The first big concert I ever attended was Cypress Hill at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, about 20 years ago. Rage Against the Machine was in support, barely even that famous yet. It was a show I will never forget and between that and growing up in Woodstock, you can likely imagine I don’t exactly agree with draconian moron/U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when it comes to criminalization of a plant that is in no way as harmful as narcotics.
I dare anyone reading this to go watch the documentary 13th on Netflix and not come away with the sense that marijuana criminalization (including the “three strikes” and mandatory minimums President Bill Clinton championed in 1994) for the most part is an extension of Jim Crow, and in most cases more or less a form of white supremacy in service of the prison-for-profit system.
When asked to examine weed’s impact on the nightlife of the Kingston area these days, what struck me was how many people had only positive things to say, some even arguing that it’s become a reverse gateway drug. I know I see people vaping casually or using it to get through working a double-shift from time to time at various places. It helped my mood swings considerably when I was adjusting to estrogen spikes as a side effect of a vasectomy years ago. What do some other folks think?
“Marijuana has been wrongfully accused of a lot of things in the last 100-plus years,” says Matt Goldpaugh, member of popular local Americana act The Gold Hope Duo. “People are finally coming around to the magnitude of benefits, besides the obvious one, and it needs its name cleared and that stigma gone so we can move forward as a species. As a member of Kingston’s nightlife and a guest of nightlife — night-lives? — across America as a traveling musician, I guess I could tell you that more people than you think use it, so it’s not as bad as some people might think it is. I would be beating a dead drunk horse to say that alcohol is a whole heck of a lot worse.”
Goldpaugh mentions that there are no potholes in the roads in Colorado now and that everyone in the state got a check last year from weed profits — something more likely to fix infrastructure problems in America than Trump’s constant multi-million dollar golf trips or wasted missiles. It is unjust to keep acting like weed is just about Dazed and Confused tropes anymore, as much as I love Foghat and Rick Derringer.
“Prior to my diagnosis for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I believed that herb was more or less a party drug,” says local Daniel Boyce. “I now hate using the word drug to describe herb. When I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s, before starting chemo the pain was unreal, between July 9 and 10 I was taking conventional pain medications every few hours and was mostly miserable. A friend shipped me some prepared desserts — small pies and chocolates — and I took them thinking that the high would help, as it turned out they were so effective for treating pain that I actually forgot to take the painkiller medicine that I was prescribed. This was when I realized how good herb is when prepared correctly for pain control. It blew my mind because up until that point I believed that herb was for getting high and not much more.”
People use marijuana for defeating eating disorders, fighting nausea when very ill as Boyce did when he needed to keep down the anti-emetic pill that would enable him to travel in the car to get chemo, or it even helps people who have long-term pain from broken bones as they age.
“Now that I’ve been in remission for five years and overcome much of the treatment side effects my herb usage has dropped off quite a lot, to lower levels than before I was diagnosed with cancer,” Boyce says. “I still enjoy smoking it for the high but I have more of a mindset now that I use it when I need to, like when my stomach gets screwed up or my appetite goes off, and sometimes for lingering aches and pains. Since using it for these things I have a new appreciation for the healing properties and would encourage anyone who has trouble with nausea, pain or weight loss to give it a try. There are also myriad other uses for herb in treatment of medical conditions that I’ve learned about over the years, and with it being such a safe alternative to prescription narcotics I would encourage anyone who could benefit to give it a try.”
Former city person and writer Rebecca Wright Huang also claims it has really helped her quality of life, and not in some follow The String Cheese Incident around on tour cliché way. She just had to leave New York and head west to fight stigma.
“My story is basically that I had a chronic pain disorder for 10-plus years, and opioid painkillers made me feel terrible,” she says. “My ex-boyfriend freaked out when I casually mentioned wanting to get my [medical marijuana] card, because he’s never been around drugs, and had all these ideas in his head of what that would be like. I suffered on opioids for two more years until I finally dumped him for being an asshole. I got my card not too long after that and it was a life-changing experience. I’m in remission now but much more functional.”
Alicia Schaefer is a long-time area resident who just recently went to Colorado to get into the boom there. “Beyond the fact that opiate use has gone down here in Colorado, kids are using less pot, not more, people are coming in record numbers to gain access to medicine they wouldn’t get previously,” she reports. “Here in Trinidad, we collect a total of 21.9 percent tax on all recreational sales: 2.9 percent state sales tax, 4 percent local sales tax, 10 percent special state marijuana tax and 5 percent to local Trinidad marijuana tax. And that’s not including the excise tax, where our grow pays tax on every pound it transfers out. Some cities are doing better than others, as some have started putting money back in and some are kinda sitting on it trying to decide what to do when they have a split board. If you have a city council that is split down the middle, half for and half against [it] so they can’t seem to make any decisions, that will not get anything happening.”