Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dave Matthews Band "Tripping Billies"

“You know, the cops are never going to buy this.  Smoking dope outside a Dave Matthews Band concert.  They’re going to look us and say ‘Yeah, right.’”

We DID seem like a cliché.  Two young folks, with sloppy looking clothes and slopey looking knit caps, red-eyed and smiling, sitting in a parked car outside a concert arena in Providence following a Dave Matthews show, smelling---reeking, really---of pot.

If a police officer tapped on our windows, he’d have a hard time telling the difference between the thousands of other stoners outside the show, and us.

“I’ll just show them my scar,” she said.

Amy had cancer.  Brain tumors.  She’d been through radiation.  And now she was going through months and months of chemotherapy.

There’s not much you can do that makes you feel valuable, when a family member has to walk down that hard road of heavy duty drugs, exhausting tests, extreme weight-loss and the crushing bouts of depression that come with cancer taking over their life and their focus.

The best you can do as a brother, is try to bring some lightness, some mental relief and a distraction.

It was good news that on the night of the show, Amy was feeling well enough to go see her favorite band.  When I’d given her the tickets as a present, we were both nervous that she wouldn't have the energy and ability to last through a whole night out.

Amy was hard to read, so I’m not 100% sure she enjoyed the show.  I mean, she smiled and said she liked it.  But it wasn’t like Amy to be jumping up and down, screaming at a concert, whether she had cancer or not.

When we got back to the car after the show, she pulled a sub sandwich out of her backpack.  We’d bought in on the ride down to Providence, but she wasn’t feeling well enough to eat it before the show.

“Do you mind?” she asked, with a raised eyebrow.  I knew exactly what she meant.

I was not a pot smoker.  I mean, I had tried it.  I DID inhale.  But I never enjoyed the sensation of being high.  Where it relaxes some, and increases pleasure for others, pot just made me itchy in my own skin.  So somewhere not too long after college, I just stopped pretending it was fun to try.

But I knew plenty of people who smoked for the enjoyment of it, and I didn’t really have any ethical problem with that.  I wasn’t crazy about friends smoking dope in my car---because I would be on the hook if we got pulled over by the police---but for Amy, I could make an exception.

Besides, she knew how to win over any police officer.

“I’ll just show them my scar,” she said.

Amy had several brain tumors, the largest of which they were able to remove, surgically.  So on top of being mostly bald due to the radiation, she had a 10+ inch L-shaped scar on the left side of her skull.  And though she mostly kept it under a wool cap, she wasn’t afraid to show it if nececessary.

Now, to be clear, Amy liked smoking pot long before she got cancer.

But there is also no doubt, that smoking pot during her treatments aided her immeasurably.

In the space of a year and a half, Amy had gone from just over 140 pounds to just barely above 100 pounds.  And a large part of the problem was the difficulty she had, eating.

The chemicals coursing through her body made radical changes to the way food tasted.  And, more often, it sapped her of her appetite.  At a certain point the only thing that gave her an appetite, was a quick toke before a meal.

My Mother was an operating room nurse.  To this day, I have never been on a motorcycle, because of the innumerable times Mom came home from work to tell us about the guy they had tried (and occasionally, failed) to put back together after he crashed his bike.

As teens we were give very direct, honest and real information about sex---the biology, and the potential consequences.  For this reason (coupled with my own ineptitude), I remained a virgin longer than any of my friends.

And we were given frank talks about drugs.  Strangely, of all three, this one included not only that straight information about the potential negative impacts of illegal drugs . . . more than the others, drug use also seemed to equal some kind of moral failure to Mom.

Which was why I was shocked during one of the holidays when the entire extended family was at our house, that Mom pulled me aside and said, "I need you to take your sister for a ride."

While she couldn't bring herself to be around someone smoking pot, she wanted Amy to be able to eat and enjoy her meals---especially on a holiday.  So I drove around Newburyport for 15 minutes while Amy got high in the passenger seat.  Then we ate ham and lasanga.

Somewhere, Mom had come around to marijuana for its practical, medicinal value.

With all of the noise here in Massachusetts surrounding the Presidential race and the Brown/Warren Senate race, you may or may not be aware that there is a Ballot Question that would end the criminalization of marijuana for medical use.

To be clear, this does not make marijuana legal for general use.  It does not mean you can walk around smoking pot even if you are sick.  It does not legally require your doctor to prescribe medical marijuana.

It seems to be a detailed bill, with a number of caveats to make it clear that it is authorizing the legal use of marijuana in a fairly narrow set of circumstances.

I'm going to guess that a lot of you who are my peers who read this blog, are perfectly comfortable with the idea of medicinal marijuana.  So I'm not trying to convert you.  But what about your Mom?  Is she like my Mom?  Does she feel like drug use is a moral failing and so she's thinking about voting against Ballot Question 3?  Maybe you should talk to her a bit before Tuesday.

People who advocate for the decriminalization of pot have a lot of salient arguments are to why it should be legal for general use.  You can find their points online.  I'm not here to sell you on that.

I AM here to suggest that a cancer patient who doesn't have the umphh necessary to eat a tuna sub without the aid of marijuana, shouldn't also have to worry that a police officer may arrest her.  Even if it is outside a Dave Matthews Band concert.

Read the full ballot question, plus For and Against viewpoints.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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