There seem to be just about as many ways to "get high" as there
are people to indulge in or create them. Let's start with one that
many people indulge in on a regular basis. You see them jogging on the
sidewalk. This is a more innocent type of high - the runner's high
- which happens when chemicals known as endorphins are released into the
body due to strenuous exercise. Endorphins are said to cause feelings
of euphoria, or well-being and joy.
You could call this the "high-on-life" high, in a sense.
And there are those types of highs that alter your consciousness by introducing
a chemical into the body, rather than by producing the chemical from within
by running or, ahem, sexual activity. These highs are achieved through
any of a wide variety of substances.
Let's take a look at caffeine, codeine, and cannabis.
Each of these three substances, besides all starting with the letter C,
alter your consciousness and produce a sort of high, in the broad sense
that a high is the result of a change in brain chemistry.
Caffeine, a stimulant, is said to be the most widely consumed psychoactive
drug in the world. But caffeine, according to Wikipedia, is legal and
unregulated pretty much everywhere, unlike the other two psychoactive
substances, codeine and cannabis. "Psychoactive" is a scary
word, isn't it? But it simply means those drugs, like caffeine, that
affect brain function and alter consciousness.
Codeine, a narcotic derived from opium, is commonly used as a painkiller.
Unlike caffeine, codeine is heavily regulated in the U.S. and in its purer
form is a Schedule II controlled substance because of its apparently high
potential for addiction. Yet the government has blessed our use of codeine,
as long as it comes from a doctor's prescription.
Another substance increasingly coming from a doctor's prescription,
or, in Arizona, a doctor's written certification, is cannabis. Cannabis,
unlike completely-legal caffeine and highly-regulated but legal codeine,
is flat-out illegal in many areas of the U.S. and has been for years,
besides the fact that caffeine and codeine are no less psychoactive than cannabis.
Like codeine, cannabis is considered by many to be a medicine. See this
beginner's guide to choosing the right strain of medical cannabis,
with its repeated references to "medicine," by the Patients
Care Collective in Berkeley. And while you can use cannabis if you're
a qualifying patient in Arizona, like the use of codeine, cannabis is
still treated as though it was worse than codeine.
What's the 'Worst' High?
Every single one of these ways to get high, from running to drinking coffee
to smoking marijuana, is an example of what you may choose to do to alter
your consciousness. Is it really any of the government's business
to continue to criminalize one of these over another?
The Big Questions
Why is mere
possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use in Arizona still a felony
if you aren't a qualifying patient? Why must you have something like
cancer to make using cannabis acceptable? Why, when it's likely that
cannabis is likely much less addictive than the narcotic codeine, you
can still go to jail for it?
As Phoenix criminal defense lawyers, we can't fully answer these questions
ourselves, but we can put the government to its proof in court.