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Why Marijuana Anonymous?

Why a separate program for marijuana?

Marijuana Anonymous, like most other 12 Step programs that came along after Alcoholics Anonymous, started "with a coffee pot and a resentment." The addicts that started the first Marijuana Anonymous meetings didn't feel comfortable sharing about their problems in the other programs aimed at chemical dependencies, and in some meetings, they were actually told that they couldn't share. Eventually, a few got enough sobriety (and enough courage) to start their own meetings aimed at their drug of choice, sometimes meeting in their own homes.

The diseases of alcoholism and addiction are the same no matter what the drug of choice, but sometimes the symptoms are different. You can use to go up or come down. Your substance of choice depends upon which way you want to go, and what you've been exposed to.

The early members of MA found that, for the most part, marijuana is a "high bottom" drug and they had a hard time identifying with some of the heavier substance abusers who had lost everything they had. Marijuana is also more tranquilizing than some of the speedier drugs and the early recovering pot addicts had a hard time identifying with addicts who used in order to get wired. Marijuana addicts tend to smoke their pot and just sit around and then sit around some more. They usually continue to function and even manage to hold on to their jobs, which sets them apart from many of the other substance abusers.

It is very difficult to go to a meeting and be called a "lightweight" by the other addicts when you are absolutely despondent about what is happening to your life and are trying frantically to get clean. Being told to "Come back when you get a real addiction" doesn't help either. Marijuana addicts already have a real addiction.

Members of MA range from addicts who did nothing but marijuana, to addicts who did everything possible and could get off everything else but not pot. They needed special meetings aimed at coping with marijuana addiction. Now they have a refuge among people who know that pot addiction is nothing to joke about.

Where did Marijuana Anonymous start?

Marijuana Anonymous started in a number of places at almost the same time. It is a program whose time had come. Some of the original meetings weren't even called Marijuana Anonymous. There was a Marijuana Smokers Anonymous in Orange County, California, a Marijuana Addicts Anonymous in the San Francisco Bay Area, and two groups called Marijuana Anonymous: one in Los Angeles, and the other in Seattle, Washington. They all came into being around 1986 and 1987.

How did MA become just one group?

Unity happened with a lot of hard work and faith by some of the early members of the groups. The different organizations began to hear of each other through members traveling and moving. In 1989 it was decided that a few people from each of the areas would get together and see if they had enough in common to form one united organization. Delegates were chosen from the societies in Orange, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area to meet in Morro Bay, California (a half-way point for those three groups) for their first "Unity Conference." The Seattle association was contacted by phone. The name Marijuana Anonymous was chosen as the Los Angeles group had already incorporated under that name. Some of the very basic ideas of Marijuana Anonymous were agreed upon during that first small meeting.

The delegates agreed to another meeting to be held in October of 1989. It was called the first General Service Conference. Delegates from the three California regions and the Washington group attended this meeting where the wording of the Steps and Traditions of Marijuana Anonymous was adopted.

Who started Marijuana Anonymous?

In theory, Bill W. did. As one of the founders of AA, he is the architect of all the Twelve Step programs. Different people (it always takes at least two for one addict to help another) started the Marijuana Anonymous meetings in each of the four original groups of Marijuana Anonymous. To remind us where the inspiration for our beginnings came from, the MA meeting format states:

Marijuana Anonymous uses the basic Twelve Steps of Recovery founded by Alcoholics Anonymous, because it has been proven that the Twelve Step Recovery program works!

Who is a marijuana addict?

We who are marijuana addicts know the answer to this question. Marijuana controls our lives! We lose interest in all else; our dreams go up in smoke. Ours is a progressive illness often leading us to addictions to other drugs, including alcohol. Our lives, our thinking, and our desires center around marijuana—scoring it, dealing it, and finding ways to stay high.

This quote is reprinted from the meeting format of Marijuana Anonymous.

The Twelve Traditions of Marijuana Anonymous

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon M.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority, a loving God whose expression may come through in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or M.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose, to carry its message to the marijuana addict who still suffers.
  6. M.A. groups ought never endorse, finance, or lend the M.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every M.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Marijuana Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. M.A., as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Marijuana Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the M.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based upon attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, t.v., film, and other public media. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all fellow M.A. members.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Approved by the General Service Conference of
Marijuana Anonymous, October 1989 & May 1992

Conference Approved Literature

©1992 Marijuana Anonymous
All Rights Reserved
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