I prefer to say weed instead of marijuana but like a lot of somewhat contended industries framing is important and “weed” doesn’t sound as lovely or technical as “marijuana”. Dispensaries prefer words like cannabis, herbal medicine, and flowers. They tend to avoid using the word weed because it has a negative connotation. That being said, I feel like a character in Reefer Madness when I say marijuana. It’s like saying “the pot” or doobies.

I think doobies is a dumb word.

The fact that even having to think about how to frame language around marijuana, or how dispensaries market it, is a significant point to consider.

We think about framework a lot in the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association office and it’s something I have personally been thinking about for a long time. I was a gender studies minor in college and at the time, many years ago, there was not a lot of language to describe gender outside of the traditional binary terms (i.e. male and female). Today, thank goodness, we have come a long way and now there are far more terms to describe sexuality and gender experiences. (i.e. male, female, transgender, gender-neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, etc.)

WHY DOES THAT MATTER?

Well, words matter because they convey images, perspectives, points of view; they can distinguish negativity, clarify ambiguity, and promote positivity.

For example, when we say “commercial fishing industry” for some that might conjure images of really big fishing vessels with miles and miles of nets causing mass destruction on the ocean floor. This is not an accurate depiction of what fishing looks like in Maine or in the U.S. But if we say, “fishing family businesses” it may tone down that exaggerated imagery to something more positive (and accurate) like idyllic lobster boats hauling traps in the Gulf of Maine.

Framework refers to the structure of something, in this case, words and language used to describe something. It’s used in advertising and marketing all the time to make things sound better than they do, or in political campaigns to make things seem worse than they are. Another example of a framework is pro-life/ pro-choice; neither camp wants to be anti-anything so they “framed” the discussions to be positive rather than negative. It’s just easier to get on board with something that’s pro, I guess.

WHY DO I SMOKE MARIJUANA?

I went to school in Vermont and there’s not a lot to do in the wintertime there if you don’t ski or snowboard. JK! Kinda!

Fast forward to after I had kids, and thanks to hormones and stuff, I get migraines now. When I first started getting the stabbing headaches I was (over-prescribed) Vicodin and opioids. Which, BTW, should never be taken while in the throes of migraine headaches because opioids can cause major mood issues and rebound headaches. I was also prescribed Topamax which is a daily prophylactic intended to prevent the onset of headaches. And, maybe it kinda did that, but taking Topamax turned me into a fucking basketcase. BASKETCASE. So when medical marijuana was legalized in Maine I decided that perhaps that was a better route than the toxic pharmaceuticals I was taking (and that weren’t totally working).

And, no surprise, getting rid of the medications and starting to smoke weed on occasion was much gentler on my mind and body.

Here’s why I used to drink:

  • I don’t want to think about it.
  • I don’t want to deal with it.
  • I don’t like this feeling. (guilt, anxiety, shame, sadness)
  • I don’t want to be here. (at a restaurant/party/bar/large group of people)

Here’s why I smoke pot:

  • I have chronic tinnitus in my left ear and lately, my right ear has started occasionally ringing. This is because I had a disease in my ear called cholesteatoma and probably because I didn’t wear earplugs at concerts for a long time. The ringing makes me tired and grumpy. This is also why I am always listening to music.
  • I incessantly worry. About everything. I also catastrophize which means that I think of a situation and then continue to think about it until I’ve covered every possible horrible outcome and arrived at the absolute most horrendous outcome and sometimes by that point I am struggling to focus or breathe.
  • I have a tough time being present when I should just be playing. For example, I love to play badminton with my son Riley, but if I know there are e-mails that need addressing or dishes that need to be done, that’s what I tend to do first (and then I can play when I’m done with everything I need to do, ya know if there’s even any daylight left.) or I am impatient and I rush through the badminton game so I can get those other things done.
  • So. Much. Stress. I am married to a fisherman who works for an uncertain and volatile industry and then for some bananas reason I work for that industry, too. There is always something, not to mention the inherent danger associated with going fishing that makes a regular appearance on my list of things to worry about. (And stress causes lots of migraines so it’s good when I can manage it.)
  • Every few months my left boob starts to hurt and even though I know that this has to do with hormones and that breast pain is extremely common and that I’ve had two mammograms in the past 5 years, I convince myself that it’s cancer and I’m going to die. (See bullet about catastrophizing above.) Smoking helps ease the discomfort, both in my boob and in my brain.

