Come March, it’s okay to get high in Maine, as the state throws open the market doors to legal recreational marijuana. Holy smoke, Batman!

I confess, I’ve smoked some dope in my day. Not a lot, mind you. I was never a pothead. Even when I was in high school and college during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the drug-fueled counterculture was in full bloom. Truth be told, I wasn’t all that enamored of the dumb-feeling, paranoid-inducing effects of weed. I was more into sports and girls.

In college I experimented with more exotic and appealing drugs, like LSD and cocaine. But again, on a limited basis. I was no Hunter S. Thompson. I took two LSD trips, once cross-country skiing on a moonlit golf course with van Gogh-like flaming trees and stars spiraling across the night sky. Like, far out, man.

My two cocaine experiences scared me – because I liked them way too much. There was something quite wonderful knowing that over the course of just a couple of hours you could easily complete three novel chapters, map out a round-the-world hiking trip, power lift 300 pounds, and then to relax, compose the opening aria of a comic opera starring the rubber-mouthed Clutch Cargo cartoon.

But today, at age 66, those brave-hearted days have long passed. As in passed out. Because that’s exactly what happened to me the last two times I puffed on the Devil’s Lettuce. Most recently smoking with my musically talented brother-in-law in Florida. One minute I was talking to him (incoherent stoner gibberish, I suspect) and the next minute my tongue stopped wagging, my eyes rolled into the back of my head, and my body pitched sideways off the stool I was sitting on. Next thing I knew, my panicked relative was standing over me, helping me get up off the floor.

One bad dope experience could be chalked up to recreational hazard. Two in a row was cause for concern. I did a little semi-scientific research (on the internet, of course) and determined the cause of my blacking out was a chemical reaction between THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, and one of my more powerful blood pressure medications, which dramatically slows down my heart rate. In combination, they took me out, like an uppercut to a glass jaw.

So now I’m a drug-free citizen (well, save for all the medications I take for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a daily aspirin for clot-free blood, the occasional sleeping pill, and regular doses of ibuprofen for old-person’s aches and pains). Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I still drink alcohol – a glass or two of wine every night. And occasionally, three fingers of good Kentucky bourbon on the rocks. Or a refreshing gin and tonic on a hot, sultry summer evening.

Okay, I’m not a saint. Maybe not even drug free. Just an older guy trying to soften some of life’s harder edges. But for the most part, I’m just high on life.


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