Monday, March 29, 2010

Leaving California: Part 2

Living in Humboldt County has taught me many things. Some of them are very Humboldt, some of them are just things I happened to learn while living here. This was Bryan and my first home; we moved here just weeks after we got married. I have definitely grown over the past two and a half years.

Here are just a few things I've learned during our time in Humboldt.

1. Just because someone mentions their "partner" does not mean they are gay. This may be incredibly obvious to some of you, but I'm sure not to everyone. Sometimes it refers to a homosexual significant other. Sometimes it refers to a heterosexual significant other. It can mean boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, fiancee, husband, or wife. It's like saying "my other half." All you really know is that the person mentioned is someone who is loved. I've even called Bryan my partner a few times, and laughed at myself later. Never thought that would catch on.

2. Nuggets mean pot, not chicken. Okay, not all the time, but a lot of the time.

3. Grass-fed doesn't mean organic. Organic doesn't always mean tasty. It usually is, however.

4. Never mention you went to McDonalds. Stop going to McDonalds. Same goes for pretty much all fast food, except In-N-Out.

5. Natural birth isn't a freakish thing. It's not for the crazies, it's a very normal thing that a very large percentage of pregnant women choose (here at least). It can be in the home, in the hospital, doctor assisted, midwife assisted, or unassisted. Birth can be transformative and exceptionally powerful and spiritual.

6. Babies don't need a lot of STUFF they need a lot of LOVE. They are also not as scary as I thought they were.

7. Beer isn't just beer. There is a culture and you should probably know if you prefer wheat to IPA to lager. Or something. Or you will look like a dork in an area that has at least 6 breweries within 40 miles.

8. High fructose corn syrup is in everything.

9. You don't need to wear makeup every day to look nice. You don't need to wear makeup in order to leave the house. Or to go grocery shopping. Or to go to work. In fact, it's perfectly okay to go to work with wet hair, no makeup, and wear a t-shirt and jeans. If you live here, that is.

10. Some of the people who are homeless choose to be, and some of them are victims of mental health, circumstance, and society. You really don't know which is which. Just because they look 22 and say they're "travelers," you shouldn't snub your nose at them. It will be hard not to snub your noses when they are asking for your spare change while they are wearing Patagonia. If you give them money, fine. If you don't, fine. But try not to judge them. This is a very very hard thing to learn.

11. The church is good. The church is corrupt. The church helps the poor. The church helps itself. The church can be powerful and transformative and honest. The church can be hateful and self-seeking and dishonest. The church is just people, and people are flawed. It is good to be a part of a movement that is committed to social justice, beauty, intelligence and community. However, conflict and ugliness can be found even in such a movement. We're all sinners. Let's learn to forgive ourselves and others and go on from there.

12. The Redwoods are huge and powerful and awe-inspiring. And then, slowly, they just become trees. They are still beautiful.

13. When people complain about paying $40 for a half hour doctor's visit and free meds, and you tell them how much it would have cost them if they were uninsured in Chicago... Well. They don't want to hear it.

14. The ocean is a thing of beauty. It is extremely powerful to be on the edge of a continent. You can go no further west on land. It's amazing.

15. Humboldt County is beyond beautiful.

Mary Jane? Like, in Spiderman?

First off: In your opinion, should marijuana be legalized?

I've lived in Humboldt County for 2 and a half years now, and I've become well acquainted with the smell of pot. It's everywhere. Don't believe me? Go on a run. You may not smell it on EVERY run, but on the majority of mine I have noticed the pungent smell. Sometimes, it annoys the heck of me. Marijuana and I don't seem to get along, although I can't really say for sure, since I've never tried it firsthand. I have been around it a few times, and, like I said, I smell it all the time. It usually gives me a headache.

But other times I smell it and smile a bit. Ahhhhh Humboldt. It will be hard for me to ever think of life in Humboldt without thinking of the marijuana culture that is so prevalent here. Of course, most of that is an illegal culture... although many, many people have a 215 card that allows them to consume pot for medical reasons. How VALID these reasons are? Well. I'm not sure.

In November, California registered voters will have a voice in the decision to make pot legal. According to the New York Times, "On Wednesday, the California secretary of state certified a November vote on a ballot measure that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, a plan that advocates say could raise $1.4 billion and save precious law enforcement and prison resources."

However, there is a lot of worry in Humboldt that legalization will lead to the corporatization of marijuana. This, plus the fact that marijuana currently sells for a LOT more than it really should, is causing many people to go AGAINST legalization since it could hurt Humboldt's already anemic economy.
From the Associated Press,

"Community members are gathering Tuesday night to consider the consequences. They worry about the ripple effect that a drop in marijuana prices could have on the county as a whole if legalization undermines the black market.
'We have to recognize that if we have something that is this big a piece of our economy that is subsidized by being illegal, that this is an unsustainable situation,' Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace said."

Money aside, is making marijuana legal a good idea? I, like most of you readers, grew up with marijuana being taught as a "gate-way drug." Marijuana leads to cocaine which leads to heroin with leads to death. I'm not sure I believe that at all, though. I can understand that certain substances lead to other substances. There are a lot of people who only smoke WHEN they are drinking. I can see how drinking could lead to smoking cigarettes which could MAYBE lead to pot. I can't see pot leading to cocaine though. Or meth. I think if you're willing to try those intensely dangerous drugs, you may have gotten there from MANY places. Like depression. Or prescription drugs. Sure, maybe you got there from marijuana but I don't think it's the predominant route.

There are those who say that if pot is legalized, we'll have more car accidents and more crime. Not necessarily. Drinking and many prescription drugs can cause a person's reaction times to slow or may cause aggression or tiredness. I'm not sure that pot would cause enough additional accidents to be statistically relevant.

Like I've said, I have not tried marijuana, but the biggest reason for that is that it is currently illegal. I try to obey the laws of the land, including this one. I do think that marijuana can be medically appropriate for certain conditions, however. Yes, it's a drug. So is Tylenol, and caffeine. Now, I don't have any serious medical conditions, but I do struggle with anxiety. However, when I am having an anxiety attack, I take this:
Lorazepam. It makes me nice and calm. In fact, it makes me feel like I've had about two glasses of wine. It makes me want to curl up with a blanket and just veg out. However, it's apparently quite addictive, so I've only taken 3 in the past 6 months. I don't want to get hooked, and I try not to take more medication than I absolutely need.

If marijuana was legalized, would I try it for my anxiety? If I'm being honest, yes. Quality, organic leaves versus chemicals? I would go leaves.

But it's not legal. And even if it is, I'm moving away from California in 6 days.

We'll see if Humboldt survives legalization.

What do you think? Should pot be legal, regulated and taxed? Do you have more information for the discussion? Do you care, or is it a moot point?

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