I was nineteen the first time I smoked marijuana. During my sheltered teenaged years I had been a “good girl,” turning down that Marlboro and shunning the vodka that tempted my lips. My mother smoked like a chimney and my father drank like a fish, but those actions and the effects of those substances hadn’t impressed me in the least. I didn’t want to smell and taste like an ashtray just to look cool, and I wasn’t interested in getting so obliterated that I couldn’t control my actions. So when my co-worker offered me my first joint, I thought, what the hell. It’s only a plant, right?
He had asked me numerous times why I hadn’t already tried “the herb.” My interest in the subject intrigued my co-worker, and one day after work he pulled me aside and placed a tightly-rolled joint in the palm of hand. “Smoke it later, preferably with someone else.” I was giddy as I raced to my friend’s house later that night, my fingers delicately intertwined around the joint in my coat pocket. I repeatedly pulled my hand out and inhaled the delicious earthy aroma that I would grow to fall in love with.
My friend lit the joint, took a long drag, and passed it to me as she coughed. I didn’t know what to expect. I remember how natural it felt to hold it, how the crackling sound of the burning paper delighted me, and how everything went gray when I exhaled that first hit. I panicked for a second as I could hear my friend laughing, her dog barking in the yard, NBC Nightly News blaring from the television, but I couldn’t see anything.
Then suddenly my vision came back, followed by an intense and calm euphoria that was unlike anything I had ever felt before. To my surprise I was still able to function, hold conversations and eat. Everything was a thousand times more enjoyable.
I was hooked.
Humans have been consuming cannabis since prehistoric times, although in the 20th century there was a rise in its use for recreational, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found as far back as the third millennium BC as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania. The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus of India and Nepal.
You would never know I smoke marijuana every day. I’m on the Dean’s List, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been late for work in ten years, and I can remember conversations in depth from years ago. I can also out-toke the cooks I work with and win a game of Scrabble stoned.
When I initially began smoking, I was content with dirt weed that had a million seeds that rained down when you crumbled up a promising-looking nugget. I was gradually introduced to Purple Haze, Middies, Kind Bud, Blueberry, and Northern Lights, to name a few. Lucky for me, decent marijuana is always available when you’re employed in the restaurant world. Only twice in over five years did I encounter a dry spell.
The Rastafari movement has embraced marijuana as a sacrament. Like the Rastafari, some modern Christian sects have asserted that cannabis is the Tree of Life. Marijuana was also used as a truth serum by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a US government intelligence agency formed during World War II. In the early 1940s, it was the most effective truth drug developed at the OSS labs at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
I consider marijuana to be my “medicine.” It controls my anxiety, helps me to think about and analyze anything from money woes to that paper due the next day. It opens my mind, enhances the sound of any music I choose to listen to, and helps me to see the good in otherwise turbulent times. It makes any activity more interesting and enjoyable, from cleaning the apartment to having sex. Weed is a great anti-depressant and sleep aid.
I don’t mean to imply that negative effects of marijuana use don’t exist. While it has never been proven to be physically addictive, marijuana can be mentally addictive for some, just like anything that is immensely enjoyable. Also, constantly having the munchies can contribute to some unwanted weight gain. Moderation is key. Knowing when to put down the bong is the true test for a pothead. Then there’s something to look forward to after that double shift at work.
Anyone can grow a plant; there are no factories involved, no taxes, and no corporate companies in charge. Of course, this has changed now that legalization has occurred in multiple states. Perhaps one day my Sweet Leaf will be enjoyed by all without government interaction, legal consequences, or disapproving frowns.
For now, I’m gonna keep on tokin’.