What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington, through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana. The position of my administration has been, we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance. But, we’re not going to spend a lot of federal resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made on the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re going to see other states start looking at this. — President Obama on YouTube yesterday
Part of the way I show respect for the herb is by writing something — even a little bit — about how I’m feeling, what I’m doing and why I’m smoking whenever I consume. I do this in a little journal (well now journals, since I’ve filled the first and begun a second) which I keep with my pot and other supplies. The journal fulfills several purposes: it tracks my usage frequency to a fairly accurate degree, as I’ve actually been fairly faithful about writing in it whenever I consume.
It also helps me record my motivations for using cannabis, whether those involve needing to unwind at the end of the day (a rather common motivation as it turns out) medicating a particular pain or other condition, reducing anxiety, or some other reason. These two purposes allow me to paint a fairly accurate picture of my relationship with cannabis. For instance, I happen to know that my current path with marijuana began on October 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm, and that I’ve consumed at least 80 times since that date, or approximately 6 times in each 5 week period over that time. Perhaps if I get really curious about the details I’ll do some more metrics on my usage patterns, and also take an overall look at my recorded motivations for each of those uses.
But perhaps more interesting than these quantifiable metrics are the psychonautic and subjective aspects of the writing that occurs when I smoke. Just reading back a little bit over what I’ve written, it’s clear that I love describing the experiences — physical, and mental — that occur when I smoke. Psychonautics (defined as any methodology seeking to describe the subjective experience of being high) might feel like old hat to some folks, or rather boring, or maybe something not really as applicable to marijuana as it is to more strictly psychedelic drugs, but it’s one of the core reasons (along with health) that I use pot at all. My journalling so far is full of descriptions of the nature of each high. These descriptions vary in posture from that of the critic (though I hate substance snobbery, I have to admit that I slide into it at times in these journals) to that of a sort of wide-eyed traveller into what experiences can be gleaned from unlocking the mind with marijuana.
“I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits – and millions of Americans agree with me.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Let me be clear: much of what I write in these journals is cringeworthy, trivial, or both. Much is also boring.
in the world of real writers, debates abound regarding the particular merits of writing while high, with the majority, including a particularly well-intentioned experimenter seeming to conclude that any serious writing done while high can’t be all that good. On the other hand, there are writers who claim to write mostly or exclusively while high. That Hunter S. Thompson wrote (and did many other things) under the influence of the herb should surprise almost no one, but what about a best-seller like Lee Child, who famously claimed to write almost exclusively while smoking pot? Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter much to me. I’m make no claim to being a great writer, or at the very least not while journaling about my marijuana use. But I do recommend the practice of pot-journalling. Here are some tips if you decide to try this:
- keep your journal, and a writing implement, with your weed. It’s a pain in the ass to have to go find your journal when you really want to be sparking up. Picking up your pipe or bong? Pick up your journal too.
- get a journal that you enjoy writing in. Mine is small and minimalist with nice paper. Pick a pen that you enjoy writing with and that works. Nothing sucks like being wrapped in the warm embrace of a nice body high and having your pen run out of ink.
- commit to writing every time you consume cannabis. Sometimes has a way of turning into occasionally which can turn into seldom which is close enough to never. One of the great values of my journal is that it represents a relatively complete picture of my journey with marijuana, which is one of its values.
- Don’t think you have to write something profound or long. Some of my entires are two lines long … literally something like “Feeling tired from a very long day. I’m going to sit down on the couch and smoke some blackberry kush.”
- Write before, during and after the high sets in. What I write about before smoking is usually about my motivations. Why am I choosing to consume right now? During smoking or eating or whatever is when I record observations about the particular strain or high. How does it make me feel? What is onset like? What sensations come in what order? What does the strain taste like?
- Let go. You don’t have to be literary or profound. Write whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s rant about something that happened to you during the day, or something you’re feeling or experiencing right then. Once in a while (admittedly it’s usually white quite high) I freeform write or draw in the journal. Who knows what might come out? It might be nonsense ( why, for instance, did I write the string anemittingpointorasteroidofsomekind in my journal the other day?) but it might be important, or deep, or something. Just let it out, whatever it is.
- Be honest about how you’re feeling and what you’re feeling. it’s ok to have a bad experience, to be sad, or to feel vulnerable or not-good.
