I got stoned every day for a few years in my mid-to-late teens. Truth be told, based on my experience, teenhood is the ideal time to be a stoner, at least for some people. I am of the opinion that cannabis can help the brain make sense of a chaotic and overstimulating world. And before adult responsibilities set in, youth’s primary task is to figure out what’s really happening and what’s truly important.
When I was 20, I cut back to smoking roughly every other day. Then I moved from Florida to California, and for a few months I had no access to pot. By and by, that situation was rectified, but for the next 35 or 36 years, I seldom got high more than a few times per month, and I often went months on end without getting stoned at all.
In 2014, at age 56, I moved to Oregon, where I’ve gradually turned into a stoner again. Nowadays I get high just about every other day or so. At first that was because it somehow felt SO GOOD to get high in Portland. I kept having extremely blissful experiences. I think it had something to do with the weather, the moisture in the air.
Now, I must confess, it’s become less of a joy and more of a habit. I see myself reaching for a joint reflexively at times, especially at night, just to calm my nerves, or take the edge off some free floating anxiety, or alleviate my confusion about what to do next. I really don’t want to use pot that way – as a narcotic. So when I notice I’m about to do that, I don’t do that.
Then there are times when my body lets me know definitively that NOW is a good time to get high, that it will be joyful, surprising, and clarifying. I do still have these lovely experiences sometimes and I can generally sense when I’m ripe for them.
But it’s the “in the middle” type reasons for getting stoned that I’m trying to pay more attention to lately. For example, sometimes I want to get stoned to relax my mind after focusing very intensely and narrowly on work for hours or days in a row. And that’s usually fine.
Sometimes I get high to kickstart my creative process, even if I don’t particularly feel like getting stoned. Mixed results there.
Sometimes – though rarely – pot actually helps me get my work done if I’m contracted or stuck. I’m a freelance writer. I make a living writing for other people, in their voices. And it’s not that I get “writer’s block” exactly. It’s more like some resistance builds up and I just can’t stand the thought of working. So, unstoned, I try to work but wind up surfing the news, youtube, and Facebook, and playing online rapid chess. So once in a while, I use pot to soften my resistance so that I can return to work. And actually, that’s always effective. (Then work no longer feels so much like “work.”)
And sometimes I get high just because it’s there. I mean, it’s so easy to get really good pot in Portland, it’s insane. I like strong sativas. When I was a kid, I had to scrounge and scheme and move stealthily to score an ounce (which had already been “fingered” so it was really less than an ounce) of “Columbian bud” for 25 bucks in 1970s dollars. Today, I can just amble over to, say, Tetra Dispensary on Belmont Street and grab a pack of 6 pre-rolls for 20 bucks – and those pre-rolled joints are quite a bit stronger than the best stuff I smoked in high school.
And then of course there are the edibles and tinctures! Wowee! My favorite product is called Sky, produced with much love and reverence and sacred intention by a local outfit called Luminous Botanicals. Luminous indeed! The directions say to start with just a quarter dropper-full but … come on, that’s hard. So I usually go for about one whole dropper-full, and while I’ve never regretted it – well, there goes the day! I was thinking of having some today actually, but I wanted to accomplish a thing or two, like writing this newsletter. I have to let go of all such aspirations on days I imbibe Sky, which is why I only do it every couple of months or so.
For me, Sky is a big experience, always beautiful. But as for WHY I use Sky … honestly, I’m not sure the impulse always stems from sacred intention on my part. As with joints, I do it because it’s there!
Today, as far as cannabis products go, I have an embarrassment of riches!
And I think that’s okay. All in all, I have no regrets with regard to my usage of substances.
But even as a teenager, I sought meaning in my choices. Even as an everyday pothead, I never thought my choice to light up was random.
So since it seems, in my early 60s, I’ve been re-approaching my teenage levels of cannabis consumption, I’m also reaching back for some of the conviction I felt as a teen with regard to sacredness and purpose.
I haven’t gotten high all weekend. I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon. The day is still young of course. But I haven’t felt “the call,” and if I should feel restless or anxious later, I will resist the compulsion.
I don’t remember if, as a teen, I could differentiate between a compulsion and a call. I’m quite sure I wasn’t worried about it back then. Back then, if I needed to escape, I really needed to escape and I never questioned it.
So this is just the beginning of a more fine-tuned relationship I’m creating with cannabis now. That is, differentiating between a “call” (which merits a yes), a compulsion (which merits a “no”) and something in between – let’s call it a “decision” (which merits, at least, a little reflection).
I’m so glad that more and more states are legalizing pot. And in Oregon, we’ve even legalized medical psilocybin. I think this is a wise, humane development.
Politics are scary right now. Climate change is scary. But at least I think we’re moving in the right direction with entheogenic substances, and that’s important.
I’d be interested to hear how other people think about (or “frame”) their own cannabis usage.
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