Marijuana and me

This text is tough to put in writing. It is an admission that I failed. And it isn’t like I failed as soon as, however failed repeatedly over the course of a number of years. And it isn’t that I actually failed failed, you recognize. It is that I failed myself. I didn’t reside as much as my very own expectations.

However I am getting forward of myself. Let me begin at the start.

Goody Two-Sneakers

I grew up Mormon. Amongst different issues, this meant that no one in my household consumed leisure medication of any variety. Mormons have a strict prohibition in opposition to such indulgences. And, as most people know, they even take their stricture in opposition to “sturdy drink” to imply that caffeine is forbidden.

So, my dad and mom did not drink alcohol or espresso. They did not smoke cigarettes. They did not do something that led to altered states. Hell, my father even hated tv as a result of he thought-about it a “plug-in drug”. For a lot of my childhood, we did not have a TV. After we did have a TV, entry was typically restricted.

My dad and mom left the Mormon church after I was a freshman in highschool. We returned to the native Mennonite congregation by which my father was raised. Mennonites aren’t fairly so restrictive with mind-altering substance as Mormons are — they love their espresso! — however they’re shut.

In highschool, I used to be by no means tempted by alcohol. I had pals who would drink, nevertheless it by no means appealed to me. Plus, it was in opposition to the principles.

Additionally in highschool, I had pals who found marijuana. Whereas I used to be ambivalent about booze, I used to be actively against pot. I believed it was evil. Plus, it was unlawful. As a rule follower, there was no method I’d contact the stuff. And after I was with pals who did get stoned, I would learn them the riot act. (I as soon as chewed out my greatest buddy Sparky as a result of he had the gall to get stoned whereas we have been ready in line to purchase tickets for a Tears for Fears live performance.)

Primarily, I began life as a Goody Two-Sneakers. I refused to do something unlawful or immoral, and I condemned others for selecting something that I would not select. I used to be a self-righteous younger man who could not see that there is no single Proper Reply to life.

Hey, School

School opened my eyes. I used to be uncovered to a whole lot of different good children, most of whom had radically completely different backgrounds from my very own. They believed various things than I did they usually made completely different decisions. As a result of I lived with them and noticed that they have been (principally) good individuals, it was unattainable for me to sentence my classmates as evil or immoral. No, they merely had completely different backgrounds which led them to have completely different worldviews.

Most of my pals in faculty drank alcohol, for example. Our campus was a form of protected haven for underage ingesting, with an express “do not ask, do not inform” coverage. So, children drank. So much. I experimented with alcohol a bit too, however I did not just like the stuff so did not drink repeatedly.

It is most likely no shock that faculty is the place I first smoked pot. Marijuana use wasn’t frequent, nevertheless it wasn’t uncommon both. And the children who used it did not attempt to disguise it. By the point my ethical stance in opposition to the stuff had weakened, it was a easy matter to search out anyone within the dorm who would present me the right way to get stoned.

I smoked pot thrice in faculty. The primary time was superior. It is nonetheless one in every of my favourite reminiscences. However the different two instances I smoked the stuff, I used to be unimpressed. I barely keep in mind the incidents. Weed assist even much less attraction to me than booze.

As an grownup, marijuana was by no means an possibility. For one, it was nonetheless unlawful and I’m nonetheless (principally) a rule follower. Extra to the purpose, my ex-wife was a forensic chemist for the state police. She wasn’t allowed to make use of unlawful medication or to be round anybody else who was utilizing them. To take action would have value her a profession. She was effectively conscious of this, and so was I. Neither of us have been ever remotely tempted.

So it’s that I managed to keep away from marijuana from the time I left faculty till the time leisure use turned authorized within the state of Oregon.

Legalized Marijuana

When Kim and I returned from our 15-month RV journey, Oregon had legalized marijuana. I made a decision to experiment with it.

My expertise with pot began slowly. I had actual issues inhaling the stuff, so I shied away from smoking it and opted as an alternative for edibles. I appreciated gummies. I additionally appreciated tinctures I may take below my tongue.

The issue with edibles and tinctures, although, is that they have a tendency to have variable onset and variable results. If I eat a gummy at, say, six within the night, it may take anyplace from thirty minutes to a few hours to set in. And when it units in, it may give me a gentle buzz or it may flip me right into a puddle of pudding on the sofa.

In time, although, I discovered the right way to smoke weed. I additionally discovered which strains gave me a contented little excessive (versus sending me to Loopy City). I notably appreciated Willy’s Surprise.

In late 2016, after I first started experimenting with pot, I possibly used it as soon as every week. As an alternative of ingesting on a Friday evening, I would get stoned.

