Someone recently asked me what it is that I think Marijuana fixes for me. And I said, “oh so many things.” I can describe my ailments and complaints very specifically but not as some defined and established diagnosis. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that it helps me with my depression, or my ADD or my gender confusion, but that’s just the least of it, almost the frosting, the ancillary benefits. It’s a reasonable question, and if I make the claim that I use it for therapeutic reasons, I ought to be able to explain that. I anticipate having to explain it, despite that I’m never pressed to explain why I drink coffee, or alcohol, or take vitamins or do yoga or write. I can just say I enjoy those things. But there’s pressure when you think something like marijuana is positive and healthy, to defend it. So I wasn’t unprepared. I think about it all the time. But I was also smoking recreationally at the time of this question, asked by a man I was smoking with, who happens to be a neuroscientist, and so it took me a minute to gather my stoned ass thoughts. But I thought it was a fair question, and not asked with any judgement, given the circumstances, and so I was resolved to make my best attempt despite myself.
Let me start by saying that the recreational smoking that I was doing at the time of this conversation was not the kind that I’m calling medicinal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, using marijuana recreationally, just because you like it, and I do that too. But it’s not what I really crave, and it doesn’t address my issues to smoke late at night with friends, and maybe while also having a cocktail. And the more and more I experiment with this the more I feel like I don’t even necessarily like to smoke with people. I don’t like to smoke at night. I don’t like to smoke and drink at the same time.
If I were to use it primarily as a therapeutic aid, and that’s all I need, I would use it differently, and I would argue that for most people in my situation, it should be used less to be used effectively. I’m not saying that all medicinal use should be less, if you’re using if for pain, or for cancer, or for autoimmune disease, or gastrointestinal disorders, or major depression, or anything other than the kinds of things I use it for, then you would have to determine your own appropriate dose, whatever dosage would be considered “therapeutic,” e.g. enough for the desired result, and definitely not less. I think pot is safe enough it’s probably ok to err on the side of too much, but too much can also be a problem.
For me, the high is almost a side effect. I find that if I get up really early, like 5AM, and take a single hit, then I do yoga, write a little, take a shower, masturbate, just kidding, or maybe not, shave my legs brush my teeth all of that, get dressed for work have some breakfast, drink some coffee, then by the time I go to work, it’s been 3 hours and the high has worn off, but I still feel great all day. I like myself. I prefer to smoke when I’m able to be alone for a couple of hours. I don’t want to interact with people while I’m feeling a little paranoid or if I think they can tell I’m stoned. I’m self conscious about it. It’s for this reason that I don’t even like to use it recreationally unless everyone is doing it, and even then it becomes a waiting game for it to wear off a little. But I am less socially anxious if I come to a group setting a couple hours after having a single hit than I would be right after or even if I had not smoked at all.
So to answer his question I said this. I said that from the time when I was young, 9th grade, when I first smoked, almost daily, and then on into the later years of high school when I stopped smoking, except occasionally, I knew that what I liked about it was not being high as much as how I felt when I had been smoking, but wasn’t actually high at the moment. And I liked either smoking regularly or not at all. I wasn’t as enamored of the occasional. I wanted to get into a managed state of mind. I explained how it resolves issues that have no particular diagnosis, like how when I smoke I feel connected to my past and my future. Otherwise I feel like my past was a different person, and that my future is outside my control. I am more introspective, more meditative, more still. I feel better, physically. I didn’t go so far as to elaborate on what that meant, that I feel comfortable with my body. I stopped short of intimating anything about my gender diaspora. Not ready to tell people that. I also would not go so far as to say it is any kind of cure. What it does do, is helps me to rise above myself a little and observe almost from the outside. I still would rather be a man, but the body I have doesn’t bother me as much, almost as if, outside of it, it is no longer as much of an interference. I can feel a little more like a man, who just happens to control a woman’s body. I become, as a result, a little less judgmental towards myself.
