Those who know me know that, on occasion, I share research and studies concerning marijuana’s dangers. In 2015, this response showed up on my Facebook page: “George, you seem to be on an anti-pot crusade. I don’t understand why…..”. Instead of waiting for an explanation, this person went on to attack my character, accused me of saying things that I never did, made fun of the research I shared, and treated me as if I did not know what I was talking about. So here is my explanation.


In my early 20s, I became addicted to marijuana. Shortly after my 25 th birthday, I suffered a mental breakdown, 24-7. I had this fiery sphere in my head. I couldn’t bear to look at brightly colored paintings or psychedelic album covers, because it felt like they were reaching out. I was so agitated that I was lucky to get four hours of sleep at night. Out in public, I controlled all this by force of will, and extreme concentration, which rendered me practically catatonic, and the effort left me in a state of constant exhaustion. I hung on through this period by telling myself over and over, “Things will get better.” I also had a tolerant, supportive wife, Jane Lamar-Spicka (1947-2005). It took ten years, but this initial distress gradually ebbed, particularly the agitation and paranoia.


For decades now, I have struggled with mental illness, depression, paranoia, and daily thoughts of suicide. With therapy, I slowly improved over time, but the big breakthrough occurred when I began antidepressants in the late 1990s, two actually, one at full dosage and the other even higher than the recommended dosage. Even so, it’s a daily struggle, but at least I’m free of the enveloping darkness.


And that’s the reason why I talk about marijuana’s dangers.


The only good that came out of this was that six months after the breakdown, I became obsessed with jazz. The focus diverted my attention away from the agony in my mind. And that is why I am here. Every gig, especially when I perform original work, is a victory and gets me closer to the person I could have been.


George Spicka

Baltimore, Maryland