Can I Breathe?
We live in a society with a profound fear of sobriety. To find a community in the U.S. whose daily function has not been drastically altered by chemicals is rare. We are over stimulated and highly dependent on prescription drugs, alcohol, street drugs and anything else that offers an alternate reality or relief of some sort. This culture of dependence has inadvertently created a culture of oppression. People who don’t need drugs or choose not to indulge in them are forced to suffer the consequences of exposure or behavioral changes that dependence creates.
For this post, I’m specifically talking about the smoking of marijuana. The increasing push to legalize marijuana for recreational use has declared war on the non-smokers right to breathe freely. Some may say this is an exaggeration of the situation, but to a non-smoker it is a very real truth. There have been many reports on the scientific proof that secondhand smoke is harmful and causes diseases that can be deadly. There has also been legislation passed to limit secondhand smoke access and its effects. Yet none of that has stopped people from choosing to smoke and non-smokers continue to pay the price.
Weed, as marijuana is called these days, has negative effects as well. You can read about some of them from this article on WebMd here. People think because it is a natural plant that it poses no threat. Anyone who has studied just a little about herbs knows that there are different uses and side effects for each kind and should be used appropriately or they can be harmful. Everything in moderation applies here. While the use of herbs can be beneficial when used as food and to treat ailments, recreational use usually consists of large amounts being consumed frequently. The effects are amplified when large groups participate in the practice at informal gatherings.
By default, smoking is an invasive habit. Whether it’s cigarettes or marijuana, the smoke invades the nostrils and airways of everyone in the vicinity of it. People who choose not to smoke get high off the contact because its so strong. Headaches and light headed fogginess are some of the milder symptoms non-smokers experience from the contact. For many who have compromised immune systems breathing is a labored task. Being around smoke of any kind makes it so hard to breathe that one can go into distress easily because the smoke absorbs the oxygen faster than a person can inhale.
As more states pass legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, it must be considered that regulating its use in terms of location and volume is not likely to be effective. The sad part is, there are some smokers who simply don’t care how their habit affects others. Every being allowed to be born into this world has a right to breathe. It is imperative for the sake of everyone’s well being that we are responsible in our actions. Current weed smokers who live in states where recreational use is illegal only celebrate the movement that favors their habit. If risking a fine or jail time is not a deterrent now, fresh air will only be more limited when it becomes legal.
So here we are fighting to live while living to die because the stress of life is too hard to face sober. I realize people need to treat ailments. I don’t understand the recreational use part. The option to consume weed in the form of food such as brownies and popcorn treats may help the smoking factor, but the reality is many users consume it in all available forms. Maybe we as a society need to reassess our definition of fun and our priorities surrounding the cause and effect of our habits.
I don’t have the answers. I just know it’s frustrating getting a headache while grocery shopping because someone has the whole vegetable section reeking. If only the headache went away when the person carrying the smell did but it doesn’t.
The war on fresh air is alive and well with modern industry. Do we as citizens have to make it worse by adding “natural smoke” to the pollution? It seems as if the addicts are winning but at what cost? With all the varieties of vices available now, not only is fresh air under attack but our basic quality of life. After all, when a person cannot breathe, their life is over. I have been criticized for my position against smoking. But those critics fail to understand I have a right to life just like they do. I have a right to walk down a street and visit public spaces just like they do. There has to be a way to cope with life without destroying the life of others.
How do we as a society determine who will be oppressed and who can live freely? Who lives and who dies? We have all been granted the grace to live, so who are we to make others suffer at the expense of our selfishness? Like everyone else, I’m not perfect. I have to deal with the ups and downs of life like everyone else. With all the problems we face in government, infrastructure, education and the economy, I just think the least we should be able to do is enjoy the air God provides. Can I breathe?