Hurts So Good | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Hurts So Good 

The time for legal medical cannabis in Utah is now.

Pin It

OK, mom. You can stop reading now. If you wondered who I was before, depending on how deep dive I go, you might not think so highly of your favorite son. But, to be sure, it was the other kids who were worse, so be thankful you are not their mom. I was just a traveler on spaceship Earth, doing dumb stuff along the way and taking mental notes of just about everything.

So it was in 1970 that I caught my first glimpse of marijuana. I didn't smoke on that day, just watched as a good buddy awkwardly rolled a really crappy joint, then sputtered and choked his way through it. To be sure, I was caught on one of those teen year fulcrums— Do I or don't I make a move? Take a drink? Take a puff? I didn't. Instead, I left kind of shaken, knowing that even all the way up in Bingham Canyon, the Oz where I grew up, marijuana had come to roost. I'd watched Reefer Madness—mandatory viewing in health class—and watched San Francisco hippies go all zippy-dippy. I'd heard the sermons, the teachers' warnings and the mantra that weed is the devil's daughter.

I'd also heard the songs. I loved the songs of the '60s. Thus, it wasn't long before I wanted to be all zippy-dippy, too. I wanted the coolness that oozed off of musicians like Booker T. I wanted to wear shades. I wanted to know why all those guys coming back from Vietnam were smoking pot. What did everyone seem to know that I didn't? I knew Reefer Madness was full on bullshit, so that was no scary barrier. I also knew a growing number of my friends were starting to smoke and I learned that some of our teachers secretly inhaled. So, I thought, what the hell, went to my buddy's house, put Disraeli Gears on the record player and took a puff. Then another.

I remember my buddy needling over to the song "Strange Brew." OK, cool, but nothing new. Then there was a song about trees outside the window or something, and I thought, "Man, who would ever write that?" Pretty soon "Tales of Brave Ulysses" played and I started to, uhh, drift. About then, my friend switched to a different Cream album and lo, Jesus! "Sunshine of Your Love" hit me like a ton of electric guitars. I've been shaking my head ever since, wondering if there could possibly be a better trio anywhere ever better than Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. I was hooked (on Cream, that is). As they say, nothing happened, it didn't do a thing for me.

Fast forward to that summer. I was in Lava Hot Springs for the Fourth of July and I saw my first cowboy smoking pot. Hmmm. And I remembered the Nam guys. Hum, hum. Something wasn't ringing true. It wasn't peer pressure. Pot was just suddenly everywhere. By my senior year of high school, damn near everyone I knew had smoked pot, even the good boys and girls. Nobody was going crazy and eating trees. Over time most of us just up and quit. Some just because; some because they'd gotten busted; some because of marriage; some because of church missions. The last time I smoked a joint was 294 dog years ago. Me and Mary Jane had an amicable divorce.

Then, a few years ago, someone mistakenly gave me an edible marijuana gum drop before a group dinner. It was innocent. But a few hours later I'm thinking, "Wow, what's in this ceviche?" It wasn't until a year later that I learned the gum drop guy was taking them for pain and had mistakenly given me one. That's the first I discovered medical cannabis being used for pain relief. I dug a bit deeper—where had I been all these years?—and learned of the myriad uses of medical cannabis. For cancer patients, sufferers of epilepsy, autistic children, depression, anxiety and for men and women back from war and suffering from PTSD—aha! Those friends of mine coming back from Vietnam with pockets full of Thai stick weren't degenerate dopers; they were self medicating.

Our society labeled them wrongly. All of them. Say you're sorry, society! Our leaders lied, but why? It's too long a tale for the space remaining here, but you're all smart readers. You know it's about the money. Politicians profit when drug companies profit. With all the drugs that have been dispensed over 50 years, no American should even sniffle. But, sniffle they do, and OD they do, as well. Our leaders even cooked up a War on Drugs, in part to keep plenty of extra jobs alive in the industries of law enforcement and incarceration and the voting support that came with said jobs. It's been a good 50 year run for those folks. But times are changing.

We're not dopes. Thirty states have laws allowing for some level of legal cannabis use. We want Utah to become state number 31. As expressed in last week's issue, there is a ballot initiative coming in November where you can do your part to legalize medical cannabis in Utah. YOU MUST VOTE! Leading up to the vote, in October City Weekly will host the state's first ever medical cannabis convention, Utahcann ( Please come. It's time to educate Utahns about the truth behind medical cannabis and its viability over opioids. It's time for all of us to put down the marijuana stigma, face our mothers and children and say, "I love you. If you are hurting, I will help you. If that help comes from a marijuana plant, I will give it to you and please give it to me if I hurt, too."

We've all hurt for way too long.

Send feedback to

Pin It


About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

© 2023 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation