"With just a quick smoke, my nerves were calmed enough to remind me [that] my work mattered."
Nearly 37 million Americans used marijuana in 2017, according to The Motley Fool.
That’s a lot of people, which means it’s impossible for all of them to fit the lazy stoner stereotype that has haunted tokers across the country for decades.
The reality is that plenty of professionals, parents and generally motivated people make room for weed in their lives. Some partake for medicinal reasons, while others are in it for the recreational high. And then there are those who fall somewhere in the middle.
theBluntness walked into the shadows to talk to one such person. As the founder of a nonprofit educational organization, cannabis has been a lifesaving and affirming revelation that keeps her clear-headed and centered. Read on for details of her personal journey with marijuana.
What was your understanding of, or relationship to marijuana when you were growing up?
I [grew up] conservative, staying away from alcohol, weed and pretty much everything else, and I subscribed to myths about weed as a “drug.”
I knew people who smoked, some of whom wanted me to try it before [developing] an opinion -- but I was convinced it would be a distraction from my studies [and maybe] cloud my logic.
I also resisted smoking and drinking because of peer pressure, which has always turned me off. If I was going to smoke, it needed to be for my own reasons.
When did you start smoking and why?
I was in law school when I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed Prozac to dull the symptoms. Although the drug helped me cope, I didn’t see it as a long-term solution.
Researching alternative solutions revealed marijuana could be a natural, non-addictive remedy. By this time, I was far more flexible about trying new things, so I made plans to finish law school and then smoke for the first time.
A month or so later, after my final exam, I smoked with a friend. Shortly after, I spent about three months traveling in a country where weed was readily available and nearly all of my friends smoked, where I was quickly initiated into a daily smoking habit.
Although I still had the Prozac with me, I stopped taking them about eight months after they were prescribed and one month into my travels. Eventually I threw the pills away. But I haven’t stopped smoking since.
What effect has marijuana had on your life?
I smoke recreationally and for medicinal purposes.
Since I still struggle with depression and anxiety, it’s helped me through countless challenging times. I believe it alleviates stress, allowing me to think more calmly, clearly, and make better decisions.
Throughout the process of starting my business, it’s been essential for me to have an outlet for stress, and weed has been a nearly daily means of survival and motivation.
Also, most of my friends smoke for their own reasons. We love to smoke socially, with most of our gatherings involving at least one person bringing along a joint or two.
On the downside, the cost of weed can hurt the budget. When money is tight, I must make sacrifices to accommodate my smoking habit.
Are you ever worried about how you will be perceived before sharing with someone that you smoke weed?
I don’t tell everyone that I smoke. No one in my professional life knows. This isn’t because of shame or fear of judgment. I just tend to be guarded about my private life and don’t allow most people to know me fully. Frankly, it’s none of their business what I eat, drink or smoke.
Otherwise, I’m very open about my love for weed. When meeting new people socially, if the subject comes up, I’ll gladly share that I smoke. If this gives them a negative perception of me, these are [most likely] people I wouldn’t spend much more time with anyway.
Does weed help make your life seem more manageable?
When I started my business, it was all about the mission – educating young people, making them smarter, stronger and more confident people. But I definitely underestimated everything that goes into starting and managing a business as an individual.
Almost every day, especially in the first two or three years, I’ve confronted a new challenge that’s outside my comfort zone -- and I’ve been tempted to quit more than once.
Weed was able to help on one especially difficult day.
My rent was days late for the second or third month in a row, I received what felt like the millionth rejection letter for potential funding, my website was bugging and all of my content -- including years worth of blog posts -- were lost. And although I was investing tons of energy in social media to gather a following, I was hardly getting any attention for the work I was doing. I fell deep into a funk.
From my bathroom floor, I drafted a Facebook post for my business account. In about 150 words, I explained why I was quitting. I wanted my few loyal supporters to understand that, after giving it my all, I could no longer waste my time. I was convinced I didn’t want it anymore. After I finished the post and even proofread it, I sent it to a close friend for agreement and approval. While I waited for her response, I smoked the last bit of weed in my pipe.
It really wasn’t much, but it was enough to settle my depressed panic. Breathing the herb reminded me how to breathe in general, slowly and calmly. With the deep breaths, I started to think more clearly. I remembered the classrooms full of students who gave me undivided attention and thanked me for the positive impact I’d had on their lives and the way they viewed themselves.
I thought about the teachers and parents who expressed their appreciation for my work and encouragement to keep doing it. I thought about the money I did raise, and the supporters who believed in me and my mission. I even managed to give myself some credit for all the hard work I had put into this organization that I started from nothing.
With just a quick smoke, my nerves were calmed enough to remind me [that] my work mattered, and that I was strong enough to do it. By the time my friend called me for an urgent intervention, I was already clear that I couldn’t quit. That was one of may times weed has helped me stay calm, gain some perspective, stick with the hard stuff, and just generally lighten up.
As a professional, do you ever feel like you’re fighting against the stoner stereotype?
Not really. I’m lucky to work for myself. And when I am with teachers, nonprofit partners, and other professional colleagues, smoking weed never comes up. But if I had to guess, most of them probably smoke as well.
So maybe I’m lucky for choosing a field where there’s no judgment, and most of us can probably appreciate that an occasional or frequent smoke can [help alleviate] the levels of stress caused by our work.
Photo via Instagram