If I drank, all of these examples would be exacerbated, dulled, and added to a pile of crap to think about later and that inevitably requires more and more alcohol to control, it starts to manifest physically; acne, weight gain, low heart rate variability, high blood pressure; and, tricks my brain into thinking that I should do things that I don’t want to do, whether that’s bad decisions or going places I don’t want to go to like parties because I think I should and not because I want to.

Also, if I drank, I would become part of a targeted demographic that is specifically manipulated and made to feel bad about themselves in order to spend more money. Legging-wearing, wine-drinking, husband-bashing moms? I’m looking at you. No thank you.

But because I smoke, I can manage the ringing, take a deep breath, be present, and check myself. I can move through something instead of avoiding it or finding ways to go around it. And, most importantly, I can play and have fun and wake up at 5 the next morning and feel fan-fucking-tastic.

CHANGING ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS.

I love seafood and talking about fishing as part of our food system. I prefer smoking pot and I don’t drink at all anymore; I’m more productive in the morning than I am in the evening; I love quiet time a heck of a lot more than parties; I’m introverted, I think it’s important to eat healthily and exercise, and I don’t bring my phone to bed at night.

But when I tell people that I smoke pot I start to think that they probably think I’m high all the time or the reason I forget something is because I’m a stoner or obviously the only reason I eat is that I have the munchies.

Nothing about me really changes when I’m high.

And most importantly, I’m just not fucking stoned all the time.

I don’t drive high. I don’t get on Zoom meetings high. I don’t take phone calls when I’m high. I don’t write grants or reports or manage my emails when I’m high. During the week sometimes I don’t even get the chance to get high because there’s important shit that needs addressing and I want to focus. I don’t get super red sleepy eyes when I’m high. I don’t stop showering and grow dreads and only wear hemp. Basically, I don’t sit around all day, get high, and shirk responsibilities.

Nope. My house is clean because I love to get high, listen to music, and putter around the house tidying up. I eat pretty well because I like to get high and make a bunch of food on Sundays. I have a really good relationship with my kids for lots of reasons but one is that because I really like to hang out with them and do fun stuff as much as I can and smoking a little weed helps me stop and remember to play.

I don’t assume that people that drink are drunk all the time.

I don’t assume that everyone that drinks are alcoholics.

I do worry that too many people drink for some of the same reasons that I drank and those are not very good reasons to drink.

I want more people to eat (Maine) seafood and I would love for people to reconsider the benefits of marijuana. I don’t want everyone to use cannabis; it’s not for everyone, but I’m just saying, just like eating seafood is a wicked healthy food choice that supports your physical and mental well-being, marijuana is a healthier option than a lot of the normalized methods for coping or support.

And in order to get there, we need to talk about both seafood (and commercial fishing) and marijuana more, and we need to talk about them how they are, and not how some people perceive them to be.

  • American commercial fishing businesses provide healthy, nutritious, vitamin- and nutrient-rich, delicious seafood that supports physical and mental well-being. Commercial fishing in the US is done so sustainably and seafood has a lower carbon footprint than most land-based proteins.
  • Smoking marijuana is a natural option to help a lot of people cope with various afflictions.

Wishing you lots of sunshine, lobster rolls… and good weed.

All photos from Nicole Wolf Photography

Lives on Orr’s Island. Married to a commercial fisherman. Works for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. Writes on AragostaMama.com. Eats a lot of seafood.

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