without the threatening factors of illegality and social castigation poised like the Sword of Damocles, one can see specifically which drugs have precisely what effects on people at a very basic and honest level. Based on these observations, it makes no sense that alcohol is legal while marijuana is not. I’ve used just about every drug there is at least once and some many times. I drink regularly, smoke pot regularly and use coke, meth, ecstasy, acid and mushrooms occasionally. I’ve never been in any sort of legal trouble over drugs and they’ve never caused me problems in my personal life.
Those are some of my observations and views on the dangers of marijuana; now I’ll tell you something about pot as medicine. Prison is a chronically stressful environment where almost constant tension and turmoil reign. I’ve long since adapted and I get along as well as can be expected. I am basically a happy person. Things could be much better but I make the best of what is. In spite of that there is always some degree of stress present. Not enough to make me miserable or even unhappy but enough to manifest its presence. When I was in Federal prison, marijuana was medicine to me. I smoked it almost every day. Just a puff or two in the morning and a puff or two in the afternoon killed off all the stress. I did not get baked every day (not that I don’t like getting baked) but smoked just enough to take the edge off. Surprisingly, thirteen years of regular marijuana use has not raised my tolerance of the drug – at least not in a drastic way.
I think a pot high is great. I love getting stoned. Music sounds better, food tastes better, I see more detail in my surroundings, it’s an extremely pleasant high. It is a high, though, and I don’t think you can be successful and productive if you stay high all the time – but marijuana is a great recreational drug. Besides using marijuana as a “recreational” drug though, I used it in moderation as a “therapeutic” drug. It made time much easier to do. It absolutely negated the effects of stress in prison. I believe it made – or kept me a healthier person.
In the free world people aren’t normally subjected to the kind of stressful conditions that exist in prison every day; therefore there’s no need to use marijuana as regularly as I have in the past as “medicine” for stress. I think, in many cases however, it would be a good substitute for a regimen of antidepressant medications. I am sure antidepressants have a useful purpose and are most often appropriately prescribed, but perhaps there are some cases that would be better served by an occasional dose of THC. Back when I first came to prison, I tried Elavil, Xanax and Valium to relieve stress. They all worked in varying degrees of effectiveness but I did not like the way they altered my personality. After a while they made me “feel” differently all the time. I even dreamed in a different way. It’s hard for me to describe but those drugs caused a subtle alteration in my personality. I prefer pot. It’s not habit-forming and it does not cause the kind of unwanted change other antidepressants do. Marijuana is good medicine.