I also find myself having more fortitude. For example, so often it’s the case that I am thinking, that I don’t want to be doing something, my job for instance, and just can’t make myself work, almost like it’s a protest against choices that earlier me made, like I don’t want to benefit from her mistakes, or give her credit, or accept even the possibility that she could have been right. Unhappy with the decisions that got me here, I go so far as to say to myself that “I just am and always will be a failure.” Yes, it’s that bad. Then I smoke, or even 4 hours afterwards, it’s like I suddenly grow ovaries. I’m like, “what a wimp,” and I just do it. What else is there to do? That becomes my attitude. Can do. I don’t like my job more, not at all, but I force myself, because I know I’ll feel better if I get things done. I still have to fight distraction, but I’m determined.
I don’t see how that can’t be good.
I don’t want to give too much credit to the people who always tell us to be like that. It’s not that they’re wrong, the people who always tell you to “just do it,” they’re not. It’s that they’re telling people who find that difficult, to “just” do what they find easy. It’s not helpful, and it makes me feel judged by them when I’m already judging myself. I’m sensitive about that. It would be particularly ironic if the same person who judges me for that, judges me for solving it by smoking pot. I suspect that there are parents who discover that their teens smoke pot and send them for help because they think pot is a problem, when pot could be the solution to a different problem. Hopefully, they address the underlying issue. I once told my therapist, my parents didn’t send me to one, they thought it was quackery, that I wanted to smoke pot, and she said, “what’s stopping you?” So I started again.
He tells me, the neuroscientist, that the evidence shows that pot is bad for developing brains (like mine when I smoked in ninth grade). He has credentials. And he’s a pothead himself, which I mention because I’m often, and for good reasons, skeptical of the sources of scientific evidence, so he’s not biased. I would argue, though, that if you suffer from something that would otherwise be treated with something more toxic, antidepressants, or opiod pain killers, prescription stimulants, acid blockers, etc, then pot may be an even more effective, and most likely safer, alternative to the legal drugs that kids are otherwise prescribed.
I, for one, remember the benefits when I was 13 as being the same as what I experience now in my 50s (I hate saying my age – I may also have age diaspora, lol). It makes me wonder how different my brain really was. In the 9th grade, early I know for drugs, I did well academically. And I had a more active social life and better friendships. I still think of it as the happiest year of my life. Now, not being aware of what I know now, I tended to smoke too much, I tended to suffer too much from the negative side effects, the paranoia, etc, and at the end of the year, I decided it was interfering with my life and I stopped, which is something I often regret, or regret that it took so long to get back into it. But I do typically present this as evidence that it isn’t addictive. I smoked it “too much” for a year and then decided to stop and did.
The only negative effects of quitting were not distinguishable from the symptoms I suffered before I ever started.
If you don’t want your children to smoke that young, it’s understandable. Keep in mind that if you would view me as a bad role model, that I didn’t do any other kinds of drugs. Among most of my friends today, though I may have smoked pot at a younger age, I am a lightweight. I’ve never done cocaine, or even speed, LSD or mushrooms, blues or reds or yellows or greens, whatever they were. It might be because I recognized early that pot was constructive only if I did it daily and that I was looking for a permanent solution not a a temporary one, to whatever I thought my problem was. If something were to make me feel better, I’d want it all the time, or not at all. And if a drug would inevitably lead to addiction, then I couldn’t use it that way, and I didn’t see the point of doing it at all.
The conclusion I have come to is that I think pot is the key to my happiness, yet important for me to do it at the right times and in small doses. I am a woman with many things to do. I just can’t afford to be stoned all the time, though there are certain things worth doing stoned, yoga and writing, though I think there’s something to be said for sober re-writing. I find that it’s a good wake me up. A good way to start the day, and a good incentive to get up early. If I know my whole day will depend on it, and if I know that as tired as I am when the alarm goes off, that I won’t be as tired once I take a hit, then it can get me up and keep me going strong. By the evening I’m relaxed and tired and ready to sleep well.