Our Beyond Chronic interview with Laurel Dewey, author of the new novel Betty’s (Little Basement) Garden, continues as Laurel discusses (not) getting high on medical cannabis, a traveling propaganda circus, and her outrage at parents who give their children truly dangerous drugs.
David Fiedler: So we’ve been sitting here for over half an hour talking about all this stuff, and none of us has mentioned the word “high”. Medical marijuana isn’t about being high, is it?
Laurel Dewey: Oh, absolutely not. You know, when I was talking to this 84-year-old guy, that’s the first thing he said to me. When I first met him, he was contemplating using it; by the time I got my relationship with him going for research on the book, he was using it, but he wasn’t smoking it. He was taking it in a tincture form.
And the first thing he said to me was, “I don’t want to get high.”
And that’s what everybody says. I don’t want to get high. I don’t want to be out of control. I don’t want to be stumbling around. I don’t want to be incoherent. I don’t want to be hallucinating. I don’t want to get paranoid.
A lot of that is from fear, and a lot of it is from misinformation, and then a lot of it is true. I sat with a woman, I think she’s in her late sixties now, the first time she ever tried an edible, because she was scared. She took way too much. And she was having a lot of time distortion, and that kind of thing. And she kept looking at me and saying, “This is the reason! This is the reason I didn’t want to do it!”
And I said to her, “OK, give it a couple of days to let it get out of your system, and the next time, just take a little bite. Just take a little bit. Because you obviously found out it was way too much for you.” And she did that, and then she realized there was a way to use it where she wouldn’t have the time distortion, and she wouldn’t feel like she was out of her mind.
The number one reason a lot of the elderly people were taking it, that I encountered, was for two things: insomnia and pain; but mostly insomnia. I mean, I heard that all the time. So I’ve learned that you don’t really get high, but you can take a dose where you know it will get you to sleep. And then it keeps you asleep.
I’m talking about edibles, I’m not talking about smoking. Smoking, frankly, is really the worst way to do it. And it really, really, really gets my goat, when people make assumptions that the only way to do this is to smoke it. Most people don’t have any clue that you can take it in an edible. I mean, they know about brownies, but they don’t know about tinctures, they don’t even know about salves. And then there’s a lot of disinformation going around about salves, that salves can get you high. I’ve heard that, and that’s of course wrong.
I went to a local rally – I’m not going to mention the town – that the concerned citizens did, because they wanted to close a bunch of the dispensaries in town, and they wanted to protect the youth, you know, “God help our youth”. So I went there because I wanted to hear what the propaganda was. I wanted people to look me in the face and tell me all this crap. I wanted to hear what was going on out there, and…boy, I could hardly hold myself back from getting up. I think I’ve totally gone off subject.
Old Hippie: No, no. The amount of ignorance and bullshit about this is incredible. I mean…why else would it still be illegal?
Laurel Dewey: You know, when I went to this “Awareness Group”, it was put on by a group — it wasn’t DARE, but I’m not going to mention the name of the group — that’s very big in schools, the things they were talking about were so ridiculous. It was obvious that these people had no clue what they were talking about. The first thing they said was “It kills brain cells”. That was what they kept driving home, “it kills brains cells”. And all I wanted to do was say, “Didn’t you read? There’s a study. Neurogenesis! It creates the growth of new brain cells! It’s really good for Alzheimer’s. It actually can help stave off dementia. Wait, wait! Do some research!”
And, funnily enough, at this meeting – it was a packed house, standing room only – I looked around at the group, and there were dispensary owners there, that I had talked to. Nobody who was pro-cannabis was getting up and speaking; because they were scared, maybe. This was a loaded house, and it was loaded against them. But a lot of these people were there, like me, because they wanted to see what the opposition was spouting.
There was a doctor on the panel, the attorney general of our state was there – he made some interesting comments – there were some teachers, a school principal, and then there was this moderator there I wanted to choke. He was this typical, ignorant type, making jokes about things that really aren’t funny. You know, making a lot of “pot jokes”, which I thought was really unnecessary.
