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I did something extremely strange yesterday - I was examined by a doctor I had never met in a shabby little office downtown. And then, in just a matter of minutes, I became San Francisco’s newest medical marijuana patient.

This is not the first time I have tried to get high - I’ve smoked marijuana before. I first became initiated in to recreational drug use in the early 1970s, as a result of smoking a lot of very potent hashish night after night with a small tightly-knit group of 20-something Army buddies, all stationed in Baumholder, Germany.

There were, as I recall, three types of soldiers way back then:

1) The Heads - these were the guys who smoked dope (or shot dope or ate dope)

2) The Drunks - their drink of choice was American beer (Bud)

3) The Drunk/Heads - these were the guys who both drank and did drugs

Yes, those were the good old days. At any given time during my brief three year military career, I could have easily fit into any one of those three categories. And, to be totally honest with you, I still enjoy indulging occasionally.

I have never really understood all the negative hype about weed. Sure, we know all about the dangers - we know all about the drug crazed criminals running around smoking dope and killing everybody everywhere. I have heard that tired old song played all my life. And yet the fact remains, most of the real-life marijuana users I know are fairly “normal” men and women who don’t go around killing people. Not even a little.

So yesterday I finally decided to “get legal.” I made an appointment for 4pm with a clinic across town that specialized in the required medical exam. I was running a little late because I was unfamiliar with that particular part of the city. I finally arrived and filled out some paperwork in the crowded little waiting room. It wasn’t long before I ushered in to a tiny office and met the doctor.

She was a small, unattractive, middle aged woman. I thought she looked more like a nurse than a doctor sitting there in the bright sumer sunlight pouring in through the unshaded windows. Her dress was about as plain and drab as her ugly little office. Besides an ancient wooden desk and two chairs, the room had only four bare walls.

The first thing she wanted to talk about was my injury. I told the doctor the truth - my injury was a fairly bad one. Eight years ago a seven-hundred pound pool table fell on my right foot at work. My big toe got really smashed. Because it happened on a Friday I didn’t see a specialist until the middle of the following week. I eventually had two surgeries and missed five months of work.

The doctor looked at me over her the top of her glasses, and said, “Show me some documentation.” We spent the next ten minutes going over all the documentation I had been instructed to bring. The doctor seemed curious and she looked at every paper I offered. She never, however, looked at my damaged right foot.

The doctor asked me if I had every smoked cannabis before. I lied and told her no (the look on her face told me the doctor knew I was lying). She proceed to advise me not to do smoke alone. The doctor suggested I do it with someone who had experience with smoking pot. Someone I trusted. I found her advise charming, and smiled. Eventually she signed off on my paperwork. Then we stood up, shook hands, and we headed for the door.

The secretary quickly filed my paperwork. Then she offered me a tip about a local clinic that was really mellow. Perhaps I should try them first, she suggested. She also gave me some advise about what to do in case the police stop me on my way home (marijuana possession is still illegal in California).

I carefully drove the three miles down the street and found the little clinic the secretary had suggested. I found a place to park and took a deep breath. Then I proceeded to walk inside the shop with all the required paperwork in hand. Everything was just as cool as the the secretary had promised. Eventually I was given an admission ticket and I was escorted by the armed security guard inside the showroom.

Once inside the showroom, I simply could not believe my eyes. There before me stood two large glass cases simply brimming with of jars and jars of marijuana. And pre-rolled joints too. And pipes and papers of all sizes and description. And over in the corner of the room, stood an ordinary commercial refrigerator stocked full of cannabis drinks and edibles like cookies and other baked goods.

Behind the glass cases stood a goofy-looking young man and a pretty blonde girl. They were the bud tenders. The pretty blonde girl smiled and asked me if I needed any help. I told her this was my first time in a clinic and I was a little nervous and needed all the help I could get.

Some of things in the showroom confounded me. Many years ago you could buy four fingers (one ounce) of weed for ten dollars. Today everything in the showroom is measured in grams instead of ounces. I didn’t know what the pretty little bud tender was talking about half the time. But she was blonde and very pretty so I really didn’t pay much attention.

And the sheer volume of all that cannabis on display was positively breathtaking. I had never seen anything remotely like it in my lifetime. And everything was so very mellow...even the music that played quietly in the background was cool. The experience was extraordinary.

I eventually spent $62.00 on a couple grams of “Platinum Master III” and “Medicine Man H”, a pack of some cheap rolling papers, and one peanut butter cookie made with cannabis butter. I felt elated and anxious. I quickly made my way out of the clinic and back through the parking lot to my old car. All I had to do now, I warned myself, was to drive myself back home safely. And that, strangely enough, is exactly what I did.

Curiosity had gotten the better of me. My whole adult life I had been inconvenienced and sometimes even paranoid about buying pot. I had always counted on friends and family for a very unreliable source. Now, if I wished, I could have a reliable source of fairly priced good quality marijuana almost any time I wished.

And as the sun set and the full moon shone, the warm August night surrounded me like a blanket. I took the peanut butter cookie out of the white paper bag and looked at it for a nice long time. I almost looked at that peanut butter cookie forever.





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