The frequency with which I used pot elevated over time. This occurred for just a few causes.

  • First, pot is cheaper than alcohol. It is a lot cheaper, in truth. A bundle of ten gummies may cost a little me $20 (though it is normally much less). At one or two gummies per use, that is solely $2 or $4 per night of enjoyable.
  • Second, pot has fewer energy than alcohol. In case you smoke marijuana, you devour no energy in any respect. Wine and (particularly) beer are filled with energy. So, in idea, utilizing pot is smarter for my waistline. (In actuality, utilizing pot virtually at all times gave me the proverbial “munchies”. My snacking whereas stoned was off the charts!)
  • Third, and most significantly, pot helped me sleep. I’ve bother sleeping. It sucks. However after I take pot I sleep soundly. It is so superb!

Due to these three components — particularly due to the higher sleep — my pot use crept from a few times every week to virtually each single evening. It took a few years to get there, however get there it did.

By the point the pandemic hit, I used to be a every day marijuana consumer. In case you’ve been studying me for some time, you recognize that this was additionally across the time that my psychological well being issues peaked. (Surprising!)

Stoner J.D.

I’ve at all times struggled with despair — that is been current since fifth or sixth grade — however by 2019 I would sunk to new lows. And as 2020 arrived, the despair turned coupled with nervousness. Oh, how a lot nervousness I had! It was dreadful. It prevented me from carrying out even fundamental duties. (Ask Kim how tough it was to get me to make a fundamental cellphone name…)

However the worst factor was that I would turn into silly. I’ve at all times considered myself as a wise man, a man who likes to learn and assume Deep Ideas and have complicated discussions with pals. However I used to be turning into dumber and dumberer, and I may sense it. I really started to panic as soon as I noticed that I used to be dropping the power to put in writing a coherent article or essay.

For me, writing is life. Writing is how I course of my ideas and emotions and the world round me. If I am unable to write, I am crippled. The pot was leaving me wordless and damaged.

However I did not know that the pot was taking away my capacity to put in writing. I did not know that the pot was making it robust for me to learn. I did not know that the pot was exacerbating my despair and inflicting my nervousness and turning me right into a bitter outdated man. I could not see the supply of my issues. All I knew was that these items have been taking place, and I hated it. To manage, I acquired stoned. Once more. And getting stoned simply made me extra anxious and silly.

There have been instances I would go weed-free for some time. These situations usually occurred after I was touring. If I have been headed to Europe for just a few weeks, for example, I would haven’t any entry to marijuana. I used to be high-quality with that. In my head, I did not have an issue with the stuff. Pot was simply one thing I used to sleep and (a few times every week) as an alternative choice to alcohol.

I used to be lacking some apparent indicators that sure, I actually did have an issue. Here is an instance.

Throughout my three-week journey to Portugal, Wisconsin, and California in 2019, I had actual bother at the beginning of the journey. I used to be attending an F.I. chautauqua, which ought to have been enjoyable and thrilling. As an alternative, I struggled mightily. I slept like shit. I couldn’t focus. Worst of all, I used to be irritable. I used to be an asshole. I managed to alienate a few colleagues, which I deeply remorse.

By the point I reached Joshua Tree on the finish of these three weeks, my disposition had improved. However nonetheless I did not understand that sure, I had an issue with pot. That sure, I would skilled withdrawal signs in Portugal. That sure, quitting may be the very best transfer for me.


Once I returned house, I resumed taking THC to assist me sleep each evening. In truth, I upped my marijuana use as a result of I used to be making an attempt to drop a few pounds. I sharply curtailed my alcohol consumption and allowed myself to make use of as a lot pot as I wished — particularly as soon as COVID hit a few months later.

I turned your stereotypical stoner.

By the Numbers

As most of you recognize, I am a numbers nerd. I like to trace issues in spreadsheets. No shock then that for the previous eighteen months, I have been logging each alcoholic drink I devour and each time I take advantage of pot.

This has been useful.

As an alternative of guessing at how a lot I drink and the way a lot pot I take advantage of, the numbers inform me the reality. (It helps that I am utterly sincere with my spreadsheet. It is not sensible to “cheat” by placing in false numbers. That will defeat the aim.)

My substance use spreadsheet

I started this spreadsheet as a result of I wished to doc my issues with alcohol. As an alternative, I discovered myself extra involved with my marijuana use. Sure, the numbers confirmed that I ought to scale back my alcohol consumption, however my ingesting actually wasn’t too far out of line with advisable pointers. My pot use was.

