My romance with the green flower started in the mid-90s, around the same time as I met cigarettes and alcohol and Pearl Jam and teenage angst. Somehow I remember my first cigarette, trying to be cool and pretending I knew how to work a Zippo lighter, yet I have no memory of the first time I got stoned. Either way, I tried it, I liked it, and pot was part of my story for the next two decades or so.
The details aren’t so interesting. Countless bongs and joints, across various countries and stages of life. Baggies of buds and sticks of hash stashed in the back of drawers. Laughter and bonding and writing and talking shit and paranoia and music and movies and baking cookies at 2am. Pot was always there with me – even as I moved countries and made a new life for myself and started a career and dated and started meditating and “growing up.”
Usually it made me feel good – but not always. I think one of the main reasons I used to enjoy drinking and smoking pot together was that the alcohol would relax me enough for the pot not to make me anxious or paranoid. I was always looking for the sweet spot – that delicate chemical balance.
It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of overdoing it and hangovers and stinging for a smoke but not being able to get any and deciding to only smoke on weekends then breaking my promise to myself over and over.
Until one day in 2013, I decided enough was enough, and I quit everything – cigarettes, alcohol and pot, all in one fell swoop. I went on a long meditation retreat, “saw the light,” the pain that all those cravings were causing me, and that was it. Never smoked (or drank) again.
And as much as it pains me at times, as much as I wish I hadn’t felt the need to be so hardcore that I had to quit everything, I’m still pretty happy with my decision. Proud of it even. I fantasize every now and then about being able to share a joint with my husband on the roof once in a blue moon… but then the thought of breaking my sober streak doesn’t feel worth it. Not to mention the fear of the pot paranoia that I used to know oh-so-well.
So that was my cannabis story… until a couple of months ago when I was approached to run the content operation for an up-and-coming startup in the medical cannabis space. I connected to the mission instantly, I was ready for a change, I liked the people, it was mutual, and I started work about a month ago.
No, I haven’t started using again. It’s not that sort of office.
But I have been thinking about it.
When I took the job, I honestly thought I knew nothing about medical cannabis – I saw this world as only vaguely connected to my past experience. As it turns out, I know a fair bit about this plant. I’ve grown it and I’ve smoked it and I’ve stored it and I’ve baked with it. I know about its effects and side effects. I can smell it from a mile away.
But there is so much that I don’t know. Learning about cannabinoids and terpenes and the range of products on the market and the even wider range of conditions that this impressive plant is being used to treat… it’s kind of blowing my mind. It’s a different world from the cannabis culture I grew up in – of taking whatever we could get from whatever dodgy dealer we could find. I never had any idea of strains and certainly not active ingredient profiles. No wonder sometimes it sent me into fits of giggles and sometimes I was sure everyone was whispering about me – I had no idea what I was taking.
I keep thinking about how cannabis is being used these days to treat anxiety, a condition I’ve struggled with on and off over the years. And in the years since I quit, there have been some pretty tough patches. I gained so much clarity and stability when I stopped drinking, and smoking cigarettes… but maybe I threw the baby out with the bathwater? Of course it was recreational use, all those years, but maybe there was some healing happening there, too?
And really, how much can we really separate the two? Stress is a risk factor for so many diseases and conditions – so stress relief tools are just as much for the body as they are for the mind, and for the fun of it.
Of course, I’m well aware that this could just be me looking for loopholes, looking for an excuse to “allow” myself to drink and smoke again. To fill that gap that all the fun stuff left in my life. And what were the chances that taking a job where I write and talk about cannabis all day every day wasn’t going to stir that up?
So for now, I’m just sitting with it. Talking about it. Processing.
I have no plans to do anything right now – and anyway it’s still illegal here who are we kidding, I live in the suburbs and go to sleep at 10pm and have no idea how I would even go about finding anything to smoke.
It just feels like the story’s not over just yet.