I grew up in the 60’s and the 70’s. I get it, believe me. Promise.

Then, to those with a simple and relatively pedestrian taste palette, a little beer and some pot represented the safe path to innocuous mind-altering hedonism.

It was almost a rite of passage to imbibe a bit — to go a little rogue if you will — the pressure to do so actually more self-imposed than external.

Peer group dynamics have been around forever and certainly an ugly head was and is reared once in a while. In today’s world so dominated by social media it seems that the insatiable desire to be popular, current and cool exponentially trumps the adherence to core values more often than not. It’s easy to cave, expedient.

I suppose that was the case then too, though the stakes are much higher now.

But I promised you that I do get it, so allow me to concede that maybe it’s just my age talking.

Experts fifty years ago loved to characterize marijuana as a “gateway drug.” Conventional wisdom dictated that pot smoking inexorably led to a need and an increased willingness to experiment with more potent, “harder” substances.

Suffice to say that this hypothesis is not exactly etched in stone — nor was it ever — and whether or not cannabis use paves the way to the dabbling in and subsequent dependence on harder drugs is still entirely open to question, interpretation and motive.

Those who smoked weed back in the day did it for fun, period. Some outgrew it and some did not. Those who upped the ante over time probably would have anyway. And either they outgrew that or not.

To me, it’s all about the person, the individual. That’s what makes a person individual. Tastes. Proclivities. Style. Tolerances. Personality. Intelligence. Genes.

Allowing the vernacular of the 70’s to assist, my pal Mitch over time became a “load-star.”

He was nicknamed by yours truly, “Mr. Much.”

(I also referred to him affectionately as “Mr. More”; “Danny The Pig Boy”; and “A-Grove By a Nose” among many other monikers. Surely you understand).

Mitch would act first and think later and he became quite adept at it. There was nothing he wouldn’t try and it was rarely once.

But a certain level of intelligent thought actually permeated — when he could suppress his ego a little — and somehow or other he escaped harm almost always.

We had a lot of fun together and by his reckoning there was a period in our youth over nearly two calendar years during which time we saw each other — hung around — every day.

We were (and remain) very close, pardon the understatement.

Of course time waits for no man. (Or woman or beast).

About four years ago Mitch suffered a massive stroke which essentially paralyzed the left side of his body, his dominant side. Although he has made remarkable physical and cognitive progress in the context of this tragedy certainly and in general as well, he is wheelchair-bound and likely will continue to be.

And he is in constant pain. All the time. He is on a regular regimen of pain medication — and has been — but the success rate with these drugs has been spotty at best.

The bottom line is that all of this medication — and there has been plenty of mixing, matching and thoughtful care — simply doesn’t work for him. (See aforementioned remark made two paragraphs above regarding “the individual”).

Only one thing offers him immediate and consistent relief he claims.


You guessed it.

Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis.

In 2016 this should be a marriage made in heaven, the only one of his three which could be thusly described, incidentally.

Medical Marijuana. This is a textbook case. This is a prime example of its value. Its need. Its legitimacy.

Mitch’s medical travails dovetail perfectly with the rationale behind its legalization.

He is the posterboy trumpeting the cause. Should be a done deal. Case closed. Court adjourned.

Except it’s not.

Mitch cannot get his card. He is being denied accessibility. For reasons unbeknownst to me — and in the interest of full disclosure, perhaps he is simply not fully disclosing all to me — he is unable to avail himself of this opportunity.

By hook or by crook we must find out why.

Seems like a crime.

[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in October 2016.]

ADDENDUM: Although his condition has remained stable, test results for COVID-19 are pending for Mitch in a present-day twist. Thankfully, he has had access to Medical Marijuana for quite some time now.


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