This is a personal testimony, which I wrote the weekend after I finally got my first medical marijuana recommendation from my doctor.
The day I wrote this was the 40th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy. Sometime during the day I watched his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech and it really resonated with me. I grew up during the cold war and the the idea of East and West Berlin were as normal to me as the separation between night and day.
On that day I realized now that I was free I needed to join up with the resistance and help others to escape from the old world into this amazing new one I had entered.
Fortunately a whole generation is now growing up without that false division of East and West Berlin as a part of their thinking. I look forward to when we are finished with this cancerous drug war, and it falls just like the Berlin Wall did twenty years ago, and a new generation can grow up without the false divisions created over the last 70 years of marijuana prohibition.
The Man On The Other Side Of The Wall
November 22, 2003
On Tuesday night, November 18th, I got home from work, sat in my big chair, kicked back, and for the first time in my life smoked marijuana legally. Within minutes the herb was soothing the chemical hell of the mania I was enduring. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, in my own living room, smoking pot legally. After all these years of self-medicating my disorder, finally I was legit, the doctor had given me his recommendation, no, his “strong recommendation” that I use medical marijuana.
I couldn’t wait to share my good news. I called some friends and shared my story of my yearlong journey with my psychiatrist and the doctor I met with today. These are people I’ve smoked marijuana with before. They know what a hassle the drug war is. Yesterday I was one of them. This morning when I woke up I was one of them. If the Federal Government takes a disliking to me, I’m still one of them. But somehow, during the course of my conversations I realized that I had been smuggled out of the country, and now I was the man living on the other side of the wall.
One of my friends said, “Wow, that’s really great for you, Jon, I wish…” and he sounded like someone wishing for the far country. It broke my heart. I think I can imagine what it must have felt like to be smuggled out of East Berlin into West Berlin, and knowing that people just like you should be where you are. I didn’t realize when I walked into that doctor’s office on Tuesday morning, that it was actually a tunnel under the wall. I walked into that office from the East Berlin of the drug war and walked out in West Berlin. The city is still surrounded, but that is about to change. Freedom has to win. The wall will come down.
But for now, that wall is standing, looking as solid as ever, and I’m a confused immigrant trying to find my way around. How do I go about handling this situation? How do other people who use medical marijuana handle their situation? When and where can I smoke when I need to medicate? Do I now have a greater freedom of movement just like with the other prescription meds I take? It’s a strange new world to me, just a few days old.
So what’s it like on that side of the wall, you might be wondering? Well, when you grow up afraid of the secret police, the fear doesn’t go away over night. I still feel reflexively like I’m on the other side of the wall, I’m sure that will change with time. I keep turning the doctors words over in my mind “I’m strongly recommending that you use medical marijuana.” When being a criminal is the last thing you want to be, those are the best words you can hear. I’ll figure out how to do my shopping in this new city soon enough, but for this moment, I’m just smelling the air of freedom.
I know the city is surrounded, and I know they have the blockade on. But I’ve been smuggled out to live, die and pray with those that breathe the air of freedom, even if it’s just for a moment. Ich bin ein Berliner.
Flash Forward To 2010
Since then I’ve been very busy in this new world.
For the last couple of years I’ve been a volunteer at the collective I belong to called Apothecary’s Assistants Collective (AAC), running the website, taking photos of the herb for the online menu, making medical marijuana buttons to give away (see below) among other things…
And now, in the Fall of 2010, things are changing – Our collective has closed due to the new zoning regulations here in Long Beach, but we’ve joined up with another collective that starting up called The Treehouse Collective, where I’m continuing to take photos for the online menu.
Another change is that I’ll be writing for Medical Marijuana 411, continuing my goal of helping others navigate this new world of freedom, where avoiding the police to acquire your daily medicine is no longer a sick or disabled persons foremost concern.
I look forward to having an ongoing conversation with you about my experiences as a medical marijuana patient here in Southern California, what our collective is like, reviews of strains that I photograph, and whatever happens to be in the medical marijuana news of the day.
Until later, best of health.