Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another victim of the Drug War

The following heart-wrenching story was sent to the SSDP office this morning...
I went hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, at the end of last summer. I consumed some hallucinogenic mushrooms, and had a small amount still on me. The person that I was with was my new roommate, and I thought he had more experience with hallucinogens. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. We took a wrong turn off of the trail (attempting to avoid other visitors), and my acquaintance slipped and started sliding down the rock walls of the canyon. I did not know if he was OK or not. At the time, I was the president of the rock climbing club at my school, and I had a lot of hiking experience. I thought that I would be able to go down slowly, and help him.

My judgment was corrupted by the mushroom trip, and I ended up sliding down a portion of the canyon as well. I clawed into the sides of the canyon with my hands, only to find them scraped and bleeding. That's when the trip went really, really bad. I realized the danger we were in, and I panicked. There was no way out of this one, and all I wanted was to be on stable ground. I tried to hike out, but I couldn't make it safely. I couldn't trust my judgment any more. I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to be over, but I had at least another hour left in the trip.

I tried to call my parents, but I didn't have cell service. I yelled for help. Some other park visitors heard my yell, and a rescue team was on the way. We were pulled out of the canyon with ropes and harnesses and taken to the hospital. By the time I got to the top, my trip was over. My acquaintance had already admitted to authorities that we both took mushrooms. They found the mushrooms which I had tried to put under a rock. After the hospital, we were both taken to jail.

I have been a straight-A honor student my whole life. I graduated high school valedictorian. I was president of the national honor society. In college, I am a 4.0 Senior III in Mechanical Engineering. I have been accepted into every honor society that I have applied myself toward, including those which have nothing to do with academics. I have served as a class representative on student government. I am a founding member of the Kettering Entrepreneur Society. I am on the board of directors for a community service organization called real SERVICE, Inc. I organized a recent benefit concert at my school which raised over $2,000 for New Orleans musicians.

My list of accomplishments goes on and on and on. I am not a druggie. I am not a burnout. I had a perfectly clean criminal record. But I made a huge mistake that day in Bryce Canyon, and it has cost me dearly. I was charged with possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms and intoxication in a National Park, a 2nd degree felony. In addition, I was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, which they found by searching my car. Since I am not ashamed, I confessed what happened and plead guilty to all charges. The charges for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and intoxication were all dropped, but I am stuck with a 2nd degree felony on my record.

Even though the crime had nothing to do with driving, I lost my driving privileges in Utah for 6 months. I have been doing my internship here all winter, so I have had to rely on people I barely know for rides to and from work all winter long. I ride most of the time in the bed of a Subaru Brat. Fortunately, my school never found out about the charges, and I am still in line to graduate. I did not fill out a FAFSA this year. I have completed a rehab program, and I have 2 unannounced drug screens that came out clean.

My philosophy has always been this: I will not try any drug which is reasonably addictive or lethal. Unfortunately for me, the legal system does not reflect these priorities since psylocybin is classified as a schedule I controlled substance. My largest concern with this felony is my eligibility for hire upon graduation. This has potential to impact the rest of my life.

This incident has opened my eyes in many ways. I am now a huge supporter of drug policy reform. I appreciate everything that SSDP is doing. Without organizations like SSDP, students are truly without a voice. Thank you for bringing the people who care together. United we stand.
Please TAKE ACTION to protect young people from having their aspirations derailed by the War on Drugs.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine, about midway through the end of his senior year, got caught with a small quantity of cocaine. He was subsequently striped of his valedictorian status, expelled from school, and had a full ride scholarship revoked. I'd be curious to know how frequent such occurrences are. Does anyone know if there is a repository of such stories?

800 pound gorilla said...

Although I've never taken hallucinogens [I've had mild hallucinations with marijuana and 24 hour runs and other ultra marathon running excursions], I would think that hiking along a treacherous canyon would not be compatible with that use. Your incident was proof of that! If the purpose of the arrest was to punish you for misbehavior then it was overkill; the terror of being in your situation did that.
Obviously, doing mushrooms [deliberate self induced impairment] should be done when concurrent with any other judgment requiring activities. But that isn't being taught in schools. What is taught is that "doing drugs" causes foolish behavior. Using drugs for deliberate impairment is fine - as long as you take precautions to minimize the need to do anything else like driving, hiking along treacherous canyons, or having sex. The mushrooms should have waited til a safer part of the expedition.

Justin Holmes said...

I cannot imagine a more appropriate occasion for the use of psilocybin mushrooms than hiking in a beautiful canyon.

The idea that being under the influence of psilocybin in a national park could itself be a felony might be the clearest evidence of misunderstanding of the nature of a drug I've ever seen codified into law.

Humans and mushrooms have a wonderful relationship, and without it, I doubt humanity would be what it is. I know that I personally would not have the love and passion for nature and human dignity were it not for my mushroom experiences.

What can be done to help this person? Where should we send our letters?

drug rehab said...

Micah, thanks for posting this story. I honestly pity the young fellow. This leads me to thinking that curiosity really kills, though sometimes not literally. See, how many good lives are ruined by those stupid drugs. I am glad he went to a drug rehab and he is even eligible for school graduation but still, his clean slate has been tarnished. Now, we all learn our lesson: DON'T TAKE DRUGS!