Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Life in the Drug Underworld

I’m not much good at scoring drugs. I realize that this might fly in the face of my image as a stone-cold gangsta, and yet it’s true. In Canada, there’s not really much need to “score” anyway: everyone in the country is about two degrees from someone who’s currently holding. Honestly, I presume that in Hamilton you could knock on doors and ask for marijuana and succeed by the third house; and the other two would offer you a beer. In Buffalo, I actually lived next to a drug house; either well, that or they just had an incredible amount of people stop their cars there and ask for directions. Again, I’m not that street smart.

This deficiency of mine became apparent recently when I had some friends visiting from the US and one of them was looking to buy pot. I know where to go in Paris to buy every obscure fashion magazine, but couldn’t find drugs in Amsterdam. We tried hanging around Shakespeare and Company for a while and eventually found someone who knew what park to go to in order to buy. I’d never been there before and have never been there again. It was a bit like detective work though; this was a good lead.

It was good that we found it because our friend had really crashed by this point- he was in the sort of despair I’ve seen in bipolar friends without lithium; understandable because he’s indeed bipolar and uses pot, along with lithium, to medicate. When he crashed, he got the same far away look and tone of voice near tears that I’ve seen in souls in pain. Again, I’ve seen exactly the same thing in my bipolar relatives and friends without their meds. I get pretty miserable without Prozac. I’ve seen the same in drug addicts too, but generally in relation to heroin, not pot.

The guys in the park were stereotypical con artists; I guarantee he paid too much. They tried to sell me a crappy bracelet for ten euros. I knew they were con artists when they started the conversation with, “Oh, you are American! I love America! Freest country in the world!” Suffice to say, I’ve never heard that from a French person before, and it was followed immediately by the demand for ten euros.

Nevertheless, he scored, paid, and we left. And we walked quickly back to the hotel to get out of what was clearly the French equivalent of a bad neighborhood- not a bakery in sight. He went to the room, we stayed downstairs, and after twenty minutes, he returned, relaxed, leveled out, and lucid. He didn’t act like he was stoned or goofy; he acted like a normal person. I suspect he’s right about using pot to medicate. It seemed to work. In a sane world, a responsible doctor could make the decision and prescribe him the drug if he needs it.

It’s amazing to me to think that the marijuana laws are based on the state of the art scientific knowledge of the 1930s. The fact that people use the drug as a medicine is common knowledge by this point, and yet they’re still treated as dope fiends in most localities. If lithium were ever to be banned by law, I know several people who would be doing exactly the same thing we found ourselves doing. And yet it’s the same weird norm in France as in the US or Canada (now): if you need use marijuana to treat any chronic condition, your responsibility to your society and state is to suffer so they won’t have to admit that they might have been wrong back in the 30s. It’s just weird.


gregvw said...

How can you not find cannabis in Amsterdam? They have buildings dedicated to selling it. If you're there again:

Good luck.

Holly said...

I've seen the same in a woman with fairly serious epilepsy. The pot kept her in a condition where she could care for her children and maintain her household. An obviously argument for medicinal value.

narrator said...

Is this one of those Canuck jokes? "Did you hear about the Canadian who couldn't find pot in Amsterdam?

Well, no matter, great story, and of course US attitudes toward marijuana are based in racism, classism, and power... as I said to a friend working on an analysis of the Sean Bell case and "lifestyle" policing in NYC under Benito Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, "it takes some significant teaching to explain to any rational person why five rich white folks sitting in chairs on the sidewalk drinking cosmopolitans are "good," but five poor black folks sitting on a stoop passing a joint are a "threat to society." A person does not logically make those distinctions unless they are made explicit and reinforced."

Rufus said...

Greg: Okay, well I had my tongue-in-cheek there. I've never been to Amsterdam. But I've never also looked anywhere for drugs, although they often seemed to find me as a younger man.

Holly: There are all sorts of fascinating treatments related to pot. I was surprised that Robert Anton Wilson used it to treat his post-polio symptoms.

Narrator: It's also a big business from what I hear. I think there's just a point where we've lied to ourselves for so long that we can't stop without someone's head exploding.

Anonymous said...