Miraculous Marijuana by Paul Handshy

Mr. Handshy timelessly flys through the chords of his 12-string guitar into the ecstasy of his lovers heart and mind, tuning in to the rhythm of the earth.

As the prisons continue to fill up with Americans whose sole law-breaking habits consist of growing and smoking marijuana, I feel that it is my time to weigh in on the inherent injustice of it all. In order to accomplish this task comprehensively, it will serve the reader well if he or she understands the evolution of my own involvement with the “sacred herb.”

At 51, I have been judiciously partaking of marijuana for almost 27 years. There was a time, particularly after a six-month period in 1969, when the very notion of smoking pot was abhorrent to me. I had come home from the active duty segment of a six-year contractual arrangement with the U.S. Marine Corps (Reserves) to discover that someone very close to me was getting high on a regular basis. The vision harbored at the time was that using marijuana would be the first step toward a near-inevitable descent into lazy irresponsibility, then one would end up right down in the cellar of stealing money to support the habit of shooting heroin. The final frames of this distorted picture of pot-inhalation were, of course, financial ruin and an untimely, grotesque death.

Well, I really read the riot act to this loved one and was thanked for my concern, but also duly informed that they were going to go ahead and smoke a joint now and again, anyway. The long-term upshot is that my friend never tried any other drug whatsoever and has turned out to be a quite healthy contributor to everyone’s life in all facets of personal and professional interaction. Yes, there were many people that I watched start with marijuana and end up in drastically dire straits denoting extreme uncenteredness, but I came to understand that it was an addictive personality driving their demise, not the plant.

Four years later, I ran into some good high school friends who had both been to Vietnam and we decided to get together for reminiscing. Upon entering the one fellows’ apartment, I smelled another aroma mixed in with India-brand incense. At 24, my open-mindedness was starting to kick in about what individuals did to relax. For the preceding two years, I had gradually realized that beer and hard liquor were not doing it for me anymore. Moreover, alcohol was increasingly the source of a pervasive physiological sickness, which started with headaches and would rapidly advance into multiple maladies, making me wonder if I wasn’t on the road to serious alcoholism. There wasn’t any booze at my friend’s home; just water, soda and lemonade. His record collection conveyed a full connection with the “hippie music” that I hadn’t really given a chance as yet, being a staunch proponent of the R+B sound.

I knew then that I would be asked if I wanted to “take a toke,” and for the first time, I said yes. The rationale was that, as a scholar, I should examine this phenomenon like any other form of societal variable, informally recording my subsequent reactions. The trick was to hold the smoke in a while before exhaling, according to the other friend. Having never smoked cigarettes, there was an initial sense of harshness in my throat after a long draw. I took three hits off the joint and passed on the fourth. A couple of minutes later, I was wondering what the big deal is about herb, as perceptivity remained unchanged. Then, I happened to notice that the album playing on the stereo, Neil Young’s “Harvest,” sounded louder, like the band was right in the apartment with us. In the deeper background, I could hear both a cardinal and a blue jay chirping like they had just discovered a cache of fat worms. When a strong thirst came over me following these quick successive thoughts, I beat a path to the fridge for some of that lemonade. For the next couple of hours, all three of us listened to music, talked about everything under the sun and moon and solidified our friendships effortlessly. One thing that got my attention was that, instead of losing focus on immediate surroundings, as warned about by many people who thought that they knew the dangerous byproducts of marijuana use, I found myself thinking of previously established priority issues in a much more in-depth fashion. Also, problems that might have seemed intractable before that afternoon now appeared as smaller, more manageable tasks, which could be worked out with no sweat at all. Again, that day was 2 and 2/3 decades ago.