I took 265 doses of marijuana throughout 2021 — then an identical quantity in the course of the first half of this 12 months. And people doses grew stronger and stronger with time. Once I smoked, I took deeper hits. Once I consumed edibles, I took extra of them.

Then, about two months in the past, I ended utilizing marijuana. This wasn’t deliberate at first. It simply occurred.

In the course of the day, I used to be performing heavy bodily labor as I landscaped the entrance yard. This bodily exertion made it simple to go to sleep at evening. Plus, within the night Kim and I have been ingesting extra beer as heat climate set in. These two components led to a streak of ten days throughout which I did not use pot in any respect.

I prolonged this streak when Kim and I flew to go to her mom in Colorado. I had no pot with me, so I wasn’t tempted. By the point we returned house, I would observed one thing fascinating: I felt nice. For the primary time in a very long time, I felt clear-headed. I felt motivated. I felt like my outdated self once more.

“Do you assume I really feel good as a result of two weeks has been sufficient time for the THC to depart my system?” I requested Kim. (THC is the energetic chemical in marijuana, the stuff that will get you “excessive”. It lingers within the bloodstream, which results in residual results even when you have not used it for some time.)

“Possibly,” she mentioned. “Most likely. It is best to preserve testing it.” So I did.

Two weeks with out pot changed into three weeks with out pot. That changed into 4 weeks. Then 5 after which six. It is now been practically two months since I used marijuana. At this level, I really feel assured concluding that the marijuana was inflicting lots of my issues. Not all of my issues, after all, however lots of them.

I final used marijuana on Independence Day. Since then, my temper has improved remarkably. My fragile psychological well being appears to be regaining stability. I have been vastly extra productive up to now two months than at every other level since coming back from the RV journey. I’ve turn into extra sociable. I am studying extra and making extra long-term plans. I am writing a ton. The one factor that is actually suffered has been my sleep. (Marijuana positive helps me sleep!)

Marijuana Is Not My Buddy

Look, I am not anti-pot.

I am not right here to sentence marijuana use for society at massive. I am right here to sentence marijuana use for me.

However this is the factor. Whereas I assist your capacity to decide on marijuana, I now not need to select it for myself. I’ve seen first-hand simply how profound an impact it could possibly have on an individual. Every day that passes since my final use, my thoughts boggles at how a lot happier and extra productive I’ve turn into.

Once more, that is true for me. It won’t be true for others, together with you. If utilizing pot helps you, incredible. Puff away. It did not assist me — even after I thought it was doing so. I had, basically, allowed myself to turn into the stereotypical high-school stoner: lazy, unmotivated, nonchalant, apathetic. This led to deep self-recrimination…then additional pot use.

It feels superior to be my outdated self once more. This summer time, I’ve actually loved rediscovering the right way to learn books and the right way to write lengthy articles like this one. I am impressed by my capacity to have some tough (however much-needed) conversations, conversations that in some circumstances I’ve delay for years as a result of marijuana-enhanced nervousness.

I am not saying that each one of my issues have magically disappeared. I am nonetheless simply as tousled as the following particular person. However a minimum of proper now, I am not including gasoline to the fireplace. I have not shackled myself within the chains of THC. I am granting myself the power to work my method by means of a few of my points as an alternative of accelerating the burden with weed.

Subsequent up? Alcohol.

Once I determined to surrender pot in July, I gave myself permission to drink what I wished for some time. Nicely, it has been some time. It is time for me to chop again on the booze once more.

A Troublesome Day

As we speak was robust. Kim and I reached the tough resolution to euthanize Mother’s cat. We fostered Bonnie in January when Mother moved to reminiscence care, and it has been one lengthy, expensive, flea-infested journey.

Earlier than taking her to the vet, nonetheless, I drove ninety minutes north to provide Mother and Bonnie some closing time collectively. For practically an hour, they melted into one. They have been each so, so blissful. Then I drove ninety minutes again to Corvallis and sat with Bonnie till she had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Bonnie on Mom's lap for one final visit

Now, as we close to bedtime, I am agitated and awake. I do know from expertise that it is a dangerous mixture. The doubtless result’s that I will not be capable to go to sleep. I will toss and switch and my thoughts will spin, however I will be up till midnight or one o’clock — or possibly even 4.

My regular answer for this — regular since 2016, anyhow — could be to smoke some weed. Once I’m wired at evening, I do know {that a} hit of Willy’s Surprise or Blue Dream will knock me out.

I am not going to do it, although. Sure, I will doubtless be depressing tomorrow as a result of lack of sleep. I settle for that. However you recognize what? I would relatively have one dangerous evening than permit myself to relapse into that darkish and fixed state of self-loathing that is been my norm for the previous six years…

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