At one point, they opened it up to questions, and you could write them on an index card, and that way you didn’t have to get up to speak if you didn’t want to. So I wrote one, addressed to the doctor, and I said, “Are you aware of the CBDs in cannabis that are non-psychoactive, and the strains that are barely psychoactive, and how do you feel about that?” So they read the question, and the doctor was a little stunned. I don’t think he thought anybody would come up with a question like that. Nobody else [there] knew what CBDs were anyway. And the doctor said, “No research has been done on that.” And I wanted to stand up and say, “No research?!? Check out ProjectCBD and tell me there’s no research being done on that!”
And this is a good example, because people who were there were ignorant. People were there because they were scared that marijuana was going to kill their kids. And they were there because they truthfully were concerned. And then you get a doctor who says “There’s no research being done on this”, and that’s the final sentence they hear before they walk out. They don’t hear my response: “Come on! I’ve done my due diligence, I’ve researched CBD!” So they walk out of there thinking CBD is ridiculous.
Old Hippie: All it takes for this disinformation to spread is for these people to hear stuff like this from a doctor who on some level is being paid off by Big Pharma or someone else.
Laurel Dewey: They’re like I was. They simply are ignorant. I’m not an ignorant person, but I was ignorant about this subject. I don’t know what the doctor’s agenda was, maybe just to stop the conversation. A lot of these people maybe don’t have connections to Big Pharma, their agenda is just to stop it.
What gets me really angry, more than anything, is that people have no problem or trepidation giving their children psychoactive, anti-psychotic drugs that are really going to hurt them in the long run. They’re going to screw up their liver, and if they give it to them too young, these drugs can and do affect a child’s mental development. But the worst ones are the drugs that have publicized side effects of suicide.
Suicide! Since when was suicide a “side effect”? That’s more like a permanent effect in my opinion. I think what blows my mind is that parents believe that the risk of suicide (as well as other side effects such as insomnia, irritability, self-hurting, headaches and anxiety) are just part of what you have to accept from the Big Pharma offerings their doctors recommend for their kids.
To me, that’s the definition of insanity. How seriously messed up is your kid that you think it’s a better idea to give them a drug that could make them commit suicide, than opt for safer, natural alternatives. How about looking into their diet? That’s a great place to start. How about finding out the reasons why they are depressed or can’t focus? How many chemicals are they exposed to on a daily basis? Environmental poisons are the secret destroyers around us that affect everything from our ability to process information clearly to being huge hormone disruptors.
I know one boy who was given a heavy-duty anti-psychotic drug and it turned out he was suffering from a hormone imbalance. But obviously, nobody took the time to figure that out until the drug nearly killed him and his mother sought alternative medical advice.
I get very angry when I meet conservatives and religious people who feed their children these drugs, and think nothing of it, and then turn around and say, “Oh, did you hear about so-and-so? They’re using marijuana!” I’ve encountered this, exactly this situation, and my blood boils. My blood boils! Because I see the horrible effects of these toxic drugs but nobody else seems to see it. It’s actually quite scary. I keep wondering what kind of world I suddenly walked into.
My personal favorite, and this was years ago, was a woman who was pregnant, and she was not a healthy woman, and she asked me, “Do you think it’s OK that I’m taking Prozac while I’m pregnant…or should I switch to Paxil?” And I just looked at her, stunned. And I said, “Of course not! You shouldn’t be taking those drugs when you’re pregnant.” And she told me those drugs didn’t cross the placental barrier, so I said, “So, where does the baby get its food from? Do you think if you drank Drano, that would be good for the baby?”
But they don’t see any problem taking these strong drugs when they’re pregnant. They don’t see a problem feeding Ritalin to their developing 6, 7, or 8 year olds. They don’t see a problem giving Prozac to a 9-year-old girl who’s going to camp for the first time and is worried that she might become homesick.
These are all situations that I have encountered, that I have dealt with: the possibility that she might become homesick…she isn’t homesick yet, but she might be. So let’s give her Prozac for a few weeks prior to going to camp, so she can get used to it, and then take it with her to camp, so she can be sufficiently numbed. This really bothers me, especially when it has to do with children.
In the next part of the interview, Laurel Dewey talks about suppressing emotions, PTSD, and the stoner stereotype portrayed in movies.