- Sometimes write when you’re not smoking. Feeling burnt-out the day after? Write about it. It’s part of the experience. Feeling particularly grateful for something that happened while high or how you feel later? Write about that too.
My hope is that this will be a blog about cannabis, balance and real life. My hope is that this will become a place for those who struggle to find a home in most other places (online or otherwise) where one can discuss our personal use and enjoyment of cannabis. My hope is that writing here will allow me to come to deeper terms with my own relationship to this plant. My hope is that it will be a place where it’s okay to talk about the good things but also the scary things about consuming weed. My hope is that this will become a way for me to reach out — to find others like me who wish to cultivate a beneficial relationship with this powerful substance, but also feel slightly alienated by the by turns juvenile and euphoric culture that surrounds it.
I’m a 40 year old American middle class male. I have a career, a house, a partner, dogs, and a pretty interesting and rich life. My journey as a cannabis consumer has been both short and interesting. Though I’d very occasionally smoked pot before the last couple of years (I could probably count the number of times on one hand), I began consuming cannabis regularly about 16 months ago for health reasons related to nerve pain. Though the condition causing the nerve pain cleared up after a month or two , I’ve continued to use it occasionally for other pain relief, and indeed for other health reasons. I also enjoy using it recreationally and to relax. At this point, I consume cannabis one or two times a week, but also experience regular periods of up to five or six weeks in which I consume no cannabis at all (this is often related to when I travel out of the country.) This has been my regular pattern over the past 16 months.
A few facts about my life have uncomplicated my relationship with pot. One is that I live in an American state where possession of marijuana, its consumption and indeed its sale are completely legal. My city is the one in which even the police publish a helpful guide on how to be a legal stoner. There are at least five sizable dispensaries within a few blocks of my house. Another un-complicating factor is the fact that I don’t have children, but do have a supportive, understanding partner. Smoking pot when you have kids to take care of (like most of my friends) seems fraught. So does having a wife or husband who doesn’t feel comfortable with your choice to consume. Finally, I have the time and money to be intentional about my consumption of cannabis — I don’t worry about how much the product or the equipment needed to consume it, cost.
But there are complicating factors for me too. I come from a long line of addicts. My family also has a significant history of mental illness. Both of my biological brothers have in the past used cannabis in an excessive and harmful way to mitigate symptoms like full-on mania and psychosis. Therefore, I’m keenly aware of the debates about how cannabis use may worsen or contribute causally to various kinds of mental disorders and changes in brain function. I know that these issues aren’t settled conclusively, and I want to avoid obsessing about them, but I also want to acknowledge that dependency and the affects of cannabis are valid things to think about carefully. I hope to write about them here.
I love cannabis. It makes me feel healthy and on balance has improved my life. That said, I have no particular love for what I guess you could call “cannabis culture.” Walking into my local dispensary or head shop often gives me the feeling that I’ve stumbled into the bedroom of the kind of cool teenage kid that I never was (and would have claimed to never want to be.) Even at so-called upscale shops, engaging the friendly bud-tender at the counter often gives me a sense that I’m probably talking to someone who has no idea what he or she is saying. This is, to be fair, exactly how I feel about wine snobbery and other kinds of expert connoisseurship. I’m convinced, in fact, that the famous 2001 experiment of Frederic Brochet in which he invited 54 wine tasters to sample one red and one white wine and offer comments on each (spoiler: the red and white were the same wine — one contained a bit of food coloring) is entirely repeatable with cannabis strains. Is the divide between sativa and indica strains really so clear or profound as many people who write about cannabis claim? (also: who cares.) I think it’s okay to not buy in to all of the puffery involved in talking about weed. I’d rather spend my time figuring out how it interacts with my body, mind and spirit, and what I can learn from it.
I started this post with a bunch of hopes. I’ll end it with one more: I hope that you connect with me here (anonymously if you want) as I write about and explore this topic. Being open about this part of my life is a way to keep it out of the shadows and integrated with the rest of the normal things I do. It’s also a way of continuing my ongoing experiment with weed in my normal life. I intend to continue this journey if and only if it improves my life on balance and makes me a better, more relaxed and integrated person. Connecting with others on this same open path would be an amazing bonus.