There’s nothing worse than having crappy neighbors.

There’s nothing worse than having crappy neighbors.

A person’s home, whether rented or owned, is supposed to be a safe zone, a comfortable getaway. It’s a basic necessity any living being deserves regardless of tax status or perceived worth to society. Nobody has the right to get in the way of that, especially nosy neighbors.

Who is someone else to say what another person can and can’t do within the confines of their own address? So long as a person is being respectful of others, responsible in their demeanor and non-violent in character, they can say, do, eat, drink or smoke whatever it is they choose to. This is all fundamental sense; it’s stuff we teach toddlers.

So what exactly is wrong with Colorado’s neighbors right now?

Recently, Denver Post's "the Cannabist" published an article about two parents who live in Colorado and no longer have custody of 5 of their 6 children — Kansas took them almost a year ago. In response to the grandmother’s (now regretful) report of child neglect, the state traumatically re-homed the kids for further investigation. The allegations of emotional abuse were later found to be unsubstantiated. Yet, the state still has Raymond and Amelia Schwab’s children … because Raymond can’t pass a drug test.

He treats his PTSD with medical marijuana here in Colorado. In the eyes of whatever brain-dead authority is ruling in Kansas, Schwab using a state-legal medicine is akin to him being an alcohol-drenched deadbeat.

It’s not as easy as just quitting weed and passing the test for him, either. “What if I didn’t make it through four months?” he asks in his interview with the Cannabist. He says the earlier treatments he went through with other medications made it worse, that they caused him to feel a bit nutty.

Kansas is making him choose between working treatment of an unpredictable psychological condition and his children. The hell kind of sense does that make?

Let’s not forget the time Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against Colorado, claiming us allowing basic freedoms, voted on by our residents and fought for by people like Raymond, is placing undue hardship on their legal system. Boo-fuckin’-hoo.

States around us don’t have to like marijuana. In fact, Kansas rejected efforts to make it legal in their state some time ago. It’s their home; they can do with it what they want. That’s fine, but what exactly are they doing poking their nose over our windowsills, Yeti-footing around in our bushes like they need to somehow control what it is we do with our time over here on the other side — where the grass is in fact greener?

I’m not a huge cheerleader for the growing cannabis movement. I never really have been. Once in high school, around ’98-’99, me and a few friends ditched class to walk around the state capitol building downtown on April 20 to listen to some wannabe politician talk about weed. Most of my friends wanted to just get high in public. I stayed sober for whatever reason. Many years later, I voted “yes“ on Amendment 64 in the 2012 election. That’s the extent of my activism. To me, it's pretty insane people aren’t allowed to do it in the first place. I never really jump into issues like this, because common sense is never really a factor in discourse.

But over the past few months, I’ve been smoking weed on a semi-regular basis. I had a sort of cann-epiphany when I got high with Snoop Dogg. Before that, I was frightened of the stuff. I had a number of bad experiences with it in high school. So I never really touched it over the next decade plus.

Being semi-connected to the cannabis industry, however — and since I’m a insatiable glutton for new information — I read up on the benefits of it. I came to the conclusion that — like Raymond Schwab — I’d give it a shot to treat my own previously diagnosed conditions of anxiety and depression. Like him, I tried what the doctors gave me, and it failed miserably.

I was a cognitively-cemented dumbass while I was on Effexor, an anti-depressant. One time I got lost in an Albertson’s parking lot for 15 minutes with no idea of where I was, because that’s the type of stuff that happens when you barely miss a dose. After thinking about it later, I probably circled that lot 5 or 6 times with no real sense of the outside. Sparks flew around my brain like static electricity in a onesie. I’d have stopped taking the medication right then and there, except "just stopping" isn't an option. You have to wean yourself off of it. If you don’t, the withdrawal is horrendous. Effexor is legal in all 50 states.

It’s likely too early for me to tell if smoking weed is going to work for me. What I can say is that it’s made me a better human being. I have two kids and a wife that rely on me being a functioning adult. Lately, I feel like I’ve been better at doing so. I'm more attentive, less anxious and approach the day-to-day with a clearer mind. Most importantly, I feel like it’s improved myself as a father. Shockingly so, because I’m a fucking genius when it comes to being a parent, with or without weed.

If Raymond Schwab’s allegations that the state of Kansas are using his kids as leverage because of his marijuana use are 100 percent true — it should be treated as a criminal act, with Kansas authorities responsible for the behavior be put in prison. Traumatizing kids for no good reason is inarguably criminal. Fuck you very much, Kansas.

Problems in surrounding areas existed well before Colorado legalized cannabis, and will continue to exist when (not if) it becomes legal on the federal level. In the following years, we’re going to be pushed statistics until our eyes bleed, all containing trumped up numbers supporting either side of the debate. Pending lawsuits will be put to bed, regulations will be altered to reflect the times and an entire sub-culture’s right to "just be" will remain a point of contention well beyond years any of us are around to care.

As a state that generally cares more about the inalienable rights of its citizens than it does upholding archaic and disproved ideals of yore, Colorado needs to remain the steadfast, friendly neighbor it’s always been.

There's something that’s stuck with me for some time that fits here well, and the phrase continues to be one of the more valuable lessons I’m teaching my own kids in their personal journey: Lead by example, everyone else follows eventually.