The Devil’s Lettuce

It’s 4/20, y’all! I started writing a Facebook post about my relationship with marijuana, and it got really long so I decided to put it here instead.

Weed saved me in a big way back when I was dealing with constant chronic chest pain. Actually, it started saving me before, when I was living with my mom, taking antipsychotics, friendless, basically unable to get out of bed because I was so depressed. There was this one moment where I was planning to go to a Smashing Pumpkins show and asked someone to score some weed for me to smoke beforehand. I ended up being way too nervous to smoke in public, so I saved it and would take a teeny tiny hit at night after everyone in the house went to bed. There’s an entry in my diary from that period where I wrote something to the effect of “that gram of weed was a game changer, it’s working better than any of the drugs I’m taking.” I’d smoke and go for long walks, draw pictures, laugh with friends, feel bowled over by the beauty of the movies I was watching. I’d been stuck in a chemical depression fog for so long, and smoking weed was like watching flowers bloom after a long, hard winter.

I got my medical card during what I think of as the Year of Pain. I’d been gobbling handfuls of Vicodin every day for months, and at some point, I realized that this was unsustainable. Being in constant opiate withdrawal made me sweaty and shivery, unable to swallow food, constantly nodding out. I decided to try using weed again, and once again, it was a game changer. It relieved my pain enough that I could go run errands, and when I was able to eat, my relationship with food changed drastically — I found that if I ate while I was stoned, I’d gravitate toward fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and grains, rather than the Hot Pockets and premade breakfast sandwiches I’d been living on when even Vicodin didn’t relieve my pain enough to keep me standing long enough to prepare a real dinner.

I’ve known other people who are dependent on prescription pain pills and it’s not awesome. There are personality changes that nobody talks about. The side effects are terrible. You’re always kinda half there, drowsy, craving sugar. I believe so many people would be helped by not only legalizing but de-stigmatizing marijuana use for its health benefits. When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, certain members of my family discussed whether he should get a medical card and begin using weed. One person suggested that we should find a strain or preparation that would have no psychoactive qualities, because it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to be in an altered state. This kind of boggled my mind — this guy’s been on heavy pain pills for years, do you believe that doesn’t alter his state of consciousness?

Altered consciousness isn’t a bad thing. I wish more people would intentionally alter their consciousness in different ways. Recently I’ve been more aware of how alcohol affects me. You know, grabbing some beers with your buddies is a totally socially acceptable way to spend time. But I’ve realized that I don’t like who I am when I’m drunk. Right around the middle of my second drink, I’ll start saying and doing things that just aren’t in line with the person that I want to be. I’ve been mostly staying away from alcohol for that exact reason. And at the same time, I’ve used weed a few times recently after two years of almost total abstinence (I stopped when I began school and just never started up again). The times that I’ve smoked recently, I’ve been reminded of how much more cognitively healthy I feel when I get mildly stoned.

I want to eat food that is good for me. I want to be moving around, walking outside. I want to have conversations about interesting things rather than sit in front of a screen. I laugh. Flowers smell better. Music sounds better. I think about future projects. I don’t get as paralyzed about the fact that I’m 30 and I still haven’t really done anything with my life. I feel peaceful and loving, and I think about ways to take better care of myself and the people around me. I get excited to work. I feel centered. I know what I can accomplish.

It’s interesting to me that a lot of the same people who criticize marijuana users will totally get on board with using Paxil or Vicodin. We’re talking about a plant, here. I get that there’s some sloppiness in stoner culture and that anytime you’re talking about substance use, there will be people who massively overdo it and come off as slacker jerks. I guess there’s that whole moderation-in-all-things thing. Don’t get obsessive about it and you’re fine. I just really love the idea that we could get to a point with social acceptability where it’s understood and fine to see people using weed to treat physical or emotional pain, to find inspiration in the world around them, to check out a different perspective. None of what I’m saying here is anything original. I’m not gonna get into like, the sacredness of plants, or whatever.

What it comes down to: I like how I feel when I use weed. I like how my life improves when I use weed. I probably like you better when I’m stoned. I feel more in tune with things.

Maybe you should try it, too? (but not if your brain is still developing. Wait until you’re older.)

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