A Closer Look at Mary Jane by “Sally”

Sally is a 21 year old female college student who works as a crisis counselor and intends to go to graduate school in biological psychiatry in about a year. She writes:

Dr. Grinspoon,

I understand that what I’ve written here contradicts the message you are trying to send. However, I noticed that you posted “How I Learned I didn’t Have a Head for Ganja” by Jamie Gaffney, which similarly contradicts this message. I know mine is more opposing, but I feel like people deserve to hear different points of view. Thank you for your consideration!

A Closer Look at Mary Jane

I have been a regular smoker for almost two years. I had no interest in it at first, but under the influence of my boyfriend who constantly smoked, I found for a short time that its effects significantly improved not only relations with him but also with myself. It calmed me down tremendously at a point where obsessive compulsiveness as well as anxiety were creeping into my life. I was also introduced to music as I had never been before. I could be entertained for hours listening to my Ipod and basking in deep relaxation and euphoria. I felt more creative and aware. Movies were amazing, food was amazing. I felt enhanced in every respect of the word—for a while.

Paranoia would creep in every now and again, but I felt that the good outweighed the bad and continued to smoke. After a while, I started to get the feeling that perhaps my experience on pot bordered on illusion. What I have realized after much research and observation into this drug is that just like other drugs, it can cause psychological dependence. This idea is frightening if you really think about what it implies. In a normal state, we perceive the world, think, relate to others, etc. in certain ways that come naturally to us. When THC disrupts the very delicate chemical balance in our brains, it effects our perceptions, thoughts, memory, and various other aspects controlled by the nervous system. Of course, not all of us are heavy smokers. Some of us smoke on weekends or take a hit every now and then. But my question is, why risk it? Why disrupt the balance at all?

Marijuana appeals to people who are smart. Most of the people who have written on this website are intellectuals who are trying to pursue a way of life that is rewarding and enhancing. I am that way as well. It certainly infuriates me that the medicinal value of marijuana is overlooked and research into it is restricted. However, its recreational use is what concerns me. It concerns me to the point that I flushed a 60 dollar eighth of KB (“kind bud”) at the moment I decided to quit. I’ve had a therapist for years who I believe to be very wise, and she has known about my use of the drug. In one of our sessions together, we were debating over marijuana use. Obviously I was for it and she was against. I asked her, “If someone told you that if you took this substance, it would open you up spiritually and make you more creative, etc., wouldn’t you be interested?” The thing is, we are all we need to be. We don’t need this substance to make us more.

4 Responses to “A Closer Look at Mary Jane by “Sally””

  1. Ben says:

    “But my question is, why risk it? Why disrupt the balance at all?” Why should we disrupt the balance? Evolution and progress only happen when we think outside of the box. Marijuana has inspired inventors, philosophers, musicians and many others.
    When we break the monotony we gain new perception and see faults in our old ways of viewing the world. In fifty years or so we’ll look back on ourselves in almost disbelief of who we used to be. Just like today we look at how far we’ve come and are amazed by who we used to be.

  2. David-G says:

    “But my question is, why risk it? Why disrupt the balance at all?” Why should we disrupt the balance?

    I think the same , why risk it, why disrupt the balance at all….. and yet i still eat trans fat, fast food, use “medicines” ( bunch of shitty substance to make feel less shitty yourself) for headaches that are caused by psychological effects like anxiety and depression for the expectations culture has managed to fix on our minds and we can’t reach even if they aren’t our OWN real expectations.

    I understand your argument , we don’t need anything we don’t have to be whatever we want to be , but i think that if cannabis is a perfectly natural plant just as spinach, cilantro, etc. it can be more reasonable its use than lot of saturated quimical stuff we consume on our daily life. 🙂 Namaste from Mexico

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  4. Paul says:

    Dear Sally,
    If I’m understanding you correctly, your misgivings about marijuana are centered on the idea that “it can cause psychological dependence”. You also seem concerned that your experience “bordered on illusion”. You seem to have come to the conclusion that it’s recreational use is a bad thing.
    My question to you is- would you also ban the recreational use of alcohol? It’s far more dangerous. Go back to Prohibition? Tell others that, no, they can’t have that lovely bottle of Chardonnay with their roast chicken dinner?
    Pleasure is, in itself, a worthwhile endeavor for most of us. We weigh the risks against the benefits. While I respect your decision to stop using marijuana yourself if you’ve come to believe that, for you, its risks outweigh its benefits, I don’t believe that anyone has the right to make that decision for the rest of us.

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