I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience with marijuana. The “set and setting,” including who you are with, is an important consideration to ponder before embarking on “the journey.” If there are emotionally turbulent matters with which I am mightily contending, I keep the “green away from the scene.” Knowing what constitutes quality pot is something that one picks up along the way. Discipline has been a key component of my intake regimen, as well. When the dishes are done, cat is fed, 12-string guitar tuned, candles lit…then I am ready to soar. People run into problems when they imbibe before breakfast, because it does stimulate one’s appetite. Yes, the more times in a day that you “go there” translates into wastefulness and becomes physically tiring. I only depart from evening inner adventures when I want to take a long walk in a state park on a beautiful day or share the experience with someone. One vital area concerning the benefits of smoking pot which hasn’t seen much ink is the opportunity for profound spiritual voyaging. I didn’t really grasp this view until I lived up in British Columbia for two years – ’77-’79. The actual place is called the Sunshine Coast, located 45 minutes away from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay by ferryboat; the only other access is by plane. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t either lived in a pristine locale or tried marijuana, but the presence of an intensely mellow magnification of God/Nature’s constant symphony is the best portrayal I can make right now. Without the jarring sights and sounds of civilization around (cars, concrete, glass, metal, human voices, machinery. etc.), one sort of melds into the natural environment and reflective thoughts are able to sweetly stream on through. A spin-off of these meditatively splendid interludes, which persists up-to-date, has been the formation of a firm foundation within me that challenges the current supremely unbalanced societal status quo. Now, all I do beyond survival and loving dear ones, is keep a razor-sharp focus on planetary peace strategies.

What happened to me up North is that the combination of mountains, ocean, old-growth trees, eagles swooping over the water to catch leaping salmon, great friends, and, yes, a giant stash condensed from 22 plants (which I grew myself), opened me up to academically question exactly why the world must continue being so out-of-whack. Hence, rather than retain my Canadian landed-immigrant status for the rest of my life, I gave away most of my possessions and left for America on November 1, 1979. The crystallized project attendant to this decision was simply to merge myriad sociological methods of deciphering cultural trends with burgeoning spiritual acumen. That the measured use of marijuana has played an enormously important role in attaining the complex answers to why we don’t have “Earth tuned right” can’t be overstated. No, I’m not addicted; there have been months-long periods when there was zero access. Yet, because I never overdid ingestion, my system hasn’t had to make a major adaptation to its prolonged absence. Indeed, marijuana might not be for everybody; hence, I am not calling its use a mandatory element to reach maximum bliss nor optimum creativity. What I can say is that, having been a guitarist for almost 25 years, playing the ol’ 12-string Yamaha has always proved to be a markedly more orchestral adventure after a bowl of fine herb.

Truth be told, although I have read less than a few accounts from other people actually willing to talk about it, there is one other area of enhancement which I’d like to mention. I have a growing interest in promoting the notion of “spiritual intimacy” these days. Long decrying the shallow exchanges under girding “mechanical sex,” I have happily discovered, quite by accident, that the properties germane to marijuana are exquisitely conducive to a degree of love-making that is akin to timeless flying in heavenly dimensions. In this high-tandem land, focalization on mutually nurturing generosity has consistently been present during my long study of this still-embryonic field of human ecstasy. Since my observational approach to this subject tends toward continual striving for the balance between maximum mind and soul participation, I don’t feel the need to flesh out the details on any other level.

It seems that illogical and corrupt forces are in control of the debate over whether or not marijuana should be legalized. One has to draw this conclusion, if only upon the lone examination of law enforcement and legislators denying the plant from citizens afflicted with terminal illnesses like cancer or AIDS. The entire medical marijuana issue is such a sad travesty that I’m convinced – one day in the not-too-distant-future – that the electorate’s educated understanding of the beneficial attributes, like easing chemotherapy complications and increasing appetite, will put a critical mass ending to mean-spirited intransigence. We can’t eliminate the possibility that interlocking collusion of the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries is at nefarious play here; specifically regarding non-disease usage of marijuana on the road to recreational and spiritual joy.

The database that I have compiled encompassing the full gamut of marijuana-related study has become remarkably voluminous. I hope to share same with anyone who sees clearly that human and civil liberty erosion is at the root of marijuana prohibition. The populace is waking up fast, as far as I’m concerned. We need more courageous souls to come out of the woodwork to voice reasoned appeals for common-sense legislation to be enacted. I am one who believes that a person should be 21 years of age to maturely enter this heightened sense of self and surroundings. However, in some cases, when parents and teen exhibit solid respect and communication, 18 could be an acceptable passageway if maturity has been greatly accomplished. That the necessary debate about age, regulation, quality control, distribution, etc, has been both distorted and one-sided is without question…we have to keep asking ourselves: “Why?”

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