My Visit to a Marijuana Anonymous Meeting
John ShoreBesides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
- 2009 Mar 31
Members of Marijuana Anonymous tend to think the world consists of three kinds of people: Normies, Stoners, and fellow members of Marijuana Anonymous.
Normies can take pot or leave it. A puff now and then is cool, but if they run out of pot they don’t freak out. They’re just ... normal about it.
Stoners are people who by and large cling to the delusion that they're normies---but who never, ever run out of weed if they can help it.
People in Marijuana Anonymous are stoners who finally grew desperate over the fact that, no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn't, so to speak, keep off the grass.
“Being an addict is horrible,” says Laura B. before an MA meeting I recently visited in downtown San Diego, CA. “You’re just helpless against your desire.” Laura leans back in one of the sixty or so chairs that describe a double row of seats placed around the large, vacant room. We're in an abandoned car repair garage, a structure well suited for the sort of serious, no-frills business recovering addicts are about.
“The thing is,” Laura continues, “People don’t really take pot seriously. Everybody thinks it’s so benign—like it’s not really addictive, you know? Well, [swear word] that. I tried coke, speed, acid. But weed’s the only thing that grabbed me by my backbone. It just wouldn’t let me go. And right away, too. I just turned on to it. For twenty years, I got stoned almost every single day. And here I just celebrated my first year of sobriety. A year! I’m telling you the truth: I thank God every day for Marijuana Anonymous.”
Marijuana Anonymous depends for its recovery process upon the renowned 12 Step Program utilized by Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a non-profit, world-wide organization unaffiliated with any other organization, religious or secular.
They're huge---and everywhere. There's probably a weekly MA meeting held somewhere near you.
Each meeting, which lasts an hour, is run by a Secretary, who at the beginning of each session asks two or three regular attendees to read aloud an invocation that reminds them all of who they are, and why they have come. Next, the Secretary asks if anyone present is celebrating an anniversary of sobriety: a month, three months, a year, and the like. If someone is, that person stands, and another MA member or friend makes a short speech praising their victory. Following this testimony, the conquering hero is rewarded a “sobriety chip,” small disks of varying colors bearing the MA logo on one side and, say, “Sixty Days” printed in gold on the other. These tokens count among a recovering addict’s most cherished possessions.
The Secretary then declares the meeting open to discussion---but not before stipulating three conditions: that no one person speak for more than five minutes, that no one interuppt someone else who's speaking, and that no one who has in any way gotten intoxicated within the previous 24 hours speak at all.
And then, for forty or so minutes, people relate the nature of their ongoing struggle against the temptations of marijuana.
Afterward, a small basket is passed around. Most people present drop in a buck or two. No one has to.
Tom Carlyle. is a drug councilor and long-time MA Secretary.
“I’ve been going to MA meetings for over five years,” he says. “And at every meeting I learn something new. I don’t think there’s a more encouraging or enriching thing than to hear a person finally and honestly confess in public that pot has ruined the quality of their lives. It means there's hope for that person---real hope. An addict can find strength at these meetings. The amazing thing is the range of people who attend them. Some people are just starting to quit. Others have been sober for years, and so can offer that longer perspective. It’s great, because wherever you are in the journey towards regaining control of your life, there’s always someone around who’s exactly one step ahead of you, and another who’s one step behind. You’re surrounded by people who can understand exactly where you’re at and what you’re going through. That’s just invaluable. And it's people from all walks of life, too. Doctors, lawyers, housewives ... everybody. Pot doesn't discriminate."
To formally conclude an MA meeting, everyone rises and stands in a circle holding hands. Having kept a moment of silence in remembrance of the addict who still suffers, the group then says a prayer. It is almost always the famous Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
The Marijuana Anonymous website is here.
The 12 Steps of Marijuana Anonymous are:
1. We admitted we were powerless over marijuana, that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.
4. We took a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to marijuana addicts, and to practice these principals in all our affairs.