GOLD RIM, TENNESSEE– An agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency sat down with his friend — a woman who has stage four ovarian cancer — to explain why the DEA’s decision to leave marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug “makes complete and total sense.”
“There just isn’t any medicinal use for pot,” Agent Tommy Winklemyer told Helen Shin as they sat in his garage watching the Olympics. Winklemyer was enjoying locally brewed beers and smoking Camel Lights while Shin was sitting in a chair across the room from him, recuperating from her latest round of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. “I’m sorry Helen,” Winklemyer told his friend, “but facts are facts. Pot and heroin, as far as the law is concerned, are both equally dangerous.”
Helen wasn’t so sure she agreed, and she told Agent Winklemyer as much.
“I’m not so sure I agree there’s no medical use for pot,” Helen said, adding that she’d heard in other states that had legalized medical marijuana saw a reduction in prescription drug use. Particularly painkiller use has seen a sharp decline in states with laws that allow marijuana to be cultivated, sold, and used by people with a doctor-certified use for cannabis.
Agent Winklemyer scoffed as he opened his sixth beer of the night. Grabbing for his pack of cigarettes, he lit one up and took a long drag. He sipped from his beer as he scolded his friend.
“Yeah, but we’re talking about peer-reviewed research that shows marijuana has an actual medicinal effect and not some placebo or some shit,” Winklemyer said, his voice becoming heavy and slurred.
Helen pointed out that cannabis being a Schedule I drug has drastically impeded studies using it. She also mentioned that some hard data has come out on treating seizures with cannabis oil, and the results have been quite remarkable. Helen insisted that if the government hadn’t put a strangle hold on research, medicinal uses may have already been found. Winklemyer was having none of it, and as he opened his seventh beer, he lit yet another smoke and told his friend this.
“Oh, bullshit, Helen,” Agent Winklemyer said, perhaps a little too forcefully, “just bullshit.” Winklemyer, sensing he’d upset his friend, backtracked, and started hurriedly shushing her and repeating, “Okay, okay, okay” over and over. She was so upset though, that Winklemyer felt really terrible and decided to drown his sorrows in his eighth beer.
Gaining her composure back, Helen asked Winklemyer if he’d ever heard of a domestic dispute call where cops had to stop a stoned man or woman from beating their spouse. Winklemyer nodded his head “no.” Then Helen asked her friend another question.
“So, how come we can’t just treat pot like we do alcohol or tobacco,” Helen queried, “and allow adults to make adult decisions about their own bodies?”
Winklemyer laughed, and Helen could smell the hops on his breath from across the room.
“Cuz, silly, pot’s just different, DUHHHHHHHHH,” Winklemyer said, his eyes glassy, as he lit up yet another cigarette.
“Because it doesn’t have a scientifically proven medicinal use,” Helen asked of her friend.
Winklemyer nodded his head up and down rapidly. He told her, “Now you get it! Good!”
But Helen wasn’t ready to let the subject go.
“So what are the medicinal uses for cigarettes and alcohol, if that’s your measure of whether something can be legally trafficked,” Helen asked, incredulity creeping into her tone with each syllable.
Agent Winklemyer hiccoughed. He made some kind of whirling hand gestures and then burped. Helen waited another couple of moments, thinking a human reply might be forthcoming. But it never came.
“Oh, and cocaine and heroin actually do have medical value, but we put them as Schedule I because of the severity of the consequences of abusing them,” Helen said, “but as far as I can tell abusing pot will lead to sleep and perhaps gaining some weight. This doesn’t make any sense to me, really it doesn’t.”
Attempting to get up and get to the refrigerator in his garage to grab himself one more beer, Winklemyer was heard mumbling something, but Helen couldn’t really hear what it was. Just before he got to the fridge, the DEA agent tripped over his own feet and came crashing down on the garage floor.
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