This autumn, I’m celebrating my 10-year cannaversary with sweet Mary Jane.
I smoked weed for the first time a decade ago, when I was a 21-year-old college student. My then-boyfriend and I hotboxed my pickup truck one evening, and I proceeded to eat an entire can of Pringles. I’ve had a relationship with cannabis ever since.
Like most long-term relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but I’m not sure I’d be here if it weren’t for the plant’s healing and soothing powers.
Alright, enough gushing. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the things I’ve learned during my 10-year relationship with cannabis.
How to salvage — or simply manage — an overwhelming high
Most seasoned cannabis consumers have gotten too high too fast at least once. I know I have. The last time I dabbed, I immediately felt panicked and paranoid. Luckily, those feelings dissipated quickly when I went outdoors, and I ended up having a really fun day.
What helps me salvage — or simply manage — an overwhelming cannabis experience might not work for everyone. That said, spending time in nature, being with people I trust, cuddling pets, or taking a walk can help me feel grounded and safe when the weed hits too hard. When nothing helps, I try to sleep it off.
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As a survivor of abuse and sexual violence myself, I’m still healing, and I don’t know if I would have made it through the darkest parts of my healing process if it weren’t for cannabis. Among other things, the trauma of abuse and sexual violence can cause panic attacks, depression, PTSD, and consistently poor sleep.
Often, cannabis can make all of these conditions easier to manage.
Why cannabis justice is social justice
Racial disparities in pot arrests make it abundantly clear that cannabis justice is a social justice issue. Additionally, there are thousands of people imprisoned for cannabis in America and even more worldwide.
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Even in states that have fully or partially legalized the plant for adult consumption, people with cannabis convictions may have to wait years to see their records cleared.
It’s also undeniable that cannabis can be a powerful medicine for people suffering from chronic illnesses and chronic pain. Keeping the plant even partially illegal creates barriers to access and causes undue suffering. The issue of cannabis equity is another reason why cannabis justice is social justice.
The pros and cons of different consumption methods
For most of my 20s, I was a daily smoker. When I didn’t smoke, I vaped. Admittedly, these are probably the most social and iconic ways to get lifted, but they’re certainly not the healthiest for your lungs. That’s why I stick with tinctures and edibles nowadays, and why I’ll probably avoid inhalants for the foreseeable future.
I feel like tinctures and edibles are much kinder to my body, and although they’re typically not as fast-acting, they’re better at providing long-lasting relief in my experience. Fortunately, with widespread legalization increasing cannabis transparency, it’s easier than it used to be to find the right product and dose.
The importance of weed-friendly loved ones
I don’t need everyone in my life to be a cannabis enthusiast. Weed isn’t necessarily for everyone. I’ve taken a couple of months-long weed breaks myself. But it’s important to me that my closest friends support my relationship with cannabis and adult cannabis consumption in general.
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My relationship with cannabis hasn’t always been the healthiest, but overall, it’s been — and continues to be — a positive part of my life. I won’t be shamed for it by the people closest to me.
Ways aging can change a person’s relationship with cannabis
Earlier in 2021, I wrote an entire article about cannabis and aging, and I learned a lot. Research conducted on rats supports a link between age and THC sensitivity. And anecdotally, it seems some humans can become more sensitive to THC as they age. I’m definitely one of those humans.
I started to notice a shift in how I experienced THC back in 2019 when I was going through a particularly stressful time. Suddenly, THC-dominant cannabis products started exacerbating my stress and anxiety instead of soothing it. I was unexpectedly hospitalized that summer as well, and I haven’t felt safe enough in my own body to get super high since then.
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There’s more than one way to identify as a cannabis enthusiast
Loving THC-dominant weed — and getting high daily — was a huge part of my identity for years, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, because my cannabis routine has mostly featured hemp-sourced CBD products since I moved back to Missouri in 2019, my definition of a cannabis enthusiast has changed. In my book, if you love hemp, you love cannabis.
What to look for in CBD products
Great CBD helps me feel less anxious and more focused. It helps me sleep. It takes the edge off when I’m hurting. But there’s a lot of unimpressive CBD products out there.
In the past couple of years, both research and personal experience have taught me how to avoid being underwhelmed. These are the phrases I look for when determining the quality of a CBD product: “full-spectrum” or “broad-spectrum,” “third-party lab tested,” and “sourced from organically grown US hemp.”
Cannabis isn’t a mental health cure-all
Cannabis has been hugely helpful in my mental health journey. I’ve written about that a lot because it’s undeniable. But that doesn’t mean cannabis is a mental health cure-all for me.
It won’t undo the traumas I’ve experienced, and it won’t change the fact that I’m an out and proud bisexual woman from a conservative Christian family living in the rural Bible Belt. In addition to my cannabis routine, I feel like my mental health would benefit greatly from therapy. Anti-anxiety medication or an antidepressant might also be helpful.
Unfortunately, I can’t afford any of those things right now, but I’m hopeful that will change someday.
I still have a lot to learn and experience
I’ve learned so much about cannabis in the last decade, and I’ve experienced the plant in many forms — I’ve smoked, vaped, drank, ate, and dabbed it.
I once attended a cannabis masquerade, I’ve spoken with several cannabis-educated consumers and doctors, and I’ve written about weed extensively. Still, I know I have a lot more to learn and experience.
I’ve yet to try Delta-8, and I’d love to legally grow my own stash someday. With legalization spreading in North America, it’s likely the plant will become easier to study in the near future. I can only imagine what I’ll learn about cannabis in the next ten years.
One thing’s for sure: my relationship with cannabis is continuously evolving, and I’m continuously grateful for it. Here’s to many more cannaversaries!