Updated: Oct 15, 2020

I was introduced to marijuana by a Caucasian, African, and Mexican - proving that all races love weed the same. The D.A.R.E. Program made me curious about cannabis in 5th grade, and by the time I got offered to try it in 9th, I wanted it. It wasn't a shady figure behind a dumpster tempting me... It was kids from class. I must have been the world’s biggest loser because I've never got drugs for free – I’ve always had to pay.

I finally had the chance to try marijuana, and I was excited. I'll always remember the day! It was sunny and spring in Draper, Utah. The catfish smelling trees were in bloom, and I had just passed all 56 of them on the walk home. The moment I got home, I laid on my bed and the doorbell rang.

"Valerie!" My dad yelled.

I ran downstairs and was surprised to see 3 boys from middle school! We were cool at school, but we never hung out. I didn't even know they knew where I lived. My dad left as I stood there perplexed by their presence. "What's up guys?" I asked. The boys looked around all shifty eyed and asked: "You wanna smoke weed?"

"Yes!” I replied without giving it a second thought. “I've got the perfect spot!"

We trekked across an open field (that is now) Honeybee Park in the most Mormon suburb of Draper, Utah. We hopped a fence, and nestled beneath a willow tree on the banks of the East Jordan Canal.

The boys pulled out a bag of what looked like herbs, and a pipe fashioned out of tin foil. They were ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the "red hairs and the crystals!" "Bro, the crystals!" I'm certain I got more high hitting the tin foil pipe than the marijuana, but I did, no doubt, feel something shift in my perceptions.

For the first time, I went from thinking a million thoughts to one. I took a deep breath and noticed the beauty of nature all around me. I took another calm, deep breath and saw a mother duck stroll by with 7 baby ducklings. I almost cried! I was so happy to notice the small details. The clouds were the perfect puffy cumulonimbus, and the sun was gently shining on my face, reflecting sparkles on the water. I couldn't believe it! The moment was so perfect. This was real-life.

Marijuana made me more grateful to be alive.

Suddenly, I had consideration for my parents. Prior this moment, I was acting like

God's gift to them. High, I realized they were God's gift to me, and they created me. I wouldn't be alive without them, and I could be more of an asset to them. I could do more chores. I could help my brother and sister. I could take initiative to make their lives easier. I walked home with a deeper appreciation for life.

The only thing that made me paranoid was the fact that it was illegal. Knowing I was with these boys, and that I'd have to answer the simple question of "what'd you do?" As much as I wanted to be honest and tell my parents that I just smoked weed, I couldn't. Smoking marijuana was against the law.

The D.A.R.E. Program taught us that a Schedule 1 Controlled is "the most dangerous with no medical benefits". Using a Scheduled 1 Controlled Substance is harshly prosecuted in America and people are still in jail for using it. However, even though it was banned, it was easy for my peers to get. And even though I knew this much about it, it didn't stop me from trying it. All it made me want to do was quietly pursue this incredible drug without getting caught.

I realized the bad in marijuana didn’t come from the actual herb marijuana. It came from “the drug” being illegal, banned, and harshly prosecuted. I had such a pleasant experience, I wanted to share it with my parents, but I was scared my parents would call the cops!

With all the positive, motivating thoughts, I wondered: "Why would America ban marijuana? Why on Earth would anyone ban a plant? This is God's creation, and I've never felt closer to God." I didn't even feel "high", but instead, a positive shift in my thoughts.

Marijuana was a revelation.

Clearly, the people against marijuana had never tried it. If they did, they wouldn't be spreading fearful misinformation. I didn’t die or get pregnant. That was the calmest experience I’d ever had in my life. Anyone who spoke against marijuana, lost all credibility in my mind. Because it was a Schedule I Controlled Substance lumped in the same category as other drugs, I began to wonder: What other drugs did D.A.R.E. lie to us about?

If this is what marijuana is like...

I wonder what other drugs are like...

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