I would describe my relationship with marijuana in my twenties as sporadic. And even that’s being generous. I was by no means a stoner; if anything, when a joint was handed to me, I would take no more than one hit. The first time I smoked weed in high school, I, like many first-timers, didn’t actually get high. I had only done it because the boy I'd had a crush on had liked to smoke, so I thought that if he'd see me take a hit from the bowl that was being passed around the basement, he would think I was cool enough to hang out with one-on-one because hey: at least we had that one thing in common, right? (LOL, DID I REALLY THINK THAT SMOKING WEED TOGETHER BEHIND PANERA WOULD RESULT IN A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE??????? DELUSIONS DEEPER THAN ATLANTIS.)
The first time I actually got high ended up being a few months later, the summer after my senior year, in yet another basement. (There were only two options for hanging out as a teen in Central Jersey: the mall, or someone’s basement.) I was smoking with my friend, Alex, and her boyfriend, whose bong could clear the height requirement for a ride at Six Flags. I didn’t feel anything, so I kept taking hit after hit—the mark of a novice. The next thing I knew, they were standing over me, telling me that I had passed out. I had thought I was going to die. Then, a few hours later, the only thing I cared about was obtaining a large plate of fries.
Every time I smoked weed thereafter would remain insignificant in my memory; I never really enjoyed it, never achieved the state of relaxation that so many of my friends claimed to experience after smoking weed. If anything, pot made me more anxious. Smoking too much resulted in close encounters with full-blown panic attacks. Thereupon, if a joint were present, I would maybe take a puff. For the most part, I only indulged in other vices. My brushes with weed remained few and far between.
But now? I would describe my relationship with marijuana today as “would list as my emergency contact.”
How did we get here? Well, it started with my multiple attempts to get into CBD (cannabidiol), which is a chemical found in marijuana. It doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis that produces a high. At first, it seemed like my prayers had been answered. I could finally circumvent the anxiety and paranoia that came with smoking (for me) and skip right to the part where I could just relax! Judging by the ubiquity of CBD products in almost every state now, I clearly wasn’t the only who saw the appeal.
CBD turned out to be a hit-or-miss with me. While some products, like oils and other topicals, provided some relief, others, like gummies or tinctures, didn’t do anything for me. Not even a placebo, which is what I was convinced was the main ingredient in CBD. I had started to feel like I had tried every brand under the sun. And not only was I looking for something to help me with my anxiety, I was also looking for something to help alleviate my increasing chronic pain, which had started to surface right around the same time CBD entered the chat.
I remember getting frustrated when almost everyone I knew—friends and colleagues alike—were extolling its benefits. Was I missing something? Was I somehow immune to its obviously magical powers? Even the products that granted me some modicum of relief hardly warranted the degree of praise it was getting from seemingly everyone...but me.
“IF CBD IS SO GREAT, HOW COME IT HASN’T ERADICATED THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE YET?” I wanted to scream into the void.
Yet I continued to spend and spend on various CBD products. I would try anything: CBD gum! CBD toothpaste! CBD antihemorroidal cream! Anything was better than the wheelbarrow’s worth of Advil I was taking every day to help assuage my chronic pain, or the cocktail of benzodiazepines I was taking for my debilitating anxiety.
Just when I had all but given up, one of my best friends—and fellow members of the chronic club—recommended I try full-spectrum CBD, which is different from the pure form of CBD I had, up to that point, been consuming/smearing/boofing/etc. Where pure form is just CBD extracted from the cannabis plant, full-spectrum contains other compounds, like small doses of THC. She recommended I try a brand called Five CBD, which I can say with confidence that I have been officially loyal to for a little less than a year now.
The gummies I buy contain a low dose of THC, not enough to incapacitate me, but just enough to generate a gentle buzz that not only significantly calms me down, but also helps with even the most severe of fibro(myalgia) flare-ups. If I want to get stoned, I’ll eat two, watch hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and actually enjoy the high—because not only do I know and trust where it’s coming from, I get to control the dosage. I’m not groggy the next day, and I’m able to function without feeling like I’m out of it. And, if my anxiety is particularly bad during the work day, I can just eat half a gummy and still be able to get my work done without feeling foggy.
Because of my fibro and anxiety and IBS and (shall I go on?), I’ve recently been able to get my medical marijuana card, too. Which means that I can go to my local dispensary and, because it basically functions like a pharmacy, find the right products for myself there, as well. The edibles I eat now contain the same dosage of THC as the gummies I buy from Five, so the transition to pure weed edibles has been seamless—and oh so glorious. The best part: my dependency on over-the-counter pain relievers and other medications has been reduced dramatically, allowing me to find relief in an herb that has, for so long, eluded me. At long last!
Speaking of, the edible I ate halfway through writing this newsletter is starting to kick in. See ya in Sunnydale.